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Resources for students & teachers

Orison Swett Marden
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 151 pages of information about Eclectic School Readings.

TO-DAY

    For the structure that we raise,
      Time is with materials filled;
    Our to-days and yesterdays
      Are the blocks with which we build.

Longfellow.

To-day!  To-day!  It is ours, with all its magic possibilities of being and doing.  Yesterday, with its mistakes, misdeeds, lost opportunities, and failures, is gone forever.  With the morrow we are not immediately concerned.  It is but a promise yet to be fulfilled.  Hidden behind the veil of the future, it may dimly beckon us, but it is yet a shadowy, unsubstantial vision, one that we, perhaps, never may realize.  But to-day, the Here, the Now, that dawned upon us with the first hour of the morn, is a reality, a precious possession upon the right use of which may depend all our future of happiness and success, or of misery and failure; for

“This day we fashion Destiny, our web of Fate we spin.”

Lest he should forget that Time’s wings are swift and noiseless, and so rapidly bear our to-days to the Land of Yesterday, John Ruskin, philosopher, philanthropist, and tireless worker though he was, kept constantly before his eyes on his study table a large, handsome block of chalcedony, on which was graven the single word “To-day.”  Every moment of this noble life was enriched by the right use of each passing moment.

A successful merchant, whose name is well-known throughout our country, very tersely sums up the means by which true success may be attained.  “It is just this,” he says:  “Do your best every day, whatever you have in hand.”

This simple rule, if followed in sunshine and in storm, in days of sadness as well as days of gladness, will rear for the builder a Palace Beautiful more precious than pearls of great price, more enduring than time.

The mill boy of the slashes

A picturesque, as well as pathetic figure, was Henry Clay, the little “Mill Boy of the Slashes,” as he rode along on the old family horse to Mrs. Darricott’s mill.  Blue-eyed, rosy-cheeked, and bare-footed, clothed in coarse shirt and trousers, and a time-worn straw hat, he sat erect on the bare back of the horse, holding, with firm hand, the rope which did duty as a bridle.  In front of him lay the precious sack, containing the grist which was to be ground into meal or flour, to feed the hungry mouths of the seven little boys and girls who, with the widowed mother, made up the Clay family.

It required a good deal of grist to feed so large a family, especially when hoecake was the staple food, and it was because of his frequent trips to the mill, across the swampy region called the “Slashes,” that Henry was dubbed by the neighbors “The Mill Boy of the Slashes.”

The lad was ambitious, however, and, very early in life, made up his mind that he would win for himself a more imposing title.  He never dreamed of winning world-wide renown as an orator, or of exchanging his boyish sobriquet for “The Orator of Ashland.”  But he who forms high ideals in youth usually far outstrips his first ambition, and Henry had “hitched his wagon to a star.”

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