Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885, December 01, 1877, Page 235, Image 2

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

Natuke and Ajit in Intki.lkct.
Vol. vi,
and then leaves him a free agent to com.
pleto the building up of his own intellect,
ual structure. This enlargement of intel.
lect is a slow, gradual, hut, if proper
means bo used, u sure process, and in the
human race as a whole may he for aught
I know to the contrary carried on ad infin
nitum. With the pool we believe that,
" Through tho ages one increasing purpose
"And the thoughts of men arc widened as the
process of tho suns,"
but no such unlimited development of in
tellcct can take place in tfie individual, at
least not in this life, and -with intellect
afler this life I pietcnd not to deal. Man
can only reach a certain point of intel
lectual excellence, when the elements of
decay in his physical organism begin to
weaken and impair his mental faculties.
The point at which the intellectual powers
of a man begin.to deteriorate differs as the
individual. In some men it is as early as
thirty, in others, foity and fifty, while
others still retain all their power of mind
even until seventy and eighty.
Again, no unlimited enlargement of in
tellect can take place in the individual
even up to the time when his natural
powers begin to be impaired. Every in.
tellectual horizon is to some extent cir
cumscribed. Some men, for instance,
might study mathematics, enlarge their
mathematical vision, until the end of life,
and yet never be able to comprehend
Newton's Princiyia; while other men
might spend a life time in studying the
philosophy of the human mind, and never
be able to understand the metaphysics of
Socrates. No more can any sort of art
make the average intellect approximate in
size that of a Cuvier, Bonaparte or Web
ster. The quality of human intellect may
be also, to a certain extent, improved upon
by human art. The child at school is
a good illustration of this. In its case it
is evident that not only does intellectual
growth consist of enlargement of intel
.ectual quantity, but likewise of improve-
ment in the quality, and the whole is in
eluded in that forming to which the poet
has reference in theoftcu.quotcd passage
'Tis education forms the common mind."
But while art may enlarge intellect and
improve its quality, it cannot but in a
limited degree change it; or, in other
words, intellect will not undergo any com
plete transformation and appear under
totally new and distinct form. The man
who seems specially adapted by nature
for the study and practice of law, might
without doubt make a physician of him
self, but lie could never attain to the
degice of excellence in the latter profes
sion that he might in the former, because
it is quite impossible for him to change
that natural bent of his own intellect
which fitted him admirably for success as
a lawyer. Nature sets her stamp upon
every intellect; to attempt to change or
obliterate this work wcic only to attempt
an impossibility or else to impair intel
lectual power. Nature intended Thomas
Edward, a poor shoemaker of Aberdeen,
for a naturalist. Remonstrance in child
hood, the being apprenticed to a shoe
maker in 30MI1, and poverty which com
polled him to labor haid at his trade
in manhood, all failed to change the natu
lal adaptation of his mind for natural
science, lie became a naturalist in spite
of every discouragement and diliiculty.
It is impossible for art to change or oblit
erate the stamp which Nature has set
upon such intellects, for she has shaped
them for a special purpose, and all that
human skill can do is to enlarge and
improve them. That education which
shapes common minds would scarcely
have restrained Agassiz from becoming a
naturalist, Byron from becoming a poet,
or Henry Shaw, alias Josh Billings, from
becoming a writer of funny paragraphs.
Such men have only one talent, but that
one is excessively developed. Perhaps
they are not wiser than men who can
boast of more talents, but yet they are
more likely than the latter to make a