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REAL greatness has nothing to do with a man's sphere. It does not lie in the magnitude of his outward agency, in the extent of the effects which he produces. The greatest men may do comparatively little, abroad. Perhaps the greatest in our city, at this moment, are buried in obscurity. Grandeur of character lies wholly in force of soul,—that is, in the force of thought, moral principle, and love,--and this may be found in the humblest conditions of life. A man brought up to an obscure trade, and hemmed in by the wants of a growing family, may, in his narrow sphere, perceive more clearly, discriminate more keenly, weigh evidence more wisely, seize on the right means more decisively, and have more presence of mind in difficulty, than another who has accumulated vast stores of knowledge by laborious study; and he has more of intellectual greatness. Many a man who has gone but a few miles from home, understands human nature better, detects motives and weighs character more sagaciously than another who has travelled over the known world, and made a name by his reports of different countries. It is force of thought which measures intellectual, and so it is force of principle which measures moral greatness, – that highest of human endowments, that brightest manifestation of the Divinity. The greatest man is he who chooses the Right with invincible resolution, who resists the sorest temptations from within and without, who bears the heaviest burdens cheerfully, who is calmest in storms and most fearless under menace and frowns, whose reliance on truth, on virtue, on God, is most unfaltering; and is this a greatness which is apt to make a show, or which is most likely to abound in conspicuous station? The solemn conflicts of reason with passion; the victories of moral and religious principle over urgent and almost irresistible solicitations to self-indulgence; the hardest sacrifices fof duty, those of deep seated affection and of the heart's fondest hopes; the consolations, hopes, joys, and peace of disappointed, persecuted, scorned, deserted virtue, these are of course unseen; so that the true greatness of human life is almost wholly out of sight. Perhaps in our presence, the most heroic deed on earth is done in some silent spirit, the loftiest purpose cherished, the most generous sacrifice made, and we do not suspect it. I believe this greatness to be most common among the multitude, whose names are never heard. Among common people will be found more of hardship borne manfully, more of unvarnished truth, more of religious trust, more of that generosity which gives what the giver needs himself, and more of a wise estimate of life and death, than among the more prosperous. And even in regard to influence over other beings, which is thought the peculiar prerogative of distinguished station, I believe that the difference between the conspicuous and the obscure does not amount to much. Influence is to be measured, not by the extent of surface it covers hut by its kind. A man may spread his mind, his feelings and opinions, through a great extent; but, if his mind be a low one, he manifests no greatness. A wretched artist may fill a city with daubs, and by a false, showy style, achieve a reputation; but the man of genius, who leavés behind him one grand picture, in which immortal beauty is embodied, and which is silently to spread a true taste in his art, exerts an incomparably higher influence. Now the noblest influence on earth, is that exerted on character; and he who puts forth this, does a great work, no matter how narrow or obscure his sphere. The father and mother of an unnoticed family, who, in their seclusion, awaken the mind of one child to the idea and love of perfect goodness, who awaken in him a strength of will to repel all temptation, and who send him out prepared to profit by the conflicts of life, surpass in influence a Napoleon, breaking the world to his sway. And not only is their work higher in kind; who knows but that they are doing a greater work, even as to extent or surface, than the conqueror ? Who knows but that the being whom they inspire with holy and disinterested principles, may communicate himself to others; and that, by a spreading agency, of which they were the silent origin, improvements may spread through a nation, through the world?
THE END OF EDUCATION IS THE POWER OR ART OF
THINKING. By this art is meant, a state of the soul or mind in which it is fitter for all and for more uses than in its natural state. Like other arts, this may be taught and learned ; and, like them, it depends partly on rules and principles derived from masters, and partly on its own exertions and practice. When the power approximates perfection, the soul begins to see intuitively, and the pupil has what is termed presence of mind. When perfect, this art renders the mind calm, thoughtful, discriminating, prompt, energetic. It helps to see and weigh the absolute and relative importance of every subject within our scope ; to follow truth in what is new, and reject error in what is old. The soul, in possession of itself, hastens not to conclusions; it sees the end from the beginning; it counts the cost. We learn not to be amazed at the mighty achievements of human skill, ingenuity, perseverance: we scarcely are surprised. We praise and blame, not as schemes are successful and unsuccessful, but according to their intrinsic character at the hour of formation. Taught by this art, self-knowledge, we make allowances for weakness and errors, arising from temptation, nervous irritation, and irrepressible pains and anxieties. In our intercourse, this art becomes tact. This keeps us attentive to the minutest actions. To the discerning, a man of disciplined mind may be known by the way in which he walks, stands, sits, eats - by the way he takes up or lays down a book, opens or shuts a door, manages an umberella, stirs a fire !
The art promotes politeness, order, decency, reverence, good will : in short, “whatsoever is lovely and of good report.” It puts a man in possession of himself; it gives him victory over his spirit, it supports unostentatious dignity; it prevents the oftused plea of indolence, vanity, presumption, selfishness and folly, condensed in the formula = " Oh! I never thought !” And it makes the man, when verging towards that apology, rebuke his own spirit, in the style of Chesterfield ;
“Why, you fool! what were you thinking about, when you should have thought ?”
How shall this art be taught ? We answer, how does a wise master mechanic proceed with an apprentice ? Does he seek, and in the shortest possible time, to fill him with knowledge on the subject ? Does he simply tell the lad the names and uses of tools, and the different parts and pieces of a constructed work, and require the boy to commit to memory pretty little books of pictures and questions, to be recited like a good little fellow, ”' at proper periods ? Does the master read to the apprentice lectures on the history of the art ? and by ingenious methods look for the “ developments ?” Does he, in a word, allow the apprentice to be a passive recipient, and when stuffed, set him up with an imposing stock of ready-made articles, as are seen in a slop-shop ? No; he makes the boy work like a servant, with each and every instrument, from a jack-planing process up to the French polish ; and when idle and disobedient, he anoints him him with an unguent well known in the common arts, if unknown in the chemical nomenclature - the oil of birch. And when the well disciplined apprentice has the whole subject wrought into him, and can think in and about it, the master furnishes the raw material ; and the boy, himself a master now, advertises independently for orders, and is ready to work after any model, new or old, or invent patterns of his own.
THE ART OF THINKING IS POWER.
Does any one suppose that the facetious gentleman who, when
Words lead to things : a scale is more precise, -
And steers his boat, believing it a boat,
0. W. HOLMES.
“There is nothing on earth that can resist energy of determination. With it for our weapon, we can conquer all obstacles ; we can set the heel upon all difficulties; we can triumph over our own defects; we can supply our own wants, and gain strength even from our own weaknesses."
A schoolmaster, “who is abroad,” “out West” of course, lately sent off to a still-house near the school house, and getting a jug filled, “gin a treat to the scholars. Quite a
followed, and some of the parties got into the jug in earnest. The teacher's only excuse was, that he was tired of teaching a common school,” and thought he would try how a High school would go.
REMOVAL. The MASSACHUSETTS TEACHER will hereafter be issued and published at 16 Devonshire Street, adjoining Exchange Coffee House. All letters and commu. nications should be addressed to Damrell & Moore, Boston, and post paid.
TERMS — One Dollar per annum in advance, or One Dollar and Fifty Cents at the end of the year. Twenty-five per cent. allowed to agents who procure five subscribers, and all payments by them to be made in advanoe.