Home >> Youth-and-opportunity >> A Dreamer In Action to Youth And Opportunity_p2 >> In a Stone Quarry

In a Stone Quarry


The stones clear as stars in frosty night.

It does not matter whether a man carves a statue, or labors in a cornfield, or crouches in a stone quarry; if he acts the part of a Thinker he will change everything around him.

Better still, he will change everything within him.

There was once a little Scotch boy. He was of a poor and unknown family. No one of his relatives was famous, none was learned. They were simply poor, but decent, citizens. The world is full of them. Like the unseen muscles of the arm, they give strength to the arm itself which is seen.

When the little boy was old enough, he went to work—as an apprentice to a stonemason.

But the boy had long before apprenticed himself to another master. This master's name was Thought. And by the time the boy ap prenticed himself to the stonemason, he was already a jouneyman Thinker.

What did it all amount to? To this : The boy grew up, attended strictly to business, kept his eyes open, never stopped thinking, remained a stonecutter all his days, and died.

Then he became famous the world over.

As a stonecutter? No. As a geologist.

No writing of mine can present his story in the vivid way he himself tells it. For he wrote his life, and called it My Schools and Schoolmasters, telling in a simple, straight forward way a tale that has not been sur passed—so far as it shows how a man can get much from little.

The name of the little Scotch boy was Hugh Miller. His story, like that of many another famous humble citizen, is full of interesting incidents. To an extent, every one wins suc cess his own way. The way Hugh Miller pursued was homely.

The boy's father was drowned at sea, and his mother brought him up as best she could. Though he had a little schooling, he always declared that his companions and the rude, rugged nature of Scotland, were his real schools and schoolmasters.

Among the best of the professors with whom he studied were the fishers and sailors whom he met, while his best books were the boulders strewn along the coast of the Cromarty Firth. With a hammer in hand, little Hugh cracked open these hard volumes of nature to see what there was inside to read, for he began to suspect that a great story was written in their rugged pages.

Then he opened another volume, called a stone quarry, on the pages of which he saw fossil fishes and ferns, and other words writ ten there ages ago.

Meantime, apprenticed to a stonemason, he became skillful at his trade, but he kept on reading nature's message, and then he trans lated it.

The translation is called Old Red Sand stone, a book that makes every reader of it proud of the fact that a boulder and a stone quarry are not so hard and unyielding but what they can inspire a workingman to make an author of himself.

Thus, with hammer in hand, Hugh Miller became a great type of the Thinking man.

The most interesting statement made about the word Think was made by a scholar named Thomas Davidson, also a Scotchman. In his book entitled History of Education, he says : "The soul begins to be human when it has a world of things. Until there are things there are no thoughts. Thinking is, in its strictest sense, thing-ing." The Thinker, then, is the Thing-ing man, the man who looks at things with all the force of his intellect and strives to understand them. If they are Things made by man, he tries by study of them to get back to the mind of the man who made them, and to understand that mind. If they are Things made by nature, like tiny fossils in a bit of stone, he tries to get back to the way nature placed them there.

And then he asks a man's question : "Why is this so?" Hugh Miller, with the mind of a scientist, instinctively worked his way back from the Thing to its cause. When the critic of art and literature and music does the same—that is, when he sees in the work (the Thing) the exact type of mind that did the Thinging (or Think ing)—he is of some use. Then he can teach us something by his criticism.

Otherwise, he is useless beyond description. And from this you can discover just what to do, to live as a Thinker in the world.

Start with the Thing and work your way back to the mind that made it. If the Thing be faulty, so, too, was the mind. If the butter is seven-eighths of a pound instead of a whole pound, an untrue mind is back of the trans action.

If a man hands you a Thing called a counter feit quarter there is a counterfeit mind back of the hand that gives it.

But there is a more cheerful side to it all. Back of a beautiful Thing is a mind of beauty. If you are a maker of Things, remember that they spell your mind just as these types spell my words.

The mind is the greatest quarry in existence. And the man who mines his mind should bring out nothing but gems.

Meanwhile, let him wonder how it is there are gems in his mind, and how they came there.

There is, likewise, something back of that.

mind, man, boy, little and hugh