A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind.
--John Neal, author and critic (1793-1876)
(3:5.6) Is courage—strength of character—desirable? Then must man be reared in an environment which necessitates grappling with hardships and reacting to disappointments.
(26:5.3) But long before reaching Havona, these ascendant children of time have learned to feast upon uncertainty, to fatten upon disappointment, to enthuse over apparent defeat, to invigorate in the presence of difficulties, to exhibit indomitable courage in the face of immensity, and to exercise unconquerable faith when confronted with the challenge of the inexplicable. Long since, the battle cry of these pilgrims became: "In liaison with God, nothing—absolutely nothing—is impossible."
(48:7.7) Difficulties may challenge mediocrity and defeat the fearful, but they only stimulate the true children of the Most Highs.
John Neal was an American writer, critic, editor, lecturer, and activist. Considered both eccentric and influential, he delivered speeches and published essays, novels, poems, and short stories between the 1810s and 1870s in the United States and Great Britain, championing American literary nationalism and regionalism in their earliest stages. Neal advanced the development of American art, fought for women's rights, advocated the end of slavery and racial prejudice, and helped establish the American gymnastics movement.
The first American author to use natural diction and a pioneer of colloquialism, John Neal is the first to use the phrase son-of-a-bitch in a work of fiction. He attained his greatest literary achievements between 1817 and 1835, during which time he was the first American published in British literary journals, author of the first history of American literature, America's first art critic, a children's literature pioneer, and a forerunner of the American Renaissance. As one of the first men to advocate women's rights in the US and the first American lecturer on the issue, for over fifty years he supported female writers and organizers, affirmed intellectual equality between men and women, fought coverture laws against women's economic rights, and demanded suffrage, equal pay, and better education for women. He was the first American to establish a public gymnasium in the US and championed athletics to regulate violent tendencies with which he himself had struggled throughout his life.
A largely self-educated man who attended no schools after the age of twelve, Neal was a child laborer who left self-employment in dry goods at twenty-two to pursue dual careers in law and literature. By middle age Neal had attained comfortable wealth and community standing in his native Portland, Maine, through varied business investments, arts patronage, and civic leadership.
Neal is considered an author without a masterpiece, though his short stories are his highest literary achievements and ranked with the best of his age. Rachel Dyer is considered his best novel, "Otter-Bag, the Oneida Chief" and "David Whicher" his best tales, and The Yankee his most influential periodical. His "Rights of Women" speech (1843) at the peak of his influence as a feminist had a considerable impact on the future of the movement.