Elsie Venner eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 516 pages of information about Elsie Venner.
So there are families which refine themselves into intellectual aptitude without having had much opportunity for intellectual acquirements.  A series of felicitous crosses develops an improved strain of blood, and reaches its maximum perfection at last in the large uncombed youth who goes to college and startles the hereditary class-leaders by striding past them all.  That is Nature’s republicanism; thank God for it, but do not let it make you illogical.  The race of the hereditary scholar has exchanged a certain portion of its animal vigor for its new instincts, and it is hard to lead men without a good deal of animal vigor.  The scholar who comes by Nature’s special grace from an unworn stock of broad-chested sires and deep-bosomed mothers must always overmatch an equal intelligence with a compromised and lowered vitality.  A man’s breathing and digestive apparatus (one is tempted to add muscular) are just as important to him on the floor of the Senate as his thinking organs.  You broke down in your great speech, did you?  Yes, your grandfather had an attack of dyspepsia in ’82, after working too hard on his famous Election Sermon.  All this does not touch the main fact:  our scholars come chiefly from a privileged order, just as our best fruits come from well-known grafts, though now and then a seedling apple, like the Northern Spy, or a seedling pear, like the Seckel, springs from a nameless ancestry and grows to be the pride of all the gardens in the land.

Let me introduce you to a young man who belongs to the Brahmin caste of New England.


The student and his certificate.

Bernard C. Langdon, a young man attending Medical Lectures at the school connected with one of our principal colleges, remained after the Lecture one day and wished to speak with the Professor.  He was a student of mark,—­first favorite of his year, as they say of the Derby colts.  There are in every class half a dozen bright faces to which the teacher naturally, directs his discourse, and by the intermediation of whose attention he seems to hold that of the mass of listeners.  Among these some one is pretty sure to take the lead, by virtue of a personal magnetism, or some peculiarity of expression, which places the face in quick sympathetic relations with the lecturer.  This was a young man with such a face; and I found,—­for you have guessed that I was the “Professor” above-mentioned,—­that, when there was anything difficult to be explained, or when I was bringing out some favorite illustration of a nice point, (as, for instance; when I compared the cell-growth, by which Nature builds up a plant or an animal, to the glassblower’s similar mode of beginning,—­always with a hollow sphere, or vesicle, whatever he is going to make,) I naturally looked in his face and gauged my success by its expression.

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Elsie Venner from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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