From the lowest depth there is a path to the highest height.--Carlyle.

A man seldom loses the respect of others until he has lost his own.

--F. W. Robertson

There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must

hunger after them.--George Eliot

The man who thinks himself inferior t
his fellows, deserves to be, and

generally is.--William Black

It is characteristic of small men to avoid emergencies; of great men to

meet them.--Charles Kingsley

Every man has characteristics which make him a distinct personality; a

different individual from every other individual. It is an interesting

fact that a man cannot change his nature, though he may conceal it;

while no art or application will teach him to know himself, as he really

is, or as others see him.

If the idea of humanity carry with it the corresponding idea of a

physical, intellectual, and moral nature--if it be this trinity of being

which constitutes the man,--then let us think of the first or the second

elements as we may, it is the third which completes our conception. Let

us praise the mechanism of the body to the utmost; let it be granted

that the height and force of our intellect bespeaks a glorious

intelligence; still our distinctive excellence and preeminence lies in

moral and spiritual perfection.

There are those who think and speak as if manhood consisted in birth or

titles, or in extent of power and authority. They are satisfied if they

can only reckon among their ancestors some of the great and illustrious,

or if noble blood but flow in their veins. But if they have no other

glory than that of their ancestors; if all their greatness lies in a

name; if their titles are their only virtues; if it be necessary to call

up past ages to find something worthy of our homage,--then their birth

rather disparages and dishonors them.

That these creatures lay claim to the name and the attributes of man, is

a desecration. Man is a _noble_ being. There may be rank, and

title, and ancestry, and deeds of renown, where there is no intellectual

power. Nor would we unduly exalt reason. There may be mental greatness

in no common degree, and yet be a total absence of those higher moral

elements which bring our manhood more clearly into view. It is the

combination of intellectual power and moral excellence which goes to

make the perfect man.

The world wants a man who is educated all over; whose nerves are brought

to their acutest sensibility; whose brain is cultured, keen, and

penetrating; whose hands are deft; whose eyes are alert, sensitive,

microscopic; whose heart is tender, broad, magnanimous, true. Indeed,

the only man who can satisfy the demands of an age like this, is the man

who has been rounded into perfectness by being cultured along all the

lines we have indicated in the foregoing pages.

This education must commence with the very first opening of the infant

mind. Our lessons will multiply and be of a still higher character with

the progress of our years. Truth may succeed truth, according to the

mental power and capacity; nor must our instruction cease till the

probationary state shall close. Our education can finish only with the

termination of life.

Every one is conscious of a most peculiar feeling when he looks at

anything whose formation or development is imperfect. Let him take up an

imperfectly-formed crystal, or an imperfectly-developed flower, and he

can scarcely describe his feelings. The same holds true as to the

organization and structure of the human body. Who ever contemplates

stunted growth, or any kind of visible deformity, with complacency and

satisfaction? And why should we not look for full mental development,

and for the most perfect moral maturity? If what is imperfect

constitutes the exception in the physical world, why should it be

otherwise in the world of mind and of morals? Is it a thing to be

preferred, to be stunted, and little, and dwarfish, in our intellectual

and moral stature? Or do we prefer a state of childhood to that of a

perfect man? If the mind is the measure of the man, and if uprightness

constitutes the noblest aspect of life, then our advancement in

knowledge and in righteousness should appear unto all men.

There is a god in the meanest man; there is a philanthropist in the

stingiest miser; there is a hero in the biggest coward,--which an

emergency great enough will call out. The blighting greed of gain, the

chilling usages and cold laws of trade, encase many a noble heart in

crusts of selfishness; but great emergencies break open the prison

doors, and the whole heart pours itself forth in deeds of charity and


The poor and unfortunate are our opportunity, our character-builders,

the great schoolmasters of our moral and Christian growth. Every kind

and noble deed performed for others, is transmuted into food which

nourishes the motive promoting its performance, and strengthens the

muscles of habit. Gladstone, in the midst of pressing duties, found time

to visit a poor sick boy whom he had seen sweeping the street crossings.

He endeared himself to the heart of the English people by this action

more than by almost any other single event of his life; and this

incident is more talked about to-day than almost any of his so-called

greater deeds.

Not what men do, but what their lives promise and prophesy, gives hope

to the race. To keep us from discouragement, Nature now and then sends

us a Washington, a Lincoln, a Kossuth, a Gladstone, towering above his

fellows, to show us she has not lost her ideal.

We call a man like Shakespeare a genius, not because he makes new

discoveries, but because he shows us to ourselves,--shows us the great

reserve in us, which, like the oil-fields, awaited a discoverer,--and

because he says that which we had thought or felt, but could not

express. Genius merely holds the glass up to nature. We can never see in

the world what we do not first have in ourselves.

"Every man," says Theodore Parker, "has at times in his mind the ideal

of what he should be, but is not. In all men that seek to improve, it is

better than the actual character. No one is so satisfied with himself

that he never wishes to be wiser, better, and more perfect."

The ideal is the continual image that is cast upon the brain; and these

images are as various as the stars; and, like them, differ one from

another in magnitude. It is the quality of the aspiration that

determines the true success or failure of a life. A man may aspire to be

the best billiard-player, the best coachman, the best wardroom

politician, the best gambler, or the most cunning cheat. He may rise to

be eminent in his calling; but, compared with other men, his greatest

height will be below the level of the failure of him who chooses an

honest profession. No jugglery of thought, no gorgeousness of

trappings, can make the low high, the dishonest honest, the vile pure.

As is a man's ideal or aspiration, so shall his life be.

But when all this has been said, it still remains true that much of the

difference between man and man arises from the variety of occupations

and practices,--a certain special training which develops thought and

intelligence in special directions. All men meet, however, on the

common level of common sense. A man's thought is indicated by his talk,

by verbal expression. Mental action and expression is affected by the

senses, passions, and appetites.

Whatever great thing in life a man does, he never would have done in

that precise way except for the peculiar training and experience which

developed him; and no single incident in his life, however trifling, may

be excepted in the work of rounding him out to the exact character he


The poet is really calling for what we regard as the ideal man, when he


"God give us men. A time like this demands

Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands:

Men whom the lust of office does not kill;

Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;

Men who possess opinions and a will;

Men who have honor--men who will not lie;

Men who can stand before a demagogue

And scorn his treacherous flatteries without winking;

Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog

In public duty, and in private thinking."