Books Should Be Free is now
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

When a Man Comes to Himself   By: (1856-1924)

Book cover

First Page:

This etext was produced by Jennifer Godwin,

When a Man Comes to Himself

Woodrow Wilson Ph.D., Litt.D., LL.D. President of the United States



It is a very wholesome and regenerating change which a man undergoes when he "comes to himself." It is not only after periods of recklessness or infatuation, when has played the spendthrift or the fool, that a man comes to comes to himself. He comes to himself after experiences of which he alone may be aware: when he has left off being wholly preoccupied with his own powers and interests and with every petty plan that centers in himself; when he has cleared his eyes to see the world as it is, and his own true place and function in it.

It is a process of disillusionment. The scales have fallen away. He sees himself soberly, and knows under what conditions his powers must act, as well as what his powers are. He has got rid of earlier prepossessions about the world of men and affairs, both those which were too favorable and those which were too unfavorable both those of the nursery and those of a young man's reading. He has learned his own paces, or, at any rate, is in a fair way to learn them; has found his footing and the true nature of the "going" he must look for in the world; over what sorts of roads he must expect to make his running, and at what expenditure of effort; whither his goal lies, and what cheer he may expect by the way. It is a process of disillusionment, but it disheartens no soundly made man. It brings him into a light which guides instead of deceiving him; a light which does not make the way look cold to any man whose eyes are fit for use in the open, but which shines wholesomely, rather upon the obvious path, like the honest rays of the frank sun, and makes traveling both safe and cheerful.


There is no fixed time in a man's life at which he comes to himself, and some man never come to themselves at all. It is a change reserved for the thoroughly sane and healthy, and for those who can detach themselves from tasks and drudgery long and often enough to get, at any rate once and again, a view of the proportions of life and of the stage and plot of its action. We speak often with amusement, sometimes with distaste and uneasiness, of men who "have no sense of humor," who take themselves too seriously, who are intense, self absorbed, over confident in matters of opinion, or else go plumed with conceit, proud of we cannot tell what, enjoying, appreciating, thinking of nothing so much as themselves. These are men who have not suffered that wholesome change. They have not come to themselves. If they be serious men, and real forces in the world, we may conclude that they have been too much and too long absorbed; that their tasks and responsibilities long ago rose about them like a flood, and have kept them swimming with sturdy stroke the years through, their eyes level with the troubled surface no horizon in sight, no passing fleets, no comrades but those who struggled in the flood like themselves. If they be frivolous, light headed, men without purpose or achievement, we may conjecture, if we do not know, that they were born so, or spoiled by fortune, or befuddled by self indulgence. It is no great matter what we think of them.

It is enough to know that there are some laws which govern a man's awakening to know himself and the right part to play. A man is the part he plays among his fellows. He is not isolated; he cannot be. His life is made up of the relations he bears to others is made or marred by those relations, guided by them, judged by them, expressed in them. There is nothing else upon which he can spend his spirit nothing else that we can see. It is by these he gets his spiritual growth; it is by these we see his character revealed, his purpose and his gifts. Some play with a certain natural passion, an unstudied directness, without grace, without modulation, with no study of the masters or consciousness of the pervading spirit of the plot; others gives all their thought to their costume and think only of the audience; a few act as those who have mastered the secrets of a serious art, with deliberate subordination of themselves to the great end and motive of the play, spending themselves like good servants, indulging no wilfulness, obtruding no eccentricity, lending heart and tone and gesture to the perfect progress of the action... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books