This is an article edited by Ellie Henkle and Josephine Cranston – the sister of Charles Edward Cranston’s father, Christopher Cranston. It was written in 1850 but their thoughts are eternal. Images of the actual letter in Josie’s own handwriting are below and a transcription of the letter is as follows – something we all should read. ~ CCJ
The Improvement of the Mind
When we consider of how much importance the cultivation of the mind is when compared to the decorations of the body, we are lost in astonishment at the apathy which exists respecting the improvement of the former and the intense anxiety that pervaded all classes with regard to the latter.
The immortal mind runs parallel to eternity, while this tenement of clay, so much idolized by the many, will in a few short years moulder back to its mother earth.
What would you think of an individual who, having two plants presented to him, and being told that the first, although the most unremitting attention be bestowed upon it, would bloom in beauty then wither and die in one short day or season while the other, if cultivated, would blossom and bear fruit as long as he should live?
What, I ask, would you think of the person who would wholly neglect the latter?
Surely you would answer as one who acted very unwisely.
How much more unwisely, then, do we act when we bestow such attention on the outward man while the mind is left a barren waste or still worse is suffered to be grown up with noxious weeds?
If there are no buds in spring, there will be no blossoms in summer and no fruit in autumn is the idea cherished by persons respecting the actions of beauty. Their greatest efforts seem to be made in fashioning themselves to the admiring gaze of the multitude while that which not only attracts, but has also the power of retaining in its possession the once gathered prizes is almost wholly neglected.
Lamentable indeed is the waste of time which so swiftly glides into the past leaving us to regret the exertions we have made to obtain that which soon passes away.
If sufficient attention were devoted to the cultivation of the mind, which only is truly beautiful, that germ of origin divine, would expand and bloom with surprising beauty, increasing our capacity to enjoy the blessings bestowed upon us and enabling us to diffuse general happenings among the members of the human family.
The light and expression of the countenance indicates the treasures of the mind.
Though already must be the autumn of life and the winter of age destitute of mental resources.
Let us, then, be rational human beings, bestow all necessary attention on the casket, and ever remember that the gem within is of infinite more value.