Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/345

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MEDICAL PROFESSION IN MODERN THOUGHT.

perhaps he has hardly ever been surpassed; and that the grand lesson to be learned from the extraordinary esteem and affection which he inspired, from the infection of earnestness and sincerity which spread from him, and from the elevating influence which he exerted upon those who were brought into close converse with him, is a lesson which the history of human progress through the ages teaches too, and which needs much to be had in remembrance in these days of the glorification of science. It is this: that great as is knowledge, the moral nature is greater still; that the impulses of evolution which move the world come not from the intellect, but from the heart; that he who would work upon the hearts of others must speak to them from the heart; that everywhere and always we have to recognize the predominance of the heart over the intellect.

Perhaps if I could recall vividly the thoughts and feelings of my mind when sitting there twenty-five years ago, and compare, or rather contrast, them with my thoughts and feelings now, I might extract from the comparison the essence of a quarter of a century's experience of life, and impart to you what it will probably take you a quarter of a century to acquire. But I am doubtful whether that would not be to do you a great disservice, for I could hardly fail thereby to take much heart out of your hopes, much ardor out of your enthusiasm, much energy out of your exertions. Moreover, I feel pretty sure that what I could say, however wisely it might be said, would not be of the least use to you. Neither nations nor individuals profit much by the experience of other nations or of other individuals; they must go through their experience for themselves, learning through suffering, succeeding through blundering, attaining to the calmness of wisdom through the fevers of passion; and many times only when opportunities are gone, and their consequences in irrevocable operation, is it seen perhaps how much better use might have been made of them. No doubt there is wise purpose in this inability of the young to take home and assimilate the experience of those who are older; for I know not how they could preserve that enthusiasm and freshness of spirit which make life itself a joy, and beguile them to pursue with eagerness its aims, were their illusions destroyed, as illusions one after another are destroyed by experience. In the full stream of its young energy life is too little conscious for reflection; to live is happiness enough; in its later stages more and more, as the heart is applied to know wisdom, is it felt to be vanity and vexation of spirit. This may seem a hard doctrine, but it is true; it has been the experience of the greatest sages of all times; it is the central thought of the great religious systems of the world.

Let me pass, however, from reflections which, if pursued, might tend to dishearten rather than to hearten you, and endeavor to show you that, as things go, you have made a good choice of a profession for your life's work. I should be thought to have ill discharged the