Canning, the Prime Minister, in the reign of George III， speaking of his aspirations, said once, "I have never walked in crooked ways, therefore my position has been attained through character." This word character, impalpable though it seems to be, yet is most certain and firm, and nothing can be compared with it, I think that what others say of men of ability and knowledge is not altogether trustworthy, since there is a matter more weighty than ability and knowledge, and that is goodness.
Franklin, an American, a benevolent and charitable genius, a logician also, attained in time a high position, which he attributed as the fruit of his character, and not the result of ability or knowledge. He further said, though I have no gift of speech, yet I possess resolution and can accomplish things: because men of good character are trusted by all."
There was a Frenchman Montesquieu (？) by name ； during the French revolution, the two parties were fighting, and the whole people fled, except Montesquieu, who did not flee, nor did he close his door. People praised him and said Mr. Montesquieu uses his usual goodness and reputation, which are more keen than soldier or horse, as a shield against danger.
H ― was the son of an English tradesman. His home was poor. He was most careful as a man. He was not much of a speaker. There were very many of his contemporaries with much greater ability than he, still it was only Mr. H ― 's good name that excelled. Everybody praised him, and took him for a pattern. A man of renown, Sydney by name, said once that Mr. H ― seemed a man on whose face the Ten Commandments were stamped. When Mr. H— died, being thirty-eight years of age, the country wept for him, and remembered him: from which we can gather how they reverenced him.
There is an old saying in Greece, "Knowledge is power." It would be better to say Goodness is power," which would be much more true. Why? Where there is no intuition of conscience, no ability of character, there never can be power, and the influence that may be springs from cunning, and craftiness which are doubtful ways. When any one acts on truth and goodness that will give him such powerful influence, that no one can withstand him. Formerly a military officer, the city guardian, Stephen by name, was abducted by brigands. The robbers mocked him saying "where is the city now?" Stephen pressing his hand on his heart said, "Here." Whence we sue that a man of a good character and education, though he be surrounded completely by disasters and calamities, never loses his bold resolution, nor will a hundred racks wear it down.