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The Brilliant And The Common-Place
by [?]

DAY after day I worked at my life-task, and worked in an earnest spirit. Not much did I seem to accomplish; yet the little that was done had on it the impress of good. Still, I was dissatisfied, because my gifts were less dazzling than those of which many around me could boast. When I thought of the brilliant ones sparkling in the firmament of literature, and filling the eyes of admiring thousands, something like the evil spirit of envy came into my heart and threw a shadow upon my feelings. I was troubled because I had not their gifts. I wished to shine with a stronger light. To dazzle, as well as to warm and vivify.

Not long ago, there came among us one whom nature had richly endowed. His mind possessed exceeding brilliancy. Flashes of thought, like lightning from summer cloud, were ever filling the air around him. There was a stateliness in the movement of his intellect, and an evidence of power, that oppressed you at times with wonder.

Around him gathered the lesser lights in the hemisphere of thought, and veiled their feeble rays beneath his excessive brightness. He seemed conscious of his superior gifts and displayed them more like a giant beating the air to excite wonder, than putting forth his strength to accomplish a good and noble work. Still, I was oppressed and paralyzed by the sphere of his presence. I felt puny and weak beside him, and unhappy because I was not gifted with equal power.

It so happened that a work of mine, upon which the maker’s name was not stamped–work done with a purpose of good–was spoken of and praised by one who did not know me as the handicraftsman.

“It is tame, dull, and commonplace,” said the brilliant one, in a tone of contempt; and there were many present to agree with him.

Like the strokes of a hammer upon my heart, came these words of condemnation. “Tame, dull, and commonplace!” And was it, indeed, so? Yes; I felt that what he uttered was true. That my powers were exceedingly limited, and my gifts few. Oh, what would I not have then given for brilliant endowments like those possessed by him from whom had fallen the words of condemnation?

“You will admit,” said one–I thought it strange at the time that there should be even one to speak a word in favor of my poor performance–“that it will do good?”

“Good!” was answered, in a tone slightly touched by contempt. “Oh, yes; it will do good!” and the brilliant one tossed his head. “Anybody can do good!”

I went home with a perturbed spirit. I had work to do; but I could not do it. I sat down and tried to forget what I had heard. I tried to think about the tasks that were before me. “Tame, dull, and commonplace!” Into no other form would my thoughts come.

Exhausted, at last, by this inward struggle, I threw myself upon my bed, and soon passed into the land of dreams.

Dream-land! Thou art thought by many to be only a land of fantasy and of shadows. But it is not so. Dreams, for the most part, are fantastic; but all are not so. Nearer are we to the world of spirits, in sleep; and, at times, angels come to us with lessons of wisdom, darkly veiled under similitude, or written in characters of light.

I passed into dream-land; but my thoughts went on in the same current. “Tame, dull, and commonplace!” I felt the condemnation more strongly than before.

I was out in the open air, and around me were mountains, trees, green fields, and running waters; and above all bent the sky in its azure beauty. The sun was just unveiling his face in the east, and his rays were lighting up the dew-gems on a thousand blades of grass, and making the leaves glitter as if studded with diamonds.