Little Journeys To The Homes Of Great Teachers
by Elbert Hubbard
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He thanked the boy, but assured him that he was of the opinion that it would not be necessary to do violence to any one; he was going to unfold to them another way—a new way, which was very old, but which as yet England had not tried.

* * * * *

The great teacher is not the one who imparts the most facts—he is the one who inspires by supplying a nobler ideal.

Men are superior or inferior just in the ratio that they possess certain qualities. Truth, honor, frankness, health, system, industry, kindliness, good-cheer and a spirit of helpfulness are so far beyond any mental acquisition that comparisons are not only odious, but absurd.

Arnold inspired qualities, and in this respect his work at Rugby forms a white milestone on the path of progress in pedagogy.

To an applicant for a position as teacher, Arnold wrote:

What I want is a man who is a Christian and a gentleman, an active man, and one who has commonsense, and understands boys. I do not so much care about scholarship, as he will have immediately under him the lowest forms in the school, but yet, on second thought, I do care about it very much, because his pupils may be in the highest forms; and besides, I think that even the elements are best taught by a man who has a thorough knowledge of the matter. However, if one must give way, I prefer activity of mind and an interest in his work to high scholarship; for the one may be acquired far more easily than the other. I should wish it also to be understood that the new master may be called upon to take boarders in his house, it being my intention for the future to require this of all masters as I see occasion, that so in time the school-barracks may die a natural death. With this to offer, I think I have a right to look rather high for the man whom I fix upon, and it is my great object to get here a society of intelligent, gentlemanly and active men, who may permanently keep up the character of the school, and if I were to break my neck tomorrow, carry it on.

Ideas are in the air, and great inventions are worked out in different parts of the world at the same time. Rousseau had written his "Emile," but we are not aware that Arnold ever read it.

And if he had, he probably would have been shocked, not inspired, by its almost brutal frankness. The French might read it—the English could not.

Pestalozzi was working out his ideas in Switzerland, and Froebel, an awkward farmer lad in Germany, was dreaming dreams that were to come true. But Thomas Arnold caught up the threads of feeling in England and expressed them in the fabric of his life.

His plans were scientific, but his reasons, unlike those of Pestalozzi, will not always stand the test of close analysis. Arnold was true to the Church, but he found it convenient to forget much for which the Church stood. He went back to a source nearer the fountainhead. All reforms in organized religion lie in returning to the primitive type. The religion of Jesus was very simple; that of a modern church dignitary is very complex. One can be understood; the other has to be explained and expounded, and usually several languages are required.

Arnold would have his boys evolve into Christian gentlemen. And his type of English gentleman he did not get out of books on theology—it was his own composite idea. But having once evolved it, he cast around to justify it by passages of Scripture. This was beautiful, too, but from our standpoint it wasn't necessary.

From his it was.

A gentleman to him was a man who looked for the best in other people, and not for their faults; who overlooked slights; who forgot the good he had done; who was courteous, kind, cheerful, industrious and clean inside and out; who was slow to wrath, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. And the "Lord" to Arnold was embodied in Church and State.

Arnold used to say that schoolteaching should not be based upon religion, but it should be religion. And to him religion and conduct were one.

That he reformed Rugby through the Sixth Form is a fact. He infused into the big boys the thought that they must help the little ones; that for a first offense a lad must never be punished; that he should have the matter fully explained to him, and be shown that he should do right because it is right, and not for fear of punishment.

The Sixth Form was taught to unbend its dignity and enter into fellowship with its so-called inferiors. To this end Arnold set the example of playing cricket with the "scrubs."

He never laughed at a poor player nor at a poor scholar. He took dull pupils into his own house, and insisted that his helpers, the other teachers, should do the same. He showed the Sixth Form how much better it was to take the part of the weak, and stop bullying the lower forms, than to set the example of it in the highest. Before Arnold had been at Rugby a year, the Sixth Form had resolved itself into a Reception Committee that greeted all newcomers, got them located, introduced them to the other boys, showed them the sights, and looked after their wants like big brothers or foster-fathers.

Christianity to Arnold was human service. In his zeal to serve, to benefit, to bless, to inspire, he never tired.

Such a disposition as this is contagious. In every big business or school, there is one man's mental attitude that animates the whole institution. Everybody partakes of it. When the leader gets melancholia, the shop has it—the whole place becomes tinted with ultra-marine. The best helpers begin to get out, and the honeycombing process of dissolution is on.

A school must have a soul, just as surely as a shop, a bank, a hotel, a store, a home, or a church has to have. When an institution grows so great that it has no soul—simply a financial head and a board of directors—dry-rot sets in and disintegration in a loose wrapper is at the door.

This explains why the small colleges are the best, when they are: there is a personality about them, an animating spirit that is pervasive and preservative.

Thomas Arnold was not a man of vast learning, nor could one truthfully say he had a surplus of intellect; but he had soul, plus. He never sought to save himself. He gave himself to the boys of Rugby. His heart went out to them, he believed in them—and he believed them even when they lied, and he knew they lied. He knew that humanity was sound at heart; he believed in the divinity of mankind, and tried hard to forget the foolish theology that taught otherwise.

Like Thomas Jefferson, who installed the honor system in the University of Virginia, he trusted young men. He made his appeal to that germ of goodness which is in every human soul. In some ways he anticipated Ben Lindsey in his love for the boy, and might have conjured forth from his teeming brain the Juvenile Court, and thus stopped the creation of criminals, had his life not been consumed in a struggle with stupidity and pedantry gone to seed that cried to him, "Oh, who ever heard of such a thing as that!"

The Kindergarten utilizes the propensity to play; and Arnold utilizes the thirst for authority. Altruism is flavored with a desire for approbation.

The plan of self-government by means of utilizing the Sixth Form was quite on the order of our own "George Junior Republic." "A school," he said, "should be self-governing and cleanse itself from that which is harmful." And again he says: "If a pupil can gratify his natural desire for approbation by doing that which is right, proper and best, he will work to this end instead of being a hero by playing the rowdy. It is for the scholars to set the seal of their approval on character, and they will do so if we as teachers speak the word. If I find a room in a tumult, I blame myself, not the scholars. It is I who have failed, not they. Were I what I should be, every one of my pupils would reflect my worth. I key the situation, I set the pace, and if my soul is in disorder, the school will be in confusion."

Nothing is done without enthusiasm. It is heart that wins, not head, the round world over. And yet head must systematize the promptings of the heart. Arnold had a way of putting soul into a hand-clasp. His pupils never forgot him. Wherever they went, no matter how long they lived, they proclaimed the praises of Arnold of Rugby. How much this earnest, enthusiastic, loving and sincere teacher has influenced civilization, no man can say. But this we know, that since his day there has come about a new science of teaching. The birch has gone with the dunce-cap. The particular cat-o'-nine-tails that was burned in the house of Thomas Arnold as a solemn ceremony, when the declaration was made, "Henceforth I know my children will do right!" has found its example in every home of Christendom.

We no longer whip children. Schools are no longer places of dread, pain and suffering, and we as teachers are repeating with Friedrich Froebel the words of the Nazarene, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."

Also, we say with Thomas Arnold: "The boy is father to the man. A race of gentlemen can only be produced by fostering in the boy the qualities that make for health, strength and a manly desire to bless, benefit and serve the race."


The purpose of the Kindergarten is to provide the necessary and natural help which poor mothers require who have to be about their work all day, and must leave their children to themselves. The occupations pursued in the Kindergarten are the following: free play of a child by itself; free play of several children by themselves; associated play under the guidance of a teacher; gymnastic exercises; several sorts of handiwork suited to little children; going for walks; learning music, both instrumental and vocal; learning the repetition of poetry; story-telling; looking at really good pictures; aiding in domestic occupations; gardening.



Friedrich Froebel was born in a Thuringian village, April Twenty-first, Seventeen Hundred Eighty-two. His father was pastor of the Lutheran Church. When scarcely a year old his mother died. Erelong a stepmother came to fill her place—but didn't. This stepmother was the kind we read about in the "Six Best Sellers."

Her severity, lack of love, and needlessly religious zeal served the future Kindergartner a dark background on which to paint a joyous picture. Froebel was educated by antithesis. His home was the type etched so unforgetably by Colonel Ed. Howe in his "Story of a Country Town," which isn't bad enough to be one of the Six Best Sellers.

At the age of ten, out of pure pity, young Friedrich was rescued from the cuckoo's nest by an uncle who had a big family of his own and love without limit. There was a goodly brood left, so little Friedrich, slim, slender, yellow, pensive and sad, was really never missed.

The uncle brought the boy up to work, but treated him like a human being, answering his questions, even allowing him to have stick horses and little log houses and a garden of his own.

At fifteen his nature had begun to awaken, and the uncle, harkening to the boy's wish, apprenticed him for two years to a forester. The young man's first work was to make a list of the trees in a certain tract and approximate their respective ages. The night before his work began he lay awake thinking of the fun he was going to have at the job. In after-years he told of this incident in showing that it was absurd to try to divorce work from play.

The two years as forester's apprentice, from fifteen to seventeen, were really better for him than any university could have been. His stepmother's instructions had mostly been in the line of prohibition. From earliest babyhood he had been warned to "look out." When he went on the street it was with a prophecy that he would get run over by a cart, or stolen by the gypsies, or fall off the bridge and be drowned. The idea of danger had been dinged into his ears so that fear had become a part of the fabric of his nature. Even at fifteen, he took pains to get out of the woods before sundown to avoid the bears. At the same time his intellect told him there were no bears there. But the shudder habit was upon him.

Yet by degrees the work in the woods built up his body and he grew to be at home in the forest, both day and night. His duties taught him to observe, to describe, to draw, to investigate, to decide. Then it was transplantation, and perhaps the best of college life consists in taking the youth out of the home environment and supplying him new surroundings.

Forestry in America is a brand-new science. To clear the ground has been our desire, and so to strip, burn and destroy, saving only such logs as appealed to us for "lumber," was the desideratum. But now we are seriously considering the matter of tree-planting and tree-preservation, and perhaps it would be well to ask ourselves if two years at forestry, right out of doors, in contact with Nature, wrestling with the world of wood, rock, plant and living things, wouldn't be better for the boy than double the time in stuffy dormitories and still more stuffy recitation-rooms—listening to stuffy lectures about things that are foreign to life.

I would say that a boy is a savage, but I do not care to give offense to fond mammas. To educate him in the line of his likes, as the race has been educated, seems sensible and right. How would Yellowstone Park answer for a National University, with Captain Jack Crawford, William Muldoon, John Burroughs, John Dewey, Stanley Hall and a mixture of men of these types, for a faculty?

Froebel thought his two years in the forest saved him from consumption, and perhaps from insanity, for it taught him to look out, not in, and to lend a hand. At times he was a little too sentimental, as it was, and a trifle more of morbidity and sensitiveness would have ruined his life, absolutely.

The woods and God's great out-of-doors gave him balance and ballast, good digestion and sweet sleep o' nights.

The two years past, he went to Jena, where he had an elder brother. This brother was a star scholar, and Friedrich looked up to him as a pleiad of pedagogy. He became a professor in a Jena preparatory school and then practised medicine; but he never had the misfortune to affront public opinion, and so oblivion lured and won him, and took him as her own.

At Jena poor Froebel did not make head. His preparatory work hadn't prepared him. He floundered in studies too deep for one of his age, then followed some foolish advice and hired a tutor to help him along. Then he fell down, was plucked, got into debt, and also into the "carcer," where he boarded for nine weeks at the expense of the State.

In the carcer he didn't catch up with his studies, quite naturally, and the imprisonment almost broke his health. Had he been in the carcer for dueling, he would have emerged a hero. But debt meant that he had neither money nor friends. When he was given his release, as an economic move, he slipped away between two days and made his way to the Forestry Office, where he applied for a job as laborer. He got it. In a few days he was promoted to chief of apprentices.

Forestry meant a certain knowledge of surveying, and this Froebel soon acquired. Then came map-making, and that was only fun. From map-making to architecture is but a step, and Froebel quit the woods to work as assistant to an architect at ten pounds a year and found, it was confining work, and a trifle more exacting than he had expected—it required a deal of mathematics, and mathematics was Froebel's short suit. Froebel was disappointed and so was his employer—when something happened. It usually does in books, and in life, always.

* * * * *

Genius has its prototype. Before Froebel comes Pestalozzi, the Swiss, who studied theology and law, and then abandoned them both as futile to human evolution, and turned his attention to teaching. Pestalozzi was inspired by Jean Jacques Rousseau, and read his "Emile" religiously. To teach by natural methods and mix work and study, and make both play, was his theme. Pestalozzi believed in teaching out of doors, because children are both barbaric and nomadic—they want to go somewhere. His was the Aristotle method, as opposed to those of the closet and the cloister. But he made the mistake of saying that teaching should be taken out of the hands and homes of the clergy, and then the clergy said a few things about him.

Pestalozzi at first met with very meager encouragement. Only poor and ignorant people entrusted their children to his care, and some of the parents were actually paid in money for the services of the children. The thought that the children were getting an education and being useful at the same time was quite beyond their comprehension.

Pestalozzi educated by stealth. At first he took several boys and girls of eight, ten or twelve years of age, and had them work with him in his garden. They cared for fowls, looked after the sheep, milked the cows. The master worked with them, and as they worked they talked. Going to and from their duties, Pestalozzi would call their attention to the wild birds, and to the flowers, plants and weeds. They would draw pictures of things, make collections of leaves and flowers, and keep a record of their observations and discoveries. Through keeping these records they learned to read and write and acquired the use of simple mathematics. Things they did not understand they would read about in the books found in the teacher's library. But books were secondary and quite incidental in the scheme of study. When work seemed to become irksome they would all stop and play games. At other times they would sit and just talk about what their work happened to suggest. If the weather was unpleasant, there was a shop where they made hoes and rakes and other tools they needed. They also built bird-houses, and made simple pieces of furniture, so all the pupils, girls and boys, became more or less familiar with carpenter's and blacksmith's tools. They patched their shoes, mended their clothing, and at times prepared their own food.

Pestalozzi found that the number of pupils he could look after in this way was not more than ten. But to his own satisfaction, at least, he proved that children taught by his method surpassed those who were given the regular set courses of instruction. His chief difficulties lay in the fact that the home did not co-operate with the school, and that there was always a tendency to "return to the blanket."

Pestalozzi wrote accounts of his experiments and emphasized his belief that we should educate through the child's natural activities; also that all growth should be pleasurable. His shibboleth was, "From within, out." He thought education was a development and not an acquirement.

One of Pestalozzi's little pamphlets fell into the hands of Friedrich Froebel, architect's assistant, at Frankfort.

Froebel was twenty-two years old, and Fate had tossed him around from one thing to another since babyhood. All of his experiences had been of a kind that prepared his mind for the theories that Pestalozzi expressed.

Besides that, architecture had begun to pall upon him. "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." This was said in derision, but it holds a grain of truth.

Froebel had a great desire to teach. Now, in Frankfort there was a Model School or a school for teachers, of which one Herr Gruner was master. This school was actually carrying out some of the practical methods suggested by Pestalozzi. Quite by accident Gruner and Froebel met. Gruner wanted a teacher who could teach by the Pestalozzi methods. Froebel straightway applied to Herr Gruner for the position. He was accepted as a combination janitor and instructor and worked for his board and ten marks, or two and a half dollars a week.

The good-cheer and enthusiasm of Froebel won Gruner's heart. Together they discussed Pestalozzi and his works, read all that he had written, and opened up a correspondence with the great man. This led to an invitation that Froebel should visit him at his farm-school, near Yverdon, in Switzerland.

Gruner supplied Froebel the necessary money to replace his very seedy clothes for something better, and the young man started away. It was a walk of more than two hundred miles, but youth and enthusiasm count such a tramp as an enjoyable trifle. Froebel wore his seedy clothes and carried his good ones, and so he appeared before the master spick and span.

Pestalozzi was sixty years old at this time, and his hopes for the "new method" were still high. He had met opposition, ridicule and indifference, and had spent most of his little fortune in the fight, but he was still at it and resolved to die in the harness.

Froebel was not disappointed in Pestalozzi, and certainly Pestalozzi was delighted and a bit amused at the earnestness of the young man. Pestalozzi was working in a very economical way, but all the place lacked Froebel, in his exuberant imagination, made good.

Froebel found much, for he had brought much with him.

* * * * *

Froebel returned to Frankfort from his visit to Pestalozzi, full of enthusiasm, and that is the commodity without which no teacher succeeds. Gruner allowed him to gravitate. And soon Froebel's room was the central point of interest for the whole school. But trouble was ahead for Froebel.

He had no college degrees. His pedagogic pedigree was very short. He hoped to live down his university record, but it followed him. Gruner's school was under government inspection, and the gentlemen with double chins, who came from time to time to look the place over, asked who this enthusiastic young person was, and why had the worthy janitor and ex-forester been so honored by promotion.

In truth, during his life, Froebel never quite escaped the taunt that he was not an educated man. That is to say, no college had ever supplied him an alphabetic appendage. He had been a forester, a farmer, an architect, a guardian for boys and a teacher of women, but no institution had ever said officially he was fit to teach men.

Gruner tried to explain that there are two kinds of teachers: people who are teachers by nature, and those who have acquired the methods by long study. The first, having little to learn, and a love for the child, with a spontaneous quality of giving their all, succeed best.

But poor Gruner's explanation did not explain.

Then the matter was gently explained to Froebel, and he saw that in order to hold a place as teacher he must acquire a past. "Time will adjust it," he said, and started away on a second visit to Pestalozzi. His plan was to remain with the master long enough so he could secure a certificate of proficiency.

Again Pestalozzi welcomed the young man, and he slipped easily into the household and became both pupil and teacher. His willingness to work—to do the task that lay nearest him—his good-nature, his gratitude, won all hearts.

At this time the plan of sending boys to college with a tutor who was both a companion and a teacher, was in vogue with those who could afford it. It will be remembered that William and Alexander von Humboldt received their early education in this way—going with their tutor from university to university, teacher and pupils entering as special students, getting into the atmosphere of the place, soaking themselves full of it, and then going on.

And now behold, through Gruner or Pestalozzi or both, a woman of wealth with three boys to educate applied to Froebel to come over into Macedonia and help her.

It was in Eighteen Hundred Seven that Froebel became tutor in the Von Holzhausen family. He was twenty-five years old, and this was his first interview with wealth and leisure. That he was hungry enough to appreciate it need not be emphasized.

He got goodly glimpses of Gottingen, Berlin, and was long enough at Jena to rub the blot off the 'scutcheon. A stay at Weimar, in the Goethe country, completed the four years' course.

The boys had grown to men, and proved their worth in after-years; but whether they had gotten as much from the migrations as their teacher is very doubtful. He was ripe for opportunity—they had had a surfeit of it.

Then came war. The order to arms and the rush of students to obey their country's call caught Froebel in the patriotic vortex, and he enlisted with his pupils.

His service was honorable, even if not brilliant, and it had this advantage: the making of two friends, companions in arms, who caught the Pestalozzian fever, and lived out their lives preaching and teaching "the new method."

These men were William Middendorf and Henry Langenthal. This trinity of brothers evolved a bond as beautiful as it is rare in the realm of friendship. Forty years after their first meeting, Middendorf gave an oration over the dead body of Froebel that lives as a classic, breathing the love and faith that endure.

And then Middendorf turned to his work, and dared prison and disgrace by upholding the Kindergarten System and the life and example of his dear, dead friend. The Kindergarten Idea would probably have been buried in the grave with Froebel—interred with his bones—were it not for Middendorf and Langenthal.

* * * * *

The first Kindergarten was established in Eighteen Hundred Thirty-six, at Blankenburg, a little village near Keilhau. Froebel was then fifty-four years old, happily married to a worthy woman who certainly did not hamper his work, even if she did not inspire it. He was childless, that all children might call him father.

The years had gone in struggles to found Normal Schools in Germany after the Pestalozzian and Gruner methods. But disappointment, misunderstanding and stupidity had followed Froebel. The set methods of the clergy, accusations of revolution and heresy, tilts with pious pedants as to the value of dead languages, all combined with his own lack of business shrewdness, had wrecked his various ventures.

Froebel's argument that women were better natural teachers than men on account of the mother-instinct, brought forth a retort from a learned monk to the effect that it was indelicate if not sinful for an unmarried female, who was not a nun, to study the natures of children.

Parents with children old enough to go to school would not entrust their darlings with the teaching experimenter—this on the advice of their pastors.

Middendorf and Langenthal were still with him, partners in the disgrace or failure, for none was willing to give up the fight for education by the natural methods.

A great thought and a great word came to them, all at once—out on the mountain-side!

Begin with the children before the school age, and call it the Kindergarten!

Hurrah! They shouted for joy, and ran down the hill to tell Frau Froebel.

The schools they had started before had been called, "The Institution for Teaching According to the Pestalozzi Method and the Natural Activities of the Child," "Institution for the Encouragement and Development of the Spontaneous Activities of the Pupil," and "Friedrich Froebel's School for the Growth of the Creative Instinct Which Makes for a Useful Character."

A school with such names, of course, failed. No one could remember it long enough to send his child there—it meant nothing to the mind not prepared for it.

What's in a name? Everything. Books sell or become dead stock on the name. Commodities the same. Railroads must have a name people are not afraid to pronounce.

The officers of the law came and asked to see Froebel's license for manufacturing. Others asked as to the nature of his wares, and one dignitary called and asked, "Is Herr Pestalozzi in?"

The Kindergarten! The new name took. The children remembered it. Overworked mothers liked the word and were glad to let the little other-mothers take the children to the Kindergarten, certainly.

Froebel had grown used to disappointments—he was an optimist by nature. He saw the good side of everything, including failure.

He made the best of necessity. And now it was very clear to him that education must begin "a hundred years before the child is born." He would reach the home and the mother through the children. "It will take three generations to prove the truth of the Kindergarten Idea," he said.

And so the songs, the gifts, the games—all had to be invented, defended, tried and tried again. Pestalozzi had a plan for teaching the youth; now a plan had to be devised for teaching the child. Love was the keystone, and joy, unselfishness and unswerving faith in the Natural or Divine impulses of humanity crowned the structure.

* * * * *

Froebel invented the schoolma'am. That is, he discovered the raw product and adapted it. He even coined the word, and it struck the world as being so very funny that we forthwith adopted it as a term of provincial pleasantry and quasi-reproach. The original term used was "school mother," but when it reached these friendly shores we translated it "schoolmarm." Then we tittered, also sneezed.

Froebel died in Eighteen Hundred Fifty-two. His first Kindergarten was not a success until he was nearly sixty years old, but the idea had been perfecting itself in his mind more or less unconsciously for over thirty years.

He had been thinking, writing, working, experimenting all these years on the subject of education, and he had become well-nigh discouraged. He had observed that six was the "school age." That is, no child could go to school until he was six years old—then his education began.

But Froebel had been teaching in a country school and boarding 'round, and he had discovered that long before this the child had been learning by observing and playing, and that these were formative influences, quite as potent as actual school.

In the big families where Froebel boarded, he noticed that the older girls took charge of the younger ones. So, often a girl of ten, with dresses to her knees, carried one baby in her arms and two toddled behind her, and this child of ten was really the other-mother. The true mother worked in the fields or toiled at her housework, and the little other-mother took the children out to play and thus amused them while the mother worked.

The desire of Froebel was to educate the race, but what are a few hours a day in a schoolroom with a totally unsympathetic home environment!

To reach and interest the mother in the problem of education was well-nigh impossible. Toil, deprivation, poverty, had killed all the romance and enthusiasm in her heart. She was the victim of arrested development; but the little other-mother was a child, impressionable, immature, and she could be taught. The home must co-operate with the school, otherwise all the school can teach will be forgotten in the home. Froebel saw, too, that often the little other-mother was so overworked in the care of her charges that she was taken from school. Besides, the idea was abroad that education was mostly for boys, anyway.

And here Froebel stepped in and proved himself a law-breaker, just as Ben Lindsey was when he inaugurated the juvenile court and waived the entire established legal procedure, even to the omission of swearing his witnesses, and believed in the little truant even though he lied. Froebel told the little other-mothers to come to school anyway and bring the babies with them.

And then he set to work showing these girls how to amuse, divert and teach the babies. And he used to say the babies taught him.

Some of these half-grown girls showed a rare adaptability as teachers. They combined mother-love and the teaching instinct.

Froebel utilized their services in teaching others in order that he might teach them.

He saw that the teacher is the one who gets the most out of the lessons, and that the true teacher is a learner. These girl teachers he called school-mothers, and thus was evolved the word and the person.

Froebel founded the first normal and model school for the education of women as teachers, and this was less than a hundred years ago.

The years went by and the little mothers had children of their own, and these children were the ones that formed the first actual, genuine kindergarten.

Also, these were the mothers who formed the first mothers' clubs.

And it was the success of these clubs that attracted the attention of the authorities, who could not imagine any other purpose for a club than to hatch a plot against the government.

Anyway, a system which taught that women were just as wise, just as good and just as capable as men—just as well fitted by nature to teach—would upset the clergy. If women can break into the school, they will also break into the church. Moreover, the encouragement of play was atrocious. Mein Gott, or words to that effect, play in a schoolroom! Why, even a fool would know that that is the one thing that stood in the way of education, the one fly in the pedagogic ointment. If Mynheer Froebel would please invent a way to do away with play in schoolrooms, he would be given a pension.

The idea that children were good by nature was rank heresy. Where does the doctrine of regeneration come in, and how about being born again! The natural man is at enmity toward God. We are conceived in sin and born in iniquity. The Bible says it again and again.

And here comes a man who thinks he knows more than all the priests and scholars who have ever lived, and fills the heads of fool women with the idea that they are born to teach instead of to work in the fields and keep house and wait on men.

Mein Gott in Himmel, the women know too much, already! If this thing keeps on, men will have to get off the earth, and women and children will run the world, and do it by means of play. Aha! What does Solomon say? Spare the rod and spoil the child. Aber nicht, say these girls.

This thing has got to stop before Germany becomes the joke of mankind—the cat-o'-nine-tails for anybody who uses the word kindergarten!

* * * * *

"Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." Had the man who uttered these words been given a little encouragement, he probably would have inaugurated a child-garden and provided a place and environment where little souls could have bloomed and blossomed. He was by nature a teacher, and his best pupils were women and children. Male men are apt to think they already know and so are immune from ideas.

Jerusalem, nineteen hundred years ago, was about where Berlin was in Eighteen Hundred Fifty. In both instances the proud priest and the aristocrat-soldier were supreme. And both were quite satisfied with their own mental attainments and educational methods. They were sincere. It was a very similar combination that crucified Jesus to that which placed an interdict on Friedrich Froebel, making the Kindergarten a crime, and causing the speedy death of one of the gentlest, noblest, purest men who have ever blessed this earth.

Froebel was just seventy when he passed out. "His eye was not dimmed nor his natural force abated"—he was filled with enthusiasm and hope as never before. His ideas were spreading—success, at last, was at the door, he had interested the women and proved the fitness of women to teach—his mothers' clubs were numerous—love was the watchword. And in the midst of this flowering time, the official order came, without warning, apology or explanation, and from which there was no appeal. The same savagery, chilled with fear, that sent Richard Wagner into exile, crushed the life and broke the heart of Friedrich Froebel. But these names now are the pride and glory of the land that once scorned them. Men who govern should be those with a reasonable doubt concerning their own infallibility, and an earnest faith in men, women and children. To teach is better than to rule. We are all children in the Kindergarten of God.


Neo-Platonism is a progressive philosophy, and does not expect to state final conditions to men whose minds are finite. Life is an unfoldment, and the further we travel the more truth we can comprehend. To understand the things that are at our door is the best preparation for understanding those that lie beyond.



The father of Hypatia was Theon, a noted mathematician and astronomer of Alexandria. He would have been regarded as a very great man had he not been cast into the shadow by his daughter. Let male parents beware.

At that time, astronomy and astrology were one. Mathematics was useful, not for purposes of civil engineering, but principally in figuring out where a certain soul, born under a given planet, would be at a certain time in the future.

No information comes to us about the mother of Hypatia—she was so busy with housework that her existence is a matter of assumption or a priori reasoning; thus, given a daughter, we assume the existence of a mother.

Hypatia was certainly the daughter of her father. He was her tutor, teacher, playmate. All he knew he taught to her, and before she was twenty she had been informed by him of a fact which she had previously guessed—that considerable of his so-called knowledge was conjecture.

Theon taught his daughter that all systems of religion that pretend to teach the whole truth were to a great degree false and fraudulent. He explained to her that his own profession of astronomy and astrology was only for other people. By instructing her in all religions she grew to know them comparatively, and so none took possession of her to the exclusion of new truth. To have a religion thrust upon you, and be compelled to believe in it or suffer social ostracism, is to be cheated of the right to make your own. In degree it is letting another live your life. A child does not need a religion until he is old enough to evolve it, and then he must not be robbed of the right of independent thinking by having a fully-prepared plan of salvation handed out to him. The brain needs exercise as much as the body, and vicarious thinking is as erroneous as vicarious exercise. Strength comes from personal effort. To think is natural, and if not intimidated or coerced the man will evolve a philosophy of life that is useful and beneficent.

Religious mania is a result of dwelling on a borrowed religion. If let alone no man would become insane on religious topics, for the religion he would evolve would be one of joy, laughter and love, not one of misery or horror. The religion that contemplates misery and woe is one devised by priestcraft for a purpose, and that purpose is to rule and rob. From the blunt ways of the road we get a polite system of intimidation which makes the man pay. It is robbery reduced to a system, and finally piously believed in by the robbers, who are hypnotized into the belief that they are doing God's service.

"All formal dogmatic religions are fallacious and must never be accepted by self-respecting persons as final," said Theon to Hypatia. "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all."

Theon gave lectures, and had private classes in esoterics, wherein the innermost secrets of divinity were imparted. Also, he had a plan for the transmutation of metals and a recipe for perpetual youth. When he had nothing else to do, he played games with his daughter.

At twenty-one Hypatia had mastered the so-called art of Rhetoric, or the art of expression by vocal speech.

It will be remembered that the Romans considered rhetoric, or the art of the rhetor, or orator, as first in importance. To impress people by your personal presence they regarded as the gift of gifts.

This idea seems to have been held by the polite world up to the Italian Renaissance, when the art of printing was invented and the written word came to be regarded as more important than the spoken. One lives, and the other dies on the air, existing only in memory, growing attenuated and diluted as it is transferred. The revival of sculpture and painting also helped oratory to take its proper place as one of the polite arts, and not a thing to be centered upon to the exclusion of all else.

Theon set out to produce a perfect human being; and whether his charts, theorems and formulas made up a complete law of eugenics, or whether it was dumb luck, this we know: he nearly succeeded. Hypatia was five feet nine, and weighed one hundred thirty-five pounds. This when she was twenty. She could walk ten miles without fatigue; swim, row, ride horseback and climb mountains. Through a series of gentle calisthenics invented by her father, combined with breathing exercises, she had developed a body of rarest grace. Her head had corners, as once Professor O. S. Fowler told us that a woman's head must have, if she is to think and act with purpose and precision.

So having evolved this rare beauty of face, feature and bodily grace, combined with superior strength and vitality, Hypatia took up her father's work and gave lectures on astronomy, mathematics, astrology and rhetoric, while he completed his scheme for the transmutation of metals. Hypatia's voice was flute-like, and used always well within its compass, so as never to rasp or tire the organs. Theon knew the proper care of nose and throat, a knowledge which with us moderns is all too rare. Hypatia told of and practised the vocal ellipse, the pause, the glide, the slide and the gentle, deliberate tones that please and impress. That the law of suggestion was known to her was very evident, and certain it is that she practised hypnotism in her classes, and seemed to know as much about the origin of the mysterious agent as we do now, even though she never tagged or labeled it.

One very vital thought she worked out was, that the young mind is plastic, impressionable and accepts without question all that it is told. The young receive their ideas from their elders, and ideas once impressed upon this plastic plate of the mind can not be removed.

Said Hypatia: "Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fancies. To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible thing. The child-mind accepts and believes them, and only through great pain and perhaps tragedy can he be in after-years relieved of them. In fact, men will fight for a superstition quite as quickly as for a living truth—often more so, since a superstition is so intangible you can not get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, and so is changeable."

Gradually, over the mind of the beautiful and gifted Hypatia, there came stealing a doubt concerning the value of her own acquirements, since these were "acquirements," and not evolutions or convictions gathered from experience, but things implanted upon her plastic mind by her father.

In this train of thought Hypatia had taken a step in advance of her father, for he seems to have had a dogmatic belief in a few things incapable of demonstration; but these things he taught to the plastic mind, just the same as the things he knew. Theon was a dogmatic liberal. Possibly the difference between an illiberal Unitarian and a liberal Catholic is microscopic.

Hypatia clearly saw that knowledge is the distilled essence of our intuitions, corroborated by experience. But belief is the impress made upon our minds when we are under the spell of or in subjection to another.

These things caused the poor girl many unhappy hours, which fact, in itself, is proof of her greatness. Only superior people have a capacity for doubting.

Probably not one person in a million ever gets away far enough from his mind to take a look at it, and see the wheels go round. Opinions become ossified and the man goes through life hypnotizing others, never realizing for an instant that in youth he was hypnotized and that he has never been able to cast off the hypnosis.

This is what our pious friends mean when they say, "Give me the child until he is ten years old and you may have him afterward." That is, they can take the child in his plastic age and make impressions on his mind that are indelible. Reared in an orthodox Jewish family a child will grow up a dogmatic Jew, and argue you on the Talmud six nights and days together.

Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, the same. I once knew an Arapahoe Indian who was taken to Massachusetts when four years old. He grew up not only with New England prejudices, but with a New England accent, and saved his pennies to give to missionaries that they might "convert" the Red Men.

When the suspicion seized upon the soul of Hypatia that her mind was but a wax impression taken from her father's, she began to make plans to get away from him. Her efforts at explanations were futile, but when placed upon the general ground that she wished to travel, see the world and meet people of learning and worth, her father acquiesced and she started away on her journeyings. He wanted to go, too, but this was the one thing she did not desire, and he never knew nor could know why.

She spent several months at Athens, where her youth, beauty and learning won her entry into the houses of the most eminent. It was the same at Rome and in various other cities of Italy. Money may give you access to good society, but talent is always an open sesame. She traveled like a princess and was received as one, yet she had no title nor claim to nobility nor station. Beauty of itself is not a credential—rather it is an object of suspicion, unless it goes with intellect.

Hypatia gave lectures on mathematics; and there was a fallacy abroad then as there is now that the feminine mind is not mathematical. That the great men whom Hypatia met in each city were first amazed and then abashed by her proficiency in mathematics is quite probable. Some few male professors being in that peculiar baldheaded hypnotic state when feminine charms dazzle and lure, listened in rapture as Hypatia dissolved logarithms and melted calculi, and not understanding a word she said, declared that she was the goddess Minerva, reincarnated. Her coldness on near approach confirmed their suspicions.

* * * * *

Just how long a time Hypatia spent upon her pilgrimage, visiting all of the great living philosophers, we do not know. Some accounts have it one year, others ten.

Probably the pilgrimages were extended over a good many years, and were not continuous. Several philosophers proved their humanity by offering to marry her, and a prince or two did likewise, we are credibly informed. To these persistent suitors, however, Hypatia gently broke the news that she was wedded to truth, which is certainly a pretty speech, even if it is poor logic. The fact was, however, that Hypatia never met a man whose mind matched her own, otherwise logic would have bolstered love, instead of discarding it.

Travel, public speaking and meeting people of note form a strong trinity of good things. The active mind is the young mind, and it is more than the dream of a poet which declares that Hypatia was always young and always beautiful, and that even Father Time was so in love with her that he refused to take toll from her, as he passed with his hourglass and scythe.

In degree she had followed the example of her great prototype, Plotinus, and had made herself master of all religions. She knew too much of all philosophies to believe implicitly in any. Alexandria was then the intellectual center of the world. People who resided there called it the hub of the universe. It was the meeting-place of the East and the West.

And Hypatia, with her Thursday lectures, was the chief intellectual factor of Alexandria.

Her philosophy she called Neo-Platonism. It was Plato distilled through the psychic alembic of Hypatia. Just why the human mind harks back and likes to confirm itself by building on another, it would be interesting to inquire. To explain Moses; to supply a key to the Scriptures; to found a new School of Philosophy on the assumption that Plato was right, but was not understood until the Then and There, is alluring.

And now the pilgrims came from Athens, and Rome, and the Islands of the Sea to sit at the feet of Hypatia.

* * * * *

Hypatia was born in the year Three Hundred Seventy, and died in Four Hundred Thirty. She exerted an influence in Alexandria not unlike that which Mrs. Eddy exerted in Boston. She was a person who divided society into two parts: those who regarded her as an oracle of light, and those who looked upon her as an emissary of darkness.

Strong men paid her the compliment of using immoderate language concerning her teaching. But whether they spoke ill or well of her matters little now. The point is this: they screeched, sneezed, or smiled on those who refused to acknowledge the power of Hypatia. Some professors of learning tried to waive her; priests gently pooh-poohed her; and some elevated an eyebrow and asked how the name was spelled. Others, still, inquired, "Is she sincere?"

She was the Ralph Waldo Emerson of her day. Her philosophy was Transcendentalism. In fact, she might be spoken of as the original charter member of the Concord School of Philosophy. Her theme was the New Thought, for New Thought is the oldest form of thought of which we know. Its distinguishing feature is its antiquity. Socrates was really the first to express the New Thought, and he got his cue from Pythagoras.

The ambition of Hypatia was to revive the flowering-time of Greece, when Socrates and Plato walked arm in arm through the streets of Athens, followed by the greatest group of intellectuals the world has ever seen.

It was charged against Hypatia that Aspasia was her ideal, and that her ambition was to follow in the footsteps of the woman who was beloved by Pericles. If so, it was an ambition worthy of a very great soul. Hypatia, however, did not have her Pericles, and never married. That she should have had love experiences was quite natural, and that various imaginary romances should have been credited to her was also to be expected.

Hypatia was nearly a thousand years removed from the time of Pericles and Aspasia, but to bridge the gulf of time with imagination was easy. Yet Hypatia thought that the New Platonism should surpass the old, for the world had had the Age of Augustus to build upon.

Hypatia's immediate prototype was Plotinus, who was born two hundred four years after Christ, and lived to be seventy. Plotinus was the first person to use the phrase "Neo-Platonism," and so the philosophy of Hypatia might be called "The New Neo-Platonism."

To know but one religion is not to know that one.

In fact, superstition consists in this one thing—faith in one religion, to the exclusion of all others.

To know one philosophy is to know none. They are all comparative, and each serves as a small arc of the circle. A man living in a certain environment, with a certain outlook, describes the things he sees; and out of these, plus what he imagines, is shaped his philosophy of life. If he is repressed, suppressed, frightened, he will not see very much, and what he does see will be out of focus. Spiritual strabismus and mental myopia are the results of vicarious peeps at the universe. All formal religions have taught that to look for yourself was bad. The peephole through the roof of his garret cost Copernicus his liberty, but it was worth the price.

Plotinus made a study of all philosophies—all religions. He traveled through Egypt, Greece, Assyria, India. He became an "adept", and discovered how easily the priest drifts into priestcraft, and fraud steps in with legerdemain and miracle to amend the truth. As if to love humanity were not enough to recommend the man, they have him turn water into wine and walk on the water.

Out of the labyrinth of history and speculation Plotinus returned to Plato as a basis or starting-point for all of the truth which man can comprehend. Plotinus believed in all religions, but had absolute faith in none. It will be remembered that Aristotle and Plato parted as to the relative value of poetry and science—science being the systematized facts of Nature. Plotinus comes in and says that both were right, and each was like every good man who exaggerates the importance of his own calling. In his ability to see the good in all things, Hypatia placed Plotinus ahead of Plato, but even then she says: "Had there been no Plato, there would have been no Plotinus; although Plotinus surpassed Plato, yet it is plain that Plato, the inspirer of Plotinus and so many more, is the one man whom philosophy can not spare. Hail, Plato!!"

* * * * *

The writings of Hypatia have all disappeared, save as her words come to us, quoted by her contemporaries. If the Essays of Emerson should all be swept away, the man would still live in the quotations from his pen, given to us by every writer of worth who has put pencil to paper during the last fifty years. So lives Sappho, and thus did Charles Kingsley secure the composite of the great woman who lives and throbs through his book. Legend pictures her as rarely beautiful, with grace, poise and power, plus.

She was sixty when she died. History kindly records it forty-five—and all picture her as a beautiful and attractive woman to the last. The psychic effects of a gracefully-gowned first reader, with sonorous voice, using gesture with economy, and packing the pauses with feeling, have never been fully formulated, analyzed and explained. Throngs came to hear Hypatia lecture—came from long distances, and listened hungrily, and probably all they took away was what they brought, except a great feeling of exhilaration and enthusiasm. To send the hearer away stepping light, and his heart beating fast—this is oratory—which isn't so much to bestow facts, as it is to impart a feeling. This Hypatia surely did. Her theme was Neo-Platonism. "Neo" means new, and all New Thought harks back to Plato, who was the mouthpiece of Socrates. "Say what you will, you'll find it all in Plato." Neo-Platonism is our New Thought, and New Thought is Neo-Platonism.

There are two kinds of thought: New Thought and Secondhand Thought. New Thought is made up of thoughts you, yourself, think. The other kind is supplied to you by jobbers. The distinguishing feature of New Thought is its antiquity. Of necessity it is older than Secondhand Thought. All genuine New Thought is true for the person who thinks it. It only turns sour and becomes error when not used, and when the owner forces another to accept it. It then becomes a secondhand revelation. All New Thought is revelation, and secondhand revelations are errors half-soled with stupidity and heeled with greed.

Very often we are inspired to think by others, but in our hearts we have the New Thought; and the person, the book, the incident, merely remind us that it is already ours. New Thought is always simple; Secondhand Thought is abstruse, complex, patched, peculiar, costly, and is passed out to be accepted, not understood. That no one comprehends it is often regarded as a recommendation.

For instance, "Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image," is Secondhand Thought. The first man who said it may have known what it meant, but surely it is nothing to us. However, that does not keep us from piously repeating it, and having our children memorize it.

We model in clay or wax, and carve if we can, and give honors to those who do, and this is well. This commandment is founded on the fallacy that graven images are gods, whatever that is. The command adds nothing to our happiness, nor does it shape our conduct, nor influence our habits. Everybody knows and admits its futility, yet we are unable to eliminate it from our theological system. It is strictly secondhand—worse, it is junk.

Conversely, the admonition, "Be gentle and keep your voice low," is New Thought, since all but savages know its truth, comprehend its import, and appreciate its excellence.

Dealers in Secondhand Thought always declare that theirs is the only genuine, and that all other is spurious and dangerous.

Dealers in New Thought say, "Take this only as it appeals to you as your own—accept it all, or in part, or reject it all—and in any event, do not believe it merely because I say so."

New Thought is founded on the laws of your own nature, and its shibboleth is, "Know Thyself."

Secondhand Thought is founded on authority, and its war-cry is, "Pay and Obey."

New Thought offers you no promise of paradise or eternal bliss if you accept it; nor does it threaten you with everlasting hell, if you don't. All it offers is unending work, constant effort, new difficulties; beyond each success is a new trial. Its only satisfactions are that you are allowing your life to unfold itself according to the laws of its nature. And these laws are divine, therefore you yourself are divine, just as you allow the divine to possess your being. New Thought allows the currents of divinity to flow through you unobstructed.

Secondhand Thought affords no plan of elimination; it tends to congestion, inflammation, disease and disintegration.

New Thought holds all things lightly, gently, easily—even thought. It works for a healthy circulation, and tends to health, happiness and well-being now and hereafter. It does not believe in violence, force, coercion or resentment, because all these things react on the doer. It has faith that all men, if not interfered with by other men, will eventually evolve New Thought, and do for themselves what is best and right, beautiful and true.

Secondhand Thought has always had first in its mind the welfare of the dealer. The rights of the consumer, beyond keeping him in subjection, were not considered. Indeed, its chief recommendation has been that "it is a good police system."

New Thought considers only the user. To "Know Thyself" is all there is of it.

When a creator of New Thought goes into the business of retailing his product, he often forgets to live it, and soon is transformed into a dealer in Secondhand Thought.

That is the way all purveyors in secondhand revelation begin. In their anxiety to succeed, they call in the police. The blessing that is compulsory is not wholly good, and any system of morals which has to be forced on us is immoral. New Thought is free thought. Its penalty is responsibility. You either have to live it, or else lose it. Its reward is Freedom.

* * * * *

It was only a little more than a hundred years before the time of Hypatia that the Roman Empire became Christian. When Constantine embraced Christianity, all of his loyal subjects were from that moment Christians—Christians by edict, but Pagans by character, for the natures of men can not be changed by the passing of a resolution. From that time every Pagan temple became a Christian church, and every Pagan priest a Christian preacher.

Alexandria was under the rule of a Roman Prefect, or Governor. It had been the policy of Rome to exercise great tolerance in religious matters. There was a State Religion, to be sure, but it was for the nobility or those who helped make the State possible. To look after the thinking of the plain people was quite superfluous—they were allowed their vagaries.

The Empire had been bold, brazen, cruel, coercive in its lust for power, but people who paid were reasonably safe. And now the Church was coming into competition with the State and endeavoring to reduce spoliation to a system.

To keep the people down and under by mental suppression—by the engine of superstition—were cheaper and more effective than to employ force or resort to the old-time methods of shows, spectacles, pensions and costly diversions. When the Church took on the functions of the State, and sought to substitute the gentle Christ for Caesar, she had to recast the teachings of Christ. Then for the first time coercion and love dwelt side by side. "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels," and like passages were slipped into the Scriptures as matters of wise expediency. This was continued for many hundred years, and was considered quite proper and legitimate. It was slavery under a more subtle form.

The Bishop of Alexandria clashed with Orestes the Prefect. To hold the people under by psychologic methods was better than the old plans of alternate bribery and force—so argued the Bishop.

Orestes had come under the spell of Hypatia, and the Republic of Plato was saturating his mind.

"To rule by fettering the mind through fear of punishment in another world is just as base as to use force," said Hypatia in one of her lectures. Orestes sat in the audience and as she spoke the words he clapped his hands. The news was carried to the Bishop, who gently declared that he would excommunicate him.

Orestes sent word back that the Emperor should be informed of how this Bishop was misusing his office by making threats of where he could land people he did not like, in another world. Neither the Bishop nor the Prefect could unseat each other—both derived their power from the Emperor. For Orestes to grow interested in the teachings of Hypatia, instead of siding with the Bishop, was looked upon by the loyalists as little short of treason.

Orestes tried to defend himself by declaring that the policy of the Caesars had always been one of great leniency toward all schools of philosophy. Then he quoted Hypatia to the effect that a fixed, formal and dogmatic religion would paralyze the minds of men and make the race, in time, incapable of thought.

Therefore, the Bishop should keep his place, and not try to usurp the functions of the police. In fact, it was better to think wrongly than not to think at all. We learn to think by thinking, and if the threats of the Bishop were believed at all, it would mean the death of science and philosophy.

The Bishop made answer by declaring that Hypatia was endeavoring to found a Church of her own, with Pagan Greece as a basis. He intimated, too, that the relationship of Orestes with Hypatia was very much the same as that which once existed between Cleopatra and Mark Antony. He called her "that daughter of Ptolemy," and by hints and suggestions made it appear that she would, if she could, set up an Egyptian Empire in this same city of Alexandria where Cleopatra once so proudly reigned.

The excitement increased. The followers of Hypatia were necessarily few in numbers. They were thinkers—and to think is a task. To believe is easy. The Bishop promised his followers a paradise of ease and rest. He also threatened disbelievers with the pains of hell. A promise on this side—a threat on that! Is it not a wonder that a man ever lived who put his honest thought against such teaching when launched by men clothed in almost absolute authority!

Hypatia might have lived yesterday, and her death at the hands of a mob was an accident that might have occurred in Boston, where a respectable company once threw a rope around the neck of a good man and ran him through streets supposed to be sacred to liberty and free speech.

A mob is made up of cotton waste, saturated with oil, and a focused idea causes spontaneous combustion. Let a fire occur in almost any New York State village, and the town turns wrecker, and loot looms large in the limited brain of the villager. Civilization is a veneer.

When one sees emotionalism run riot at an evangelistic revival, and five thousand people are trooping through an undesirable district at midnight, how long, think you, would a strong voice of opposition be tolerated?

Hypatia was set upon by a religious mob as she was going in her carriage from her lecture-hall to her home. She was dragged to a near-by church with the intent of making her publicly recant, but the embers became a blaze, and the blaze became a conflagration, and the leaders lost control. The woman's clothes were torn from her back, her hair torn from her head, her body beaten to a pulp, dismembered, and then to hide all traces of the crime and distribute the guilt so no one person could be blamed, a funeral-pyre quickly consumed the remains of what but an hour before had been a human being. Daylight came, and the sun's rays could not locate the guilty ones.

Orestes made a report of the affair, resigned his office, asked the Government at Rome to investigate, and fled from the city. Had Orestes endeavored to use his soldiery against the Bishop, the men in the ranks would have revolted. The investigation was postponed from time to time for lack of witnesses, and finally it was given out by the Bishop that Hypatia had gone to Athens, and there had been no mob and no tragedy.

The Bishop nominated a successor to Orestes, and the new official was confirmed.

Dogmatism as a police system was supreme.

It continued until the time of Dante, or the Italian Renaissance. The reign of Religious Dogmatism was supreme for well-nigh a thousand years—we call it the Dark Ages.


If any pilgrim monk come from distant parts, if with wish as a guest to dwell in the monastery, and will be content with the customs which he finds in the place, and do not perchance by his lavishness disturb the monastery, but is simply content with what he finds: he shall be received, for as long a time as he desires. If, indeed, he find fault with anything, or expose it, reasonably, and with the humility of charity, the Abbot shall discuss it prudently, lest perchance God had sent for this very thing. But, if he have been found gossipy and contumacious in the time of his sojourn as guest, not only ought he not to be joined to the body of the monastery, but also it shall be said to him, honestly, that he must depart. If he does not go, let two stout monks, in the name of God, explain the matter to him.

St. Benedict


As the traveler journeys through Southern Italy, Sicily and certain parts of what was Ancient Greece, he will see broken arches, parts of viaducts, and now and again a single, beautiful column pointing to the sky. All about is the desert or solitary pastures, and only this white milestone, marking the path of the centuries and telling in its own silent, solemn and impressive way of a day that is dead.

In the Fifth Century a monk called Simeon the Syrian, and known to us as Simeon Stylites, having taken the vow of chastity, poverty and obedience, began to fear greatly lest he might not be true to his pledge. And that he might live absolutely beyond reproach, always in public view, free from temptation, and free from the tongue of scandal, he decided to live in the world, and still not be of it. To this end he climbed to the top of a marble column, sixty feet high, and there on the capstone he lived a life beyond reproach.

Simeon was then twenty-four years old.

The environment was circumscribed, but there was outlook, sunshine, ventilation—three good things. But beyond these the place had certain disadvantages. The capstone was a little less than three feet square, so Simeon could not lie down. He slept sitting, with his head bowed between his knees, and indeed, in this posture he passed most of his time. Any recklessness in movement, and he would have slipped from his perilous position and been dashed to death upon the stones beneath.

As the sun arose he stood up, just for a few moments, and held his arms out in greeting, blessing and prayer. Three times during the day did he thus stretch his cramped limbs, and pray with his face to the East. At such times those who stood near shared in his prayers, and went away blessed and refreshed.

How did Simeon get to the top of the column?

Well, his companions at the monastery, a mile away, said he was carried there in the night by a miraculous power; that he went to sleep in his stone cell and awoke on the pillar. Other monks said that Simeon had gone to pay his respects to a fair lady, and in wrath God had caught him and placed him on high. The probabilities are, however, Terese, as viewed by an unbeliever, that he shot a line over the column with a bow and arrow and then drew up a rope ladder and ascended with ease.

However, in the morning the simple people of the scattered village saw the man on the column. All day he stayed there. The next day he was still there.

The days passed, with the scorching heat of the midday sun, and the cool winds of the night.

Still Simeon kept his place.

The rainy season came on. When the nights were cold and dark, Simeon sat there with bowed head, and drew the folds of his single garment, a black robe, over his face.

Another season passed; the sun again grew warm, then hot, and the sand-storms raged and blew, when the people below almost lost sight of the man on the column. Some prophesied he would be blown off, but the morning light revealed his form, naked from the waist up, standing with hands outstretched to greet the rising sun.

Once each day, as darkness gathered, a monk came with a basket containing a bottle of goat's milk and a little loaf of black bread, and Simeon dropped down a rope and drew up the basket.

Simeon never spoke, for words are folly, and to the calls of saint or sinner he made no reply. He lived in a perpetual attitude of adoration.

Did he suffer? During those first weeks he must have suffered terribly and horribly. There was no respite nor rest from the hard surface of the rock, and aching muscles could find no change from the cramped and perilous position. If he fell, it was damnation for his soul—all were agreed as to this.

But man's body and mind accommodate themselves to almost any condition. One thing at least, Simeon was free from economic responsibilities, free from social cares and intrusion. Bores with sad stories of unappreciated lives and fond hopes unrealized, never broke in upon his peace. He was not pressed for time. No frivolous dame of tarnished fame sought to share with him his perilous perch. The people on a slow schedule, ten minutes late, never irritated his temper. His correspondence never got in a heap.

Simeon kept no track of the days, having no engagements to meet, or offices to perform, beyond the prayers at morn, midday and night.

Memory died in him, the hurts became calluses, the world-pain died out of his heart, to cling became a habit. Language was lost in disuse. The food he ate was minimum in quantity; sensation ceased, and the dry, hot winds reduced bodily tissue to a dessicated something called a saint—loved, feared and reverenced for his fortitude.

This pillar, which had once graced the portal of a pagan temple, again became a place of pious pilgrimage, and people flocked to Simeon's rock, so that they might be near when he stretched out his black, bony hands to the East, and the spirit of Almighty God, for a space, hovered close around.

So much attention did the abnegation of Simeon attract that various other pillars, marking the ruins of art and greatness gone, in that vicinity, were crowned by pious monks. Their thought was to show how Christianity had triumphed over heathenism. Imitators were numerous. About that time the Bishops in assembly asked, "Is Simeon sincere?" To test the matter of Simeon's pride, he was ordered to come down from his retreat.

As to his chastity, there was little doubt, and his poverty was beyond question; but how about obedience to his superiors?

The order was shouted up to him in a Bishop's voice—he must let down his rope, draw up a ladder, and descend.

Straightway Simeon made preparation to obey. And then the Bishops relented and cried, "We have changed our minds, and now order you to remain!"

Simeon lifted his hands in adoration and thankfulness and renewed his lease.

And so he lived on and on and on—he lived on the top of that pillar, never once descending, for thirty years.

All of his former companions grew a-weary; one by one they died, and the monastery-bells tolled their requiem as they were laid to rest. Did Simeon hear the bells and say, "Soon it will be my turn"?

Probably not. His senses had flown, for what good were they! The young monk who now at eventide brought the basket with the bottle of goat's milk and the loaf of dry bread was born since Simeon had taken his place on the pillar. "He has always been there," the people said, and crossed themselves hurriedly.

But one evening when the young monk came with his basket, no line was dropped from above. He waited and then called aloud, but all in vain.

When sunrise came, there sat the monk, his face between his knees, the folds of his black robe drawn over his head. But he did not rise and lift his hands in prayer.

All day he sat there, motionless.

The people watched in whispered silence. Would he arise at sundown and pray, and with outstretched hands bless the assembled pilgrims?

But as they watched a vulture came sailing slowly through the blue ether, and circled nearer and nearer; and off on the horizon was another—and still another, circling nearer and nearer.

* * * * *

In humanity's march of progress there are a vanguard and a rearguard. The rearguard dwindles away into a mob of camp-followers, who follow for diversion and to escape starvation. Both the vanguard and the rearguard are out of step with the main body, and therefore both are despised by the many who make up the rank and file.

And yet, out of pity, the main body supplies ambulances and "slum-workers," who aim to do "good"—but this good is always for the rearguard and the camp-followers, never for those who lead the line of march, and take the risk of ambush and massacre.

But this scorn of the vanguard has its recompense—often delayed, no doubt—but those who compose it are the only ones whom history honors and Clio crowns. If they get recognition in life, it is wrung tardily from an ungrateful and ungracious world. And this is the most natural thing in the world, and it would be a miracle if it were otherwise, for the very virtue of the vanguard consists in that their acts outrun human sympathy.

Benedict was a scout of civilization. In his day he led the vanguard. He found the prosperous part of the world given over to greed and gluttony. The so-called religious element was in partnership with fraud, superstition, ignorance, incompetence, and an asceticism like that of Simeon Stylites, leading to nothing.

Men know the good and grow through experience. To realize the worthlessness of place and position and of riches, you must have been at some time in possession of these. Benedict was born into a rich Roman family, in the year Four Hundred Eighty. His parents wished to educate him for the law, so he would occupy a position of honor in the State.

But at sixteen years of age, at that critical time when nerves are vibrating between manhood and youth, Benedict cut the umbilical domestic cord, and leaving his robes of purple and silken finery, suddenly disappeared, leaving behind a note which was doubtless meant to be reassuring and which was quite the reverse, for it failed to tell where his mail should be forwarded. He had gone to live with a hermit in the fastnesses of the mountains. He had desired to do something peculiar, strange, unusual, unique and individual, and now he had done it.

Back of it all was the Cosmic Urge, with a fair slip of a girl, and meetings by stealth in the moonlight; and then those orders from his father to give up the girl, which he obeyed with a vengeance.

Monasticism is a reversal or a misdirection of the Cosmic Urge. The will brought to bear in fighting temptation might be a power for good, if used in co-operation with Nature. But Nature to the priestly mind has always been bad. The worldly mind was one that led to ruin. To be good by doing good was an idea the monkish mind had not grasped. His way of being good was to be nothing, do nothing—just resist. Successfully to fight temptation, the Oriental Monk regarded as an achievement.

One day, out on that perilous and slippery rock on the mountain-side, Benedict ceased saluting the Holy Virgin long enough to conceive a thought. It was this: To be acceptable to God, we must do something in the way of positive good for man. To pray, to adore, to wander, to suffer, is not enough. We must lighten the burdens of the toilers and bring a little joy into their lives. Suffering has its place, but too much suffering would destroy the race.

Only one other man had Benedict ever heard of, who put forth this argument, and that was Saint Jerome; and many good men in the Church regarded Saint Jerome as little better than an infidel. Saint Jerome was a student of the literature of Greece and Rome—"Pagan Books," they were called, "rivals of the Bible." Saint Anthony had renounced and denounced these books and all of the learning of Paganism. Saint Anthony, the father of Christian Monasticism, dwelt on the terrible evils of intellectual pride, and had declared that the joys of the mind were of a more subtle and devilish character than those of the flesh.

Anthony, assisted by inertia, had won the ear of the Church; and dirt, rags and idleness had come to be regarded as sacred things.

Benedict took issue with Anthony.

* * * * *

The Monastic Impulse is a protest against the Cosmic Urge, or reproductive desire.

Necessarily, the Cosmic Urge is older than the Monastic Impulse; and beyond a doubt it will live to dance on the grave of its rival.

The Cosmic Urge is the creative instinct. It includes all planning, purpose, desire, hope, unrest, lust and ambition. In its general sense, it is Unfulfilled Desire. It is the voice constantly crying in the ears of success, "Arise and get thee hence, for this is not thy rest." It is the dissatisfaction with all things done—it is our Noble Discontent. In its first manifestation it is sex. In its last refinement it means the love of man and woman, with the love of children, the home-making sense, and an appreciation of art, music and science—which is love with seeing eyes—as natural results.

Deity creates through its creatures, of which man is the highest type. But man, evolving a small spark of intellect, sits in judgment on his Creator, and finds the work bad. Of all the animals, man is the only one so far known that criticizes his environment, instead of accepting it. And we do this because, in degree, we have abandoned intuition before we have gotten control of intellect.

The Monastic Instinct is the disposition ever to look outside of ourselves for help. We expect the Strong Man to come and give us deliverance from our woes. All nations have legends of saviors and heroes who came and set the captives free, and who will come again in greater glory and mightier power and even release the dead from their graves.

The Monastic Impulse is based on world-weariness, with disappointed love, or sex surfeit, which is a phase of the same thing, as a basis. Its simplest phase is a desire for solitude.

"Mon" means one, and monasticism is simply living alone, apart from the world. Gradually it came to mean living alone with others of a like mind or disposition.

The clan is an extension of the family, and so is originally a monastic impulse. The Group Idea is a variant of monasticism, but if it includes men and women, it always disintegrates with the second generation, if not before, because the Cosmic Urge catches the members, and they mate, marry and swing the circle.

Ernst Haeckel has recently intimated his belief that monogamy, with its exclusive life, is a diluted form of monasticism. And his opinion seems to be that, in order to produce the noblest race possible, we must have a free society, with a State that reverences and respects maternity and pensions any mother who personally cares for her child.

Monasticism and enforced monogamy often carry a disrespect, if not a positive contempt, for motherhood, especially free motherhood. We breed from the worst, under the worst conditions, and as punishment God has made us a race of scrubs. If we had deliberately set about to produce the worst, we could not do better.

It will at once be seen that a penalized free motherhood is exactly like the Monastic Impulse—a protest and a revolt from the Cosmic Urge. Hence Ernst Haeckel, harking back to Schopenhauer, declares that we must place a premium upon parenthood, and the State must subsidize all mothers, visiting them with tenderness, gentleness, sanctity and respect, before we shall be able to produce a race of demigods.

The Church has aureoled and sainted the men and women who have successfully fought the Cosmic Urge. Emerson says, "We are strong as we ally ourselves with Nature, and weak as we fight against her or disregard her." Thus does Emerson place himself squarely in opposition to the Church, for the Church has ever looked upon Nature as a lure and a menace to holy living.

Now, is it not possible that the prevalency of the Monastic Impulse is proof that it is in itself a movement in the direction of Nature? Possibly its error lies in swinging out beyond the norm. A few great Churchmen have thought so. And the greatest and best of them, so far as I know, was Benedict. Through his efforts, monasticism was made a power for good, and for a time, at least, it served society and helped humanity on its way.

That the flagellants, anchorites, or monks with iron collars, and Simeon Stylites living his life perched on a pillar, benefited the human race—no one would now argue. Simeon was simply trying to please God—to secure salvation for his soul. His assumption was that the world was base and bad. To be pure in heart you must live apart from it. His persistence was the only commendable thing about him, and this was the persistence of a diseased mind. It was beautiful just as the persistence of cancer is beautiful.

Benedict, while agreeing that the world was bad, yet said that our business was to make it better, and that everything we did which was done merely to save our own souls, was selfish and unworthy. He advocated that, in order to save our own souls, we should make it our business to save others. Also, to think too much about your own soul was to have a soul not worth saving. If this life is a preparation for another, as Simeon thought, he was not preparing himself for a world where we would care to go. The only heaven in which any sane man or woman, be he saint or sinner, would care to live, would be one whose inhabitants would be at liberty to obey the Cosmic Urge just as freely as the Monastic Impulse, and where one would be regarded as holy as the other. So thought Saint Benedict.

* * * * *

There is a natural law, well recognized and defined by men who think, called the Law of Diminishing Returns, sometimes referred to as the Law of Pivotal Points.

A man starts in to take systematic exercise, and he finds that his strength increases. He takes more exercise and keeps on until he gets "stale"—that is, he becomes sore and lame. He has passed the Pivotal Point and is getting a Diminishing Return.

In running a railroad-engine a certain amount of coal is required to pull a train of given weight a mile, say at the rate of fifty miles an hour. You double the amount of your coal, and simple folks might say you double your speed, but railroad men know better. The double amount of coal will give you only about sixty miles instead of fifty. Increase your coal and from this on you get a Diminishing Return. If you insist on eighty miles an hour, you get your speed at a terrific cost and a terrible risk.

Another case: Your body requires a certain amount of food—the body is an engine; food is fuel; life is combustion. Better the quality and quantity of your food, and up to a certain point you increase your strength. Go on increasing your food and you get death. Loan money at five per cent and your investment is reasonably secure and safe. Loan money at ten per cent and you do not double the returns; on the contrary, you have taken on so much risk. Loan money at twenty per cent and you will probably lose it; for the man who borrows at twenty per cent does not intend to pay if he can help it.

The Law of Diminishing Returns was what Oliver Wendell Holmes had in mind when he said, "Because I like a pinch of salt in my soup is no reason I wish to be immersed in brine."

Churches, preachers and religious denominations are good things in their time and place, and up to a certain point. Whether for you the church has passed the Pivotal Point is for you yourself to decide. But remember this, because a thing is good up to a certain point, or has been good, is no reason why it should be perpetuated. The Law of Diminishing Returns is the natural refutation of the popular fallacy that because a thing is good you can not get too much of it.

It is this law that Abraham Lincoln had in mind when he said, "I object to that logic which seeks to imply that because I wish to make the negro free, I desire a black woman for a wife."

Benedict had spent five years in resistance before it dawned upon him that Monasticism carried to a certain point was excellent and fraught with good results, but beyond that it rapidly degenerated.

To carry the plan of simplicity and asceticism to its summit and not go beyond was now his desire.

To withdraw from society he felt was a necessity, for the petty and selfish ambitions of Rome were revolting. But the religious life did not for him preclude the joys of the intellect. In his unshaven and unshorn condition, wearing a single garment of goatskin, he dared not go back to his home. So he proceeded to make himself acceptable to decent people. He made a white robe, bathed, shaved off his beard, had his hair cut, and putting on his garments, went back to his family. The life in the wilderness had improved his health. He had grown in size and strength and he now, in his own person, proved that a religious recluse was not necessarily unkempt and repulsive.

His people greeted him as one raised from the dead. Crowds followed him wherever he went. He began to preach to them and to explain his position.

Some of his old school associates came to him.

As he explained his position, it began more and more to justify itself in his mind. Things grow plain as we analyze them to others—by explaining to another the matter becomes luminous to ourselves.

To purify the monasteries and carry to them all that was good and beautiful in the classics, was the desire of Benedict. His wish was to reconcile the learning of the past with Christianity, which up to that time had been simply ascetic. It had consisted largely of repression, suppression and a killing-out of all spontaneous, happy, natural impulses.

Very naturally, he was harshly criticized, and when he went back to the cave where he had dwelt and tried to teach some of his old companions how to read and write, they flew first at him, and then from him. They declared that he was the devil in the guise of a monk; that he wished to live both as a monk and as a man of the world—that he wanted to eat his cake and still keep it. By a sort of divine right he took control of affairs, and insisted that his companions should go to work with him, and plant a garden and raise vegetables and fruits, instead of depending upon charity or going without.

The man who insists that all folks shall work, be they holy or secular, learned or illiterate, always has a hard road to travel. Benedict's companions declared that he was trying to enslave them, and one of them brewed a poison and substituted it for the simple herb tea that Benedict drank. Being discovered, the man and his conspirators escaped, although Benedict offered to forgive and forget if they would go to work.

Benedict adhered to his new inspiration with a persistency that never relaxed—the voice of God had called to him that he must clear the soil of the brambles and plant gardens.

The thorn-bush through which he had once rolled his naked body, he now cut down and burned. He relaxed the vigils and limited the prayers and adorations to a few short exercises just before eating, sleeping and going to work. He divided the day into three parts—eight hours for work, eight hours for study, eight hours for sleep. Then he took one-half hour from each of these divisions for silent prayer and adoration. He argued that good work was a prayer, and that one could pray with his heart and lips, even as his hands swung the ax, the sickle or the grub-hoe. All that Benedict required of others, he did himself, and through the daily work he evolved a very strong and sturdy physique. From the accounts that have come to us he was rather small in stature, but in strength he surpassed any man in his vicinity.

Miraculous accounts of his physical strength were related, and in the minds of his simple followers he was regarded as more than a man, which shows us that the ideals of what a man should be, or might be, were not high. We are told that near Benedict's first monastery there was a very deep lake, made in the time of Nero by damming up a mountain stream. Along this lake the brambles and vines had grown in great confusion. Benedict set to work to clear the ground from this lake to his monastery, half a mile up the hillside. One day a workman dropped an ax into the lake. Benedict smiled, his lips moved in prayer and the ax came to the surface. The story does not say that Benedict dived to the bottom and brought up the ax, which he probably did. The next day the owner of the ax fell into the water, and the story goes that Benedict walked out on the water and brought the man in on his shoulders. We who do not believe that the age of miracles has passed, can well understand how Benedict was an active, agile and strong swimmer, and that through the natural powers which he evolved by living a sane and simple life, he was able to perform many feats which peasants round about considered miraculous. Benedict had what has been called the Builder's Itch. He found great joy in planning, creating and constructing. He had an eye for architecture and landscape-gardening. He utilized the materials of old Roman temples to construct Christian churches, and from the same quarry he took stone and built a monastery. A Roman ruin had a lure for him. It meant building possibilities. He stocked the lake with fish, and then made catches that rivaled the parable of the loaves and fishes. Only the loaves of Benedict were made from the wheat he himself raised, and the people he fed were the crowds who came to hear him preach the gospel he himself practised—the gospel of work, moderation and the commonsense exercise of head, hand and heart.

* * * * *

To Benedict came twelve disciples. But further applications becoming numerous, to meet the pressure Benedict kept organizing them into groups of twelve, appointing a superior over each group. In order to prove his sense of equality, he had but eleven besides himself in the monastery. He recognized that leadership was a necessity; but the clothes he wore were no better than, and the food he ate no different from, what the others had. Yet to enforce discipline, rules were made and instant obedience was exacted. Benedict took his turn at waiting on the table and doing the coarsest tasks.

Were it not for the commonsense methods of life, and the element of human service, the Christian monastery and probably Christianity itself would not have survived. The dogma of religion was made acceptable by blending it with a service for humanity. And even to this day the popular plan of proving the miracles of the Old Testament to have been actual occurrences is to point to the schools, hospitals and orphan asylums that Christian people have provided.

In the efforts of Benedict to combine the life of unselfish service with intellectual appreciation of classic literature, he naturally was misunderstood. Several times he came near having serious collisions with the authorities of the Church at Rome.

His preaching attracted the jealous attention of certain churchmen, but as he was not a priest, the Pope refused to take notice of his supposed heresies.

An effort was made to compel him to become a priest, but Benedict refused on the plea that he was not worthy. The fact was, however, that he did not wish to be bound by the rules of the Church.

In one sense, his was a religion inside a religion, and a slight accident might have precipitated an opposition denomination, just as the Protestant issue of Luther was an accident, and the Methodism of the Wesleys, another.

Several times the opposition, in the belief that Benedict was an enemy of the Church, went so far as to try to kill him. And once a few pious persons in Rome induced a company of wanton women to go out to Benedict's monastery and disport themselves through his beautiful grounds. This was done with two purposes in view; one was to work the direct downfall of the Benedictines, with the aid of the trulls, and the other was to create a scandal among the visitors, who would carry the unsavory news back to Rome and supply the gossips raw stock.

Benedict was so deeply grieved by the despicable trick that he retired to his former home, the cave in the hillside, and there remained without food for a month.

But during this time of solitude his mind was busy with new plans. He now founded Monte Cassino. The site is halfway between Rome and Naples, and the white, classic lines of the buildings can be seen from the railroad. There on the crags, from out of a mass of green, has been played out for more than a thousand years the drama of religious life. Death by fire and sword has been the fate of many of the occupants. But the years went by, new men came, the ruins were repaired, and again the cloisters were trodden by pious feet of holy men. Goths, Lombards, Saracens, Normans, Spaniards, Teutons, and finally came Napoleon Bonaparte, who confiscated the property, making the place his home for a brief space. Later he relented and took it from the favorite upon whom he had bestowed it and gave it back to the Church. It then remained a Benedictine monastery until the edict of Eighteen Hundred Sixty-six, which, with the help of Massini and Garibaldi, made the monastery in Italy a thing of the past. The place is now a school—a school with a co-ed proviso. Thus passes away the glory of the world, in order that a greater glory shall appear.

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