Hypertext Meanings and Commentaries from the Encyclopedia of the Self
by Mark Zimmerman
nations to her - the instrument of obedience, the fountain of supremacy, the true throne, crown, and sceptre of a nation; - this aristocracy is not an aristocracy of blood, not an aristocracy of fashion, not an aristocracy of talent only; it is an aristocracy of Character. That is the true heraldry of man." - The Times.
in 1801, "My road must be through Character to power; I will try no other course; and I am sanguine enough to believe that this course, though not perhaps the quickest, is the surest." You may admire men of intellect; but something more is necessary before you will trust them. Hence Lord John Russell once observed in a sentence full of truth, "It is the nature of party in
very little pay. By talents? His were not splendid, and he had no genius. Cautious and slow, his only ambition was to be right. By eloquence? He spoke in calm, good taste, without any of the oratory that either terrifies or seduces. By any fascination of manner?
no peculiarly fine elements, by himself. There were many in the House of Commons of far greater ability and eloquence. But no one surpassed him in the combination of an adequate portion of these with moral worth. Horner was born to show what moderate powers, unaided by anything whatever except culture and goodness, may achieve, even when these powers are displayed amidst the competition and jealousy of public life."
obedience to it has been a temporal sacrifice. I have found it, on the contrary, the road to prosperity and wealth, and I shall point out the same path to my children for their pursuit."
and animate his motive. It is well to have a high standard of life, even though we may not be able altogether to realize it.
"The youth," says Mr. Disraeli, "who does not look up will look down; and the spirit that does not soar is destined perhaps to grovel." George Herbert wisely writes, "Pitch thy behaviour low, thy projects high, So shall thou humble and magnanimous be.
Sink not in spirit; who aimeth at the sky Shoots higher much than he that means a tree."
Colonel Charteris said to a man distinguished for his honesty, "I would give a thousand pounds for your good name." "Why?" "Because I could make ten thousand by it," was the knave's reply.
honest man, thereby became the principal feature of his character, both in public and private life." Every man who respects himself, and values the respect of others, will carry out the maxim in act - doing honestly what he proposes to do - putting the highest
character into his work, scamping nothing, but priding himself upon his integrity and conscientiousness. Once Cromwell said to Bernard, - a clever but somewhat unscrupulous lawyer, "I understand that you have lately been vastly wary in your conduct; do not be too confident of this; subtlety may deceive you, integrity never
will." Men whose acts are at direct variance with their words, command no respect, and what they say has but little weight; even truths, when uttered by them, seem to come blasted from their lips.
see myself do a dishonest thing." - This is a simple but not inappropriate illustration of principle, or conscience, dominating in the character, and exercising a noble protectorate over it; not merely a passive influence, but an active power regulating the life. Such a principle goes on moulding the character hourly and
daily, growing with a force that operates every moment. Without this dominating influence, character has no protection, but is constantly liable to fall away before temptation; and every such temptation succumbed to, every act of meanness or dishonesty, however slight, causes self-degradation. It matters not whether the act be successful or not, discovered or concealed; the culprit is no longer the same, but another person; and he is pursued by a secret uneasiness, by self-reproach, or the workings of what we call conscience, which is the inevitable doom of the guilty.
Hence the necessity for the greatest care and watchfulness against the inroad of any evil habit; for the character is always weakest at that point at which it has once given way; and it is long before a principle restored can become so firm as one that has never been
moved. It is a fine remark of a Russian writer, that "Habits are a necklace of pearls: untie the knot, and the whole unthreads."
"Remember," said Lord Collingwood to a young man whom he loved, "before you are five-and-twenty you must establish a character that will serve you all your life." As habit strengthens with age, and character becomes formed, any turning into a new path becomes more and more difficult. Hence, it is often harder to unlearn than to learn; and for this reason the Grecian flute-player was justified who charged double fees to those pupils who had been taught by an inferior master. To uproot an old habit is sometimes a more painful thing, and vastly more difficult, than to wrench out a tooth. Try and reform a habitually indolent, or improvident, or drunken person, and in a large majority of cases you will fail.
Every man may to a large extent be a self-educator in good behaviour, as in everything else; he can be civil and kind, if he will, though he have not a penny in his purse. Gentleness in society is like the silent influence of light, which gives colour to all nature; it is far more powerful than loudness or force, and far more fruitful. It pushes its way quietly and persistently, like the tiniest daffodil in spring, which raises the clod and
thrusts it aside by the simple persistency of growing.
call them, are neither more nor less than good behaviour; consisting of courtesy and kindness; benevolence being the preponderating element in all kinds of mutually beneficial and pleasant intercourse amongst human beings. "Civility," said Lady Montague, "costs nothing and buys everything." The cheapest of all things is kindness, its exercise requiring the least possible trouble and self-sacrifice. "Win hearts," said Burleigh to Queen Elizabeth, "and you have all men's hearts and purses." If we would only let nature act kindly, free from affectation and artifice, the results on social good humour and happiness would be incalculable.
The little courtesies which form the small change of life, may separately appear of little intrinsic value, but they acquire their importance from repetition and accumulation. They are like the spare minutes, or the groat a day, which proverbially produce such momentous results in the course of a twelvemonth, or in a lifetime.
Abernethy, who hated humbugs, and felt nettled at the tone, replied: "No, I don't: I want a pennyworth of figs; come, look sharp and wrap them up; I want to be off!"
Principles and opinions may be maintained with perfect suavity, without coming to blows or uttering hard words; and there are circumstances in which words are blows, and inflict wounds far less easy to heal. As bearing upon this point, we quote an instructive
little parable spoken some time since by an itinerant preacher of the Evangelical
condition in life has nature denied her highest boon - the great heart. There never yet existed a gentleman but was lord of a great heart. And this may exhibit itself under the hodden grey of the peasant as well as under the laced coat of the noble. Robert Burns
was once taken to task by a young
employment until they arrived in the neighbourhood of Bury in
became widely celebrated for their benevolence and their various goodness, and it is said that Mr. Dickens had them in his mind's eye when delineating the character of the brothers Cheeryble. One amongst many anecdotes of a similar kind may be cited to show that the character was by no means exaggerated. A
He appeared before the man whom he had ridiculed as "Billy Button" accordingly. He told his tale and produced his certificate. "You wrote a pamphlet against us once?" said Mr. Grant. The supplicant expected to see his document thrown into the fire; instead of which Grant signed the name of the firm, and thus completed the necessary certificate.
same law, does he respect others. Humanity is sacred in his eyes: and thence proceed politeness and forbearance, kindness and charity. It is related of Lord Edward Fitzgerald that, while travelling in Canada, in company with the Indians, he was shocked by the sight of a poor squaw trudging along laden with her husband's trappings, while the chief himself walked on unencumbered. Lord Edward at once relieved the squaw of her pack by placing it upon his own shoulders, - a beautiful instance of what the French call POLITESSE DE COEUR - the inbred politeness of the true gentleman.
action in right lines. When he says YES, it is a law: and he dares to say the valiant NO at the fitting season. The gentleman will not be bribed; only the low-minded and unprincipled will sell themselves to those who are interested in buying them. When the upright Jonas Hanway officiated as commissioner in the victualling department, he declined to receive a present of any kind from a contractor; refusing thus to be biassed in the performance of his public duty. A fine trait of the same kind is to be noted in the life of the Duke of
the treaty of peace between the Mahratta princes and the Nizam. To obtain this information the minister offered the general a very large sum - considerably above 100,000L. Looking at him quietly for a few seconds, Sir Arthur said, "It appears, then, that you are capable of keeping a secret?" "Yes, certainly," replied the minister. "THEN SO AM I," said the English general, smiling, and bowed the minister out. It was to
THINK OF NOTHING BUT OUR ARMY. I should be much distressed to curtail the share of those brave soldiers." And the Marquis's resolution to refuse the present remained unalterable.
nothing. The first hopes everything, and fears nothing; the last hopes nothing, and fears everything. Only the poor in spirit are really poor. He who has lost all, but retains his courage, cheerfulness, hope, virtue, and self-respect, is still rich. For
such a man, the world is, as it were, held in trust; his spirit dominating over its grosser cares, he can still walk erect, a true gentleman.
of them struck the ground at a considerable distance from the shore, when the sea made a clean breach over her. There was not a vestige of hope for the vessel, such was the fury of the wind and the violence of the waves. There was nothing to tempt the boatmen on shore to risk their lives in saving either ship or crew, for not a farthing of salvage was to be looked for. But the daring intrepidity of the Deal boatmen was not wanting at this critical
moment. No sooner had the brig grounded than Simon Pritchard, one of the many persons assembled along the beach, threw off his coat and called out, "Who will come with me and try to save that crew?"
Instantly twenty men sprang forward, with "I will," "and I." But seven only were wanted; and running down a galley punt into the surf, they leaped in and dashed through the breakers, amidst the cheers of those on shore. How the boat lived in such a sea seemed
a miracle; but in a few minutes, impelled by the strong arms of these gallant men, she flew on and reached the stranded ship, "catching her on the top of a wave"; and in less than a quarter of an hour from the time the boat left the shore, the six men who composed the crew of the collier were landed safe on Walmer Beach.
A nobler instance of indomitable courage and disinterested heroism on the part of the Deal boatmen - brave though they are always known to be - perhaps cannot be cited; and we have pleasure in here placing it on record.
Lord Chesterfield declared that Truth made the success of a gentleman. The Duke of Wellington, writing to Kellerman, on the subject of prisoners on parole, when opposed to that general in the peninsula, told him that if there was one thing on which an English officer prided himself more than another, excepting his courage, it was his truthfulness. "When English officers," said he, "have given their parole of honour not to escape, be sure they will not break it. Believe me - trust to their word; the word of an English officer is a surer guarantee than the vigilance of sentinels."
of character - truly gentle, and worthy of the spirit of Bayard - was displayed by a French officer in the cavalry combat of El Bodon in
alone justifies the title which has been awarded to him of, "the Bayard of India." The death of Henry Lawrence - that brave and gentle spirit - his last words before dying, "Let there be no fuss about me; let me be buried WITH THE MEN," - the anxious solicitude
of Sir Colin Campbell to rescue the beleaguered of Lucknow, and to conduct his long train of women and children by night from thence to Cawnpore, which he reached amidst the all but overpowering assault of the enemy, - the care with which he led them across the perilous bridge, never ceasing his charge over them until he had seen the precious convoy safe on the road to Allahabad, and then burst upon the Gwalior contingent like a thunder-clap; - such things make us feel proud of our countrymen and inspire the conviction that the best and purest glow of chivalry is not dead, but vigorously lives among us yet.
The men belonged to several regiments then serving at the
WOMEN MUST BE SWAMPED;" and the brave men stood motionless. There was no boat remaining, and no hope of safety; but not a heart quailed; no one flinched from his duty in that trying moment.
"There was not a murmur nor a cry amongst them," said Captain Wright, a survivor, "until the vessel made her final plunge." Down went the ship, and down went the heroic band, firing A FEU DE JOIE as they sank beneath the waves. Glory and honour to the gentle and the brave! The examples of such men never die, but, like their memories, are immortal.
respect, will pervade the true gentleman's whole conduct. He will rather himself suffer a small injury, than by an uncharitable construction of another's behaviour, incur the risk of committing a great wrong. He will be forbearant of the weaknesses, the failings, and the errors, of those whose advantages in life have not been equal to his own. He will be merciful even to his beast. He will not boast of his wealth, or his strength, or his gifts.
He will not obtrude his views on others, but speak his mind freely when occasion calls for it. He will not confer favours with a patronizing air. Sir Walter Scott once said of Lord Lothian, "He is a man from whom one may receive a favour, and that's saying a
great deal in these days."
creature who, in matters relating to his country, ended by considering them only in so far as they rendered his own particular condition more comfortable and easy." - 'OEuvres de Tocqueville.' II. 349.
knitting; another, that being married and poor, his wife was under the necessity of contributing to their joint support by knitting;and that Lee, while watching the motion of his wife's fingers,conceived the idea of imitating their movements by a machine. The
latter story seems to have been invented by Aaron Hill, Esq., in his 'Account of the Rise and Progress of the Beech Oil manufacture,'
whereas the invention brought him only a heritage of misery, and he died abroad destitute.
the slur and pressing motions; but the application of traddles and of the feet eventually rendered the labour unnecessary."
chemise n'avoit seiche sur moy, encores pour me consoler on se moquoit de moy, et mesme ceux qui me devoient secourir alloient crier par la ville que je faisois brusler le plancher: et par tel moyen l'on me faisoit perdre mon credit et m'estimoit-on estre fol.
Les autres disoient que je cherchois e faire la fausse monnoye, qui estoit un mal qui me faisoit seicher sur les pieds; et m'en allois par les rues tout baisse comme un homme honteux: . . . personne ne me secouroit: Mais au contraire ils se mocquoyent de moy, en
disant: Il luy appartient bien de mourir de faim, par ce qu'il delaisse son mestier. Toutes ces nouvelles venoyent a mes aureilles quand je passois par la rue." 'OEuvres Completes de Palissy. Paris, 1844;' De l'Art de Terre, p. 315.
sorte que les liens de quoy j'attachois mes bas de chausses estoyent, soudain que je cheminois, sur les talons avec le residu de mes chausses." - 'OEuvres, 319-20.
Music.' The above particulars of his early life were communicated by himself to the author several years since, while he was still carrying on his business of a tallow-chandler at Masham.
performed with unsurpassed ability, justice, and honour.
anything at all, he knew how to feed an army.