What is the practical use of all this study? Ever since I first read Esoteric Buddhism, my attention has been turned to the confirmation of its theory of human development. As I ride in the horse-car, as I walk on the street, still more constantly as I stand before one class after another in the school-room, I am struck with the thought that here, behind the face I am looking into, is a human soul whose capacities are limited—a soul that cannot grasp the thought which catches like a spark upon the mind of its next neighbor. Yet that half-awakened soul is destined to work its way through all the phases of human possibility, and reach at last the harbor of peace. This thought should make one ashamed to be impatient or negligent. Why should one lose patience with this boy’s inability to learn, more than at the inanimate obstacle in one’s pathway? How can one be unfaithful in one’s effort, when it may be the means of lessening the number of times that that poor soul must pass through earthly life?
Do I believe in the teachings of this book? I do not know. So far as the doctrine of repeated incarnation goes, I hold it to be not inconsistent with Christianity; but rather an explanation of Christ’s coming upon earth at the precise time when he did. I still hold the subject of Buddhistic philosophy as a matter for very serious and edifying reflection.
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By Charles Cowley, LL.D.
FLETCHER WEBSTER, son of Daniel and Grace (Fletcher) Webster, was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, July 23, 1813. He was but three years old when his father removed to Boston, where he was fitted for college in the Public Latin School,—the nursery of so many eminent men.
On the seventeenth of June, 1825, when Lafayette laid the cornerstone of the monument on Bunker Hill, when Daniel Webster delivered one of the most famous of his orations, Fletcher Webster, then twelve years old, was present. “The vast procession, impatient of unavoidable delay, broke the line of march, and, in a tumultuous crowd, rushed towards the orator’s platform,” which was in imminent danger of being crushed to the earth. Fletcher Webster was only saved from being trampled under foot, by the thoughtful care of George Sullivan, who lifted the boy upon his own shoulders, shouting, “Don’t kill the orator’s son!” and bore him through the crowd, and placed him upon the staging at his father’s feet. It required the utmost efforts of Daniel Webster to control that multitudinous throng. “Stand back, gentlemen!” he repeatedly shouted with his double-bass voice; “you must stand back!” “We can’t stand back, Mr. Webster; it is impossible!” cried a voice in the crowd. Mr. Webster replied, in tones of thunder: “On Bunker Hill nothing is impossible.” And the crowd stood back.
At the age of sixteen, he lost his mother by death. This was the greatest of all the calamities that happened to his father, and it was not less unfortunate for himself, for it deprived him of the best influence that ever contributed to mould his career.