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´╗┐Title: Reveries of a Schoolmaster
Author: Pearson, Francis B., 1853-
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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      V. BALKING




I am rather glad now that I took a little dip (one could scarce call
it a baptism) into the Latin, and especially into Horace, for that
good soul gave me the expression _in medias res_.  That is a forceful
expression, right to the heart of things, and applies equally well to
the writing of a composition or the eating of a watermelon.  Those
who have crossed the Channel, from Folkstone to Boulogne, know that
the stanch little ship _Invicta_ had scarcely left dock when they
were _in medias res_.  They were conscious of it, too, if indeed they
were conscious of anything not strictly personal to themselves.  This
expression admits us at once to the light and warmth (if such there
be) of the inner temple nor keeps us shivering out in the vestibule.

Writers of biography are wont to keep us waiting too long for
happenings that are really worth our while.  They tell us that some
one was born at such a time, as if that were really important.  Why,
anybody can be born, but it requires some years to determine whether
his being born was a matter of importance either to himself or to
others.  When I write my biographical sketch of William Shakespeare I
shall say that in a certain year he wrote "Hamlet," which fact
clearly justified his being born so many years earlier.

The good old lady said of her pastor: "He enters the pulpit, takes
his text, and then the dear man just goes everywhere preaching the
Gospel."  That man had a special aptitude for the _in medias res_
method of procedure.  Many children in school who are not versed in
Latin would be glad to have their teachers endowed with this
aptitude.  They are impatient of preliminaries, both in the school
and at the dinner-table.  And it is pretty difficult to discover just
where childhood leaves off in this respect.

So I am grateful to Horace for the expression.  Having started right
in the midst of things, one can never get off the subject, and that
is a great comfort.  Sometimes college graduates confess (or perhaps
boast) that they have forgotten their Latin.  I fear to follow their
example lest my neighbor, who often drops in for a friendly chat,
might get to wondering whether I have not also forgotten much of the
English I am supposed to have acquired in college.  He might regard
my English as quite as feeble when compared with Shakespeare or
Milton as my Latin when compared with Cicero or Virgil.  So I take
counsel with prudence and keep silent on the subject of Latin.

When I am taking a stroll in the woods, as I delight to do in the
autumn-time, laundering my soul with the gorgeous colors, the music
of the rustling leaves, the majestic silences, and the sounds that
are less and more than sounds, I often wonder, when I take one
bypath, what experiences I might have had if I had taken the other.
I'll never know, of course, but I keep on wondering.  So it is with
this Latin.  I wonder how much worse matters could or would have been
if I had never studied it at all.  As the old man said to the young
fellow who consulted him as to getting married: "You'll be sorry if
you do, and sorry if you don't."  I used to feel a sort of pity for
my pupils to think how they would have had no education at all if
they had not had me as their teacher; now I am beginning to wonder
how much further along they might have been if they had had some
other teacher.  But probably most of the misfits in life are in the
imagination, after all.  We all think the huckleberries are more
abundant on the other bush.

Hoeing potatoes is a calm, serene, dignified, and philosophical
enterprise.  But at bottom it is much the same in principle as
teaching school.  In my potato-patch I am merely trying to create
situations that are favorable to growth, and in the school I can do
neither more nor better.  I cannot cause either boys or potatoes to
grow.  If I could, I'd certainly have the process patented.  I know
no more about how potatoes grow than I do about the fourth dimension
or the unearned increment.  But they grow in spite of my ignorance,
and I know that there are certain conditions in which they flourish.
So the best I can do is to make conditions favorable.  Nor do I
bother about the weeds.  I just centre my attention and my hoe upon
loosening the soil and let the weeds look out for themselves.  Hoeing
potatoes is a synthetic process, but cutting weeds is analytic, and
synthesis is better, both for potatoes and for boys.  In good time,
if the boy is kept growing, he will have outgrown his stone-bruises,
his chapped hands, his freckles, his warts, and his physical and
spiritual awkwardness.  The weeds will have disappeared.

The potato-patch is your true pedagogical laboratory and
conservatory.  If one cannot learn pedagogy there it is no fault of
the potato-patch.  Horace must have thought of _in medias res_ while
hoeing potatoes.  There is no other way to do it, and that is
bed-rock pedagogy.  Just to get right at the work and do it, that's
the very thing the teacher is striving toward.  Here among my
potatoes I am actuated by motives, I invest the subject with human
interest, I experience motor activities, I react, I function, and I
go so far as to evaluate.  Indeed, I run the entire gamut.  And then,
when I am lying beneath the canopy of the wide-spreading tree, I do a
bit of research work in trying to locate the sorest muscle.  And, as
to efficiency, well, I give myself a high grade in that and shall
pass _cum laude_ it the matter is left to me.  If our grading were
based upon effort rather than achievement, I could bring my aching
back into court, if not my potatoes.  But our system of grading in
the schools demands potatoes, no matter much how obtained, with scant
credit for backaches.

We have farm ballads and farm arithmetics, but as yet no one has
written for us a book on farm pedagogy.  I'd do it myself but for the
feeling that some Strayer, or McMurry, or O'Shea will get right at it
as soon as he has come upon this suggestion.  That's my one great
trouble.  The other fellow has the thing done before I can get around
to it.  I would have written "The Message to Garcia," but Mr. Hubbard
anticipated me.  Then, I was just ready to write a luminous
description of Yellowstone Falls when I happened upon the one that
DeWitt Talmage wrote, and I could see no reason for writing another.
So it is.  I seem always to be just too late.  I wish now that I had
written "Recessional" before Kipling got to it.  No doubt, the same
thing will happen with my farm pedagogy.  If one could only stake a
claim in all this matter of writing as they do in the mining regions,
the whole thing would be simplified.  I'd stake my claim on farm
pedagogy and then go on hoeing my potatoes while thinking out what to
say on the subject.

Whoever writes the book will do well to show how catching a boy is
analogous to catching a colt out in the pasture.  Both feats require
tact and, at the very least, horse-sense.  The other day I wanted to
catch my colt and went out to the pasture for that purpose.  There is
a hill in the pasture, and I went to the top of this and saw the colt
at the far side of the pasture in what we call the swale--low, wet
ground, where weeds abound.  I didn't want to get my shoes soiled, so
I stood on the hill and called and called.  The colt looked up now
and then and then went on with his own affairs.  In my chagrin I was
just about ready to get angry when it occurred to me that the colt
wasn't angry, and that I ought to show as good sense as a mere horse.
That reflection relieved the tension somewhat, and I thought it wise
to meditate a bit.  Here am I; yonder is the colt.  I want him; he
doesn't want me.  He will not come to me; so I must go to him.  Then,
what?  Oh, yes, native interests--that's it, native interests.  I'm
much obliged to Professor James for reminding me.  Now, just what are
the native interests of a colt?  Why, oats, of course.  So, I must
return to the barn and get a pail of oats.  An empty pail might do
once, but never again.  So I must have oats in my pail.  Either a
colt or a boy becomes shy after he has once been deceived.  The boy
who fails to get oats in the classroom to-day, will shy off from the
teacher to-morrow.  He will not even accept her statement that there
is oats in the pail, for yesterday the pail was empty--nothing but

But even with pail and oats I had to go to the colt, getting my shoes
soiled and my clothes torn, but there was no other way.  I must begin
where the colt (or boy) is, as the book on pedagogy says.  I wanted
to stay on the hill where everything was agreeable, but that wouldn't
get the colt.  Now, if Mr. Charles H. Judd cares to elaborate this
outline, I urge no objection and shall not claim the protection of
copyright.  I shall be only too glad to have him make clear to all of
us the pedagogical recipe for catching colts and boys.



Mr. Patrick Henry was probably correct in saying that there is no way
of judging the future but by the past, and, to my thinking, he might
well have included the present along with the future.  Today is
better or worse than yesterday or some other day in the past, just as
this cherry pie is better or worse than some past cherry pie.  But
even this pie may seem a bit less glorious than the pies of the past,
because of my jaded appetite--a fact that is easily lost sight of.
Folks who extol the glories of the good old times may be forgetting
that they are not able to relive the emotions that put the zest into
those past events.  We used to go to "big meeting" in a two-horse
sled, with the wagon-body half filled with hay and heaped high with
blankets and robes.  The mercury might be low in the tube, but we
recked not of that.  Our indifference to climatic conditions was not
due alone to the wealth of robes and blankets, but the proximity of
another member of the human family may have had something to do with
it.  If we could reconstruct the emotional life of those good old
times, the physical conditions would take their rightful place as a

If we could only bring back the appetite of former years we might
find this pie better than the pies of old.  The good brother who
seems to think the textbooks of his boyhood days were better than the
modern ones forgets that along with the old-time textbooks went
skating, rabbit-hunting, snowballing, coasting, fishing, sock-up,
bull-pen, two-old-cat, townball, and shinny-on-the-ice.  He is
probably confusing those majors with the text-book minor.  His
criticism of things and books modern is probably a voicing of his
regret that he has lost his zeal for the fun and frolic of youth.  If
he could but drink a few copious drafts from the Fountain of Youth,
the books of the present might not seem so inferior after all.  The
bread and apple-butter stage of our hero's career may seem to dim the
lustre of the later porterhouse steak, but with all the glory of the
halcyon days of yore it is to be noted that he rides in an automobile
and not in an ox-cart, and prefers electricity to the good old

I concede with enthusiasm the joys of bygone days, and would be glad
to repeat those experiences with sundry very specific reservations
and exceptions.  That thick bread with its generous anointing of
apple butter discounted all the nectar and ambrosia of the books and
left its marks upon the character as well as the features of the
recipient.  The mouth waters even now as I recall the bill of fare
plus the appetite.  But if I were going back to the good old days I'd
like to take some of the modern improvements along with me.  It
thrills me to consider the modern school credits for home work with
all the "57 varieties" as an integral feature of the good old days.
Alas, how much we missed by not knowing about all this!  What
miracles might have been wrought had we and our teachers only known!
Poor, ignorant teachers!  Little did they dream that such wondrous
things could ever be.  Life might have been made a glad, sweet song
for us had it been supplied with these modern attachments.  I spent
many weary hours over partial payments in Ray's Third Part, when I
might have been brushing my teeth or combing my hair instead.  Then,
instead of threading the mazes of Greene's Analysis and parsing
"Thanatopsis," I might just as well have been asleep in the haymow,
where ventilation was super-abundant.  How proudly could I have
produced the home certificate as to my haymow experience and received
an exhilarating grade in grammar!

Just here I interrupt myself to let the imagination follow me
homeward on the days when grades were issued.  The triumphal
processions of the Romans would have been mild by comparison.  The
arch look upon my face, the martial mien, and the flashing eye all
betoken the real hero.  Then the pride of that home, the sumptuous
feast of chicken and angel-food cake, and the parental acclaim--all
befitting the stanch upholder of the family honor.  Of course,
nothing like this ever really happened, which goes to prove that I
was born years too early in the world's history.  The more I think of
this the more acute is my sympathy with Maud Muller.  That girl and I
could sigh a duet thinking what might have been.  Why, I might have
had my college degree while still wearing short trousers.  I was
something of an adept at milking cows and could soon have eliminated
the entire algebra by the method of substitution.  Milking the cows
was one of my regular tasks, anyhow, and I could thus have combined
business with pleasure.  And if by riding a horse to water I could
have gained immunity from the _Commentaries_ by one Julius Caesar,
full lustily would I have shouted, _a la_ Richard III: "A horse!  A
horse!  My kingdom for a horse!"

One man advocates the plan of promoting pupils in the schools on the
basis of character, and this plan strongly appeals to me as right,
plausible, and altogether feasible.  Had this been proposed when I
was a schoolboy I probably should have made a few conditions, or at
least have asked a few questions.  I should certainly have wanted to
know who was to be the judge in the matter, and what was his
definition of character.  Much would have depended upon that.  If he
had decreed that cruelty to animals indicates a lack of character and
then proceeded to denominate as cruelty to animals such innocent
diversions as shooting woodpeckers in a cherry-tree with a Flobert
rifle, or smoking chipmunks out from a hollow log, or tying a strip
of red flannel to a hen's tail to take her mind off the task of
trying to hatch a door-knob, or tying a tin can to a dog's tail to
encourage him in his laudable enterprise of demonstrating the
principle of uniformly accelerated motion--if he had included these
and other such like harmless antidotes for ennui in his category, I
should certainly have asked to be excused from his character
curriculum and should have pursued the even tenor of my ways,
splitting kindling, currying the horse, washing the buggy, carrying
water from the pump to the kitchen and saying, "Thank you," to my
elders as the more agreeable avenue of promotion.

If we had had character credits in the good old days I might have won
distinction in school and been saved much embarrassment in later
years.  Instead of learning the latitude and longitude of Madagascar,
Chattahoochee, and Kamchatka, I might have received high grades in
geography by abstaining from the chewing of gum, by not wearing my
hands in my trousers-pockets, by walking instead of ambling or
slouching, by wiping the mud from my shoes before entering the house,
by a personally conducted tour through the realms of manicuring, and
by learning the position and use of the hat-rack.  Getting no school
credits for such incidental minors in the great scheme of life, I
grew careless and indifferent and acquired a reputation that I do not
care to dwell upon.  If those who had me in charge, or thought they
had, had only been wise and given me school credits for all these
things, what a model boy I might have been!

Why, I would have swallowed my pride, donned a kitchen apron, and
washed the supper dishes, and no normal boy enjoys that ceremony.  By
making passes over the dishes I should have been exorcising the
spooks of cube root, and that would have been worth some personal
sacrifice.  What a boon it would have been for the home folks too!
They could have indulged their penchant for literary exercises,
sitting in the parlor making out certificates for me to carry to my
teacher next day, and so all the rough places in the home would have
been made smooth.  But the crowning achievement would have been my
graduation from college.  I can see the picture.  I am husking corn
in the lower field.  To reach this field one must go the length of
the orchard and then walk across the meadow.  It is a crisp autumn
day, about ten o'clock in the morning, and the sun is shining.  The
golden ears are piling up under my magic skill, and there is peace.
As I take down another bundle from the shock I descry what seems to
be a sort of procession wending its way through the orchard.  Then
the rail fence is surmounted, and the procession solemnly moves
across the meadow.  In time the president and an assortment of
faculty members stand before me, bedight in caps and gowns.  I note
that their gowns are liberally garnished with Spanish needles and
cockleburs, and their shoes give evidence of contact with elemental
mud.  But then and there they confer upon me the degree of bachelor
of arts _magna cum laude_.  But for this interruption I could have
finished husking that row before the dinner-horn blew.



My neighbor came in again this evening, not for anything in
particular, but unconsciously proving that men are gregarious
animals.  I like this neighbor.  His name is Brown.  I like the name
Brown, too.  It is easy to pronounce.  By a gentle crescendo you go
to the summit and then coast to the bottom.  The name Brown, when
pronounced, is a circumflex accent.  Now, if his name had happened to
be Moriarity I never could be quite sure when I came to the end in
pronouncing it.  I'm glad his name is not Moriarity--not because it
is Irish, for I like the Irish; so does Brown, for he is married to
one of them.  Any one who has been in Cork and heard the fine old
Irishman say in his musical and inimitable voice, "Tis a lovely dye,"
such a one will ever after have a snug place in his affections for
the Irish, whether he has kissed the "Blarney stone" or not.  If he
has heard this same driver of a jaunting-car rhapsodize about
"Shandon Bells" and the author, Father Prout, his admiration for
things and people Irish will become well-nigh a passion.  He will not
need to add to his mental picture, for the sake of emphasis or color,
the cherry-cheeked maids who lead their mites of donkeys along leafy
roads, the carts heaped high with cabbages.  Even without this
addition he will become expansive when he speaks of Ireland and the

But, as I was saying, Brown came in this evening just to barter small
talk, as we often do.  Now, in physical build Brown is somewhere
between Falstaff and Cassius, while in mental qualities he is an
admixture of Plato, Solomon, and Bill Nye.

When he drops in we do not discuss matters, nor even converse; we
talk.  Our talk just oozes out and flows whither it wills, or little
wisps of talk drift into the silences, and now and then a dash of
homely philosophy splashes into the talking.  Brown is a real
comfort.  He is never cryptic, nor enigmatic, at least consciously
so, nor does he ever try to be impressive.  If he were a teacher he
would attract his pupils by his good sense, his sincerity, his
simplicity, and his freedom from pose.  I cannot think of him as ever
becoming teachery, with a high-pitched voice and a hysteric manner.
He has too much poise for that.  He would never discuss things with
children.  He would talk with them.  Brown cannot walk on stilts, nor
has the air-ship the least fascination for him.

One of my teachers for a time was Doctor T. C. Mendenhall, and he was
a great teacher.  He could sound the very depths of his subject and
simply talk it.  He led us to think, and thinking is not a noisy
process.  Truth to tell, his talks often caused my poor head to ache
from overwork.  But I have been in classes where the oases of thought
were far apart and one could doze and dream on the journey from one
to the other.  Doctor Mendenhall's teaching was all white meat, sweet
to the taste, and altogether nourishing.  He is the man who made the
first correct copy of Shakespeare's epitaph there in the church at
Stratford-on-Avon.  I sent a copy of Doctor Mendenhall's version to
Mr. Brassinger, the librarian in the Memorial Building, and have
often wondered what his comment was.  He never told me.  There are
those "who, having eyes, see not."  There had been thousands of
people who had looked at that epitaph with the printed copy in hand,
and yet had never noticed the discrepancy, and it remained for an
American to point out the mistake.  But that is Doctor Mendenhall's
way.  He is nothing if not thorough, and that proves his scientific

Well, Brown fell to talking about the Isle of Pines, in the course of
our verbal exchanges, and I drew him out a bit, receiving a liberal
education on the subjects of grapefruit, pineapples, and bananas.
From my school-days I have carried over the notion that the Caribbean
Sea is one of the many geographical myths with which the
school-teacher is wont to intimidate boys who would far rather be
scaring rabbits out from under a brush heap.  But here sits a man who
has travelled upon the Caribbean Sea, and therefore there must be
such a place.  Our youthful fancies do get severe jolts!  From my own
experience I infer that much of our teaching in the schools doesn't
take hold, that the boys and girls tolerate it but do not believe.  I
cannot recall just when I first began to believe in Mt. Vesuvius, but
I am quite certain that it was not in my school-days.  It may have
been in my teaching-days, but I'm not quite certain.  I have often
wondered whether we teachers really believe all we try to teach.  I
feel a pity for poor Sisyphus, poor fellow, rolling that stone to the
top of the hill, and then having to do the work all over when the
stone rolled to the bottom.  But that is not much worse than trying
to teach Caribbean Sea and Mt. Vesuvius, if we can't really believe
in them.  But here is Brown, metamorphosed into a psychologist who
begins with the known, yea, delightfully known grapefruit which I had
at breakfast, and takes me on a fascinating excursion till I arrive,
by alluring stages, at the related unknown, the Caribbean Sea.  Too
bad that Brown isn't a teacher.

Brown has the gift of holding on to a thing till his craving for
knowledge is satisfied.  Somewhere he had come upon some question
touching a campanile or, possibly, _the_ Campanile, as it seemed to
him.  Nor would he rest content until I had extracted what the books
have to say on the subject.  He had in mind the Campanile at Venice,
not knowing that the one beside the Duomo at Florence is higher than
the one at Venice, and that the Leaning Tower at Pisa is a campanile,
or bell-tower, also.  When I told him that one of my friends saw the
Campanile at Venice crumble to a heap of ruins on that Sunday morning
back in 1907, and that another friend had been of the last party to
go to the top of it the evening before, he became quite excited, and
then I knew that I had succeeded in investing the subject with human
interest, and I felt quite the schoolmaster.  Nothing of this did I
mention to Brown, for there is no need to exploit the mental
machinery if only you get results.

Many people who travel abroad buy postcards by the score, and seem to
feel that they are the original discoverers of the places which these
cards portray, and yet these very places were the background of much
of their history and geography in the schools.  Can it be that their
teachers failed to invest these places with human interest, that they
were but words in a book and not real to them at all?  Must I travel
all the way to Yellowstone Park to know a geyser?  Alas! in that
case, many of us poor school-teachers must go through life
geyserless.  Wondrous tales and oft heard I in my school-days of
glacier, iceberg, canyon, snow-covered mountain, grotto, causeway,
and volcano, but not till I came to Grindelwald did I really know
what a glacier is.  There's many a Doubting Thomas in the schools.



The psychologist is so insistent in proclaiming his doctrine of
negative self-feeling and positive self-feeling that one is impelled
to listen out of curiosity, if nothing else.  Then, just as you are
beginning to get a little glimmering as to his meaning, another one
begins to assail your ears with a deal of sesquipedalian English
about the emotion of subjection and the emotion of elation.  Just as
I began to think I was getting a grip of the thing a college chap
came in and proceeded to enlighten me by saying that these two
emotions may be generated only by personal relations, and not by
relations of persons and things.  I was thinking of my emotion of
subjection in the presence of an original problem in geometry, but
this college person tells me that this negative self-feeling,
according to psychology, is experienced only in the presence of
another person.  Well, I have had that experience, too.  In fact, my
negative self-feeling is of frequent occurrence.  Jacob must have had
a rather severe attack of the emotion of subjection when he was
trying to escape from the wrath of Esau.  But, after his experience
at Bethel, where he received a blessing and a promise, there was a
shifting from the negative self-feeling to the positive--from the
emotion of subjection to that of elation.

The stone which Jacob used that night as a pillow, so we are told, is
called the Stone of Scone, and is to be seen in the body of the
Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey.  The use of that stone as a
part of the chair might seem to be a psychological coincidence,
unless, indeed, we can conceive that the fabricators of the chair
combined a knowledge of psychology and also of the Bible in its
construction.  It is an interesting conceit, at any rate, that the
stone might bring to kings and queens a blessing and a promise, as it
had done for Jacob, averting the emotion of subjection and
perpetuating the emotion of elation.

Now, there's Hazzard, the big, glorious Hazzard.  I met him first on
the deck of the S. S. _Campania_, and I gladly agreed to his proposal
that we travel together.  He is a large man (one need not be more
specific) and a veritable steam-engine of activity and energy.  It
was altogether natural, therefore, that he should assume the
leadership of our party of two in all matters touching places, modes
of travel, hotels, and other details large and small, while I trailed
along in his wake.  This order continued for some days, and I, of
course, experienced all the while the emotion of subjection in some
degree.  When we came to the Isle of Man we puzzled our heads no
little over the curious coat of arms of that quaint little country.
This coat of arms is three human legs, equidistant from one another.
At Peel we made numerous inquiries, and also at Ramsey, but to no
avail.  In the evening, however, in the hotel at Douglas I saw a
picture of this coat of arms, accompanied by the inscription,
_Quocumque jeceris stabit_, and gave some sort of translation of it.
Then and there came my emancipation, for after that I was consulted
and deferred to during all the weeks we were together.  It is quite
improbable that Hazzard himself realized any change in our relations,
but unconsciously paid that subtle tribute to my small knowledge of
Latin.  When we came to Stratford I did not call upon Miss Marie
Corelli, for I had heard that she is quite averse to men as a class,
and I feared I might suffer an emotional collapse.  I was so
comfortable in my newly acquainted emotion of elation that I decided
to run no risks.

When at length I resumed my schoolmastering I determined to give the
boys and girls the benefit of my recent discovery.  I saw that I must
generate in each one, if possible, the emotion of elation, that I
must so arrange school situations that mastery would become a habit
with them if they were to become "masters in the kingdom of life," as
my friend Long says it.  I saw at once that the difficulties must be
made only high enough to incite them to effort, but not so high as to
cause discouragement.  I recalled the sentence in Harvey's Grammar:
"Milo began to lift the ox when he was a calf."  After we had
succeeded in locating the antecedent of "he" we learned from this
sentence a lesson of value, and I recalled this lesson in my efforts
to inculcate progressive mastery in the boys and girls of my school.
I sometimes deferred a difficult problem for a few days till they had
lifted the growing calf a few more times, and then returned to it.
Some one says that everything is infinitely high that we can't see
over, so I was careful to arrange the barriers just a bit lower than
the eye-line of my pupils, and then raise them a trifle on each
succeeding day.  In this way I strove to generate the positive
self-feeling so that there should be no depression and no white flag.
And that surely was worth a trip to the Isle of Man, even if one
failed to see one of their tailless cats.

I had occasion or, rather, I took occasion at one time to punish a
boy with a fair degree of severity (may the Lord forgive me), and
now.  I know that in so doing I was guilty of a grave error.  What I
interpreted as misconduct was but a straining at his leash in an
effort to extricate himself from the incubus of the negative
self-feeling.  He was, and probably is, a dull fellow and realized
that he could not cope with the other boys in the school studies, and
so was but trying to win some notice in other fields of activity.  To
him notoriety was preferable to obscurity.  If I had only been wise I
would have turned his inclination to good account and might have
helped him to self-mastery, if not to the mastery of algebra.  He
yearned for the emotion of elation, and I was trying to perpetuate
his emotion of subjection.  If Methuselah had been a schoolmaster he
might have attained proficiency by the time he reached the age of
nine hundred and sixty-eight years if he had been a close observer, a
close student of methods, and had been willing and able to profit by
his own mistakes.

Friend Virgil says something like this: "They can because they think
they can," and I heartily concur.  Some one tells us that Kent in
"King Lear" got his name from the Anglo-Saxon word can and he was
aptly named, in view of Virgil's statement.  But can I cause my boys
and girls to think they can?  Why, most assuredly, if I am any sort
of teacher.  Otherwise I ought to be dealing with inanimate things
and leave the school work to those who can.  I certainly can help
young folks to shift from the emotion of subjection to the emotion of
elation.  I had a puppy that we called Nick and thought I'd like to
teach him to go up-stairs.  When he came to the first stair he cried
and cowered and said, in his language, that it was too high, and that
he could never do it.  So, in a soothing way, I quoted Virgil at him
and placed his front paws upon the step.  Then he laughed a bit and
said the step wasn't as high as the moon, after all.  So I patted him
and called him a brave little chap, and he gained the higher level.
Then we rested for a bit and spent the time in being glad, for Nick
and I had read our "Pollyanna" and had learned the trick of gladness.
Well, before the day was over that puppy could go up the stairs
without the aid of a teacher, and a gladder dog never was.  If I had
taken as much pains with that boy as I did with Nick I'd feel far
more comfortable right now, and the boy would have felt more
comfortable both then and after.  O schoolmastering!  How many sins
are committed in thy name!  I succeeded with the puppy, but failed
with the boy.  A boy does not go to school to study algebra, but
studies algebra to learn mastery.  I know this now, but did not know
it then, more's the pity!

I had another valuable lesson in this phase of pedagogy the day my
friend Vance and I sojourned to Indianapolis to call upon Mr.
Benjamin Harrison, who had somewhat recently completed his term as
President of the United States.  We were fortified with ample and
satisfactory credentials and had a very fortunate introduction; but
for all that we were inclined to walk softly into the presence of
greatness, and had a somewhat acute attack of negative self-feeling.
However, after due exchange of civilities, we succeeded somehow in
preferring the request that had brought us into his presence, and Mr.
Harrison's reply served to reassure us.  Said he: "Oh, no, boys, I
couldn't do that; last year I promised Bok to write some articles for
his journal, and I didn't have any fun all summer."  His two words,
"boys" and "fun," were the magic ones that caused the tension to
relax and generated the emotion of elation.  We then sat back in our
chairs and, possibly, crossed our legs--I can't be certain as to
that.  At any rate, in a single sentence this man had made us his
co-ordinates and caused the negative self-feeling to vanish.  Then
for a good half-hour he talked in a familiar way about great affairs,
and in a style that charmed.  He told us of a call he had the day
before from David Starr.  Jordan, who came to report his experience
as a member of the commission that had been appointed to adjudicate
the controversy between the United States and England touching
seal-fishing in the Behring Sea.  It may be recalled that this
commission consisted of two Americans, two Englishmen, and King Oscar
of Sweden.  Mr. Harrison told us quite frankly that he felt a mistake
had been made in making up the commission, for, with two Americans
and two Englishmen on the commission, the sole arbiter in reality was
King Oscar, since the other four were reduced to the plane of mere
advocates; but, had there been three Americans and two Englishmen, or
two Americans and three Englishmen, the function of all would have
been clearly judicial.  Suffice it to say that this great man made us
forget our emotion of subjection, and so made us feel that he would
have been a great teacher, just as he was a great statesman.  I shall
always be grateful for the lesson he taught me and, besides, I am
glad that the college chap came in and gave me that psychological



When I write my book on farm pedagogy I shall certainly make large
use of the horse in illustrating the fundamental principles, for he
is a noble animal and altogether worthy of the fullest recognition.
We often use the expression "horse-sense" somewhat flippantly, but I
have often seen a driver who would have been a more useful member of
society if he had had as much sense as the horses he was driving.  If
I were making a catalogue of the "lower animals" I'd certainly
include the man who abuses a horse.  Why, the celebrated German
trick-horse, Hans, had even the psychologists baffled for a long
time, but finally he taught them a big chapter in psychology.  They
finally discovered that his marvellous tricks were accomplished
through the power of close observation.  Facial expression, twitching
of a muscle, movements of the head, these were the things he watched
for as his cue in answering questions by indicating the right card.
There was a teacher in our school once who wore old-fashioned
spectacles.  When he wanted us to answer a question in a certain way
he unconsciously looked over his spectacles; but when he wanted a
different answer he raised his spectacles to his forehead.  So we
ranked high in our daily grades, but met our Waterloo when the
examination came around.  That teacher, of course, had never heard of
the horse Hans, and so was not aware that in the process of watching
his movements we were merely proving that we had horse-sense.  He
probably attributed our ready answers to the superiority of his
teaching, not realizing that our minds were concentrated upon the
subject of spectacles.

Of course, a horse balks now and then, and so does a boy.  I did a
bit of balking myself as a boy, and I am not quite certain that I
have even yet become immune.  Doctor James Wallace (whose edition of
"Anabasis" some of us have read, halting and stumbling along through
the parasangs) with three companions went out to Marathon one day
from Athens.  The distance, as I recall it, is about twenty-two
miles, and they left early in the morning, so as to return the same
day.  Their conveyance was an open wagon with two horses attached.
When they had gone a mile or two out of town one of the horses balked
and refused to proceed.  Then and there each member of the party drew
upon his past experiences, seeking a panacea for the equine
delinquency.  One suggested the plan of building a fire under the
recalcitrant horse, while another suggested pouring sand into his
ears.  Doctor Wallace discouraged these remedies as being cruel and
finally told the others to take their places in the wagon and he
would try the merits of a plan he had in mind.  Accordingly, when
they were seated, he clambered over the dash, walked along the
wagon-pole, and suddenly plumped himself down upon the horse's back.
Then away they went, John Gilpin like, Doctor Wallace's coat-tails
and hair streaming out behind.

There was no more balking in the course of the trip, and no one
(save, possibly, the horse) had any twinges of conscience to keep him
awake that night.  The incident is brimful of pedagogy in that it
shows that, in order to cure a horse of an attack of balking, you
have but to distract his mind from his balking and get him to
thinking of something else.  Before this occurrence taught me the
better way, I was quite prone, in dealing with a balking boy, to hold
his mind upon the subject of balking.  I told him how unseemly it
was, how humiliated his father and mother would be, how he could not
grow up to be a useful citizen if he yielded to such tantrums; in
short, I ran the gamut of all the pedagogical bromides, and so kept
his mind centred upon balking.  Now that I have learned better, I
strive to divert his mind to something eke, and may ask him to go
upon some pleasant errand that he may gain some new experiences.
When he returns he has forgotten that he was balking and recounts his
experiences most delightfully.

Ed was one of the balkiest boys I ever had in my school.  His attacks
would often last for days, and the more attention you paid to him the
worse he balked.  In the midst of one of these violent and prolonged
attacks a lady came to school who, in the kindness of her generous
nature, was proposing to give a boy Joe (now a city alderman) a
Christmas present of a new hat.  She came to invoke my aid in trying
to discover the size of Joe's head.  I readily undertook the task,
which loomed larger and larger as I came fully to realize that I was
the sole member of the committee of ways and means.  In my dire
perplexity I saw Ed grouching along the hall.  Calling him to one
side, I explained to the last detail the whole case, and confessed
that I did not know how to proceed.  At once his face brightened, and
he readily agreed to make the discovery for me; and in half an hour I
had the information I needed and Ed's face was luminous.  Yes, Joe
got the hat and Ed quit balking.  If Doctor Wallace had not gone to
Marathon that day I can scarcely imagine what might have happened to
Ed; and Joe might not have received a new hat.

I have often wondered whether a horse has a sense of humor.  I know a
boy has, and I very strongly suspect that the horse has.  It was one
of my tasks in boyhood to take the horses down to the creek for
water.  Among others we had a roan two-year-old colt that we called
Dick, and even yet I think of him as quite capable of laughter at
some of his own mischievous pranks.  One day I took him to water,
dispensing with the formalities of a bridle, and riding him down
through the orchard with no other habiliments than a rope halter.  In
the orchard were several trees of the bellflower variety, whose
branches sagged near to the ground.  Dick was going along very
decorously and sedately, as if he were studying the golden text or
something equally absorbing, when, all at once, some spirit of
mischief seemed to possess him and away he bolted, willy-nilly, right
under the low-hanging branches of one of those trees.  Of course, I
was raked fore and aft, and, while I did not imitate the example of
Absalom, I afforded a fairly good imitation, with the difference
that, through many trials and tribulations, I finally reached the
ground.  Needless to say that I was a good deal of a wreck, with my
clothing much torn and my hands and face not only much torn but also
bleeding.  After relieving himself of his burden, Dick meandered on
down to the creek in leisurely fashion, where I came upon him in due
time enjoying a lunch of grass.

Walking toward the creek, sore in body and spirit, I fully made up my
mind to have a talk with that colt that he would not soon forget.  He
had put shame upon me, and I determined to tell him so.  But when I
came upon him looking so lamblike in his innocence, and when I
imagined that I heard him chuckle at my plight, my resolution
evaporated, and I realized that in a trial of wits he had got the
better of me.  Moreover, I conceded right there that he had a right
to laugh, and especially when he saw me so superlatively scrambled.
He had beaten me on my own ground and convicted me of knowing less
than a horse, so I could but yield the palm to him with what grace I
could command.  Many a time since that day have I been unhorsed, and
by a mere boy who laughed at my discomfiture.  But I learned my
lesson from Dick and have always tried, though grimly, to applaud the
victor in the tournament of wits.  Only so could I hold the respect
of the boy, not to mention my own.  If a boy sets a trap for me and I
walk into it, well, if he doesn't laugh at me he isn't much of a boy;
and if I can't laugh with him I am not much of a schoolmaster.



I may be mistaken, but my impression is that "The Light of the
World," by Holman Hunt, is the only celebrated picture in the world
of which there are two originals.  One of these may be seen at Oxford
and the other in St. Paul's, London.  Neither is a copy of the other,
and yet they are both alike, so far as one may judge without having
them side by side.  The picture represents Christ standing at a door
knocking, with a lantern in one hand from which light is streaming.
When I think of a lantern the mind instantly flashes to this picture,
to Diogenes and his lantern, and to the old tin lantern with its
perforated cylinder which I used to carry out to the barn to arrange
the bed-chambers for the horses.  All my life have I been hearing
folks speak of the association of ideas as if one idea could conjure
up innumerable others.  The lantern that I carried to the barn never
could have been associated with Diogenes if I had not read of the
philosopher, nor with the picture at Oxford if I had never seen or
heard of it.  In order that we have association of ideas, we must
first have the ideas, according to my way of thinking.

Thus it chanced that when I came upon some reference to Holman Hunt
and his great masterpiece, my mind glanced over to the cynical
philosopher and his lantern.  The more I ponder over that lantern the
more puzzled I become as to its real significance.  The popular
notion is that it is meant to show how difficult it was in his day to
find an honest man.  But popular conceptions are sometimes
superficial ones, and if Diogenes was the philosopher we take him to
have been there must have been more to that lantern than the mere
eccentricity of the man who carried it.  If we could go back of the
lantern we might find the cynic's definition of honesty, and that
would be worth knowing.  Back home we used to say that an honest man
is one who pays his debts and has due respect for property rights.
Perhaps Diogenes had gone more deeply into the matter of paying debts
as a mark of honesty than those who go no further in their thinking
than the grocer, the butcher, and the tax-man.

This all tends to set me thinking of my own debts and the possibility
of full payment.  I'm just a schoolmaster and people rather expect me
to be somewhat visionary or even fantastic in my notions.  But, with
due allowance for my vagaries, I cannot rid myself of the feeling
that I am deeply in debt to somebody for the Venus de Milo.  She has
the reputation of being the very acme of sculpture, and certainly the
Parisians so regard her or they would not pay her such a high tribute
in the way of space and position.  She is the focus of that whole
wonderful gallery.  No one has ever had the boldness to give her a
place in the market quotations, but I can regale myself with her
beauty for a mere pittance.  This pittance does not at all cancel my
indebtedness, and I come away feeling that I still owe something to
somebody, without in the least knowing who it is or how I am to pay.
I can't even have the poor satisfaction of making proper
acknowledgment to the sculptor.

I can acknowledge my obligation to Michael Angelo for the Sistine
ceiling, but that doesn't cancel my indebtedness by any means.  It
took me fifteen years to find the Cumaean Sibyl.  I had seen a
reproduction of this lady in some book, and had become much
interested in her generous physique, her brawny arms, her
wide-spreading toes, and her look of concentration as she delves into
the mysteries of the massive volume before her.  Naturally I became
curious as to the original, and wondered if I should ever meet her
face to face.  Then one day I was lying on my back on a wooden bench
in the Sistine Chapel, having duly apologized for my violation of the
conventions, when, wonder of wonders, there was the Cumaean Sibyl in
full glory right before my eyes, and the quest of all those years was
ended in triumph.  True, the Sibyl does not compare in greatness with
the "Creation of Adam" in one of the central panels, but for all that
I was glad to have her definitely localized.

I have never got it clearly figured out just how the letters of the
alphabet were evolved, nor who did the work, but I go right on using
them as if I had evolved them myself.  They seem to be my own
personal property, and I jostle them about quite careless of the fact
that some one gave them to me.  I can't see how I could get on
without them, and yet I have never admitted any obligation to their
author.  The same is true of the digits.  I make constant use of
them, and sometimes even abuse them, as if I had a clear title to
them.  I have often wondered who worked out the table of logarithms,
and have thought how much more agreeable life has been for many
people because of his work.  I know my own debt to him is large, and
I dare say many others have a like feeling.  Even the eighth-grade
boys in the Castle Road school, London, share this feeling,
doubtless, for in a test in arithmetic that I saw there I noted that
in four of the twelve problems set for solution they had permission
to use their table of logarithms.  They probably got home earlier for
supper by their use of this table.

I hereby make my humble apologies to Mr. Thomas A. Edison for my
thoughtlessness in not writing to him before this to thank him for
his many acts of kindness to me.  I have been exceedingly careless in
the matter.  I owe him for the comfort and convenience of this
beautiful electric light, and yet have never mentioned the matter to
him.  He has a right to think me an ingrate.  I have been so busy
enjoying the gifts he has sent me that I have been negligent of the
giver.  As I think of all my debts to scientists, inventors, artists,
poets, and statesmen, and consider how impossible it is for me to pay
all my debts to all these, try as I may, I begin to see how difficult
it was for Diogenes to find a man who paid all his debts in full.
Hence, the lantern.

It seems to me that, of the varieties of late potatoes the Carmen is
the premier.  Part of the charm of hoeing potatoes lies in
anticipating the joys of the potato properly baked.  Charles Lamb may
write of his roast pig, and the epicures among the ancients may
expatiate upon the glories of a dish of peacock's tongues and their
other rare and costly edibles, but they probably never knew to what
heights one may ascend in the scale of gastronomic joys in the
immediate presence of a baked Carmen.  When it is broken open the
steam ascends like incense from an altar, while at the magic touch
the snowy, flaky substance billows forth upon the plate in a drift
that would inspire the pen of a poet.  The further preliminaries
amount to a ceremony.  There can be, there must be no haste.  The
whole summer lies back of this moment.  There on the plate are weeks
of golden sunshine, interwoven with the singing of birds and the
fragrance of flowers; and it were sacrilege to become hurried at the
consummation.  When the meat has been made fine the salt and pepper
are applied, deliberately, daintily, and then comes the butter, like
the golden glow of sunset upon a bank of flaky clouds.  The artist
tries in vain to rival this blending of colors and shades.  But the
supreme moment and the climax come when the feast is glorified and
set apart by its baptism of cream.  At such a moment the sense of my
indebtedness to the man who developed the Carmen becomes most acute.
If the leaders of contending armies could sit together at this table
and join in this gracious ceremony, their rancor and enmity would
cease, the protocol would be signed, and there would ensue a
proclamation of peace.  Then the whole world would recognize its debt
to the man who produced this potato.

Having eaten the peace-producing potato, I feel strengthened to make
another trial at an interpretation of that lantern.  I do not know
whether Diogenes had any acquaintance with the Decalogue, but have my
doubts.  In fact, history gives us too few data concerning his
attainments for a clear exposition of his character.  But one may
hazard a guess that he was looking for a man who would not steal, but
could not find him.  In a sense that was a high compliment to the
people of his day, for there is a sort of stealing that takes rank
among the fine arts.  In fact, stealing is the greatest subject that
is taught in the school.  I cannot recall a teacher who did not
encourage me to strive for mastery in this art.  Every one of them
applauded my every success in this line.  One of my early triumphs
was reciting "Horatius at the Bridge," and my teacher almost
smothered me with praise.  I simply took what Macaulay had written
and made it my own.  I had some difficulty in making off with the
conjugation of the Greek verb, but the more I took of it the more my
teacher seemed pleased.  All along the line I have been encouraged to
appropriate what others have produced and to take joy in my
pilfering.  Mr. Carnegie has lent his sanction to this sort of thing
by fostering libraries.  Shakespeare was arrested for stealing a
deer, but extolled for stealing the plots of "Romeo and Juliet,"
"Comedy of Errors," and others of his plays.  It seems quite all
right to steal ideas, or even thoughts, and this may account again
for the old man's lantern.  But, even so, it would seem quite
iconoclastic to say that education is the process of reminding people
of their debts and of training them to steal.



In my quiet way I have been making inquiries among my acquaintances
for a long time, trying to find out what education really is.  As a
schoolmaster I must try to make it appear that I know.  In fact, I am
quite a Sir Oracle on the subject of education in my school.  But, in
the quiet of my den, after the day's work is done, I often long for
some one to come in and tell me just what it is.  I am fairly
conversant with the multiplication table and can distinguish between
active and passive verbs, but even with these attainments I somehow
feel that I have not gone to the extreme limits of the meaning of
education.  In reality, I don't know what it is or what it is for.  I
do wish that the man who says in his book that education is a
preparation for complete living would come into this room right now,
sit down in that chair, and tell me, man to man, what complete living
is.  I want to know and think I have a right to know.  Besides, he
has no right to withhold this information from me.  He had no right
to get me all stirred up with his definition, and then go away and
leave me dangling in the air.  If he were here I'd ask him a few
pointed questions.  I'd ask him to tell me just how the fact that
seven times nine is sixty-three is connected up with complete living.
I'd want him to explain, too, what the binomial theorem has to do
with complete living, and also the dative of reference.  I got the
notion, when I was struggling with that binomial theorem, that it
would ultimately lead on to fame or fortune; but it hasn't done
either, so far as I can make out.

There was a time when I could solve an equation of three unknown
quantities, and could even jimmy a quantity out from under a radical
sign, and had the feeling that I was quite a fellow.  Then one day I
went into a bookstore to buy a book.  I had quite enough money to pay
for one, and had somehow got the notion that a boy of my attainments
ought to have a book.  But, in the presence of the blond chap behind
the counter, I was quite abashed, for I did not in the least know
what book I wanted.  I knew it wasn't a Bible, for we had one at
home, but further than that I could not go.  Now, if knowing how to
buy a book is a part of complete living, then, in that blond
presence, I was hopelessly adrift.  I had been taught that gambling
is wrong, but there was a situation where I had to take a chance or
show the white feather.  Of course, I took the chance and was
relieved of my money by a blond who may or may not have been able to
solve radicals.  I shall not give the title of the book I drew in
that lottery, for this is neither the time nor the place for

I was a book-agent for one summer, but am trying to live it down.
Hoping to sell a copy of the book whose glowing description I had
memorized, I called at the home of a wealthy farmer.  The house was
spacious and embowered in beautiful trees and shrubbery.  There was a
noble driveway that led up from the country road, and everything
betokened great prosperity.  Once inside the house, I took a survey
of the fittings and could see at once that the farmer had lavished
money upon the home to make it distinctive in the neighborhood as a
suitable background for his wife and daughters.  The piano alone must
have cost a small fortune, and it was but one of the many instruments
to be seen.  There were carpets, rugs, and curtains in great
profusion, and a bewildering array of all sorts of bric-a-brac.  In
time the father asked one of the daughters to play, and she responded
with rather unbecoming alacrity.  What she played I shall never know,
but it seemed to me to be a five-finger exercise.  Whatever it was,
it was not music.  I lost interest at once and so had time to make a
more critical inspection of the decorations.  What I saw was a battle
royal.  There was the utmost lack of harmony.  The rugs fought the
carpets, and both were at the throats of the curtains.  Then the
wall-paper joined in the fray, and the din and confusion was torture
to the spirit.  Even the furniture caught the spirit of discord and
made fierce attacks upon everything else in the room.  The reds, and
yellows, and blues, and greens whirled and swirled about in such a
dizzy and belligerent fashion that I wondered how the people ever
managed to escape nervous prostration.  But the daughter went right
on with the five-finger exercise as if nothing else were happening.
I shall certainly cite this case when the man comes in to explain
what he means by complete living.

This all reminds me of the man of wealth who thought it incumbent
upon him to give his neighbors some benefit of his money in the way
of pleasure.  So he went to Europe and bought a great quantity of
marble statuary and had the pieces placed in the spacious grounds
about his home.  When the opening day came there ensued much
suppressed tittering and, now and then, an uncontrollable guffaw.
Diana, Venus, Vulcan, Apollo, Jove, and Mercury had evidently
stumbled into a convention of nymphs, satyrs, fairies, sprites,
furies, harpies, gargoyles, giants, pygmies, muses, and fates.   The
result was bedlam.  Parenthetically, I have often wondered how much
money it cost that man to make the discovery that he was not a
connoisseur of art, and also what process of education might have
fitted him for a wise expenditure of all that money.

So I go on wondering what education is, and nobody seems quite
willing to tell me.  I bought some wall-paper once, and when it had
been hung there was so much laughter at my taste, or lack of it,
that, in my chagrin, I selected another pattern to cover up the
evidence of my ignorance.  But that is expensive, and a schoolmaster
can ill afford such luxurious ignorance.  People were unkind enough
to say that the bare wall would have been preferable to my first
selection of paper, I was made conscious that complete living was
impossible so long as that paper was visible.  But even when the
original had been covered up I looked at the wall suspiciously to see
whether it would show through as a sort of subdued accusation against
me.   I don't pretend to know whether taste in the selection of
wall-paper is inherent or acquired.  If it can be acquired, then I
wonder, again, just how cube root helps it along.

I don't know what education is, but I do know that it is expensive.
I had some pictures in my den that seemed well enough till I came to
look at some others, and then they seemed cheap and inadequate.  I
tried to argue myself out of this feeling, but did not succeed.  As a
result, the old pictures have been supplanted by new ones, and I am
poorer in consequence.  But, in spite of my depleted purse, I take
much pleasure in my new possessions and feel that they are
indications of progress.  I wonder, though, how long it will be till
I shall want still other and better ones.  Education may be a good
thing, but it does increase and multiply one's wants.  Then, in a
brief time, these wants become needs, and there you have perpetual
motion.  When the agent came to me first to try to get me interested
in an encyclopaedia I could scarce refrain from smiling.  But later
on I began to want an encyclopaedia, and now the one I have ranks as
a household necessity the same as bathtub, coffee-pot, and

But, try as I may, I can't clearly distinguish between wants and
needs.  I see a thing that I want, and the very next day I begin to
wonder how I can possibly get on without it.  This must surely be the
psychology of show-windows and show-cases.  If I didn't see the
article I should feel no want of it, of course.  But as soon as I see
it I begin to want it, and then I think I need it.  The county fair
is a great psychological institution, because it causes people to
want things and then to think they need them.  The worst of it is the
less able I am to buy a thing the more I want it and seem to need it.
I'd like to have money enough to make an experiment on myself just to
see if I could ever reach the point, as did the Caliph, where the
only want I'd have would be a want.  Possibly, that's what the man
means by complete living.  I wonder.



For some time I have had it in mind to make a speech.  I don't know
what I would say nor where I could possibly find an audience, but, in
spite of all that, I feel that I'd like to try myself out on a
speech.  I can't trace this feeling back to its source.  It may have
started when I heard a good speech, somewhere, or, it may have
started when I heard a poor one.  I can't recall.  When I hear a good
speech I feel that I'd like to do as well; and, when I hear a poor
one, I feel that I'd like to do better.  The only thing that is
settled, as yet, about this speech that I want to make is the
subject, and even that is not my own.  It is just near enough my own,
however, to obviate the use of quotation-marks.  The hardest part of
the task of writing or speaking is to gain credit for what some one
else has said or written, and still be able to omit quotation-marks.
That calls for both mental and ethical dexterity of a high order.

But to the speech.  The subject is Dialectic Efficiency--without
quotation-marks, be it noted.  The way of it is this: I have been
reading, or, rather, trying to read the masterly book by Doctor
Fletcher Durell, whose title is "Fundamental Sources of Efficiency."
This is one of the most recondite books that has come from the press
in a generation, and it is no reflection upon the book for me to say
that I have been trying to read it.  It is so big, so deep, so high,
and so wide that I can only splash around in it a bit.  But "the
water's fine."  At any rate, I have been dipping into this book quite
a little, and that is how I came upon the caption of my speech.  Of
course, I get the word "efficiency" from the title of the book, and,
besides, everybody uses that word nowadays.  Then, the author of this
book has a chapter on "Dialectic," and so I combine these two words
and thus get rid of the quotation-marks.

And that certainly is an imposing subject for a speech.  If it should
ever be printed on a programme, it would prove awe-inspiring.  Next
to making a good speech, I'd like to be skilled in sleight-of-hand
affairs.  I'd like to fish up a rabbit from the depths of an old
gentleman's silk tile, or extract a dozen eggs from a lady's
hand-bag, or transmute a canary into a goldfish.  I'd like to see the
looks of wonder on the faces of the audience and hear them gasp.  The
difficulty with such a subject as I have chosen, though, is to fill
the frame.  I went into a shop in Paris once to make some small
purchase, expecting to find a great emporium, but, to my surprise,
found that all the goods were in the show-window.  That's one trouble
with my subject--all the goods seem to be in the show-window.  But,
I'll do the best I can with it, even if I am compelled to pilfer from
the pages of the book.

In the introduction of the speech I shall become expansive upon the
term _Dialectic_, and try to impress my hearers (if there are any)
with my thorough acquaintance with all things which the term
suggests.  If I continue expatiating upon the word long enough they
may come to think that I actually coined the word, for I shall not
emphasize Doctor Durell especially--just enough to keep my soul
untarnished.  In a review of this book one man translates the first
word "luck."  I don't like his word and for two reasons: In the first
place, it is a short word, and everybody knows that long words are
better for speechmaking purposes.  If he had used the word
"accidental" or "incidental" I'd think more of his translation and of
his review.  I'm going to use my word as if Doctor Durell had said

So much for the introduction; now for the speech.  From this point
forward I shall draw largely upon the book but shall so turn and
twist what the doctor says as to make it seem my own.  With something
of a flourish, I shall tell how in the year 1856 a young chemist,
named Perkin, while trying to produce quinine synthetically, hit upon
the process of producing aniline dyes.  His incidental discovery led
to the establishment of the artificial-dye industry, and we have here
an example of dialectic efficiency.  This must impress my intelligent
and cultured auditors, and they will be wondering if I can produce
another illustration equally good.  I can, of course, for this book
is rich in illustrations.  I can see, as it were, the old fellow on
the third seat, who has been sitting there as stiff and straight as a
ramrod, limber up just a mite, and with my next point I hope to
induce him to lean forward an inch, at least, out of the

Then I shall proceed to recount to them how Christopher Columbus, in
an effort to circumnavigate the globe and reach the eastern coast of
Asia, failed in this undertaking, but made a far greater achievement
in the discovery of America.  If, at this point, the old man is
leaning forward two or three inches instead of one, I may ask, in
dramatic style, where we should all be to-day if Columbus had reached
Asia instead of America--in other words, if this principle of
dialectic efficiency had not been in full force.  Just here, to give
opportunity for possible applause, I shall take the handkerchief from
my pocket with much deliberation, unfold it carefully, and wipe my
face and forehead as an evidence that dispensing second-hand thoughts
is a sweat-producing process.

Then, in a sort of sublimated frenzy, I shall fairly deluge them with
illustrations, telling how the establishment of rural mail-routes led
to improved roads and these, in turn, to consolidated schools and
better conditions of living in the country; how the potato-beetle,
which seems at first to be a scourge, was really a blessing in
disguise in that it set farmers to studying improved methods
resulting in largely increased crops, and how the scale has done a
like service for fruit-growers; how a friend of mine was drilling for
oil and found water instead, and now has an artesian well that
supplies water in great abundance, and how one Mr. Hellriegel, back
in 1886, made the incidental discovery that leguminous plants fixate
nitrogen, and, hence, our fields of clover, alfalfa, cow-peas, and

It will not seem out of place if I recall to them how the Revolution
gave us Washington, the Adamses, Hancock, Madison, Franklin,
Jefferson, and Hamilton; how slavery gave us Clay, Calhoun, and
Webster; and how the Civil War gave us Lincoln, Seward, Stanton,
Grant, Lee, Sherman, Sheridan, and "Stonewall" Jackson.  If there
should, by chance, be any teachers present I'll probably enlarge upon
this historical phase of the subject if I can think of any other
illustrations.  I shall certainly emphasize the fact that the
incidental phases of school work may prove to be more important than
the objects directly aimed at, that while the teacher is striving to
inculcate a knowledge of arithmetic she may be inculcating manhood
and womanhood, and that the by-products of her teaching may become
world-wide influences.

As a peroration, I shall expand upon the subject of pleasure as an
incidental of work--showing how the mere pleasure-seeker never finds
what he is seeking, but that the man who works is the one who finds
pleasure.  I think I shall be able to find some apt quotation from
Emerson before the time for the speech comes around.  If so, I shall
use it so as to take their minds off the fact that I am taking the
speech from Doctor Durell's book.



The first school that I ever tried to teach was, indeed, fearfully
and wonderfully taught.  The teaching was of the sort that might well
be called elemental.  If there was any pedagogy connected with the
work, it was purely accidental.  I was not conscious either of its
presence or its absence, and so deserve neither praise nor censure.
I had one pupil who was nine years my senior, and I did not even know
that he was retarded.  I recall quite distinctly that he had a
luxuriant crop of chin-whiskers but even these did not disturb the
procedure of that school.  We accepted him as he was, whiskers
included, and went on our complacent way.  He was blind in one eye
and somewhat deaf, but no one ever thought of him as abnormal or
subnormal.  Even if we had known these words we should have been too
polite to apply them to him.  In fact, we had no black-list, of any
sort, in that school.  I have never been able to determine whether
the absence of such a list was due to ignorance, or innocence, or
both.  So long as he found the school an agreeable place in which to
spend the winter, and did not interfere with the work of others, I
could see no good reason why he should not be there and get what he
could from the lessons in spelling, geography, and arithmetic.  I do
not mention grammar for that was quite beyond him.  The agreement of
subject and verb was one of life's great mysteries to him.  So I
permitted him to browse around in such pastures as seemed finite to
him, and let the infinite grammar go by default so far as he was

I have but the most meagre acquaintance with the pedagogical dicta of
the books--a mere bowing acquaintance--but, at that time, I had not
even been introduced to any of these.  But, as the saying goes, "The
Lord takes care of fools and children," and, so, somehow, by sheer
blind luck, I instinctively veered away from the Procrustean bed
idea, and found some work for my bewhiskered disciple that connected
with his native dispositions.  Had any one told me I was doing any
such things I think I should, probably, have asked him how to spell
the words he was using.  I only knew that this man-child was there
yearning for knowledge, and I was glad to share my meagre store of
crumbs with him.  His gratitude for my small gifts was really
pathetic, and right there I learned the joys of the teacher.  That
man sought me out on our way home from school and asked questions
that would have puzzled Socrates, but forgot my ignorance of hard
questions in his joy at my answers of easy ones.  When some light
would break in upon him he cavorted about me like a glad dog, and
became a second Columbus, discovering a new world.

I almost lose patience with myself, at times, when I catch myself
preening my feathers before some pedagogical mirror, as if I were
getting ready to appear in public as an accredited schoolmaster.  At
such a time, I long to go back to the country road and saunter along
beside some pupil, either with or without whiskers, and give him of
my little store without rules or frills and with no pomp or parade.
In that little school at the crossroads we never made any preparation
for some possible visitor who might come in to survey us or apply
some efficiency test, or give us a rating either as individuals or as
a school.  We were too busy and happy for that.  We kept right on at
our work with our doors and our hearts wide open for every good thing
that came our way, whether knowledge or people.  As I have said, our
work was elemental.

I am glad I came across this little book of William James, "On Some
of Life's Ideals," for it takes me back, inferentially, to that
elemental school, especially in this paragraph which says: "Life is
always worth living, if one have such responsive sensibilities.  But
we of the highly educated classes (so-called) have most of us got
far, far away from Nature.  We are trained to seek the choice, the
rare, the exquisite exclusively and to overlook the common.  We are
stuffed with abstract conceptions, and glib with verbalities and
verbosities; and in the culture of these higher functions the
peculiar sources of joy connected with our simpler functions often
dry up, and we grow stone-blind and insensible to life's more
elementary and general goods and joys."

I wish I might go home from school one evening by way of the top of
Mt. Vesuvius, another by way of Mt. Rigi, and, another, by way of
Lauterbrunnen.  Then the next evening I should like to spend an hour
or two along the borders of Yellowstone Canyon, and the next, watch
an eruption or two of Old Faithful geyser.  Then, on still another
evening, I'd like to ride for two hours on top of a bus in London.
I'd like to have these experiences as an antidote for emptiness.  It
would prepare me far better for to-morrow work than pondering
Johnny's defections, or his grades, whether high or low, or marking
silly papers with marks that are still sillier.  I like Walt Whitman
because he was such a sublime loafer.  His loafing gave him time to
grow big inside, and so, he had big elemental thoughts that were good
for him and good for me when I think them over after him.

If I should ever get a position in a normal school I'd want to give a
course in William J. Locke's "The Beloved Vagabond," so as to give
the young folks a conception of big elemental teaching.  If I were
giving a course in ethics, I'd probably select another book, but, in
pedagogy, I'd certainly include that one.  I'd lose some students, to
be sure, for some of them would be shocked; but a person who is not
big enough to profit by reading that book never ought to teach
school--I mean for the school's sake.  If we could only lose the
consciousness of the fact that we are schoolmasters for a few hours
each day, it would be a great help to us and to our boys and girls.

I am quite partial to the "Madonna of the Chair," and wish I might
visit the Pitti Gallery frequently just to gaze at her.  She is so
wholesome and gives one the feeling that a big soul looks out through
her eyes.  She would be a superb teacher.  She would fill the school
with her presence and still do it all unconsciously.  The centre of
the room would be where she happened to be.  She would never be
mistaken for one of the pupils.  Her pupils would learn arithmetic
but the arithmetic would be laden with her big spirit, and that would
be better for them than the arithmetic could possibly be.  If I had
to be a woman I'd want to be such as this Madonna--serene, majestic,
and big-souled.

I have often wondered whether bigness of soul can be cultivated, and
my optimism inclines to a vote in the affirmative.  I spent a part of
one summer in the pine woods far away from the haunts of men.  When I
had to leave this sylvan retreat it required eleven hours by stage to
reach the railway-station.  There for some weeks I lived in a log
cabin, accompanied by a cook and a professional woodsman.  I was not
there to camp, to fish, or to loaf, and yet I did all these.  There
were some duties and work connected with the enterprise and these
gave zest to the fishing and the loafing.  Giant trees, space, and
sky were my most intimate associates, and they told me only of big
things.  They had never a word to say of styles of clothing or
becoming shades of neckwear or hosiery.  In all that time I was never
disturbed by the number and diversity of spoons and forks beside my
plate at the dinner-table.  Many a noble meal I ate as I sat upon a
log supported in forked stakes, and many a big thought did I glean
from the talk of loggers about me in their picturesque costumes.  In
the evening I sat upon a great log in front of the cabin or a
friendly stump, and forgot such things as hammocks and porch-swings.
Instead of gazing at street-lamps only a few yards away I was gazing
at stars millions of miles away, and, somehow, the soul seemed to
gain freedom.

And I had luxury, too.  I had a room with bath.  The bath was at the
stream some fifty yards away, but such discrepancies are minor
affairs in the midst of such big elemental things as were all about
me.  My mattress was of young cherry shoots, and never did king have
a more royal bed, or ever such refreshing sleep.  And, while I slept,
I grew inside, for the soft music of the pines lulled me to rest, and
the subdued rippling of my bath-stream seemed to wash my soul clean.
When I arose I had no bad taste in my mouth or in my soul, and each
morning had for me the glory of a resurrection.  My trees were there
to bid me good morning, the big spaces spoke to me in their own
inspiriting language, and the big sun, playing hide-and-seek among
the great boles of the trees as he mounted from the horizon, gave me
a panorama unrivalled among the scenes of earth.

When I returned to what men called civilization, I experienced a
poignant longing for my big trees, my sky, and my spaces, and felt
that I had exchanged them for many things that are petty and futile.
If my school were only out in the heart of that big forest, I feel
that my work would be more effective and that I would not have to
potter about among little things to obey the whims of convention and
the dictates of technicalities, but that the soul would be free to
revel in the truth that sky and space proclaim.  I do hope I may
never know so much about technical pedagogy that I shall not know
anything else.  This may be what those people mean who speak of the
"revolt of the ego."



I am just now quite in the mood to join the band; I mean the
vocational-education band.  The excitement has carried me off my
feet.  I can't endure the looks of suspicion or pity that I see on
the faces of my colleagues.  They stare at me as if I were wearing a
tie or a hat or a coat that is a bit below standard.  I want to seem,
if not be, modern and up-to-date, and not odd and peculiar.  So I
shall join the band.  I am not caring much whether I beat the drum,
carry the flag, or lead the trick-bear.  I may even ride in the
gaudily painted wagon behind a spotted pony and call out in raucous
tones to all and sundry to hurry around to the main tent to get their
education before the rush.  In times past, when these vocational
folks have piped unto me I have not danced; but I now see the error
of my ways and shall proceed at once to take dancing lessons.  When
these folks lead in the millennium I want to be sitting well up in
front; and when they get the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow I
want to participate in the distribution.  I do hope, though, that I
may not exhaust my resources on the band and have none left for the
boys and girls.  I hope I may not imitate Mark Twain's steamboat that
stopped dead still when the whistle blew, because blowing the whistle
required all the steam.

I suspect that, like the Irishman, I shall have to wear my new boots
awhile before I can get them on, for this new role is certain to
entail many changes in my plans and in my ways of doing things.  I
can see that it will be a wrench for me to think of the boys and
girls as pedagogical specimens and not persons.  I have contracted
the habit of thinking of them as persons, and it will not be easy to
come to thinking of them as mere objects to practise on.  The folks
in the hospital speak of their patients as "cases," but I'd rather
keep aloof from the hospital plan in my schoolmastering.  But, being
a member of the band, I suppose that I'll feel it my duty to conform
and do my utmost to help prove that our cult has discovered the great
and universal panacea, the balm in Gilead.

As a member of the band, in good and regular standing, I shall find
myself saying that the school should have the boys and girls pursue
such studies as will fit them for their life-work.  This has a
pleasing sound.  Now, if I can only find out, somehow, what the
life-work of each one of my pupils is to be, I'll be all right, and
shall proceed to fit each one out with his belongings.  I have asked
them to tell me what their life-work is to be, but they tell me they
do not know.  So I suspect that I must visit all their parents in
order to get this information.  Until I get this information I cannot
begin on my course of study.  If their parents cannot tell me I
hardly know what I shall do, unless I have recourse to their maiden
aunts.  They ought to know.  But if they decline to tell I must begin
on a long series of guesses, unless, in the meantime, I am endowed
with omniscience.

This whole plan fascinates me; I dote upon it.  It is so pliable, so
dreamy, and so opalescent that I can scarce restrain my enthusiasm.
But if I should fit one of my boys out with the equipment necessary
for a blacksmith, and then he should become a preacher, I'd find the
situation embarrassing.  My reputation as a prophet would certainly
decline.  If I could know that this boy is looking forward to the
ministry as his life-work, the matter would be simple.  I'd proceed
to fit him out with a fire-proof suit of Greek, Hebrew, and theology
and have the thing done.  But even then some of my colleagues might
protest on the assumption that Greek and Hebrew are not vocational
studies.  The preacher might assert that they are vocational for his
work, in which case I'd find myself in the midst of an argument.  I
know a young man who is a student in a college of medicine.  He is
paying his way by means of his music.  He both plays and sings, and
can thus pay his bills.  In the college he studies chemistry,
anatomy, and the like.  I'm trying to figure out whether or not, in
his case, either his music or his chemistry is vocational.

I have been perusing the city directory to find out how many and what
vocations there are, that I may plan my course of study accordingly
when I discover what the life-work of each of my pupils is to be.  If
I find that one boy expects to be an undertaker he ought to take the
dead languages, of course.  If another boy expects to be a jockey he
might take these same languages with the aid of a "pony."  If a girl
decides upon marriage as her vocation, I'll have her take home
economics, of course, but shall have difficulty in deciding upon her
other studies.  If I omit Latin, history, and algebra, she may
reproach me later on because of these omissions.  She may find that
such studies as these are essential to success in the vocation of
wife and mother.  She may have a boy of her own who will invoke her
aid in his quest for the value of x, and a mother hesitates to enter
a plea of ignorance to her own child.

I can fit out the dancing-master easily enough, but am not so certain
about the barber, the chauffeur, and the aviator.  The aviator would
give me no end of trouble, especially if I should deem it necessary
to teach him by the laboratory method.  Then, again, if one boy
decides to become a pharmacist, I may find it necessary to attend
night classes in this subject myself in order to meet the situation
with a fair degree of complacency.  Nor do I see my way clear in
providing for the steeple-climber, the equilibrist, the railroad
president, or the tea-taster.  I'll probably have my troubles, too,
with the novel-writer, the poet, the politician, and the bareback
rider.  But I must manage somehow if I hope to retain my membership
in the band.

I see that I shall have to serve quite an apprenticeship in the band
before I write my treatise on the subject of pedagogical
predestination.  The world needs that essay, and I must get around to
it just as soon as possible.  Of course, that will be a great step
beyond the present plan of finding out what a boy expects to do, and
then teaching him accordingly.  My predestination plan contemplates
the process of arranging such a course of study for him as will make
him what we want him to be.  A naturalist tells me that when a queen
bee dies the swarm set to work making another queen by feeding one of
the common working bees some queen stuff.  He failed to tell me just
what this queen stuff is.  That process of producing a queen bee is
what gave me the notion as to my treatise.  If the parents want their
boy to become a lawyer I shall feed him lawyer stuff; if a preacher,
then preacher stuff, and so on.

This will necessitate a deal of research work, for I shall have to go
back into history, first of all, to find out the course of study that
produced Newton, Humboldt, Darwin, Shakespeare, Dante, Edison, Clara
Barton, and the rest of them.  If a roast-beef diet is responsible
for Shakespeare, surely we ought to produce another Shakespeare,
considering the excellence of the cattle we raise.  I can easily
discover the constituent elements of the beef pudding of which Samuel
Johnson was so fond by writing to the old Cheshire Cheese in London.
Of course, this plan of mine seems not to take into account the
Lord's work to any large extent.  But that seems to be the way of us
vocationalists.  We seem to think we can do certain things in spite
of what the Lord has or has not done.

The one danger that I foresee in all this work that I have planned is
that it may produce overstimulation.  Some one was telling me that
the trees on the Embankment there in London are dying of arboreal
insomnia.  The light of the sun keeps them awake all day, and the
electric lights keep them awake all night.  So the poor things are
dying from lack of sleep.  Macbeth had some trouble of that sort,
too, as I recall it.  I'm going to hold on to the vocational
stimulation unless I find it is producing pedagogical insomnia.  Then
I'll resign from the band and take a long nap.  I'll continue to
advocate pudding, pastry, and pie until I find that they are not
producing the sort of men and women the world needs, and then I'll
beat an inglorious retreat and again espouse the cause of orthodox



I have often wondered what conjunction of the stars caused me to
become a schoolmaster, if, indeed, the stars, lucky or otherwise, had
anything to do with it.  It may have been the salary that lured me,
for thirty-five dollars a month bulks large on a boy's horizon.
Possibly the fact that in those days there was no anteroom to the
teaching business may have been the deciding factor.  One had but to
exchange his hickory shirt for a white one, and the trick was done.
There was not even a fence between the corn-field and the
schoolhouse.  I might just as easily have been a preacher but for the
barrier in the shape of a theological seminary, or a hod-carrier but
for the barrier of learning how.  As it was, I could draw my pay for
husking corn on Saturday night, and begin accumulating salary as a
schoolmaster on Monday.  The plan was simplicity itself, and that may
account for my choice of a vocation.

I have sometimes tried to imagine myself a preacher, but with poor
success.  The sermon would bother me no little, to make no mention of
the other functions.  I think I never could get through with a
marriage ceremony, and at a christening I'd be on nettles all the
while, fearing the baby would cry and thus disturb the solemnity of
the occasion and of the preacher.  I'd want to take the baby into my
own arms and have a romp with him--and so would forget about the
baptizing.  In casting about for a possible text for this impossible
preacher, I have found only one that I think I might do something
with.  Hence, my preaching would endure but a single week, and even
at that we'd have to have a song service on Sunday evening in lieu of
a sermon.

My one text would be: "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall
make you free."  I do not know how big truth is, but it must be quite
extensive if science, mathematics, history, and literature are but
small parts of it.  I have never explored these parts very far
inland, but they seem to my limited gaze to extend a long distance
before me; and when I get to thinking that each of these is but a
part of something that is called truth I begin to feel that truth is
a pretty large affair.  I suspect the text means that the more of
this truth we know the greater freedom we have.  My friend Brown has
an automobile, and sometimes he takes me out riding.  On one of these
occasions we had a puncture, with the usual attendant circumstances.
While Brown made the needful repairs, I sat upon the grassy bank.
The passers-by probably regarded me as a lazy chap who disdained work
of all sorts, and perhaps thought of me as enjoying myself while
Brown did the work.  In this they were grossly mistaken, for Brown
was having the good time, while I was bored and uncomfortable.  Why,
Brown actually whistled as he repaired that puncture.  He had freedom
because he knew which tool to use, where to find it, and how to use
it.  But there I sat in ignorance and thraldom--not knowing the truth
about the tools or the processes.

In the presence of that episode I felt like one in a foreign country
who is ignorant of the language, while Brown was the concierge who
understands many languages.  He knew the truth and so had freedom.  I
have often wondered whether men do not sometimes get drunk to win a
respite from the thraldom and boredom of their ignorance of the
truth.  It must be a very trying experience not to understand the
language that is spoken all about one.  I have something of that
feeling when I go into a drug-store and find myself in complete
ignorance of the contents of the bottles because I cannot read the
labels.  I have no freedom because I do not know the truth.  The
dapper clerk who takes down one bottle after another with refreshing
freedom relegates me to the kindergarten, and I certainly feel and
act the part.

I had this same feeling, too, when I was making ready to sow my
little field with alfalfa.  I wanted to have alfalfa growing in the
field next to the road for my own pleasure and for the pleasure of
the passers-by.  A field of alfalfa is an ornament to any landscape,
and I like to have my landscapes ornamental, even if I must pay for
it in terms of manual toil.  I had never even seen alfalfa seed and
did not in the least know how to proceed in preparing the soil.  If I
ever expected to have any freedom I must first learn the truth, and a
certain modicum of freedom necessarily precedes the joy of alfalfa.

Thus it came to pass that I set about learning the truth.  I had to
learn about the nature of the soil, about drainage, about the right
kinds of fertilizer, and all that, before I could even hitch the team
to a plough.  Some of this truth I gleaned from books and magazines,
but more of it I obtained from my neighbor John, who lives about two
hundred yards up the pike from my little place.  John is a veritable
encyclopedia of truth when it comes to the subject of alfalfa.  There
I would sit at the feet of this alfalfa Gamaliel.  Be it said in
favor of my reactions that I learned the trick of alfalfa and now
have a field that is a delight to the eye.  And I now feel qualified
to give lessons in alfalfa culture to all and sundry, so great is my
sense of freedom.

I came upon a forlorn-looking woman once in a large railway-station
who was in great distress.  She wanted to get a train, but did not
know through which gate to go nor where to obtain the necessary
information.  She was overburdened with luggage and a little girl was
tugging at her dress and crying pitifully.  That woman was as really
in bondage as if she had been in prison looking out through the
barred windows.  When she had finally been piloted to the train the
joy of freedom manifested itself in every lineament of her face.  She
had come to know the truth, and the truth had set her free.

I know how she felt, for one night I worked for more than two hours
on what, to me, was a difficult problem, and when at last I had it
solved the manifestations of joy caused consternation to the family
and damage to the furniture.  I never was in jail for any length of
time, but I think I know, from my experience with that problem, just
how a prisoner feels when he is set free.  The big out-of-doors must
seem inexpressibly good to him.  My neighbor John taught me how to
spray my trees, and now, when I walk through my orchard and see the
smooth trunks and pick the beautiful, smooth, perfect apples, I feel
that sense of freedom that can come only through a knowledge of the

I haven't looked up the etymology of _grippe_, but the word itself
seems to tell its own story.  It seems to mean restriction,
subjection, slavery.   It certainly spells lack of freedom.  I have
seen many boys and girls who seemed afflicted with arithmetical,
grammatical, and geographical grippe, and I have sought to free them
from its tyranny and lead them forth into the sunlight and pure air
of freedom.  If I only knew just how to do this effectively I think
I'd be quite reconciled to the work of a schoolmaster.



I keep resolving and resolving to reform and lead the simple life,
but something always happens that prevents the execution of my plans.
When I am grubbing out willows along the ravine, the grubbing-hoe, a
lunch-basket well filled, and a jug of water from the deep well up
there under the trees seem to be the sum total of the necessary
appliances for a life of usefulness and contentment.  There is a
friendly maple-tree near the scene of the grubbing activities, and an
hour at noon beneath that tree with free access to the basket and the
jug seems to meet the utmost demands of life.  The grass is
luxuriant, the shade is all-embracing, and the willows can wait.  So,
what additions can possibly be needed?  I lie there in the shade, my
hunger and thirst abundantly satisfied, and contemplate the results
of my forenoon's toil with the very acme of satisfaction.  There is
now a large, clear space where this morning there was a jungle of
willows.  The willows have been grubbed out _imis sedibus_, as our
friend Virgil would say it, and not merely chopped off; and the
thoroughness of the work gives emphasis to the satisfaction.

The overalls, the heavy shoes, and the sunshade hat all belong in the
picture.  But the entire wardrobe costs less than the hat I wear on
Sunday.  Then the comfort of these inexpensive habiliments!  I need
not be fastidious in such a garb, but can loll on the grass without
compunction.  When I get mud upon my big shoes I simply scrape it off
with a chip, and that's all there is to it.  The dirt on my overalls
is honest dirt, and honestly come by, and so needs no apology.  I can
talk to my neighbor John of the big things of life and feel no shame
because of overalls.

Then, in the evening, when resting from my toil, I sit out under the
leafy canopy and revel in the sounds that can be heard only in the
country--the croaking of the frogs, the soft twittering of the birds
somewhere near, yet out of sight, the cosey crooning of the chickens
as they settle upon their perches for the night, and the lonely
hooting of the owl somewhere in the big tree down in the pasture.  I
need not move from my seat nor barter my money for a concert in some
majestic hall ablaze with lights when such music as this may be had
for the listening.  Under the magic of such music the body relaxes
and the soul expands.  The soft breezes caress the brow, and the moon
makes shimmering patterns on the grass.

But when I return to the town to resume my school-mastering, then the
strain begins, and then the reign of complexities is renewed.  When I
am fully garbed in my town clothing I find myself the possessor of
nineteen pockets.  What they are all for is more than I can make out.
If I had them all in use I'd have to have a detective along with me
to help me find things.  Out there on the farm two pockets quite
suffice, but in the town I must have seventeen more.  The difference
between town and country seems to be about the difference between
grubbing willows and schoolmastering.  Among the willows I find two
pockets are all I require; but among the children I must needs have
nineteen, whether I have anything in them or not.

One of these seems to be designed for a college degree; another is an
efficiency pocket; another a discipline pocket; another a pocket for
methods; another for professional spirit; another for loyalty to all
the folks who are in need of loyalty, and so on.  I really do not
know all the labels.  When I was examined for a license to teach they
counted my pockets, and, finding I had the requisite nineteen, they
bestowed upon me the coveted document with something approaching
_eclat_.  In my teaching I become so bewildered ransacking these
pockets, trying to find something that will bear some resemblance to
the label, that I come near forgetting the boys and girls.  But they
are very nice and polite about it, and seem to feel sorry that I must
look after all my pockets when I'd so much rather be teaching.

Out in the willow thicket I can go right on with my work without so
much care or perplexity.  Why, I don't need to do any talking out
there, and so have time to do some thinking.  But here I do so much
talking that neither I nor my pupils have any chance for thinking.  I
know it is not the right way, but, somehow, I keep on doing it.  I
think it must be a bad habit, but I don't do it when I am grubbing
willows.  I seem to get to the bottom of things out there without
talking, and I can't make out why I don't do the same here in the
school.  Out there I do things; in here I say things.  I do wonder if
there is any forgiveness for a schoolmaster who uses so many words
and gets such meagre results.

And then the words I use here are such ponderous things.  They are
not the sort of human, flesh-and-blood words that I use when talking
to neighbor John as we sit on top of the rail fence.  These all seem
so like words in a book, as if I had rehearsed them in advance.  It
may be just the town atmosphere, but, whatever it is, I do wish I
could talk to these children about decimals in the same sort of words
that I use when I am talking with John.  He seems to understand me,
and I think they could.

Possibly it is just the tension of town life.  I know that I seem to
get keyed up as soon as I come into the town.  There are so many
things here, and many of them are so artificial that I seem unable to
relax as I do out there where there are just frogs, and moon, and
chickens, and cows.  When I am here I seem to have a sort of craze
for things.  The shop-windows are full of things, and I seem to want
all of them.  I know I have no use for them, and yet I get them.  My
neighbor Brown bought a percolator, and within a week I had one.  I
had gone on for years without a percolator, not even knowing about
such a thing, but no sooner had Brown bought one than every sound I
heard seemed to be inquiring: "What is home without a percolator?"

So I go on accumulating things, and my den is a veritable medley of
things.  They don't make me any happier, and they are a great bother.
There are fifty-seven things right here in my den, and I don't need
more than six or seven of them.  There are twenty-two pictures, large
and small, in this room, but I couldn't have named five of them had I
not just counted them.  Why I have them is beyond my comprehension.
I inveigh against the mania of people for drugs and narcotics, but my
mania for things only differs in kind from theirs.  I have a little
book called "Things of the Mind," and I like to read it.  Now, if my
mind only had as many things in it as my den, I'd be a far more
agreeable associate for Brown and my neighbor John.  Or, if I were as
careful about getting things for my mind as I am in accumulating
useless bric-a-brac, it would be far more to my credit.

If the germs that are lurking in and about these fifty-seven things
should suddenly become as large as spiders, I'd certainly be the
unhappy possessor of a flourishing menagerie, and I think my progress
toward the simple life would be very promptly hastened.



In my work as a schoolmaster I find it well to keep my mind open and
not get to thinking that my way is the only way, or even the best
way.  I think I learn more from my boys and girls than they learn
from me, and so long as I can keep an open mind I am certain to get
some valuable lessons from them.  I got to telling the college chap
about a hen that taught me a good lesson, and the first thing I knew
I was going to school to this college youth, and he was enlightening
me on the subject of animal psychology, and especially upon the
trial-and-error theory.  That set me wondering how many trials and
errors that hen made before she finally succeeded in surmounting that
fence.  At any rate, the hen taught me another lesson besides the
lesson of perseverance.

I have a high wire fence enclosing the chicken-yard, and in order to
make steady the posts to which the gate is attached, I joined them at
the top by nailing a board across.  The hen that taught me the lesson
must be both ambitious and athletic, for time after time have I found
her outside the chicken-yard.  I searched diligently for the place of
exit, but could not find it.  So, in desperation, I determined one
morning to discover how that hen gained her freedom if it took all
day.  So I found a comfortable seat and waited.  In an hour or so the
hen came out into the open and took a survey of the situation.  Then,
presently, with skill born of experience, she sidled this way and
that, advanced a little and then retreated until she found the exact
location she sought, poised herself for a moment, and went sailing
right over the board that connected the posts.  Having made this
discovery, I removed the board and used wire instead, and thus
reduced the hen to the plane of obedience.

Just as soon as the hen lacked something to aim at, she could not get
over the wire barrier, and she taught me the importance of giving my
pupils something to aim at.  I like my boys and girls, and believe
they are just as smart as any hen that ever was, and that, if I'll
only supply things for them to aim at, they will go high and far.
Every time I see that hen I am the subject of diverse emotions.  I
feel half angry at myself for being so dull that a mere hen can teach
me, and then I feel glad that she taught me such a useful lesson.
Before learning this lesson I seemed to expect my pupils to take all
their school work on faith, to do it because I told them it would be
good for them.  But I now see there is a better way.  In my boyhood
days we always went to the county fair, and that was one of the real
events of the year.  On the morning of that day there was no occasion
for any one to call me a second time.  I was out of bed in a trice,
at the first call, and soon had my chores done ready for the start.
I had money in my pocket, too, for visions of pink lemonade, peanuts,
ice-cream, candy, and colored balloons had lured me on from
achievement to achievement through the preceding weeks, and thrift
had claimed me for its own.  So I had money because, all the while, I
had been aiming at the county fair.

We used to lay out corn ground with a single-shovel plough, and took
great pride in marking out a straight furrow across the field.  There
was one man in the neighborhood who was the champion in this art, and
I wondered how he could do it.  So I set about watching him to try to
learn his art.  At either end of the field he had a stake several
feet high, bedecked at the top with a white rag.  This he planted at
the proper distance from the preceding furrow and, in going across
the field, kept his gaze fixed upon the white rag that topped the
stake.  With a firm grip upon the plough, and his eyes riveted upon
the white signal, he moved across the field in a perfectly straight
line.  I had thought it the right way to keep my eyes fixed upon the
plough until his practice showed me that I had pursued the wrong
course.  My furrows were crooked and zigzag, while his were straight.
I now see that his skill came from his having something to aim at.

I am trying to profit by the example of that farmer in my teaching.
I'm all the while in quest of stakes and white rags to place at the
other side of the field to direct the progress of the lads and lasses
in a straight course, and raise their eyes away from the plough that
they happen to be using.  I want to keep them thinking of things that
are bigger and further along than grades.  The grades will come as a
matter of course, if they can keep their eyes on the object across
the field.  I want them to be too big to work for mere grades.  We
never give prizes in our school, especially money prizes.  It would
seem rather a cheap enterprise to my fine boys and girls to get a
piece of money for committing to memory the "Gettysburg Speech."  We
respect ourselves and Lincoln too much for that.  It would grieve me
to know that one of my girls could be hired to read a book for an
hour in the evening to a sick neighbor.  I want her to have her pay
in a better and more enduring medium than that.  I'd hope she would
aim at something higher than that.

If I can arrange the white rag, I know the pupils will do the work.
There was Jim, for example, who said to his father that he just
couldn't do his arithmetic, and wished he'd never have to go to
school another day.  When his father told me about it I began at once
to hunt for a white rag.  And I found it, too.  We can generally find
what we are looking for, if we look in dead earnest.  Well, the next
morning there was Jim in the arithmetic class along with Tom and
Charley.  I explained the absence of Harry by telling them about his
falling on the ice the night before and breaking his right arm.  I
told them how he could get on well enough with his other studies, but
would have trouble with his arithmetic because he couldn't use his
arm.  Now, Tom and Charley are quick in arithmetic, and I asked Tom
to go over to Harry's after school and help with the arithmetic, and
Charley to go over the next day, and Jim the third day.  Now, anybody
can see that white rag fluttering at the top of the stake across the
field two days ahead.  So, my work was done, and I went on with my
daily duties.  Tom reported the next day, and his report made our
mouths water as he told of the good things that Harry's mother had
set out for them to eat.  The report of Charley the next day was
equally alluring.  Then Jim reported, and on his day that good mother
had evidently reached the climax in culinary affairs.  Jim's eyes and
face shone as if he had been communing with the supernals.

That was the last I ever heard of Jim's trouble with arithmetic.  His
father was eager to know how the change had been brought about, and I
explained on the score of the angel-food cake and ice-cream he had
had over at Harry's, with no slight mention of my glorious white rag.
The books, I believe, call this social co-operation, or something
like that, but I care little what they call it so long as Jim's all
right.  And he is all right.  Why, there isn't money enough in the
bank to have brought that look to Jim's face when he reported that
morning, and any offer to pay him for his help to Harry, either in
money or school credits, would have seemed an insult.  My neighbor
John tells me many things about sheep and the way to drive them.  He
says when he is driving twenty sheep along the road he doesn't bother
about the two who frisk back to the rear of the flock so long as he
keeps the other eighteen going along.  He says those two will join
the others, all in good time.  That helped me with those three boys.
I knew that Tom and Charley would go along all right, so asked them
to go over to Harry's before I mentioned the matter to Jim.  When I
did ask him he came leaping and frisking into the flock as if he were
afraid we might overlook him.  What a beautiful straight furrow he
ploughed, too.  His arithmetic work now must make the angels smile.
I shall certainly mention sheep, the hen, and the white rag in my
book on farm pedagogy.



I take unction to myself, sometimes, in the reflection that I have a
soul to save, and in certain moments of uplift it seems to me to be
worth saving.  Some folks probably call me a sinner, if not a
dreadful sinner, and I admit the fact without controversy.  I do not
have at hand a list of the cardinal sins, but I suspect I might prove
an alibi as to some of them.  I don't get drunk; I don't swear; I go
to church; and I contribute, mildly, to charity.  But, for all that,
I'm free to confess myself a sinner.  Yet, I still don't know what
sin is, or what is the way of salvation either for myself or for my
pupils.  I grope around all the while trying to find this way.  At
times, I think they may find salvation while they are finding the
value of _x_ in an algebraic equation, and possibly this is true.  I
cannot tell.  If they fail to find the value of _x_, I fall to
wondering whether they have sinned or the teacher that they cannot
find _x_.

I have attended revivals in my time, and have had good from them.  In
their pure and rarefied atmosphere I find myself in a state of
exaltation.  But I find myself in need of a continuous revival to
keep me at my best.  So, in my school work, I feel that I must be a
revivalist or my pupils will sag back, just as I do.  I find that the
revival of yesterday will not suffice for to-day.  Like the folks of
old, I must gather a fresh supply of manna each day.  Stale manna is
not wholesome.  I suspect that one of my many sins is my laziness in
the matter of manna.  I found the value of _x_ in the problem
yesterday, and so am inclined to rest to-day and celebrate the
victory.  If I had to classify myself, I'd say that I am an
intermittent.  I eat manna one day, and then want to fast for a day
or so.  I suspect that's what folks mean by a besetting sin.

During my fasting I find myself talking almost fluently about my
skill and industry as a gatherer of manna, I suspect I am trying to
make myself believe that I'm working in the manna field to-day, by
keeping my mind on my achievement yesterday.  That's another sin to
my discredit, and another occasion for a revival.  When I am fasting
I do the most talking about how busy I am.  If I were harvesting
manna I'd not have time for so much talk.  I should not need to tell
how busy I am, for folks could see for themselves.  I have tried to
analyze this talk of mine about being so busy just to see whether I
am trying to deceive myself or my neighbors.  I fell to talking about
this the other day to my neighbor John, and detected a faint smile on
his face which I interpreted to be a query as to what I have to show
for all my supposed industry.  Well, I changed the subject.  That
smile on John's face made me think of revivals.

I read Henderson's novel, "John Percyfield," and enjoyed it so much
that when I came upon his other book, "Education and the Larger
Life," I bought and read it.  But it has given me much discomfort.
In that book he says that it is immoral for any one to do less than
his best.  I can scarcely think of that statement without feeling
that I ought to be sent to jail.  I'm actually burdened with
immorality, and find myself all the while between the "devil and the
deep sea," the "devil" of work, and the "deep sea" of immorality.  I
suppose that's why I talk so much about being busy, trying to free
myself from the charge of immorality.  I think it was Virgil who said
_Facilis descensus Averno_, and I suppose Mr. Henderson, in his
statement, is trying to save me from the inconveniences of this trip.
I suppose I ought to be grateful to him for the hint, but I just
can't get any great comfort in such a close situation.

I know I must work or go hungry, and I can stand a certain amount of
fasting, but to be stamped as immoral because I am fasting rather
hurts my pride.  I'd much rather have my going hungry accounted a
virtue, and receive praise and bouquets.  When I am in a lounging
mood it isn't any fun to have some Henderson come along and tell me
that I am in need of a revival.  A copy of "Baedeker" in hand, I have
gone through a gallery of statues but did not find a sinner in the
entire company.  The originals may have been sinners, but not these
marble statues.  That is some comfort.  To be a sinner one must be
animate at the very least.  I'd rather be a sinner, even, than a
mummy or a statue.  St. Paul wrote to Timothy: "I have fought a good
fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."  There was
nothing of the mummy or the statue in him.  He was just a
straight-away sinful man, and a glorious sinner he was.

I like to think of Titian and Michael Angelo.  When their work was
done and they stood upon the summit of their achievements they were
up so high that all they had to do was to step right into heaven,
without any long journey.  Tennyson did the same.  In his poem,
"Crossing the Bar," he filled all the space, and so he had to cross
over into heaven to get more room.  And Riley's "Old Aunt Mary" was
another one.  She had been working out her salvation making jelly,
and jam, and marmalade, and just beaming goodness upon those boys so
that they had no more doubts about goodness than they had of the
peach preserves they were eating.  Why, there just had to be a heaven
for old Aunt Mary.  She gathered manna every day, and had some for
the boys, too, but never said a word about being busy.

When I was reading the _Georgics_ with my boys, we came upon the word
_bufo_ (toad), and I told them with much gusto that that was the only
place in the language where the word occurs.  I had come upon this
statement in a book that they did not have.  Their looks spoke their
admiration for the schoolmaster who could speak with authority.
After they had gone their ways, two to Porto Rico, one to Chili,
another to Brazil, and others elsewhere, I came upon the word _bufo_
again in Ovid.  I am still wondering what a schoolmaster ought to do
in a case like that.  Even if I had written to all those fellows
acknowledging my error, it would have been too late, for they would,
long before, have circulated the report all over South America and
the United States that there is but one toad in the Latin language.
If I hadn't believed everything I see in print, hadn't been so
cock-sure, and hadn't been so ready to parade borrowed plumage as my
own, all this linguistic coil would have been averted.  I suppose Mr.
Henderson would send me to jail again for this.  I certainly didn't
do my best, and therefore I am immoral, and therefore a sinner; _quad
erat demonstrandum_.

So, I suppose, if I'm to save my soul, I must gather manna every day,
and if I find the value of _x_ to-day, I must find the value of a
bigger _x_ to-morrow.  Then, too, I suppose I'll have to choose
between Mrs. Wiggs and Emerson, between the Katzenjammers and
Shakespeare, and between ragtime and grand opera.  I am very certain
growing corn gives forth a sound only I can't hear it.  If my hearing
were only acute enough I'd hear it and rejoice in it.  It is very
trying to miss the sound when I am so certain that it is there.  The
birds in my trees understand one another, and yet I can't understand
what they are saying in the least.  This simply proves my own
limitations.  If I could but know their language, and all the
languages of the cows, the sheep, the horses, and the chickens, what
a good time I could have with them.  If my powers of sight and
hearing were increased only tenfold, I'd surely find a different
world about me.  Here, again, I can't find the value of _x_, try as I

The disquieting thing about all this is that I do not use to the
utmost the powers I have.  I could see many more things than I do if
I'd only use my eyes, and hear things, too, if I'd try more.  The
world of nature as it reveals itself to John Burroughs is a thousand
times larger than my world, no doubt, and this fact convicts me of
doing less than my best, and again the jail invites me.



As I was lying in the shade of the maple-tree down there by the
ravine, yesterday, I fell to thinking about my rights, and the longer
I lay there the more puzzled I became.  Being a citizen in a
democracy, I have many rights that are guaranteed to me by the
Constitution, notably life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
In my school I become expansive in extolling these rights to my
pupils.  But under that maple-tree I found myself raising many
questions as to these rights, and many others.  I have a right to
sing tenor, but I can't sing tenor at all, and when I try it I
disturb my neighbors.  Right there I bump against a situation.  I
have a right to use my knife at table instead of a fork, and who is
to gainsay my using my fingers?  Queen Elizabeth did.  I certainly
have a right to lie in the shade of the maple-tree for two hours
to-day instead of one hour, as I did yesterday.  I wonder if
reclining on the grass under a maple-tree is not a part of the
pursuit of happiness that is specifically set out in the
Constitution?  I hope so, for I'd like to have that wonderful
Constitution backing me up in the things I like to do.  The sun is so
hot and hoeing potatoes is such a tiring task that I prefer to lounge
in the shade with my back against the Constitution.

In thinking of the pursuit of happiness I am inclined to personify
happiness and then watch the chase, wondering whether the pursuer
will ever overtake her, and what he'll do when he does.  I note that
the Constitution does not guarantee that the pursuer will ever catch
her--but just gives him an open field and no favors.  He may run just
as fast as he likes, and as long as his endurance holds out.  I
suspect that's where the liberty comes in.  I wonder if the makers of
the Constitution ever visualized that chase.  If so, they must have
laughed, at least in their sleeves, solemn crowd that they were.  If
I were certain that I could overtake happiness I'd gladly join in the
pursuit, even on such a warm day as this, but the dread uncertainty
makes me prefer to loll here in the shade.  Besides, I'm not quite
certain that I could recognize her even if I could catch her.  The
photographs that I have seen are so very different that I might
mistake happiness for some one else, and that would be embarrassing.

If I should conclude that I was happy, and then discover that I
wasn't, I scarcely see how I could explain myself to myself, much
less to others.  So I shall go on hoeing my potatoes and not bother
my poor head about happiness.  It is just possible that I shall find
it over there in the potato-patch, for its latitude and longitude
have never been definitely determined, so far as I am aware.  I know
I shall find some satisfaction over there at work, and I am convinced
that satisfaction and happiness are kinsfolk.  Possibly my potatoes
will prove the answer to some mother's prayer for food for her little
ones next winter.  Who knows?  As I loosen the soil about the vines I
can look down the vista of the months, and see some little one in his
high chair smiling through his tears as mother prepares one of my
beautiful potatoes for him, and I think I can detect some moisture in
mother's eyes, too.  It is just possible that her tears are the
consecrated incense upon the altar of thanksgiving.

I like to see such pictures as I ply my hoe, for they give me respite
from weariness, and give fresh ardor to my hoeing.  If each one of my
potatoes shall only assuage the hunger of some little one, and cause
the mother's eyes to distil tears of joy, I shall be in the
border-land of happiness, to say the least.  I had fully intended to
exercise my inalienable rights and lie in the shade for two hours
to-day, but when I caught a glimpse of that little chap in the high
chair, and heard his pitiful plea for potatoes, I made for the
potato-patch post-haste, as if I were responding to a hurry call.  I
suppose there is no more heart-breaking sound in nature than the
crying of a hungry child.  I have been whistling all the afternoon
along with my hoeing, and now that I think of it, I must be whistling
because my potatoes are going to make that baby laugh.

Well, if they do, then I shall elevate the hoeing of potatoes to the
rank of a privilege.  Oh, I've read my "Tom Sawyer," and know about
his enterprise in getting the fence whitewashed by making the task
seem a privilege.  But Tom was indulging in fiction, and hoeing
potatoes is no fiction.  Still those whitewash artists had something
of the feeling that I experience right now, only there was no baby in
their picture as there is in mine, and so I have the baby as an
additional privilege.  I wish I knew how to make all the school tasks
rank as privileges to my boys and girls.  If I could only do that,
they would have gone far toward a liberal education.  If I could only
get a baby to crying somewhere out beyond cube root I'm sure they
would struggle through the mazes of that subject, somehow, so as to
get to the baby to change its crying into laughter.  'Tis worth

I wonder, after all, whether education is not the process of shifting
the emphasis from rights to privileges.  I have a right, when I go
into the town, to keep my seat in the car and let the old lady use
the strap.  If I insist upon that right I feel myself a boor, lacking
the sense and sensibilities of a gentleman.  But when I relinquish my
seat I feel that I have exercised my privilege to be considerate and
courteous.  I have a right to permit weeds and briers to overrun my
fences, and the fences themselves to go to rack, and so offend the
sight of my neighbors; but I esteem it a privilege to make the
premises clean and beautiful, so as to add so much to the sum total
of pleasure.  I have a right to stay on my own side of the road and
keep to myself; but it is a great privilege to go up for a
half-hour's exchange of talk with my neighbor John.  He always clears
the cobwebs from my eyes and from my soul, and I return to my work

I have a right, too, to pore over the colored supplement for an hour
or so, but when I am able to rise to my privileges and take the Book
of Job instead, I feel that I have made a gain in self-respect, and
can stand more nearly erect.  I have a right, when I go to church, to
sit silent and look bored; but, when I avail myself of the privilege
of joining in the responses and the singing, I feel that I am
fertilizing my spirit for the truth that is proclaimed.  As a citizen
I have certain rights, but when I come to think of my privileges my
rights seem puny in comparison.  Then, too, my rights are such cold
things, but my privileges are full of sunshine and of joy.  My rights
seem mathematical, while my privileges seem curves of beauty.

In his scientific laboratory at Princeton, on one occasion, the
celebrated Doctor Hodge, in preparing for an experiment said to some
students who were gathered about him: "Gentlemen, please remove your
hats; I am about to ask God a question."  So it is with every one who
esteems his privileges.  He is asking God questions about the glory
of the sunrise, the fragrance of the flowers, the colors of the
rainbow, the music of the brook, and the meaning of the stars.  But I
hear a baby crying and must get back to my potatoes.



I have been reading, in this book, of a man who couldn't change his
mind because his intellectual wardrobe was not sufficient to warrant
a change.  I was feeling downright sorry for the poor fellow till I
got to wondering how many people are feeling sorry for me for the
same reason.  That reflection changed the situation greatly, and I
began to feel some resentment against the blunt statement in the book
as being rather too personal.  Just as I begin to think that we have
standardized a lot of things, along comes some one in a book, or
elsewhere, and completely upsets my fine and comforting theories and
projects me into chaos again.  No sooner do I get a lot of facts all
nicely settled, and begin to enjoy complacency, than some disturber
of the peace knocks all my facts topsy-turvy, and says they are not
facts at all, but the merest fiction.  Then I cry aloud with my old
friend Cicero, _Ubinam gentium sumus_, which, being translated in the
language of the boys, means, "Where in the world (or nation) are we
at?"  They are actually trying to reform my spelling.  I do wish
these reformers had come around sooner, when I was learning to spell
_phthisic_, _syzygy_, _daguerreotype_, and _caoutchouc_.  They might
have saved me a deal of trouble and helped me over some of the high
places at the old-fashioned spelling-bees.

I have a friend who is quite versed in science, and he tells me that
any book on science that is more than ten years old is obsolete.
Now, that puzzles me no little.  If that is true, why don't they wait
till matters scientific are settled, and then write their books?  Why
write a book at all when you know that day after tomorrow some one
will come along and refute all the theories and mangle the facts?
These science chaps must spend a great deal of their time changing
their intellectual clothing.  It would be great fun to come back a
hundred years from now and read the books on science, psychology, and
pedagogy.  I suppose the books we have now will seem like joke books
to our great-grandchildren, if people are compelled to change their
mental garments every day from now on.  I wonder how long it will
take us human coral insects, to get our building up to the top of the

Whoever it was that said that consistency is a jewel would need to
take treatment for his eyes in these days.  If I must change my
mental garb each day I don't see how I can be consistent.  If I said
yesterday that some theory of science is the truth, the whole truth,
and nothing but the truth, and then find a revision of the statement
necessary to-day, I certainly am inconsistent.  This jewel of
consistency certainly loses its lustre, if not its identity, in such
a process of shifting.  I do hope these chameleon artists will leave
us the multiplication table, the yardstick, and the ablative
absolute.  I'm not so particular about the wine-gallon, for
prohibition will probably do away with that anyhow.  When I was in
school I could tell to a foot the equatorial and the polar diameter
of the earth, and what makes the difference.  Why, I knew all about
that flattening at the poles, and how it came about.  Then Mr. Peary
went up there and tramped all over the north pole, and never said a
word about the flattening when he came back.  I was very much
disappointed in Mr. Peary.

I know, quite as well as I know my own name, that the length of the
year is three hundred and sixty-five days, five hours, forty-eight
minutes, and forty-eight seconds, and if I find any one trying to lop
off even one second of my hard-learned year, I shall look upon him as
a meddler.  That is one of my settled facts, and I don't care to have
it disturbed.  If any one comes along trying to change the length of
my year, I shall begin to tremble for the safety of the Ten
Commandments.  If I believe that a grasshopper is a quadruped, what
satisfaction could I possibly take in discovering that he has six
legs?  It would merely disturb one of my settled facts, and I am more
interested in my facts than I am in the grasshopper.  The trouble is,
though, that my neighbor John keeps referring to the grasshopper's
six legs; so I suppose I shall, in the end, get me a grasshopper suit
of clothes so as to be in the fashion.

This discarding of my four-legged grasshopper and supplying myself
with one that has six legs may be what the poet means when he speaks
of our dead selves.  He may refer to the new suit of mental clothing
that I am supposed to get each day, to the change of mind that I am
supposed to undergo as regularly as a daily bath.  Possibly Mr.
Holmes meant something like that when he wrote his "Chambered
Nautilus."  At each advance from one of these compartments to
another, I suppose I acquire a new suit of clothes, or, in other
words, change my mind.  Let's see, wasn't it Theseus whose eternal
punishment in Hades was just to sit there forever?  That seems
somewhat heavenly to me.  But here on earth I suppose I must try to
keep up with the styles, and change my mental gear day by day.

I think I might come to enjoy a change of suits every day if only
some one would provide them for me; but, if I must earn them myself,
the case is different.  I'd like to have some one bestow upon me a
beautiful Greek suit for Monday, with its elegance, grace, and
dignity, a Roman suit for Tuesday, a science suit for Wednesday, a
suit of poetry for Thursday, and so on, day after day.  But when I
must read all of Homer before I can have the Greek suit, the price
seems a bit stiff, and I'm not so avid about changing my mind.  We
had a township picnic back home, once, and it seemed to me that I was
attending a congress of nations, for there were people there who had
driven five or six miles from the utmost bounds of the township.
That was a real mental adventure, and it took some time for me to
adjust myself to my new suit.  Then I went to the county fair, where
were gathered people from all the townships, and my poor mind had a
mighty struggle trying to grasp the immensity of the thing.  I felt
much the same as when I was trying to understand the mathematical
sign of infinity.  And when I came upon the statement, in my
geography, that there are eighty-eight counties in our State, the
mind balked absolutely and refused to go on.  I felt as did the old
gentleman who saw an aeroplane for the first time.  After watching
its gyrations for some time he finally exclaimed: "They ain't no sich

My college roommate, Mack, went over to London, once, on some errand,
and of course went to the British Museum.  Near the entrance he came
upon the Rosetta Stone, and stood inthralled.  He reflected that he
was standing in the presence of a monument that marks the beginning
of recorded history, that back of that all was dark, and that all the
books in all the libraries emanate from that beginning.  The thought
was so big, so overmastering, that there was no room in his mind for
anything else, so he turned about and left without seeing anything
else in the Museum.  Since then we have had many a big laugh together
as he recounts to me his wonderful visit to the Rosetta Stone.  I see
clearly that in the presence of that modest stone he got all the
mental clothing he could possibly wear at the time.  Changing the
mind sometimes seems to amount almost to surgery.

Sometime, if I can get my stub pen limbered up I shall try my hand at
writing a bit of a composition on the subject of "The Inequality of
Equals."  I know that the Declaration tells us that all men are born
free and equal, and I shall explain in my essay that it means us to
understand that while they are born equal, they begin to become
unequal the day after they are born, and become more so as one
changes his mind and the other one does not.  I try, all the while,
to make myself believe that I am the equal of my neighbor, the judge,
and then I feel foolish to think that I ever tried it.  The neighbors
all know it isn't true, and so do I when I quit arguing with myself.
He has such a long start of me now that I wonder if I can ever
overtake him.  One thing, though, I'm resolved upon, and that is to
change my mind as often as possible.



Just why a boy is averse to washing his neck and ears is one of the
deep problems of social psychology, and yet the psychologists have
veered away from the subject.  There must be a reason, and these mind
experts ought to be able and willing to find it, so as to relieve the
anxiety of the rest of us.  It is easy for me to say, with a full-arm
gesture, that a boy is of the earth earthy, but that only begs the
question, as full-arm gestures are wont to do.  Many a boy has shed
copious tears as he sat on a bench outside the kitchen door removing,
under compulsion, the day's accumulations from his feet as a
prerequisite for retiring.  He would much prefer to sleep on the
floor to escape the foot-washing ordeal.  Why, pray, should he wash
his feet when he knows full well that tomorrow night will find them
in the same condition?  Why all the bother and trouble about a little
thing like that?  Why can't folks let a fellow alone, anyhow?  And,
besides, he went in swimming this afternoon, and that surely ought to
meet all the exactions of capricious parents.  He exhibits his feet
as an evidence of the virtue of going swimming, for he is arranging
the preliminaries for another swimming expedition to-morrow.

I recall very distinctly how strange it seemed that my father could
sit there and calmly talk about being a Democrat, or a Republican, or
a Baptist, or a Methodist, or about some one's discovering the north
pole, or about the President's message when the dog had a rat
cornered under the corn-crib and was barking like mad.  But, then,
parents can't see things in their right relations and proportions.
And there sat mother, too, darning stockings, and the dog just stark
crazy about that rat.  'Tis enough to make a boy lose faith in
parents forevermore.  A dog, a rat, and a boy--there's a combination
that recks not of the fall of empires or the tottering of thrones.
Even chicken-noodles must take second place in such a scheme of world
activities.  And yet a mother would hold a boy back from the
forefront of such an enterprise to wash his neck.  Oh, these mothers!

I have read "Adam's Diary," by Mark Twain, in which he tells what
events were forward in Eden on Monday, what on Tuesday, and so on
throughout the week till he came to Sunday, and his only comment on
that day was "Pulled through."  In the New England Primer we gather
the solemn information that "In Adam's fall, we sinned all."  I admit
the fact freely, but beg to be permitted to plead extenuating
circumstances.  Adam could go to church just as he was, but I had to
be renovated and, at times, almost parboiled and, in addition to
these indignities, had to wear shoes and stockings; and the stockings
scratched my legs, and the shoes were too tight.  If Adam could
barely manage to pull through, just think of me.  Besides, Adam
didn't have to wear a paper collar that disintegrated and smeared his
neck.  The more I think of Adam's situation, the more sorry I feel
for myself.  Why, he could just reach out and pluck some fruit to
help him through the services, but I had to walk a mile after church,
in those tight shoes, and then wait an hour for dinner.  And I was
supposed to feel and act religious while I was waiting, but I didn't.

If I could only have gone to church barefoot, with my shirt open at
the throat, and with a pocket full of cookies to munch _ad lib_
throughout the services, I am sure that the spiritual uplift would
have been greater.  The soul of a boy doesn't expand violently when
encased in a starched shirt and a paper collar, and these surmounted
by a thick coat, with the mercury at ninety-seven in the shade.  I
think I can trace my religious retardation back to those hungry
Sundays, those tight shoes, that warm coat, and those frequent jabs
in my ribs when I fain would have slept.

In my childhood there was such a host of people who were pushing and
pulling me about in an effort to make me good that, even yet, I shy
away from their style of goodness.  The wonder is that I have any
standing at all in polite and upright society.  So many folks said I
was bad and naughty, and applied so many other no less approbrious
epithets to me that, in time, I came to believe them, and tried
somewhat diligently to live up to the reputation they gave me.  I
recall that one of my aunts came in one day and, seeing me out in the
yard most ingloriously tousled, asked my good mother: "Is that your
child?"  Poor mother!  I have often wondered how much travail of
spirit it must have cost her to acknowledge me as her very own.  One
thumb, one great toe, and an ankle were decorated with greasy rags,
and I was far from being ornamental.  I had been hulling walnuts,
too, and my stained hands served to accentuate the human scenery.

This same aunt had three boys of her own, later on, and a more
disreputable-looking crew it would be hard to find.  I confess that I
took a deal of grim satisfaction in their dilapidated ensemble, just
for my aunt's benefit, of course.  They were fine, wholesome, natural
boys in spite of their parentage, and I liked them even while I
gloried in their cuts, bruises, and dirt.  At that time I was wearing
a necktie and had my shoes polished but, even so, I yearned to join
with them in their debauch of sand, mud, and general indifference to
convention.  They are fine, upstanding young chaps now, and of course
their mother thinks that her scolding, nagging, and baiting made them
so.  They know better, but are too kind and considerate to reveal the
truth to their mother.

Even yet I have something like admiration for the ingenuity of my
elders in conjuring up spooks, hob-goblins, and bugaboos with which
to scare me into submission.  I conformed, of course, but I never
gave them a high grade in veracity.  I yielded simply to gain time,
for I knew where there was a chipmunk in a hole, and was eager to get
to digging him out just as soon as my apparent submission for a brief
time had proved my complete regeneration.  They used to tell me that
children should be seen but not heard, and I knew they wanted to do
the talking.  I often wonder whether their notion of a good child
would have been satisfactorily met if I had suddenly become
paralyzed, or ossified, or petrified.  In either of these cases I
could have been seen but not heard.  One day, not long ago, when I
felt at peace with all the world and was comfortably free from care,
a small, thumb-sucking seven-year-old asked: "How long since the
world was born?"  After I told him that it was about four thousand
years he worked vigorously at his thumb for a time, and then said:
"That isn't very long."  Then I wished I had said four millions, so
as to reduce him to silence, for one doesn't enjoy being routed and
put to confusion by a seven-year-old.

After quite a silence he asked again: "What was there before the
world was born?"  That was an easy one; so I said in a tone of
finality: "There wasn't anything."  Then I went on with my
meditations, thinking I had used the soft pedal effectively.  Silence
reigned supreme for some minutes, and then was rudely shattered.  His
thumb flew from his mouth, and he laughed so lustily that he could be
heard throughout the house.  When his laughter had spent itself
somewhat, I asked meekly: "What are you laughing at?"  His answer
came on the instant, but still punctuated with laughter: "I was
laughing to see how funny it was when there wasn't anything."  No
wonder that folks want children to be seen but not heard.  And some
folks are scandalized because a chap like that doesn't like to wash
his neck and ears.



The code of table etiquette in the days of my boyhood, as I now
recall it, was expressed something like: "Eat what is set before you
and ask no questions."  We heeded this injunction with religious
fidelity, but yearned to ask why they didn't set more before us.
About the only time that a real boy gets enough to eat is when he
goes to a picnic and, even there and then, the rounding out of the
programme is connected with clandestine visits to the baskets after
the formal ceremonies have been concluded.  At a picnic there is no
such expression as "from soup to nuts," for there is no soup, and
perhaps no nuts, but there is everything else in tantalizing
abundance.  If I find a plate of deviled eggs near me, I begin with
deviled eggs; or, if the cold tongue is nearer, I begin with that.
In this way I reveal, for the pleasure of the hostesses, my
unrestricted and democratic appetite.  Or, in order to obviate any
possible embarrassment during the progress of the chicken toward me,
I may take a piece of pie or a slice of cake, thinking that they may
not return once they have been put in circulation.  Certainly I take
jelly when it passes along, as well as pickles, olives, and cheese.
There is no incongruity, at such a time, in having a slice of baked
ham and a slice of angel-food cake on one's plate or in one's hands.
They harmonize beautifully both in the color scheme and in the
gastronomic scheme.  At a picnic my boyhood training reaches its full
fruition: "Eat what is set before you and ask no questions."  These
things I do.

That's a good rule for reading, too, just to read what is set before
you and ask no questions.  I'm thinking now of the reader member of
my dual nature, not the student member.  I like to cater somewhat to
both these members.  When the reader member is having his inning, I
like to give him free rein and not hamper him by any lock-step or
stereotyped method or course.  I like to lead him to a picnic table
and dismiss him with the mere statement that "Heaven helps those who
help themselves," and thus leave him to his own devices.  If
Southey's, "The Curse of Kehama," happens to be nearest his plate, he
will naturally begin with that as I did with the deviled eggs.  Or he
may nibble at "The House-Boat on the Styx" while some one is passing
the Shakespeare along.  He may like Emerson, and ask for a second
helping, and that's all right, too, for that's a nourishing sort of
food.  Having partaken of this generously, he will enjoy all the more
the jelly when it comes along in the form of "Nonsense Anthology."
The more I think of it the more I see that reading is very like a
picnic dinner.  It is all good, and one takes the food which is
nearest him, whether pie or pickles.

When any one asks me what I am reading, I become much embarrassed.  I
may be reading a catalogue of books at the time, or the book notices
in some magazine, but such reading may not seem orthodox at all to
the one who asks the question.  My reading may be too desultory or
too personal to be paraded in public.  I don't make it a practice to
tell all the neighbors what I ate for breakfast.  I like to saunter
along through the book just as I ride in a gondola when in Venice.
I'm not going anywhere, but get my enjoyment from merely being on the
way.  I pay the gondolier and then let him have his own way with me.
So with the book.  I pay the money and then abandon myself to it.  If
it can make me laugh, why, well and good, and I'll laugh.  If it
causes me to shed tears, why, let the tears flow.  They may do me
good.  If I ever become conscious of the number of the page of the
book I am reading, I know there is something the matter with that
book or else with me.  If I ever become conscious of the page number
in David Grayson's "Adventures in Contentment," or "The Friendly
Road," I shall certainly consult a physician.  I do become
semiconscious at times that I am approaching the end of the feast,
and feel regret that the book is not larger.

I have spasms and enjoy them.  Sometimes, I have a Dickens spasm, and
read some of his books for the _n_th time.  I have frittered away
much time in my life trying to discover whether a book is worth a
second reading.  If it isn't, it is hardly worth a first reading, I
don't get tired of my friend Brown, so why should I put Dickens off
with a mere society call?  If I didn't enjoy Brown I'd not visit him
so frequently; but, liking him, I go again and again.  So with
Dickens, Mark Twain, and Shakespeare.  The story goes that a second
Uncle Remus was sitting on a stump in the depths of a forest sawing
away on an old discordant violin.  A man, who chanced to come upon
him, asked what he was doing.  With no interruption of his musical
activities, he answered: "Boss, I'se serenadin' m' soul."  Book or
violin, 'tis all the same.  Uncle Remus and I are serenading our
souls and the exercise is good for us.

I was laid by with typhoid fever for a few weeks once, and the doctor
came at eleven o'clock in the morning and at five o'clock in the
afternoon.  If he happened to be a bit late I grew impatient, and my
fever increased.  He discovered this fact, and was no more tardy.  He
was reading "John Fiske" at the time, and Grant's "Memoirs," and at
each visit reviewed for me what he had read since the previous visit.
He must have been glad when I no longer needed to take my history by
proxy, for I kept him up to the mark, and bullied him into reciting
twice a day.  I don't know what drugs he gave me, but I do know that
"Fiske" and "Grant" are good for typhoid, and heartily commend them
to the general public.  I am rather glad now that I had typhoid fever.

I listen with amused tolerance to people who grow voluble on the
weather and their symptoms, and often wish they would ask me to
prescribe for them.  I'd probably tell them to become readers of
William J. Locke.  But, perhaps, their symptoms might seem preferable
to the remedy.  A neighbor came in to borrow a book, and I gave her
"Les Miserables," which she returned in a day or so, saying that she
could not read it.  I knew that I had overestimated her, and that I
didn't have a book around of her size.  I had loaned my "Robin Hood,"
"Rudder Grange," "Uncle Remus," and "Sonny" to the children round

I like to browse around among my books, and am trying to have my boys
and girls acquire the same habit.  Reading for pure enjoyment isn't a
formal affair any more than eating.  Sometimes I feel in the mood for
a grapefruit for breakfast, sometimes for an orange, and sometimes
for neither.  I'm glad not to board at a place where they have
standardized breakfasts and reading.  If I feel in the mood for an
orange I want an orange, even if my neighbor has a casaba melon.  So,
if I want my "Middlemarch," I'm quite eager for that book, and am
quite willing for my neighbor to have his "Henry Esmond."  The
appetite for books is variable, the same as for food, and I'd rather
consult my appetite than my neighbor when choosing a book as a
companion through a lazy afternoon beneath the maple-tree, I refuse
to try to supervise the reading of my pupils.  Why, I couldn't
supervise their eating.  I'd have to find out whether the boy was
yearning for porterhouse steak or ice-cream, first; then I might help
him make a selection.  The best I can do is to have plenty of steak,
potatoes, pie, and ice-cream around, and allow him to help himself.



The text may be found in "Over Bemerton's," by E. V. Lucas, and reads
as follows: "A gentle hypocrisy is not only the basis but the salt of
civilized life."  This statement startled me a bit at first; but when
I got to thinking of my experience in having a photograph of myself
made I saw that Mr. Lucas has some warrant for his statement.  There
has been only one Oliver Cromwell to say: "Paint me as I am."  The
rest of us humans prefer to have the wart omitted.  If my photograph
is true to life I don't want it.  I'm going to send it away, and I
don't want the folks who get it to think I look like that.  If I were
a woman and could wear a disguise of cosmetics when sitting for a
picture the case might not be quite so bad.  The subtle flattery of
the photograph is very grateful to us mortals whether we admit it or
not.  My friend Baxter introduced me once as a man who is not
two-faced, and went on to explain that if I had had two faces I'd
have brought the other instead of this one.  And that's true.  I
expect the photographer to evoke another face for me, and hence my
generous gift of money to him.  I like that chap immensely.  He takes
my money, gives me another face, bows me out with the grace of a
finished courtier, and never, by word or look, reveals his knowledge
of my hypocrisy.

As a boy I had a full suit of company manners which I wore only when
guests were present, and so was always sorry to have guests come.  I
sat back on the chair instead of on its edge; I didn't swing my legs
unless I had a lapse of memory; I said, "Yes, ma'am," and, "No,
ma'am," like any other parrot, just as I did at rehearsal; and, in
short, I was a most exemplary child save for occasional reactions to
unlooked-for situations.  The folks knew I was posing, and were on
nettles all the while from fear of a breakdown; the guests knew I was
posing, and I knew I was posing.  But we all pretended to one another
that that was the regular order of procedure in our house.  So we had
a very gratifying concert exercise in hypocrisy.  We said our prayers
that night just as usual.

With such thorough training in my youth it is not at all strange that
I now consider myself rather an adept in the prevailing social
usages.  At a musicale I applaud fit to blister my hands, even though
I feel positively pugnacious.  But I know the singer has an encore
prepared, and I feel that it would be ungracious to disappoint her.
Besides, I argue with myself that I can stand it for five minutes
more if the others can.  Professor James, I think it is, says that we
ought to do at least one disagreeable thing each day as an aid in the
development of character.  Being rather keen on character
development, I decide on a double dose of the disagreeable while
opportunity favors.  Hence my vigorous applauding.  Then, too, I
realize that the time and place are not opportune for an expression
of my honest convictions; so I choose the line of least resistance
and well-nigh blister my hands to emphasize my hypocrisy.

At a formal dinner I have been known to sink so low into the depths
of hypocrisy as to eat shrimp salad.  But when one is sitting next to
a lady who seems a confirmed celibate, and who seems to find nothing
better than to become voluble on the subject of her distinguished
ancestors, even shrimp salad has its uses.  Now, under normal
conditions my perverted and plebeian taste regards shrimp salad as a
banality, but at that dinner I ate it with apparent relish, and tried
not to make a wry face.  But, worst of all, I complimented the
hostess upon the excellence of the dinner, and extolled the salad
particularly, although we both knew that the salad was a failure, and
that the dinner itself convicted the cook of a lack of experience or
else of a superfluity of potations.

When the refreshments are served I take a thimbleful of ice-cream and
an attenuated wafer, and then solemnly declare to the maid that I
have been abundantly served.  In the hallowed precincts that I call
my den I could absorb nine rations such as they served and never bat
an eye.  And yet, in making my adieus to the hostess, I thank her
most effusively for a delightful evening, refreshments included, and
then hurry grumbling home to get something to eat.  Such are some of
the manifestations of social hypocrisy.  These all pass current at
their face value, and yet we all know that nobody is deceived.  Still
it is great fun to play make-believe, and the world would have
convulsions if we did not indulge in these pleasing deceptions.  In
the clever little book "Molly Make-Believe" the girl pretends at
first that she loves the man, and later on comes to love him to
distraction, and she lived happy ever after, too.  When, in my fever,
I would ask about my temperature, the nurse would give a numeral
about two degrees below the real record to encourage me, and I can't
think that St. Peter will bar her out just for that.

The psychologists give mild assent to the theory that a physical
attitude may generate an emotion.  If I assume a belligerent
attitude, they claim that, in time, I shall feel really belligerent;
that in a loafing attitude I shall presently be loafing; and that, if
I assume the attitude of a listener, I shall soon be listening most
intently.  This seems to be justified by the experiences of Edwin
Booth on the stage.  He could feign fighting for a time, and then it
became real fighting, and great care had to be taken to avert
disastrous consequences when his sword fully struck its gait.  I
believe the psychologists have never fully agreed on the question
whether the man is running from the bear because he is scared or is
scared because he is running.

I dare say Mr. Shakespeare was trying to express this theory when he
said: "Assume a virtue, though you have it not."  That's exactly what
I'm trying to have my pupils do all the while.  I'm trying to have
them wear their company manners continually, so that, in good time,
they will become their regular working garb.  I'm glad to have them
assume the attitudes of diligence and politeness, thinking that their
attitudes may generate the corresponding emotions.  It is a severe
strain on a boy at times to seem polite when he feels like hurling
missiles.  We both know that his politeness is mere make-believe, but
we pretend not to know, and so move along our ways of hypocrisy
hoping that good may come.

There is a telephone-girl over in the central station, wherever that
is, who certainly is beautiful if the voice is a true index.  Her
tones are dulcet, and her voice is so mellow and well modulated that
I visualize her as another Venus.  I suspect that, when she began her
work, some one told her that her tenure of position depended upon the
quality of her voice.  So, I imagine, she assumed a tonal quality of
voice that was really a sublimated hypocrisy, and persisted in this
until now that quality of voice is entirely natural.  I can't think
that Shakespeare had her specially in mind, but, if I ever have the
good fortune to meet her, I shall certainly ask her if she reads
Shakespeare.  Now that I think of it, I shall try this treatment on
my own voice, for it sorely needs treatment.  Possibly I ought to
take a course of training at the telephone-station.

I am now thoroughly persuaded that Mr. Lucas gave expression to a
great principle of pedagogy in what he said about hypocrisy, and I
shall try to be diligent in applying it.  If I can get my boys to
assume an arithmetical attitude, they may come to have an
arithmetical feeling, and that would give me great joy.  I don't care
to have them express their honest feelings either about me or the
work, but would rather have them look polite and interested, even if
it is hypocrisy.  I'd like to have all my boys and girls act as if
they consider me absolutely fair, just, and upright, as well as the
most kind, courteous, generous, scholarly, skillful, and complaisant
schoolmaster that ever lived, no matter what they really think.



If I only knew how to teach English, I'd have far more confidence in
my schoolmastering.  But I don't seem to get on.  The system breaks
down too often to suit me.  Just when I think I have some lad
inoculated with elegant English through the process of reading from
some classic, he says, "might of came," and I become obfuscated
again.  I have a book here in which I read that it is the business of
the teacher so to organize the activities of the school that they
will function in behavior.  Well, my boys' behavior in the use of
English indicates that I haven't organized the activities of my
English class very effectively.  I seem to be more of a success in a
cherry-orchard than in an English class.  My cherries are large and
round, a joy to the eye and delightful to the taste.  The fruit
expert tells me they are perfect, and so I feel that I organized the
activities in that orchard efficiently.  In fact, the behavior of my
cherry-trees is most gratifying.  But when I hear my pupils talk or
read their essays, and find a deal of imperfect fruit in the way of
solecisms and misspelled words, I feel inclined to discredit my skill
in organizing the activities in this human orchard.

I think my trouble is (and it is trouble), that I proceed upon the
agreeable assumption that my pupils can "catch" English as they do
the measles if only they are exposed to it.  So I expose them to the
objective complement and the compellative, and then stand aghast at
their behavior when they make all the mistakes that can possibly be
made in using a given number of words.  I have occasion to wonder
whether I juggle these big words merely because I happen to see them
in a book, or whether I am trying to be impressive.  I recall how
often I have felt a thrill of pride as I have ladled out deliberative
subjunctives, ethical datives, and hysteron proteron to my
(supposedly) admiring Latin pupils.  If I were a soldier I should
want to wear one of those enormous three-story military hats to
render me tall and impressive.  I have no desire to see a drum-major
minus his plumage.  The disillusionment would probably be depressing.
Liking to wear my shako, I must continue to talk of objective
complements instead of using simple English.

I had watched men make a hundred barrels, but when I tried my skill I
didn't produce much of a barrel.  Then I knew making barrels is not
violently infectious.  But I suspect that it is quite the same as
English in this respect.  My behavior in that cooper-shop, for a
time, was quite destructive of materials, until I had acquired skill
by much practice.

If I could only organize the activities in my English class so that
they would function in such behavior as Lincoln's "Letter to Mrs.
Bixby," I should feel that I might continue my teaching instead of
devoting all my time to my cherry-orchard.  Or, if I could see that
my pupils were acquiring the habit of correct English as the result
of my work, I'd give myself a higher grade as a schoolmaster.  My
neighbor over here teaches agriculture, and one of his boys produced
one hundred and fifty bushels of corn on an acre of ground.  That's
what I call excellent behavior, and that schoolmaster certainly knows
how to organize the activities of his class.  My boy's yield of
thirty-seven bushels, mostly nubbins, does not compare favorably with
the yield of his boy, and I feel that I ought to reform, or else wear
a mask.  Here is my boy saying "might of came," and his boy is
raising a hundred and fifty bushels of corn per acre.

If I could only assemble all my boys and girls twenty years hence and
have them give an account of themselves for all the years after they
left school, I could grade them with greater accuracy than I can
possibly do now.  Of course, I'd simply grade them on behavior, and
if I could muster up courage, I might ask them to grade mine.  I
wonder how I'd feel if I'd find among them such folks as Edison,
Burbank, Goethals, Clara Barton, and Frances Willard.  My neighbor
John says the most humiliating experience that a man can have is to
wear a pair of his son's trousers that have been cut down to fit him.
I might have some such feelings as that in the presence of pupils who
had made such notable achievements.  But, should they tell me that
these achievements were due, in some good measure, to the work of the
school, well, that would be glory enough for me.  One of my boys was
telling me only yesterday of a bit of work he did the day before in
the way of revealing a process in chemistry to a firm of jewellers
and hearing the superintendent say that that bit of information is
worth a thousand dollars to the establishment.  If he keeps on doing
things like that I shall grade his behavior one of these days.

I suppose Mr. Goethals must have learned the multiplication table,
once upon a time, and used it, too, in constructing the Panama Canal.
He certainly made it effective, and the activities of that class in
arithmetic certainly did function.  I tell my boys that this
multiplication table is the same one that Mr. Goethals has been using
all the while, and then ask them what use they expect to make of it.
One man made use of this table in tunnelling the Alps, and another in
building the Brooklyn Bridge, and it seems to be good for many more
bridges and tunnels if I can only organize the activities aright.

I was standing in front of St. Marks, there in Venice, one morning,
regaling myself with the beauty of the festive scene, and talking to
a friend, when four of my boys came strolling up, and they seemed
more my boys than ever before.  What a reunion we had!  The folks all
about us didn't understand it in the least, but we did, and that was
enough.  I forgot my coarse clothes, my well-nigh empty pockets, my
inability to buy the many beautiful things that kept tantalizing me,
and the meagreness of my salary.  These were all swallowed up in the
joy of seeing the boys, and I wanted to proclaim to all and sundry;
"These are my jewels."  Those boys are noble, clean, upstanding
fellows, and no schoolmaster could help being proud of them.  Such as
they nestle down in the heart of the schoolmaster and cause him to
know that life is good.

I was sorry not to be able to share my joy with my friend who stood
near, but that could not be.  I might have used words to him, but he
would not have understood.  He had never yearned over those fellows
and watched them, day by day, hoping that they might grow up to be an
honor to their school.  He had never had the experience of watching
from the schoolhouse window, fervently wishing that no harm might
come to them, and that no shadows might come over their lives.  He
had never known the joy of sitting up far into the night to prepare
for the coming of those boys the next day.  He had never seen their
eyes sparkle in the classroom when, for them, truth became illumined.
Of course, he stood aloof, for he couldn't know.  Only the
schoolmaster can ever know how those four boys became the focus of
all that wondrous beauty on that splendid morning.  If I had had my
grade-book along I would have recorded their grades in behavior, for
as I looked upon those glorious chaps and heard them recount their
experiences I had a feeling of exaltation, knowing that the
activities of our school had functioned in right behavior.



This left forefinger of mine is certainly a curiosity.  It looks like
a miniature totem-pole, and I wish I had before me its life history.
I'd like to know just how all these seventeen scars were acquired.
It seems to have come in contact with about all sorts and sizes of
cutlery.  If only teachers or parents had been wise enough to make a
record of all my bloodletting mishaps, with occasions, causes, and
effects, that record would afford a fruitful study for students of
education.  The pity of it is that we take no account of such matters
as phases or factors of education.  We keep saying that experience is
the best teacher, and then ignore this eloquent forefinger.  I call
that criminal neglect arising from crass ignorance.  Why, these scars
that adorn many parts of my body are the foot-prints of evolution,
if, indeed, evolution makes tracks.  The scars on the faces of those
students at Heidelberg are accounted badges of honor, but they cannot
compare with the big scar on my left knee that came to me as the free
gift of a corn-knife.  Those students wanted their scars to take home
to show their mothers.  I didn't want mine, and made every effort to
conceal it, as well as the hole in my trousers.  I got my scar as a
warning.  I profited by it, too, for never were there two cuts in
exactly the same place.  In fact, they were widely, if not wisely,
distributed.  They are the indices of the soaring sense of my
youthful audacity.  And yet neither parents nor teachers ever graded
my scars.

I recall quite distinctly that, at one time, I proclaimed boldly over
one entire page of a copy-book, that knowledge is power, and became
so enthusiastic in these numerous proclamations that I wrote on the
bias, and zigzagged over the page with fine abandon.  But no teacher
ever even hinted to me that the knowledge I acquired from my contest
with a nest of belligerent bumblebees had the slightest connection
with power.  When I groped my way home with both eyes swollen shut I
was never lionized.  Indeed, no!  Anything but that!  I couldn't milk
the cows that evening, and couldn't study my lesson, and therefore,
my newly acquired knowledge was called weakness instead of power.
They did not seem to realize that my swollen face was prominent in
the scheme of education, nor that bumblebees and yellow-jackets may
be a means of grace.  They wanted me to be solving problems in common
(sometimes called vulgar) fractions.  I don't fight bumblebees any
more, which proves that my knowledge generated power.  The emotions
of my boyhood presented a scene of grand disorder, and those
bumblebees helped to organize them, and to clarify and define my
sense of values.  I can philosophize about a bumblebee far more
judicially now than I could when my eyes were swollen shut.

I went to the town to attend a circus one day, and concluded I'd
celebrate the day with eclat by getting my hair cut.  At the
conclusion of this ceremony the tonsorial Beau Brummel, in the most
seductive tones, suggested a shampoo.  I just couldn't resist his
blandishments, and so consented.  Then he suggested tonic, and grew
quite eloquent in recounting the benefits to the scalp, and I took
tonic.  I felt quite a fellow, till I came to pay the bill, and then
discovered that I had but fifteen cents left from all my wealth.
That, of course, was not sufficient for a ticket to the circus, so I
bought a bag of peanuts and walked home, five miles, meditating, the
while, upon the problem of life.  My scalp was all right, but just
under that scalp was a seething, soundless hubbub.  I learned things
that day that are not set down in the books, even if I did get myself
laughed at.  When I get to giving school credits for home work I
shall certainly excuse the boy who has had such an experience as that
from solving at least four problems in vulgar fractions, and I shall
include that experience in my definition of education, too.

I have tried to back-track Paul Laurence Dunbar, now and then, and
have found it good fun.  Once I started with his expression, "the
whole sky overhead and the whole earth underneath," and tried to get
back to where that started.  He must have been lying on his back on
some grass-plot, right in the centre of everything, with that whole
half-sphere of sky luring his spirit out toward the infinite, with a
pillow that was eight thousand miles thick.  If I had been his
teacher I might have called him lazy and shiftless as he lay there,
because he was not finding how to place a decimal point, I'm glad, on
the whole, that I was not his teacher, for I'd have twinges of
conscience every time I read one of his big thoughts.  I'd feel that,
while he was lying there growing big, I was doing my best to make him
little.  When I was lying on my back there in the Pantheon in Rome,
looking up through that wide opening, and watching a moving-picture
show that has no rival, the fleecy clouds in their ever-changing
forms against that blue background of matchless Italian sky, those
gendarmes debated the question of arresting me for disorderly
conduct.  My conduct was disorderly because they couldn't understand
it.  But, if Raphael could have risen from his tomb only a few yards
away, he would have told those fellows not to disturb me while I was
being so liberally educated.  Then, that other time, when my friend
Reuben and I stood on the very prow of the ship when the sea was
rolling high, swinging us up into the heights, and then down into the
depths, with the roar drowning out all possibility of talk--well,
somehow, I thought of that copy-book back yonder with its message
that "Knowledge is power."  And I never think of power without
recalling that experience as I watched that battle royal between the
power of the sea and the power of the ship that could withstand the
angry buffeting of the waves, and laugh in glee as it rode them down.
I know that six times nine are fifty-four, but I confess that I
forgot this fact out there on the prow of that ship.  Some folks
might say that Reuben and I were wasting our time, but I can't think
so.  I like, even now, to stand out in the clear during a
thunder-storm.  I want the head uncovered, too, that the wind may
toss my hair about while I look the lightning-flashes straight in the
eye and stand erect and unafraid as the thunder crashes and rolls and
reverberates about me.  I like to watch the trees swaying to and fro,
keeping time to the majestic rhythm of the elements.  To me such an
experience is what my neighbor John calls "growing weather," and at
such a time the bigness of the affair causes me to forget for the
time that there are such things as double datives.

One time I spent the greater part of a forenoon watching logs go over
a dam.  It seems a simple thing to tell, and hardly worth the
telling, but it was a great morning in actual experience.  In time
those huge logs became things of life, and when they arose from their
mighty plunge into the watery deeps they seemed to shake themselves
free and laugh in their freedom.  And there were battles, too.  They
struggled and fought and rode over one another, and their mighty
collisions produced a very thunder of sound.  I tried to read the
book which I had with me, but could not.  In the presence of such a
scene one cannot read a book unless it is one of Victor Hugo's.  That
copy-book looms up again as I think of those logs, and I wonder
whether knowledge is power, and whether experience is the best
teacher.  But, dear me!  Here I've been frittering away all this good
time, and these papers not graded yet!



My boys like to have me tell them stories, and, if the stories are
true ones, they like them all the better.  So I sometimes become
reminiscent when they gather about me and let them lead me along as
if I couldn't help myself when they are so interested.  In this way I
become one of them.  I like to whittle a nice pine stick while I
talk, for then the talk seems incidental to the whittling and so
takes hold of them all the more.  In the midst of the talking a boy
will sometimes slip into my hand a fresh stick, when I have about
exhausted the whittling resources of the other.  That's about the
finest encore I have ever received.  A boy knows how to pay a
compliment in a delicate way when the mood for compliments is on him,
and if that mood of his is handled with equal delicacy great things
may be accomplished.

Well, the other day as I whittled the inevitable pine stick I let
them lure from me the story of Sant.  Now, Sant was my seatmate in
the village school back yonder, and I now know that I loved him
whole-heartedly.  I didn't know this at the time, for I took him as a
matter of course, just as I did my right hand.  His name was Sanford,
but boys don't call one another by their right names.  They soon find
affectionate nicknames.  I have quite a collection of these nicknames
myself, but have only a hazy notion of how or where they were
acquired.  When some one calls me by one of these names, I can
readily locate him in time and place, for I well know that he must
belong in a certain group or that name would not come to his lips.
These nicknames that we all have are really historical.  Well, we
called him Sant, and that name conjures up before me one of the most
wholesome boys I have ever known.  He was brimful of fun.  A
heartier, more sincere laugh a boy never had, and my affection for
him was as natural as my breathing.  He knew I liked him, though I
never told him so.  Had I told him, the charm would have been broken.

In those days spelling was one of the high lights of school work, and
we were incited to excellence in this branch of learning by head
tickets, which were a promise of still greater honor, in the form of
a prize, to the winner.  The one who stood at the head of the class
at the close of the lesson received a ticket, and the holder of the
greatest number of these tickets at the end of the school year bore
home in triumph the much-coveted prize in the shape of a book as a
visible token of superiority.  I wanted that prize, and worked for
it.  Tickets were accumulating in my little box with exhilarating
regularity, and I was nobly upholding the family name when I was
stricken with pneumonia, and my victorious career had a rude check.
My nearest competitor was Sam, who almost exulted in my illness
because of the opportunity it afforded him for a rich harvest of head
tickets.  In the exuberance of his joy he made some remark to this
effect, which Sant overheard.  Up to this time Sant had taken no
interest in the contests in spelling, but Sam's remark galvanized him
into vigorous life, and spelling became his overmastering passion.
Indeed, he became the wonder of the school, and in consequence poor
Sam's anticipations were not realized.  Day after day Sant caught the
word that Sam missed, and thus added another ticket to his
collection.  So it went until I took my place again, and then Sant
lapsed back into his indifference, leaving me to look after Sam
myself.  When I tried to face him down with circumstantial evidence
he seemed pained to think that I could ever consider him capable of
such designing.  The merry twinkle in his eye was the only confession
he ever made.  Small wonder that I loved Sant.  If I were writing a
testimonial for myself I should say that it was much to my credit
that I loved a boy like that.

As a boy my risibilities were easily excited, and I'm glad that, even
yet, I have not entirely overcome that weakness.  If I couldn't have
a big laugh, now and then, I'd feel that I ought to consult a
physician.  My boys and girls and I often laugh together, but never
at one another.  Sant had a deal of fun with my propensity to laugh.
When we were conning our geography lesson, he would make puns upon
such names as Chattahoochee and Appalachicola, and I would promptly
explode.  Then, enter the teacher.  But I drop the mantle of charity
over the next scene, for his school-teaching was altogether personal,
and not pedagogical.  He didn't know that puns and laughter were the
reactions on the part of us boys that caused us to know the facts of
the book.  But he wanted us to learn those facts in his way, and not
in our own.  Poor fellow!  _Requiescat in pace_, if he can.

Sant was the first one of our crowd to go to college, and we were all
proud of him, and predicted great things for him.  We all knew he was
brilliant and felt certain that the great ones in the college would
soon find it out.  And they did; for ever and anon some news would
filter through to us that Sant was battening upon Latin, Greek,
mathematics, science, and history.  Of course, we gave all the credit
to our little school, and seemed to forget that the Lord may have had
something to do with it.  When we proved by Sant's achievements that
our school was _ne plus ultra_, I noticed that the irascible teacher
joined heartily in the chorus.  I intend to get all the glory I can
from the achievements of my pupils, but I do hope that they may not
be my sole dependence at the distribution of glory.  Yes, Sant
graduated, and his name was written high upon the scroll.  But he
could not deliver his oration, for he was sick, and a friend read it
for him.  And when he arose to receive his diploma he had to stand on
crutches.  They took him home in a carriage, and within a week he was
dead.  The fires of genius had burned brightly for a time and then
went out in darkness, because his father and mother were first

At the conclusion of this story, the boys were silent for a long
time, and I knew the story was having its effect.  Then there was a
slight movement, and one of them put into my hand another pine stick.
I whittled in silence for a time, and then told them of a woman I
know who is well-known and highly esteemed in more than one State
because of her distinctive achievements.  One day I saw her going
along the street leading by the hand a little four-year-old boy.  He
was the picture of health, and rollicked along as only such a healthy
little chap can.  He was eager to see all the things that were
displayed in the windows, but to me he and the proud mother were the
finest show on the street.  She beamed upon him like another Madonna,
and it seemed to me that the Master must have been looking at some
such glorious child as that when he said; "Suffer the little children
to come unto me."

A few weeks later I was riding on the train with that mother, and she
was telling me that the little fellow had been ill, and told how
anxious she had been through several days and nights because the
physicians could not discover the cause of his illness.  Then she
told how happy she was that he had about recovered, and how bright he
seemed when she kissed him good-by that morning.  I saw her several
times that week and at each meeting she gave me good news of the
little boy at home.

Inside of another month that noble little fellow was dead.
Apparently he was his own healthy, happy little self, and then was
stricken as he had been before.  The pastor of the church of which
the parents are members told me of the death scene.  It occurred at
about one o'clock in the morning, and the mother was worn and haggard
from anxiety and days of watching.  The members of the family, the
physician, and the pastor were standing around the bed, but the
mother was on her knees close beside the little one, who was writhing
in the most awful convulsions.  Then the stricken mother looked
straight into heaven and made a personal appeal to God to come and
relieve the little fellow's sufferings.  Again and again she prayed:
"Oh, God, do come and take my little boy."  And the Angel of Death,
in answer to that prayer, came in and touched the baby, and he was

The mother of that child may or may not know that the grandfather of
that child came into that room that night, though he had been long in
his grave, and murdered her baby--murdered him with tainted blood.
That grandfather had not lived a clean life, and so broke a mother's
heart and forced her in agony to pray for the death of her own child.

When I had finished I walked quietly away, leaving the boys to their
own thoughts, and as I walked I breathed the wish that my boys may
live such clean, wholesome, upright, temperate lives that no child or
grandchild may ever have occasion to reproach them, or point the
finger of scorn at them, and that no mother may ever pray for death
to come to her baby because of a taint in their blood.



My grandmother was about the nicest grandmother that a boy ever had,
and in memory of her, I am quite partial to all the grandmothers.  I
like Whistler's portrait of his mother there in the Luxembourg--the
serene face, the cap and strings, and the folded hands--because it
takes me back to the days and to the presence of my grandmother.  She
got into my heart when I was a boy, and she is there yet; and there
she will stay.  The bread and butter that she somehow contrived to
get to us boys between meals made us feel that she could read our
minds.  I attended a banquet the other night, but they had no such
bread and butter as we boys had there in the shade of that
apple-tree.  It was real bread and real butter, and the appetite was
real, too, and that helped to invest grandmother with a halo.
Sometimes she would add jelly, and that caused our cup of joy to run
over.  She just could not bear a hungry look on the face of a boy,
and when such a look appeared she exorcised it in the way that a boy
likes.  What I liked about her was that she never attached any
conditions to her bread and butter--no, not even when she added
jelly, but her gifts were as free as salvation.  The more I think of
the matter, the more I am convinced that her gifts were salvation,
for I know, by experience, that a hungry boy is never a good boy, at
least, not to excess.

Whatever the vicissitudes of life might be to me, I knew that I had a
city of refuge beside grandmother's big armchair, and when trouble
came I instinctively sought that haven, often with rare celerity.  In
that hallowed place there could be no hunger, nor thirst, nor
persecution.  In that place there was peace and plenty, whatever
there might be elsewhere.  I often used to wonder how she could know
a boy so well.  I would be aching to go over to play with Tom, and
the first thing I knew grandmother was sending me over there on some
errand, telling me there was no special hurry about coming back.  My
father might set his foot down upon some plan of mine ever so firmly,
but grandmother had only to smile at him and he was reduced to a
degree of limpness that contributed to my escape.  I have often
wondered whether that smile on the face of grandmother did not remind
him, of some of his own boyish pranks.

We boys knew, somehow, what she expected of us, and her expectation
was the measuring rod with which we tested our conduct.  Boy-like, we
often wandered away into a far country, but when we returned, she had
the fatted calf ready for us, with never a question as to our travels
abroad.  In that way foreign travel lost something of its glamour,
and the home life made a stronger appeal.  She made her own bill of
fare so appetizing that we lost all our relish for husks and the
table companions connected with them.  She never asked how or where
we acquired the cherry-stains on our shirts, but we knew that she
recognized cherry-stains when she saw them.  The next day our shirts
were innocent of foreign cherry-stains, and we experienced a feeling
of righteousness.  She made us feel that we were equal partners with
her in the enterprise of life, and that hoeing the garden and eating
the cookies were our part of the compact.

When we went to stay with her for a week or two we carried with us a
book or so of the lurid sort, but returned home leaving them behind,
generally in the form of ashes.  She found the book, of course,
beneath the pillow, and replaced it when she made the bed, but never
mentioned the matter to us.  Then, in the afternoon, while we munched
cookies she would read to us from some book that made our own book
seem tame and unprofitable.  She never completed the story, however,
but left the book on the table where we could find it easily.  No
need to tell that we finished the story, without help, in the
evening, and the next day cremated the other book, having found
something more to our liking.  One evening, as we sat together, she
said she wished she knew the name of Jephthah's daughter, and then
went on with her knitting as if she had forgotten her wish.  At that
age we boys were not specially interested in daughters, no matter
whose they were; but that challenge to our curiosity was too much for
us, and before we went to bed we knew all that is known of that fine

That was the beginning of our intimate, personal knowledge of Bible
characters--Ruth, Esther, David, and the rest; but grandmother made
us feel that we had known about them all along.  I know, even yet,
just how tall Ruth was, and what was the color of her eyes and hair;
and Esther is the standard by which I measure all the queens of
earth, whether they wear crowns or not.

One day when we went over to play with Tom we saw a peacock for the
first time, and at supper became enthusiastic over the discovery.  In
the midst of our rhapsodizing grandmother asked us if we knew how
those beautiful spots came to be in the feathers of the peacock.  We
confessed our ignorance, and like Ajax, prayed for light.  But we
soon became aware that our prayer would not be answered until after
the supper dishes had been washed.  Our alacrity in proffering our
services is conclusive evidence that grandmother knew about
motivation whether she knew the word or not.  We suggested the
omission of the skillets and pans for that night only, but the
suggestion fell upon barren soil, and the regular order of business
was strictly observed.

Then came the story, and the narrator made the characters seem
lifelike to us as they passed in review.  There were Jupiter and
Juno; there were Argus with his hundred eyes, the beautiful heifer
that was Io, and the crafty Mercury.  In rapt attention we listened
until those eyes of Argus were transferred to the feathers of the
peacock.  If Mercury's story of his musical pipe closed the eyes of
Argus, grandmother's story opened ours wide, and we clamored for
another, as boys will do.  Nor did we ask in vain, and we were soon
learning of the Flying Mercury, and how light and airy Mercury was,
seeing that an infant's breath could support him.  After telling of
the wild ride of Phaeton and his overthrow, she quoted from John G.

  "Don't set it down in your table of forces
  That any one man equals any four horses.
  Don't swear by the Styx!
  It is one of old Nick's
  Diabolical tricks
  To get people into a regular 'fix,'
  And hold 'em there as fast as bricks!"

Be it said to our credit that after such an evening dish-washing was
no longer a task, but rather a delightful prelude to another
mythological feast.  We wandered with Ulysses and shuddered at
Polyphemus; we went in quest of the Golden Fleece, and watched the
sack of Troy; we came to know Orpheus and Eurydice and Pyramus and
Thisbe; and we sowed dragon's teeth and saw armed men spring up
before us.  Since those glorious evenings with grandmother the
classic myths have been among my keenest delights.  I read again and
again Lowell's extravaganza upon the story of Daphne, and can hear
grandmother's laugh over his delicious puns.  I can hear her voice as
she reads Shelley's musical Arethusa, and then turns to his Skylark
to compare their musical qualities.  I feel downright sorry for the
boy who has no such grandmother to teach him these poems, but not
more sorry than I do for those boys who took that Diamond Dick book
with them when they went visiting.  Even now, when people talk to me
of omniscience I always think of grandmother.



  "The world is too much with us; late and soon,
  Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
  Little we see in nature that is ours;
  We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
  This sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
  The winds that will be howling at all hours
  And are up-gather'd now like sleeping flowers,
  For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
  It moves us not.  Great God!  I'd rather be
  A pagan suckled in a creed out-worn--
  So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
  Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
  Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
  And hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn."


I have heard many times that this is one of the best of Wordsworth's
many sonnets, and in the matter of sonnets, I find myself compelled
to depend upon others for my opinions.  I'm sorry that such is the
case, for I'd rather not deal in second-hand judgments if I could
help it.  About the most this sonnet can do for me is to make me
wonder what my world is.  I suppose that the size of my world is the
measure of myself, and that in my schoolmastering I am simply trying
to enlarge the world of my pupils.  I saw a gang-plough the other day
that is drawn by a motor, and that set me to thinking of ploughs in
general and their evolution; and, by tracing the plough backward, I
saw that the original one must have been the forefinger of some

When his forefinger got sore, he got a forked stick and used that
instead; then he got a larger one and used both hands; then a still
larger one, and used oxen as the motive power; and then he fitted
handles to it, and other parts till he finally produced a plough.
But the principle has not been changed, and the gang-plough is but a
multifold forefinger.  It is great fun to loose the tether of the
mind and let it go racing along, in and out, till it runs to earth
the original plough.  Whether the solution is the correct one makes
but little difference.  If friend Brown cannot disprove my theory, I
am on safe ground, and have my fun whether he accepts or rejects my

This is one way of enlarging one's world, I take it, and if this sort
of thing is a part of the process of education, I am in favor of it,
and wish I knew how to set my boys and girls going on such
excursions.  I wish I might have gone to school to Agassiz just to
get my eyes opened.  If I had, I'd probably assign to my pupils such
subjects as the evolution of a snowflake, the travels of a sunbeam,
the mechanism of a bird's wing, the history of a dewdrop, the changes
in a blade of grass, and the evolution of a grain of sand.  If I
could only take them away from books for a month or so, they'd
probably be able to read the books to better advantage when they came
back.  I'd like to take them on a walking trip over the Alps and
through rural England and Scotland for a few weeks.

If they could only gather broom, heather, shamrock, and edelweiss,
they would be able to see clover, alfalfa, arbutus, and mignonette
when they came back home.  If they could see black robins in Wales
and Germany, the robin redbreast here at home would surely be thought
worthy of notice.  If they could see stalactites and stalagmites in
Luray Cave, their world would then include these formations.  One of
my boys was a member of an exploring expedition in the Andes, and one
night they were encamped near a glacier.  This glacier protruded into
a lake, and on that particular night the end of that river of ice
broke off and thus formed an iceberg.  The glacier was nearly a mile
wide, and when the end broke off the sound was such as to make the
loudest thunder seem a whisper by comparison.  It was a rare
experience for this young fellow to be around where icebergs are
made, and vicariously I shared his experience.

I want to know the price of eggs, bacon, and coffee, but I need not
go into camp on the price-list.  Having purchased my bacon and eggs,
I like to move along to where my friend is sitting, and hear him tell
of his experiences with glaciers and icebergs, and so become
inoculated with the world-enlarging virus.  Or, if he comes in to
share my bacon and eggs, these mundane delights lose none of their
flavor by being garnished with conversation on Andean themes.  I'm
glad to have my friend push that greatest of monuments, "The Christ
of the Andes," over into my world.  I arise from the table feeling
that I have had full value for the money I expended for eggs and

I'd like to have in my world a liberal sprinkling of stars, for when
I am looking at stars I get away from sordid things, for a time, and
get my soul renovated.  I think St. Paul must have been associating
with starry space just before he wrote the last two verses of that
eighth chapter of Romans.  I can't see how he could have written such
mighty thoughts if he had been dwelling upon clothes or symptoms.
The reading of a patent-medicine circular is not specially conducive
to thoughts of infinity.  So I like, in my meditations, to take trips
from star to star, and from planet to planet.  I like to wonder
whether these planets were rightly named--whether Venus is as
beautiful as the name implies, and whether the Martians are really
disciples of the warlike Mars.  I like to drift along upon the canals
on the planet Mars, with heroic Martians plying the oars.  I have
great fun on such spatial excursions, and am glad that I ever annexed
these planets to my world.  I can take these stellar companions with
me to my potato-patch, and they help the day along.

I want pictures in my world, too, and statues; for they show me the
hearts of the artists, and that is a sort of baptism.  Sometimes I
grow a bit impatient to see how slowly some work of mine proceeds.
Then I think of Ghiberti, who worked for forty-two years on the
bronze doors of the Baptistry there in Florence, which Michael Angelo
declared to be worthy of paradise.  Then I reflect that it was worth
a lifetime of work to win the praise of such as Angelo.  This
reflection calms me, and I plod on more serenely, glad of the fact
that I can count Ghiberti and the bronze doors as a part of my world.
When I can have Titian, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Andrea del
Sarto, Raphael, and Rosa Bonheur around, I feel that I have good
company and must be on my good behavior.  If Corot, Reynolds,
Leighton, Watts, and Landseer should be banished from my world I'd
feel that I had suffered a great loss.  I like to hobnob with such
folks as these, both for my own pleasure and also for the reputation
I gain through such associations.

I must have people in my world, also, or it wouldn't be much of a
world.  And I must be careful in my selection of people, if I am to
achieve any distinction as a world builder.  I just can't leave
Cordelia out, for she helps to make my world luminous.  But she must
have companions; so I shall select Antigone, Evangeline, Miranda,
Mary, and Martha if she can spare the time.  Among the male
contingent I shall want Job, Erasmus, Petrarch, Dante, Goethe,
Shakespeare, Milton, and Burns.  I want men and women in whose
presence I must stand uncovered to preserve my self-respect.  I want
big people, wise people, and dynamic people in my world, people who
will teach me how to work and how to live.

If I can get my world made and peopled to my liking, I shall refute
Mr. Wordsworth's statement that the world is too much with us.  If I
can have the right sort of folks about me, they will see to it that I
do not waste my powers, for I shall be compelled to use my powers in
order to avert expulsion from their good company.  If I get my world
built to suit me, I shall have no occasion to imitate the poet's
plaint.  I suspect there is no better fun in life than in building a
world of one's own.



One day in London a friend told me that on the market in that city
they have eggs of five grades--new-laid eggs, fresh eggs, imported
fresh eggs, good eggs, and eggs.  A few days later we were in the
Tate Gallery looking at the Turner collection when he told me a story
of Turner.  It seems that a friend of the artist was in his studio
watching him at his work, when suddenly this friend said: "Really,
Mr. Turner, I can't see in nature the colors that you portray on
canvas."  The artist looked at him steadily for a moment, and then
replied: "Don't you wish you could?"  Life, even at its best,
certainly is a maze.  I find myself in the labyrinth, all the while
groping about, but quite unable to find the exit.  Theseus was most
fortunate in having an Ariadne to furnish him with the thread to
guide him.  But there seems to be no second Ariadne for me, and I
must continue to grope with no thread to guide.  There in the Tate
Gallery I was standing enthralled before pictures by Watts and
Leighton, and paying small heed to the Turners, when the story of my
friend held a mirror before me, and as I looked I asked myself the
question: "Don't you wish you could?"

Those Barbizon chaps, artists that they were, used to laugh at Corot
and tell him he was parodying nature, but he went right on painting
the foliage of his trees silver-gray until, finally, the other
artists discovered that he was the only one who was telling the truth
on canvas.  Every one of my dilemmas seems to have at least a dozen
horns, and I stand helpless before them, fearful that I may lay hold
of the wrong one.  I was reading in a book the other day the
statement of a man who says he'd rather have been Louis Agassiz than
the richest man in America.  In another little book, "The Kingdom of
Light," the author, who is a lawyer, says that Concord,
Massachusetts, has influenced America to a greater degree than New
York and Chicago combined.  I think I'll blot out the superlative
degree in my grammar, for the comparative gives me all the trouble I
can stand.

Everything seems to be better or worse than something else, and there
doesn't seem to be any best or worst.  So I'll dispense with the
superlative degree.  Whether I buy new-laid eggs, or just eggs, I
can't be certain that I have the best or the worst eggs that can be
found.  If I go over to Paris I may find other grades of eggs.  Our
Sunday-school teacher wanted a generous contribution of money one
day, and, by way of causing purse-strings to relax, told of a boy who
was putting aside choice bits of meat as he ate his dinner.  Upon
being asked by his father why he was doing so, he replied that he was
saving the bits for Rover.  He was reminded that Rover could do with
scraps and bones, and that he himself should eat the bits he had put
aside.  When he went out to Rover with the plate of leavings, he
patted him affectionately and said:

"Poor doggie!  I was going to bring you an offering to-day; but I
guess you'll have to put up with a collection."

I like Robert Burns and think his "To Mary in Heaven" is his finest
poem.  But the critics seem to prefer his "Highland Mary."  So I
suppose these critics will look at me, with something akin to pity in
the look, and say: "Don't you wish you could?"  Years ago some one
planted trees about my house for shade, and selected poplar.  Now the
roots of these trees invade the cellar and the cistern, and prove
themselves altogether a nuisance.  Of course, I can cut out the
trees, but then I should have no shade.  That man, whoever he was,
might just as well have planted elms or maples, but, by some sort of
perversity or ignorance, planted poplars, and here am I, years
afterward, in a state of perturbation about the safety of cellar and
cistern on account of those pesky roots.  I do wish that man had
taken a course in arboriculture before he planted those trees.  It
might have saved me a deal of bother, and been no worse for him.

Back home, after we had passed through the autograph-album stage of
development, we became interested in another sort of literary
composition.  It was a book in which we recorded the names of our
favorite book, author, poem, statesman, flower, name, place, musical
instrument, and so on throughout an entire page.  That experience was
really valuable and caused us to do some thinking.  It would be well,
I think, to use such a book as that in the examination of teachers
and pupils.  I wish I might come upon one of the books now in which I
set down the record of my favorites.  It would afford me some
interesting if not valuable information.

If I were called upon to name my favorite flower now I'd scarcely
know what to say.  In one mood I'd certainly say lily-of-the-valley,
but in another mood I might say the rose.  I do wonder if, in those
books back yonder, I ever said sunflower, dandelion, dahlia, fuchsia,
or daisy.  If I should find that I said heliotrope, I'd give my
adolescence a pretty high grade.  If I were using one of these books
in my school, and some boy should name the sunflower as his favorite,
I'd find myself facing a big problem to get him converted to the
lily-of-the-valley, and I really do not know quite how I should
proceed.  It might not help him much for me to ask him: "Don't you
wish you could?"  If I should let him know that my favorite is the
lily-of-the-valley, he might name that flower as the line of least
resistance to my approval and a high grade, with the mental
reservation that the sunflower is the most beautiful plant that
grows.  Such a course might gratify me, but it certainly would not
make for his progress toward the lily-of-the-valley, nor yet for the
salvation of his soul.

I have a boy of my own, but have never had the courage to ask him
what kind of father he thinks he has.  He might tell me.  Again I am
facing a dilemma.  Dilemmas are quite plentiful hereabouts.  I must
determine whether to regard him as an asset or a liability.  But,
that is not the worst of my troubles.  I plainly see that sooner or
later he is going to decide whether his father is an asset or a
liability.  We must go over our books some day so as to find out
which of us is in debt to the other.  I know that I owe him his
chance, but parents often seem backward about paying their debts to
their children, and I'm wondering whether I shall be able to cancel
that debt, to his present and ultimate satisfaction.  I'd be
decidedly uncomfortable, years hence, to find him but "the runt of
something good" because I had failed to pay that debt.  When I was a
lad they used to say that I was stubborn, but that may have been my
unsophisticated way of trying to collect a debt.  I take some
comfort, in these later days, in knowing that the folks at home
credit me with the virtue of perseverance, and I wish they had used
the milder word when I was a boy.

There is a picture show just around the corner, and I'm in a
quandary, right now, whether to follow the crowd to that show or sit
here and read Ruskin's "Sesame and Lilies."  If I go to see the
picture film I'll probably see an exhibition of cowboy equestrian
dexterity, with a "happy ever after" finale, and may also acquire the
reputation among the neighbors of being up to date.  But, if I spend
the evening with Ruskin, I shall have something worth thinking over
as I go about my work to-morrow.  So here is another dilemma, and
there is no one to decide the matter for me.  This being a free moral
agent is not the fun that some folks try to make it appear.  I don't
really see how I shall ever get on unless I subscribe to Sam Walter
Foss's lines:

  "No other song has vital breath
  Through endless time to fight with death,
  Than that the singer sings apart
  To please his solitary heart."



As I think back over my past life as a schoolmaster I keep wondering
how many inebriates I have produced in my career.  I'd be glad to
think that I have not a single one to my discredit, but that seems
beyond the wildest hope, considering the character of my teaching.  I
am a firm believer in temperance in all things; but, in the matter of
pedagogy, my practice cannot be made to square with my theory.  In
fact, I find, upon reflection, that I have been teaching intemperance
all the while.  I'm glad the officers of my church do not know of my
pedagogical practice.  If they did, they would certainly take action
against me, and in that case I cannot see what adequate defense I
could offer.  Being a schoolmaster, I could scarcely bring myself to
plead ignorance, for such a plea as that might abrogate my license.
So I shall just keep quiet and look as nearly wise as possible.  It
is embarrassing to me to reflect how long it has taken me to see the
error of my practice.  If I had asked one of my boys he could have
told me of the better way.

When we got the new desks in our school, back home, our teacher
seemed very anxious to have them kept in their virgin state, and
became quite animated as he walked up and down the aisle fulminating
against the possible offender.  In the course of his sulphury remarks
he threatened condign punishment upon the base miscreant who should
dare use his penknife on one of those desks.  His address was equal
to a course in "Paradise Lost," nor was it without its effect upon
the audience.  Every boy in the room felt in his pocket to make sure
that it contained his knife, and every one began to wonder just where
he would find the whetstone when he went home.  We were all eager for
school to close for the day that we might set about the important
matter of whetting our knives.  Henceforth wood-carving was a part of
the regular order in our school, but it was done without special
supervision.  Of course, each boy could prove an alibi when his own
desk was under investigation.  It would not be seemly, in this
connection, to give a verbatim report of the conversations of us boys
when we assembled at our rendezvous after school.  Suffice it to say
that the teacher's ears must have burned.  The consensus of opinion
was that, if the teacher didn't want the desks carved, he should not
have told us to carve them.  We seemed to think that he had said, in
substance, that he knew we were a gang of young rascallions, and
that, if he didn't intimidate us, we'd surely be guilty of some form
of vandalism.  Then he proceeded to point out the way by suggesting
penknives; and the trick was done.  We were ever open to suggestions.

We had another teacher whose pet aversion was match heads.  Cicero
and Demosthenes would have apologized to him could they have come in
when he was delivering one of his eloquent orations upon this
engaging theme.  His vituperative vocabulary seemed unlimited,
inexhaustible, and cumulative.  He raved, and ranted, and exuded
epithets with the most lavish prodigality.  It seemed to us that he
didn't care much what he said, if he could only say it rapidly and
forcibly.  In the very midst of an eloquent period another match head
would explode under his foot, and that seemed to answer the purpose
of an encore.  The class in arithmetic did not recite that afternoon.
There was no time for arithmetic when match heads were to the fore.
I sometimes feel a bit guilty that I was admitted to such a good show
on a free pass.  The next day, of course, the Gatling guns resumed
their activity; the girls screeched as they walked toward the
water-pail to get a drink; we boys studied our geography lesson with
faces garbed in a look of innocence and wonder; our mothers at home
were wondering what had become of all the matches; and the
teacher--but the less said of him the better.

We boys needed only the merest suggestion to set us in motion, and
like Dame Rumor in the Aeneid, we gathered strength by the going.
One day the teacher became somewhat facetious and recounted a
red-pepper episode in the school of his boyhood.  That was enough for
us; and the next day, in our school, was a day long to be remembered.
I recall in the school reader the story of "Meddlesome Matty."  Her
name was really Matilda.  One day her curiosity got the better of
her, and she removed the lid from her grandmother's snuff-box.  The
story goes on to say:

  "Poor eyes, and nose, and mouth, and chin
  A dismal sight presented;
  And as the snuff got further in
  Sincerely she repented."

Barring the element of repentance, the red pepper was equally
provocative of results in our school.

I certainly cannot lay claim to any great degree of docility, for, in
spite of all the experiences of my boyhood, I fell into the evil ways
of my teachers when I began my schoolmastering, and suggested to my
pupils numberless short cuts to wrong-doing.  I railed against
intoxicants, and thus made them curious.  That's why I am led to
wonder if I have incited any of my boys to strong drink as my
teachers incited me to desk-carving, match heads, and red pepper.

I have come to think that a rabbit excels me in the matter of
pedagogy.  The tar-baby story that Joel Chandler Harris has given us
abundantly proves my statement.  The rabbit had so often outwitted
the fox that, in desperation, the latter fixed up a tar-baby and set
it up in the road for the benefit of the rabbit.  In his efforts to
discipline the tar-baby for impoliteness, the rabbit became enmeshed
in the tar, to his great discomfort and chagrin.  However, Brer
Rabbit's knowledge of pedagogy shines forth in the following dialogue:

W'en Brer Fox fine Brer Rabbit mixt up wid de Tar-Baby he feel mighty
good, en he roll on de groun' en laff.  Bimeby he up'n say, sezee:

"Well, I speck I got you dis time, Brer Rabbit," sezee.  "Maybe I
ain't, but I speck I is.  You been runnin' roun' here sassin' atter
me a mighty long time, but I speck you done come ter de een' er de
row.  You bin cuttin' up yo' capers en bouncin' 'roun' in dis
neighborhood ontwel you come ter b'leeve yo'se'f de boss er de whole
gang.  En den youer allers some'rs whar you got no bizness," sez Brer
Fox, sezee.  "Who ax you fer ter come en strike up a'quaintance wid
dish yer Tar-Baby?  En who stuck you up dar whar you is?  Nobody in
de roun' worril.  You des tuck en jam yo'se'f on dat Tar-Baby widout
watin' fer enny invite," sez Brer Fox, sezee, "en dar you is, en dar
you'll stay twel I fixes up a bresh-pile and fires her up, kaze I'm
gwineter bobby-cue you dis day, sho," sez Brer Fox, sezee.

Den Brer Rabbit talk mighty 'umble.

"I don't keer w'at you do wid me, Brer Fox," sezee, "so you don't
fling me in dat brier-patch.  Roas' me, Brer Fox," sezee, "but don't
fling me in dat brier-patch," sezee.

"Hit's so much trouble fer ter kindle a fier," sez Brer Fox, sezee,
"dat I speck I'll hatter hang you," sezee.

"Hang me des ez high as you please, Brer Fox," sez Brer Rabbit,
sezee, "but do fer de Lord's sake don't fling me in dat brier-patch,"

"I ain't got no string," sez Brer Fos, sezee, "en now I speck I'll
hatter drown you," sezee.

"Drown me des ez deep ez you please, Brer Fox," sez Brer Rabbit,
sezee, "but do don't fling me in dat brier-patch," sezee.

"Dey ain't no water nigh," sez Brer Fox, sezee, "en now I speck I'll
hatter skin you," sezee.

"Skin me, Brer Fox," sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, "snatch out my eyeballs,
t'ar out my years by de roots, en cut off my legs," sezee, "but do
please, Brer Fox, don't fling me in dat brier-patch," sezee.

Co'se Brer Fox wanter hurt Brer Rabbit bad ez he kin, so he cotch 'im
by de behime legs en slung 'im right in de middle er de brier-patch.
Dar wuz a considerbul flutter whar Brer Rabbit struck de bushes, en
Brer Fox sorter hang 'roun' fer ter see w'at wuz gwineter happen.
Bimeby he hear somebody call 'im, en way up de hill he see Brer
Rabbit settin' cross-legged on a chinkapin log koamin' de pitch outen
his har wid a chip.  Den Brer Fox know dat he bin swop off mighty
bad.  Brer Rabbit was bleedzed fer ter fling back some er his sass,
en he holler out:

"Bred en bawn in a brier-patch, Brer Fox--bred en bawn in a
brier-patch!" en wid dat he skip out des ez lively ez a cricket in de



I wish I could ever get the question of majors and minors settled to
my complete satisfaction.  I thought my college course would settle
the matter for all time, but it didn't.  I suspect that those erudite
professors thought they were getting me fitted out with enduring
habits of majors and minors, but they seem to have made no allowance
for changes of styles nor for growth.  When I received my diploma
they seemed to think I was finished, and would stay just as they had
fixed me.  They used to talk no little about finished products, and,
on commencement day, appeared to look upon me as one of them.  On the
whole, I'm glad that I didn't fulfil their apparent expectations.  I
have never been able to make out whether their attentions, on
commencement day, were manifestations of pride or relief.  I can see
now that I must have been a sore trial to them.  In my callow days,
when they occupied pedestals, I bent the knee to them by way of
propitiating them, but I got bravely over that.  At first, what they
taught and what they represented were my majors, but when I came to
shift and reconstruct values, some of them climbed down off their
pedestals, and my knee lost some of its flexibility.

We had one little professor who afforded us no end of amusement by
his taking himself so seriously.  The boys used to say that he wrote
letters and sent flowers to himself.  He would strut about the campus
as proudly as a pouter-pigeon, never realizing, apparently, that we
were laughing at him.  At first, he impressed us greatly with his
grand air and his clothes, but after we discovered that, in his case
at least, clothes do not make the man, we refused to be impressed.
He could split hairs with infinite precision, and smoke a cigarette
in the most approved style, but I never heard any of the boys express
a wish to become that sort of man.  Had there occurred a meeting, on
the campus, between him and Zeus he would have been offended, I am
sure, if Zeus had failed to set off a few thunderbolts in his honor.
We used to have at home a bantam rooster that could create no end of
flutter in the chicken yard, and could crow mightily; but when I
reflected that he could neither lay eggs nor occupy much space in a
frying-pan, I demoted him, in my thinking, from major rank to a low
minor, and awarded the palm to one of the less bumptious but more
useful fowls.  Our little professor had degrees, of course, and has
them yet, I suspect; but no one ever discovered that he put them to
any good use.  For that reason we boys lost interest in the man as
well as his garnishments.

Our professor of chemistry was different.  He was never on
dress-parade; he did not pose; he was no snob.  We loved him because
he was so genuine.  He had degrees, too, but they were so obscured by
the man that we forgot them in our contemplation of him.  We knew
that they do not make degrees big enough for him.  I often wonder
what degrees the colleges would want to confer upon William
Shakespeare if he could come back.  Then, too, I often think what a
wonderful letter Abraham Lincoln could and might have written to Mrs.
Bixby, if he had only had a degree.  Agassiz may have had degrees,
but he didn't really need them.  Like Browning, he was big enough,
even lacking degrees, to be known without the identification of his
other names.  If people need degrees they ought to have them,
especially if they can live up to them.  Possibly the time may come
when degrees will be given for things done, rather than for things
hoped for; given for at least one stage of the journey accomplished
rather than for merely packing a travelling-bag.  If this time ever
comes Thomas A. Edison will bankrupt the alphabet.

In this coil of degrees and the absence of them, I become more and
more confused as to majors and minors.  There in college were those
two professors both wearing degrees of the same size.  Judged by that
criterion they should have been of equal size and influence.  But
they weren't.  In the one case you couldn't see the man for the
degree; in the other you couldn't see the degree for the man.  Small
wonder that I find myself in such a hopeless muddle.  I once thought,
in my innocence, that there was a sort of metric scale in
degrees--that an A.M. was ten times the size of an A.B.; that a Ph.D.
was equal to ten A.M.'s; and that the LL.D. degree could be had only
on the top of Mt. Olympus.  But here I am, stumbling about among
folks, and can't tell a Ph.D. from an A.B.  I do wish all these
degree chaps would wear tags so that we wayfaring folks could tell
them apart.  It would simplify matters if the railway people would
arrange compartments on their trains for these various degrees.  The
Ph.D. crowd would certainly feel more comfortable if they could herd
together, so that they need not demean themselves by associating with
mere A.M.'s or the more lowly A.B.'s.  We might hope, too, that by
way of diversion they would put their heads together and compound
some prescription by the use of which the world might avert war,
reduce the high cost of living, banish a woman's tears, or save a
soul from perdition.

Be it said to my shame, that I do not know what even an A.B. means,
much less the other degree hieroglyphics.  Sometimes I receive a
letter having the writer's name printed at the top with an A.B.
annex; but I do not know what the writer is trying to say to me by
means of the printing.  He probably wants me to know that he is a
graduate of some sort, but he fails to make it clear to me whether
his degree was conferred by a high school, a normal school, a
college, or a university.  I know of one high school that confers
this degree, as well as many normal schools and colleges.  There are
still other institutions where this same degree may be had, that
freely admit that they are colleges, whether they can prove it or
not.  I'll be glad to send a stamped envelope for reply, if some one
will only be good enough to tell me what A.B. does really mean.

I do hope that the earth may never be scourged with celibacy, but the
ever-increasing variety of bachelors, male and female, creates in me
a feeling of apprehension.  Nor can I make out whether a bachelor of
arts is bigger and better than bachelors of science and pedagogy.
The arts folks claim that they are, and proceed to prove it by one
another.  I often wonder what a bachelor of arts can do that the
other bachelors cannot do, or _vice versa_.  They should all be
required to submit a list of their accomplishments, so that, when any
of the rest of us want a bit of work done, we may be able to select
wisely from among these differentiated bachelors.  If we want a
bridge built, a beefsteak broiled, a mountain tunnelled, a loaf of
bread baked, a railroad constructed, a hat trimmed, or a book
written, we ought to know which class of bachelors will serve our
purpose best.  Some one asked me just a few days ago to cite him to
some man or woman who can write a prize-winning short story, but I
couldn't decide whether to refer him to the bachelors of arts or the
bachelors of pedagogy.  I might have turned to the Litt.D.'s, but I
didn't suppose they would care to bother with a little thing like

In college I studied Greek and, in fact, won a gold medal for my
agility in ramping through Mr. Xenophon's parasangs.  That medal is
lost, so far as I know, and no one now has the remotest suspicion
that I ever even halted along through those parasangs, not to mention
ramping, or that I ever made the acquaintance of ox-eyed Juno.  But I
need no medal to remind roe of those experiences in the Greek class.
Every bluebird I see does that for me.  The good old doctor, one
morning in early spring, rhapsodized for five minutes on the singing
of a bluebird he had heard on his way to class, telling how the
little fellow was pouring forth a melody that made the world and all
life seem more beautiful and blessed.  We loved him for that, because
it proved that he was a big-souled human being; and pupils like to
discover human qualities in their teachers.  The little professor may
have heard the bluebird's singing, too; but if he did, he probably
thought it was serenading him.  If colleges of education and normal
schools would select teachers who can delight in the song of a
bluebird their academic attainments would be ennobled and glorified,
and their students might come to love instead of fearing them.  Only
a man or a woman with a big soul can socialize and vitalize the work
of the schools.  The mere academician can never do it.

The more I think of all these degree decorations in my efforts to
determine what is major in life and what is minor, the more I think
of George.  He was an earnest schoolmaster, and was happiest when his
boys and girls were around him, busy at their tasks.  One year there
were fourteen boys in his school, fifteen including himself, for he
was one of them.  The school day was not long enough, so they met in
groups in the evening, at the various homes, and continued the work
of the day.  These boys absorbed his time, his strength, and his
heart.  Their success in their work was his greatest joy.  Of those
fourteen boys one is no more.  Of the other thirteen one is a state
official of high rank, five are attorneys, two are ministers of the
Gospel, two are bankers, one is a successful business man, and two
are engineers of prominence.  George is the ideal of those men.  They
all say he gave them their start in the right direction, and always
speak his name with reverence.  George has these thirteen stars in
his crown that I know of.  He had no degrees, but I am thinking that
some time he will hear the plaudit: "Well done, good and faithful



It was a dark, cold, rainy night in November.  The wind whistled
about the house, the rain beat a tattoo against the window-panes and
flooded the sills.  The big base-burner, filled with anthracite coal,
was illuminating the room through its mica windows, on all sides, and
dispensing a warmth that smiled at the storm and cold outside.  There
was a book in the picture, also; and a pair of slippers; and a
smoking-jacket; and an armchair.  From the ceiling was suspended a
great lamp that joined gloriously in the chorus of light and cheer.
The man who sat in the armchair, reading the book, was a
schoolmaster--a college professor to be exact.  Soft music floated up
from below stairs as a soothing accompaniment to his reading.
Subconsciously, as he turned the pages, he felt a pity for the poor
fellows on top of freight-trains who must endure the pitiless
buffeting of the storm.  He could see them bracing themselves against
the blasts that tried to wrest them from their moorings.  He felt a
pity for the belated traveller who tries, well-nigh in vain, to urge
his horses against the driving rain onward toward food and shelter.
But the leaves of the book continued to turn at intervals; for the
story was an engaging one, and the schoolmaster was ever responsive
to well-told stories.

It was nine o'clock or after, and the fury of the storm was
increasing.  As if responding to the challenge outside, he opened the
draft of the stove and then settled back, thinking he would be able
to complete the story before retiring.  In the midst of one of the
many compelling passages he heard a bell toll, or imagined he did.
Brought to check by this startling sensation, he looked back over the
page to discover a possible explanation.  Finding none, he smiled at
his own fancy, and then proceeded with his reading.  But, again, the
bell tolled, and he wondered whether anything he had eaten at dinner
could be held responsible for the hallucination.  Scarcely had he
resumed his reading when the bell again tolled.  He could stand it no
longer, and must come upon the solution of the mystery.  Bells do not
toll at nine o'clock, and the weirdness of the affair disconcerted
him.  The nearer he drew to the foot of the stair, in his quest for
information, the more foolish he felt his question would seem to the
members of the family.  But the question had scarce been asked when
the boy of the house burst forth: "Yes, been tolling for half an
hour."  Meekly he asked: "Why are they tolling the bell?"  "Child
lost."  "Whose child?"  "Little girl belonging to the Norwegians who
live in the shack down there by the woods."

So, that was it!  Well, it was some satisfaction to have the matter
cleared up, and now he could go back to his book.  He had noticed the
shack in question, which was made of slabs set upright, with a
precarious roof of tarred paper; and had heard, vaguely, that a gang
of Norwegians were there to make a road through the woods to
Minnehaha Falls.  Beyond these bare facts he had never thought to
inquire.  These people and their doings were outside of his world.
Besides, the book and the cheery room were awaiting his return.  But
the reading did not get on well.  The tolling bell broke in upon it
and brought before his mind the picture of a little girl wandering
about in the storm and crying for her mother.  He tried to argue with
himself that these Norwegians did not belong in his class, and that
they ought to look after their own children.  He was under no
obligations to them--in fact, did not even know them.  They had no
right, therefore, to break in upon the serenity of his evening.

But the bell tolled on.  If he could have wrenched the clapper from
out that bell, the page of his book might not have blurred before his
eyes.  As the wind moaned about the house he thought he heard a child
crying, and started to his feet.  It was inconceivable, he argued,
that he, a grown man, should permit such incidental matters in life
to so disturb his composure.  There were scores, perhaps hundreds, of
children lost somewhere in the world, for whom regiments of people
were searching, and bells were tolling, too.  So why not be
philosophical and read the book?  But the words would not keep their
places, and the page yielded forth no coherent thought.  He could
endure the tension no longer.  He became a whirlwind--slamming the
book upon the table, kicking off the slippers, throwing the
smoking-jacket at random, and rushing to the closet for his gear.  At
ten o'clock he was ready--hip-boots, slouch-hat, rubber coat, and
lantern, and went forth into the storm.

Arriving at the scene, he took his place in the searching party of
about twenty men.  They were to search the woods, first of all, each
man to be responsible for a space about two or three rods wide and
extending to the road a half-mile distant.  Lantern in hand, he
scrutinized each stone and stump, hoping and fearing that it might
prove to be the little one.  In the darkness he stumbled over logs
and vines, became entangled in briers and brambles, and often was
deluged with water from trees as he came in contact with overhanging
boughs.  But his blood was up, for he was seeking a lost baby.  When
he fell full-length in the swale, he got to his feet the best he
could and went on.  Book and room were forgotten in the glow of a
larger purpose.  So for two hours he splashed and struggled, but had
never a thought of abandoning the quest until the child should be

At twelve o'clock they had reached the road and were about to begin
the search in another section of the wood when the church-bell rang.
This was the signal that they should return to the starting-point to
hear any tidings that might have come in the meantime.  Scarcely had
they heard that a message had come from police headquarters in the
city, and that information could be had there concerning a lost child
when the schoolmaster called out: "Come on, Craig!"  And away went
these two toward the barn to arouse old "Blackie" out of her slumber
and hitch her to a buggy.  Little did that old nag ever dream, even
in her palmiest days, that she could show such speed as she developed
in that four-mile drive.  The schoolmaster was too much wrought up to
sit supinely by and see another do the driving; so he did it himself.
And he drove as to the manner born.

The information they obtained at the police station was meagre
enough, but it furnished them a clew.  A little girl had been found
wandering about, and could be located on a certain street at such a
number.  The name of the family was not known.  With this slender
clew they began their search for the street and house.  The map of
streets which they had hastily sketched seemed hopelessly inadequate
to guide them in and out of by-streets and around zigzag corners.
They had adventures a plenty in pounding upon doors of wrong houses
and thus arousing the fury of sleepy men and sleepless dogs.  One of
the latter tore away a quarter-section of the schoolmaster's rubber
coat, and became so interested in this that the owner escaped with no
further damage.  After an hour filled with such experiences they
finally came to the right house.  Joy flooded their hearts as the man
inside called out: "Yes, wait a minute."  Once inside, questions and
answers flew back and forth like a shuttle.  Yes, a little
girl--about five years old--light hair--braided and hanging down her
back--check apron.  "She's the one--and we want to take her home."
Then the lady appeared, and said it was too bad to take the little
one out into such a night.  But the schoolmaster bore her argument
down with the word-picture of the little one's mother pacing back and
forth in front of the shack, her hair hanging in strings, her
clothing drenched with rain and clinging to her body, her eyes
upturned, and her face expressing the most poignant agony.  When they
left she had thus been pacing to and fro for seven hours and was, no
doubt, doing so yet.  The mother-heart of the woman could not
withstand such an appeal, and soon she was busy in the difficult task
of trying to get the little arms into the sleeves of dress and apron.
Meanwhile, the two bedraggled men were on their knees striving with
that acme of awkwardness of which only men are capable, to ensconce
the little feet in stockings and shoes.  The dressing of that child
was worthy the brush of Raphael or the smile of angels.  At three
o'clock in the morning the schoolmaster stepped from the buggy and
placed the sleeping baby in the mother's arms, and only the heavenly
Father knows the language she spoke as she crooned over her little
one.  As the schoolmaster wended his way homeward, cold, hungry, and
worn he was buoyant in spirit to the point of ecstasy.  But he was
chastened, for he had stood upon the Mount of Transfiguration and
knew as never before that the mission of the schoolmaster is to find
and restore the lost child.



I'm quite in the notion of playing a practical joke on Atropos, and,
perhaps, on Methuselah, while I'm about it.  I'm not partial to
Atropos at the best.  She's such a reckless, uppish, heedless sort of
tyrant.  She rushes into huts, palaces, and even into the grand
stand, and lays about her with her scissors, snipping off threads
with the utmost abandon.  She wields her shears without any sort of
apology or by your leave.  Not even a check-book can stay her
ravages.  Her devastation knows neither ruth nor gentleness.  I don't
like her, and have no compunction about playing a joke at her
expense.  I don't imagine it will daunt her, in the least, but I can
have my fun, at any rate.

It is now just seven o'clock in the evening, and I shall not retire
before ten o'clock at the earliest.  So here are three good hours for
me to dispose of; and I am the sole arbiter in the matter of
disposing of them.  My neighbor John has a cow, and he is applying
the efficiency test to her.  He charges her with every pound of corn,
bran, fodder, and hay that she eats, and doctor's bills, too, I
suppose, if there are any.  Then he credits her with all the milk she
furnishes.  There is quite a book-account in her name, and John has a
good time figuring out whether, judged by net results, she is a
consumer or a producer.  If I can resurrect sufficient mathematical
lore, I think I shall try to apply this efficiency test to my three
hours just to see if I can prove that hours are as important as cows.
I ought to be able, somehow, to determine whether these hours are
consumers or producers.

I read a book the other evening whose title is "Stories of Thrift for
Young Americans," and it made me feel that I ought to apply the
efficiency test to myself, and repeat the process every waking hour
of the day.  But, in order to do this, I must apply the test to these
three hours.  In my dreamy moods, I like to personify an Hour and
spell it with a capital.  I like to think of an hour as the singular
of Houri which the Mohammedans call nymphs of paradise, because they
were, or are, beautiful-eyed.  My Hour then becomes a goddess walking
through my life, and, as the poet says, _et vera incessu patuit dea_.
If I show her that I appreciate her she comes again just after the
clock strikes, in form even more winsome than before, and smiles upon
me as only a goddess can.  Once, in a sullen mood, I looked upon her
as if she were a hag.  When she returned she was a hag; and not till
after I had done full penance did she become my beautiful goddess

A young man who had been spending the evening in the home of a
neighbor complained that they did not play any games, and did nothing
but talk.  I could not ask what games he meant, fearing that I might
smile in his face if he should say crokinole, tiddledy-winks, or
button-button.  Later on I learned that much of the talking was done
that evening by a very cultivated man who has travelled widely and
intelligently, and has a most engaging manner in his fluent
discussions of art, literature, archaeology, architecture, places,
and peoples.  I was sorry to miss such an evening, and think I could
forego tiddledywinks with a fair degree of amiability if, instead, I
could hear such a man talk.  I have seen people yawn in an art
gallery.  I fear to play tiddledywinks lest my hour may resume the
guise of a hag.  But that makes me think of Atropos again, and the
joke I am planning to play on her.  Still, I see that I shall not
soon get around to that joke if I persist in these dim generalities,
as a schoolmaster is so apt to do.

Well, as I was saying, these three hours are at my disposal, and I
must decide what to do with them here and now.  In deciding
concerning hours I must sit in the judgment-seat whether I like it or
not.  Tomorrow evening I shall have other three hours to dispose of
the same as these, and the next evening three others, and my decision
to-night may be far-reaching.  In six days I shall have eighteen such
hours, and in fifty weeks nine hundred.  I suppose that a generous
estimate of a college year would be ten hours a day for one hundred
and eighty days, or eighteen hundred hours in all.  I am quite aware
that some college boys will feel inclined to apply a liberal discount
to this estimate, but I am not considering those fellows who try to
do a month's work in the week of examination, and spend their
fathers' money for coaching.  Now, if eighteen hundred hours
constitute a college year then my nine hundred hours are one-half a
college year, and it makes a deal of difference what I do with these
three hours.

If I had only started this joke on Atropos earlier and had applied
these nine hundred hours on my college work, I could have graduated
in three years instead of four, and that surely would have been in
the line of efficiency.  But in those days I was devoting more time
and attention to Clotho than to Atropos.  I would fain have ignored
Lachesis altogether, but she made me painfully conscious of her
presence, especially during the finals when, it seemed to me, she was
unnecessarily diligent in her vocation.  I could have dispensed with
much of her torsion with great equanimity.  I suppose that now I am
trying to square accounts with her by playing this joke on her sister.

So I have decided that I shall read a play of Shakespeare to-night,
another one to-morrow evening, and continue this until I have read
all that he wrote.  In the fifty weeks of the year I can easily do
this and then reread some of them many times.  I ought to be able to
commit to memory several of the plays, too, and that would be good
fun.  If those chaps back yonder could recite the Koran word for word
I shall certainly be able to learn equally well some of these plays.
It would be worth while to recite "King Lear," "Macbeth," "Othello,"
"Hamlet," "The Tempest," and "As You Like It," the last week of the
year just before I take my vacation of two weeks.  If I can recite
even these six plays in those six evenings I shall feel that I did
well in deciding for Shakespeare instead of tiddledywinks.

Next year I shall read history, and that will be rare fun, too.  In
the nine hundred hours I shall certainly be able to read all of
Fiske, Mommsen, Rhodes, Bancroft, McMaster, Channing, Bryce, Hart,
Motley, Gibbon, and von Holst not to mention American statesmen.
About the Ides of December I shall hold a levee and sit in state as
the characters of history file by.  I shall be able to call them all
by name, to tell of the things they did and why they did them, and to
connect their deeds with the world as it now is.  I can't conceive of
any picture-show equal to that, and all through my year with
Shakespeare I shall be looking forward eagerly to my year with the
historians.  I plainly see that the neighbors will not need to bring
in any playthings to amuse and entertain me, though, of course, I
shall be grateful to them for their kindly interest.  Then, the next
year I shall devote to music, and if, by practising for nine hundred
hours, I cannot acquire a good degree of facility in manipulating a
piano or a violin, I must be too dull to ever aspire to the favor of
Terpsichore.  If I but measure up to my hopes during this year I
shall be saved the expense of buying my music ready-made.  The next
year I shall devote to art, and by spending one entire evening with a
single artist I shall thus become acquainted with three hundred of
them.  If I become intimate with this number I shall not be lonesome,
even if I do not know the others.  I think I shall give an art party
at the holiday time of that year, and have three hundred people
impersonate these artists.  This will afford me a good review of my
studies in art.  It may diminish the gate receipts of the
picture-show for a few evenings, but I suspect the world will be able
to wag along.

Then the next year I shall study poetry, the next astronomy, and the
next botany.  Thus I shall come to know the plants of earth, the
stars of heaven, and the emotions of men.  That ought to ward off
ennui and afford entertainment without the aid of the saloon.  In the
succeeding twelve years I shall want to acquire as many languages,
for I am eager to excel Elihu Burritt in linguistic attainments even
if I must yield to him as a disciple of Vulcan.  If I can learn a
language and read the literature of that language each year, possibly
some college may be willing to grant me a degree for work _in
absentia_.  If not, I shall poke along the best I can and try to
drown my grief in more copious drafts of work.

And I shall have quite enough to do, for mathematics, the sciences,
and the arts and crafts all lie ahead of me in my programme.  I
plainly see that I have played my last game of tiddledywinks and
solitaire.  But I'll have fun anyhow.  If I gain a half-year in each
twelve-month as I have my programme mapped out, in seventy years I
shall have a net gain of thirty-five years.  Then, when Atropos comes
along with her scissors to snip the thread, thinking I have reached
my threescore and ten, I shall laugh in her face and let her know,
between laughs, that I am really one hundred and five, and have
played a thirty-five-year joke on her.  Then I shall quote Bacon at
her to clinch the joke: "A man may be young in years but old in hours
if he have lost no time."



I have no ambition to become either a cynic, a pessimist, or an
iconoclast.  To aspire in either of these directions is bad for the
digestion, and good digestion is the foundation and source of much
that is desirable in human affairs.  Introspection has its uses, to
be sure, but the stomach should have exemption as an objective.  A
stomach is a valuable asset if only one is not conscious of it.  One
of the emoluments of schoolmastering is the opportunity it affords
for communing with elect souls whose very presence is a tonic.  Will
is one of these.  He has a way of shunting my introspection over to
the track of the head or the heart.  He just talks along and the
first thing I know the heart is singing its way through and above the
storm, while the head has been connected up to the heart, and they
are doing team-work that is good for me and good for all who meet me.
At church I like to have them sing the hymn whose closing couplet is:

  "I'll drop my burden at his feet
  And bear a song away."

I come out strong in singing that couplet, for I like it.  In a human
sense, that is just what happens when I chat with Will for an hour.
When I ask him for bread, he never gives me a stone.  On the
contrary, he gives me good, white bread, and a bit of cake, besides.

In one of our chats the other day he was dilating upon Henry van
Dyke's four rules, and very soon had banished all my little clouds
and made my mental sky clear and bright.  When I get around to
evolving a definition of education I think I shall say that it is the
process of furnishing people with resources for profitable and
pleasant conversation.  Why, those four rules just oozed into the
talk, without any sort of flutter or formality, and made our chat
both agreeable and fruitful.  Henry Ward Beecher said many good
things.  Here is one that I caught in the school reader in my
boyhood: "The man who carries a lantern on a dark night can have
friends all about him, walking safely by the help of its rays and he
be not defrauded."  Education is just such a lantern and this
schoolmaster, Will, knows how to carry it that it may afford light to
the friends about him.

Well, the first of van Dyke's rules is: "You shall learn to desire
nothing in the world so much but that you can be happy without it."
I do wonder if he had been reading in Proverbs: "Better is a dinner
of herbs where love is than a stalled ox and hatred therewith." Or he
may have been reading the statement of St. Paul: "For I have learned,
in whatever state I am, therewith to be content."  Or, possibly, he
may have been thinking of the lines of Paul Laurence Dunbar,

  "Sometimes the sun, unkindly hot,
  My garden makes a desert spot;
  Sometimes the blight upon the tree
  Takes all my fruit away from me;
  And then with throes of bitter pain
  Rebellious passions rise and swell--
  But life is more than fruit or grain,
  And so I sing, and all is well."

I am plebeian enough to be fond of milk and crackers as a luncheon;
but I have just a dash of the patrician in my make-up and prefer the
milk unskimmed.  Sometimes, I find that the cream has been devoted to
other, if not higher, uses and that my crackers must associate
perforce with milk of cerulean hue.  Such a situation is a severe
test of character, and I am hoping that at such junctures along
life's highway I may find some support in the philosophy of Mr. van

I suspect that he is trying to make me understand that happiness is
subjective rather than objective--that happiness depends not upon
what we have, but upon what we do with what we have.  I couldn't be
an anarchist if I'd try.  I don't grudge the millionaire his turtle
soup and caviar.  But I do feel a bit sorry for him that he does not
know what a royal feast crackers and unskimmed milk afford.  If the
king and the anarchist would but join me in such a feast I think the
king would soon forget his crown and the anarchist his plots, and
we'd be just three good fellows together, living at the very summit
of life and wishing that all men could be as happy as we.

The next rule is a condensed moral code: "You shall seek that which
you desire only by such means as are fair and lawful, and this will
leave you without bitterness toward men or shame before God."  No one
could possibly dissent from this rule, unless it might be a burglar.
I know the grocer makes a profit on the things I buy from him, and I
am glad he does.  Otherwise, he would have to close his grocery and
that would inconvenience me greatly.  He thanks me when I pay him,
but I feel that I ought to thank him for supplying my needs, for
having his goods arranged so invitingly, and for waiting upon me so
promptly and so politely.  I can't really see how any customer can
feel any bitterness toward him.  He gives full weight, tells the
exact truth as to the quality of the goods, and in all things is fair
and lawful.  I have no quarrel with him and cannot understand why
others should, unless they are less fair, lawful, and agreeable than
the grocer himself.  I suspect that the grocer and the butcher take
on the color of the glasses we happen to be wearing, and that Mr. van
Dyke is admonishing us to wear clear glasses and to keep them clean.

The third rule needs to be read at least twice if not oftener: "You
shall take pleasure in the time while you are seeking, even though
you obtain not immediately that which you seek; for the purpose of a
journey is not only to arrive at the goal, but also to find enjoyment
by the way."  I have seen people rushing along in automobiles at the
mad rate of thirty or forty miles an hour, missing altogether the
million-dollar scenery along the way, in their haste to get to the
end of their journey, where a five-cent bag of peanuts awaited them.
Had I been riding in an automobile through the streets of Tacoma I
might not have seen that glorious cluster of five beautiful roses on
a single branch in that attractive lawn.  Because of them I always
think of Tacoma as the city of roses, for I stopped to look at them.
I have quite forgotten the objective point of my stroll; I recollect
the roses.  When we were riding out from Florence on a tram-car to
see the ancient Fiesole I plucked a branch from an olive-tree from
the platform of the car.  On that branch were at least a dozen young
olives, the first I had ever seen.  I have but the haziest
recollection of the old theatre and the subterranean passages where
Catiline and his crowd had their rendezvous; but I do recall that
olive branch most distinctly.  I cannot improve upon Doctor van
Dyke's statement of the rule, but I can interpret it in terms of my
own experiences by way of verifying it.  I am sure he has it right.

The fourth rule is worthy of meditation and prayer; "When you attain
that which you have desired, you shall think more of the kindness of
your fortune than of the greatness of your skill.  This will make you
grateful and ready to share with others that which Providence hath
bestowed upon you; and truly this is both reasonable and profitable,
for it is but little that any of us would catch in this world were
not our luck better than our deserts."  I shall omit the lesson in
arithmetic to-morrow and have, instead, a lesson in life and living,
using these four rules as the basis of our lesson.  My boys and girls
are to have many years of life, I hope, and I'd like to help them to
a right start if I can.  Some of my many mistakes might have been
avoided if my teachers had given me some lessons in the art of
living, for it is an art and must be learned.  These rules would have
helped, could I have known them.  I am glad to know that my pupils
have faith in me.  When I pointed out a nettle to them one day, they
avoided it; when I showed them a mushroom that is edible, they
accepted the statement without question.  So I'll see what I can do
for them to-morrow with these four rules.  Then, if we have time, we
shall learn the lines of Mrs. Higginson:

  "I know a place where the sun is like gold,
    And the cherry blooms burst with snow,
  And down underneath is the loveliest nook,
    Where the four-leaf clovers grow.

  One leaf is for hope, and one is for faith,
    And one is for love, you know,
  And God put another in for luck--
    If you search, you will find where they grow.

  But you must have hope, and you must have faith,
    You must love and be strong--and so,
  If you work, if you wait, you will find the place
    Where the four-leaf clovers grow."



Mountain-climbing is rare sport.  And it is sport if only one has the
courage to do it.  We had gone to the top of Vesuvius on the
funicular railway; but one man decided to make the climb.  We forgot
the volcano in our admiration of the climber.  Foot by foot he made
his way zigzagging this way and that, slipping, falling, and
struggling till at last he reached the summit.  Then, fifty throats
poured forth a lusty cheer to do him honor.  He was not good to look
at, for his clothing was crumpled and soiled, the veins stood out on
his neck, his hair was tousled, his face was red and streaming with
sweat; yet, for all that, we cheered him and meant it, too.  He
acknowledged our applause in an honest, simple way, and then
disappeared in the crowd.  He was not posing as a heroic figure, but
was just an honest mountain-climber who accepted the challenge of the
mountain and won.  In our cheering we did just what the world does:
we gave the laurel wreath to the man who wins in a test of courage.

I think "Excelsior" is pretty good stuff in the way of depicting
mountain-climbing, and I always want to cheer that young chap as he
fights his way toward the top.  He could have stopped down there in
the valley, where everything was snug and comfortable, but he chose
to climb so as to have a look around.  I thought of him one day at
Scheidegg.  There we were, nearly a mile and a half above sea-level,
shivering in the midst of ice and snow in mid-July, but we had a look
around that made us glad in spite of the cold.  As Virgil says: "It
will be pleasing to remember these things hereafter."  I have often
noticed that the old soldiers seem to recall the hardest marches, the
most severe battles, and the greatest privations more vividly than
their every-day experiences.

So the mountain-climbing that I have been doing with my boys and
girls stands out like a cameo in my retrospective view.  Sometimes we
looked back toward the valley, and it seemed so peaceful and
beautiful that it caused the mountain before us to seem ominous.  At
such times, when courage seemed to be oozing, we needed to reinforce
one another with words of cheer.  The steep places seemed perilously
rough at times, and I could hear a stifled sob somewhere in my little
company.  At such times I would urge myself along at a more rapid
pace, that I might reach a higher level and call out to them in
heartening tones to hurry on up to our resting-place.  We would often
sing a bit in the midst of our resting, and when the sob had been
changed to a laugh I felt that life was well worth while.

As we toiled upward I was ever on the lookout for a patch of sunlight
in the midst of the shadows that it might lure them on.  And it never
failed.  Like magic that sun-spot always quickened their pace, and
they often hailed it with a shout.  They would even race toward that
sunny place, their weariness all gone.  When a bird sang we always
stopped to listen; and the song acted upon them as the music of a
band acts upon drooping soldiers.  On the next stage of the journey
their eyes sparkled, and their step was more elastic.  When one
stumbled and fell, we helped him to his feet and praised his effort,
wholly ignoring the fall.  Sometimes one would become discouraged and
would want to drop out of the company and return home.  When this
happened, we would gather about him and tell him how good it was to
have him with us, how he helped us on, and how sorry we should be to
have him absent when we reached the top.  When he decided to keep on
with us, we gave a mighty cheer and then went whistling on our upward

We constantly vied with one another in discovering chaste bits of
scenery along the way, and we were ever too generous to withhold
praise or to appropriate to ourselves the credit that belonged to
another.  If one found the nest of a bird hidden away in the foliage,
we all stopped in admiration.  When another discovered a spring
gushing out from beneath the rocks, we all refreshed ourselves with
the limpid water and poured out our thanks to the discoverer.  When a
rare flower was found, we took time to examine it minutely till we
all felt joy in the flower and in the finder.  To us nothing was ever
small or negligible that any one of our company discovered.   If one
started a song we all joined in heartily as if we had been waiting
for that one to lead us in the singing.  Thus each one, according to
his gifts and inclinations, became a leader on one or another of the
enterprises connected with our journey.

So, in time, it seemed to us that the big tree came to meet us in
order to give its kindly shade for our comfort; that the bird poured
forth its song as a special gift to us to give us new courage; that
the flower met us at the right time and place to smile its beauty
into our lives; that each stream laughed its way to our feet to
quench our thirst, and to share with us its coolness; that the mossy
bank gave us a special invitation to enjoy its hospitality; that the
cloud had heard our wishes and came to shield us from the sun, and
that the path came forth from among the thickets to guide us on our
way.  Because we were winning, all nature seemed to be cheering us on
as the people cheered the man at Vesuvius.

Having reached the summit, we sat together in eloquent silence.  We
had toiled, and struggled, and suffered together, and so had learned
to think and feel in unison.  Our spirits had become fused in a
common purpose, and we could sit in silence and not be abashed.  We
had become honest with our surroundings, honest with one another, and
honest with ourselves, and so could smile at mere conventions and
find joy in one another without words.  We had encountered honest
difficulties--rocks, trees, streams, sloughs, tangles, sand, and sun,
and had overcome them by honest effort and so had achieved honesty.
We had met and overcome big things, too, and in doing so had grown
big.  No longer did our hearts flutter in the presence of little
things, for we had won poise and serenity.

The fogs had been banished from our minds; our sight had become
clear; our spirits had been enlarged; our courage had been made
strong, and our faith was lifted up.  A new horizon opened up before
us that stretched on and on and made us know that life is a big
thing.  The sky became our companion with all its myriad stars; the
sea became our neighbor with all the life it holds, and the landscape
became our dooryard, with all its varied beauty and grandeur.  The
ships upon the sea and the trains upon the land became our messengers
of service.  The wires and the air sped our thoughts abroad and
linked us to the world.  We looked straight into the faces of the big
elemental things of life and were not afraid.

When we came back among our own people, they seemed to know that some
change had taken place and loved us all the more.  They came to us
for counsel and comfort, paying silent tribute to the wisdom that had
come to us from the mountain.  They looked upon us not as superiors,
but as larger equals.  We had learned another language, but had not
forgotten theirs.  We nestled down in their affections and told them
of our mountain, and they were glad.

      *      *      *      *      *

And now I sit before the fire and watch the pictures in the
flickering flames.  In my reverie I see my boys and girls, companions
in the mountain-climbing, going upon their appointed ways.  I see
them healing and comforting the sick, relieving distress, ministering
to the needy, and supplanting darkness with light.  I see them in
their efforts to make the world better and more beautiful, and life
more blessed.  I see them bringing hope and courage and cheer into
many lives.  They are bringing the spirit of the mountain down into
the valley, and men rejoice.  Seeing them thus engaged, and hearing
them singing as they go, I can but smile and smile.

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