Biography of self taught-men - PDF book by B. B. Edwards

Biography of self-taught men 

Biography of self-taught men
Biography of self-taught men 

In the history of this, as of other countries, previous to the great discovery of printing, learning, and all the refined and useful arts, were exclusively confined to a distinct class, and beyond its exclusive pale, all efforts at knowledge or intellectual elevation were absolutely impossible.

The gradual extension of learning by the printing press, and its perfect enfranchisement by means of our free, religious, and political institutions, have produced a total change in the means of access to knowledge. 

Intelligent perseverance and industry may now surmount almost every obstacle arising from humble birth and limited opportunities, and we are accordingly familiar, in the history of our most distinguished men, of the greatest difficulties overcome, and the highest ranks of learning, genius, and social position achieved by those who started surrounded by all the disadvantages of a humble sphere. It is not surprising that, among such self-taught men,

It is very obvious, in the first place, that is the passion for novelty and change, we are to see that we do not give up anything Avhich is truly valuable. "We ought to remain firm on those great principles of politics and education, morals and religion, which have been tried and have not been found wanting. There is little danger in this country of a too pertinacious attachment to old systems. 

The hazard is all on the other side. The love of innovation is vastly an overmatch for blind regard to authority and antiquity. In detaching ourselves from what is absurd and erroneous in former opinions, we shall, without great circumspection, abandon the true with the false, and shall soon find ourselves on an unknown sea, without any experience from the past, or guide 'for the future.

 As an instance in point, I might allude to the excessive simplification in books of education, relieving the student from the necessity of patient attention, and of thorough and discriminating habits of thought. Another duty of great importance is, to induce more fervent and general cooperation of the advocates of sound principles, in the diffusion of their opinions. There is little concentrated sym- pathy and fellow-feeling among the friends of man. They have not learned the power of associated effort. 

They do not act in masses. This trait in our character is principally owing to two reasons. "We have no capital city. "We have no acknowledged metropolis of letters or influence. There is no London, to which all the provincial towns willingly bow in homage. The tendency of our republican institutions is such, also, as to prevent an embodied and powerful action of the friends of virtue.

 Our freedom of thought and independence of character we sometimes carry to an extreme. We are better as private citizens than as members of a commonwealth. It is not true that the state of public morals and virtue is as elevated as that of the individuals who compose a community, "We do that in a collective capacity, which we should not dare to do as friends or neighbours. Conscience and the faith of solemn] compact, are often voted away, when personal! honour, or a mere verbal engagement, are sacredly j remembered and redeemed. 

"When a great principle is at stake, we must learn to dismiss all minor differences, to forget all local attachments, to abjure utterly every selfish consideration. "What is a party, what is a religious denomination, when a fundamental law of right or justice is at issue Intimately connected with the preceding remark, is the undoubted truth, that questions of political economy are to be viewed far more than they have been in this country, in connection with the operations of the providence of God.

 "What volumes of ingenious speculation have been wasted in this captivating science, simply because the authors did not, or would not, look at the arrangements of the Power that ruleth overall. It is not pretended but that there are great and intrinsic difficulties in shaping a system of commercial intercourse, among the different parts of this country, and between the United States and foreign nations. Still, it may be safely asserted, that one half of the vexation and trouble which have been experienced would have been avoided if our legislators were all Christian economists. 

The Author of nature, and of nations, did not leave the great subjects of internal or international commerce in such profound doubt and mystery as is now thrown around them. He has made all the parts of a country mutually dependent upon each other, on purpose to counteract the selfishness of men. To promote the prosperity of one division of the United States, at the expense of the happiness of any other portion, is adopting certain means to ruin the whole. 

The unnatural growth of one empire is as certainly destructive to itself as it is to that land from which it has subtracted its wealth. Men cannot be politicians, in the best sense of the word, without adopting the principles of the Bible. The book of Proverbs, and the sermon on the Mount, contain the elements of the best political economy which was ever devised. 

They inculcate what is of immeasurable importance in the intercourse of nations — enlargement of mind, and comprehensiveness of view, and clearness and power of conscience. These would settle questions of foreign intercourse and domestic improvement, with far more certainty and safety than the volumes of Adam Smith, or the statistics of Seybert or Pitkin. Here, then, is a great duty to be performed.

Those same elevated and Christian principles are to be carried into all the duties of the statesman, which have been so happily introduced into some of the departments of criminal jurisprudence and penitentiary discipline.


Introductory essay.- Roger Sherman.- Christian Gottlob Heyne (of Gottingen)- William Whipple.- Alexander Murray.- Stephen Hopkins.- Professor Lee.- William Gifford.- Thomas Baldwin.- David Rittenhouse.- Samuel Huntington.- William Edwards.- Thomas Scott.- Lott Cary.- John Opie.- Nathaniel Smith.- John Godfrey von Herder.- Giovanni Battista Belzoni.- William Caxton.-Richard Baxter.-Arthur Young.- Charles G. Haines.- Carsten Niebuhr.- Jonas King.- Humphrey Davy.-Adam Clarke.--Count Rumford (Benjamin Thompson) - Nathaniel Bowditch.- James Cook.-William Falconer.- John Hunter.- Nathan Smith.- James Ferguson.- James Watt.-Eli Whitney.- John Leyden.- Robert Stephens.-- Henry Stephens.- Benjamin West.-Peter Horberg.- Alexander Wilson.- Robert Bloomfield.- Isaac Milner.- Sir William Jones.- Patrick Henry.

the book details :
  • Author: B. B. Edwards (Bela Bates)
  • Publication date: 1859
  • Company:Boston: J.E. Tilton and company

  • Download Biography of self-taught men - PDF ebook 19.5 MB.

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