Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/232

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resource and of smiling self-control, were all made efficient by high tension. Mr. Kinglake says:

"Although Todleben seemed to be one to whom the very labors of fighting and of exterminating the weaker breeds of men must be an easy and delightful exertion of natural strength, he had joyous, kind-looking eyes, almost ready to melt with good-humor, and a bearing and speech so frank and genial, strangers were instantly inclined to like, and very soon after to trust in him. From his looks and demeanor, it could not at all be inferred that he was a man who had devoted his mind to a science; nor imagined that his power of doing the right thing at the right time had been warped at all by long study of the engineering art. . . . Few men of great intellect have attained so closely what Englishmen mean by practical."

How great quality and quantity of brain may fall short of achievement, for lack of high tension rather than of control, must be sought in the story of "Hamlet" and like inventions; for, although the unhappy General Trochu is not yet quite forgotten, none such leave an enduring name. How many of us know that quiet friend unnoted of the many, unfelt by the world; whose powers of assimilating knowledge are great, whose intellect is capacious, and whose accomplishments are manifold, but whose nerve-currents are of low or inconstant tension! He finishes no work, he fathoms no research, and he dies leaving but the memory of great powers wasted. Other curious instances of low tension are seen in those unhappy mortals who conceive so truly, and have mental force in such quantity, that they spend their lives in bestowing volumes of good advice upon their fellows, but who never rouse themselves to their own work or duty.

How, lastly, the greatest quality and capacity of mind, varied attainments, and spiritual fire, may be spent as a sky-rocket is spent for lack of control and direction, has been the theme of moralists of all centuries, from the death of Abel to our own time. Of all endowments control is the most precious, and its nurture our most bounden duty. For a happy and useful life, perhaps control is more needful than quality, volume, variety or even tension of brain. But, were not men born to us whose high qualities of brain enable them to see more deeply into the secrets of Nature, our progress would cease; did quantity of brain-force cease from a people, that people would lack endurance; were tension feeble, the lions would roar on in the paths of our enterprise; were self-control wanting, that which were won would hardly be won ere it was lost. Of all gifts, then, to be cherished and nurtured, perhaps we should place first control, as by it effort is husbanded; perhaps of equal or scarcely of the second place comes tension; quality of brain cannot be had for the asking, and lack of quantity in individuals may be compensated by numbers. Variety, however charming, however grateful, is the least precious of these conditions of brain, and is the last which calls for nurture. How, then, are we so to wield our instruments of education as to promote the increase of control, tension, and