Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vols. VIVIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 18351860
Some Thoughts Worth Thinking
By Christian Nestell Bovee (18201904)
[Born in New York, N. Y., 1820. Died in Philadelphis, Penn., 1904. Intuitions and Summaries of Thought. 1862.]
AN ACTOR who cannot forget his audience will never enchant it. And so of authors. A book that is not written in forgetfulness of the public, is not likely to be worthy of it. The first condition of a writers success is, to keep his mind free from a too anxious hope or fear about it. He must abandon himself to his genius, or be abandoned by it. Perfect success is only to be achieved through perfect liberty.
Three things principally determine the quality of a man: the leading object he proposes to himself in life; the manner in which he sets about accomplishing it; and the effect which success or failure has upon him.
Between the man of talent and much information, and the man of genius, there is much the same difference as between a full tank and an unfailing fountain. The mind of the first is a receptacle of valuable facts, and possibly of rich and generous ideas, susceptible, however, of being exhausted; that of the latter is an original source of wisdom, which suffers no diminution by what it imparts.
There is a philosophy that lifts all beauty from the face of things, and that imbues all objects with a coloring of sadness; such is his philosophy who looks too much to the negative of things. Only the optimist looks wisely on life. Though the actual world is not to his liking, it is the happiness of the optimist to carry a nobler in his thought. Let us study the good in things, to the same extent that attention is given to the ills of life, and reverence, religion, and happiness will be greatly promoted.
No one was probably ever injured by having his good qualities made the subject of judicious praise. The virtues, like plants, reward the attention bestowed upon them by growing more and more thrifty. A lad who is often told that he is a good boy will in time grow ashamed to exhibit the qualities of a bad one. Words of praise, indeed, are almost as necessary to warm a child into a genial life as acts of kindness and affection. Judicious praise is to children what the sun is to flowers.
Any other than a cheerful theology is worse than none. Its essential element is disbelief in Gods goodness. It is more to be deplored than scepticism, for while this only doubts the generally received, the other affirms the false.
In general, inquiry ceases when we adopt a theory. After that, we overlook whatever makes against it, and see and think, and talk and write, only in its favor. Indeed, when we have a snug, comfortable theory, to which we are much attached, they appear to us as a very mean set of facts that will not square with it.