Above Rubies

The best way to settle the quarrel between capital and labor is

by allopathic doses of Peter-Cooperism.


In the sublimest flights of the soul, rectitude is never

surmounted, love is never outgrown.


"One ruddy drop of manly blood the surging sea outweighs."

Virtue alone out-builds the pyramids:

Her monuments shall last when Egypt's fall.


He believed that he was born, not for himself, but for the

whole world.


Wherever man goes to dwell, his character goes with him.


The spirit of a single mind

Makes that of multitudes take one direction,

As roll the waters to the breathing wind.


"No, say what you have to say in her presence, too," said King Cleomenes

of Sparta, when his visitor Anistagoras asked him to send away his

little daughter Gorgo, ten years old, knowing how much harder it is to

persuade a man to do wrong when his child is at his side. So Gorgo sat

at her father's feet, and listened while the stranger offered more and

more money if Cleomenes would aid him to become king in a neighboring

country. She did not understand the matter, but when she saw her father

look troubled and hesitate, she took hold of his hand and said, "Papa,

come away--come, or this strange man will make you do wrong." The king

went away with the child, and saved himself and his country from

dishonor. Character is power, even in a child. When grown to womanhood,

Gorgo was married to the hero Leonidas. One day a messenger brought a

tablet sent by a friend who was a prisoner in Persia. But the closest

scrutiny failed to reveal a single word or line on the white waxen

surface, and the king and all his noblemen concluded that it was sent as

a jest. "Let me take it," said Queen Gorgo; and, after looking it all

over, she exclaimed, "There must be some writing underneath the wax!"

They scraped away the wax and found a warning to Leonidas from the

Grecian prisoner, saying that Xerxes was coming with his immense host to

conquer all Greece. Acting on this warning, Leonidas and the other kings

assembled their armies and checked the mighty host of Xerxes, which is

said to have shaken the earth as it marched.

"I fear John Knox's prayers more than an army of ten thousand men," said

Mary, Queen of Scotland.

"The man behind the sermon," said William M. Evarts, "is the secret of

John Hall's power." In fact if there is not a man with a character

behind it nothing about it is of the slightest consequence.

Thackeray says, "Nature has written a letter of credit upon some men's

faces which is honored wherever presented. You can not help trusting

such men; their very presence gives confidence. There is a 'promise to

pay' in their very faces which gives confidence, and you prefer it to

another man's indorsement." _Character is credit._

In the great monetary panic of 1857, a meeting was called of the various

bank presidents of New York City. When asked what percentage of specie

had been drawn during the day, some replied fifty per cent., some even

as high as seventy-five per cent., but Moses Taylor of the City Bank

said: "We had in the bank this morning, $400,000; this evening,

$470,000." While other banks were badly "run," the confidence in the

City Bank under Mr. Taylor's management was such that people had

deposited in that institution what they had drawn from other banks.

Character gives confidence.

"There is no such thing as a small country," said Victor Hugo. "The

greatness of a people is no more affected by the number of its

inhabitants than the greatness of an individual is measured by his


"It is the nature of party in England," said John Russell, "to ask the

assistance of men of genius, but to follow the guidance of men of


"A handful of good life," says George Herbert, "is worth a bushel of


"I have read," Emerson says, "that they who listened to Lord Chatham

felt that there was something finer in the man than anything which he

said." It has been complained of Carlyle that when he has told all his

facts about Mirabeau they do not justify his estimate of the latter's

genius. The Gracchi, Agis, Cleomenes, and others of Plutarch's heroes do

not in the record of facts equal their own fame. Sir Philip Sidney and

Sir Walter Raleigh are men of great figure and of few deeds. We cannot

find the smallest part of the personal weight of Washington in the

narrative of his exploits. The authority of the name of Schiller is too

great for his books. This inequality of the reputation to the works or

the anecdotes is not accounted for by saying that the reverberation is

longer than the thunder-clap; but something resided in these men which

begot an expectation that outran all their performance. The largest part

of their power was latent. This is that which we call character,--a

reserved force which acts directly by presence, and without means. What

others effect by talent or eloquence, the man of character accomplishes

by some magnetism. "Half his strength he puts not forth." His victories

are by demonstration of superiority, and not by crossing bayonets. He

conquers, because his arrival alters the face of affairs. "O Iole! how

didst thou know that Hercules was a god?" "Because," answered Iole, "I

was content the moment my eyes fell on him. When I beheld Theseus, I

desired that I might see him offer battle, or at least drive his horses

in the chariot-race; but Hercules did not wait for a contest; he

conquered whether he stood, or walked, or sat, or whatever else he did."

"Show me," said Omar the Caliph to Amru the warrior, "the sword with

which you have fought so many battles and slain so many infidels." "Ah,"

replied Amru, "the sword without the arm of the master is no sharper nor

heavier than the sword of Farezdak the poet." So one hundred and fifty

pounds of flesh and blood without character is of no great value.

"No man throws away his vote," says Francis Willard, "when he places it

in the ballot-box with his conviction behind it. The party which elected

Lincoln in 1860 polled only seven thousand votes in 1840. Revolutions

never go backward, and the fanaticisms of to-day are the victories of


"O sir, we are beaten," exclaimed the general in command of Sheridan's

army, retreating before the victorious Early. "No, sir," replied the

indignant Sheridan; "you are beaten, but this army is not beaten."

Drawing his sword, he waved it above his head, and pointed it at the

pursuing host, while his clarion voice rose above the horrid din in a

command to charge once more. The lines paused, turned,--

"And with the ocean's mighty swing,

When heaving to the tempest's wing,

They hurled them on the foe;"

and the Confederate army was wildly routed.

When war with France seemed imminent, in 1798, President Adams wrote to

George Washington, then a private citizen in retirement at Mount Vernon:

"We must have your name, if you will permit us to use it; there will be

more efficacy in it than in many an army." Character is power.

When Pope Paul IV. heard of the death of Calvin he exclaimed with a

sigh, "Ah, the strength of that proud heretic lay in--riches? No!

Honors? No! But nothing could move him from his course. Holy Virgin!

With two such servants, our Church would soon be mistress of both


Eighteen hundred years ago, when night closed over the city of Pompeii,

a lady sat in her house nursing her son of ten years of age. The child

had been ill for some days; his form was wasted, his little limbs were

shrunk; and we may imagine with what infinite anxiety she watched every

motion of the helpless one, whose existence was so dear. What did take

place we know with an exactness very remarkable. That distant mountain

which reared its awful head on the shore of the bay, Vesuvius, was

troubled that same night with an eruption, and threw into the air such

clouds of pumice-stones that the streets and squares of Pompeii became

filled, and gradually the stones grew higher and higher, until they

reached the level of the windows. There was no chance of escape then by

the doors; and those who attempted to get away stepped out of their

first floor windows and rushed over the sulphurous stones--a short

distance only, for they were quickly overpowered by the poisonous vapors

and fell dead. After the stones there fell ashes, and after ashes hot

water fell in showers, which changed the ashes into clay. Those who ran

out of their houses during the fall of stones were utterly consumed,

while those who waited until the ashes began to fall perished likewise,

but their bodies were preserved by the ashes and water which fell upon

them. The Pompeiian mother we have mentioned opened the window of her

house when she thought the fall of stones was over, and with the child

in her arms took a few hurried steps forward, when, overpowered by the

sulphur, she fell forward, at which moment the shower of ashes began to

fall, and quickly buried mother and child. The hot water afterward

changed into a mould; the ashes and the sun baked the fatal clay to such

a degree of hardness that it has endured to the present day. A short

time ago the spot where mother and child lay was found, liquid

plaster-of-Paris was poured into the mould formed by the bodies, and

then the mould was broken up, leaving the plaster-cast whole. Thus one

touching incident in the terrible tragedy of eighteen centuries ago has

been preserved for the admiration and respect of posterity. _The arms

and legs of the child showed a contraction and emaciation which could

only result from illness._ Of the mother only the right arm was

preserved; she fell upon the ashes, and the remaining portion of her

body was consumed. _But the right hand still clasped the legs of the

child_; on her arm were two gold bracelets, and on her fingers were two

gold rings--one set with an emerald, the other with a cut amethyst. This

touching illustration of _a mother's love_ now rests in the museum of

the celebrated city.

"I was sitting with Grant once," says General Fisk, "when a

major-general entered, dressed in the uniform of his rank, who said:

'Boys, I have a good story to tell you. I believe there are no ladies

present.' Grant said, 'No, but there are gentlemen present.'"

Mr. George W. Childs, in referring to this trait, said:

"Another great trait of his character was his purity in every way. I

never heard him express or make an indelicate allusion in any way or

shape. There is nothing I ever heard that man say that could not be

repeated in the presence of women."

The writer has heard of several incidents illustrating his answer to

impure stories. On one occasion, when Grant formed one of a dinner-party

of American gentlemen in a foreign city, conversation drifted into

references to questionable affairs, when he suddenly rose and said,

"Gentlemen, please excuse me; I will retire."

When Attila, flushed with conquest, appeared with his barbarian horde

before the gates of Rome in 452, Pope Leo alone of all the people dared

go forth and try to turn his wrath aside. A single magistrate followed

him. The Huns were awed by the fearless majesty of the unarmed old man,

and led him before their chief, whose respect was so great that he

agreed not to enter the city, provided a tribute should be paid to him.

Wellington said that Napoleon's presence in the French army was

equivalent to forty thousand additional soldiers, and Richter said of

the invincible Luther, "His words were half battles."

"I know no great men," says Voltaire, "except those who have rendered

great services to the human race." Men are measured by what they do;

not by what they seem or possess.

Francis Horner, of England, was a man of whom Sydney Smith said, that

"the ten commandments were stamped upon his forehead." The valuable and

peculiar light in which Horner's history is calculated to inspire every

right-minded youth is this: he died at the age of thirty-eight,

possessed of greater influence than any other private man, and admired,

beloved, trusted, and deplored by all except the heartless and the base.

No greater homage was ever paid in Parliament to any deceased member.

How was this attained? By rank? He was the son of an Edinburgh merchant.

By wealth? Neither he nor any of his relatives ever had a superfluous

sixpence. By office? He held but one; and that for only a few years, of

no influence, and with very little pay. By talents? His were not

splendid, and he had no genius. Cautious and slow, his only ambition was

to be right. By eloquence? He spoke in calm, good taste, without any of

the oratory that either terrifies or seduces. By any fascination of

manner? His was only correct and agreeable. By what was it, then? Merely

by sense, industry, good principles and a good heart, qualities which no

well constituted mind need ever despair of attaining. It was the force

of his character that raised him; and this character was not impressed

on him by nature, but formed, out of no peculiarly fine elements, by

himself. There were many in the House of Commons of far greater ability

and eloquence. But no one surpassed him in the combination of an

adequate portion of these with moral worth. Horner was born to show what

moderate powers, unaided by anything whatever except culture and

goodness, may achieve, even when these powers are displayed amidst the

competition and jealousies of public life.

A hundred years hence what difference will it make whether you were rich

or poor, a peer or a peasant? But what difference may it not make

whether you did what was right or what was wrong?

At a large dinner-party given by Lord Stratford after the Crimean War,

it was proposed that every one should write on a slip of paper the name

which appeared most likely to descend to posterity with renown. When the

papers were opened everyone of them contained the name of Florence


Professor Blackie, of the University of Edinburgh, said to a class of

young men: "Money is not needful; power is not needful; liberty is not

needful; even health is not the one thing needful; but character alone

is that which can truly save us, and if we are not saved in this sense,

we certainly must be damned." It has been said that "when poverty is

your inheritance, virtue must be your capital."

"Hence it was," said Franklin, speaking of the influence of his known

integrity of character, "that I had so much weight with my

fellow-citizens. I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject to

much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly correct in language, and

yet I generally carried my point."

When a man's character is gone, all is gone. All peace of mind, all

complacency in himself is fled forever. He despises himself. He is

despised by his fellow-men. Within is shame and remorse; without neglect

and reproach. He is of necessity a miserable and useless man; he is so

even though he be clothed in purple and fine linen, and fare sumptuously

every day. It is better to be poor; it is better to be reduced to

beggary; it is better to be cast into prison, or condemned to perpetual

slavery, than to be destitute of a good name or endure the pains and the

evils of a conscious worthlessness of character.

The time is soon coming when, by the common consent of mankind, it will

be esteemed more honorable to have been John Pounds, putting new and

beautiful souls into the ragged children of the neighborhood while he

mended his father's shoes, than to have sat upon the British throne. The

time now is when, if Queen Victoria, in one of her magnificent

progresses through her realms, were to meet that more than American

queen, Miss Dix, in her "circumnavigation of charity" among the insane,

the former should kneel and kiss the hand of the latter; and the ruler

over more than a hundred millions of people should pay homage to the

angel whom God has sent to the maniac.

"At your age," said to a youth an old man who had honorably held many

positions of trust and responsibility, "both position and wealth appear

enduring things; but at mine a man sees that nothing lasts but


Several eminent clergymen were discussing the qualities of self-made

men. They each admitted that they belonged to that class, except a

certain bishop, who remained silent, and was intensely absorbed in the

repast. The host was determined to draw him out, and so, addressing him,

said: "All at this table are self-made men, unless the bishop is an

exception." The bishop promptly replied, "I am not made yet," and the

reply contained a profound truth. So long as life lasts, with its

discipline of joy or sorrow, its opportunities for good or evil, so long

our characters are being shaped and fixed.

Milton said: "He who would write heroic poems, must make his whole life

an heroic poem." We are responsible for our thoughts, and unless we

could command them, mental and moral excellence would be impossible.

Charles Kingsley has well said: "Let any one set his heart to do what is

right and nothing else, and it will not be long ere his brow is stamped

with all that goes to make up the heroic expression, with noble

indignation, noble self-restraint, great hopes, great sorrows, perhaps

even with the print of the martyr's crown of thorns."

Said James Martineau: "God insists on having a concurrence between our

practice and our thoughts. If we proceed to make a contradiction between

them, He forthwith begins to abolish it, and if the will will not rise

to the reason, the reason must be degraded to the will."

"When I say, in conducting your understanding," says Sidney Smith, "love

knowledge with a great love, with a vehement love, with a love co-eval

with life--what do I say but love innocence, love virtue, love purity of

conduct, love that which, if you are rich and great, will vindicate the

blind fortune which has made you so, and make them call it justice; love

that which, if you are poor, will render your poverty respectable, and

make the proudest feel that it is unjust to laugh at the meanness of

your fortunes; love that which will comfort you, adorn you, and never

quit you--which will open to you the kingdom of thought, and all the

boundless regions of conception as an asylum against the cruelty, the

injustice, and the pain that may be your lot in the world--that which

will make your motives habitually great and honorable, and light up in

an instant a thousand noble disdains at the very thought of meanness and

of fraud?"

The Arabs express this by a parable that incarnates, as is their wont,

the Word in the recital. King Nimrod, say they, one day summoned his

three sons into his presence. He ordered to be set before them three

urns under seal. One of the urns was of gold, another of amber, and the

third of clay. The king bade the eldest of his sons choose among the

urns that which appeared to him to contain the treasure of greatest

price. The eldest chose the vase of gold, on which was written the word

"Empire." He opened it and found it full of blood. The second chose the

amber vase whereon was written the word "Glory." He opened it and found

it contained the ashes of the great men who had made a sensation in the

world. The third son took the only remaining vase, the one of clay; he

found it quite empty, but on the bottom the potter had written the word

"God." "Which of these vases weighs the most?" asked the king of the

courtiers. The men of ambition replied it was the vase of gold; the

poets and conquerors, the amber one; the sages that it was the empty

vase, because a single letter of the name God weighs more than the

entire globe. We are of the opinion of the sages. We believe the

greatest things are great but in the proportion of divinity they


"Although genius always commands admiration," says Smiles, "character

most secures respect. The former is more the product of brain-power, the

latter of heart-power; and in the long run it is the heart that rules in

life. Men of genius stand to society in the relation of its intellect,

as men of character of its conscience; and while the former are admired,

the latter are followed.

"Commonplace though it may appear, this doing of one's duty embodies the

highest ideal of life and character. There may be nothing heroic about

it; but the common lot of men is not heroic. And though the abiding

sense of duty upholds man in his highest attitudes, it also equally

sustains him in the transaction of the ordinary affairs of every-day

existence. The most influential of all the virtues are those which are

the most in request for daily use. They wear the best and last the

longest. We can always better understand and appreciate a man's real

character by the manner in which he conducts himself toward those who

are the most nearly related to him, and by his transaction of the

seemingly commonplace details of daily duty, than by his public

exhibition of himself as an author, an orator, or a statesman.

Intellectual culture has no necessary relation to purity or excellence

of character.

"On the contrary, a condition of comparative poverty is compatible with

character in its highest form. A man may possess only his industry, his

frugality, his integrity, and yet stand high in the rank of true


"Character is property. It is the noblest of possessions. It is an

estate in the general good-will and respect of men; and they who invest

in it--though they may not become rich in this world's goods--will find

their reward in esteem and reputation fairly and honorably won. Without

principles, a man is like a ship without rudder or compass, left to

drift hither and thither with every wind that blows."

What a contrast is afforded by the lives of Bacon and More. Bacon sought

office with as much desire as More avoided it; Bacon used as much

solicitation to obtain it as More endured to accept it, and each, when

in it, was equally true to his character. More was simple, as Bacon was

ostentatious. More was as incorruptible as Bacon was venal. More spent

his private fortune in office, and Bacon spent the wages of corruption

there. Both left office poor in worldly goods; but while More was rich

in honor and good deeds, Bacon was poor in everything; poor in the

mammon for which he bartered his integrity; poor in the gawd for which

he sacrificed his peace; poor in the presence of the worthless; covered

with shame in the midst of the people; trusting his fame to posterity,

of which posterity is only able to say, that the wisest of men was

adviser to the silliest of kings, yet that such a king had a sort of

majesty when morally compared with the official director of his

conscience. Both More and Bacon served each a great purpose for the

world. More illustrated the beauty of holiness; Bacon expounded the

infinitude of science. Bacon became the prophet of intellect; More, the

martyr of conscience. The one pours over our understandings the light of

knowledge; but the other inflames our hearts with the love of virtue.

All have read of the proud Egyptian king who ordered a colossal

staircase built in his new palace, and was chagrined to find that he

required a ladder to climb from one step to the next. A king's legs are

as short as those of a beggar. So, too, a prince's ability to enjoy the

pleasures of life is no greater than that of a pauper.

"All that is valuable in this world is to be had for nothing. Genius,

beauty, health, piety, love, are not bought and sold. The richest man on

earth would vainly offer a fortune to be qualified to write a verse like

Milton, or to compose a melody like Mozart. You may summon all the

physicians, but they cannot procure for you the sweet, healthful sleep

which the tired laborer gets without price. Let no man, then, call

himself a proprietor. He owns but the breath as it traverses his lips

and the idea as it flits across his mind; and of that breath he may be

deprived by the sting of a bee, and that idea, perhaps, truly belongs to


"We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths:

In feelings, not in figures on a dial.

We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives

Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best;

And he whose heart beats quickest lives the longest."

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