"Young men," he replied, "I know of a better expedition than this, right here. Near your own feet lie treasures untold; you can have them all by faithful study.
"Let us not be content to mine the most coal, to make the largest locomotives, to weave the largest quantities of carpets; but, amid the sounds of the pick, the blows of the hammer, the rattle of the looms, and the roar of the machinery, take care that the immortal mechanism of God's own hand — the mind — is still full-trained for the highest and noblest service."
The uneducated man is always placed at a great disadvantage. No matter how much natural ability one may have, if he is ignorant, he is discounted. It is not enough to possess ability, it must be made available by mental discipline.
We ought to be ashamed to remain in ignorance in a land where the blind, the deaf and dumb and even cripples and invalids, manage to obtain a good education.
Many youths throw away little opportunities for self-culture because they cannot see great ones. They let the years slip by without any special effort at self-improvement, until they are shocked in middle life or later, by waking up to the fact that they are still ignorant of what they ought to know.
Everywhere we go we see men and women, especially from twenty-five to forty years of age, who are cramped and seriously handicapped by the lack of early training.
I often get letters from such people, asking if it is possible for them to educate themselves so late in life. Of course it is. There are so many good correspondence schools today, and institutions like Chautauqua, so many evening schools, lectures, books, libraries, and periodicals, that men and women who are determined to improve themselves have abundant opportunities to do so.
While you lament the lack of an early education and think it too late to begin, you may be sure that there are other young men and young women not very far from you who are making great strides in self-improvement, though they may not have half as good an opportunity for it as you have.
The first thing to do is to make a resolution, strong, vigorous and determined, that you are going to be an educated man or woman; that you are not going to go through life humiliated by ignorance; that, if you have been deprived of early advantages, you are going to make up for their loss.
Resolve that you will no longer be handicapped and placed at a disadvantage for that which you can remedy.
You will find the whole world will change to you when you change your attitude toward it.
You will be surprised to see how quickly you can very materially improve your mind after you have made a vigorous resolve to do so.
Go about it with the same determination that you would to make money or to learn a trade. There is a divine hunger in every normal being for self-expansion, a yearning for growth or enlargement. Beware of stifling this craving of nature for self-unfoldment.
Man was made for growth. It is the object, the explanation, of his being. To have an ambition to grow larger and broader every day, to push the horizon of ignorance a little further away, to become a little richer in knowledge, a little wiser and more of a man — that is an ambition worth while.
It is not absolutely necessary that an education should be crowded into a few years of school life. The best-educated people are those who are always learning, always absorbing knowledge from every possible source and at every opportunity.
I know young people who have acquired a better education, a finer culture, through a habit of observation, or of carrying a book in the pocket to read at odd moments, or by taking courses in correspondence schools, than many who have gone through college.
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