Part 3 out of 3
being, bringing death hurriedly, if its course
is not stayed.
"Dodd" Weaver was in a state of mind
highly favorable to the development of unbelief.
The false promises of his well-meaning friends
sowed the seed of distrust within him, and the
crop was not long in ripening.
The fact is, truth is so loyal to itself that it
will not suffer distortion, even for the
apparent purpose of doing God service. It can no
more be swerved than God can!
If that point is clear, I go on with this narrative.
But "Dodd" had seen enough to understand
that if he expected to live long he must stop
short of absolute debauchery, and he rallied
somewhat from the first awful overthrow that
came when the clouds burst over his head. He
drank more moderately, and was seldom
drunk. He returned to his old haunts,
however, and kept on in the main as he had before.
The only difference was that he loitered in a
way now where before he had rushed along at
He began, too, to look about for something
to do. He was anxious for a job in a store or
an office, where be could wear good clothes
and not have to work hard at manual labor.
This is a common desire of country boys
who go to town to live.
The trouble was, however, that he knew
next to nothing of business of any kind. Was
this the fault of his education, thus far? His
school education, I mean. I ask the question.
He finally concluded to take a course in a
school that advertised to fit a person to
engage in any business whatever in three
months, without regard to age, sex, or
previous condition. He went to this school.
I have no quarrel with institutions that
make a business of fitting young men and
women to engage in commercial pursuits. I
know of many excellent institutions of this
kind. But I nevertheless submit the record of
"Dodd" Weaver in his connection with this
college, so called.
The man at the head of the institution was
a brisk, nervous sort of person, a shrewd
fellow, and given to much flourishing with a pen,
which was to him much mightier than any
sword. He could whirl off a scroll-winged eagle
on a blank sheet of foolscap, in a twinkling--a
royal bird, with a banner in his beak, on
which was inscribed "Go to ---- college," and
which the king of birds was bearing towards
the sun for advertising purposes. He could
also add a column of figures with wonderful
rapidity, and occasional accuracy! He was a
believer in lightning methods and processes
everywhere. His own education had been
wrought out on that plan. He was seeking a
fortune by the same route. He drew crowds
of boys into his school. It was through them
he made his money.
"Dodd" had much skill with a pen, as will
be remembered by his sketching Mr. Bright's
face on the board one afternoon. He took to
the practice in writing with some alacrity, but
for the rest of the work he soon did as the
others did--studied little, and in lieu of a
recitation listened to a long and disjointed talk by
"the professor." He was held to no account
for his work, and whether it was right or
wrong made little difference. He found that
his teacher would profess to know things of
which he knew he was ignorant, and, in a
word, that there was an air of shoddy, not to
say dishonesty, about the whole institution.
This did not trouble him greatly, however.
It was only in keeping with what he
conceived he had finally discovered the whole
world to be--a gigantic sham--and he
mentally remarked to himself "I told you so," and
drew an unusually large spread-eagle upon a
fresh sheet of foolscap.
He stayed three months in the school and
then graduated. His diploma was handed to
him by a venerable gentleman who delighted
in the appellation "president of the board,"
while an orchestra, composed of young ladies
of the school, all of whom were learning to
play the violin, by the "short method,"
discoursed most execrable music from an
improvised platform that had been built in the
church, for the occasion. Six other pupils
came through with "Dodd," and their going
out was used as an advertisement to lure still
another half dozen to fill the places left vacant.
The young man came forth from this
experience more the slave of doubt and distrust
But the worst feature of all was that this
infidelity in "Dodd's" soul was poisoning his
whole life. Honor was to him now only an
empty name, but policy was a quality to be
held in high esteem. Truth was to be used if
convenient, but if a lie would serve a better
purpose for the moment, it would be brought
into service without hesitation or scruple.
Fortune was his goddess, if he did deference to
any unseen power; tricks and chicanery were
to him helps to rapid and boundless wealth.
"Let the sharpest win, and may the devil take
the hindermost," these were the tenets in his
creed, if he had a creed.
Armed with such ideas of life, "Dodd"
Weaver set out to battle with the world. He
had also his diploma!
In the course of a few weeks "Dodd" secured a clerkship that was much
to his mind. It was, however, one greatly in advance of his ability to
manage, with his present attainments. If he had believed that
fidelity, honesty, and attention to business were the prime factors of
success, he might have mastered the situation, perhaps. He did not so
believe. On the contrary, he held that the more he could shirk and get
out of, and still draw his salary, the sharper he was. He acted in
accordance with his belief. People usually do!
But business is business. "Dodd" found his employer an exact man--one
who required service by the card. This the young man could not, or
rather would not render. He blundered in his work on more than one
occasion, and resorted to tricks to bolster up his carelessness or
inefficiency. The result was that after a few weeks' service he was
discharged. He was chagrined, mortified, angry. But he "cheeked it
through," as the young men of his class would say. It is bad business,
He loafed about once more, as formerly. He took a "deal" on the
curbstone occasionally, or now and then ventured a few pieces of silver
upon the black or red. He was back in the old notch.
For more than two years "Dodd" led this reckless, wasteful existence.
He was of age now, and his father had felt it his duty to tell him that
he must shift for himself. Mrs. Weaver mildly protested, but the
Weaver family was large, and though the Elder commanded a fair salary,
it cost money to live, and every mouth to be fed counted one.
So "Dodd" took a room down town, and then if the devil went to sleep,
sure of his victim, you do not wonder, do you?
Yet the great majority of young men in large cities room down town.
Details of degradation are always revolting. I will not trouble you
with what happened during these years of exile of this young man. His
story is like that of thousands in like case. His evil habits grew
upon him, and held him tighter and tighter in their thrall. Still, he
dressed well, went much into fashionable society, and saw much of life.
He was one of the boys, and he held his place among them by hook or by
crook. He was never brought to face a court on criminal charges. He
may never have been guilty of such acts. If not, is it not remarkable?
It was when "Dodd" was well down the steep he was descending that he
chanced, one day, to meet his old teacher, Mr. Bright. More than three
years had passed since they had seen each other, and each had changed
with time. Mr. Bright had grown not a little gray, and his devotion to
his profession had caused the marks of his craft to become deeply
seamed in his face.
His former pupil we have followed, day after day, and we know well
enough what he looked like.
The two passed a hearty greeting, "Dodd's" disbelief in mankind leaving
him for the moment, consumed by the positive integrity of the man whose
hand he held. Each took a searching look at the other, with mental
reservations in each case, as thus:
"Dodd": "Gray--hard worker--not up to snuff--square as a brick."
Mr. Bright: "Flashy clothes--shambling gait--a look in the eye that is
These are the things they thought. They spoke of other matters.
Mutual inquiry led to the disclosure of the whereabouts of each, and
what each was doing though in this last item "Dodd" drew largely upon
his imagination, informing his teacher very indefinitely as to the
calling in which he was engaged. Mr. Bright had moved to the city,
having been called to take charge of an important educational
institution located within its corporate limits. He had a home of his
own, and said he should be glad to see "Dodd" there.
"Dodd" said he would call on Mr. Bright. He did so.
And now began one of the most perplexing series of circumstances that I
have yet had occasion to record. "Dodd" came to see his teacher, who
was really anxious to have a sober talk with him, and the two spent an
hour together. When they separated, "Dodd" had five dollars of Mr.
Bright's money in his pocket! He had "struck" his former preceptor for
a loan. I do not say that he had deliberately stolen this money.
Perhaps he meant to pay it back sometime; but he had long been used to
borrowing, and the impulse was almost irresistible to borrow whenever
he came where he could. Sometimes he returned these loans; oftener he
did not. His sense of right and wrong in such matters was not very
keen at this time.
And so he began to sponge off Mr. Bright. He came to visit him
frequently, and often left with a dollar or two extra after the
At first Mr. Bright did not fully realize the depth of degradation
which "Dodd" had reached. He made these small loans as he would have
given money to a son of his own, had he had one. He talked with the
young man, and once or twice hinted that he feared all was not as it
should be. But "Dodd" evaded an issue, and so the days went by.
But one evening these two people met, and the truth stood revealed.
"Dodd" was drunk.
Mr. Bright knew a good deal about human nature, but he had had no
experience with the peculiar vice of drunkenness. His heart went out
towards "Dodd," and, taking the boy's arm in his own, he led him to his
house. He would care for the prodigal with his own hand, and restore
him if possible.
So he gave him the best chamber, and bathed his head, and watched with
him till far into the night. The next morning they talked it all over.
"Dodd" was penitent, even to the extent of tears and bitter weeping.
He pledged Mr. Bright that this should be the last time; that he would
reform now. He confessed that for years he had been a miserable sinner
in the matter of drink, but declared that now he would break off. In a
word, he did the usual thing on such occasions.
Mr. Bright heard his pledges with a swelling heart and a thankful soul.
He fondly hoped that he might save the young man yet. You may have had
like hopes under similar circumstances, my gentle reader.
The scene ended with "Dodd's" leaving Mr. Bright's house in the
afternoon of the following day, accompanied by any amount of good
advice and even prayers for his future good behavior. He took with him
also a ten dollar note which he had borrowed from his benefactor, just
to get a start with.
The wise Mr. George has remarked that "by no possibility can one really
use up his living in advance." "That is," he explains, "it is as
impossible to anticipate the products of one's labor, and live them up
before they are earned as it is to eat to-day the egg that is to be
I do not dispute the egg part of this proposition, but I must protest
that if it is impossible for a man to anticipate the products of his
own labor, and to live them up in advance, it is quite possible for him
to anticipate the products of what some one else has already earned,
and to live them up most effectually. The only impossibility in the
premise is for this some one else ever to get his own again.
This statement should pass for an axiom, since it needs no proof. You
have had dollars of your own that have been appropriated thus, have you
And of all habits that tend to demoralize a man, this one of dead-beat
borrowing is the worst. It will sap the last germ of manhood out of a
soul sooner than anything else I know of. It is one of the meanest
vices in society, and one of the most prevalent among a certain class
of young men.
I will not say that every person who asks to borrow money from a friend
without offering security is a dead-beat. Such a statement might be
somewhat wide of the mark. I only assert that I have always found it
It was not without misgivings that Mr. Bright advanced "Dodd" the ten
dollars spoken of in the last chapter. But alas, poor man, he was yet
blind to the fact that whoever thus assists a person in the condition
in which "Dodd" now was does that person more harm than good.
There is any amount of light nonsense current on this point. See how
the method worked in this case.
"Dodd" really meant to do better when he left Mr. Bright's. People in
this condition always do mean to do better. He had made pledges to his
friend and he hoped to keep them. It takes more than hoping to succeed
in such eases, however.
I would by no means intimate that when a drunkard signs the pledge he
is always lying and does not mean to keep it. On the contrary, I think
the great bulk of those who thus write their names with a trembling
hand, do, at the time of writing, really mean to keep all that they
promise. But as a rule they change their minds when the trial comes,
and "Don't count this time!"
This statement is a sad one, but it is terribly true. There is a
reason for it.
And the chief reason is that these "unfortunates," as they are called,
get into the habit of being carried when they should walk on their own
feet. Your drunkard is always expecting sympathy, and help, and
upholding. He leans down on you; he lies down on you. He pleads
misfortune, disease, or something, and makes himself out a poor, weak
victim of circumstances. He asks for help, and of a kind that most
suits himself. He should not get such.
Help he should have, but of a kind that will make him help himself.
Because, when such a person is merely helped by another he becomes
helpless himself, and the last state of that man is worse than the
It was so with "Dodd" Weaver. The kind offices of Mr. Bright had
really wrought him harm. He had thus been able to get money for some
weeks, and as he lived only for the moment now, this "accommodation"
kept him in his low mode of life.
It is the study of a lifetime how to deal justly with people in his
condition. If you doubt my word, try it. You will be convinced.
"Dodd" did intend to do better after leaving Mr. Bright's. But he went
right down town and took a drink to brace up on. This also is common.
It was two days after this that the young man came once more to appeal
to his benefactor. He was in trouble again, and according to the law I
have just noted he came for relief to the source from which help had
before come. There is no record of how long a man can thus abuse the
kindness of a friend. Sometimes death alone ends the scene.
But Mr. Bright was not a man to be trifled with when once he had taken
in the situation. He heard "Dodd's" story with disgust. The young man
had been drunk again, and in a brawl had struck an antagonist with
brass knuckles. For this offense he said the police were in search of
him, and would probably find him. He asked Mr. Bright to let him have
money to pay his fine, and so keep him out of jail. He could not bear
that disgrace, he declared.
But Mr. Bright was unmoved. He sat looking at "Dodd" for a moment in
silence, and then said:
"Not one cent, young man!"
"But I shall have to go to jail," faltered "Dodd," in a broken voice.
"You may go there, and stay there, for all of me," exclaimed Mr.
Bright, in a burst of righteous indignation, as all the past years rose
up before him and the memory of them floated before his vision. "I
have given you the last cent that I ever shall. You deserve to go to
jail, and it is probably the best thing that can happen that you
"But my mother!" pleaded "Dodd."
"It is a fine time for you to plead your mother now, isn't it?" replied
Mr. Bright. "How much you have considered her and her feelings in the
last few years," he continued. "When you have been drunk on the
streets; when you have abused the hospitality of a gentleman; when you
have lied to me and obtained money from me under false pretenses, then
was the time for you to plead for sparing your mother. You did nothing
toward that then. I will not help you now."
Mr. Bright spoke firmly, and in a straight-forward tone. "Dodd" shrank
under his words as though they were lashes on a bare back. But once
more he pleaded:
"I don't know who will help me if you don't, and some one must help me,
for I can't suffer this disgrace."
"Well, no one shall help you if I can prevent it," replied Mr. Bright.
"What you need, young man, is to help yourself. If you haven't virtue
enough left to do this, you might as well go to jail, or into your
grave--it doesn't make much difference which. You are of no manner of
use in this world as you are now. You are worse than useless, you are
a dead load to your friends, your acquaintances, and society."
Mr. Bright laid on tremendously, now that he had begun, and "Dodd"
writhed under his strokes. The last flagellation left them both out of
breath, and there was silence in the room for some minutes. It was Mr.
Bright who spoke first:
"'Dodd,' my boy," he said, "I need not tell you how it pains me thus to
talk to you, you for whom I have striven so hard, and from whom I had
hoped for so much. You are naturally bright, but you are fickle by
nature, and, so far, you have lacked the manhood to correct this fault.
You are the only one who can ever do this. So one else can do it for
you. If ever you stand up like a man, it must be on your own feet. I
tried to teach you this long ago. I think I failed. At least is seems
so now. You did stand for a while though, my boy, and I would to God
you could do so again."
"Dodd" sat in his chair shedding bitter tears; he began feebly:
"Help me this once," he begged, "and before God, I promise you I will
never give you cause to be ashamed of me again."
"Keep your pledges to yourself," returned Mr. Bright. "I want none of
them. They are of no value whatever. You have come to a time now when
you must do something more than pledge, though there was a time when
your word was good, and I would have taken it, unquestioned, on any
occasion. But that time is past. It may come again, but the chances
are against it."
"You are making me out a monster," interlarded "Dodd," with an attempt
at injured innocence in his voice.
"And that is just what you are," said Mr. Bright. "You have grown out
of all semblance to the true type of a man. You are wicked, deceitful,
weak, vacillating, and untruthful. So long as you retain these
qualities there is no hope for you. Perhaps a punishment of a term in
jail may serve to bring you to a sense of your condition. If it will,
it is the best thing that can happen to you. Anyhow, I am willing to
see it tried."
"So you will not give me money to pay my fine?" groaned "Dodd."
"Not one cent," again answered Mr. Bright, as he showed the young man
to the door.
As they walked through the hall, however, "Dodd" dragging himself along
reluctantly, a kindlier mood took possession of the school teacher. He
paused, and, turning to the young man, said:
"See here. I have a plan that has just come to me, and I will give you
the benefit of it. I am convinced that you will never be any better
than you are now if you continue to live in this city. Your companions
are here, and so are your old haunts and associations. I will do this
for you. I will go to your room with you and help you get together
whatever clothing you have. Then I will go with you to the depot, and
will buy you a ticket to the farthest point from here that ten dollars
will take you to. I don't want to know where that place is. I don't
want ever to see you or hear from you again, unless you are a different
man. I want to give you one more chance to stand on your own feet.
That is all I have to say. You may take it or leave it, as you will."
"Dodd" hesitated a minute, and then said:
"I'll take it."
"Very well," replied Mr. Bright, putting on his coat and hat; "I am
ready, and will go with you now."
"I might say good-bye to your family," said "Dodd"; "they have been so
kind to me."
"I prefer that you should not," replied Mr. Bright. "I have no desire
to have you know them further. You have forfeited all claim to their
respect, or regard, or courtesy even, and if you never redeem yourself,
I do not care to have them see you again!"
It was a terrible thrust. It was like a sword in the bones to the
recipient of the cutting words. "Dodd" reeled under them as though
smitten with a veritable blade of steel.
But they were doing good work for this abnormal young man. These cuts,
made by the sword of truth, when wielded by the hands of Mr. Bright,
laid open to "Dodd" Weaver the secret recesses of his own soul, and he
saw there such foulness as he had never before suspected. Not one word
had his former teacher said to him which was not true. His final
refusal to permit him to say adieu to his family, "Dodd" felt was just
and strictly in accordance with his deserts. This hurled him down to
where he belonged, and made him realize what a wretch, what an outcast,
Don't you suppose, good people, that it would be a great deal better,
all around, if we each one got what we really deserve just when we
deserve it? But we don't; and so we flatter ourselves that because the
desert does not come to-day it will not come to-morrow, not next day,
and we hope it will never come. And so we keep on in our wrong ways.
The book has it: "Because sentence against a wicked work is not
executed speedily, therefore the hearts of men are fully set in them to
do evil." This was written a long time ago, but it is as true to-day
as it ever was. I think that even the most confirmed skeptic would
admit the truth of the passage.
So Mr. Bright went with "Dodd" to his lodgings, helped him pack, and
got him to the depot. They escaped the police. This was not a hard
thing to do. It seldom is, if one has really been doing wrong.
"Here is ten dollars," said Mr. Bright to the ticket agent. "I want
you to give me a ticket to a point the farthest away from the city
possible for that money."
"What line?" inquired the somewhat surprised official.
"I don't know, and I don't want to know," returned Mr. Bright. "I want
a ticket such as I have described, and I want you to tell me which
train to take to reach the destination, though I don't want to know
what the destination is."
The agent looked puzzled for a minute, but as the bill was a good one,
and other passengers were waiting, he picked out a ticket, stamped it,
and thrust it out under the glass, with the remark:
"Take the train that leaves from the other side of the middle platform."
Mr. Bright folded the ticket without looking at it, and taking "Dodd's"
arm, started for the train, which was already waiting. As they went
along, "Dodd" said:
"Let me see where I am going to, please!"
"Not now," returned his guide, and they boarded the train.
The conductor came in presently, and to him Mr. Bright spoke in a
"Here is a ticket for this young man," he said. "I want you to take
it, and see to it that he reaches the destination that this piece of
paper calls for. Don't ask me what that is. Don't let me know. But
take the ticket, and do as I ask."
The official looked wise for a minute, then took the ticket and passed
"Dodd" and Mr. Bright sat in the same seat in the car till the train
was ready to go. Not much was said; for the time of words was not
then. But just as the bell rang for leaving, the elder man took the
hand of the younger, and clasped it almost passionately. The eyes of
the two met. "Dodd" remembered the day when they walked to school
together, hand in hand.
"My boy," whispered Mr. Bright, "if ever the time comes when you can
stand on your own feet, let me hear from you and know of your success;
but if you continue in the old way, let the world be as a grave to you,
so far as I am concerned; and never let me hear from you again. But,"
he added, as he turned away, "I faintly trust the larger hope." And
without another word he left the car. He went directly home. It was
many a year before he referred again to that day.
There was a hissing of pent-up air as the engineer tried the brakes
before moving out his train, then a slow motion of starting, then away
"Dodd" Weaver sank back in his seat, and pulled his cap over his eyes.
He did not cast one lingering look behind. Indeed, what had he to care
for, in all that great city?
"I faintly trust the larger hope," repeated "Dodd" to himself, as the
train rushed along. He remembered the day when they had read the lines
in the reading class of Mr. Bright's school.
On a Christmas morning, ten years after the scenes recounted in the
last chapter, Mr. Bright was surprised to receive a letter addressed in
"Dodd's" well known characters. He broke the seal without comment,
wondering what story of destiny he held in his hand. A thrill of joy
suffused him as, on unfolding the sheets of the bulky manuscript, a
bill of exchange fell upon the table. It was the most favorable sign
he could have desired. It augured all that followed.
[Remark (as reads the foot-note in Scott's bible): The first sign of
regeneration in a man who has been a dead-beat is the payment of his
Mr. Bright opened the letter and read as follows:
New York City, December 22, 188--
Mr. Charles Bright.
Dear Sir:--Enclosed I hand you exchange, payable to your order, to the
amount of $237.45, the sum due you for money advanced to me years ago,
with legal interest on the same. Respectfully, D. W. Weaver.
This was the first page of the epistle, brief, business-like, and to
the point. But having thus entered a voucher for his manhood, and, as
it were, won the right to speak further, on the second page there was a
continuation as follows:
What precedes will tell you where I am. You told me the last time I
saw you, that if ever I redeemed myself, you would be glad to hear from
me. I believe you, and hence I write.
I can never commit to paper all that I have to say to you; words spoken
face to face can only tell what is in my heart; but neither the written
nor the spoken word can convey to you a tithe of the gratitude I feel
for all that you have done for me.
As I look back I can hardly understand how you ever bore with me as you
did, with me who abused you to such unbounded lengths. Nevertheless,
the more I fail to understand this, the more thankful I am to you.
I am sure you will care to know something of my career in the past ten
years, and I briefly relate the principal items of interest.
And first, let me say, I have entirely quit the use of liquor. From
the day when you left me in the car, limp as a whipped dog, to this
very hour, I have not tasted intoxicating drink. I mention this first,
because a breaking away from that habit was the first step toward a
better life. Had I not stopped there, short off, I know that all hope
of further reformation would have been vain. A drunkard has nothing,
absolutely nothing, on which to build a new life, so long as he
continues to be a slave to drink.
But with the abandonment of this vice, I began to change my other
habits, and by degrees I have gained a mastery over them. It has been
a long, hard fight, and I am well aware that there are battles yet to
be waged; but I have reached the point where I have ceased to be afraid
of myself--of my baser nature. As Cardinal Wolsey says to Cromwell: "I
know myself now." You remember we used to read the lines out of the
old reader when I went to school to you at Emburg.
I cannot tell you how much I thank God for the help that has come to
me. But I am forced to say that you are entitled to almost equal
thanks. And, indeed, as I review the past, I know that without you,
even the God of heaven could not have received the gratitude I now give
Him. For you were the means by which I was lead to a point where I
could receive His aid. It is you, therefore, my benefactor and my
noble friend, whom I have first to thank. I say this in simple justice
to you, who bore with me so long and patiently, and who remained
faithful to me when it seemed to me you were terribly unjust and cruel.
But to my history:
When you left me on the train, I cared next to nothing as to what
became of me. I don't believe I should have lifted a finger to save my
life had the train been wrecked. I would not deliberately take my own
life, but if it could have been taken from me I should have given it up
without a regret. I cared not for man, and as for God, I neither
feared such a being nor believed in his existence.
But your words stung me like burning lances. They were true, every one
of them, and the "Other Fellow"--indeed, I have not forgotten him, nor
has he forgotten me, and for this I have to thank you, also,--took them
up and kept saying them over to me, as I rolled along to my
destination, which as yet I did not know. I tried to be rid of them,
but it was useless. The truth had been told me for once in my life,
and I saw myself as I really was. It was not an inviting sight, but it
is one I should have been forced to see, long before.
I reached the end of my journey, a place which, as you would not know
its name then, it is perhaps well that you should never know. I had no
money, and I was hungry. Ordinarily, I should have struck some one for
a loan, but your words rang in my ears, and I would not do it. I
applied for a job of work that I knew I could do. I got it, and did it
as well as I knew how to. I hide my face even now, for very shame, as
I confess that it was the first time, for years, that I had done as
well as I knew how to do. I got my pay, and ate an honestly earned,
though frugal supper, that evening. I think you will understand me
when I tell you that I went to bed happier that night than I had before
for a long time. The "Other Fellow" said, "It is all right, Old Boy!
Stand by!" I did "stand by," and I have been standing by ever since.
And first, as I learn you are still teaching, I want to ask you never
to give up your boys, nor your way of managing them. You can never
know how much you did for me in the Emburg school. Those old days come
back to me almost every hour, and their essence is a part of my being.
I know that you must have thought, ten thousand times, that all your
work was lost, and counted for nothing. You had every reason in the
world for thinking so, and doubtless did think so. But I want to beg
of you now, in the name of the new life that has eventually come to me
through the medium of those old school days, not to be discouraged. I
tell you, my dear teacher, that not one of such words and deeds will
fail, at last, of reaching the purpose for which it was primarily
intended. So please be patient with the boys, and keep on as you were,
years ago, and do not be discouraged because it is long till the
harvest. It will ripen in due time. The reapers shall come also,
bearing their sheaves, and it is at your feet that they will lay them
But I wish especially to thank you for your wisdom and faithfulness in
our last interview. On that occasion you struck the key note to the
whole situation when you virtually kicked me out of your house, and
told me that if I ever got up I must climb for myself. That was a new
doctrine for me then, but I understand it thoroughly now. It is sound
doctrine too, though it takes long to see it so.
You were wise, too, to watch me till I got out of town on that
September afternoon. If you had given me ten dollars at your home and
told me to buy a ticket, I doubt if I should have done it, even if I
had promised to, and meant to do so when I promised. The chances are I
should have spent the money for drink, and then have gone to jail.
That is the way of a man such as I was then. An habitual drunkard is
not to be trusted, not even by himself.
I shudder as I write these things, and I only reveal them to you,
hoping that they may, perchance, be the means of your helping some one
else. I never refer to these scenes to others; in fact, no one here
knows of these painful pages in my history.
You will care to know what I am doing. I have a studio here on
Broadway, and am painting portraits. The old gift, that you were the
first to discover in me, when you said a kind word for my burlesque
sketch of you on the board, at Emburg (how often I do get back to that
old school-room), at last proved my salvation. Gradually I found that
I had talent in this direction, and I am making the most of it.
Carefully and honestly I took up the work, and with perseverance I have
attained my present success. I have studied with the best artists
here, and my work is well received. At the latest exhibition at the
Academy I was the winner of the first prize, and this fact has already
brought me more business than I can well attend to. I am delighted
with my work, but shall never rest satisfied till a picture of yourself
hangs in my room where it can watch me as I pursue my daily task.
Because, it is you who inspired me even to try to be a man and to do
something in the world. The credit is yours.
My father and mother are still in Illinois. I have communicated with
them several times recently. The children are grown, and several of
them have left home. I hope to see the family all together on the day
you receive this letter. I may also see you before I return to New
I cannot close this letter without telling you further of the change
that has come to me in my religious and spiritual life. You know how
blasphemously unbelieving I was ten years ago. I thought then that I
had full cause for being so, but I was wrong there, as in all else. I
wandered far and long, but as I began to do what I believe was God's
will, I began to know the doctrine, as the book says we shall. I am
happy now in a religious life which I once believed it impossible for
any one to experience. These are the main features in my life.
So now I wish you adieu, and pray the good Father in heaven to bless
you all the days of your life. Your calling is the most noble in all
the world, and I do you but justice when I say that you are wholly
worthy of your profession. Remember me to your family, which I trust I
may now have your permission to mingle with again (ah! that day); and
believe me, ever sincerely yours, "Dodd."
Mr. Bright read the letter through to the end, then fell on his knees
and in silence rejoiced and gave thanks.
You may talk about rewards, good people, but will you measure out in
dollars about the worth of feelings that filled the heart of Mr.
Charles Bright on this occasion? It is only in the coin of the
everlasting kingdom that such a result can be told.
The next day the bank passed $237.45 to the credit of the schoolmaster.
The check was good!
There was a joyous dinner at Elder Weaver's house that same Christmas
day, the family being united again, the prodigal returned, and bringing
with him a wife newly wedded.
Leave them at dinner. Only God and the members of the household should
look upon such a scene.
"Dodd" and his wife also spent a day with Mr. Bright, on their way to
their home in the metropolis.
It was a joyous occasion, all hearts overflowing with such pleasure as
there is among the angels, over one sinner that repenteth.
In a snug home in a suburb of New York City dwells "Dodd" Weaver with
his faithful and devoted wife. They have one child, a boy, named
Charles Bright. Their home is happy and full of the sunlight of love.
"Dodd" is devoted to his profession, and serves it faithfully. He has
a marked talent in his calling, and is succeeding well. He may never
become famous, but what is fame? He is earning an honest and excellent
living, and that is much for one with his start in life.
He looks over the path he has come with thankfulness as well as with
horror. He hopes, too, that when his own son shall come to go by the
highway of life, he may be able to take him by the hand and lead him
along the dangerous places that he found along the road, or, at least,
to point out the pitfalls for the child, and so save him from the evil
that so sorely, beset himself.
But every day, the thing that now looms up through the life of this now
busy man is the personal character and influence of his old teacher,
Mr. Bright. This never leaves him nor forsakes him. It is like an
anchor to his soul. It saved him from total wreck in his voyage of
life. It held him from ruin when the waves and billows swept over him.
Why should he not revere such a source of help; such an everlasting
tower of strength?
But his memory of the machine brings no such consolation or help. Why
should it? Answer, if you can, you who have faith in the mill itself,
or whose business it is to make it grind.
As "Dodd" touches his brush to a bit of ruddy color on the pallet at
his side and tinges the cheeks of a beautiful face that smiles from the
easel before him, I draw the curtain that shuts him out of your sight
and mine, beloved, and that closes him into the sacred radiance of his
own happy home. Let us leave him there within the veil, within the
[For School Teachers Only.]
As I vexed no one with a preface at the beginning of this story, I
allow myself the privilege of a few reflections at its close.
If the Evolution of "Dodd" has seemed slow, or if it has appeared,
sometimes, as if the life, whose growth I have traced, began on a very
low plane and progressed almost imperceptibly, let it be remembered
that this is the ordinary course of nature. It is the way of the
world. From the primordial germ to the soul of a man is a long, long
distance; and often and often, in the upward march of life, the path
seems to turn upon itself and go backward. It is even so in the life
of every one who eventually reaches the goal. The way to final victory
is marked by a succession of advances, battles, and retreats. This
also is ordained.
The physical body of man, from the time of its inception till the close
of its career, passes through all the varied stages of animal life--the
germ, the cell, and the changes that these are subject to in animal
existence--that is, being the highest form of material life, man bears,
in his own body, marks of all previous conditions. Even so, in his
spiritual body, each individual exemplifies "The total world since life
began," and every soul must span the space from the first man, Adam, to
the quickened spirit of a son of God. People whose business it is to
develop human souls should remember that.
Again: How to help weak and tempted humanity so as to build it up, to
make it strong and able to resist temptation, is a problem that has
never yet been fully solved. Whether it is better to hold up an awful
example before the gaze of the suffering ones, and to relate to them
the certainty of a like conclusion to their own career if a like course
of life is persisted in; whether it is better to point out the success
that some tempted and tortured men have reached, by devious ways that
led through flame and darkness, and from which the victims have escaped
only as by fire, like brands plucked from the burning,--which of these
ways is the better, heaven only knows and has never revealed.
It is well enough, though, to remember that the Master was tempted in
all points, like as we are, and that it is said of the saints in glory
that they came to their reward through great tribulation.
There can be no greater tribulation than for one to be born with a
nature that is intrinsically false, fickle, passionate, impulsive--in a
word, such a nature as "Dodd" naturally possessed--a nature far away
from the line of truth and right; a nature such as multitudes of boys
are born with in this wide, wide world of ours. To guide safely into
the port of rest souls thus weighted down with depravity is a task for
gods and men to compass--if they can. The chances of wreck are many
fold to one; but now and then the harbor is made, thank God!
It has seemed best to me to tell the tale of one such voyage of life.
There is no denying that the journey was a perilous one, such a one as
would probably wreck ninety-nine out of one hundred crafts attempting
it; yet, for all of that, there is joy over the one that comes through.
I am aware that "Dodd" Weaver has had more chances than any one person
ought ever reasonably to expect. But Providence is sometimes bountiful
in opportunities, even to prodigality. "Dodd" doubtless had more
chances than he ought to have had, in the strict line of justice; but
we must all plead guilty to the same charge, in a greater or less
degree. It is likely, however, that no more opportunities have come to
any of us than were necessary to bring us safely to our journey's
close. "There is a divinity that shapes our ends."
I am glad "Dodd" Weaver had as many chances as he had. I am glad he
didn't need any more of the same sort, for they might not have been
forthcoming. There is such a thing as being too late.
My hope for you, beloved, is that you, too, may have chances, and that
you may take them while you can. I would that you might reach the goal
of success in life by a shorter route than "Dodd" had to take; but if
not, then may you come by the way he trod. The road is not unused, you
will not be alone in your travels.
One last word regarding the public school, for whose sake all this has
been set down:
In the evolution of character, in these last days, this institution has
come to be a most important factor. To it has been assigned a task
equal to, if not exceeding that of any other agency that has to deal
with human nature. It is more important than can be set forth that it
do its work well. It is not so doing now, however, to nearly the
extent of which it is capable. Too much it has become a mere machine,
a mill for grinding out graduates. As such it is unworthy its high
estate. As such it now exists, in multitudes of cases. As such it
should no longer be tolerated. From such a condition it must be
The system has largely lost sight of the grandest thing in all the
world, namely, the individual soul. It addresses itself to humanity
collectively, as a herd. In this it makes a fatal mistake, one that
must be corrected, and that speedily.
And for you, teachers, you who have the destinies of these schools in
your hands, keep your eyes and ears open, and your souls alive to the
possibilities of your profession. Let no machine nor method crush out
your own individuality, and suffer no power to induce, or to force you
to make a business of turning a crank that runs a mill whose office it
is to grind humanity to one common form, each individual like every
other, interchangeable like the parts of a government musket!
Understand, first, last, and all the time, that characters cannot be
manufactured like pins, by the million, and all alike; neither can
salvation be handled in job lots. It is also true that wholesaling
education can never be made a success.
Because, personal character is all there is in this world that amounts
to anything in the final resolution of things. It is not money, nor
governments, nor machines, that are of value in the last analysis. It
is character! It is individuality! It is men!
To secure these things this old world turns over once in twenty-four
hours, and swings around the sun in yearly revolution. For these,
tides ebb and flow, the land brings forth, and the clouds float in the
sky. To these all forces are but servants. For these Christ died.
And like begets like, in the public schools as elsewhere. It is
character in the teacher that begets character in the pupil. The
machine makes after its own kind also, and both it and its products can
be measured with a line.
The soul cannot be measured with a line.
So the ultimatum is personality, individuality, and character, in every
teacher and pupil in the public schools, and freedom of each to develop
in his own way, and not after a pattern made and prepared by a pattern
If the public school live long, its friends must take these items into
account and act on them. It is its only salvation.