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I hold the ancient maxim true,
"What boys have done, a boy may do;"
These truths my boyish mind elate,—
Now if my speaking don't display,
Whose thoughts gush forth in mellow tones,
e. I was also attracted by various handicrafts. The time for big factories and the gathering of hosts of work-people in them had not come ;-certainly not to our part of the world. Our town abounded in small shops, in each of which a few workmen were employed. These places greatly interested me. In school-vacation days, when I was about ten years old, I was much given to visiting these shops and playing at learning the trades followed in
them. Doing this, I acquired in some measure skill in several kinds of manual work.
I became, for instance, "a printer"; I had my "stick," and "rule," and was familiar with the " case." In one of our newspaper offices I was often allowed to "compose," for the regular issues of the paper. I was also given place at a bench in the shop of a carpenter, who was my Sunday School teacher. I achieved some acceptable work at a turning lathe, and, with some help, built a commendable and speedy snow-sled. I acquired, also, a little of the potter's art, in a factory belonging to the family of one of my school-mates. I became, in turn, also "a a cooper"; "a blacksmith;" and "a machinist." I was so fond of machinery that when I was missing from home, at the time I was about eleven years old, I was generally looked for, first, at the railway shops. In like manner, I became a "farmer;" and "a merchant." Even with these attainments the story of my amateur ventures into the industries and trades is not fully told.
f. In inquisitiveness into books I was no less eager and insistent. The range of literature available for me was relatively large, though kept within safe ethical and theological limits. I had much liking for books of travel; and was exceptionally interested in whatever told of the lives and thinking of celebrated men. In my father's bouselibrary, I found to my delight, a book, describing the early settlement of our Valley and the neighboring regions, full of thrilling adventures of our pioneers with the Indians. I revelled in its title; "Scenes from Border Life." In yet earlier years, I had had the joy of becoming acquainted with such celebrities as "Robinson Crusoe," "Lemuel Gulliver," and the "Swiss Family Robinson." "The
Parents' Assistant," together with the "Rollo Books" and the "Franconia Stories," deeply interested me. Somehow, the last two series of stories fascinated me; creating a romantic world for my imagination, so much so that I became subject at home to the teasing jest of having become a "Yankee." I have sometimes wondered how far the attraction to New England thus begun, and later increased even while I was a youth, influenced me in the critical mental and spiritual experiences through which I passed in maturer years. Other books that gave me much pleasure as I was entering youth were Sir Walter Scott's novels; several of Shakespeare's plays, and some of Dickens' stories. But at that time nothing so stirred my adventurous spirit as the stories of the Arctic regions told by Elisha Kent Kane, in his vividly written books newly published, and the strange record of Commodore Perry's Expedition to Japan, just placed in my father's library. Japan, then, became to me the most interesting among the far-away lands of the world; indeed it is probable that the preparation was actually begun then for the close relationship to this land and its people I have had during the last twenty-five years.
Influence of my Ancestral Creed.
But while all that I have been saying of my happy nature, love of play, varied interests and occupations should be considered in recalling my childhood, I must remember, especially, the dominant influence in it of my ancestral" creed." Along with the generous reading of which I have just spoken, and forming by far the larger part of the literature available for me, or brought to my
attention, were the books that were concerned with my religious heritage. The Bible and the "Westminster Shorter Catechism" were of fundamental importance; they were in daily use. I became familiar, too, with such works as Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," and Fox's "Book of Martyrs," and the writings of several revered saints and scholars of the Calvinistic Creed.
Also, in connection with my ordinary school-day experiences, sports and adventures, I was never wholly free from some kind of reminder, in my home, in school and at church, of the teachings of my ancestral "creed." Especially was I confronted with the dogma that, "by nature," I and all other human beings are "totally depraved," and that we all are doomed to a miserable future forever, uuless "saved" through "the atonement effected for mankind by Christ, the eternal Son of God, in the vicarious sacrifice he made on Calvary." In one form or another, this dogma was ever present to my child-mind. But with it came, through much urging, the further lesson that "the infinite merits of the Saviour's Sacrifice" would easily become my own if I would but "believe" in Him. If I would only "believe," then I should become "born again " as "a child of God": -the Holy Spirit would then "sanctify" me; and after this life I should "enter Heaven, to enjoy an eternity of happiness with other redeemed souls," whom God had likewise chosen for "everlasting blessedness."
For years, of course, this teaching was really meaningless to me. I could not, with any adequate measure, grasp its purport. But I tried again and again, with all my powers of thinking and feeling, to understand and to profit by the truth; because, however, unintelligible, as a matter of course, this teaching was heard as the perfect truth.
I could not think of it, under the conditions with which I received it, as anything else than "perfect truth." Every influence bearing upon me gave it the impress of truth. It was the belief of my parents, and of all those whom I knew as having authority. I found it confirmed, so I supposed, in all the readings of the "Divine Revelation " prescribed for me. I accepted it as I accepted my parentage and my home; and I held it as my most important possession, whether thinking of myself as one among "the saved," or not. This Creed was my spiritual inheritance.
Sometimes its awful purport troubled me, but I never questioned its absolute truth, then. I heard in later years that I had asked troublesome questions about it at times. I remember that once, when I was eight or nine years old, my mother, late one night, disturbed at seeing a light in my room, found me there, standing by a bureau, absorbed in thinking over the question, "Why does God foreordain any human soul to Hell if He is gcod and almighty?" I was speedily put to bed; my mother entreating me to let such "dreadful thoughts" alone until I should be "old enough to think properly about them." My mother was never a very rigid, or consistent Calvinist, I now believe. While deeply religious she always avoided, so far as I remember, the terrible literalism of our family's inherited" creed."
But I never actually doubted that inherited Creed then, so I have said. How could I? No traces of skeptical thinking; of anti-Christian speculation; of "rationalistic" theology; of a "critical" study of the Bible; or even of any professed "Liberalism," or of "Progressiveness" in religion, were known of by me, either in my own home or