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Intellectual Character - The Atlantic

The desire, the duty, the necessity of the age in which we live is education, or that culture which developes, enlarges, and enriches each individual intelligence, according to the measure of its capacity, by familiarizing it with the facts and laws of nature and human life. But, in this rage for information, we too often overlook the mental constitution of the being we would inform,—detaching the apprehensive from the active powers, weakening character by overloading memory, and reaping a harvest of imbeciles after we may have flattered ourselves we had sown a crop of geniuses. No person can be called educated, until he has organized his knowledge into faculty, and wields it as a weapon. We purpose, therefore, to invite the attention of our readers to some remarks on Intellectual Character, the last and highest result of intellectual education, and the indispensable condition of intellectual success.

It is evident, that, when a young man leaves his school or college to take his place in the world, it is indispensable that he be something as well as know something; and it will require but little experience to demonstrate to him that what he really knows is little more than what he really is, and that his progress in intellectual manhood is not more determined by the information he retains, than by that portion which, by a benign provision of Providence, he is enabled to forget. Youth, to be sure, is his,—youth, in virtue of which he is free of the universe,—youth, with its elastic vigor, its far-darting hopes, its generous impatience of prudent meanness, its grand denial of instituted falsehood, its beautiful contempt of accredited baseness,—but youth which must now concentrate its wayward energies, which must discourse with facts and grapple with men, and through strife and struggle, and the sad wisdom of experience, must pass from the vague delights of generous impulses to the assured joy of manly principles. The moment he comes in contact with the stern and stubborn realities which frown on his entrance into practical life, he will find that power is the soul of knowledge, and character the condition of intelligence. He will discover that intellectual success depends primarily on qualities which are not strictly intellectual, but personal and constitutional. The test of success is influence,—that is, the power of shaping events by informing, guiding, animating, controlling other minds. Whether this influence be exerted directly in the world of practical affairs, or indirectly in the world of ideas, its fundamental condition is still force of individual being, and the amount of influence is the measure of the degree of force, just as an effect measures a cause. The characteristic of intellect is insight,—insight into things and their relations; but then this insight is intense or languid, clear or confused, comprehensive or narrow, exactly in proportion to the weight and power of the individual who sees and combines. It is not so much the intellect that makes the man, as the man the intellect; in every act of earnest thinking, the reach of the thought depends on the pressure of the will; and we would therefore emphasize and enforce, as the primitive requirement of intellectual success, that discipline of the individual which developes dim tendencies into positive sentiments, sentiments into ideas, and ideas into abilities,—that discipline by which intellect is penetrated through and through with the qualities of manhood, and endowed with arms as well as eyes. This is Intellectual Character.

Now it should be thundered in the ears of every young man who has passed through that course of instruction ironically styled education, "What do you intend to be, and what do you intend to do? Do you purpose to play at living, or do you purpose to live?—to be a memory, a word-cistern, a feeble prater on illustrious themes, one of the world's thousand chatterers, or a will, a power, a man?" No varnish and veneer of scholarship, no command of the tricks of logic and rhetoric, can ever make you a positive force in the world. Look around you in the community of educated men, and see how many, who started on their career with minds as bright and eager and hearts as hopeful as yours, have been mysteriously arrested in their growth,—have lost all the kindling sentiments which glorified their youthful studies, and dwindled into complacent echoes of surrounding mediocrity,—have begun, indeed, to die on the very threshold of manhood, and stand in society as tombs rather than temples of immortal souls. See, too, the wide disconnection between knowledge and life;—heaps of information piled upon little heads; everybody speaking,—few who have earned the right to speak; maxims enough to regenerate a universe,—a woful lack of great hearts, in which reason, right, and truth, regal and militant, are fortified and encamped! Now this disposition to skulk the austere requirements of intellectual growth in an indolent surrender of the mind's power of self-direction must be overcome at the outset, or, in spite of your grand generalities, you will be at the mercy of every bullying lie, and strike your colors to every mean truism, and shape your life in accordance with every low motive, which the strength of genuine wickedness or genuine stupidity can bring to bear upon you. There is no escape from slavery, or the mere pretence of freedom, but in radical individual power; and all solid intellectual culture is simply the right development of individuality into its true intellectual form.

And first, at the risk of being considered metaphysical,—though we fear no metaphysician would indorse the charge,—let us define what we mean by individuality; for the word is commonly made to signify some peculiarity or eccentricity, some unreasonable twist, of mind or disposition. An individual, then, in the sense in which we use the term, is a causative spiritual force, whose root and being are in eternity, but who lives, grows, and builds up his nature in time. All the objects of sense and thought, all facts and ideas, all things, are external to his essential personality. But he has bound up in his personal being sympathies and capacities which ally him with external objects, and enable him to transmute their inner spirit and substance into his own personal life. The process of his growth, therefore, is a development of power from within to assimilate objects from without, the power increasing with every vital exercise of it. The result of this assimilation is character. Character is the spiritual body of the person, and represents the individualization of vital experience, the conversion of unconscious things into self-conscious men. Sir Thomas Browne, in quaint reference to the building up of our physical frame through the food we eat, declares that we have all been on our own trenchers; and so, on the same principle, our spiritual faculties can be analyzed into impersonal facts and ideas, whose life and substance we have converted into personal reason, imagination, and passion. The fundamental characteristic of man is spiritual hunger; the universe of thought and matter is spiritual food. He feeds on Nature; he feeds on ideas; he feeds, through art, science, literature, and history, on the acts and thoughts of other minds; and could we take the mightiest intellect that ever awed and controlled the world, and unravel his powers, and return their constituent particles to the multitudinous objects whence they were derived, the last probe of our analysis, after we had stripped him of all his faculties, would touch that unquenchable fiery atom of personality which had organized round itself such a colossal body of mind, and which, in its simple naked energy, would still be capable of rehabilitating itself in the powers and passions of which it had been shorn.

It results from this doctrine of the mind's growth, that success in all the departments of life over which intellect holds dominion depends, not merely on an outside knowledge of the facts and laws connected with each department, but on the assimilation of that knowledge into instinctive intelligence and active power. Take the good farmer, and you will find that ideas in him are endowed with will, and can work. Take the good general, and you will find that the principles of his profession are inwrought into the substance of his nature, and act with the velocity of instincts. Take the good judge, and in him jurisprudence seems impersonated, and his opinions are authorities. Take the good merchant, and you will find that commerce, in its facts and laws, seems in him embodied, and that his sagacity appears identical with the objects on which it is exercised. Take the great statesman, take Webster, and note how, by thoroughly individualizing his comprehensive experience, he seems to carry a nation in his brain; how, in all that relates to the matter in hand, he has in him as faculty what is out of him in fact; how between the man and the thing there occurs that subtile freemasonry of recognition which we call the mind's intuitive glance; and how conflicting principles and statements, mixed and mingling in fierce confusion and with deafening war-cries, fall into order and relation, and move in the direction of one inexorable controlling idea, the moment they are grasped by an intellect which is in the secret of their combination:—

"Confusion hears his voice, and the wild uproar stills."

Mark, too, how, in the productions of his mind, the presence and pressure of his whole nature, in each intellectual act, keeps his opinions on the level of his character, and stamps every weighty paragraph with "Daniel Webster, his mark." The characteristic, of all his great speeches is, that the statements, arguments, and images have what we should call a positive being of their own,—stand out as plainly to the sight as a ledge of rocks or chain of hills,—and, like the works of Nature herself, need no other justification of their right to exist than the fact of their existence. We may detest their object, but we cannot deny their solidity of organization. This power of giving a substantial body, an undeniable external shape and form, to his thoughts and perceptions, so that the toiling mind does not so much seem to pass from one sentence to another, unfolding its leading idea, as to make each sentence a solid work in a Torres-Vedras line of fortifications,—this prodigious constructive faculty, wielded with the strength of a huge Samson-like artificer in the material of mind, and welding together the substances it might not be able to fuse, puzzled all opponents who understood it not, and baffled the efforts of all who understood it well. He rarely took a position on any political question, which did not draw down upon him a whole battalion of adversaries, with ingenious array of argument and infinite noise of declamation; but after the smoke and dust and clamor of the combat were over, the speech loomed up, perfect and whole, a permanent thing in history or literature, while the loud thunders of opposition had too often died away into low mutterings, audible only to the adventurous antiquary who gropes in the "still air" of stale "Congressional Debates." The rhetoric of sentences however melodious, of aphorisms however pointed, of abstractions however true, cannot stand in the storm of affairs against this true rhetoric, in which thought is consubstantiated with things.

Now in men of this stamp, who have so organized knowledge into faculty that they have attained the power of giving Thought the character of Fact, we notice no distinction between power of intellect and power of will, but an indissoluble union and fusion of force and insight. Facts and laws are so blended with their personal being, that we can hardly decide whether it is thought that wills or will that thinks. Their actions display the intensest intelligence; their thoughts come from them clothed in the thews and sinews of energetic volition. Their force, being proportioned to their intelligence, never issues in that wild and anarchical impulse, or that tough, obstinate, narrow wilfulness, which many take to be the characteristic of individualized power. They may, in fact, exhibit no striking individual traits which stand impertinently out, and yet from this very cause be all the more potent and influential individualities. Indeed, in the highest efforts of ecstatic action, when the person is mightiest, and amazes us by the giant leaps of his intuition, the mere peculiarities of his personality are unseen and unfelt. This is the case with Homer, Shakspeare, and Goethe, in poetry,—with Plato and Bacon, in philosophy,—with Newton, in science,—with Caesar, in war. Such men doubtless had peculiarities and caprices, but they were "burnt and purged away" by the fire of their genius, when its action was intensest. Then their whole natures were melted down into pure force and insight, and the impression they leave upon the mind is the impression of marvellous force and weight and reach of thought.

If it be objected, that these high examples are fitted to provoke despair rather than stimulate emulation, the answer is, that they contain, exemplify, and emphasize the principles, and flash subtile hints of the processes, of all mental growth and production. How comes it that these men's thoughts radiate from them as acts, endowed not only with an illuminating, but a penetrating and animating power? The answer to this is a statement of the genesis, not merely of genius, but of every form of intellectual manhood; for such thoughts do not leap, à la Minerva, full-grown from the head, but are struck off in those moments when the whole nature of the thinker is alive and aglow with an inspiration kindled long before in remote recesses of consciousness from one spark of immortal fire, and unweariedly burning, burning, burning, until it lit up the whole inert mass of surrounding mind in flame.

To show, indeed, how little there is of the extempore, the hap-hazard, the hit-or-miss, in the character of creative thought, and how completely the gladdest inspiration is earned, let us glance at the psychological history of one of those imperial ideas which measure the power, test the quality, and convey the life, of the minds that conceive them. The progress of such an idea is from film to form. It has its origin in an atmosphere of feeling; for the first vital movement of the mind is emotional, and is expressed in a dim tendency, a feeble feeling after the object, or the class of objects, related to the peculiar constitution and latent affinities of its individual being. This tendency gradually condenses and deepens into a sentiment, pervading the man with a love of those objects,—by a sweet compulsion ordering his energies in their direction,—and by slow degrees investing them, through a process of imagination, with the attribute of beauty, and, through a process of reason, investing the purpose with which he pursues them with the attribute of intelligence. The object dilates as the mind assimilates and the nature moves, so that every step in this advance from mere emotion to vivid insight is a building up of the faculties which each onward movement evokes and exercises,—sentiment, imagination, reason increasing their power and enlarging their scope with each impetus that speeds them on to their bright and beckoning goal. Then, when the individual has reached his full mental stature, and come in direct contact with the object, then, only then, does he "pluck out the heart of its mystery" in one of those lightning-like acts of thought which we call combination, invention, discovery.

There is no luck, no accident, in all this. Nature does not capriciously scatter her secrets as golden gifts to lazy pets and luxurious darlings, but imposes tasks when she presents opportunities, and uplifts him whom she would inform. The apple that she drops at the feet of Newton is but a coy invitation to follow her to the stars.

Now this living process of developing manhood and building up mind, while the person is on the trail of a definite object of intelligence, is in continual danger of being devitalized into a formal process of mere acquisition, which, though it may make great memories of students, will be sure to leave them little men. Their thoughts will be the attachés, not the offspring, of their minds. They will have a bowing acquaintance with many truths, without being admitted to the familiarity of embracing or shaking hands with one. If they have native stamina of animal constitution, they may become men of passions and opinions, but they never will become men of sentiments and ideas; they may know the truth as it is about a thing, and support it with acrid and wrangling dogmatism, but they never will know the truth as it is in the thing, and support it with faith and insight. And the moment they come into collision with a really live man, they will find their souls inwardly wither, and their boasted acquisitions fall away, before one glance of his irradiating intelligence and one stroke of his smiting will. If, on the contrary, they are guided by good or great sentiments, which are the souls of good or great ideas, these sentiments will be sure to organize all the capacity there is in them into positive intellectual character; but let them once divorce love from their occupations in life, and they will find that labor will degenerate into drudgery, and drudgery will weaken the power to labor, and weakness, as a last resort, will intrench itself in pretence and deception. If they are in the learned professions, they will become tricksters in law, quacks in medicine, formalists in divinity, though regular practitioners in all; and clients will be cheated, and patients will be poisoned, and parishioners will be—we dare not say what!—though all the colleges in the universe had showered on them their diplomas. "To be weak is miserable": Milton wrested that secret from the Devil himself!—but what shall we say of those whose weakness has subsided from misery into complacency, and who feel all the moral might of their being hourly rust and decay, with the most amiable indifference and lazy content with dissolution?

Now this weakness is a mental and moral sickness, pointing the way to mental and moral death. It has its source in a violation of that law which makes the health of the mind depend on its activity being directed to an object. When directed on itself, it becomes fitful and moody; and moodiness generates morbidness, and morbidness misanthropy, and misanthropy self-contempt, and self-contempt begins the work of self-dissolution. Why, every sensible man will despise himself, if he concentrates his attention on that important personage! The joy and confidence of activity come from its being fixed and fastened on things external to itself. "The human heart," says Luther,—and we can apply the remark as well, to the human mind,—"is like a millstone in a mill; when you put wheat under it, it turns, and grinds, and bruises the wheat into flour; if you put no wheat in, it still grinds on, but then it is itself it grinds, and slowly wears away." Now activity for an object, which is an activity that constantly increases the power of acting, and keeps the mind glad, fresh, vigorous, and young, has three deadly enemies,—intellectual indolence, intellectual conceit, and intellectual fear. We will say a few words on the operation of this triad of malignants.

Montaigne relates, that, while once walking in the fields, he was accosted by a beggar of Herculean frame, who solicited alms. "Are you not ashamed to beg?" said the philosopher, with a frown,—"you who are so palpably able to work?" "Oh, Sir," was the sturdy knave's drawling rejoinder, "if you only knew how lazy I am!" Herein is the whole philosophy of idleness; and we are afraid that many a student of good natural capacity slips and slides from thought into reverie, and from reverie into apathy, and from apathy into incurable indisposition to think, with as much sweet unconsciousness of degradation as Montaigne's mendicant evinced; and at last hides from himself the fact of his imbecility of action, somewhat as Sir James Herring accounted for the fact that he could not rise early in the morning: he could, he said, make up his mind to it, but could not make up his body.

"He who eats with the Devil," says the proverb, "has need of a long spoon"; and he who domesticates this pleasant vice of indolence, and allows it to nestle near his will, has need of a long head. Ordinary minds may well be watchful of its insidious approaches when great ones have mourned over its enfeebling effects; and the subtle indolence that stole over the powers of Mackintosh, and gradually impaired the productiveness even of Goethe, may well scare intellects of less natural grasp and imaginations of less instinctive creativeness. Every step, indeed, of the student's progress calls for energy and effort, and every step is beset by some soft temptation to abandon the task of developing power for the delight of following impulse. The appetites, for example, instead of being bitted, and bridled, and trained into passions, and sent through the intellect to quicken, sharpen, and intensify its activity, are allowed to take their way unmolested to their own objects of sense, and drag the mind down to their own sensual level. Sentiment decays, the vision fades, faith in principles departs, the moment that appetite rules. On the closing doors of that "sensual stye," as over the gate of Dante's hell, be it written: "Let those who enter here leave hope behind."

But a more refined operation of this pestilent indolence is its way of infusing into the mind the delusive belief that it can attain the objects of activity without its exercise. Under this illusion, men expect to grow wise, as men who gamble in stocks expect to grow rich, by chance, and not by work. They invest in mediocrity in the confident hope that it will go many hundred per cent. above par; and so shocking has been the inflation of the intellectual currency of late years, that this speculation of indolence sometimes partially succeeds. But a revulsion comes,—and then brass has to make a break-neck descent to reach its proper level below gold. There are others whom indolence deludes by some trash about "fits" of inspiration, for whose Heaven-sent spasms they are humbly to wait. There is, it seems, a lucky thought somewhere in the abyss of possibility, which is somehow, at some time, to step out of essence into substance, and take up its abode in their capacious minds,—dutifully kept unoccupied in order that the expected celestial visitor may not be crowded for room. Chance is to make them king, and chance to crown them, without their stir! There are others still, who, while sloth is sapping the primitive energy of their natures, expect to scale the fortresses of knowledge by leaps and not by ladders, and who count on success in such perilous gymnastics, not by the discipline of the athlete, but by the dissipation of the idler. Indolence, indeed, is never at a loss for a smooth lie or delicious sophism to justify inaction, and, in our day, has rationalized it into a philosophy of the mind, and idealized it into a school of poetry, and organized it into a "hospital of incapables." It promises you the still ecstasy of a divine repose, while it lures you surely down into the vacant dulness of inglorious sloth. It provides a primrose path to stagnant pools, to an Arcadia of thistles, and a Paradise of mud.

But in a mind of any primitive power, intellectual indolence is sure to generate intellectual conceit,—a little Jack Horner, that ensconces itself in lazy heads, and, while it dwarfs every power to the level of its own littleness, keeps vociferating, "What a great man am I!" It is the essential vice of this glib imp of the mind, even when it infests large intellects, that it puts Nature in the possessive case,—labels all its inventions and discoveries "My truth,"—and moves about the realms of art, science, and letters in a constant fear of having its pockets picked. Think of a man's having vouchsafed to him one of those awful glimpses into the mysteries of creation which should be received with a shudder of prayerful joy, and taking the gracious boon with a smirk of all-satisfied conceit! One page in what Shakspeare calls "Nature's infinite book of secrecy" flies a moment open to his eager gaze, and he hears the rustling of the myriad leaves as they close and clasp, only to make his spirit more abject, his vanity more ravenous, his hatred of rivals more rancorous and mean. That grand unselfish love of truth, and joy in its discovery, by whomsoever made, which characterize the true seeker and seer of science and creative art, alone can keep the mind alive and alert, alone can make the possession of truth a means of elevating and purifying the man.

But if this conceit, in powerful natures, tends to belittle character, and eat into and consume the very faculties whose successful exercise creates it, its slyly insinuated venom works swifter and deadlier on youth and inexperience. The ordinary forms of conceit, it is true, cannot well flourish in any assemblage of young men, whose plain interest it is to undeceive all self-deception and quell every insurrection of individual vanity, and who soon understand the art of burning the nonsense out of an offending brother by caustic ridicule and slow-roasting sarcasm. But there is danger of mutual deception, springing from a common belief in a false, but attractive principle of culture. The mischief of intellectual conceit in our day consists in its arresting mental growth at the start by stuffing the mind with the husks of pretentious generalities, which, while they impart no vital power and convey no real information, give seeming enlargement to thought, and represent a seeming opulence of knowledge. The deluded student, who picks up these ideas in masquerade at the rag-fairs and old-clothes' shops of philosophy, thinks he has the key to all secrets and the solvent of all problems, when he really has no experimental knowledge of anything, and dwindles all the more for every juiceless, unnutritious abstraction he devours. Though famished for the lack of a morsel of the true mental food of facts and ideas, he still swaggeringly despises all relative information in his ambition to clutch at absolute truth, and accordingly goes directly to ultimates by the short cuts of cheap generalities. Why, to be sure, should he, who can, Napoleon-like, march straight on to the interior capital, submit, Marlborough-like, to the drudgery of besieging the frontier fortresses? Why should he, who can throw a girdle of generalization round the universe in less than forty minutes, stoop to master details? And this easy and sprightly amplitude of understanding, which consists not in including, but in excluding all relative facts and principles, he calls comprehensiveness; the mental decrepitude it occasions he dignifies with the appellation of repose; and, on the strength of comprehensiveness and repose, is of course qualified to take his seat beside Shakspeare, and chat cosily with Bacon, and wink knowingly at Goethe, and startle Leibnitz with a slap on the shoulder,—the true Red-Republican sign of liberty in manners, equality in power, and fraternity in ideas! These men, to be sure, have a way of saying things which he has not yet caught; but then their wide-reaching thoughts are his as well as theirs. Imitating the condescension of some contemporary philosophers of the Infinite, he graciously accepts Christianity and patronizes the idea of Deity, though he gives you to understand that he could easily pitch a generalization outside of both. And thus, mistaking his slab-sidedness for many-sidedness, and forgetting that there is no insight without force to back it,—bedizened in conceit and magnificent in littleness,—he is thrown on society, walking in a vain show of knowledge, and doomed to be upset and trampled on by the first brawny concrete Fact he stumbles against. A true method of culture makes drudgery beautiful by presenting a vision of the object to which it leads;—beware of the conceit that dispenses with it! How much better it is to delve for a little solid knowledge, and be sure of that, than to be a proper target for such a sarcasm as a great statesman once shot at a glib advocate, who was saying nothing with great fluency and at great length! "Who," he asked, "is this self-sufficient, all-sufficient, insufficient man?"

Idleness and Conceit, however, are not more opposed to that out-springing, reverential activity which makes the person forget himself in devotion to his objects, than Fear. A bold heart in a sound head,—that is the condition of energetic thinking, of the thought that thinks round things and into things and through things; but fear freezes activity at its inmost fountains. "There is nothing," says Montaigne, "that I fear so much as fear." Indeed, an educated man, who creeps along with an apologetic air, cringing to this name and ducking to that opinion, and hoping that it is not too presumptuous in him to beg the right to exist,—why, it is a spectacle piteous to gods and hateful to men! Yet think of the many knots of monitory truisms in which activity is likely to be caught and entangled at the outset,—knots which a brave purpose will not waste time to untie, but instantly cuts. First, there is the nonsense of students killing themselves by over-study,—some few instances of which, not traceable to over-eating, have shielded the short-comings of a million idlers. Next, there is the fear that the intellect may be developed at the expense of the moral nature,—one of those truths in the abstract which are made to do the office of lies in the application, and which are calculated not so much to make good men as goodies,—persons rejoicing in an equal mediocrity of morals and mind, and pertinent examples of the necessity of personal force to convert moral maxims into moral might. The truth would seem to be, that half the crimes and sufferings which history records and observation furnishes are directly traceable to want of thought rather than to bad intention; and in regard to the other half, which may be referred to the remorseless selfishness of unsanctified intelligence, has that selfishness ever had more valuable allies and tools than the mental torpor that cannot think and the conscientious stupidity that will not? Moral laws, indeed, are intellectual facts, to be investigated as well as obeyed; and it is not a blind or blear-eyed conscience, but a conscience blended with intelligence and consolidated with character, that can both see and act.

But curtly dismissing the fallacy, that the moral and spiritual faculties are likely to find a sound basis in a cowed and craven reason, we come to a form of fear that practically paralyzes independent thought more than any other, while it is incompatible with manliness and self-respect. This fear is compounded of self-distrust and that mode of vanity which cowers beneath the invective of men whose applause it neither courts nor values. If you examine critically the two raging parties of conservatism and radicalism, you will find that a goodly number of their partisans are men who have not chosen their position, but have been bullied into it,—men who see clearly enough that both parties are based on principles almost equally true in themselves, almost equally false by being detached from their mutual relations. But then each party keeps its professors of intimidation and stainers of character, whose business it is to deprive men of the luxury of large thinking, and to drive all neutrals into their respective ranks. The missiles hurled from one side are disorganizer, infidel, disunionist, despiser of law, and other trumpery of that sort; from the other side, the no less effective ones of murderer, dumb dog, traitor to humanity, and other trumpery of that sort; and the young and sensitive student finds it difficult to keep the poise of his nature amid the cross-fire of this logic of fury and rhetoric of execration, and too often ends in joining one party from fear, or the other from the fear of being thought afraid. The probability is, that the least danger to his mental independence will proceed from any apprehension he may entertain of what are irreverently styled the "old fogies"; for if Young America goes on at its present headlong rate, there is little doubt that the old fogy will have to descend from his eminence of place, become an object of pathos rather than terror, and be compelled to make the inquiring appeal to his brisk hunters, so often made to himself in vain, "Am I not a man and a brother?" But with whatever association, political or moral, the thinker may connect himself, let him go in,—and not be dragged in or scared in. He certainly can do no good to himself, his country, or his race, by being the slave and echo of the heads of a clique. Besides, as most organizations are constituted on the principles of a sort of literary socialism, and each member lives and trades on a common capital of phrases, there is danger that these phrases may decline from signs into substitutes of thought, and both intellect and character evaporate in words. Thus, a man may be a Union man and a National man, or an Anti-Slavery man and a Temperance man and a Woman's-Rights' man, and still be very little of a man. There is, indeed, no more ludicrous sight than to see Mediocrity, perched on one of these resounding adjectives, strut and bluster, and give itself braggadocio airs, and dictate to all quiet men its maxims of patriotism or morality, and all the while be but a living illustration through what grandeurs of opinion essential meanness and poverty of soul will peer and peep and be disclosed. To be a statesman or reformer requires a courage that dares defy dictation from any quarter, and a mind which has come in direct contact with the great inspiring ideas of country and humanity. All the rest is spite, and spleen; and cant, and conceit, and words.

It is plain, of course, that every man of large and living thought will naturally sympathize with those great social movements, informing and reforming, which are the glory of the age; but it must always be remembered that the grand and generous sentiments that underlie those movements demand in their fervid disciple a corresponding grandeur and generosity of soul. There is no reason why his philanthropy should be malignant because other men's conservatism may be stupid; and the vulgar insensibility to the rights of the oppressed, and the vulgar scorn of the claims of the wretched, which men calling themselves respectable and educated may oppose to his own warmer feelings and nobler principles, should be met, not with that invective which may be as vulgar as the narrowness it denounces, nor always with that indignation which is righteous as well as wrathful, but with that awful contempt with which Magnanimity shames meanness, simply by the irony of her lofty example and the sarcasm of her terrible silence.

In these remarks, which we trust our readers have at least been kind enough to consider worthy of an effort of patience, we have attempted to connect all genuine intellectual success with manliness of character; have endeavored to show that force of individual being is its primary condition; that this force is augmented and enriched, or weakened and impoverished, according as it is or is not directed to appropriate objects; that indolence, conceit, and fear present continual checks to this going out of the mind into glad and invigorating communion with facts and laws; and that as a man is not a mere bundle of faculties, but a vital person, whose unity pervades, vivifies, and creates all the varieties of his manifestation, the same vices which enfeeble and deprave character tend to enfeeble and deprave intellect. But perhaps we have not sufficiently indicated a diseased state of consciousness, from which most intellectual men have suffered, many have died, and all should be warned,—the disease, namely, of mental disgust, the sign and the result of mental debility. Mental disgust "sicklies o'er" all the objects of thought, extinguishes faith in exertion, communicates a dull wretchedness to indolence in the very process by which it makes activity impossible, and drags into its own slough of despond, and discolors with its own morbid reveries, the objects which it should ardently seek and genially assimilate. It sees things neither as they are, nor as they are glorified and transfigured by hope and health and faith; but, in the apathy of that idling introspection which betrays a genius for misery, it pronounces effort to be vanity, and despairingly dismisses knowledge as delusion. "Despair," says Donne, "is the damp of hell; rejoicing is the serenity of heaven."

Now contrast this mental disgust, which proceeds from mental debility, with the sunny and soul-lifting exhilaration radiated from mental vigor,—a vigor which comes from the mind's secret consciousness that it is in contact with moral and spiritual verities, and is partaking of the rapture of their immortal life. A spirit earnest, hopeful, energetic, inquisitive, making its mistakes minister to wisdom, and converting the obstacles it vanquishes into power,—a spirit inspired by a love of the excellency and beauty of knowledge, which will not let it sleep,—such a spirit soon learns that the soul of joy is hid in the austere form of Duty, and that the intellect becomes brighter, keener, clearer, more buoyant, and more efficient, as it feels the freshening vigor infused by her monitions and menaces, and the celestial calm imparted by her soul-satisfying smile. In all the professions and occupations over which Intellect holds dominion, the student will find that there is no grace of character without its corresponding grace of mind. He will find that virtue is an aid to insight; that good and sweet affections will bear a harvest of pure and high thoughts; that patience will make the intellect persistent in plans which benevolence will make beneficent in results; that the austerities of conscience will dictate precision to statements and exactness to arguments; that the same moral sentiments and moral power which regulate the conduct of life will illumine the path and stimulate the purpose of those daring spirits eager to add to the discoveries of truth and the creations of art. And he will also find that this purifying interaction of spiritual and mental forces will give the mind an abiding foundation of joy for its starts of rapture and flights of ecstasy;—a joy, in whose light and warmth languor and discontent and depression and despair will be charmed away;—a joy, which will make the mind large, generous, hopeful, aspiring, in order to make life beautiful and sweet;—a joy, in the words of an old divine, "which will put on a more glorious garment above, and be joy superinvested in glory!"