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hearts of Christ's pilgrims? We believe not. Their circumstances urged them to industry. They saw no escape from fulfilling the command, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." Having thus a basis formed by necessity for becoming useful, the Lord influenced them in the direction where He wanted their services. Thus God often places persons in limited circumstances to make them industrious, and accustom them to habits of toil, that He may make them useful. An idle, lazy person God does not make eminent. Many eminent and worthy persons in Church and State are such, in part, just because poverty drove them to labor. Believe me, young friend, if you plead your poverty as an excuse for not making effort to become learned, you are making that as an excuse which God designs as a reason to urge you on.
You also say you cannot spare the time for study. I suppose you think if you could have the opportunity to sit down day after day, with your books in your hand, your situation would be the most favorable one for becoming learned. Let me tell you, you are mistaken. It is not always those that spend the most uninterrupted time with books that know the most. The body needs exercise to give life and action to the mind. The mind is a living organism, and not a blank sheet upon which impressions are made. The more strength it gains, by virtue of the health of the body, the more capable it will be of active reflection and thought. Consequently, if bodily exercise is connected with mental labor, the latter can be endured much better and with greater success. So that it is the very best thing for us if our time is equally divided in this way.
To become educated, it is not necessary that a person be always engaged in reading books. He needs much time for the mind to work and act upon what it has gathered through books, observation and practice. The mind, like the stomach, must have time to digest what it has received. Those persons who exercise their mind most in this way are likely to become the most learned. For this reason we should always try to understand rather than learn by rote. By thus exercising the mind we will be able to add some original ideas to the general stock of literature, and not only be the mere echo of others. Have you not time for this? It is easy to take up one or two branches of science at a time, and spend a few hours each day, which every person can command if he will, and thus secure intellectual food for digestion, when at work or business. In this way you cannot fail to become more or less learned. But few persons who have the desire are prevented for want of time from educating themselves. If the time that is spent in idleness, nonsense and wickedness was devoted to study there would be few ignorant people. Many a man has made himself eminent in this way. The Jeisure time wasted by the majority of people would make up, in a score of years, a sufficient amount to study all the branches taught in our colleges. It is not the want of time, but the want of activity, determination, and effort that prevents most persons from the blessings of an education. Let any young man or lady try the experiment for one or two years, and they will be surprised at the amount of wisdom they will come to possess. The humble writer of this article gathered much of his limited knowledge by making good use of his leisure hours and evenings, and reflecting on it while at secular work.
Do you say, secondly, that because you cannot go to high school or college you cannot become educated? The advantage of a college course, it is true, is a great help. It is to be regretted that so many active, zealous and worthy young men are eprived of the privilege. But that should not be held as a reason for neglecting study. The facilities for educating the mind have become so great, that it might be said that the only difference in the advantages of the college student and the private one is that of the living teacher, in addition to the books, in the case of the former. However great the value of the living teacher as a help, his assistance is not so great that it is altogether impossible to become learned without it. In fact he is often a real injury, especially to lazy students, as his explanations are often depended on as an excuse for diligent study. If we are compelled to climb the mount of science we will become the better nerved for succeeding efforts The more difficult the path, the greater effort will be required, and with every unassisted triumph we gain new courage. Herein lies the advantage of unaided efforts. Every man is self-made, whether in or out of college; but those who are thus made by unassisted study are often the most resolute, determined and unconquerable scholars.
"They attempt the end, and never stand to doubt;" believing hopefully—
"That nothing's so hard but search will find it out."
Our advice to every young reader of The Guardian is: study hopefully, study prayerfully, whether in or out of college. Study with determination, and you will without doubt become educated.
Do you say, hirdly, that you have not the natural genius to make a man of learning? If you conceive this to be your best reason for not endeavoring to elucate yourself, you are mistaken. Are you sane?— have you common sense? Then you are naturally prepared for a course of study. That is the principal basis necessary for an education. The difference of men in intellectual qualifications is caused more by their difference in i. .ustry than in natural endowments. Show me an idle and careless young man, and I care not how superior his talents, he will never make much until a change takes place in his habits. Tell me a man's habits of study, and I will judge better of his qualifications than by hearing a phrenological description of the faculties of his mind. There is nothing we believe that deceives young men more in this respect than the notion that, unless they have a big head, they can never become learned. I tell you, young friends, if you have a desire for an education, go to work. Leave the measurement of brains to others, and work! work! work! That's the secret.
"Richard Burke being found in a reverie shortly after an extraordinary display of powers in Parliament by his brother, Edmund Burke, and questioned by a friend as to the cause, replied, 'I have been wondering how Edmund has contrived to monopolize all the talents of the family; but then, again, I remember, when we were at play, he was always at work.' The force of this anecdote is increased by the fact, that Richard Burke was considered not inferior in natural talents to his brother. Yet the one rose to greatness, while the other died comparatively obscure. Do not trust to genius, young man, if you would rise, but work! work! work!"
BY THE EDITOR.
"I trace the tale
To the dim point where records fail."
THERE is a great deal of literature that floats for ages, unwritten and unprinted, in the memories of the people. Sometimes it is, in this form, the possession of whole nations. This is the way in which the Iliad of Homer, the Kalewala of the Finns, the poems of Ossian, and the most ancient epics and popular songs of many other nations have been preserved for centuries, till they were embodied at last in the recorded literature of these nations. The art of printing has done away with much of this kind of traditionary wisdom; not perhaps without some injury to the popular memory, which is growing too good-naturedly content to leave knowledge to rest undisturbed in books.
Still this traditionary mode of preserving literature has not been entirely done away. There are yet many quiet vallies and neighborhoods where the venerable spirit is not entirely lost; and, in a quiet and modest way, there is still much useful knowledge preserved orally, and in manuscript, which does not aspire to a place among printed wisdom. It is worthy of remark, too, that without any ambition to be known in the world, much of it has really obtained a wider circulation than thousands of huge volumes of learning to which the types have lent their aid. This fact may stand to the praise of modesty, and as a reproof to literary ambition.
In attempting to bring to light some of this unpublished literature, we do not sin against the humble spirit by which it has been produced, seeing that the authors of it are long since beyond the reach of praise. Besides, we have numerous instances in which admiring and grateful disciples, having gathered the thoughts of their teachers and published them posthumously, to the great profit of the world. Thus are men's thoughts, which they themselves modestly withheld from the public, happily preserved in the archives of science. A like work, in an humble way, would we here perform.
We cannot, of course, go over the entire field in one brief article. There are to be found in the sphere of letter-writing alone sentiments and poetical gems, never published, not drawn from books, but orally learned and preserved-enough to fill many pages. There is not, for instance, a passage of sentimental love in Moore, or of heroic love in Byron, that has so often been made the bearer of good tidings from one heart to another, as the familiar traditionary couplet
66 My pen is bad, my ink is pale,
To record in print these scraps of literature, belonging to the sacred ¡nner circle, would be an act too much like the sacrilege of that wicked
king who stole the holy vessels from the temple and carried them to Babylon to be profaned in the revelries of that dissipated court, for us to venture further. We will follow another vein, from which may be drawn equally rich treasures. We refer to the classic quotations current in school days, as the same live in many memories, and are found recorded on the blank leaves of school books.
We are of opinion that these sentiments, when properly arranged, do truly exhibit not only the intellectual, but also the moral and religious history of the scholar's mind and heart: even in the same way, and by the same philosophy, as the history of a nation's poetry shows its development. Most popular with the youngest boys, and as a revelation of the earliest feeling, is the following:
"Steal not this book, my honest friend,
Here is the stern heroic-the spirit of the brave moral epic. In the words "my honest friend," there is a recognition of that primitive faith and truthfulness which characterizes the patriarchal period. It reveals the natural reliableness of the age preceding that degeneracy from honest principles which comes in later through luxury, and is covered by the vain show of a false refinement. The warning, "steal not this book," shows a dawning sense, in the minds of the "smaller scholars," of the danger which this moral degeneracy brings with it, as it already manifests itself in the spirit and habits of the "larger boys," whose innocence, in their state of advancement, is in peril. Even thus, and by a like law of evil, are the honest bonds of faith in patriarchal life broken by the marauding spirit which comes in at a later period.
That this couplet belongs to a primitive period of boyhood is also forcibly indicated by its prominent appeal to the principle of "fear." Also by the terrible character of the punishment threatened:
"For fear the gallows may be your end!"
This stern penalty indicates a period of high moral principle-a spirit of supreme respect for right. It belongs to a time when law is recognized, by an uncorrupted faith, as truly a "terror to evil doers." The abatement, or the entire doing away with stern penalties, belongs to an age already run out into weak sentimentalism-an age that, under a false cultivation, loves to prate about the dignity of human nature, and that begins with the bravery of Self, to advocate progress, which is not based on the old foundations, but progress which would break away from them-progress committed to the guidance of mere natural wisdom and its vain imaginations. How often have the "large boys" laughed at the earnest record of the smaller ones: "For fear the gallows may be your end!" They have treated it as a mere scare-crow! They are old enough to know better than to be frightened by fears and terrors. The "gallows," they think, may be talked of among semi-barbarians; but the progress of refined philanthropy does away with such things! Is not this the very language of boys of a larger growth, under the power of moral degeneracy which they call progress.
That the probable thief is called "honest friend" is significant. He is not yet a thief, but is only in that position where he may properly be
warned against becoming one. Why then should he not be called a "friend" and an "honest" one too. It shows the writer to be uncorrupted himself; for only the guilty will at once suspect others of guilt. Here is innocence regarding the one who takes up the book innocent as himself; and as an innocent, honest friend warns him against wounding and defiling his conscience and entering the road to ruin by the theft of a school book.
There is also a deep philosophy indicated by applying these words honest friend to the reader. It is believed that by a deep and sure law of human nature children are apt to become what they are harshly charged with being. The child that is rudely denounced and scolded in its own hearing as stupid and stubborn is likely to become such. Such rough denunciations cow and crush the spirit; and the child passively yields to be what others are ever telling it that it really is. It is said that persons have actually taken diseases which others represented them as being in danger of, or which they were told had commenced in their system. It is known that the imagination has a powerful influence over the whole person, soul and body. We greatly admire the truly christian philosophy of the expression "my honest friend!" Even the civil law teaches us to regard a man as innocent till he is proved guilty. Shall the christian spirit be less charitable?
The fearful prophecy in the lines quoted cannot be too solemnly weighed and taken to heart. How often has the "gallows been the end" of such as began in a much smaller way than "stealing a book?" Read the confessions which have been made under the gallows, and you will have sufficient proof of this. The stream of evil, like the stream of good, has always a small beginning. The little boy or girl that is a thief in school, is on the broad way of being a thief afterwards. How often, too, and how directly always, does the attempt to steal lead to murder; and murder leads to the gallows. Have not more than one half of those that are hung for murder, murdered to steal and rob. Let not this childish prophecy and warning be lightly regarded. There is, in fact, as in the decalogue, an intimate connection between "thou shalt steal" and "thou shalt not kill."
We are not of those who think that this childish record on the blank leaves of school books has served no purpose. We bear testimony that our memory still retains and hums over the echo of impressions made by it upon our infant mind. We believe there are whole poems which have far less impressed the mind of the world. Experience has taught us things pertaining to a general defection from old-fashioned honesty which lead us to believe that it would be well for every one who wishes to keep his library from being scattered, still to write in each of his books: "Steal not this book, my honest friend."
It might prove a useful monitor to many an "honest friend" who borrows books and forgets to return them.
We must not forget to mention, that though the form of the couplet on which we have been commenting is beyond doubt the oldest, and therefore the true reading, yet there is another version of it not without considerable antiquity and merit. It runs thus:
"Steal not this book for fear of shame,
For in it stands the owner's name."