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Title: Right Living as a Fine Art - A Study of Channing's Symphony as an Outline of the Ideal - Life and Character
Author: Hillis, Newell Dwight, 1858-1929
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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  _RIGHT LIVING AS
  A FINE ART_

  A Study of Channing's Symphony
  as an Outline of the
  Ideal Life and Character

  NEWELL DWIGHT HILLIS

  [Illustration]

  Fleming H. Revell Company
  New York  Chicago  Toronto
  1903

  COPYRIGHTED 1898-1899 BY
  FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY.



Contents


  _ONE_
  A Study of Channing's "Symphony" as an
  Outline of the Ideal Life and Character

  _TWO_
  Channing's Vision of the Beautiful Life

  _THREE_
  The Largest Wealth

  _FOUR_
  The World a Whispering Gallery

  _FIVE_
  How Knowledge Becomes Wisdom

  _SIX_
  The Disguises of Inferiority

  _SEVEN_
  Strength Blossoming into Beauty

  _EIGHT_
  Life's Crowning Perfection



"_And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us; and establish thou the
work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it._"

_Psalm xc: 17._



MY SYMPHONY.


To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and
refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy,
not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages with open heart; to
study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions,
hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious,
grow up through the common--this is my symphony.

                                                    WILLIAM HENRY CHANNING.



A STUDY OF CHANNING'S "SYMPHONY" AS AN OUTLINE OF THE IDEAL LIFE AND
CHARACTER.


To the revival of learning in the fourteenth century, to the revival of
religion in the sixteenth, and the revival of liberty in the eighteenth
century must now be added the revival of the beautiful in this new era for
art. In former ages man was content if his house was dry, his coat was
warm, his tool strong. But now has come an era when man's house must have
beautiful walls, when woman's dress must have harmonious hues, when the
speaker's truth must be clothed in words of beauty; while in religion if
the worshiper once was content with a harsh hymn, now man best loves the
song that has a beautiful sentiment and a sweet tune. Always the useful had
a cash value. Now beauty has become a commodity. To-day, to hold his place,
the artisan must become an artist. The era of ugliness, with its clumsy
tools and ungainly garments, has gone forever. No longer content with
lending strength to coat or chair or car, manufacturers now vie with one
another in a struggle to make the garment take on lines of grace, and
colors soft and beautiful. Society seems to be standing upon the threshold
of the greatest art movement in history. Best of all this, revival of the
beautiful promises to be a permanent social possession.

Very brief and fitful that first art epoch when Phidias polished statues,
the very fragments of which are the despair of modern sculptors. All too
short also that era when Raphael and Botticelli brought the canvas into
what seemed the zenith of its perfection. It was as if the vestal virgin of
beauty had drawn near to fan the flickering light into a fierce flame only
to allow it quickly to die out again. But if other art epochs have been
soon followed by eras of ugliness and tyranny, it was because formerly the
patrician class alone was interested in the beautiful. In that far-off
time, Pericles had his palace and Athens her temple, but the common people
dwelt in mud huts, wore coats of sheepskin, and slept on beds of straw. The
beauty that was manifest in pictures, marbles, rich textures, bronzes,
belonged exclusively to the cathedral or the palace.

Now has come an era when art is diffused. Beauty is sprinkled all over the
instruments of dining-room, parlor and library. It is organized into
textures of cotton, wool and silk. Even in the poor man's cottage blossoms
break forth upon floor and walls, while vines festoon the humblest door.
Once, at great expense, a baron in France or Germany would send an artist
into Italy to copy some masterpiece of Titian or Tintoretto. Now modern
photography makes it possible for the poorest laborer to look upon the
semblance of great pictures, statues, cathedrals, landscapes--treasures
these once beyond the wealth of princes. Having made tools, books, travel,
home, religion to be life-teachers, God has now ordained the beautiful as
an apostle of the higher Christian life.

Recognizing the hand of God in every upward movement of society, we explain
this new enthusiasm for art upon the principle that beauty is the outer
sign of an inner perfection. Oft with lying skill men veneer the plaster
pillar with slabs of marble, and hide soft wood with strips of mahogany.
But beauty is no outer veneer. When ripeness enters the fruit within a soft
bloom steals over the peach without. When every drop of blood in the veins
is pure a beauteous flush overcasts the young girl's cheek. When summer
hath lent ripeness to the harvests God casts a golden hue over the sheaf
and lends a crimson flush to the autumn leaves. For beauty is ripeness,
maturity and strength. Therefore when the seer says, "God maketh everything
beautiful in its time," he indicates that God's handiwork is perfect work.
When some Wordsworth or Emerson leaves behind men's clumsy creations and
enters the fields where God's workmanship abounds, the poet finds the
ground "spotted with fire and gold in tints of flowers"; he finds the trees
hung with festooned vines; finds the forests uniting their branches in
cathedral arches; finds the winds making music down the long, leafy aisles;
finds the birds pouring forth notes in choiring anthems, while the very
clouds rise like golden incense toward an unseen throne. Though the
traveler journey far, he shall find no bud, no bough, no landscape or
mountain or ocean, that is not overcast with bloom and beauty.

We are not surprised therefore when we see that as man's arts and
industries go toward perfection they go toward beauty. Carry the coarse
flax up toward beauty and it becomes strong cloth. Carry the cocoon of a
worm up to beauty and it becomes a soft silken robe. Carry rude Attic
speech up to beauty and it becomes the language of Homer or Hesiod. Carry
the strange face or form tatooed upon the arm of the savage up to beauty
and it becomes a Madonna or a Transfiguration. Carry a stone altar and a
smoking sacrifice up to beauty and it becomes a Cologne cathedral or a
Westminster Abbey. Indeed, historians might use the beautiful as the
touchstone of human progress. The old milestones of growth were metals.
First came the age when arrows were tipped with flint. Then came the iron
age, when the spear had a metal point. The bronze age followed, lending
flexibility to ore hitherto unyielding. Later came the steel age, when
weapons that bruised gave place to the keen edge that cuts. Perhaps the
divinity chat represents our era will stand forth plated with oxide of
silver.

But his ideas of beauty would measure man's progress quite as accurately.
In that first rude age beauty was external. Man twisted gay feathers into
his hair, painted his cheeks red or yellow, wore rings of bright shells
about his neck. But our age is high because beauty has ceased to be mere
personal adornment. Man now seeks to make his books beautiful for the
intellect, his library and gallery beautiful for taste and imagination, his
temple beautiful for worship, his home beautiful in the interest of the
heart, his song and prayer not simply true, but beautiful with praise to
the unseen God. If in rude ages beauty was associated with physical
elements, the glory of our era is that beauty, unfolding from century to
century, is now increasingly associated with those moral qualities that
lend remembrance to mother and martyr, to hero and patriot and saint.

To-day, fortunately for society, this world-wide interest in art is
becoming spiritualized. From beautiful objects men are passing to beautiful
thoughts and deeds. We begin to hear much of the art of right living and
the science of character building. Having lent charm and value to column
and canvas, to marble and masterpiece, beauty now moves on to lend
loveliness to mind and heart. For it seems an incongruous thing for man to
adorn his cottage, lend charm to its walls and windows, make its ceilings
to be like the floor of heaven for beauty, while within his heart he
cherishes groveling littleness, slimy sin, light-winged evasions, brutal
passions. He whose body rides in a palace car must not carry a soul that is
like unto a savage. Having lingered long before the portrait of Antigone or
Cordelia, the young girl finds herself pledged to turn that ideal into life
and character. The copy of the Sistine Madonna hanging upon the wall asks
the woman who placed it there to realize in herself this glorious type of
motherhood.

When the admirers of Shakespeare bought the house in which their hero was
born, they planted in the garden the flowers which the poet loved. Passing
through the little wicket gate the pilgrim finds himself moving along a
perfumed path, while to his garments clings the odor of violets and roses,
sweet peas and buttercups, the columbine and honeysuckle--flowers these,
whose roots are in earth indeed, but whose beauty is borrowed from heaven.
From these grounds men have expelled the poison ivy, the deadly nightshade,
all burdocks and thistles. And the soul is a garden in which truth, purity,
patience, love, long suffering are qualities whiter than any lily and
sweeter than any rose, whose perfume never passes, whose beauty does not
fade. And having succeeded in transforming waste places into centers of
radiant beauty, man encourages the hope that he can carry his own reason,
judgment and ambition up to full symmetry and perfection.

What a transformation man has wrought in matter! Nature says, here is a
lump of mud; man answers, let it become a beautiful vase. Nature says, here
is a sweet briar; man answers, let it become a rose double and of many
hues. Nature says, here is a string and a block of wood; man answers, let
them be a sweet-voiced harp. Nature says, here is a daisy; Burns answers,
let it become a poem. Nature says, here is a piece of ochre and some iron
rust; Millet answers, let the colors become an Angelus. Nature says, here
is reason rude and untaught; man must answer, let the mind become as full
of thoughts as the sky of stars and more radiant. Nature says, here is a
rude affection; man must answer, let the heart become as full of love and
sympathy as the summer is full of ripeness and beauty. Nature says, here is
a conscience, train it; man should answer, let the conscience be as true to
Christ and God as a needle to the pole. Marvelous man's skill through the
fine arts! Wondrous, too, his handicrafts! But no picture ever painted, no
poem ever perfected, no temple ever builded is comparable for strength and
beauty to a full-orbed soul, matured through a widely trained reason and a
sober judgment--mellow in heart and conscience, pervaded throughout with
the spirit of Jesus Christ, the soul's master and model.



CHANNING'S VISION OF THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE.


Among those gifted spirits who have toiled tirelessly to carry the
individual life up to unity, symmetry and beauty, let us hasten to mention
the name of Channing. The child of genius, he was gifted with a literary
style that lent strange fascination to all his speech. But great as he was
in intellect, his character shone with such splendor as to eclipse his
genius. He was of goodness all compact.

Early the winds of adversity beat against his little bark. Invalidism and
misfortune, too, threatened to destroy his career. But bearing up amid all
misfortune, he slowly wrought out his ideal of life as a fine art.
Patiently he perfected his dreams. Daily he practiced frugality, honor,
justice, faith, love and prayer. He met storm with calm; he met provocation
with patience; he met organized iniquity with faith in God's eternal truth;
he met ingratitude and enmity with forgiveness and love.

At last he completed his symphony of an ideal life, that he hoped would
help the youth and maiden to make each day as inspiring as a song, each
deed as holy as a prayer, each character as perfect as a picture. For he
felt that the life of child and youth, of patriot and parent should have a
loveliness beyond that of any flower or landscape, and a majesty not found
in any cataract or mountain, being clothed also with a beauty that does not
inhere in Canova's marble and a permanency that is not possessed by Von
Riles' cathedral, a structure builded of thoughts and hopes and
aspirations, of tears and prayers, and purposes, whose foundation is
eternal truth.


THE FOUNDATION OF HAPPINESS.

In founding his ideal life upon contentment with small means, Channing
pleads for simplicity and the return to "plain living and high thinking."
He would fain double the soul's leisure by halving its wants.

Looking out upon his age, he beheld young men crazed with a mania for
money. He saw them refusing to cross the college threshold, closing the
book, neglecting conversation, despising friendship, postponing marriage,
that they might increase their goods. Yet he remembered that earth's most
gifted children have been content with small means, achieving their
greatest triumphs midst comparative poverty.



THE LARGEST WEALTH.


The Divine Carpenter and His immortal band dwelt far from luxury. Poor
indeed were Socrates, the reformer, and Epictetus, the slave, and Virgil,
the poet. Burns, too, and Wordsworth and Coleridge, with Keats and
Shelley--all these dwelt midway between poverty and riches. When that young
English scholar learned that his relatives had willed him a fortune of
£5,000 he wrote the dying man begging him to abandon his design, saying
that he already had one servant, and that added care and responsibility
meant the cutting off of a few minutes for study in the morning and a few
minutes for reflection at night.


A PLEA FOR SIMPLICITY.

Here are our own Hawthorne and Longfellow--"content with small means." Here
is Emerson resigning his church in Boston and leaving fame behind him, that
upon the little farm at Concord he might escape the thousand and one
details that robbed his soul of its simplicity. Here is Thoreau building
his log cabin by Walden pond, living on forty dollars a year because he saw
that man was being "destroyed by his unwieldy and overgrown establishment,
cluttered with much furniture and tripped with his own traps, ruined by
luxury and heedless expense, whose only hope was in rigid economy and
Spartan simplicity."

Ours is a world where Cervantes writes Don Quixote living upon three bowls
of porridge brought by the jailer of the prison. The German philosopher
asked one cluster of grapes, one glass of milk and a slice of bread twice
each day. Having completed his philosophy, the old scholar looked back upon
forty happy years, saying that every fine dinner his friends had given him
had blunted his brain for one day, while indigestion consumed an amount of
vital energy that would have sufficed for one page of good writing.

A wise youth will think twice before embarking upon a career involving
large wealth. Some there are possessed of vast property whose duty it is to
carry bravely their heavy burden in the interest of society and the
increase of life's comforts, conveniences and happiness. Yet wise Agur's
prayer still holds: "Give me neither poverty nor riches." Whittier, on his
little farm, refusing a princely sum for a lecture, was content with small
means. Wendell Phillips, preferring the slave and the contempt of Boston's
merchants and her patrician society, chose to "be worthy, not respectable."
Some Ruskin, distributing his bonds and stocks and lands to found
workingmen's clubs, art schools and colleges, that he might have more
leisure for enriching his imagination and heart, chose to "be wealthy, not
rich." Needing many forms of wisdom, our age needs none more than the grace
to "live content with small means, seeking elegance rather than luxury, and
refinement rather than fashion."



THE WORLD A WHISPERING GALLERY.


When the sage counsels us "to listen to stars and birds, to babes and
sages," he opens to us the secrets of the soul's increase in wisdom and
happiness. All culture begins with listening. Growth is not through shrewd
thinking or eloquent speaking, but through accurate seeing and hearing. Our
world is one vast whispering gallery, yet only those who listen hear "the
still, small voice" of truth. Putting his ear down to the rocks, the
listening geologist hears the story of the rocks. Standing under the stars,
the listening astronomer hears the music of the spheres. Leaving behind the
din and dirt of the city, Agassiz plunged into the forests of the Amazon,
and listening to boughs and buds and birds he found out all their secrets.

One of our wisest teachers has said, "The greatest thing a human soul ever
does in this world, is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain
way. Hundreds of people can talk, for one who can think. But thousands can
think for one who can see; to see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion
all in one. Therefore finding the world of literature more or less divided
into thinkers and seers, I believe we shall find also, that the seers are
wholly the greater race of the two." For greatness is vision. Opening his
eyes, Newton sees the planets revolve and finds his fame. Opening his ears,
Watt hears the movement of steam and finds his fortune. Millet explained
his fame by saying he copied the colors of the sunset at the moment when
reapers bow the head in silent prayer. The great bard, too, tells us he
went apart and listened to find "sermons in stones, and books in the
running brooks."


THE SECRET OF CULTURE.

It is a proverb that pilgrims to foreign lands find only what they take
with them. Riding over the New England hills near Boston, Lowell spake not
to his companion, for now he was looking out upon the pageantry of a
glorious October day, and now he remembered that this was the road forever
associated with Paul Revere's ride. Reaching the outskirts of Cambridge, he
roused from his reverie to discover that his silent companion had been
brooding over bales and barrels, not knowing that this had been one of
those rare days when October holds an art exhibit, and also oblivious to
the fact that he had been passing through scenes historic through the valor
of the brave boy.

Of the four artists copying the same landscape near Chamouni, all saw a
different scene. To an idler a river means a fish pole, to a heated
schoolboy a bath; to the man of affairs the stream suggests a turbine
wheel; while the same stream leads the philosopher to reflect upon the
influence of great rivers upon cities and civilizations. Coleridge thought
the bank of his favorite stream was made to lie down upon, but Bunyan,
beholding the stream through the iron bars of a prison cell, felt the
breezes of the "Delectable Mountains" cool his fevered cheek, and stooping
down he wet his parched lips with the river of the waters of life. Nature
has no message for heedless, inattentive hearers. It is possible for a
youth to go through life deaf to the sweetest sounds that ever fell over
Heaven's battlements, and blind to the beauty of landscape and mountain and
sea and sky. There is no music in the autumn wind until the listener comes.
There is no order and beauty in the rolling spheres until some Herschel
stands beneath the stars. There is no fragrance in the violet until the
lover of flowers bends down above the blossoms.

Listening to stars, Laplace heard the story how fire mists are changed to
habitable earths, and so became wise toward iron and wood, steel and stone.
Listening to birds, Cuvier heard the song within the shell and found out
the life history of all things that creep or swim or fly. Listening to
babes that have, as Froebel thought, been so recently playmates with
angels, the philosopher discovered in the teachableness, trust and purity
of childhood, the secret of individual happiness and progress. Listening to
sages, the youth of to-day garners into the storehouse of his mind all the
intellectual treasures of the good and great of past ages. That youth may
have culture without college who gives heed to Channing's injunction "to
listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages."



HOW KNOWLEDGE BECOMES WISDOM.


When all the caravans of knowledge have gone trooping through the eye-gate
and the ear-gate into the soul city, Channing reminds us that these
knowledges must be assorted and assimilated by "studying hard and thinking
quietly."

If some rich men fill their shelves with books that are never read, some
poor men fill their memory with facts upon which they never think. The mere
accumulation of truths about earth and air, about plants and animals and
men, does not mean culture. Education does not mean stuffing the mind with
Greek roots, as the husbandman stuffs his granary with vegetables. It is a
proverb, that no fool is a perfect fool until he can talk Latin. Looking
out upon land and sea and sky, the educated soul sees all, and appreciates
all. Culture lends the note of distinction and acquaints the youth with all
the best that has been said and done. Trying to steal the secret of the
honey bee, a scientist extracted the sweets of half an acre of blossoms.
Unfortunately, the vat of liquor proved to be only sweetened water. By its
secret processes, the bee distills the same liquor into honey. It is
possible for the youth to sweep into the memory a thousand great facts
without having distilled one of these honeyed drops named wisdom and
culture.

In studying the French Revolution Carlyle read five hundred volumes,
including reports of officers, generals, statesmen, spies, heroes,
villains. Then, closing all the books, he journeyed into Scotland. In
solitude he "thought quietly." Having brooded alone for weeks and months,
one morning he rose to dip his pen in his heart's blood and write his
French Revolution. In that hour the knowledge that had been in five hundred
books became the culture distilled into one.


THE INFLUENCE OF THE REFLECTIVE MIND.

The youth who plans the life of affairs is in danger of despising the
brooding that feeds the hidden life. We can never rightly estimate our
indebtedness to those who have gone apart to "think quietly."

All law and jurisprudence go back to Moses for forty years brooding in an
empty, voiceless desert upon the principles of eternal justice. All
astronomy goes back to Ptolemy, who looked out upon a weary waste of sand
and turned his vision toward a highway paved with stars and suns. Our
poetry and literature begins with Homer, blind indeed to earthly sights and
sciences, but who traced with an inner eye, the strifes of gods and men,
and gave his inner thoughts immortal form and beauty. All modern science
begins with that scholar who for fifty years was unknown in the forum or
market-place, for Charles Darwin was "studying hard and thinking quietly"
in his little garden, where he watched his seeds, earthworms, his beetles
and doves.

The air of London is so charged with deadly acids that the lime tree alone
flourishes there, for the reason that it sheds its bark each year, thus
casting off the defiled garment. But there is a mountain peak in the
Himalayas so high that it towers beyond the reach of snows and rains, and a
scientist has said, an open page might there remain unsoiled by dust
through passing centuries. And to those who "think quietly" it is given to
rise into the upper air. Dwelling upon the heights, these may look down
upon all heated centers with their soot and grime, their stacked houses,
reeking gutters, the din and noise of wheels, the hoarse roar of the
clashing streets, and in these hours of reverie, the soul marvels that it
was ever tossed about upon these furious currents of ambition.

Hours there are when Fame whispers, "Joy is not in me." Ambition, worn with
its fierce fever, whispers, "Joy is not in me." Success confesses, "Joy is
not in me." In such hours happy the youth who has learned in solitude to go
apart and find that happiness that "the world can neither give nor take
away."



THE DISGUISES OF INFERIORITY.


And when the soul has gone toward full-orbed splendor and stands forth
clothed with full manhood the sage condenses the wisdom of a thousand
volumes into four maxims, "Act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry
never."

The principle of acting frankly demands truth in the hidden parts, rebukes
him whose method is "the iron hand in a velvet glove," smites the
Machiavelian policy of smiling gently while arranging instruments of death.
In their ignorance shrewd men advise the youth to cloak his keen desire
beneath an outer indifference. But small men use lying artifices and
disguises to protect themselves. Conscious of weakness, inferiority fears
frankness. Great men are as open as glass bee-hives and as transparent as
the sunbeams, for they are conscious of their enormous reserves. Nature
permits no flower or fruit to conceal its real self. The violet frankly
tells its story; the decaying fruit frankly reveals its nature. No flaming
candle pretends to light while emitting rays of blackness. Victories won by
concealment are lying victories. All these battles must be fought over
again. The law of frankness is the law of truth, that is at once the
foundation of character and crowns the structure with strength and beauty.

Vast issues also are involved in the injunction "to talk gently." Noise is
weakness. Bluster is inferiority rising into consciousness. The rattle of
machinery means waste power somewhere. Rushing forward at the rate of
thousands of miles an hour, the planets are noiseless as sunbeams, because
they represent power that is harnessed and subdued. Silently the dewdrop
falls upon some crimson-tipped flower. Yet the electric energy necessary to
crystallize that drop would hurl a car from Cambridge to Boston. Those
forces manifest in thunder are nature's weakest forces. Her monarch
energies work silently in the roots and harvests, or lift, without rattle
of engine or noise of wheel, countless millions of tons of water from ocean
into the air. For gentleness is not weakness. Only giants can be gentle.
Fronting an emergency weakness is agitated, but strength is calm and cool.
Gentleness is controlled strength. The giant _is_ gentle, because his vast
energies are restrained, subdued, and wisely used. The test of all great
work is the ease with which it is done. Scott writes one of his priceless
chapters before breakfast. Ruskin says Turner finished a whole drawing in a
morning, before going out to shoot, without strain or struggle. The highest
eloquence also is not a spasmodic effort, but the quiet manifestation of
years of preparation. But this easy effort has infinite reserve lying back
of it. There is a profound philosophy in this injunction, "Talk gently,"
and act quietly.


SUCCESS AND TIMELINESS.

But the strongest man needs to "await occasions." The essence of all good
work is timeliness. For the right thing done at the wrong time is as bad as
the wrong thing at any time. Preparing telescopes and instruments of
photography, the astronomer sails to Africa, and there waits weeks for the
moment of full eclipse. At last the "occasion" comes. Nature will not be
hurried. For her finest effects in fruits and flowers, she takes her own
time. In February the husbandman finds the sun refusing warmth, the clouds
refusing rain, the soil refusing seed. Therefore he awaits occasions. And
lo! in May, the sunbeams wax warm, the soil wakens to full ardor, the
clouds give forth their rain, and the husbandman enters into his
opportunity.

In his reminiscences General Sherman explains his victorious march to the
sea by saying that during his college days he spent a summer in Georgia.
While his companions were occupied with playing cards and foolish talk he
tramped over the hills, and made a careful map of the country. Years passed
by. The war came on. Ordered to march upon Atlanta his expert knowledge won
his victory. Readiness for the occasion brought him to fame and honor.
To-morrow some jurist, merchant, statesman will die. The youth who is ready
for the place, will find the mantle falling upon his shoulders. Success is
readiness for occasions.

But whether waiting or working, man must "hurry never." It is fear that
makes haste. Confidence is composed. Greatness is tranquillity. Dead
objects, like bullets, can be hurled swiftly. Living seeds cannot be
forced. Slowly the acorn goes toward the oak. Slowly the babe journeys
toward the sage. Slowly and with infinite delays Haydn and Handel moved
toward their perfect music. Filling barrels with manuscripts and refusing
to publish, Robert Louis Stevenson attained his exquisite style. Millet
described his career as ten years of daubing, ten years of drudgery, ten
years of despair and ten years of liberty and success. Man begins at
nothing. Life is a school. Duties are drill-masters. Man's faculties are
complex. Slowly the soul moves toward harmony, symmetry and beauty. He who
"hurries never" has found the secret of growth, serenity and repose.



STRENGTH BLOSSOMING INTO BEAUTY.


If the greatest scientist is he who discerns some law of gravity that
explains the forward movement of all stars and planets, if the great
historian is he who unfolds one social principle that governs all nations,
so he is the greatest moral teacher who discovers some unit idea that
sweeps all details into one glorious unity, as did Channing when he said,
"Let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common."
All undefined and indefinable the spiritual glow and beauty that lie upon
the soul, like the soft bloom upon a ripe peach. What song is to the birds,
what culture is to the intellect, and eloquence is to the orator, that the
spiritual is to character. It is the soul made ample in faculty, fertile in
resource, struck through and through with ripeness, and inflected toward
Christ's own sympathy, self-sacrifice and love.

The spiritual element also explains the note of distinction in the highest
life and art. Many of our modern painters have failed, because they have
been fleshly. Mud shows in the bottom of their eyes. Their pictures are
indeed so shallow that "a fly could wade through them without wetting its
feet." Fra Angelico, preparing to paint, entered his closet, expelled every
evil thought, subdued every unholy ambition, flung away anger and jealousy
as one would fling away a club or dagger. Then, with face that shone with
the divine light, upon his knees he painted his angels and seraphs, and the
spiritual breaking through the common lent a radiant glow and an immortal
beauty to his priceless pictures.

Certain pictures of Rubens are of "the earth, earthy." In painting them,
the artist seems to have had no thought save of the flesh tints. The mood
and soul of Rubens' Venus was nothing--her body everything. Here, beauty is
only color deep. Paint is everything--spirit nothing. But with the great
artists in their greatest moods, paint is at best only an incident, and for
the soul aspirations and ideals as seen in vision hours are everything.
Hope, faith, love, joy, peace, sympathy, self-sacrifice,
humility--spiritual qualities these, that shine through the face, and
transform the life.



LIFE'S CROWNING PERFECTION.


Culture can do much, but art, music, books, and travel have their
limitations. When that brave boy returned from battling with the Black
Prince, the tenants gathered before his father's castle and presented him
tokens of love and honor. The farmer brought a golden sheaf, the husbandman
brought a ripe cluster and a bough of fruit, the goldsmith offered a ring,
the printer gave a rare book, while children strewed flowers in the way.
But last of all his father gave the youth the title deeds of his
inheritance and lent him name and power. Not otherwise the soul enters the
scene like a conqueror to whom gifts are offered. The library offers a
book. The lecture hall offers learning. The gallery offers a picture.
Travel offers experience. But the fine arts, wisdom and culture cannot do
everything. Culture can beautify the life, lend refinement to reason, lend
wings to imagination. But God, the soul's father, alone can crown life with
richness and influence. The secret of strength and beauty is hidden with
Jesus Christ. What the great thinkers and seers can do for the intellect,
what the poets can do for imagination, what the heroes can do for
aspiration and purpose, that and a thousand fold more the Christ can do for
the soul's life. He alone has mastered the science of right living. He only
can teach the art of character building. He can lend reason true wisdom. He
can lend taste true refinement. He can make conscience clear, and will
invincible. Freeing the soul from sin, He can crown it with supreme beauty.
He can make life a song, and the soul career a symphony.



Newell Dwight Hillis


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A Study of the Ideal Character, based upon Channing's "Symphony of
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HOW THE INNER LIGHT FAILED

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