“La vertu maitresse d’aujourd’hui est la spontaneite resolue, reglee par les principes interieurs et les disciplines volontairement acceptees.”—Y. Le QUERDEC.
The value set on character, even if the appreciation goes no further than words, has increased very markedly within the last few years, and in reaction against an exclusively mental training we hear louder and louder the plea for the formation and training of character.
Primarily the word character signifies a distinctive mark, cut, engraved, or stamped upon a substance, and by analogy, this is likewise character in the sense in which it concerns education. A “man of character” is one in whom acquired qualities, orderly and consistent, stand out on the background of natural temperament, as the result of training and especially of self-discipline, and therefore stamped or engraved upon something receptive which was prepared for them. This something receptive is the natural temperament, a basis more or less apt to receive what training and habit may bring to bear upon it. The sum of acquired habits tells upon the temperament, and together with it produce or establish character, as the arms engraved upon the stone constitute the seal.
If habits are not acquired by training, and instead of them temperament alone has been allowed to have its way in the years of growth, the seal bears no arms engraven on it, and the result is want of character, or a weak character, without distinctive mark, showing itself in the various situations of life inconsistent, variable, unequal to strain, acting on the impulse, good or bad, of the moment; its fitful strength in moods of obstinacy or self-will showing that it lacks the higher qualities of rational discernment and self-control.