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    There may be sunnier paths afar,
        With flowers more bright and rare;
    But what of them, unless that hand
        Have cast its shadow there?

    Not fortune's brightest beams I ask
        Around my path to play,
    If duty, with its guiding hand,
        But point my onward way.


LORD Ashburton gave to the chief rarities
of his country the name of Common Things,
and Miss Burdett Coutts offers prizes for a
right knowledge of good housekeeping among
the poor, under the name of Prizes for
Common Things. Yet, what is called common
knowledge, is in reality common ignorance;
for subjects, about which it is most
essential to the well-being and comfort of
society for everybody to be well informed
are least well known. Among gentlemen,
the power to quote certain scraps of Horace,
to repeat as intelligent conversation what
has been read in last week's newspaper,
are common things; but the power of
independent thoughtwhich ought to be
the commonest of things among our
educated classesis so rare, that a man passes
into an exceptional class, and makes or
mars his fortune when he thus marches
out of the ranks and becomes a thinker.
The naked little worm found under water,
that spends all its life in the collection of
morsels of stick and chips, which it glues
round about its person, accurately typifies
our own intellectual career. We are
constantly seeking, under a pool of printer's ink,
a stick from this book, or a chip from that
journal; covering ourselves with what we
call information, and thus casing our minds
with mere fragments. We are well
content to be as caddisworms, and to count
him the best informed, who yields most of
the glue of memory with which to fix the
particles that form his intellectual

The one thing that has to be made common,
then, is the habit of independent thinking;
of putting one's own mind into one's work.
Why does the cook spoil the potatoes? Why
does she make our meat our misery, and
dinner the extinction of all powers of thought
for the next two hours? Cook works by
tradition, or at best by cookery books, and
puts no mind of her own into her work. It
is stark nonsense to suppose that cooking
can be done by rule, when all the
books being nearly the same, there is a
failure in the very first condition of
successful imitation. No two kitchen fires,
are alike as to the degree and the way
in which they give out heat. In qualities
of water, in saucepans, in the season of the
year, in the constantly varying quality or
texture of the same article employed as
food or condimentthe cook, who is merely,
after the custom of the day, a creature
of rules which she has gathered round her
as the defence of her own secret ignorance
and incapacitycan only spoil food; and does
spoil it. Let any intelligent woman without
a rule in her head go into a kitchen and
devote thought and attention to the boiling
of a potato for the first time in her life;
measuring her powers; using her faculties of
observation and her judgment; and we desire
nothing better, in that way, than to eat for
the remainder of our lives none but potatoes
cooked as she would cook them. What is
the constant cry against the housemaid?
Thoughtless, thoughtless! Betty cannot be
got to think of what she does while she is
doing it. When children fall into the
nursery fire or are tragically shot out of
perambulators, or pick up foolish words and
ways, the cause commonly is, that nurse-
maids do not think of what they are about;
do not put attentively their minds into their

Travelling up in society as high as we
may, still we see equally manifest the same
defect in nine out of ten sections. Millions
of people are provided with their thoughts
as with their clothes; authors, printers,
booksellers and newsmen stand, in relation to their
minds, simply as shoemakers and tailors stand,
to their bodies. Certain ideas come up and are
adopted, as long-tailed great coats or skeleton
petticoats are adopted. No doubt, if we all
thoughteach man only a little of the spirit
and meaning of each act of lifethe business
of life would be done with an earnestness
quite frightful to be told about; though
glorious to think about, if one were by chance
to think.

For our own parts, we should trouble
nobody with any speculations of this sort,
beyond the assertion that a girl may be
shown how to darn and how to patch; how to
bake and how to brew; how to scrub and how
to rub; how to buy pennyworths with pennies,
and yet be sent out to the rich man a defective
servant, and to the poor man an unthrifty
uncomfortable wife. On the other hand, she
may have received formal instruction in no
one of these things, and yet be able to overcome
every difficulty as it arises, by help of
the spirit that has been put into her, and will
not only soon do well, but will perpetually
advance towards perfection in whatever
ministry may be demanded of her by the
circumstances of her future life. If she has
been trained to live by How and Whyalways
pouring down, through these conductors, the
whole energy of the mind upon the matter
actually in handshe will surely make a
wise wife or a clever servant. There is
nothing in Englishmen and women to prevent
the vast majority of them from going about
their work in this way, except the want of early
stimulus to a free and full habit of thought;
this being the defect of nearly all our schools.
That there should be this defect in schools

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