« PreviousContinue »
PRINTED AND MADE INTO A BOOK BY THE
NEW YORK CITY
HEN Elbert Hubbard was storing up in his Scrap Book the fruits of other men's genius, he did not contemplate a volume for publications. He was merely gathering spiritual provisions for his own refreshment and delectation 90
To glance at the pages of his Scrap Book is to realize how far and wide he pursued the quest, into what scented rose gardens of Poetry, and up what steep slopes of Thought. To Alpine Valleys of classical literature it led him, and through forests and swamps of contemporary writing. For him it was the quest that mattered, it was the quest he loved so so
The Reader will remember Keats' dream of
a very pleasant life."
"I had an idea that a Man might pass a very pleasant life
Elbert Hubbard's lifelong labor has placed in all our hands the power to realize Keats' dream. Here in Hubbard's Scrap Book the Reader will find "full Poesy" and "distilled Prose," of a pleasing savor to the tongue and a strangely nourishing relish to the intelligence.
Let the reader browse but a moment and-to use Keats' image-he will find the sails of his soul set for one of those high voyages of the spirit which give to life its most exalted meaning, and bring back as cargo the thrice-tried gold of ecstasy and vision.
What inspired Elbert Hubbard should set other pulses to beating. What stimulated and uplifted him should furnish others with strength for the struggle against the eroding sameness of the workaday world. Such at least is the purpose to which the book is dedicated; such is the pious hope of Elbert Hubbard's literary executors.
HERE is an ancient legend which tells us that when a man first achieved a most notable deed he wished to explain to his tribe what he had done. As soon as he began to speak, however, he was smitten with dumbness, he lacked words, and sat down. Then there arose according to the story-a masterless man, one who had taken no part in the action of his fellow, who had no special virtues, but afflictedthat is the phrase-with the magic of the necessary words. He saw, he told, he described the merits of the notable deed in such a fashion, we are assured, that the words became alive and walked up and down in the hearts of all his hearers." Thereupon, the tribe seeing that the words were certainly alive, and fearing lest the man with the words would hand down untrue tales about them to their children, they took and killed him. But later they saw that the magic was in the words, not in the man. -Kipling
ELBERT HUBBARD'S SCRAP BOOK
HE other evening I was a little late in going down to dinner, and this was the reason: I noticed a number of dead bees lying on the floor of the lookout where I am accustomed to work-a sight that I encounter every spring. The poor things had come in through the open window. When the windows were closed they found themselves prisoners. Unable to see the transparent obstacle, they had hurled themselves against the glass panes on all sides, east, north, south and west, until at last they fell to the floor exhausted, and died. But, yesterday, I noticed among the bees, a great drone, much stronger than the bees, who was far from being dead, who, in fact, was very much alive and was dashing himself against the panes with all his might, like the great beast that he was. "Ah! my fine friend," said I, "it would have been an evil day for you had I not come to the rescue. You would have been done for, my fine fellow; before nightfall you would be lying dead, and on coming up-stairs, in the evening with my lamp, I would have found your poor little corpse among those of the other bees." Come, now, like the Emperor Titus I shall mark the day by a good deed: let us save the insect's life. Perhaps in the eyes of God a drone is as valuable as a man, and without any doubt it is more valuable than a prince.
I threw open the window, and, by means of a napkin, began chasing the insect toward it; but the drone persisted in flying in the opposite direction. I then tried to capture it by throwing the napkin over it. When the drone saw that I wished to capture it, it lost its head completely; it bounded furiously against the glass panes, as though it would smash them, took a fresh start, and dashed itself again and again against the glass. Finally it flew the whole length of the apartment, maddened and desperate. "Ah, you tyrant!" it buzzed. "Despot! you would deprive me of liberty! Cruel executioner, why do you not leave me alone? I am happy, and why do you persecute me?"
After trying very hard, I brought it down and, in seizing it with the napkin, I involuntarily hurt it. Oh, how it tried to avenge itself! It darted out its sting; its little nervous body, contracted by my fingers, strained itself with all its strength in an attempt to sting me. But I ignored its protestations, and, stretching my hand out the window, opened the napkin. For a moment the drone seemed stunned, astonished; then it calmly took flight out into the infinite.
Well, you see how I saved the drone. I was its Providence. But (and here is the moral of my story) do we not, stupid drones that we are, conduct ourselves in the same manner toward the providence of God? We have our petty and absurd projects, our small and narrow views, our rash designs, whose accomplishment is either impossible or injurious to ourselves. Seeing no farther than our noses and with our eyes fixed on our immediate aim, we plunge ahead in our blind infatuation, like madmen. We would succeed, we would triumph; that is to say, we would break our heads against an invisible obstacle. And when God, who sees all and who wishes to save us, upsets our designs, we stupidly complain against Him, we accuse His Providence. We do not comprehend that in punishing us, in overturning our plans and causing us suffering, He is doing all this to deliver us, to open the Infinite to us.-Victor Hugo.