Everyone conforms to infancy, infancy conforms to nobody, so that one babe commonly makes four or five out of the adults who prattle and play to it. So God has armed youth and puberty and manhood no less with its own piquancy and charm, and made it enviable and gracious and its claims not to be put by, if it will stand by itself. Do not think the youth has no force, because he cannot speak to you and me. Hark! In the next room his voice is sufficiently clear and emphatic. It seems he knows how to speak to his contemporaries. Bashful or bold, then, he will know how to make us seniors very unnecessary.
The healthy attitude of human nature can be seen in the nonchalance of boys who are sure of a dinner, and would disdain as much as a lord to do or say aught to conciliate one. A boy is in the parlor what the pit is in the playhouse; independent, irresponsible, looking out from his corner on such people and facts as pass by, he tries and sentences them on their merits, in the swift, summary way of boys, as good, bad, interesting, silly, eloquent, troublesome. He never cumbers himself regarding consequences, about interests and he gives an independent, genuine verdict. You should court him: he will not court you. But the man is, as it were, clapped into jail by his consciousness. As soon as he has once acted or spoken with eclat, he is a committed person, watched by the sympathy or the hatred of hundreds, whose affections must now enter into his account. There is no Lethe for this. Ah, that he could pass again into his neutrality.
These are the voices, which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Everywhere society is conspiring against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is joint - stock company, in which members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. It is averse to self-reliance. What it loves is names and customs and not realities and creators.
Whosoever is a man has to be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.
No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that to this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only right is what is after me constitution, the only wrong what is against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions. Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right. I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways.
I shun father and mother and wife and brother, when my genius calls me. I would write on the lintels of the doorpost, whim. I hope it is somewhat better than whim at last, but we cannot spend the day in explanation. Except me not to show cause why I seek or why I exclude company. Then, again, do not tell me, as a good man did not to-day, of my obligation to put all poor men in good situations. Are they my poor? I tell thee, thou foolish philanthropist, that I grudge the dollar, the time, the cent, I give to such men as do not belong to me and to whom I do not belong. There is a class of person to whom by all spiritual affinity I am bought and sold; for them I will go to prison, if need be; but your miscellaneous popular charities; the education at collage of fools; the building of meeting - house to the vain end to which many now stand; alms to sots; and the thousandfold Relief Societies; - though I confess with shame I sometimes succumb and give the dollar, it is a wicked dollar which by and by I shall have the manhood to withhold.
If you refuse to conform, you can experience the displeasure of the world. Hence, a man should know how to estimate a sour face. The by - standers look askance on him in the public street or in the friend's parlor. In case this aversion originates from contempt and resistance similar to his own, it might result in a sad countenance; but the sour faces of the multitude, like their sweet faces, have no deep cause, but are caused by reasons as diverse as the direction of the wind and what he reads in the newspapers. Yet is the discontent of the multitude more formidable than that of the senate and the collage.
Another factor, which frightens us from self - trust in our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them.
But why should you keep your head over your shoulder? Why drag about this corpse of your memory, lest you contradict somewhat you have stated in this or that public place? Suppose you should contradict yourself; what then?
This is a rather silly consistency in our minds, which is adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. Uniformly a great soul has almost nothing to do, he could just occupy himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words; and to-morrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said to-day. - ''Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.'' - Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. What can be considered to be truly great is to be misunderstood.
- Which of the following statements would best describe the main theme of the above passage?
- "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little mind."
- "Eternal youth means eternal independence."
- "Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist."
- "Colleges are designed to educate fools."
- "Infancy conforms to nobody."
Ans : C
- When is the period during which we are most nonconformist?
- old age
Ans : A
- In his statement ''What can be considered to be truly great is to be misunderstood'' the author means:
- One should refrain from saying, what one exactly means
- Being misunderstood, equals being great
- All great man have always been misunderstood
- Even though a person might be considered inconsistent, he shouldn't hesitate to change his mind if he feels the need to.
- It is seldom, that nice people succeed
Ans : D
- As inferred from the passage, the refusal of young people to cater to accept public opinion is:
- A feature of the rebelliousness of youth
- A healthy attitude of human nature
- A manifestation of deep- seated immaturity
- Simply bad manners
- Part of growing up
Ans : B
- "Society is a joint-stock company etc." is one way which the author shows
- The anti-culture attitude of the public
- Society is highly organized and structured
- The self-rejection of society
- The lack of room for solitude in our world
- The public's interest in the stock market
Ans : C
- " I would write on the lintels of the doorpost, whim." What does the author mean by this statement:
- That one should renounce his immediate family
- That signposts have an important educational function in our society
- That an impulsive action may have a subsequent rational explanation
- That one must never be held responsible for what one says and does
- That everyone should do foolish things occasionally
Ans : C
- Which of the following statements best summarizes the spirit and sense of the above passage?
- "Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind."
- "With consistency, a great soul; has simply nothing to do."
- "Do not think the youth has no force, because cannot speak to you and me."
- "The virtue in most request is conformity."
- "A man must know how to estimate a sour force."
Ans : A