The Thorny Road of Honor
There is an old fairy tale: "The Thorny Road of Honor was trodden by a marksman named Bryde, to whom came great honor and dignity, but not until after manifold adversities and peril of life." More than one of us had heard that tale in childhood, and perhaps read it in later years, and thought of his own unsung "thorny road" and "manifold adversities." Romance and reality are very nearly alike, but romance has its harmonious ending here on earth, while reality more often delays it and leads us to time and eternity.
The history of the world is a magic lantern, showing us picture slides against the dark backgrounds of the ages, of how the benefactors of mankind, the martyrs of progress, have trodden their Thorny Roads of Honor.
From all times, from all lands, these pictures of splendor come to us; each picture lasts a moment only, yet it is a whole lifetime of struggles and triumphs. Let us glance at a few in the ranks of the martyrs, those ranks which will never be filled until earth itself shall pass a way.
We see a crowded theater! The Clouds of Aristophanes is sending forth to the audience a river of mirth and mockery; the stage of Athens is ridiculing, in both body and mind, her most remarkable man, who was the shield and defense of the people against the Thirty Tyrants. Socrates, who in the heat of battle rescued Alcibiades and Xenophon, whose spirit soared above the deities of the ancient world, is here in person. He has risen from the spectators' bench and has stepped forward, so that the mocking Athenians may decide whether he and the stage caricature resemble each other. There he stands erect before them, and in high spirit he is high above them.
You green, juicy, poisonous hemlock, be you, and not the olive tree, the shadowy symbol of this Athens!
Seven cities claimed to be the birthplace of Homer-that is, after he was dead. But look at him in his lifetime! Through these same cities he wanders, reciting his verses for a pittance. Care for the morrow turns his hair gray.