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[236] attain eminence in mere rank, yet he learned those habits of thoroughness which it is the pride of the school to convey. It was good seed in good ground. But his ambition went beyond this; and while he gradually gained in scholarship, his conscientious and singularly systematic habits made the wide general reading in which he indulged an education in itself. His moral and physical development, moreover, were steadily pursued. Naturally quick-tempered, he held this impulse under the curb, until, even in extreme provocation, no sign of anger could be detected, save a passing flush, which testified to the struggle and the victory; and he conformed to the precept which he wrote in a Greek book daily used by him in school, ‘He that ruleth himself is better than he that taketh a city.’ Out-door sports attracted his companions, and gave them health rather than strength; but Willard, even at this early age, trained his powers at the gymnasium with the method and success of a Greek athlete.

While the school thus did its office in promoting the growth of his character, and his admirable home influences produced their due effect, he was, after all, to an unusual extent, his own teacher. Inborn and growing as he grew, his controlling moral sense made the duty of the moment the law of his action, and his guiding motive of conduct to find in what shape that duty lay. His judgment was too sound ever to allow his sense of duty to become morbid; and he held with admirable moderation and singularly clear perception the balance even between the opposite requirements of his nature. His purity of mind was remarkable. He was incapable of vicious companionship, not more from a conscious repugnance to depraved natures than from the unconscious rebuke which such natures felt in his presence. He was not phlegmatic or hard. The sensitive, shy, proud nature which underlay his calm exterior, but seldom suspected to exist except by those who knew him well, became very noticeable by its contrast with the outer man, and gave an added charm from that contrast. He was indeed

‘To the soul that loved him sweet as summer.’

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Sidney Willard (1)
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