The home is the most ordinary of institutions. It is the temple of our shelter and rest, the habituation of our hopes and our fears. It is the resort of love, the refuge of virtue, the altar of prayer. It is the school of cleanliness, the preceptor of obedience, the sanctuary of modesty. It is at once the stronghold of the ordinary and the shrine of joy.
It is probably a sound definition of character to say that it is habitual self-mastery toward good ends. . . . Character is a subtle thing. Its sources are obscure, its roots delicate and invisible. We know it when we see it and it always commands our admiration, and the absence of it our pity; but it is largely a matter of will.
Great men are those who have had noble purposes to achieve, great tasks to perform, or mighty causes to vindicate. A high expression of self-mastery is but the reflection of these great purposes upon personality and character. The demand upon character molds the essential self-mastery; the goal forges the strength needed to achieve it. . . . In your reading you have probably found the oft-repeated syllogism: 'Great minds have purposes, others have wishes.' . . . Great purposes demand and endow strong minds; wishes need only weak minds. The soundness of this principle is found in the fact that men are not great until they have achieved great things. The strength is the product of the struggle; the endowment follows the achievement. Nature never pays an unearned account; and she never fails to pay one that is earned. In fact, earning is possessing; the two processes are simultaneous.