Page images


CHARLES WILLIAM Eliot was born in Boston, March 20, 1834. He is the distinguished president of Harvard University. The present selection is from “ The Happy Life."


Unlike the other senses, the eye is always at work, except when we sleep, and may, consequently, be the vehicle of far more enjoyment than any other organ of sense.

It has given our race its ideas of infinity, symmetry, grace, and splendor; it is the chief source of childhood's joys, and throughout life the guide to almost all pleasurable activities.

The pleasure it gives us, however, depends largely upon the amount of attention we pay to the pictures which it incessantly sets before the brain.

Two men walk along the same road; one notices the blue depths of the sky, the floating clouds, the opening leaves upon the trees, the green grass, the yellow buttercups, and the far stretch of the

open fields; the other has precisely the same pictures on his retina, but pays no attention to them. One sees, and the other does not see; one enjoys an unspeakable pleasure, and the other loses that pleasure which is as free to him as the air.

The beauties which the eye reveals are infinitely various in quality and scale; one mind prefers the minute, another the vast; one the delicate and tender, another the coarse and rough; one the inanimate things, another the animate creation.

The whole outward world is the kingdom of the observant eye.

He who enters into any part of that kingdom to possess it has a store of pure enjoyment in life which is literally inexhaustible and immeasurable. His eyes alone will give him a life worth living.

Next comes the ear as a minister of enjoyment, but next at a great interval. The average man probably does not recognize that he gets much pleasure through hearing. He thinks that his ears are to him chiefly a convenient means of human intercourse. But let him experience a temporary deafness, and he will learn that many a keen delight came to him through the ear. He will miss the beloved voice, the merry laugh, the hum of the city, the distant chime, the song of birds, the running brook, the breeze in the trees, the lapping wavelets, and the thundering beach; and he will learn that familiar sounds have been to him sources of pure delight - an important element in his well-being.

Old Izaak Walton found in the lovely sounds of earth a hint of Heaven:

“How joyed my heart in the rich melodies

That overhead and round me did arise !

The moving leaves, the water's gentle flow,
Delicious music hung on every bough.
Then said I in my heart, If that the Lord
Such lovely music on the earth accord;
If to weak, sinful man such sounds are given,

Oh! what must be the melody of heaven!” A high degree of that fine pleasure which music gives is not within the reach of all; yet there are few to whom the pleasure is wholly denied. To take part in producing harmony, as in part-singing, gives the singers an intense pleasure, which is doubtless partly physical and partly mental. I am told that to play good music at sight, as one of several performers playing different instruments, is as keen a sensuous and intellectual enjoyment as the world affords.

These pleasures through the eye and ear are open in civilized society to all who have the will to seek them, and the intelligence to cultivate the faculties through which they are enjoyed.

They are quite as likely to bless him who works with hand or brain all day for a living, as him who lives inactive on his own savings, or on those of other people. The outward world yields them spontaneously to every healthy body and alert mind; but the active mind is as essential to winning them as the sound body.



NOVEMBER 19, 1863.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN was born in Kentucky, Feb. 12, 1809. His parents were very poor, and the boy had few opportunities for education ; but he made the most of such as were available. The nobility of his nature was evident in his childhood. By great persistence he acquired a fair education in the common English branches. He studied the law and engaged in the practice of it in Springfield, Illinois. The bent of his mind took him into politics, and he was elected to Congress. A series of debates with a political opponent drew to him the at

tention of his countrymen, and in 1860 he was elected to the presidency. He guided the fortunes of the Republic wisely and well during four years of the greatest peril.

He died April 15, 1865, shortly after his second inauguration.


Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedieate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain ; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom ; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.



Four things a man must learn to do
If he would make his record true :
To think without confusion clearly ;
To love his fellow-men sincerely ;
To act from honest motives purely ;
To trust in God and Heaven securely.

HENRY VAN DYKE. [From “The Builders and Other Poems.” Copyright, 1897, by Charles Scribner's Sons.]

« PreviousContinue »