As the Autumn leaves flutter down in a shower of red and gold and the frosty breath of the North Wind puts a nip into the early Fall days, young America turns once more to school books. From the wee tot in the kindergarten to the college senior there is a common purpose—the pursuit of knowledge. Whether self-directed or not, this effort is made in order to gain efficiency in later callings of life or to attain culture and refinement. Where there is a genuine desire to learn, proceeding from sound motives, there will result, not a cheap veneer of superficiality, but a foundation on which can be built a life worth while. We are prone to think that this result is a product of school training only, but instances in history prove this to be false. We may find in the humblest ranks examples of the finest culture. Two hundred and ten years ago today there died in England a dealer in small-coal. When history is written, the names of such men are usually forgotten; but not so with that of Thomas Britton. Though a merchant of lowly origin his name is preserved in the printed pages of modern times, because when Opportunity tapped feebly at his door he opened it wide in welcome. He used his leisure time in learning music, and he became so versed in the art that he was recognized as a critic of no mean ability. The best society of London did not disdain to join a music and literary club which met beneath his humble roof, and the great composer Handel did not consider it beneath him to appear before the group that gathered there. Not only was Britton a critic and a lover of music, but he was also a recognized authority on old books and manuscripts, of which he had a collection—a very singular accomplishment for one in his station in life.
Another school year lies before us. With it comes Opportunity knocking as urgently as before. Will we answer as readily as did Thomas Britton when Opportunity faintly and hesitantly, knocked at his door? We have much to answer for if we lend a deaf ear, but our possibilities are boundless if we respond.