MORE THAN 100 YEARS OLD 20 MAXIMS
THOMAS DAVIDSON: A KNIGHT-ERRANT OF THE INTELLECTUAL LIFE
REMARKS OF WILLIAM JAMES ( 1842-1910) IN HIS MEMORIES AND STUDIES.
I wish to pay my tribute to the memory of a Scottish-American friend of mine who died five years ago, a man of a character extraordinarily and intensely human, in spite of the fact that he was classed by obituary articles in England among the twelve most learned men of his time.
It would do no honor to Thomas Davidson’s memory not to be frank about him. He handled people without gloves, himself, and one has no right to retouch his photograph until its features are softened into insipidity. He had defects and excesses which he wore upon his sleeve, so that everyone could see them. They made him many enemies, and if one liked quarrelling he was an easy man to quarrel with. But his heart and mind held treasures of the rarest. He had a genius for friendship. Money, place, fashion, fame, and other vulgar idols of the tribe had no hold on his imagination. He led his own life absolutely, in whatever company he found himself, and the intense individualism which he taught by word and deed, is the lesson of which our generation is perhaps most in need.
Davidson himself was always essentially a teacher. He must give forth, inspire, and have the young about him. After leaving Boston for Europe and Africa, founding the Fellowship of the New Life in London and New York (the present Fabian Society in England is its offshoot), he hit upon the plan which pleased him best of all when, in 1882 or thereabouts, he bought a couple of hundred acres on East Hill, which closes the beautiful Keene Valley in the Adirondacks, on the north, and founded there, at the foot of Hurricane Mountain, his place “Glenmore” and its “Summer School of the Culture Sciences.”
IN ONE OF HIS LETTERS TO THE CLASS, DAVIDSON SUMS UP THE RESULTS OF HIS OWN EXPERIENCE OF LIFE IN TWENTY MAXIMS, AS FOLLOWS:
1. Rely upon your own energies, and do not wait for, or depend on other people.
2. Cling with all your might to your own highest ideals, and do not be led astray by such vulgar aims as wealth, position, popularity. Be yourself.
3. Your worth consists in what you are, and not in what you have. What you are will show in what you do.
4. Never fret, or envy. Do not make yourself unhappy by comparing your circumstances with those of more fortunate people; but make the most of the opportunities you have. Employ profitably every moment.
5. Associate with the noblest people you can find; read the best books; live with the mighty. But learn to be happy alone.
6. Do not believe that all greatness and heroism are in the past. Learn to discover princes, prophets, heroes, and saints among the people about you. Be assured they are there.
7. Be on earth what good people hope to be in heaven.
8. Cultivate ideal friendships, and gather into an intimate circle all your acquaintances who are hungering for truth and right. Remember that heaven itself can be nothing but the intimacy of pure and noble souls.
9. Do not shrink from any useful or kindly act, however hard or repellent it may be. The worth of acts is measured by the spirit in which they are performed.
10. If the world despises you because you do not follow its ways, pay no heed to it. But be sure your way is right.
11. If a thousand plans fail, be not disheartened. As long as your purposes are right, you have not failed.
12. Examine yourself every night, and see whether you have progressed in knowledge, sympathy, and helpfulness during the day. Count every day a loss in which no progress has been made.
13. Seek enjoyment in energy, not in dalliance. Our worth is measured solely by what we do.
14. Let not your goodness be professional; let it be the simple, natural outcome of your character. Therefore cultivate character.
15. If you do wrong, say so, and make what atonement you can. That is true nobleness. Have no moral debts.
16. When in doubt how to act, ask your self, What does nobility command? Be on good terms with yourself.
17. Look for no reward for goodness but goodness itself. Remember heaven and hell are utterly immoral institutions, if they are meant as reward and punishment.
18. Give whatever countenance and help you can to every movement and institution that is working for good. Be not sectarian.
19. Wear no placards, within or without. Be human fully.
20. Never be satisfied until you have understood the meaning of the world, and the purpose of our own life, and have reduced your world to a rational cosmos.
CATEGORY: SELF DEVELOPMENT..
TAGS: SELF RELIANCE, IDEALS, PERSONALITY, COMPARISON, HEROISM, TRUTH, COURAGE, ANALYSIS,NOBILITY, DEEDS, ATONEMENT, HUMANITY,PROFESSIONALISM, OPPORTUNITY, FRIENSSHIPS.
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