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Joseph Addison
by [?]

But Knowledge must go with Sympathy, else the emotions will become maudlin and pity may be wasted on a poodle instead of a child; on a field-mouse instead of a human soul. Knowledge in use is wisdom, and wisdom implies a sense of values–you know a big thing from a little one, a valuable fact from a trivial one. Tragedy and comedy are simply questions of value: a little misfit in life makes us laugh, a great one is tragedy and cause for grief.

Poise is the strength of body and strength of mind to control your Sympathy and your Knowledge. Unless you control your emotions they run over and you stand in the slop. Sympathy must not run riot, or it is valueless and tokens weakness instead of strength. In every hospital for nervous disorders are to be found many instances of this loss of control. The individual has Sympathy, but not Poise, and therefore his life is worthless to himself and to the world.

He symbols inefficiency, not helpfulness. Poise reveals itself more in voice than in words; more in thought than in action; more in atmosphere than in conscious life. It is a spiritual quality, and is felt more than it is seen. It is not a matter of size, nor bodily attitude, nor attire, nor personal comeliness: it is a state of inward being, and of knowing your cause is just. And so you see it is a great and profound subject after all, great in its ramifications, limitless in extent, implying the entire science of right living. I once met a man who was deformed in body and little more than a dwarf, but who had such Spiritual Gravity–such Poise–that to enter a room where he was, was to feel his presence and acknowledge his superiority. To allow Sympathy to waste itself on unworthy subjects is to deplete one’s life-forces. To conserve is the part of wisdom. No great orator ever exerts himself to his fullest, and reserve is a necessary element in all good literature, as well as in everything else. Poise being the control of your Sympathy and Knowledge implies the possession of these attributes, for without Sympathy and Knowledge you have nothing to control but your physical body. To practise Poise as a mere gymnastic exercise, or a study in etiquette, is to be self-conscious, stiff, preposterous and ridiculous. Those who cut such fantastic tricks before high heaven as make angels weep are men void of Sympathy and Knowledge trying to cultivate Poise. Their science is a mere matter of what to do with arms and legs. Poise is a question of spirit controlling flesh, heart controlling attitude. And so in the cultivation of Poise it is well to begin quite aways back. Let perfect love cast out fear; get rid of all secrets; have nothing in your heart to conceal; be gentle, generous, kind; do not bother to forgive your enemies–it is better to forget them, and cease conjuring them forth from your inner consciousness. The idea that you have enemies is egotism gone to seed. Get Knowledge by coming close to Nature, listening to her heart-beats, studying her ways. And let your heart go out to humanity by a desire to serve.

That man is greatest who best serves his kind. Sympathy and Knowledge are for use–you acquire that you may give out; you accumulate that you may bestow. And as God has given you the sublime blessings of Sympathy and Knowledge, there will come to you the wish to reveal your gratitude by giving them out again, for the wise man knows that we retain spiritual qualities only as we give them away. Let your light shine. To him that hath shall be given. The exercise of wisdom brings wisdom; and at the last the infinitesimal quantity of man’s knowledge, compared with the Infinite, and the meagerness of man’s Sympathy when compared with the source from which ours is absorbed, will evolve an abnegation and a humility that will lend a perfect Poise. The Gentleman is a man with Sympathy, Knowledge and Poise; and as I sit here in this quiet corner, Joseph Addison seems to me to fit the requirements a little better than any other name I can recall.