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The Higher Pragmatism
Where to go for wisdom has become a question of serious import. The ancients are
discredited; Plato is boiler-plate; Aristotle is tottering; Marcus Aurelius is reeling; Aesop
has been copyrighted by Indiana; Solomon is too solemn; you couldn't get anything out
of Epictetus with a pick.
The ant, which for many years served as a model of intelligence and industry in the
school-readers, has been proven to be a doddering idiot and a waster of time and effort.
The owl to-day is hooted at. Chautauqua conventions have abandoned culture and
adopted diabolo. Graybeards give glowing testimonials to the venders of patent hair-
restorers. There are typographical errors in the almanacs published by the daily
newspapers. College professors have become--
But there shall be no personalities. To sit in classes, to delve into the encyclopedia or the
past-performances page, will not make us wise. As the poet says, "Knowledge comes, but
wisdom lingers." Wisdom is dew, which, while we know it not, soaks into us, refreshes
us, and makes us grow. Knowledge is a strong stream of water turned on us through a
hose. It disturbs our roots.
Then, let us rather gather wisdom. But how to do so requires knowledge. If we know a
thing, we know it; but very often we are not wise to it that we are wise, and--
But let's go on with the story.
Once upon a time I found a ten-cent magazine lying on a bench in a little city park.
Anyhow, that was the amount he asked me for when I sat on the bench next to him. He
was a musty, dingy, and tattered magazine, with some queer stories bound in him, I was
sure. He turned out to be a scrap-book.
"I am a newspaper reporter," I said to him, to try him. "I have been detailed to write up
some of the experiences of the unfortunate ones who spend their evenings in this park.
May I ask you to what you attribute your downfall in--"
I was interrupted by a laugh from my purchase--a laugh so rusty and unpractised that I
was sure it had been his first for many a day.
"Oh, no, no," said he. "You ain't a reporter. Reporters don't talk that way. They pretend to
be one of us, and say they've just got in on the blind baggage from St. Louis. I can tell a
reporter on sight. Us park bums get to be fine judges of human nature. We sit here all day