Friday, May 31, 2013

A Lesson in Skirling

During the Christmas holidays in 1841, Thomas Chalmers, then perhaps the most prominent man in all of Scotland, paid a visit to the tiny Borders town of Skirling in Peebleshire.  During his stay, he consented to stop by the local village school and give a lecture on Mathematics.  

The great man was always inclined to leave a moral philosophy lesson for his students, even when he was teaching natural philosophy.  And so it was that at the conclusion of his talk, he drew a large circle on the slate board and declaimed:

"The wider a man's knowledge becomes, the deeper should be his humility; for the more he knows the more he sees of what remains unknown. The wider the diameter of light, the larger the circumference of darkness. And so, with every footstep of growing knowledge there ought to be a growing humility--that is the best guarantee both for a sound philosophy and a sound faith."

The importance of this vital lesson was not soon lost on his awestruck students.

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