S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Human and mortal though we are, we are, nevertheless, not mere insulated beings, without relation to the past or future. Neither the point of time nor the spot of earth in which we physically live bounds our rational and intellectual enjoyments. We live in the past by a knowledge of its history, and in the future by hope and anticipation. By ascending to an association with our ancestors; by contemplating their example, and studying their character; by partaking their sentiments, and imbibing their spirit; by accompanying them in their toils; by sympathizing in their sufferings and rejoicing in their successes and their triumphs,we mingle our own existence with theirs, and seem to belong to their age. We become their contemporaries, live the lives which they lived, endure what they endured, and partake in the rewards which they enjoyed.
Costly apparatus and splendid cabinets have no magical power to make scholars. As a man is in all circumstances, under God, the master of his own fortune, so he is the maker of his own mind. The Creator has so constituted the human intellect that it can only grow by its own action: it will certainly and necessarily grow. Every man must therefore educate himself. His books and teacher are but helps; the work is his. A man is not educated until he has the ability to summon, in an emergency, his mental powers in vigorous exercise to effect its proposed object. It is not the man who has seen the most, or read the most, who can do this; such a one is in danger of being borne down, like a beast of burden, by an overloaded mass of other mens thoughts. Nor is it the man who can boast merely of native vigour and capacity. The greatest of all warriors who went to the siege of Troy had not the pre-eminence because nature had given him strength and he carried the largest bow; but because self-discipline had taught him how to bend it.
If we work upon marble, it will perish; if we work upon brass, time will efface it; if we rear temples, they will crumble into dust; but if we work upon immortal minds, if we imbue them with principles, with the just fear of God and love of our fellow-men, we engrave on those tablets something which will brighten to all eternity.
But I say to you, and to our whole country, and to all the crowned heads, and aristocratic powers, and feudal systems that exist, that it is to self-government, the great principle of popular representation and administrationthe system that lets in all to participate in the counsels that are to assign the good or evil to allthat we may owe what we are and what we hope to be.