Heart of Man eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 230 pages of information about Heart of Man.
looks down even from blue skies that have kept watch o’er man’s mortality,—­so, even through failure, to draw nearer to our race; this, as I conceive it, is to lead the ideal life.  It is a message blended of many voices of the poets whom Shelley called, whatever might be their calamity on earth, the most fortunate of men; it rises from all lands, all ages, all religions; it is the battle-cry of that one great idea whose slow and hesitating growth is the unfolding of our long civilization, seeking to realize in democracy the earthly, and in Christianity the heavenly, hope of man,—­the idea of the community of the soul, the sameness of it in all men.  To lead this life is to be one with man through love, one with the universe through knowledge, one with God through the will; that is its goal, toward that we strive, in that we believe.

And Thou, O Youth, for whom these lines are written, fear not; idealize your friend, for it is better to love and be deceived than not to love at all; idealize your masters, and take Shelley and Sidney to your bosom, so shall they serve you more nobly and you love them more sweetly than if the touch and sight of their mortality had been yours indeed; idealize your country, remembering that Brutus in the dagger-stroke and Cato in his death-darkness knew not the greater Rome, the proclaimer of the unity of our race, the codifier of justice, the establisher of our church, and died not knowing,—­but do you believe in the purpose of God, so shall you best serve the times to be; and in your own life, fear not to act as your ideal shall command, in the constant presence of that other self who goes with you, as I have said, so shall you blend with him at the end.  Fear not either to believe that the soul is as eternal as the order that obtains in it, wherefore you shall forever pursue that divine beauty which has here so touched and inflamed you,—­for this is the faith of man, your race, and those who were fairest in its records.  And have recourse always to the fountains of this life in literature, which are the wells of truth.  How to live is the one matter; the wisest man in his ripe age is yet to seek in it; but Thou, begin now and seek wisdom in the beauty of virtue and live in its light, rejoicing in it; so in this world shall you live in the foregleam of the world to come.


Democracy is a prophecy, and looks to the future; it is for this reason that it has its great career.  Its faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen, whose realization will be the labour of a long age.  The life of historic nations has been a pursuit toward a goal under the impulse of ideas often obscurely comprehended,—­world-ideas as we call them,—­which they have embodied in accomplished facts and in the institutions and beliefs of mankind, lasting through ages; and as each nation has slowly grown aware of the idea which animated it, it has become self-conscious and conscious of greatness.  That men are born equal is still a doctrine openly derided; that they are born free is not accepted without much nullifying limitation; that they are born in brotherhood is less readily denied.  These three, the revolutionary words, liberty, equality, fraternity, are the substance of democracy, if the matter be well considered, and all else is but consequence.

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Heart of Man from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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