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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/512

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492
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

on the staff of one of the leading periodicals, and, in view of the chaste and elegant English then at my command, I fear that I expected a pretty high post. Among others, I carried a letter of introduction to Mr. Roswell Smith, the editor of The Century. He received me very kindly and talked with me for some moments. Finally he said to me: "You want to write?" I said that I did. "Well," he answered, "if you want to write, write," and he held out his hand. The interview was over. As I returned to Philadelphia I could not help the reflection that I had gone a considerable distance for so obvious advice. But do you know, the more I thought over the matter the more I came to the conclusion that Mr. Smith had touched off the position with great nicety. If I wanted to write, there was just this one thing open to me to do, and that was to write. This bit of obvious advice has never quite got out of my head. But it is not a principle which often leads along the line of least resistance. On the contrary, like the Czar's railroad from Moscow to St. Petersburg, it goes in a straight line, quite regardless of mountain and morass. It asks us frequently to oppose what is of all the most difficult to oppose—the wishes and counsel of friends. If you want to do a thing, do it. This is simple advice, but it sometimes takes a hero to follow it. In this matter of education I see no other way open to us. If we want for our children life in its fullness and totality and beauty, we must address ourselves to the task of realizing this, and be contented with no partial solution. It is not an easy task.

Life in its totality—this means twenty-four hours, seven days, four weeks, twelve months, threescore years and ten; it means feeling, thinking, acting; it means the life of the organism—birth, nutrition, growth, reproduction, death; it means the life of the emotions; it means the life of the intellect—acquisition, reflection, creation. It means nothing less than this; and the moral measure of our work as teachers will be the measure of the fullness of life that we open to our children. Were we tried by this standard to-day, I dread to reflect how many of us would be found wanting!

And yet I have said that this gigantic problem, like mathematics, is only difficult in appearance; is in reality quite simple. I believe this to be true, provided, observe, that we can attain a clear statement of the problem, and maintain this clearness in all our dealing with it. And we gain clearness and rationality, the stronger our hold upon the principle of causation. If we really believe in cause and effect and in the necessary relation between them, we will realize that we can never gain complete effects by setting in operation partial causes. This is, indeed, the great lesson in method that we all have to learn. With a clear idea of the