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Life's Enthusiasms

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By: (1851-1931)

The words in this essay on positive thought sing like those in Whitman's "Leaves of Grass." The author praises joyous living and recommends certain routes to its attainment. He explores schooling (public secondary and the university), travel, and the study of nature as ways to stay buoyant during life's trials. He also praises the power of the arts (literature, music, painting, sculpture) to keep spirits soaring.

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Life's Enthusiasms


David Starr Jordan

President of Leland Stanford Junior University


American Unitarian Association


To Melville Best Anderson

That is poetry in which truth is expressed in the fewest possible words, in words which are inevitable, in words which could not be changed without weakening the meaning or throwing discord into the melody. To choose the right word and to discard all others, this is the chief factor in good writing. To learn good poetry by heart is to acquire help toward doing this, instinctively automatically as other habits are acquired. In the affairs of life, then, is no form of good manners, no habit of usage more valuable than the habit of good English.

Life's Enthusiasms

It is the layman's privilege to take the text for his sermons wherever he finds it. I take mine from a French novel, a cynical story of an unpleasant person, Samuel Brohl, by Victor Cherbuliez; And this is the text and the whole sermon:

"My son, we should lay up a stock of absurd enthusiasms in our youth or else we shall reach the end of our journey with an empty heart, for we lose a great many of them by the way... Continue reading book >>

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