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Title: Every Man His Own University
Author: Conwell, Russell H.
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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                     Every Man His Own University

                       _By_ RUSSELL H. CONWELL

                        Every Man's University
                    Animals and "The Least Things"
                           The Bottom Rung
                     Instincts and Individuality

    VOLUME 4


    597 Fifth Avenue, New York


    Copyright, 1917, by Harper & Brothers
    Printed in the United States of America



A distinct university walks about under each man's hat. The only man who
achieves success in the other universities of the world, and in the
larger university of life, is the man who has first taken his graduate
course and his post-graduate course in the university under his hat.
There _observation_ furnishes a daily change in the curriculum. Books
are not the original sources of power, but observation, which may bring
to us all wide experience, deep thinking, fine feeling, and the power to
act for oneself, is the very dynamo of power.

Without observation, literature and meditation are shower and sunshine
upon unbroken soil. Only those schools and colleges are true schools
and colleges which regard it as the chief business of all their
teaching to persuade those under their charge to see more perfectly what
they are looking at, to find what they should have been unable to
observe had it not been for their school instruction. You can't make a
good arrow from a pig's tail, and you can seldom get a man worth while
out of one who has gone through the early part of his life without
having learned to be alert when things are to be seen or heard. John
Stuart Blackie says that it is astonishing how much we all go about with
our eyes wide open and see nothing, and Doctor Johnson says that some
men shall see more while riding ten miles upon the top of an omnibus,
than some others shall see in riding over the continent.

_How to observe_ should be the motto, not only in the beginning of our
life, but throughout our career. With the same intellectual gifts,
interested in the same ideas, two men walk side by side through the same
scenery and meet the same people. One man has had much inspiration from
the country traversed, and has been intent upon all that he has seen and
heard among the people. The other has caught no inspiration from beauty
or bird or blossom, and only the trivialities of the people have amused

A traveler in Athens or Rome, Paris or London, may be shown these cities
by a professional guide, and yet gain only a smattering of what these
cities hold in store for him, and remember little of what he has seen.
Another traveler, unattended by a guide, but observant of everything
that comes to his eyes and ears, will carry away stores from his visit
to those cities, which shall be of life-long interest and be
serviceable to all who shall travel his way. The solitary but observant
stranger in a country almost always profits most from his travels. He is
compelled to notice boulevards and buildings, parks and people; and
every day of his travels is a lesson in observation that accustoms him
to remember all he has once seen. The newspaper correspondents of other
days had no guide-books or guides, and they were entire strangers in the
places they visited. They relied entirely upon themselves to find their
way, and to discover everything that was valuable and interesting. They
found much that the modern guide either overlooks or disregards, and
wrote for the papers at home what would most interest and instruct their

When Henry M. Stanley first visited Jerusalem he insisted that the
dragoman in charge of his party should keep all guides and guide-books
out of his sight. In two days Stanley knew the streets and the location
of the Temple and the Holy Sepulcher and all the notable places in that
old city. If Stanley is to-day known as one of the most intelligent of
travelers, it is mainly because he excelled in daily _observation_,
which every one who thinks for himself recognizes as the supreme
acquisition of a liberal education. He often said that he knew Rome,
Naples, and Vienna far better than he knew New York, where he had lived
many years of his life. In that he resembled the rest of humanity, who
generally know less about what is notable in their home places, than
observant visitors know who stay there only a short time during their
travels. What we pay for in time and labor seems more valuable--nothing
pay, nothing value.

A great foreign correspondent of his day, Henry W. Chambers, remained
only six hours at Baalbek, near Damascus; yet he wrote the clearest
description that probably ever was written of the magnificent temples at
Baalbek--and he wrote these descriptions, too, at Hong-Kong, after many
and varied experiences while visiting other places of greater
importance. Many archeologists and literary men before him had visited
the moat of the great fortress at Baalbek. Still, they had never
observed as Chambers observed, and so they missed seeing the arrow-heads
and all the other warlike instruments used in those ancient days,
which had lain unnoticed among those huge pillars and great

Although General Lew Wallace lived a long time at Jerusalem, he only
imagined that there might have been an inner dungeon underneath the
great prison; so when he wrote _Ben Hur_ he put his leprous heroine into
this imaginary prison-house. A school-teacher from northern England,
with her tourist-candle, afterward found the doorway of this prison
which Wallace had only imagined to be there. On their way from Egypt and
Palestine to the Euphrates, travelers had for centuries passed over the
same path in the desert; but it was reserved for a cutter of marble
inscriptions, after all these centuries, to _observe_ the Rosetta Stone,
by the help of which archeologists can now read the inscriptions upon
the tablets in the ancient palaces of Babylon and Ninevah.

Millions and millions had seen the lid of a teakettle bobbing up and
down over the boiling water before that Scotchman, Watt, observed it
while making watches. But he was the first of all those millions whose
close observation led him to investigate this force of boiling water in
the teakettle. Then he applied this power to the steam-engine, which is
still the great propelling force of the world. From the time of the
Garden of Eden apples had fallen in the orchards of the world, through
all the harvest-days. Of all the billions that had seen apples falling,
only Sir Isaac Newton observed the law of gravitation that was involved
in their falling.

All the great discoverers began with nearly the same meager powers for
observation that the rest of the world has, but early in life came to
value above all other mental powers this incalculable power to closely
notice; and each made his realm of observation much richer for his

Why do the majority of us go through life seeing nothing of the millions
of marvelous truths and facts while only a few keep their eyes and ears
wide open and every day are busy in piling up what they have observed!
The loss of our instincts seems to be the price we pay to-day for the
few minor acquisitions we get from school and college; we put out our
brains to make room for our learning. The man who assiduously cultivates
his powers of observation and thus gains daily from his experiences what
helps him to see farther and clearer everything in life that is worth
seeing, has given himself a discipline that is much more important than
the discipline of all the schools and the colleges without it. The
greatest text-books of the greatest universities are only the records of
the observations of some close observer whose better powers of seeing
things had been acquired mainly while he was taking his courses in that
university under his hat.

The intellect is both telescope and microscope; if it is rightly used,
it shall observe thousands of things which are too minute and too
distant for those who with eyes and ears neither see nor hear. The
intellect can be made to look far beyond the range of what men and women
ordinarily see; but not all the colleges in the world can alone confer
this power--this is the reward of _self-culture_; each must acquire it
for himself; and perhaps this is why the power of observing deeply and
widely is so much oftener found in those men and those women who have
never crossed the threshold of any college but the University of Hard

    The quickening power of science only he
    Can know, from whose _own_ soul it gushes free.

When we look back over our life and reflect how many things we might
have seen and heard had we trained our powers of observation, we seem to
have climbed little and to have spent most of our time upon plateaus,
while our achievements seem little better than scratches upon black
marble. Mankind has a greater esteem for the degrees conferred by the
University of Observation and Experience than for all the other degrees
of all other Universities in the world. The only thing that seems most
to win the respect of real men and women for the degrees conferred by
colleges is the fact that the graduates have first gained all that close
observation and wide experience can confer.

The lives of the men and the women who have been worth while keep
reminding us how vastly more important is this education from ceaseless
observation than all the mere learning from school courses. It takes ten
pounds of the stuff gotten from observation and experience to carry one
pound of school learning wisely. The thinking man will never ask you
what college you have gone through, but what college has gone through
you; and the ability and habit of observing deeply and broadly is the
preparation we all need that the college may go through us. Confucius of
China, Kito of Japan, Goethe of Germany, Arnold of England, Lincoln and
Edison of America, stand where they stand to-day in thought and action
solely because they had in a masterly way educated their power of minute
attention. In building up a huge business or in amassing enormous
riches, such men as Rothschild, Rockefeller, and Carnegie show us
especially how vitally important to all material success is steadfast
attendance at the school of attention.

The colleges that to-day are advancing most rapidly in esteem are those
which are recognizing more and more the importance of observation. They
require their men to spend some portion of their college time in gaining
experience in their various lines through observing the practical
workings of their calling; medical students are in hospitals; students
of law attend courts; theological students engage in mission work; and
engineers are found in shops. Neither lectures nor speculations can take
the place of these experiences; each is helpful to the other. When only
one may be had, the experience from observing actual work is far more
important. Opportunities for observation of practical matters, along
with theory, is the modern idea toward which all the best modern
institutions are tending in their efforts to fit men for the active
business of life.

Nor has greatness from careful observation and large experience
distinguished men of action alone. Shakespeare, Goethe, Bunyan, Burns,
Whittier, Longfellow, James Whitcomb Riley, and a host of the great men
of philosophy, science, and literature are where they are to-day in the
esteem of their fellow men, and in their service to humanity, because
they were the keenest among the men acute in observation.

[Footnote 1: The failure to observe is strikingly proved by practical
experiment in the psychological laboratory. Reproductions of a familiar
or unfamiliar scene are placed in the observers' hands and they are
instructed to study the reproductions carefully and to remember what
they see. After 5 minutes careful study, the reproductions are taken
away and a series of questions concerning them are put to the observers.
The contradictory answers to these questions is strikingly eloquent of
the all-too-human inability to observe. Hugo Munsterberg, the famous
psychologist, made a number of psychological experiments to determine
the limits of error in observation as these limits affect the
credibility of witnesses in the court room. Some of his findings are
summarized in "On the Witness Stand."

Your good newspaper reporter is a trained observer who describes exactly
what he sees. Yet the manner in which even the trained observer fails to
observe correctly is unfailingly demonstrated by the widely differing
accounts of the same occurrence as reported in the various newspapers of
a community.

One of the best ways to learn to observe correctly and in detail is to
take a hasty glance at the display in a store window, pass on and
attempt to recall that which you have seen, the number of objects, what
they were, etc., and then check your observing faculties by returning to
the window and listing its contents. Continued practice of this sort
will greatly increase your observing powers. Perhaps the most famous
known exponent of this method for training the observing faculties was
Houdini, the famous magician, who describes the method in detail and his
experiences in applying it in his memoirs.]



The benefits brought to humanity through the study of lower animal life
are incalculable, and could not be told in one book. With all that
vivisection and post-mortem dissection have revealed to scientific
examiners, contagious and infectious diseases have been nearly removed
from the human family. We have been taught to live better from observing
animal habits in searching for food, in building their habitats, in
their mode of living, in their fear of man, and in the methods they
adopt to preserve their health. All this knowledge has been gained for
us, for the upbuilding of humanity, through the efforts of _close
observers_. They have studied the cat by the hearth, the dog by the
door, the horses in the pasture and stall, the pigs in their pens, and
the sheep in their folds. Closely associated with the investigators of
animal life are those who have observed the origin, habits, and
influence of birds, insects, and creeping things.

But what we have learned from animals in the past seems only a trifle in
comparison with what they will teach when we go to them with more
serious purpose and more carefully observe them. The leaders in all
these investigations of animal life have all been distinguished for
their power to discover in animals what has escaped other people.

Professor Darwin's close observation of the doves he fed at his door
opened up to him important suggestions and laid the foundation for his
great treatise, "The Origin of Species." When Professor Niles of the
Boston School of Technology was a boy he caught a minnow while returning
from school. At his father's suggestion he put the fish into a simple
aquarium and studied its movements. When it died he carefully examined
its parts under a microscope--and this experience was the beginning of
his vast knowledge of the animal realm.

While a Philadelphia clergyman was visiting a farmer in northern New
Jersey, the family became perturbed because their dog had "gone mad."
They fastened it in the kitchen and sought somebody to kill it by
shooting at it through the window. A neighbor observed the dog carefully
and told them it was poisoned. He advised the family to loose it in
order that it might get some antidote for itself in field or forest. He
told them that cats, cattle, and horses are often compelled to find an
antidote for some poisonous herb they have eaten, and that the animals
know more about such things than any teacher in the medical schools. As
soon as the dog was unfastened he hastened across the field to a brook,
and ate a weed that was growing beside the water. The dog soon returned
to the house, and ate heartily after a two weeks' fast.

The clergyman had followed the dog and observed the plant which it had
eaten. After the dog had returned to the house he uprooted the plant and
took some of its leaves to a Philadelphia firm of chemists. Acting upon
the firm's advice, he sent the leaves to the Smithsonian Institution at
Washington, and they were found to be a valuable antidote for poison.
Not only was humanity given a better medicine from this discovery, but
the clergyman also derived a competency from it. This remedy for
poisoning is often used in prescriptions; so even doctors sometimes "go
to the dogs" for instructions.

Like Professor Agassiz and Sir Oliver Lodge, many find their best
instructors in domestic animals. The fowls around the house and the barn
may be whole universities for developing the sciences. Through her
dependence on nature the hen is a more efficient instructor than the
majority of college professors. She knows by instinct so much of the
laws of nature that wise men may sit at her feet or her bill and learn.
Perhaps she may seem a little foolish in proclaiming her achievements in
egg-laying by a cackle, but her knowledge of the necessities of life,
her careful oversight of her brood, the way she uses her feet and her
wings, her foreknowledge of approaching storms, her means of defending
herself when attacked by hawks, her knowledge of the formation of the
egg and of the proper time to break the shell for the release of her
chick--all these are worthy of the attention of even the greatest

In an address at a poultry-men's convention, Oliver Wendell Holmes said
that chickens seem to have in them much more to study than did Darwin's
doves. While Holmes was once summering at Kennebunkport, Maine, he
trained five chickens to come at his call, to fly upon his head, and to
leap with open bills to catch a kernel of corn. Before the season closed
the chickens would come to his bedroom even after he had retired--making
it necessary, as Doctor Holmes said, for the landlord to serve them up
for dinner. Doctor Holmes's parody on Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life"
shows what a careful observer he was. While some of Longfellow's
admirers resented the parody as a slight, Longfellow himself always
treated it as complimentary. He once told James T. Fields that, in one
couplet of the parody, Holmes had excelled the entire original poem:

    Not like muffled drums be beating
    On the inside of the shell.

Longfellow told Fields that there are always millions of men standing
like chickens in the shell, with wings they know not how to use, having
calls to a larger life outside of which they can see nothing; that some
peck away until dead on the inside of the shell, while others, assisted
by a friend on the outside, step out into a life beautiful and complete.

In the egg or molecule we get nearer to God than we do through the
telescope or by encircling the earth. He who lived nearest the first
cause gets the best inspiration for visions of all greater sights or
events; so the cottage is a happier place than the palace for him who
wishes to get better acquainted with what shall arouse finer thought and
feeling. The cottage is the best preparatory school for the mansion,
provided always that the cottage course has been thorough. He who has
worn his cottage life with manly dignity shall be the man to wear his
mansion life with composure. Emerson said "the entire system of things
gets represented in every particle."

Uneasy is the head that wears the crown, and unfortunate is the man who
gets a smattering of many things yet does not know even one small thing
thoroughly. The power of little things to give instruction and happiness
should be the first lesson in life, and it should be inculcated deeply.
The chief need of this discontented and sinful world is to comprehend
that in one blade of grass or the shading of an evening cloud there is
sufficient reverence to fill the largest heart, and sufficient science
to occupy the greatest passion.

We saw a delicate blue flower in the grass this morning which I had
never noticed before. It seemed a different flower from each angle and,
when put under a magnifying-glass, had colors I had never noticed before
in flower or art. The field where it was growing had been familiar to me
for threescore years and ten, yet the flower was entirely new to me. It
was so dainty and attractive and inspiring that I felt I had lost
something important to my spiritual growth all these years--something
like the experience of Virgil, Guizot, Carlyle, Grotius, or like
Tennyson in the "Holy Grail," who declares that he had left a real and
wonderful life behind to follow the unknown. This little flower in the
morning sunlight awakes thoughts of years long past--of the faces of
marshaled hosts of battle, of eyes deep and calm with the smile of a
loving mother's welcome, of the great forgiveness in a father's

Had I found that flower seventy years before, I believe my appreciation
of the Divine Power would have been greater, my heart would have been
more satisfied, my soul more fully illuminated and pervaded by a holier
peace. We lose ourselves in all attempts to grasp the cause of which
this small flower is the result. It is impossible to find words to
convey the strange emotions which this newly found flower aroused, and
to tell of the distant realms my imagination visited while I meditated
there. If we would free ourselves from the perplexing cares which our
daily duties demand; if we would forget the worries of each day; if the
losses and disappointments and the wrongs of many years did not press
themselves upon us; if the demands of many duties and the demands upon
our attention and the calls of friends did not interrupt--we could find
in contemplating this wee flower of the field a fund of happiness which
years of sorrow and misfortune could not destroy.

Bacon and Burke and Niebuhr discovered how much of grandeur can come
into a life from the little things about us, but they all discovered it
when it was too late to go back and live the _ideal_ life of simplicity
and individuality which was suggested to them by a drop of water and a
humming-bird. The smallest things are the largest in importance, if they
bring into our lives the largest thoughts and feelings and an incentive
to largest actions for self and humanity. Why are we forever looking
upon the horizon for what upon closer view lies at our feet? These
little beauties of the field rebuke the wanderer and the eminent man
when it says to all the world, with a sweet smile and a dainty pout,
"You could have found more in my life than has ever been learned from
the sages."

While Zinzendorf was stranded nearly a year upon a tiny island, his
vigorous mind was forced to occupy itself in observing the objects upon
the shore; his examinations of the colors in the clam-shell led him to
say later in life, at a meeting of philosophers, that a lifetime study
of these colors should develop more of the beautiful than all the
manufactured color combinations then known.

Art has not yet been able to combine the shades shown in the shell of an
oyster, and the wings of the June bug have been enlarged and copied by
colored photography, and will greatly influence all art hereafter. Man's
needs shall be best supplied by beginning at the source and following
the Creator in developing them into things of beauty and service.

Although the Agricultural Department at Washington spent eight million
dollars in the study of seeds and their growth by sending experts to
roam over the world for investigations, yet the observations of Luther
Burbank and many like investigators in the agricultural colleges
throughout the country have made many more important discoveries. Their
observations have brought about a greater increase of production to the
acre than all the results of those who roamed the earth for the
Government, and no one would say that their work was not a fair
investment for the nation.

Observation convinces us that the sooner we get down to the simplicities
of life, the longer and healthier and nobler shall life become. The
healthiest are those with one loaf and a natural hunger along with it.
The noblest lives are those who are anxious to become as divine as it
is possible for them to be, are ever alert for little deeds of
kindness. How much richer life the poet lives who can sympathize with
the field-mouse, like Burns! Who is lifted heavenward by the fringed
gentian, like Bryant? Who gets the messages of peace from the frosted
pumpkin, like Riley? Like Shakespeare, we too may "find tongues in
trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in
everything," if we will but use our eyes for seeing, our ears for
hearing, our heads for understanding, and our hearts for feeling. The
Poor Man's University gives its courses everywhere, and no entrance
examination is requisite other than a mind willing to concentrate upon
the sublime objects which, by the million, lie within our vision.



Almost every day of his life an American is reminded that "necessity is
the mother of invention." It needs only a little reflection and
observation to realize how much American youth are blessed in the
examples of their countrymen who have come from the humblest stations in
life and have risen through sheer pluck and perseverance to honor and

We are indebted mainly to the genius and the observation of poor men for
the great inventions which have so much contributed to the comfort, the
convenience, the cheerfulness, and the power of life. They have given us
steam as a motive power, the locomotive, the telegraph, the typewriter,
the telephone, the automobile, the victrola, the airship. The great
advances that have been made in agriculture through mowers, reapers,
planters, and special seeds and fruits are entirely the results of their
steadfast perseverance. Nobody ever earnestly reaches out for a thing
until he feels that he needs it, consequently, the sons and daughters
of the rich are seldom the benefactors of humanity in the way so many
poor men and women have been through the inventions which have lightened
the drudgery of millions of homes, as well as increased marvelously the
productions of the soil and of the factory. Had the talents of the rich
been put to the test by hunger or cold or the many other incentives to
vigorous thought and action which impel the poor, they also might have
many inventions to their credit, for the longing of the normal soul
furnishes the basis of all the worthy activities of life.

The greatest drawback for rich men's sons and daughters is in having all
their wants supplied from the bank-account of indulgent parents. They
are taught neither industry, economy, nor self-control, which often
makes them a social menace. They lack appreciation for so many of the
things in life which help to brighten the path of the poor, solely
because they have never needed them. A hungry boy who has stood on the
outside of a bakery, clinging to a nickel and fighting a battle with
himself whether to invest it in a bit of bread or to take it home to his
mother, who has had neither breakfast nor dinner, fully understands the
value of a dollar.

The superintendent of the Patent Office at Washington has confirmed the
official report of the French Patent Office--that there has been no
invention of especial value which has not been either found or improved
upon by some poor man. The best life-preserver was invented by a sailor
who had fallen overboard and had been nearly drowned. An obscure native
of a duchy bordered on three sides by powerful nations invented the
quick-firing gun, which can fire six hundred shots while the ordinary
gun is being loaded. It was a poor Cambridge machinist, whose family
often suffered from lack of food, who invented the sewing-machine, which
has changed the condition of home life throughout the world, and
relieved women of one of their great household burdens. The ship's
chronometer was made practical for navigation by a man who had been lost
at sea and despaired of ever again reaching the shore. The locomotive,
which has contributed more than any other one thing to the spread of our
people over our vast country, was given to the world by an Englishman,
Stephenson, who in early life had been so poor that he had little

More than eight hundred agricultural inventions were patented in 1905
and 1906, and every one of them is the invention of some poor man or

As inventors, women have in recent years become close competitors of
men, and from kitchen utensils to floor covering have added much to home
comfort and home furnishing. All the household articles exhibited lately
in a large shop in Chicago were either invented or improved by women.
They have invented many things for agriculture, for manufacturing, and
for school furnishings--and not a few of the great patents which have
been issued to men should have been issued to their wives. Women have
often awaked an idea which men have wrought out for practical purposes.
The majority of the benefactors of the world made their discoveries to
relieve some necessity which oppressed them personally. This is
especially true of stock-breeding, where the improvements of observant
men have so greatly increased the value of domestic animals.

The value of any study depends entirely upon what it has done for us and
what we are doing with it. Lowell says that mere learning is as
insignificant as the collection of old postage-stamps. Professor Virchow
was obliged to try various foods in his experiments with his own cats,
before he discovered what has ever since been of such benefit to all
breeders of animals throughout the world. From the earliest days the bee
has offered a store of the most useful information, but it would never
have been known had it not been for such patient observers as Huber,
who, although blind, discovered more about bees than the world had ever
known before his day, through the patient service of his wife and valet.
The mouse in the field, the squirrel in the tree, the eagle in her nest,
the fish in the brook, all have taught us valuable lessons in conduct.
They have doubtless given hints which have enabled observant men to give
mankind many a useful invention.

When we consider the many thousands of useful inventions which have
added so much to the convenience and the happiness of life, and when we
bring to mind how almost all of these have come from the humblest of the
sons of men with none of the advantages of the so-called higher
education, of which we hear so much to-day, we are forced to agree with
Sir Walter Scott that the best part of every man's education is that
which he gives himself independent of text-books other than the Book of
Life. Every real man and woman attends a school or college, not to
learn, but to learn how to learn. This is the best work that schools of
any description can do. It lays a firm foundation upon which the man who
has learned how to learn can build his own superstructure. The men who
have achieved success in the march of the ages are those who have been
the architects of their own life. Nobody cares a fig where we get our
educational tools. The world is interested only in what we are doing
with them. _We_ must be _self-made_ or _never-made_, whether we go to
college or work in the fields. One teacher can be serviceable to a
thousand of the sort who intend to make themselves, but a thousand
teachers cannot help one of the other sort. Heredity and environment and
will are the great deciding factors in every life.

Investigations as to the food values of meats, grains, fruits,
vegetables, and other foods are now being made by the Government, by
colleges, and other investigators. This is the movement of _supreme_
importance for the uplift of humanity. But the most of this kind of
investigating has been done in household kitchens. It is probable that
many of the greatest discoveries as to food will hereafter be made in
the same places by those who are inclined to observe. The need of closer
scientific knowledge of the chemistry of digestion and the chemistry of
food is vital; it should call forth the most self-sacrificing

It is said by those who have carefully studied the subject that
ninety-one per cent. of all disease is attributable directly or
indirectly to the stomach. Our ailments come mainly from our aliments.
Nourishing food is an essential of a noble life. The stomach is the
master of the house, and must be respected. A proper diet and a sound
head are closely allied, and those who will rightly exercise their
soul-powers must be watchful of the stomach.

Those who would rule and lead must have chest and stomach as well as
head and will.

Nobody else has such opportunities for observing the effects of food,
and for studying the happy results of nutritious food, as those have who
prepare the meals in the kitchen. Proper nourishment is something which
touches humanity on every side, and deserves the closest attention of
the greatest minds. We can better afford to dispense with scientific
experts in every other line which now engages them than to dispense with
those who investigate the food question. The idea among the myriads of
American housekeepers, that it is ignoble drudgery to spend some of
their time in their kitchens ministering to the health of those who are
nearest and dearest to them and removing diseases from them through
well-selected and well-cooked food, is being gradually overcome by many
schools and colleges. The sciences connected with food are now placed
among the most important subjects in the curricula of these schools. It
takes a master mind to handle the chemical combinations of the kitchen,
which make hale and happy men and women, boys and girls.

Health is symmetry; disease is deformity; both are mainly the result of
what we eat.

Food has killed more than the sword in every age, and is perhaps killing
more to-day than ever before. Achievement in soul-growth and
material-growth is involved in the question of proper food. If women
forsake the throne that rightly belongs to the cook, men must assume it
or Christian civilization shall cease. To-day nobody can become so
supreme a benefactor of humanity as the man or the woman who devotes
intellect and all other power to the study of scientific eating. When we
come rightly to understand all the vital questions that are involved in
nutrition, we shall feel that the kings among men and the queens among
women are to be sought in no higher place than in kitchens.

We are forever searching among the stars to discover kings, when they
are far oftener found in cottages in the valley.

If universities fail to make the knowledge of the right nutrition
practical and fail to bring it down where humble men and women may get
it and apply it, the fault is their own. Some day a people grateful for
the health they enjoy may elect a man to the Presidency of our nation,
or set him upon some throne, because he is the best scientific cook in
the land. Doctor Agnew of Philadelphia said that he had gained his most
important knowledge of hospital work as an adviser of the dietitians
while feeding his dog and his cat.

In speaking of the discovery of radium by Madame Curie, Professor
Virchow said that he had often felt that our investigators had not taken
sufficient notice of the force of animal electricity. The few
experiments already made in applying to machinery electricity generated
by the human body has opened up a field for observant scientists.

In many ways both birds and beasts contribute to the welfare of
humanity, and the observing thinker will still find many more ways in
which he can aid us. All forms of life can be harnessed to the car of
civilization, and far more effective work shall be done than is being
done to-day. As teachers and as subjects of practical investigation,
animals supply a great university which almost every man and woman can



Carlyle says that a collection of books is a true university in these
days. It might be added that often the smaller the collection the larger
shall be the university.

Education derived from libraries is unsafe, for book-dissipation, as
well as drunkenness, ends in debauchery. Toward the end of his long and
wide-awake life Doctor Holmes advised a young correspondent to confine
his reading to the Bible, Shakespeare, and a good dictionary. The list
of men who have been lifted to higher regions of thought and feeling and
action from reading any one of these three would be too long to be
compressed within the covers of one book. Books are like two-edged
swords--dangerous unless one knows how to use them; they either lead up
or drag down, and we sink or rise to the level of the books we read.
Every one reads, but how many read to advantage? Goethe, the greatest of
all the very greatest Germans, said, "I have been learning how to read
for the past fifty years, but have not yet succeeded."

The majority of readers resemble hour-glasses--their reading runs in and
out, and leaves no traces; and some others are like housewives'
jelly-bags--they pass all that is good, and retain only the refuse. At
best, only a small percentage of our life is spent in school; the
greater part of the remainder each must pass in the University of Daily
Life, where our education is derived from experience gained through
_close observation_ in daily contact with our fellows, and from the
fellowship of books. Fellowship fits the relation perfectly, for there
must be intimate intercourse such as this word implies, or _nothing_. It
is with books as with life--a man profits little from being merely
_acquainted_ with ten thousand, and he may be incalculably injured from
his intercourse with them; but a few _choice_ friends--often the _fewer_
the better--bring a steady growth of higher spiritual power greater than
can be had from all other influences combined.

So it is with books. Acquaintance with a thousand often renders a
capable man impotent. But a few _choice_ friends with whom he frequently
and earnestly communes lift him in strength of intellect and will and
tenderness and sweetness of feeling to be the peer of the worthiest.

The beginning of New England was the golden age of scholarship in
America, for many of the founders of these colonies had been reared in
English universities. Such was the struggle in these bleak and barren
colonies for existence during the first years, that in a few generations
the majority of their posterity were strangers to almost all the books
of _power_ and _knowledge_ with which their forefathers were acquainted,
and were forced to glean all they harvested from the Bible and the
almanac--especially the almanac. The almanac was eagerly perused by
every member of the family from the dawn of the year to its setting. The
reputed thrift of the plain people in this corner of the great world is
largely attributable to the lessons of the almanac--mainly _Poor
Richard's Almanac_, which the Bostonian, Franklin, annually edited in
Philadelphia for over a quarter of a century. His chief purpose was to
drive home forcibly many lessons which might encourage the colonists to
get the most out of their hard and isolated lives.

Peabody, the successful man of business and munificent philanthropist,
said that an almanac and a jack-knife were the foundation of the
education through which he ultimately did so much good for multitudes
of his countrymen. It should be interesting and instructive to know how
many more, during the "jack-knife epoch" in New England and the
generations since that time, have been indebted to one book for the
pluck and perseverance by which they have carved out a place of honor
for themselves. Never were books so eagerly, so often, and so carefully
read as these poor almanacs. Never, perhaps, has any other book except
the Bible been so potent an influence in shaping the life of a nation
and shaping it to a _high place among the nations_, whose beneficent
influences have humanized the world. Many a writer has reminded us that
the almanac was the text-book studied by our ancestry in beginning the
enormous agricultural, commercial, mercantile, manufacturing, and
financial interests which in four generations have placed us in front of
the richest nations of the earth.

Think of the many millions of dollars invested in library-buildings and
the many millions more invested in the books they shelter! Think of the
five hundred millions spent annually in public education, and the
hundreds of millions that have been put into college buildings and
college breeding! Still, from all this stupendous investment there will
never come men and women who will make any more out of their learning
than thousands of men and women of colonial days who knew the contents
of no books other than the Bible and the almanac.

The quality of the literary attainment of those reared in a library may
be higher--and perhaps not; but wider and deeper self-knowledge,
self-respect, self-confidence, self-culture, self-control, are the
supreme objects of all life-struggle and educational struggle. Where a
man gets the educational tools with which to accomplish all this is not
at all important. If an almanac can help one man to get the same
life-result as another man gets from the polishing of the greatest
universities in the world, the almanac is the peer of the university.
Whether materials as insignificant as the almanac have been used to
attain just such results, the history of our country and of several
other countries can readily prove. Three books made up the library of
Lincoln, the rail-splitter, of Edison and Carnegie, the telegraph
operators; but no three men of the nation were ever more successful in
reaching the goals they set for themselves.

Books are to-day the great universal means of _knowing_, and knowing
them depends upon reading them rightly. It is not so important how
_many_ books we read, but how we read them. A well-read fool is one of
the most pestilential of blockheads. One book _read_ avails more than a
thousand _skimmed_. Little reading and much thinking make a wise man;
much reading and little thinking has bred the race which the _plain_
people call "learned fools," and these are mainly responsible for any
ridicule that is put upon the work of school and college.

In these days when the printing-press has largely superseded the pulpit
and the platform, it is vitally important that men shall be taught how
to read rightly and shall be helped to habits of right reading; and no
school or college that is decently interested in the welfare of the
people can disregard this one duty of teachers _above all others_. Much
of the best in thought and feeling and conduct shall depend hereafter
upon the books which we read with careful observation. Every man who has
read himself into higher realms is under bonds to make the source of so
much bliss and blessedness as admirable and as desirable as possible to
all who are strangers to the most pleasant and profitable paths of

It is not the quantity of our reading, but the quality that makes it and
us an influence for good to our fellows. A man who has read ten pages
with real accuracy, says John Ruskin, is forevermore in some measure an
educated person. You might read all the books in the British Museum, yet
be an utterly illiterate and uneducated person. Our reading without
digestion and assimilation is as useless as our food without them. Bacon
says that reading makes a _full_ man; but fullness without digestion is
dyspepsia. The books whose reading impels us to live nobly and do noble
service for others, are _the_ books, and it is a wicked waste of time to
read what is a negative quantity. Whoever masters _one vital_ book can
never become commonplace.

_Thoroughness_ is the master-passion in reading, as in every other
undertaking. Those who have accumulated wisdom, culture, power, riches,
are always prominent for their indefatigable, painstaking thoroughness;
nothing to them is a trifle, for "trifles make perfection, and
perfection is no trifle." Those who have thought most and felt most and
done most from their reading have brought this master passion to it.

When we begin to become acquainted with all the worthy men and women who
trace the beginning of their worth to the careful reading of one book,
it seems almost a loss to the world to have the libraries of the world
so large. If they were all respectable occupants of their shelves, it
might be condoned; but the copyright of millions of books is the only
right, human or divine, for their existing at all. Many a country boy at
the fireside during the long winter evenings has received inspiration
from repeatedly reading one or two worthy books; these have spurred him
on to fight his way valiantly through college, and from there to the
heights in some worthy life-work.

If we are true to all that _manhood_ involves, there is no
self-deception in the conviction that each one of us is born for
kingship. Supreme kingship "consists in a stronger _moral_ state and a
truer _thoughtful_ state than that of other men, which enables us to
_guide_ and _raise_ the misguided and the illiterate." Every thoughtful
man and woman ultimately discovers that "all _education_ and all
_literature_ are useful only so far as they confirm this calm and
beneficent kingly power." Emerson's "man-thinking" is the supreme among
human beings.

The best that can be known and experienced lies asleep in books, and one
of the chief purposes for getting an education is to give us the
_well-made_ head and the _finer_ feeling to awake this best knowledge
and experience in these sleeping princes.

De Quincey reminds us that all the greatest books may be divided into
the literature of _knowledge_ and the literature of _power_. They have
all been written in utmost sincerity by the _right_-minded and the
_strong_-minded; they disclose boundless fields for soul-_refreshment_
and soul-_expansion_. In the march of civilization, the men and the
nations that have forged farthest ahead since Gutenberg invented
printing are the men and the nations that have had most to do with the
few books of _knowledge_ and _power_ of the greatest and the wisest.
There can be no better test of a man's thought and feelings and actions
than the books he reads and the books he keeps around him; and there is
none so desolate as the poor _rich_ man who lives in a great bookless
house, and "has never fed upon the dainties that are bred in books," as
John Milton says.

The very presence of books is refining, and the right kind of man would
as soon think of building his house without windows as of furnishing it
without books. In every well-regulated home of intelligent men and women
the library is always one of the annual items of expenditure. When we
have learned how to consult the books of _knowledge_ and _power_, they
let us mingle with the best society of all ages; they make the
_mightiest_ men and women of words and deeds our advisers; they bring
us the gold of learning and the gems of thought; and they furnish us
with the soul-_food_ which brings the proper kind of soul-_growth_. Such
books are the safest of companions, for they protect us from vice and
the inferior passions; more than ever they are to-day _indispensable_
for all who are striving to do the higher work of civilization and

Every _real_ book we _really_ read gives us greater faith in the
_goodness_ and the _nobility_ of life. As Lowell says, "Adds another
block to the climbing spire of a great soul." The other sort which
"swarm from the cozy marshes of immoral brains," the sort also who "rack
their brains for lucre," do the devil's work for him, and are as baneful
as the company of fools and vulgarians. Show an observant man your
bookshelves, and he'll tell you what you are. The man who does not
_love_ some great book is not worth the time we spend in his company; we
are fortunate if we are not in some way contaminated by him. If we knew
the road they have traveled, we should likely find that those of modern
times who have merited the crown of kings and queens for their stronger
_moral_ state and their _truer thoughtful_ state have had most to do
with some literature of knowledge and power; that they especially
oftenest consulted the books of the greatest and wisest in their
difficulties, and had been spurred on by their messages to the thoughts
and the deeds which made them worthy.

It is fortunate that to-day the greatest of books are the common
property of the printers of the world, for they are on this account the
cheapest, and many of them can be had for the price of a poor man's
dinner. It needs many a page to record even the names of the men and
women who have become _somebody_ and have done _something_ just from
reading some one worthy book which had fallen into their hands. Many
believe that Franklin is the greatest American that has yet appeared,
and he has said that "Cotton Mather's _essays to do good_ gave me a turn
of thinking which, perhaps, had an influence on some of the principal
future events of my life."

As we become better acquainted with some of the _great_ books in all
departments of literature, we are surprised to find how few of them have
been written by college men. This by no means belittles the good that
may come from a _true_ college course, but it does seem to emphasize
that great books need some other environment for their growth than
exclusive college courses. Perhaps the need is _solitude_, communion
with nature, and frequent intercourse with the world's greatest and best
in thought and feeling and action for the work. College-bred men are in
a marked minority among the authors whose great books have been and are
a potent force in shaping thought and conduct in the world. It is
notable how few of these have anything commendatory to say about the
influence which their college life had upon them and their
accomplishments; many even of the text-books of schools and colleges
have come from men whose powers were shaped by no school. How many
text-books of medicine and law were prepared by physicians and lawyers
whose knowledge was gleaned mainly from keen observation and long
experience and deep thought!

It was no mere college education, but the sharpest home observation and
strictest adherence to their instincts and their individuality that made
forceful writers of Mark Twain, the Mississippi pilot; Bret Harte and
William Dean Howells, the typesetters; James Whitcomb Riley, the
itinerant sign-painter; Joel Chandler Harris and Eugene Field, the
newspaper reporters; and Walt Whitman, the carpenter.

Of the four thousand and forty-three Americans with over twenty millions
of dollars to their credit, only sixty-one had even a _high-school_
course. Many among them, however, had high-class mentality and secured a
comprehensive practical education. They have evidently been as alert to
perceive the treasures hidden for them in the world of great books as
they have been to perceive the treasuries hidden for them in their
various enterprises. So we find that they have consulted the master
spirits of books after their daily tasks were done, while myriads of
those who scoff and sneer at them now because of their millions were
feasting, frolicking, and dissipating. Among the highest types of
American manhood to-day a large majority are the _new-rich_ men.
Whatever else may be said about them, all the world acknowledges that it
is the parvenus in every land who do the largest part of the greatest

The larger our horizon becomes, the stronger is our conviction that the
man himself is _mainly_ the architect of his own fate; others may give
an occasional lift, but it is almost entirely his own work. The college
can do something for the _head-piece_, and it should also give something
for the _heart-side_ and the power to dare and to do; but all the
external training in the world can never attain for the man what he can
attain through his own individual efforts--provided he has lofty aims,
firm resolutions, closely observes, and strictly adheres to all his best
inborn powers. There was no college for David, Homer, Socrates, Plato,
Confucius, Alexander, Cæsar, Dante, Luther, Shakespeare, Napoleon,
Washington, Franklin, Goethe, Jesus, and tens of thousands of great or
lesser men than these. They all marked out their own course, planned
their own spiritual palaces; all the barbed-wire entanglements in the
world did not retard their indomitable courage, self-reliance, and

Perhaps the chief use of all learning establishments, except those which
have to do with what the Germans call _bread studies_, is to awaken the
pupil's self-respect, which is the basis of all virtue, and to cultivate
the powers that shall fit the pupil to consult for himself the
_knowledge_ and _power_ books of the greatest and the wisest. They also
can in these days do yeoman's service in giving the _bread studies_
through which men shall be better able to do the world's work and
thereby earn better wages.



President Wolsey, head of a great university, said that one of the chief
purposes of the college is to cultivate the _power to think_. The
college man who neglects to cultivate this valuable power until he
enters upon his college career, instead of beginning it in the
kindergarten and continuing it unremittingly throughout his entire
preparatory course and daily living, will be liable to make sorry work
of this part of his cultivation, or any other part, while he is in

The specialists who teach in colleges, and who are generally more
interested in their specialties than in the science and art of
education, may not be conscious of this, and yet the many educational
wrecks that have come from colleges should long ago have brought this
point most forcibly to their attention. Indeed, the power to think and
the practice of thinking until it has become second nature, are so
essential for success in any _worthy_ career in life, that it is truer
to say that one of the chief purposes of _life_ itself is to cultivate
and exercise the power to think, and keep right on thinking until close
thinking shall become a habit. The power to think clearly, broadly, and
successfully is not necessarily the prerogative of those only who have
lived in a college environment, as the biographies of our own four
thousand multi-millionaires in this country so cogently prove, for few
of them ever darkened the doors of a college. Some among them may have
been bereft of all the nobler sentiments for which Christianity and
America stand, but they never could have piled up their millions in
every department of activity without having thought so long and so hard
that they ultimately acquired a habit of thinking that should put to
shame myriads in every land who have had all the advantages of
universities. The power to think, and to think in a masterly way, need
not be confined to the professor's chair.

Any sphere of action which does not bring in to the worker an increase
of thinking power is harmful, from university to street-sweeping. A
machine is the only worker that can do its work well without thinking
about it. All the successful men the world has ever known have been men
who thought incessantly; they have been mainly self-educated in their
extraordinary power to think; their success in all the various tasks
which they set for themselves oftener resulted from their hard thought
than from their hard work.

Defeat and failure have never overtaken the man whose head and hands
were partners.

When we think without work or work without thought, we reach only half
of what belong to us. A man should especially ween himself from this
kind of halfness. We should be ashamed to find ourselves working without
thought, as we should be ashamed to find ourselves idle in a world where
there is always so much to be done and so little time allotted to each
for accomplishing worthy work. The employees that are most valuable to
their employers and are most valued by them are those always whose heads
and hands are yoke-mates. When hands and head and heart are on the job,
it is difficult to imagine what heights of success and service shall be
attained. The farmer boy hoeing corn and digging potatoes will do better
work in quantity and quality if he thinks about his work as hard as he
hoes or digs.

There can be little danger of failure for any young man who begins his
life-work with the resolution that he will always give his best thought
to even the most insignificant task that he assumes; and all the schools
in the world cannot furnish him any advantage that can compare with this
resolution steadily followed. Nor must the habit of thinking be
exercised only upon work. We all have more leisure than work, and many a
high-minded thinker has reminded us that a man is best to be judged, not
by his profession, but by his leisure. Elihu Burritt acquired a
knowledge of fifty languages during the years he earned his livelihood
as a village blacksmith; he also found time for extensive reading as
well as time for interest in social reforms, in the advancement of which
he won the reputation of being one of the most powerful and persuasive
orators of his day. All his stupendous acquirements were gained during
the hours between his tasks which thousands of other village blacksmiths
were accustomed to spend in gossip or in the tavern. Volumes could be
filled with only _brief_ accounts of the men and women throughout the
ages who have made the world better for their living, just because they
wisely and thoughtfully employed the leisure hours which their
contemporaries trifled away. The shortest life may be long in noble
thought and action, if we lose no time; and little of it is ever lost by
those who thoughtfully employ their leisure.

Thoughtful men and women are always doubly valuable, no matter whether
their work is what the world calls high-class or low-class. The streets
are better swept by such a man, and the potatoes are better hoed; the
floor is better scrubbed by such a woman, and the clothes are better
washed. If our work does not afford us the chance to think while we are
employed upon it, we owe it to ourselves and to humanity to toss it
aside quickly. The lawyer, the physician, or any other professional man
is no more a man in the sight of God and his country than the
stone-mason who lays the foundations for their houses and raises the
superstructures; and they are under no greater obligation to use their
thinking powers than he is. The place we occupy in life is unimportant;
the way we fill the place is everything; the stone-mason, Ben Jonson,
built stone walls and houses by day, and at night built dramas and other
poetry which have been surpassed only by his contemporary, Shakespeare.

Many of the greatest achievements known to history have been the work of
men and women whose life-tasks were entirely different from the lines
in which they became eminent; Shakespeare was an actor and one of the
most successful business men of London, but he is known as the greatest
poet the world has yet produced; George Eliot had charge for several
years of her father's farm home, as well as the poultry and dairy, and
won prizes for these at the country fair, but this did not prevent her
from laying, during these seven years, the foundation which helped her
to build herself into one of the greatest women known to history.
Herschel's being a musician and Mary Somerville's having charge of her
home and her children did not prevent both of them from doing marvelous
work in astronomy. Audubon became a final authority on birds solely
because while on his hunting-trips he thought more than the other
hunters who accompanied him. One of the greatest merchants and
capitalists in Boston began life selling handkerchiefs through the
country. He became expert in flax products, and through this grew rich;
he so studied kindred fibrous plants that his partners boasted that he
had succeeded in marketing handkerchiefs made of twenty different
fibrous plants. The most successful piano manufacturer now living was
originally an employee of a steel mill that manufactured wire for making
piano-strings. An every-day man gave careful thought to corn, and wrote
an article for a magazine upon its value and upon the way it should be
prepared for food; and this article was so worthy that it won for him a
degree from a university.

Every waking moment of every man contains food for thought. If some live
fuller lives every twenty-four hours than others live in a year, it is
because they think faster and higher, wider and deeper, and because the
discipline they get from this thought keeps them from wasting their time
on trivial or worthless matter. A puddler in Youngstown, without
education beyond the district school, began to think about the iron that
was softened in the furnace before him, and asked questions of the older
employees and the foreman; then he read upon the subject and became so
capable in mining and iron manufacturing that when the Youngstown plant
was sold to the great steel corporation he was the largest stockholder
in forty-seven great companies manufacturing iron. Some men's hearts
grow as hard as their gold while they are amassing riches; but his heart
seems to have softened in proportion to the increase of his riches; his
life is given to numberless good deeds, chief among which has been his
endeavor to impress upon all workmen the necessity of letting both
their heads and hearts assist their hands. Neither man nor boy, woman
nor girl, need despair of doing great things and being great men and
women, if they will constantly carry out this advice. He is really the
best-educated man whose attention is primarily directed to his
soul-growth, to his power of thinking, for feeling, and for noble



"God has given us a full kit of watchmaker's tools" and if, after all
the centuries of civilization, "we are doing _thinker's_ work with
them," something must be wrong with the educational methods. When God
sent us here he packed us with all we need for high-class manhood--our
_instincts_ and our _individuality_ especially well done up; but often
in the unpacking by the schools we have been sadly marred; and these
God-given endowments seem to have been frequently thrown upon the
rubbish-pile. They seem to have dulled our instincts and to have
despised our individuality, in order to make room for our acquirements.

Like all that emanates from God, instincts and individuality have been
bestowed for a wise purpose; they are _indispensable_ endowments if we
shall become the kind of man God seems to have had in mind when he sent
us here. What justification have the teachers of civilization for
failing to perfect these powers? What right have the _little_ men of the
schools to drive them entirely out of their scheme of education?

John Ruskin complains in _Kings' Treasuries_ that "Modern education for
the most part signifies giving people the faculty of thinking wrong on
every conceivable subject of importance to them." If this is even partly
true, there is no pursuit to-day that demands from the man who is
working in it more _presence of mind_ and more _self-direction_, than
the business of getting _real_ education. Those who are to-day
conducting what we are foolish enough to permit them to call _education_
are often both blind and deaf to all that efficient education implies.
To seek direction from them is like asking the road from a blind man.
Many are also connected with the schools apparently as others are
connected with hod-carrying and street-sweeping--to procure a
livelihood. Often their highest conception of the work is _edge_ucation,
to make sharp blades of the intellects for what they call "getting along
in the world." Then many of the instructors in schools and colleges are
merely specialists, mainly interested in their specialties, and using
the class-room as a stepping-stone to their own purposes. Extreme
specializing is narrowing--it does to the specialist what blinkers do
to the horse's eyes. Excessive pursuit of single objects of thought
atrophies many faculties, but _education_ is the _complete_ development
and discipline of all the faculties.

Perhaps these are some of the causes why so many _original_ and
_thinking_ men and women are so hostile to present-day schools, and
accuse them of mainly being "places that polish pebbles and dim
diamonds," and say so many other harsh and cutting things about them.
Learning seems to be the _chief_ occupation of those who profess to
educate. Learning for its _own_ sake plays a very _insignificant_ part
in the spiritual equipment of God's children; to a _true_ education it
seems at best only what the carpenter's kit is to the carpenter--a means
to an end. Like all other lumber, its importance depends entirely upon
what is built out of it. These original and thinking men and women have
often said hard things of mere learning and of those who dole it out at
so much a _unit_, because they believe that undue stress is laid upon
it. They sometimes say that universities are not _educating_
institutions, but merely _seats-of-learning_; and often they are very
_narrow_ seats, difficult for self-respecting people to stiffen their
backs enough to sit upon. But it's the _study_, not the studies, that
educates; studies make _learned_ men, but not often _wise_ men, such as
_real_ education always makes; not all learned heads are _sense_-boxes;
the _very_ learned man may be a very learned fool. The learned
frequently put out their reasoning powers to make room for their
learning; it requires ten pounds of _sense_ to take care of one pound of

Solomon made a book of proverbs, but a book of proverbs never made
Solomon. Sense without learning is a thousand times superior to learning
without sense; and in the stately edifice of life, school and college
are only the basement walls; wisdom and learning are not necessary
companions. The great things that have conduced to the betterment of the
world have been done by men who have been loyal to their individuality
and true to their instincts--never by the merely learned. Too often do
we find these little learned men "displaying themselves offensively and
ridiculously in the haunts of bearded men," and making the angels weep
by their strutting and their swelling.

_Knowing_ is only a _small_ part of life; _doing_ is nearly _all_ of
life; and the _best_ done is done through _education_--the education
which is the product of what is _inborn_ as well as of what is
_acquired_; the education which enables men and women to perceive and
to cherish the _beautiful_ in art, in literature, in morals and in
nature. While true education busies itself with acquirements, it is even
more concerned that the instincts and the individuality God appears to
regard of supreme importance shall attain all that it is possible for
them to have. These original and thinking men and women who say so many
things in condemnation of _make-believe_ education and mere learning
boldly and lovingly acclaim the helps from true education--they remind
us that it is soul-husbandry, spiritual perfection, torch and sword and
shield, the _be-all_ and the _end-all_ of life, the fountain of all
noble living, and the only real promoter of civilization. They claim
that education of this sort simplifies life; facilitates self-conquest;
intensifies individuality; unfolds and uplifts manhood; breeds habits of
thinking, feeling, and doing; debestializes, emancipates, humbles, and
civilizes; that it searches for truth, loves the beautiful, desires the
good, and does the best.

We have no quarrel with the education that accomplishes all these, for
it fosters the instincts and the individuality for which we are
pleading. We have always believed that just this kind of education is
the heritage of every American, and that the loss of such an education
is the greatest calamity that can befall any one. All our life have we
yearned that all might have this boon, and the best of our manhood years
have been ceaseless labor and struggle to give "the weak and friendless
sons of men" all of its advantages.

The test of any system of education is the kind of man it turns out. It
is wisdom to measure the system by those it fails to educate rather than
by those it does educate--by its tortoises rather than by its hares. The
real educator is always vastly more concerned with the divinity than
with the depravity of those intrusted to him; he believes firmly that
the instincts and the individuality which God has given each of us are
the priceless part of all our spiritual equipment--that anything we may
acquire toward this end which fortifies these God-given treasures is
cheap--even if bought by an entire life-service; that any acquirement
that modifies these or destroys them is a triple curse and a dire menace
to humanity, for individuality is the genius of Christianity and of

The system of education which makes light of the cultivation of the
instincts, which seems to be the sole dependence of all conditions of
men except the over-civilized, the system of education which is blinded
to all that is implied in an educated individuality--these are the only
systems with which we have any quarrel. Well-made, rather than
well-filled heads are what is needed and should be demanded, without
which it is impossible for any one of us to have the right conception of
life, or to attain all that we were intended to be or to do. To guard
and develop the instincts of the child, to preserve and fortify his
individuality, is to give him sword and shield for the battle of life.

God intends each individual to be an individual, or this should not have
been so deep-rooted in all; to be just like every one else is to be
predestined for inferiority and failure. To do our duty consistently and
steadfastly demands that all our God-like and God-given qualities shall
first of all be educated. That best becomes a man which his
individuality intended him to be, and those are always successful in
making a life and a living who play the game of life with the cards
their individuality gives them. God made a world for each separate man,
and within that world he _must_ live, if he will live effectually; we
must first of all be ourselves, must see to it that whatever else is
neglected the plants God has put into the individual shall be
cultivated--the crop may not be large, but we are accountable for the
cultivation, not for the crop. We must be ourselves, and do our own

There can be no greater wisdom and no greater service than that of
helping another so that he may duly live in that special world which God
has created for him. The most insignificant man can be complete if he is
entirely true to his instincts and to his individual character. If we
are incomplete, it is because we are living after some other method. We
have all been stamped with individuality, but many seem to do their
utmost to soak off the stamp. How different should the life of all the
world be if each one only kept in his frame, and would not permit any
one to try to make him part of, the picture for which his personality
never intended him!

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Every Man His Own University" ***

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