Mere Puffs to the Blackness

September 10, 2007

From The Most Famous Man in America – the Biography of Henry Ward Beecher by Debby Applegate:

     “I went through another phase of suffering which was far worse than any I had previously  experienced,”  he said years later.  “It seemed as though all the darkness of my childhood were mere puffs to the blackness I was now passing through.”


I really enjoy biographies and learn so much more about history when reading about specific people and how they lived in their times.   What struck me about this quote was that he was so poetically eloquent in describing this time of his life.   It was college;  Amherst.   The author states that our subject endured a “combination of high expectations, sharp scrutiny, and benign neglect.”  The visual image of these puffs of black that he evokes startled me and I just wanted to write it down. 

Another thought from reading thus far, is how GLOBAL the educational references and resources were to students of the 1830s.   We talk now about how small the world is and how other countries and continents influence our cultures NOW and usually the internet and speed of communications is cited as the reason why.   Yet,  the educational models THEN were  ‘influenced by the new German vision of liberal education’, incoporated ‘an emphasis …  from the famed Institute of d’Education of Hofwyl, Switzerland,  etc – FOREIGN influences.  Of course, kids learned Latin, Greek, French, Italian…   

I’m just surprised, though, in reflection, I don’t know why.     I am surprised due to HOW difficult and how much time it would take then to transfer information and trust it.     Now we have fast and instant sharing of news and information, but I wonder how much to believe.     


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