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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

Or discern any connection between Runnymede and Fort Sumter


own mind and disciplining her

own heart and strengthening and beautifying her own body, for cultivating the possible beneficences of society, for genial and growing acquaintance and sympathy with the poets, the philosophers, the historians, and the sages, than the mother of five children had fifty years ago. I suppose more women now-a-days know how to read and write; but do they read and write? Of the people in your village, your street, your sewing-society: how many do you find who spend as much as an hour a day in reading Milton, or Chaucer, or Spenser, or Tennyson, or Mrs. Browning? How many are there who are familiar with Hume, or Robertson, or Macaulay, or Motley, or Palfrey? How many have lingered with delight over the pages of Lord Bacon, or Jeremy Taylor, or John Stuart Mill? How many know the relation between a cat and a tiger, or what are the ingredients of buttermilk, or why yeast makes bread rise, or how the heat of the oven works, or whether a cloverhead has anything to do with a marrowfat pea? How many are interested to peer into the mysteries of the heavens above or the earth beneath or the waters under the earth? How many ever heard of the Areopigitica or the Witena-gemot, or discern any connection between Runnymede and Fort Sumter, or have the faintest opinion as to whether Runnymede is a man or a mouse? How many can tell you whether the Reformation was a revelation confronting a superstition or a fruitful branch grafted upon a barren olive-tree, or an old religion throwing off the layers
of acquired corruption? How many understand the origin and bearings of Calvinism or the Nicene Creed or the Pauline Epistles? I speak, you see, not of things which have passed away leaving only a slender and hidden thread of connection, but of those which still touch life at many points. The great boast of the present day is the dissemination of knowledge: but knowledge is trash if it is not assimilated into wisdom. Knowledge which is simply plastered on to the outside of the soul and does not chemically combine to become part and parcel of the soul's substance, produces an effect little better than grotesque. Names and dates may store the memory; but why have the memory stored if you do not use its treasures? What better off am I for having a heap of isolated facts in my lumber-room if I have nothing for those facts to do? I may know in what year the battle of Hastings was fought, but unless I can locate that battle otherwhere than in geography and chronology, I might as well have committed to the charge of my memory the youthful facts of

"Onery Twoery ickery see, Halibut crackibut pendalee. Pin pon musket John, Triddle traddlecome Twenty-one."

Bricks and boards are neither shelter from wind nor shade from sun. It is only when all are fitly framed together into the strength and sweetness of spirit that they become the temple of the living God, whereinto Shekinah shall come. We talk about the universal circulation of newspapers, but sometimes it seems to me that newspapers are only an enormous expansion of village gossip. Now if a murder is committed in New York we hear of it, whereas formerly we did not know it unless it were committed in the next town. But such knowledge we could very readily dispense with. Is anything added to the worth of life by learning that Bridget McArthy has been fined five dollars and costs for breaking Ellen Maloney's windows. In the old wars, it was three weeks after a victory was gained before you heard of it; now you hear of it six months before the battle is fought, and after all it turns out to be no victory, but a masterpiece of strategy.[2] What I wish to know is this: does the constant interflow of currents really deepen and broaden the channel of life? Are women any stronger of will, firmer of purpose, broader of view, sounder of judgment, than they used to be? Can they front fortune with serener brow, unawed by her malice, unflattered by her promise, unmoved by her caprice? Are they any more independent of the circumstances of life, any more concentrated in its essence? Do they think more deeply, love more nobly, live more spiritually? Are they any more divorced from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; any more wedded to whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report?


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