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HERE is one mind common to all individual men. Every man is an inlet to the same, and to all of the
same. He that is once admitted to the right of reason is made a freeman of the whole estate. What
Plato has thought, he may think; what a saint has felt, he may feel; what at any time has befallen
any man, he can understand."
When a thought of Plato becomes a thought to me,—when a truth that fired the soul of
Pindar fires mine, time is no more.
While it is good to walk among the living, it is good also to live with the wise, great, good
dead. It keeps out of life the dreadful feeling of extemporaneousness with its conceit and its
despair. It makes us always know that God made other men before He made us. It furnishes
back- [vi] ground for our living. It provides us with perpetual humility and inspiration.
Shakespeare has no biography; and, much as we would like to know what happened to him in
his life, I think we all feel doubtful whether we should get much of increased and deepened
richness in our thought of him if what he did and said had been recorded. The poet's life is in
his poems. The more profoundly and spiritually he is a poet, the more thoroughly this is true,
the more impossible a biography of him becomes.
Let men like these talk to you and tell you of themselves. Being dead, they yet can speak.
How good it is sometimes to leave the crowded world, which is so hot about its trifles, and
go into the company of these great souls which are so calm about the most momentous things!
[vii] TWO years ago I was asked by the Kindergarten Association of Chicago to read several papers at their
Institutes on the adaptation of stories from classic sources to kindergartens. Leaders among
kindergarteners had long before agreed that literature manufactured merely for commercial
speculation had not vitality enough to meet the needs of the child. They had themselves resorted
to Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, as a relief from the wearisomeness of the reading-matter of
reading-books. I took the ground that teachers would derive more pleasure in their work if
they were allowed a sweeping use of literature in their schools, each teacher detaching from
classic or standard writings such hints and suggestions as she could use to the best advantage.
I read about .fifty stories which I had gleaned from Plato, Homer, Hesiod, Aristophanes, Pliny,
Ovid, and other classic sources of illustrations of the material which teachers might select from
the original writings.
[viii] These stories I had found useful in previous schoolwork, because they contained fine moral
points, or else because they were poetic statements of natural phenomena which might enhance
the study of natural science.
I was urged by many of my audience to publish the stories for kindergarten use. Since then it
has come in my way to use the stories with children of ages varying from six to twelve years,
and I am satisfied that the collection is suitable as a primary reader; and I linger with grateful
thought over the remembrance of the teachers and children, who, amid the allurements of
life, could "leave the crowded world which is so hot about its trifles, and go into the company
of those great souls which are so calm about the most momentous things."
Many thanks are due to the intelligent assistance of the Librarian and Attendants of the
Chicago Public Library, and to the Editors of the Inter-Ocean for
the "I Will" etching—symbol of the life which renews itself
as well from ancient as from modern fire.