Friday, September 11, 2009


"Unless above himself he can erect himself, how poor a thing is man!

"Character is moral order seen through the medium of an individual nature—Men of character are the conscience of the society to which they belong." —EMERSON.

The purest treasure mortal times afford, Is—spotless reputation; that away,
Men are but gilded loam, or painted clay, A jewel in a ten-times-barr'd-up chest
Is—a bold Spirit in a loyal breast.

1. Reputation.—The two most precious things this side the grave are our reputation and our life. But it is to be lamented that the most contemptible whisper may deprive us of the one, and the weakest weapon of the other. A wise man, therefore, will be more anxious to deserve a fair name than to possess it, and this will teach him so to live, as not to be afraid to die.

2. Character.—Character is one of the greatest motive powers in the world. In its noblest embodiments, it exemplifies human nature in its highest forms, for it exhibits man at his best.

3. The Heart That Rules in Life.—Although genius always commands admiration, character most secures respect. The former is more the product of brain power, the latter of heart power; and in the long run it is the heart that rules in life. Men of genius stand to society in the relation of its intellect as men of character of its conscience: and while the former are admired, the latter are followed.

4. The Highest Ideal of Life and Character.—Common-place though it may appear, this doing of one's duty embodies the highest ideal of life and character. There may be nothing heroic about it; but the common lot of men is not heroic. And though the abiding sense of duty upholds man in his highest attitudes, it also equally sustains him in the transaction of the ordinary affairs of every-day existence. Man's life is "centered in the sphere of common duties." The most influential of all the virtues are those which are the most in request for daily use. They wear the best, and last the longest.

5. Wealth.—Wealth in the hands of men of weak purpose, or deficient self-control, or of ill regulated passions is only a temptation and a snare—the source, it may be, of infinite mischief to themselves, and often to others.

On the contrary, a condition of comparative poverty is compatible with character in its highest form. A man may possess only his industry, his frugality, his integrity, and yet stand high in the rank of true manhood. The advice which Burns' father gave him was the best:

"He bade me act a manly part, though I had ne'er a farthing, For without an honest, manly heart no man was worth regarding."

6. Character is Property.—It is the noblest of possessions. It is an estate in the general good-will and respect of men; they who invest in it—though they may not become rich in this world's goods—will find their reward in esteem and reputation fairly and honorably won. And it is right that in life good qualities should tell—that industry, virtue, and goodness should rank the highest—and that the really best men should be foremost.

7. Simple Honesty of Purpose.—This in a man goes a long way in life, if founded on a just estimate of himself and a steady obedience to the rule he knows and feels to be right. It holds a man straight, gives him strength and sustenance, and forms a mainspring of vigorous action. No man is bound to be rich or great—no, nor to be wise—but every man is bound to be honest and virtuous.