[Notes:_Art is long, and time is fleeting_. A translation from the Latin, Ars longa, vita brevis est.
The metaphor in the last two stanzas in this page is strangely mixed. Footprints could hardly be seen by those sailing over the main.]
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In no place in the world has individual character more weight than at a public school. Remember this, I beseech you, all you boys who are getting into the upper forms. Now is the time in all your lives, probably, when you may have more wide influence for good or evil in the society you live in than you ever can have again. Quit yourselves like men, then; speak up, and strike out, if necessary, for whatsoever is true, and manly, and lovely, and of good report; never try to be popular, but only to do your duty, and help others to do theirs, and you may leave the tone of feeling in the school higher than you found it, and so be doing good, which no living soul can measure, to generations of your countrymen yet unborn. For boys follow one another in herds like sheep, for good or evil; they hate thinking, and have rarely any settled principles. Every school, indeed, has its own traditionary standard of right and wrong, which cannot be transgressed with impunity, marking certain things as low and blackguard, and certain others as lawful and right. This standard is ever varying, though it changes only slowly, and little by little; and, subject only to such standard, it is the leading boys for the time being who give the tone to all the rest, and make the school either a noble institution for the training of Christian Englishmen, or a place where a young boy will get more evil than he would if he were turned out to make his way in London streets, or anything between these two extremes.
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“I want to be at work in the world,” said Tom, “and not dawdling away three years at Oxford.”
“What do you mean by ‘at work in the world?’” said the master, pausing, with his lips close to his saucerful of tea, and peering at Tom over it.
“Well, I mean real work; one’s profession, whatever one will have really to do, and make one’s living by. I want to be doing some real good, feeling that I am not only at play in the world,” answered Tom, rather puzzled to find out himself what he really did mean.
“You are mixing up two very different things in your head, I think, Brown,” said the master, putting down the empty saucer, “and you ought to get clear about them. You talk of ‘working to get your living,’ and ‘doing some real good in the world,’ in the same breath. Now, you may be getting a very good living in a profession, and yet doing no good at all in the world, but quite the contrary, at the same time. Keep the latter