Samuel P. (Samuel Penniman) Bates.

Lectures on mental and moral culture online

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Received October, 1894.
^Accessions No.*rLt*7. Class No.








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" Whatever career you embrace, propose to yourselves an elevated aim, and put in
its service an unalterable constancy." Lectures on the True, Beautiful, and Good. M.
VICTOR Cousin.

"Knowledge is acquired with difficulty, with the sweat of the brow, at the price of
humanity's perpetual labor. Spontaneity is innocence, the golden age of thought ; but
virtue is worth more than innocence, and virtue reom|^_^^conriunal struggle.'
History of Modern Philosophy. ID. "^



61 & 53 JOHN STREET.


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1859, by


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern
District of New York.



82 & 84 Beekman-st. cor. John and Dutch-sts.
















THE following Lectures, as the title indicates,
were prepared for the use of Teachers' Insti-
tutes, and have been delivered at intervals, be-
fore these bodies, during the past five years.
They were intended to be addressed to an as-
sembly of teachers and citizens, such as are
usually found at the evening sessions ; conse-
quently, they are not designed for the exclu-
sive reading of teachers.

The attempt has been, to make the opinions
developed thoroughly accord with the funda-
mental principles of our institutions and form
of government. The necessity to the safety
and prosperity of the State, that every child
should be educated, and that the wealth of
the country should pay for this education, has
been made a prominent feature.

There will not be found in this volume a


systematic treatise for the special guidance of
the teacher, but those motives and incentives
to preparation, which may serve to awaken in-
quiry and stimulate thought. In the hope
that it may contribute to the development of
our noble school system, it is submitted to
the public.

MEADVILLE, June 6, 1859.




T71YERY man should regard his profession with
J-^ pride. He should see in it something to chal-
lenge his admiration and win his affections. He
should seek to view it on its sunny side and in its
fairest aspects. He should feel that love and regard
for it that inspires him with energy and enthusiasm
in its pursuit, that enables him to triumph over its
difficulties, and to glory and revel in its charms.

He who looks upon his profession with disfavor,
who thinks meanly of its labors, and speaks dispar-
agingly of those who belong to it, will inevitably
be a drone. His labor will press upon him as
drudgery. The action of all his powers will be
sluggish, and in despising the pleasures of profes-
sional pride, he misses the finest enjoyment of active
life. There is no feeling more degrading to a man,
than the thought that he is engaged in a business of
which he is ashamed; than to feel that other men
look upon him with contempt because he labors
in it. It stifles every attempt to excel. It obscures


Eemark of Milton. Members of the body.

every spark of genius and sinks him to the rank
of a slave.

In one sense there is no calling that possesses
claims to dignity above another. The man who is
engaged in the most menial occupation that is honest,
may possess as pure a heart, as he who has won for
himself the greatest earthly fame. The humblest
laborer, that lugs bricks upon his back the day long,
may possess the spirit and honor of a nobleman.
" If two angels," says John Milton, " were to be sent
from heaven, the one to be monarch of an empire,
and the other to be a chimney sweeper, the difference
in their minds would not be the value of a straw."
Earthly and outward distinctions would have no
weight. To do the will of Him who sent them
would be their only care. To perform with fidelity
the duties of the occupation to which, for the time,
Providence has called us, should indeed be the
object of our solicitude.

But when we compare the results which the dif-
ferent callings in life are capable of producing, we
discover that there are different degrees of dignity to
which each is entitled. Aside from the purity of a
man's heart, and the fidelity with which he dis-
charges his duties, there are the effects which his la-
bors may produce upon those about him and upon
society. The members of the human body are all


Ignorance a source of ills. Teachings of Providence.

equally necessary to its life and symmetry, but in
the results of their action we readily admit the supe-
riority of some in dignity and importance. The
callings of life also have their comparative value,
and exert their respective influences in the economy
of the world's progress. Beyond the claims of the
personal dignity of the individual, and of integrity
and honor which should be cultivated in every pro-
fession, there are grounds of distinction in the results
of his labors. It makes very little difference with
the progress of humanity, whether a shoemaker dis-
plays great skill in his craft, or whether he be an
awkward fellow. The result in either case will be
the commendation or curses of a few dozen pimps
and dandies. But the man on whose skill and en-
ergy the permanent improvement, the mental growth
of large numbers of human beings depends, has a
higher destiny.

The noblest object for which any man can live is,
without doubt, the cultivation of that part of him
which is imperishable. It is the mind that governs
and directs us in all things, and if we would have
our lives well ordered, and would be wisely gov-
erned, we should seek first of all, generous mental
culture. The many ills to which we are subject, and
the troubles and vexations with which our lives are
beset, result principally from ignorance. If we look


Man created for improvement. Mental development only begun in this life.

abroad in the world, we see those classes of society
enjoying least of the rational pleasures of life who
have least knowledge. Those nations and tribes are
most barbarous and brutish who are the most igno-
rant. Self interest and present gratification, if these
only were consulted, would confirm us in this opinion.
The teachings of Providence point us to the same
conclusion. We are created with the special design
of improving our gifts. Had this not been the pur-
pose of our existence, the Creator would have en-
dowed us with instinct, and thus'have put us for ever
under the control of an iron necessity, like the beast
of the field, the bird of the air, and the insect that
flutters in the sunbeam. These can not improve
their gifts, and they have no need of improvement.
The cattle of to-day know no more than the cattle
in the time of Abraham. The bird builds her nest,
and the bee fashions its cell, as they did at creation's
dawn. Were these to live a thousand years they
would develop no new faculties, they would make
no improvement. Their knowledge is just sunicient
for their needs. They eat, and sleep, and then lie
down to die. But not so with the soul of man. It
is endowed with faculties susceptible of indefinite
expansion and improvement. At the earliest dawn
of existence development begins, and from infancy
to trembling age, he may by diligence and judicious


Obstacles to universal culture. Lord Bacon.

culture, add strength and knowledge to his increas-
ing stores. The accumulations of the fathers may be
handed down to the sons, and thus from generation
to generation, and from age to age, the soul of man,
profiting by all that has been before it, may go on
growing in strength and increasing in knowledge to
the last syllable of recorded time.

Nor does development cease here. There is a
more exalted view that opens beyond. The teach-
ings of Nature and the direct testimony of Kevela-
tion unite in proof, that the mortal life of man is but
the beginning of his mental training. It is only the
childhood to that more perfect development which
shall succeed. It will be the business of eternity
to unfold the height and depth of that knowledge
which we can here see but dimly, and with a vision
obscured by all those weaknesses to which flesh is
heir. Our best acquirements are comparatively in-
fantile and weak. The farther we advance in knowl-
edge only makes our weakness and folly more appar-
ent ; for the light which we gain, serves to show the
boundless extent of that which remains to be learned,
and leads us to that which it is not possible for us to
know with our present light. The shortness of life
prevents us from prosecuting at length those subjects
even which our present powers and helps fit us to
pursue. The great majority of mankind are pre-


Does God create for naught ? Employments in the future.

vented by their position in society, by the necessity
they are under of toiling early and late for the
maintenance of themselves and families, from devot-
ing the small space of this life to the development
of their spiritual natures. But the man who gives
his life to study is only able to master a few of the
elements of knowledge. Look at the mind of such
a man as Lord Bacon ! Possessed of a comprehen-
sion and a grasp which seemed to look upon the laws
of the material world as with the eye of a God !
which seemed to range the universe at will, and
pointed out those sound rules of investigation which
have conducted to the splendid triumphs of modern
science, and have reared so proud a trophy to his
name ! And yet he felt when he died that he had
but just entered the vestibule of knowledge ; that he
had only torn aside a few of the obstructions from
the field of discovery, and had set up an occasional
landmark to point the way ; that he had only
picked up a few pebbles upon the sea-shore, while
its great caverns were fall of hidden things and
mysteries, which his earnest mind was thirsting to
discover when he was called away ! And does God
create for naught? Does that Being bestow such
gifts without granting the means for their improve-
ment ? Though we but commence their cultivation
in the brief period that is alloted to us in life, we

Spiritual improvement our highest duty. Dignity of the Profession.

are impelled to the belief by every principle of hu-
man judgment, that abundant opportunity will be af-
forded for the full development of all our faculties,
and the comprehension of unbounded knowledge.
What more worthy occupation can employ our men-
tal powers in a future state ? Our physical needs
will then be at an end, for our employments will only
pertain to pure spirit. There will then be no occa-
sion for all that labor which is bestowed in acquiring
lands, and houses, and costly furniture, and in an-
swering those demands which are made upon us by
fashion and the eyes of other people. For, if our
lives have been consistent with His will, we shall
live in mansions that are prepared for us, we shall
need no protection or rest, for it is eternal sunshine
and summer ; we are dressed in the white robes of
purity, and the only occupations in which we can be
engaged will be such as pertain to us as pure intelli-

"We see then that the cultivation of the mind is
the noblest work we can accomplish for ourselves ;
that its results are unlimited in extent and unending
in duration ; that we derive from this the highest
gratification which a human being is capable of en-
joying ; that we thus begin that work of develop-
ment and improvement, for the attainment of which
we are without doubt expressly created ; and that we


JEneas at the tomb of Anchises.

thereby secure the approval of Him, whose will it is
our life and light to obey. For upon the faithful
servant, who used the talents with unceasing dili-
gence, were bestowed the cheering words of praise ;
while he who hid his talent in a napkin, was sent
away in disgrace with merited reproach.

If what has been said be true, we must conclude
that the profession, whose business it is to train the
faculties and energies of mind, to have under con-
trol the spirits of childhood, fresh from the Creator's
hand, to impart knowledge which shall be the basis
and key to other knowledge, to lay burdens that
will make strong the mental sinews, to draw out
and set in operation all the latent faculties, to un-
fold those laws immutable which exist in the phy-
sical, the mental, and the moral, to plan conquests
and execute designs where the agencies are imma-
terial and spiritual, and to be the instrument of
developing character that shall outlive the years of
mortal life, such a profession can not be excelled in
dignity. In our short-sighted judgment we are likely
to lose sight of the importance that should be at-
tached to it. The spiritual is too often obscured by
the material and the tangible.

When ^Eneas was crossing the seas, as it is given in
Virgil's beautiful poetic account, he landed upon that
island sacred to filial affection, and ordered games to


Comparison of the Professions. Triumphs of the Farmer.

be performed about the tomb of his father Anchises.
Among others he instituted prizes for those who
would try their " skill with the swift arrow." The
mark was a dove, tied high up upon the mast of the
vessel. But when he came to award the prize, it
was not bestowed upon him who hit the mast with
his arrow, nor upon him who severed the string, nor
yet upon him who pierced the dove in her upward
flight ; but it was given to that aged chieftain whose
far ascending shaft kindled amid the clouds of hea-
ven, and marked its track with flame.

We are apt to forget that we are created with
other faculties than those which pertain to us as ani-
mals, which minister simply to our physical ne-
cessities. Surrounded as we are by the strife of men
fast to be rich and eager to lay up goods where moth
corrupts and where thieves break through, we lose
sight of the fact that we have hearts and an emo-
tional nature which demand our care and culture.
Digestion is not the highest order of development of
which this being of ours is susceptible. Had growth
been the end of our existence, we could have been
created without the means of locomotion, and stood
with our arms extended like the oak of the forest.
Had we simply been designed to fulfill the conditions
of animal life, we could have been made like the lion
who devours his prey and then sleeps by his lair till


Dignity and value of Teaching.

he needs more. But how different in purpose and
destiny is the creation of man ! What powers of
thought and action is he not capable of displaying,
how generous in impulse, how lofty in purpose,
how sublime in virtue is he capable of becoming!
Who can fully realize the invention displayed by
Homer, the analytic acuteness of Aristotle, the sub-
lime virtue of Socrates, the intuitive perceptions of
Bacon, the broad generalizations of Newton, the in-
comparable acquaintance with human thought and
feeling displayed by Shakspeare, without entertain-
ing a more exalted view of man's nature and man's
destiny, and unceasing delight in the thought that he
is himself a man, possessed of a spirit akin to these ?

That we may have a just conception of the dignity
and value of teaching, and the relation it sustains to
the world's thinking, let us compare it with some of
the other professions which are most highly esteemed
among men, and are usually looked upon as the most
honorable and dignified.

It is indeed a noble occupation to till the soil.
What glorious triumphs has the hand of the hus-
bandman achieved ! He indeed eats the bread of
labor, he toils early and late, and his garments at
times are worn and dusty. But what shapes of
beauty and magnificence does the earth take beneath
his hand 1 He hews down the heavy forest, and lets


Remark of Cicero. Beauties of Creation.

the warm sunlight in upon the damp, mouldy earth.
He breaks the stubborn and rocky soil, and clothes
it with verdure. He digs deep trenches and plants
the vine, with careful hand he prunes the too luxu-
rious growth, and hangs beneath the broad green
leaves long clusters of purple grapes. Orchards of
mellow fruit glow in the autumnal sunshine, and
along the hills are ridges of golden corn. In sum-
mer time the choicest varieties of stock graze in the
meadow beside the cool brook, and in winter they
delight in warm shelter, and pure water, and un-
stinted feed : and he rejoices to see them eat and
thrive. It was that great lawyer and statesman,
Cicero, who said, when contemplating -amid the cares
of state, the freedom and ease he enjoyed when sur-
rounded by the labors of his farms, that it was his
greatest delight to see his ewes eat and his lambs

But beyond this limited view, to the husbandman
the volume of nature is wide open. He is in the
very midst of the Creator's laboratory. It is indeed
ennobling to be a tiller of the soil, and to see the
work of creation that is constantly going on, to
witness the changes that are taking place in the vege-
table, and mineral, and animal kingdoms, whereby
the subtle and unseen elements take forms of beauty
and magnificence the fragrant shrub, the stately



Eesults of the Farmer's labor. Life of the Teacher.

tree the diamond, and the ruby the graceful turns
and curves in the contour of the horse, the stately
bearing of the king of beasts, and the strong wing
of the king of birds. And yet, what is the purpose
of the husbandman's work ? What the end of all his
labors ? Why ! that when tlie seed time has passed
and the harvest has come, he may furnish the market
a few score bushels of grain, that he may fit for the
sacrifice a dozen bullocks, and half as many swine,
that he may store up in cellar and granary enough
to feed himself and family till harvest shall come

The life of the teacher is spent in a different
sphere. There are none of the elements of natural
beauty about him, that light up the path of the tiller
of the soil. The herds lowing for their keeper, barns
filled with plenty, the fruitery groaning with the
orchard's bounty, the broad, rich acres of nicely cul-
tivated land, are not his. His home, it may be, is
an up-stair tenement in some obscure court. His
mornings and his evenings are spent in study, pre-
paring for his daily task. If by chance he catch a
breath of fresh air, laden with the fragrance of new-
mown hay and apple blossoms, or the "sound of
bees' industrious murmur, " it is when wafted to him
as he passes the garden wall of the farmer. His days
are spent in the toil of the class-room. Patient and


Discouragements. Patience.

unceasing he must instruct the pupils committed to
his charge. One may be quick to apprehend, and
ready and attentive in all his tasks, while others are
drones and laggards. But he must adapt himself to
all. He may be obliged to repeat again and again,
processes and explanations the most simple in their
nature, and still realize the disheartening truth that
he has failed in making them understood by dull
and indolent members of his class. He may see his
instructions disregarded, and his good advice thrown
away. But he must be meek and patient still, and
renew his attempts as though all were equally apt to
learn and teachable in spirit, and never yield and
never tire in his exertions for the improvement and
welfare of the company that are gathered around
him. Indulgent parents may pour into his ear the
complaints of pampered and fault-finding children,
who have perhaps escaped un whipped of justice,
which, but for the kindness of his heart, would have
been meted out to them. But he must take it all in
sympathy and meekness, and still strive to go on in
harmony. Who can tell the heart-eating cares that
beset the life of the teacher in his accustomed round
of tasks? "Who can recount the burdens that he
bears on his bosom during his waking moments,
and the perplexities that disturb his midnight slum-


Imperishable material. Extent of inlluence.

Sucli is a picture of the daily life of the teacher.
As an occupation, as a means of support and pas-
time, it can not compare in independence and com-
fortable living with that of the cultivation of the
earth. But what is the end of his labors? The
work which the teacher accomplishes is unending in
its results. Eternity will alone suffice to measure
the fruits of his industry. He works upon a mate-
rial that will never perish. When he labors to
bring into operation all those faculties with which
the minds of his pupils are endowed, and inspires by
his enthusiasm their young hearts with a love for
learning, and a reverence for the truths of science,
and the beauties of literature, he wakes to action the
energies of a living soul, he tunes an instrument
strung by the hand of the Creator, that will never
cease to yield harmonious sounds. He disciplines,
and trains for usefulness in life, those who come un-
der his charge. But the influence of that training is
not confined to those who received it. They go forth
into life to impart to others in turn what they have
realized ;

" And each, as he receives the flame,
"Will light his altar with its ray."

What calling merely secular can equal in dignity a
work like this ? What profession in which the re-


Co-worker with the Creator. The Lawyer.

sponsibilities are so great, in which the future teems
with results so momentous ? The teacher is no less
a personage than a co-worker with the Creator in the
highest manifestations of his power. Without de-
velopment, the mind of man is naught but a blank,
a waste without beauty and without use. But when
the hand of culture is laid upon it, it praises alike
the handiwork of the Creator, and the developments
it receives from him who trains it. So that the work
of the latter approximates in dignity to the former.

There is a grandeur in the profession of the law
which is hardly equaled among the callings of life.
Though so often sneered at and despised, for the
reason that no profession is more shamefully abused
by many of the class who should defend its honor
and uphold its dignity, yet in its true purpose, and
in its legitimate results it challeuges our respect and
veneration. It is the business of the lawyer to search
out the facts which shall show innocence or guilt,
and thereby establish justice. The notion of a judg-
ment for the purpose of establishing right, is one
that inheres in the human mind, and is essential to
veracity and honor. "We can scarcely conceive a
more exalted idea than that of a general judgment,
when all the wrongs of ages shall be righted, when
the rights of the abused and long-suffering shall be
vindicated. But such is the daily labor of the law-


Defense of the guilty. Dignity of the law.

yer. His office is to correct the wrongs which man
suffers at the hands of his fellow-man. The idea
very generally prevails, that an advocate can not
take up on the side of the guilty without compro-
mising his honor and his integrity. But even the cul-
prit has rights which should be respected and de-
fended. Because he is in the hands of the law and
powerless, he should not be abused by the party that
is interested to crush him. He should not be made
to suffer for more than he is guilty of. It is quite as
honorable to defend and protect conscientiously the
rights of the accused, as- to be engaged in the prose-
cution> and even more creditable to a man's heart :

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Online LibrarySamuel P. (Samuel Penniman) BatesLectures on mental and moral culture → online text (page 1 of 22)