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and any work pursued mechanically becomes in time monotonous,. irksome, descending to the level of mere drudgery. What shall the great army of workers do to preserve their cheerfulness, and thereby their sanity ? Hours of labor are long, and money not too abundant; amusements, commonly so-called, belong to the rich and leisured classes ; so the alternative remaining for the worker is to idealize his work, to think of it not as a mere isolated means of gaining a livelihood, but as a part of the beauty and the music of creation. So hath the toiler content and lasting joy. On the other hand, would not a touch of idealism help to free the man of leisure from the haunting weariness that comes of empty mind and heart and idle hands?
A great part of the friction of the world, from the quarrels of school children to the differences between capital and labor and the strife of nations, is due to the fact that each party to the dispute is utterly unable to see anything but his own side of the question. When we shall have learned to put ourselves in others' places, much of the contention and bitterness of the world will disappear. We shall grow to have a broader charity, a kindlier tolerance for other people's views on all subjects. " To understand all is to pardon all,” says the kindly French proverb. We shall realize, sometime, that truth is infinite, that each of our finite minds can seize upon only a small part of any kind of truth; and we shall be thankful to our neighbors for sharing with us what they may have drawn from the common source of supply, instead of, as now, resenting any such effort as an undervaluing of the little grains of corn that we individual grasshoppers have succeeded in appropriating. Instead of resenting the offer of a bystander's lens, or even his piece of more or less smoky glass, we shall accept it thankfully, and make the most of our opportunity of seeing a little bit of truth in a new light. It is the development of this power, not merely
" To see ourselves as others see us,"
a revelation which is often more discouraging than profitable, but to see things in general as others see them, without losing our hold upon the truth that we also have found, that will break down the barriers of caste, race, and creed, and make real the poet's vision of
" The Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.” Along with this growth in tolerance—even love—for other classes and peoples, will come also that quality, rarer and more difficult of attainment still, patience with the idiosyncrasies of our daily associates, a trait whose development will sweeten and freshen all the currents of life.
It is a fact worthy of note that the rise of democracy is contemporaneous with the development of the novel as a literary art-form. Shakespeare's true-hearted gentlemen are, without exception, men of rank, and even the great dramatist seems not to have realized that Pisanio is a true knight, though clad in a servant's livery; but the novelists have shown us that nobility of character and greatness of heart have little to do with class or station; they have portrayed for us noblemen, sages and philosophers in all ranks of life; they have taught us that ordinary men and women, living quiet, unnoticed lives, may be just as interesting as princes, nobles and maids of honor. It is in thus bringing the imagination home to ordinary life, touching the common things with a fairy wand and causing them to reveal their inner splendor, that true realism in fiction finds its mission.
The growth of man's religious nature also calls for the trained imagination. “ Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
“Each age must worship its own thought of God,
With subsidence continuous of the dregs.” The crude efforts of successive generations of men to figure to themselves the nature of the Infinite, whom they with much pains construct out of the fragments and glimpses of the best that they have known or conceived of in human nature, would be absurd if they were not pathetic, but are worthy of all reverence in so far as they are sincere. Considering the law of supply and demand, we must conclude that the higher intelligences possess a deep and kindly sense of humor; the children of men
are so naïvely egotistical, so ridiculous, so discouraging, and withal so lovable.
In our strivings toward that character which Emerson has told us is destiny, for the upbuilding of that kingdom which a greater than Emerson has said is within us, we need the aid of all broadening, sweetening and deepening influences to be found in nature, art and letters. All things that throw fresh light upon the mysteries of life, that dignify its experiences, lighten its toils, mitigate its griefs, or sweeten its relations, are to be sought and cherished; and important among these agents is imagination, rooted in perception and memory, and guided by
This faculty must not be scantily fed or allowed to atrophy for lack of exercise ; it should be nourished with folk-lore and fairy tale, with myth, fable, allegory, romance, poetry, science,whatever in life or art will enable us from childhood to green old age to realize the beauty of the world, the gladness of life, the sacredness of truth.
We have no right to regard the passing of the years as a cause of sorrow; the ripening of a human life should be as natural and beautiful as the ripening of an apple. We shall gain this attitude of mind and heart, this hopeful outlook upon human history and progress, by meditating much upon the real but invisible forces continually at work about and within us, and so learning to estimate tangible things as means of life, but not life itself. It was a man of remarkably logical as well as imaginative mind who proclaimed, nineteen centuries ago, a principle worthy of frequent repetition and careful consideration, “For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
It is not the purpose of this discussion to offer training of the imagination as a panacea for all the ills of the world, only to call attention to it as a much neglected but really valuable means of graces and of grace.
Alcott as a Pioneer Educator
ANNIE RUSSELL MARBLE, WORCESTER, MASS.
HE past year has witnessed a revival, not alone
associates in the famous “ Concord Group.” Of the latter, Alcott was the marked gainer, and at the same time a loser, by this association. To Emerson's kindly interest and practical aid the Alcott family were indebted for many comforts which would otherwise have been denied. Alcott's introduction to men and women of the highest culture, both here and in England, was largely due to Emerson's sponsorship. On the other hand, the inconsequent methods of Alcott in business, his vague and nebulous “Orphic Sayings,” and his frequent misfortunes were in such contrast to the effectual work of Emerson as lecturer and writer that, to the public mind, Alcott seemed a weak, pampered prot ge of the greater man. It was granted that Emerson found pleasure in the sweet nature and the lofty ideas of his neighbor, but to the present day the witticism is often recalled, “ Emerson was the seer and Alcott the seersucker.” Thoreau was for a time the victim of such misrepresentation in his relations with Emerson, but his published volumes and his strong individuality have at last overcome the false impression and given to him his due recognition for a genius, distinctive and inspiring. Alcott has not yet received the full appreciation which belongs to his memory. In the collective criticism given to the Transcendentalists, among whom he has ranked as a high priest, in the humorous comments upon his futile schemes and his unintelligible sentences, Alcott, the educator, the pioneer promoter of modern reforms in aim and methods, has been underestimated.
The long life, from November, 1799, to March, 1888, encountered more vicissitudes than prosperity, more defeats than progress in the worldly view, yet his earnest efforts for educational reform bore fruit even in his lifetime and have become,
often unconsciously, the models of many a pedagogue in the later days of child-study. His epithet, accredited to Emerson,
“The tedious Archangel,” should have less permanence in the public mind to-day than the more just encomium of “The American Pestalozzi.” Alcott's tastes a scholar derived from his good birth rather than from any early opportunities for culture. To his mother he attributed his own sunny temper and unfailing faith, as well as his love for books and
refining influences. Denied the college education which he craved, the four years spent in Virginia and contiguous provinces, peddling small wares and canvassing for children's books among the gentry of the Southern estates, left indelible marks upon his aspirations, and gave to him those graces of manner which won the admiration of foreign as well as American friends. Returning to his Connecticut home in 1825, after