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THE CELESTIAL SURGEON
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
IF I have faltered more or less
STUDY HINTS Does Stevenson consider his task one merely of being happy himself, or also of making others happy? What lines prove your opinion? What are some of the things that he thinks should cause happiness? Would you find it in the same things? It is the idea of this poem, which he held during years of ill health, that has made Stevenson beloved of so many readers.
SUGGESTIONS FOR ADDITIONAL READINGS Read Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verse and see how many forms of happiness he shows in those poems. Can you find a similar idea in The Tomb of Tusitala, by Stevenson? “Tusitala,” "teller of tales,” was the name given Stevenson by the South Sea Islanders whom he used to entertain with his stories.
THE GAME OF LIFE 1
THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY
Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), the famous scientist, was born in England in the little village of Ealing near London. He began as early as 1855 lecturing in simple language to workingmen on the laws of nature and man's place in nature. He was a close student of nature throughout his long life. His lectures and publications on this subject in both America and England won for him in 1883 the presidency of the famous Royal Society, which was the highest honor in the gift of the scientific world. His ideal was: to be in work and life absolutely sincere. See also:
SUPPOSE it were perfectly certain that the life and fortune of every one of us would, one day or other, depend upon his winning or losing a game of chess. Don't you think that we should all consider it to be a primary duty to learn at least the names and the moves of the pieces; to have a notion of a gambit, and a keen eye for all the means of giving and getting out of check? Do you not think that we should look with a disapprobation amounting to scorn, upon the father who allowed his son, or the state which allowed its members, to grow up without knowing a pawn from a knight?
Yet it is very plain and elementary truth, that the life, the fortune, and the happiness of every one of us, and, more or less, of those who are connected with us, do depend upon our knowing something of the rules of a game infinitely 1 From A Liberal Education and Where to Find It (1868).
more difficult and complicated than chess. It is a game which has been played for untold ages, every man and woman of us being one of the two players in a game of his or her own. The chessboard is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. We know that his play is always fair, just, and patient. But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance. To the man who plays well, the highest stakes are paid, with that sort of overflowing generosity with which the strong shows delight in strength. And one who plays ill is checkmated — without haste, but without remorse.
My metaphor will remind some of you of the famous picture in which Retzsch has depicted Satan playing at chess with man for his soul. Substitute for that mocking fiend in that picture a calm, strong angel who is playing for love, as we say, and would rather lose than win — and I should accept it as an image of human life.
Well, what I mean by education is learning the rules of this mighty game. In other words, education is the instruction of the intellect in the laws of nature, under which name I include not merely things and their forces, but men and their ways; and the fashioning of the affections and of the will into an earnest and loving desire to move in harmony with those laws. For me, education means neither more nor less than this. Anything which professes to call itself education must be tried by this standard, and if it fails to stand the test, I will not call it education, whatever may be the force of authority, or of numbers, upon the other side.
STUDY HINTS Give in your own words the substance of what Huxley says in the first paragraph. Do you think he is arguing correctly? Why is the game of chess something like the game of life? Suppose that you do not know the physical laws of digestion, ventilation, temperance, cleanliness; should punishment follow? Will it follow ? Suppose that you do not know or obey the moral laws of life, what is the result? Are the Ten Commandments some of the rules of the game of life? Do you know whether Shakespeare and Huxley agree? Did you ever hear of any of Shakespeare's characters endeavoring to “shove past consequence" and do you know whether they succeeded? If you have not yet read Shakespeare, can you point to instances in history? In your own neighborhood? Which is the sweeter and happier and more inspiring, Huxley's idea of the hidden player or Retzsch's? Give Huxley's definition of education. What does he include under the “laws of nature"? Under which of his classifications (intellect, affections, will) would he put the control of one's temper, sympathy with human beings, the power to say “No” to temptation, a Good Samaritan act? What sort of reward does Huxley say comes to the man who plays the game of life well?
SUGGESTIONS FOR ADDITIONAL READINGS A Natural History for Young People. Theodore Wood. Starland. Sir Robert I. Ball. The Fairyland of Science. A. B. Buckley. The Boy Mineral Collectors. Jay G. Kelley. Scholars' A. B. C. of Electricity. William H. Meadowcroft. Things a Boy Should Know About Electricity. Thomas M. St. John. The Boys' Book of Explorations. Tudor Jenks. The Boys' Book of Modern Marvels. C. J. L. Clarke. The Land of Little Rain. Mary Austin. Camp and Trail. Stewart Edward White. Our Vanishing Wild Life. W. T. Hornaday. Trail and Camp Fire. Grinnell and Roosevelt. The Life of the Spider. Henri Fabre. Nearest the Pole. Robert E. Peary.
A COUNTRY SUNDAY 1
Joseph Addison (1672–1719) was born in Wiltshire, England. He was trained for the diplomatic service and held many offices of state, including that of chief Secretary of State. He had a singularly winning personality. This sketch was taken from his most famous work, the Sir Roger de Coverley Papers, which were published in The Spectator, a paper issued six days of the week. This series forms a most entertaining description of an English country gentleman, Sir Roger de Coverley, and the people of Addison's day. Addison was buried in Westminster Abbey, the resting place of many of England's most famous men. See also:
Halleck's New English Literature, pp. 285-292, 302.
I am always very well pleased with a country Sunday, and think if keeping holy the seventh day were only a human institution, it would be the best method that could have been thought of for the polishing and civilizing of mankind. It is certain the country people would soon degenerate into a kind of savages and barbarians, were there not such frequent returns of a stated time in which the whole village meet together with their best faces and in their cleanliest habits to converse with one another upon indifferent subjects, hear their duties explained to them, and join together in adoration of the Supreme Being. Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week, not only as it refreshes in their minds the
1 From The Spectator, No. 112, Monday, July 9, 1711.