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CANDOR.






From: The True Citizen How To Become One
(Category: Content)

MEMORY GEMS.

Truth lies at the bottom of the well.--Old Proverb

Candor looks with equal fairness at both sides of a subject.
--Noah Webster

Daylight and truth meet us with clear dawn.--Milton

Perfect openness is the only principle on which a free people can be
governed.--C. B. Yonge

There is no fear for any child who is frank with his father and
mother.--Buskin


Candor and frankness are so closely akin to each other that we may
properly study them together. Each of these words has an interesting
origin. "Candor" comes from a Latin word meaning "_to be white_";
while "frankness" is derived from the name of the Franks, who were a
powerful German tribe honorably distinguished for their love of freedom
and their scorn of a lie. A candid man is one who is disposed to think
and judge according to truth and justice, and without partiality or
prejudice; while the one word _frank_ is used to express anything
that is generous, straightforward and free.

Candor is a virtue which is everywhere commended, though not quite so
prevalent in the world as might be expected. There are doctors who never
tell a patient they can make nothing of his case, or that it is one
which requires the attention of a specialist. There are lawyers who
never assure a client that it is hopeless for him to expect to gain his
suit. And so, in all trades and professions, candor is as rare as it is
good.

The lack of a simple and straightforward statement of such facts as are
in our possession, often leads to serious misunderstanding and sometimes
to serious loss.

Frankness is a combination of truthfulness and courage. Its usefulness
depends largely on its association with other qualities and
circumstances; but to be frank is simply to dare to be truthful. There
are many men who would scorn to tell a lie, who are destitute of
frankness because they hesitate to face the consequences of perfect
openness of speech or conduct.

An Irishman, who had neglected to thatch his cottage, was one day asked
by a gentleman with whom he was conversing, "Did it rain yesterday?"
Instead of making a direct and candid reply, he sought to hide his
fault, which he supposed had been discovered; and the conversation
proceeded as follows. "Did it rain yesterday?" asked his friend. "Is it
yesterday you mean?" was the reply. "Yes, yesterday." "Please your
honor, I wasn't at the bog at all yesterday,--wasn't I after setting my
potatoes?" "My good friend, I don't know what you mean about the bog; I
only asked you whether it rained yesterday?" "Please your honor, I
couldn't get a car and horse any way, to draw home my little straw, or
I'd have the house thatched long ago." "Cannot you give me a plain
answer to this plain question--Did it rain yesterday?" "Oh sure, I
wouldn't go to tell your honor a lie about the matter. Sorrah much it
rained yesterday after twelve o'clock, barring a few showers." Of course
there will be no difficulty in seeing that such a conversation could not
be entirely satisfactory to either party.

The virtue we are now recommending is in daily and hourly demand, and of
high and priceless value. But here also we must beware of counterfeits.
A smooth outward manner, a countenance clothed with perpetual smiles,
and an address distinguished by gentleness and insinuation, may be
assumed for selfish ends. A truly candid man is neither carried away by
ungenerous suspicion, nor by a weak acceptance of the views of others;
and the whole constitution of his mind must be entirely changed before
he can become capable of deceit.

Frankness has often been counterfeited by mere _bluster_. A couple
of striking examples of this fact are brought into view in the recently
published "Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," in which, speaking of
his childhood, Mr. Darwin says: "One little event has fixed itself very
firmly in my mind, and I hope it has done so from my conscience having
been afterward sorely troubled by it. It is curious as showing that
apparently I was interested at this early age in the variability of
plants! I told another little boy that I could produce variously colored
primroses by watering them with certain colored fluids, which was of
course a monstrous fable, and has never been tried by me. I may here
also confess that as a little boy I was much given to inventing
deliberate falsehoods, and this was always done for the sake of causing
excitement. For instance, I once gathered much valuable fruit from my
father's trees and hid it in the shrubbery, and then ran in breathless
haste to spread the news that I had discovered a hoard of stolen fruit."

Mr. Darwin also relates the following incident, as illustrating the lack
of truthfulness and candor on the part of another: "I must have been a
very simple fellow when I first went to school. A boy of the name of
Garnett took me into a cake shop one day, and bought some cakes for
which he did not pay, as the shopman trusted him. When we came out I
asked him why he did not pay for them, and he instantly answered, 'Why,
do you not know that my uncle left a great sum of money to the town on
condition that every tradesman should give whatever was wanted without
payment to any one who wore his old hat and moved it in a particular
manner?' He then showed me how to move the hat, and said, 'Now, if you
would like to go yourself into that cake shop, I will lend you my hat,
and you can get whatever you like if you move the hat on your head
properly.' I gladly accepted the generous offer, and went in and asked
for some cakes, moved the old hat, and was walking out of the shop, when
the shopman made a rush at me; so I dropped the cakes and ran for dear
life, and was astonished by being greeted with shouts of laughter by my
false friend Garnett." The same truth is illustrated in the case of an
affected young lady who, on being asked, in a large company, if she had
read Shakespeare, assumed a look of astonishment and replied: "Read
Shakespeare! Of course I have! I read that when it first came out!"

Frankness and candor will always win respect and friendship, and will
always retain them; and the consciousness of having such a treasure, and
of being worthy of it, is more than wealth and honors. A man quickly
finds when he is unworthy of public respect or private friendship; and
the leaden weight he carries ever in his heart, cannot be lightened by
any success or any gratification he may secure. But the man of upright
character, and proper self-respect, will never meet with such trials as
can deprive him of that higher happiness which rests in his own breast.

True candor is manly and leads directly to the development of nobility
both of principle and conduct. The late Hon. William P. Fessenden once
made a remark which was understood as an insult to Mr. Seward. When
informed of it, and seeing such a meaning could be given to his words,
he instantly went to Mr. Seward, and said, "Mr. Seward, I have insulted
you: I am sorry for it. I did not mean it." This apology, so prompt,
frank, and perfect, so delighted Mr. Seward, that, grasping him by the
hand, he exclaimed, "God bless you, Fessenden! I wish you would insult
me again!" Such an exhibition of real manliness as this may well be
cited as worthy of the imitation of the youth of the land.


DEAN STANLEY.

In "Tom Brown's Schooldays," that charming book, so dear to all
wide-awake boys, there is a scene in which little Arthur is introduced
in the act of kneeling beside his bed, on his first night at school, for
the purpose of saying his prayers according to the custom he had always
observed at his home. We are not so much concerned with the fact that he
was ridiculed and persecuted by the older boys, as with the further
factthat this boy Arthur is said to bear a remarkable resemblance to
Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, whose name is everywhere known as the late Dean
of Westminster Abbey, the most famous church in England, if not of the
world at large. Arthur Stanley was one of the first boys to go to Rugby
after the great Dr. Arnold took charge of the school, and an early
illustration of his candor and open-mindedness is shown in his immediate
and public appreciation of the splendid qualities of his master, at a
time when Dr. Arnold was so generally abused, and even branded as an
infidel. Dr. Arnold was indeed a noble teacher, and the very man to
develop the best faculties in young Arthur Stanley; for one of the
doctor's own strongest traits was this same open-mindedness.
The frankness and candor, the directness and fearlessness with which
Stanley ever gave expression to his views; the purity and "whiteness" of
his mind, and the sweetness and tenderness of his disposition,--all
these had a part in the building of his fame. But it was chiefly in his
power to free himself from prejudice and to look fairly at all sides of
the complex questions with which both he and the church to which he
belonged were so frequently brought face to face, that gave him his
great popular influence, and made him so great a champion of religious
liberty. Truth, simplicity and innocence are three jewels which many men
barter for worldly honor and success; but Stanley held to these as with
a grip of steel; and, through their influence, he succeeded where a
score of the great men of his day had already failed.

To tell of all that candor and frankness have done for humanity would be
to trace the beginnings of the overthrow of almost every wrong. Other
qualities are of course essential to all noble reformers--courage and
faith and enthusiasm; but open-mindedness, which grows out of candor and
frankness, is the one pioneer that recognizes the opportunity of the
hour and is willing to walk in the new light. Candor is the sign of a
noble mind. It is the pride of the true man, the charm of the noble
woman, the defeat and mockery of the hypocrite, and the rarest virtue of
society.

[Footnote: An admirable sketch of the career of Dean Stanley will be
found in Johnson's Universal Cyclopedia, Vol. VII., p. 697. See also
"Life of Dean Stanley," by R. E. Prothero (London and New York, 1894).]





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Previous: OBEDIENCE.



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