Saturday, August 29, 2009

1. The Longing for a Good Name.—The longing for a good name is one of those laws of nature that were passed for the soul and written down within to urge toward a life of action, and away from small or wicked action. So large is this passion that it is set forth in poetic thought, as having a temple grand as that of Jupiter or Minerva, and up whose marble steps all noble minds struggle—the temple of Fame.

2. Civilization.—Civilization is the ocean of which the millions of individuals are the rivers and torrents. These rivers and torrents swell with those rains of money and home and fame and happiness, and then fall and run almost dry, but the ocean of civilization has gathered up all these waters, and holds them in sparkling beauty for all subsequent use. Civilization is a fertile delta made by the drifting souls of men.

3. Fame.—The word "fame" never signifies simply notoriety. The meaning of the direct term may be seen from its negation or opposite, for only the meanest of men are called infamous. They are utterly without fame, utterly nameless; but if fame implied only notoriety, then infamous would possess no marked significance. Fame is an undertaker that pays but little attention to the living, but who bedizens the dead, furnishes out their funerals and follows them to the grave.

4. Life-Motive.—So in studying that life-motive which is called a "good name," we must ask the large human race to tell us the high merit of this spiritual longing. We must read the words of the sage, who said long centuries ago that "a good name was rather chosen than great riches." Other sages have said as much. Solon said that "He that will sell his good name will sell the State." Socrates said, "Fame is the perfume of heroic deeds." Our Shakespeare said, "He lives in fame who died in virtue's cause."

5. Influences of Our Age.—Our age is deeply influenced by the motives called property and home and pleasure, but it is a question whether the generation in action today and the generation on the threshold of this intense life are conscious fully of the worth of an honorable name.

6. Beauty of Character.—We do not know whether with us all a good name is less sweet than it was with our fathers, but this is painfully evident that our times do not sufficiently behold the beauty of character—their sense does not detect quickly enough or love deeply enough this aroma of heroic deeds.

7. Selling Out Their Reputation.—It is amazing what multitudes there are who are willing to sell out their reputation, and amazing at what a low price they will make the painful exchange. Some king remarked that he would not tell a lie for any reward less than an empire. It is not uncommon in our world for a man to sell out all his honor and hopes for a score or a half score of dollars.

8. Prisons Overflowing.—Our prisons are all full to overflowing of those who took no thought of honor. They have not waited for an empire to be offered them before they would violate the sacred rights of man, but many of them have even murdered for a cause that would not have justified even an exchange of words.

9. Integrity the Pride of the Government.—If integrity were made the pride of the government, the love of it would soon spring up among the people. If all fraudulent men should go straight to jail, pitilessly, and if all the most rigid characters were sought out for all political and commercial offices, there would soon come a popular honesty just as there has come a love of reading or of art. It is with character as with any new article—the difficulty lies in its first introduction.

10. A New Virtue.—May a new virtue come into favor, all our high rewards, those from the ballot-box, those from employers, the rewards of society, the rewards of the press, should be offered only to the worthy. A few years of rewarding the worthy would result in a wonderful zeal in the young to build up, not physical property, but mental and spiritual worth.

11. Blessing the Family Group.—No young man or young woman can by industry and care reach an eminence in study or art or character, without blessing the entire family group. We have all seen that the father and mother feel that all life's care and labor were at last perfectly rewarded in the success of their child. But had the child been reckless or indolent, all this domestic joy—the joy of a large group—would have been blighted forever.

12. An Honored Child.—There have been triumphs at old Rome, where victors marched along with many a chariot, many an elephant, and many spoils of the East; and in all times money has been lavished in the efforts of States to tell their pleasure in the name of some general; but more numerous and wide-spread and beyond expression, by chariot or cannon or drum, have been those triumphal hours, when some son or daughter has returned to the parental hearth beautiful in the wreaths of some confessed excellence, bearing a good name.

13. Rich Criminals.—We looked at the utter wretchedness of the men who threw away reputation, and would rather be rich criminals in exile than be loved friends and persons at home.

14. An Empty, or an Evil Name.—Young and old cannot afford to bear the burden of an empty or an evil name. A good name is a motive of life. It is a reason for that great encampment we call an existence. While you are building the home of to-morrow, build up also that kind of soul that can sleep sweetly on home's pillow, and can feel that God is not near as an avenger of wrong, but as the Father not only of the verdure and the seasons, but of you.