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Character: the grandest thing in the world

Originally Published: 1899

by Thomas Y. Crowell & Company Publishers, New York

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>> More by Orison Swett Marden


I. A Grand Character

II. The Light Bearers

III. The Great-Hearted

IV. A North-Star Course

V. Instrepidity of Spirit

VI. "A Fragment of the Rock of Ages"

VII. The Wealth of the Commonwealth

VIII. The Apollo Bevidere and the Venus Di Milo

IX. Cultivating the Growth of Man-Timber


IF Drummond was wise in calling an abstract quality, Love, the Greatest ThingintheWorld -- then Love in the concrete, embodied inCharacter, is theGrandest ThingintheWorld. Drummond himself, in his life- story, is far grander than anything he ever wrote, for his was “the life of a radiant personality.” “ You met him,” says Dr. George Adam Smith, his biographer, “ a graceful, well-dressed gentleman, tall and lithe, with a swing in his walk and a brightness in his face, who seemed to carry no cares, and to know neither presumption nor timidity. You spoke, and found him keen for any of a hundred interests. He fished, he shot, he skated, as few can; he played cricket; he would go any distance to see a fire or a football match. He had a new story or a new puzzle or a new joke every time he met you. Was it on the street ? He drew you to watch two messenger-boys meet, grin, knock each other’s hat off, lay down their baskets, and enjoy a friendly chafi'er at marbles. Was it on the train ? He read you a fresh tale of his favorite — Bret Harte. Was it a rainy afternoon in a country house ? He described a new game, and in five minutes everybody was in the thick of it. If it was a children’s party, they clamored for his sleight-of-hand.” Drummond as a boy was manly, and as a man he carried a boy’s heart in his breast. “The Prince,” he was called bythe young men who knew him. “ He had a genius for friendship,” says Professor Grose. He so won the affection of workingmen that one said, after Drummond died, that he almost felt as if he must pray to him — to invoke his influence for good, from out the heavenly realms. “His influence,” says Ian Maclaren, who first knew Drummond as a boy on the cricket field, “ more than that of any other man I ever met, was mesmeric — which means that, while other men afiect their fellows by speech and example, he seized one directly by his living personality. Quite sensible and unromantic people grew uneasy in his presence, and roused themselves to resistance, — as one might do who recognized a magician, and feared his spell. Men were at once arrested, interested, fascinated bythe very sight of the man, and could not take their eyes off him. It was as if the prince of one’s imagination had dropped in among common folk.”

He was the youth who sprang to the aid of Moody and Sankey inthe Scottish stronghold, who caught hold of young men and persuaded them in nntechnical phrase to do what their praying mothers on earth and God Most High would have them do ; the quiet, restrained evangelist, not twenty-three, about whom all men gathered as their leader when the American evangelists left Scotland. A stalwart theologian, too, was he, who detected the natural laws that were at work inthe spiritual world, — a thinker simple, clear, presenting truth inthe concrete. He, too, was the explorer plunging into the wilds of Africa, without giving a thought to a book maker’s fame; and while a quarter of a million people were reading his books, he was crowding along the work of the hour at the world’s end in America or Australia. How eagerly men sought him, clung to him, and fol- lowed him as he followed the Master! Do we ask — What is Character ? Is_it neithatsum Micanhichmdistingnishqtonaperson frnm. an- cheL? DO we say that Drummond’s versatility was his distinguishing characteristic ? It was, rather, his unique combination of high qualities; and no man can acquire a far-reaching influence without a fair mental balance, with great strength upon many sides. If it is no part of my intent, in this booklet, t0 cata- logue those mental and moral traits of most value to mankind, yet it is my intent to name certain deep-rooted dispositions, which are essential inthe mental make-up of those who set before themselves a high ideal in seeking for The Grandest Thing in the World.

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