The Light of Reason
Edited by James Allen
Vol. VII. July 1st, 1905 No. 7
We have now arranged to supply, from our office, Mr. Albert Broadbent's threepenny Treasuries of the Poets, as well as the shilling Life and Light Books and Trine's In Tune With the Infinite. Most of these books have had phenomenal sales, which they will merit, and those who purchase them will find that they make for all that is noble and pure and beautiful. Particulars are given in our advertisement pages.
The other day we received, from one of our lady readers, a letter from which we make the following extract:—
"I have been reading for the third time your little books, As a Man Thinketh and Out From The Heart, and I find a new depth of meaning in them. This morning I was repeating to myself the verses on page 24 of As a Man Thinketh, and on looking over the morning paper I found the enclosed, which I think is a grand proof of the truth of your teaching."
The enclosure referred to was a cutting from a daily paper, containing an account of an ex-sailor who, although a sweep, is also an author of some learning and weight. The following is a portion of the account:—
"Walter Hunt is a chimney-sweeper by calling, and a thinker and ethnologist by choice. He has a wide knowledge of Egyptology and Syriology, and has dipped deeply into questions relating to the evolution of religion, etc., and ethnological subjects, which have culminated in his publishing a book on 'Are We a Declining Nation?' which is brimful of quotations from and references to Latin and Greek authors and modern physiological experts, and bristles with statistics and figures, evincing a profound knowledge of and interest in the subject...He was born at Mitcham in 1857, and was for 13 years in the navy, and a considerable period in the fire brigade.
It was during his service at sea that he cultivated his powers of acute observation, especially in the Pacific Islands and China...Mr. Hunt used to come home from his work (which finishes early as a rule), and after a wash go straight to the reading-room, and there remain until closing time...Finding that he would be able to obtain valuable data from French books, he said 'after 40 years I went to school again, and attended the evening continuation schools, and mastered sufficient of the French language to read the books I wanted.'
Mr. Hunt is anxious to learn Greek and read Homer, Plato, and others in the original. He is an extraordinarily well-read man. He attends the exhibitions and reads the publications of the Egyptian Exploration Society, and he is also well versed in Geology...Besides being a sweep he has also been a blacksmith, and worked 16 hours a day, but when not working lie is reading or writing. He admits that it is perseverance that has given him the knowledge he now possesses, 'and anyone can get it.' He attends any convenient lectures that are likely to add to his knowledge."
In answer to a question, Mr. Hunt said he had "been through thousands of books at the British Museum."
Here is one of those instances (not uncommon in history) of a man scorning the "limitations" which humble birth, lowly calling, impoverished surroundings, and "untoward circumstances" generally are supposed to impose, and by dint of long toil in a given direction, earning intellectual distinction, and the right to rank among the strong ones who achieve.
If this is an age of keen competitive struggle, it is also an age of "golden opportunities." Never before in history were there so many avenues to attainment, so many and excellent advantages in every department of life, for those who are willing to think, and to think with a purpose.
The world is strewn with materials among which thought may work, and from which it may shape or build whatsoever dress or building it chooses to inform or inhabit. Well-printed books on all subjects are excessively abundant, and so cheap, and so easily procured from the libraries, that the poorest have the learning of the whole world, ancient and modern, at their doors if they care to avail themselves of it. Educational advantages are, many, and easily secured, and the network of postal communication which has enmeshed the earth has established amongst mankind a practical kinship and communion from which none need be shut out who will shape their thoughts to some definite purpose through the mediums of pen and paper.
But great as such advantages are, they belong to an age, and are more or less temporary. The greater and more lasting opportunities are ever at hand. The Book of Nature is eternally open, and will always yield up its treasures to those who will faithfully and unselfishly toil; and the human heart and mind (one's own nature) is such an infinite storehouse of experience and knowledge and power and wisdom, that he who will discipline himself in ways of virtue, who will master the waywardness of his mind, and search diligently for the Law of his being, such a one will not labor in vain nor fail in his purpose, but will be more than rewarded for his patient and silent labors, for he will become the masterly guardian of the Jewels of Truth.
More from James Allen
James Allen was a little-known philosophical writer and poet. He is best recognized for his book, As a Man Thinketh. Allen wrote about complex subjects such as faith, destiny, love, patience, and religion but had the unique ability of explaining these subjects clearly and in a way that is easy to understand. He often wrote about cause and effect, sowing and reaping, as well as overcoming sadness, sorrow, and grief. For more information on the life of James Allen, click here.