Shordy before Theodore Parker's death in 1860, at Florence, where his ashes now repose, an old friend said to Parker, "You have done much, you have given your life to God, to his truth, and to his work, as truly as any old martyr of them all."
"I don't know," was the reply, "I had great powers committed to me; I have but half used them."
No one who reads the sermons of Theodore Parker, no matter how he may disagree with the sentiments expressed therein, can question the fact that great powers had been committed to him.
To our view, accidents seem to bring great men to the front. But when you read how a feud in the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and a dispute between Greeley and Seward and Weed in New York resulted in the nomination of Lincoln at Chicago; or how a great man of letters has been introduced to the world through someone's happening to unroll his manuscript, as Johnson did with Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield; and how, but for apparently small incidents, Newton would have been a farmer, Faraday a bookbinder, and Pasteur a tanner, we conclude that if these great talents were in this way brought out and given the arena of opportunity, there must be thousands of men whom chance has not discovered, whose talents have not been brought to the surface. You can wander into any rural cemetery and say what Thomas Gray said of those venerable graves at Stokes Poges:
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have swayed,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.
It is this reflection, the unevoked and undiscovered greatness in man, which makes us wonder about immortality, and the use God will make hereafter of those whom in this Life no man hath hired, when the trumpet of the Resurrection shall call them out of their graves and say to them, "Awake, awake, put on thy strength."
It was only an oxgoad, but there was a man's arm behind the oxgoad and a great spirit behind the arm. The oxgoad had been baptized with the spirit of courage and determination and faith. Thus it suffered a metamorphosis and became an irresistible weapon. There was no sword—no, not even Goliath's mighty weapon—nor spear nor lance among the host of Philistines that could match itself with the oxgoad in the hands of the Spirit-filled judge.
Shamgar is the kind of man who accomplishes much with little. He reminds us that it is not so much what we have as how we use what we have. It is not so much the tool as the man who holds the tool. It is not so much the sword, the weapon, that counts, as the spirit of the man who holds the sword.
Talent is wanting something bad enough to work for it.
Use what talents you possess; the woods would indeed be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.—Odd Moments, Sunshine Private Press
Many a genius has been slow of growth. Oaks that flourish for a thousand years do not spring up into beauty like a reed.—George Henry Lewes
Some talents that we little guess
Our humblest neighbors may possess.