Thus we learn to look into what we hear and into what we see and try to find how much thought there is in it, and the kind of thought it is. We want to know if goodness is expressed; if the best work of the man is before us, or if, for a lower reason, his selfishness and vanity are most prominent. And let us remember that as we seek these things in the works of others, so others of thoughtful kind will watch our doings, our playing, our speech, our little habits, and all to see what our intentions are each time we express ourselves. They will look to see what thoughts we are putting into our doings, whether thoughts of goodness or of selfishness. And our actions will always be just as good as the thought we put into them.
Now a great and a common mistake is, that sometimes we hope by some mysterious change, as in a fairy tale, that they will be better than what we intend. But in the first days let us learn that this is not possible.
“Genuine work done faithfully, that is eternal.”—Thomas Carlyle.
The older we grow and the more we study, the more we shall hear about the classics, about classic music, and classic art, and classic books. From the beginning let us keep it in our minds that one of our duties is to find out the difference between what is classic and what is not. Then we shall have a proper understanding. An English writer on art says: “The writers and painters of the classic school set down nothing but what is known to be true, and set it down in the perfectest manner possible in their way."
And we have already learned that thought from the heart, expressed in tones, is good music. On the other hand, a thought with the heart not in it, expressed in tone, makes poor or common music. Mendelssohn wrote in one of his letters: “When I have composed a piece just as it springs from my heart, then I have done my duty toward it." But in writing thoughts, whether in words or in tones, there is a very important thing to add to the bidding of the heart. It is the training of the mind. With both of these one works and judges wisely.
With thought and intention ever so pure, but with no education, one would not be able to write for others, and with a little education one would be able to write only in a partially correct way. This brings us to one of the most interesting Talks we shall have. Let us try to make it clear and simple.
We can easily imagine a man both true and good who can neither write nor spell. Happily, in these days, nearly all people who are old enough know how to do both. We can understand that this man may have beautiful thoughts—the thoughts of a true poet or of a true artist—but being unable to write or to spell he could not put his thoughts on paper for others to read and to study. This is the way thoughts are preserved and made into books so that people may benefit by them.