Authors: Newell Dwight Hillis
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Title: A Man's Value to Society Studies in Self Culture and Character
Author: Newell Dwight Hillis
Release Date: May 19, 2009 [EBook #28875]
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A Man's Value to Society
By NEWELL DWIGHT HILLIS
GREAT BOOKS AS LIFE-TEACHERS STUDIES OF CHARACTER, REAL AND IDEAL 12mo, cloth, gilt top, $1.50
THE INVESTMENT OF INFLUENCE A STUDY OF SOCIAL SYMPATHY AND SERVICE 12mo, vellum, gilt top, $1.25
A MAN'S VALUE TO SOCIETY STUDIES IN SELF-CULTURE AND CHARACTER 12mo, vellum, gilt-top, $1.25
FORETOKENS OF IMMORTALITY STUDIES FOR "THE HOUR WHEN THE IMMORTAL HOPE BURNS LOW IN THE HEART" Long 16mo, 50 cents; art binding, gilt top, boxed, 75 cents
HOW THE INNER LIGHT FAILED A STUDY OF THE ATROPHY OF THE SPIRITUAL SENSE Quiet Hour Series, 18mo, cloth, 25 cents
RIGHT LIVING AS A FINE ART A study of Channing's Symphony, 12mo, 50 cents.
THE MASTER OF THE SCIENCE OF RIGHT LIVING 12mo, 50 cents, net.
ACROSS THE CONTINENT OF THE YEARS 16mo, 25 cents, net.
A Man's Value to Society
Studies in Self-Culture and Character
Newell Dwight Hillis Author of "The Investment of Influence," "Foretokens of Immortality," etc.
Spread wide thy mantle while the gods rain gold.
" --FROM THE PERSIAN.
Chicago New York Toronto Fleming H. Revell Company MCMII
Copyright, 1896, by Fleming H. Revell Company
Copyright, 1897, by Fleming H. Revell Company
TO MY WIFE
I The Elements of Worth in the Individual 9
II Character: Its Materials and External Teachers 33
III Aspirations and Ideals 55
IV The Physical Basis of Character 77
V The Mind and the Duty of Right Thinking 99
VI The Moral Uses of Memory 123
VII The Imagination as the Architect of Manhood 143
VIII The Enthusiasm of Friendship 165
IX Conscience and Character 189
X Visions that Disturb Contentment 213
XI The Uses of Books and Reading 235
XII The Science of Living with Men 259
XIII The Revelators of Character 281
XIV Making the Most of One's Self 301
THE ELEMENTS OF WORTH IN THE INDIVIDUAL
"There is nothing that makes men rich and strong but that which they carry inside of them. Wealth is of the heart, not of the hand."--
"Until we know why the rose is sweet or the dew drop pure, or the rainbow beautiful, we cannot know why the poet is the best benefactor of society. The soldier fights for his native land, but the poet touches that land with the charm that makes it worth fighting for and fires the warrior's heart with energy invincible. The statesman enlarges and orders liberty in the state, but the poet fosters the core of liberty in the heart of the citizen. The inventor multiplies the facilities of life, but the poet makes life better worth living."--
George Wm. Curtis.
"Not all men are of equal value. Not many Platos: only one, to whom a thousand lesser minds look up and learn to think. Not many Dantes: one, and a thousand poets tune their harps to his and repeat his notes. Not many Raphaels: one, and no second. But a thousand lesser artists looking up to him are lifted to his level. Not many royal hearts--great magazines of kindness. Happy the town blessed with a few great minds and a few great hearts. One such citizen will civilize an entire community."--
THE ELEMENTS OF WORTH IN THE INDIVIDUAL
Our scientific experts are investigating the wastes of society. Their reports indicate that man is a great spendthrift. He seems not so much a husbandman, making the most of the treasures of his life-garden, as a robber looting a storehouse for booty.
Travelers affirm that one part of the northern pineries has been wasted by man's careless fires and much of the rest by his reckless axe. Coal experts insist that a large percentage of heat passes out of the chimney. The new chemistry claims that not a little of the precious ore is cast upon the slag heap.
In the fields the farmers overlook some ears of corn and pass by some handfuls of wheat. In the work-room the scissors leave selvage and remnant. In the mill the saw and plane refuse slabs and edges. In the kitchen a part of what the husband carries in, the wife's wasteful cooking casts out. But the secondary wastes involve still heavier losses. Man's carelessness in the factory breaks delicate machinery, his ignorance spoils raw materials, his idleness burns out boilers, his recklessness blows up engines; and no skill of manager in juggling figures in January can retrieve the wastes of June.
Passing through the country the traveler finds the plow rusting in the furrow, mowers and reapers exposed to rain and snow; passing through the city he sees the docks lined with boats, the alleys full of broken vehicles, while the streets exhibit some broken-down men. A journey through life is like a journey along the trackway of a retreating army; here a valuable ammunition wagon is abandoned because a careless smith left a flaw in the tire; there a brass cannon is deserted because a tug was improperly stitched; yonder a brave soldier lies dying in the thicket where he fell because excited men forgot the use of an ambulance. What with the wastes of intemperance and ignorance, of idleness and class wars, the losses of society are enormous. But man's prodigality with his material treasures does but interpret his wastefulness of the greater riches of mind and heart. Life's chief destructions are in the city of man's soul. Many persons seem to be trying to solve this problem: "Given a soul stored with great treasure, and three score and ten years for happiness and usefulness, how shall one kill the time and waste the treasure?" Man's pride over his casket stored with gems must be modified by the reflection that daily his pearls are cast before swine, that should have been woven into coronets.
Man's evident failure to make the most out of his material life suggests a study of the elements in each citizen that make him of value to his age and community. What are the measurements of mankind, and why is it that daily some add new treasures to the storehouse of civilization, while others take from and waste the store already accumulated? These are questions of vital import. Many and varied estimates of man's value have been made. Statisticians reckon the average man's value at $600 a year. Each worker in wood, iron or brass stands for an engine or industrial plant worth $10,000, producing at 6 per cent. an income of $600. The death of the average workman, therefore, is equivalent to the destruction of a $10,000 mill or engine. The economic loss through the non-productivity of 20,000 drunkards is equal to one Chicago fire involving two hundred millions. Of course, some men produce less and others more than $600 a year; and some there are who have no industrial value--non-producers, according to Adam Smith; paupers, according to John Stuart Mill; thieves, according to Paul, who says, "Let him that stole steal no more, but rather work." In this group let us include the tramps, who hold that the world owes them a living; these are they who fail to realize that society has given them support through infancy and childhood; has given them language, literature, liberty. Wise men know that the noblest and strongest have received from society a thousandfold more than they can ever repay, though they vex all the days and nights with ceaseless toil. In this number of non-sufficing persons are to be included the paupers--paupers plebeian, supported in the poorhouse by many citizens; paupers patrician, supported in palace by one citizen, generally father or ancestor; the two classes differing in that one is the foam at the top of the glass and the other the dregs at the bottom. To these two groups let us add the social parasites, represented by thieves, drunkards, and persons of the baser sort whose business it is to trade in human passion. We revolt from the red aphides upon the plant, the caterpillar upon the tree, the vermin upon bird or beast. How much more do we revolt from those human vermin whose business it is to propagate parasites upon the body politic! The condemnation of life is that a man consumes more than he produces, taking out of society's granary that which other hands have put in. The praise of life is that one is self-sufficing, taking less out than he put into the storehouse of civilization.
A man's original capital comes through his ancestry. Nature invests the grandsire's ability, and compounds it for the grandson. Plato says: "The child is a charioteer driving two steeds up the long life-hill; one steed is white, representing our best impulses; one steed is dark, standing for our worst passions." Who gave these steeds their color? Our fathers, Plato replies, and the child may not change one hair, white or black. Oliver Wendell Holmes would have us think that a man's value is determined a hundred years before his birth. The ancestral ground slopes upward toward the mountain-minded man. The great never appear suddenly. Seven generations of clergymen make ready for Emerson, each a signboard pointing to the coming philosopher. The Mississippi has power to bear up fleets for war or peace because the storms of a thousand summers and the snows of a thousand winters have lent depth and power. The measure of greatness in a man is determined by the intellectual streams and moral tides flowing down from the ancestral hills and emptying into the human soul. The Bach family included one hundred and twenty musicians. Paganini was born with muscles in his wrists like whipcords. What was unique in Socrates was first unique in Sophroniscus. John ran before Jesus, but Zacharias foretold John. No electricity along rope wires, and no vital living truths along rope nerves to spongy brain. There are millions in our world who have been rendered physical and moral paupers by the sins of their ancestors. Their forefathers doomed them to be hewers of wood and drawers of water. A century must pass before one of their children can crowd his way up and show strength enough to shape a tool, outline a code, create an industry, reform a wrong. Despotic governments have stunted men--made them thin-blooded and low-browed, all backhead and no forehead. Each child has been likened to a cask whose staves represent trees growing on hills distant and widely separated; some staves are sound and solid, standing for right-living ancestors; some are worm eaten, standing for ancestors whose integrity was consumed by vices. At birth all the staves are brought together in the infant cask--empty, but to be filled by parents and teachers and friends. As the waste-barrel in the alley is filled with refuse and filth, so the orphan waifs in our streets are made receptacles of all vicious thoughts and deeds. These children are not so much born as damned into life. But how different is the childhood of some others. On the Easter day, in foreign cathedrals, a beauteous vase is placed beside the altar, and as the multitudes crowd forward and the solemn procession moves up the aisles, men and women cast into the vase their gifts of gold and silver and pearls and lace and rich textures. The well-born child seems to be such a vase, unspeakably beautiful, filled with knowledges and integrities more precious than gold and pearls. "Let him who would be great select the right parents," was the keen dictum of President Dwight.