Oct 12, 2007

19th Century Wisdom

10/12/2007 — cori

I love old books. I have a huge collection of them. I have learned so much by reading things written in the style of times gone by. I especially enjoy old school readers. One of my favorites is a book called "Osgood's Progressive Third Reader" that Gavin will read aloud to me once in a while. From this book,I have learned many a valuable lesson. I came across this beautiful story the other day and thought it was worth sharing. I hope you enjoy reading it:

Improve the Intellect
by Lucius Osgood, 1855

Look at the spreading oak, that pride of the village green! its trunk is massy, its branches are strong. Its roots, like crooked fangs, strike deep into the soil, and support its huge bulk. The birds build among the boughs; the cattle repose beneath its shade; the neighbors form groups beneath the shelter of its green canopy. The old men point it out to their children, but they themselves remember not its growth; generations of men, one after another, have been born and died, and this son of the forest has remained the same, defying the storms of two hundred winters.

Yet this large tree was once a little acorn; small in size insignificant in appearance; such as you are now picking up from the grass beneath it. Such an acorn, whose cup can only contain a drop or two of dew, contained the whole oak. All its massy trunk, all its knotted branches, all its multitude of leaves, were in that acorn; it grew, it spread, it unfolded itself by degrees, it received nourishment from the rain, and the dews, and the well-adapted soil; but it was all there. Rain, and dews, and soil could not raise an oak without the acorn; nor could they make the acorn any thing but an oak.

The mind of a child is like the acorn; its powers are folded up, they do not yet appear, but they are all there. The memory, the judgment, the invention, the feeling of right and wrong, are all in the mind of a child - of a little infant just born; but they are not expanded, you cannot perceive them. Think of the wisest man you ever knew of heart of; think of the greatest man; think of the most learned man who speaks a number of languages, and can find out hidden things; think of a man who stands like that tree, sheltering and protecting a number of his fellow men; and then say to yourself, The mind of that man was once like mine - his thoughts were childish like my thoughts - nay, he was like the babe just born, which knows nothing, remembers nothing, which cannot distinguish good from evil, nor truth from falsehood.

If you had seen an acorn, you could never guess at the form and size of an oak; if you had never conversed with a wise man, you cold form no idea of him from the mute and helpless infant. Instruction is the food of the mind; it is like the dew, and the rain, and the rich soil. As the soil and the rain and the dew cause the tree to swell and put forth its tender shoots, so do books and study and discourse feed the mind, and make it unfold its hidden powers.

Reverence therefore, your own mind; receive the nurture of instruction, that the man within you may grow and flourish. you cannot guess how excellent he may become. It was long before this oak showed its greatness; year after year passed away, and it had only shot a little way above the ground; a child might have plucked it up with his little hands; it was long before any one called it a tree; and it is long before the child becomes a man. The acorn might have perished in the ground, the young tree might have been shorn of its graceful boughs, the twig might have bent, and the tree would have been crooked; but if it grew at all it could have been nothing but an oak: it would not have been grass or flowers, which live their season, and then perish from the face of the earth. The child may be a foolish man, he may be a wicked man, but he must be a man; his nature is not that of any inferior creature, his soul is not akin to the beasts which perish.

Oh, cherish, then this precious mind; feed it with truth, nourish it with knowledge; it comes from God, it is made in his image: the oak will last for centuries of years, but the mind of man is made for immortality. Respect in the infant the future man. Destroy not in the man the rudiments of an angel.

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