Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 1.djvu/339

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THE STUDY OF HUMAN NATURE.

merry and rollicking as ever, proving that to animals and men contentment is a continual feast.

She is not without imitation, for she has appeared to listen to, and to aim to imitate, the canary's song. Of course, imitations are seldom to be admired, and perhaps, even in music, mimicry may be set down as in the main base. I have known her to be excited into song by the playing of the piano, especially if the playing was in the natural key. There are many things that might be said, but the proverb on brevity is suggestive; so we will add only one thing more, and we regret that this last say is not in keeping with the Christian moral of speaking the last word kindly. Alas for little Hespie! She repels every gentle approach, even the hands that lovingly minister to her comforts; and, notwithstanding her great accomplishments, she is a capricious and unamiable little vixen.

 
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THE STUDY OF HUMAN NATURE.
By Rev. H. W. BEECHER.

MY impression is, that preachers are quite as well acquainted with human nature as the average of well-informed citizens, but far less than lawyers, or merchants, or teachers, or, especially, politicians. I mean that, taking our American clergy generally, in their practical relations with society, while on the one hand they have shown themselves to be shrewd, discreet, and sagacious—and if their separate functions had lain in the conduct of affairs, socially, there would be but little to be criticised on the whole—yet, as preachers, they stand off toward the bottom of the list among students of human nature.

The school of the future (if I am a prophet, and I am, of course, satisfied in my own mind that I am!) is what may be called a Life School, with a style of preaching that is to proceed, not so much upon the theory of the sanctity of the Church and its ordinances, or upon a preexisting system of truth which is in the Church somewhere or somehow, as upon the necessity for all teachers, first, to study the strengths and the weaknesses of human nature minutely; and then to make use of such portions of the truth as are required by the special needs of man, and for the development of the spiritual side of human nature over the animal or lower side—the preparation of man in his higher nature for a nobler existence hereafter. It is a life-school in this respect, that it deals not with the facts of the past, except in so far as they can be made food for the present and factors of the life that now is; but rather studies to understand men, and to deal with them face to face and heart to heart—yea, even to mould them as an artist moulds his clay or carves his statue. And, in regard to such a