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´╗┐Title: How to Get on in the World - A Ladder to Practical Success
Author: Calhoon, Major A.R.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "How to Get on in the World - A Ladder to Practical Success" ***

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Copyright 1895, BY LOUIS KLOPSCH.



  I. What is Success?

  II. The Importance of Character

  III. Home Influences

  IV. Association

  V. Courage and Determined Effort

  VI. The Importance of Correct Habits

  VII. As to Marriage

  VIII. Education as Distinguished from Learning

  IX The Value of Experience

  X. Selecting a Calling

  XI. We Must Help Ourselves

  XII. Successful Farming

  XIII. As to Public Life

  XIV. The Need of Constant Effort

  XV. Some of Labor's Compensations

  XVI. Patience and Perseverance

  XVII. Success but Seldom Accidental

  XVIII. Cultivate Observation and Judgment

  XIX. Singleness of Purpose

  XX. Business and Brains

  XXI. Put Money in Thy Purse Honestly

  XXII. A Sound Mind in a Sound Body

  XXIII. Labor Creates the Only True Nobility

  XXIV. The Successful Man is Self-Made

  XXV. Unselfishness and Helpfulness




It has been said that "Nothing Succeeds Like Success." What is
Success? If we consult the dictionaries, they will give us the
etymology of this much used word, and in general terms the meaning
will be "the accomplishment of a purpose." But as the objects in
nearly every life differ, so success cannot mean the same thing to
all men.

The artist's idea of success is very different from that of the
business man, and the scientist differs from both, as does the
statesman from all three. We read of successful gamblers, burglars or
freebooters, but no true success was ever won or ever can be won that
sets at defiance the laws of God and man.

To win, so that we ourselves and the world shall be the better for
our having lived, we must begin the struggle, with a high purpose,
keeping ever before our minds the characters and methods of the noble
men who have succeeded along the same lines.

The young man beginning the battle of life should never lose sight of
the fact that the age of fierce competition is upon us, and that this
competition must, in the nature of things, become more and more
intense. Success grows less and less dependent on luck and chance.
Preparation for the chosen field of effort, an industry that
increasing, a hope that never flags, a patience that never grows
weary, a courage that never wavers, all these, and a trust in God,
are the prime requisites of the man who would win in this age of
specialists and untiring activity.

The purpose of this work is not to stimulate genius, for genius is
law unto itself, and finds its compensation in its own original
productions. Genius has benefited the world, without doubt, but too
often its life compensation has been a crust and a garret. After
death, in not a few cases, the burial was through charity of
friends, and this can hardly be called an adequate compensation, for
the memorial tablet or monument that commemorates a life of
privation, if not of absolute wretchedness.

It is, perhaps, as well for the world that genius is phenomenal; it
is certainly well for the world that success is not dependent on it,
and that every young man, and young woman too, blessed with good
health and a mind capable of education, and principles that are true
and abiding, can win the highest positions in public and private
life, and dying leave behind a heritage for their children, and an
example for all who would prosper along the same lines. And all this
with the blessed assurance of hearing at last the Master's words:
"Well done, good and faithful servant!"

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might." There is a
manly ring in this fine injunction, that stirs like a bugle blast.
"But what can my hands find to do? How can I win? Who will tell me
the work for which I am best fitted? Where is the kindly guide who
will point out to me the life path that will lead to success?" So
far as is possible it will be the purpose of this book to reply
fully to these all important questions, and by illustration and
example to show how others in the face of obstacles that would seem
appalling to the weak and timid, carefully and prayerfully prepared
themselves for what has been aptly called "the battle of life," and
then in the language of General Jackson, "pitched in to win."

A copy line, in the old writing books, reads, "Many men of many
minds." It is this diversity of mind, taste and inclination that
opens up to us so many fields of effort, and keeps any one calling
or profession from being crowded by able men. Of the incompetents
and failures, who crowd every field of effort, we shall have but
little to say, for to "Win Success" is our watchword.

What a great number of paths the observant young man sees before him!
Which shall he pursue to find it ending in victory? Victory when the
curtain falls on this brief life, and a greater victory when the
death-valley is crossed and the life eternal begins?

The learned professions have widened in their scope and number within
the past thirty years. To divinity, law, and medicine, we can now
add literature, journalism, engineering and all the sciences. Even
art, as generally understood, is now spoken of as a profession, and
there are professors to teach its many branches in all the great
universities. Any one of these professions, if carefully mastered
and diligently pursued, promises fame, and, if not fortune,
certainly a competency, for the calling that does not furnish a
competency for a man and his family, can hardly be called a success,
no matter the degree of fame it brings.

"Since Adam delved and Eve span," agriculture has been the principal
occupation of civilized man. With the advance of chemistry,
particularly that branch known as agricultural chemistry, farming
has become more of a science, and its successful pursuit demands not
only unceasing industry, but a high degree of trained intelligence.
Of late years farming has rather fallen into disrepute with
ambitious young men, who long for the excitement and greater
opportunities afforded by our cities; but success and happiness have
been achieved in farming, and the opportunities for both will
increase with proper training and a correct appreciation of a
farmer's life.

"Business" is a very comprehensive word, and may properly embrace
every life-calling; but in its narrow acceptance it is applied to
trade, commerce and manufactures. It is in these three lines of
business that men have shown the greatest energy and enterprise, and
in which they have accomplished the greatest material success. As a
consequence, eager spirits enter these fields, encouraged by the
examples of men who from small beginnings, and in the face of
obstacles that would have daunted less resolute men, became merchant
princes and the peers of earth's greatest.

In the selection of your calling do not stand hesitating and doubting
too long. Enter somewhere, no matter how hard or uncongenial the
work, do it with all your might, and the effort will strengthen you
and qualify you to find work that is more in accord with your

Bear in mind that the first condition of success in every calling, is
earnest devotion to its requirements and duties. This may seem so
obvious a remark that it is hardly worth making. And yet, with all
its obviousness the thing itself is often forgotten by the young.
They are frequently loath to admit the extent and urgency of
business claims; and they try to combine with these claims, devotion
to some favorite, and even it may be conflicting, pursuit. Such a
policy invariably fails. We cannot travel every path. Success must
be won along one line. You must make your business the one life
purpose to which every other, save religion, must be subordinate.

"Eternal vigilance," it has been said, "is the price of liberty."
With equal truth it may be said, "Unceasing effort is the price of
success." If we do not work with our might, others will; and they
will outstrip us in the race, and pluck the prize from our grasp.
"The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,"
in the race of business or in the battle of professional life, but
usually the swiftest wins the prize, and the strongest gains in the



That "Heaven helps those who help themselves," is a maxim as true as
it is ancient. The great and indispensable help to success is

Character is crystallized habit, the result of training and
conviction. Every character is influenced by heredity, environment
and education; but these apart, if every man were not to a great
extent the architect of his own character, he would be a fatalist, an
irresponsible creature of circumstances, which, even the skeptic must
confess he is not. So long as a man has the power to change one
habit, good or bad, for another, so long he is responsible for his
own character, and this responsibility continues with life and

A man may be a graduate of the greatest university, and even a great
genius, and yet be a most despicable character. Neither Peter Cooper,
George Peabody nor Andrew Carnegie had the advantage of a college
education, yet character made them the world's benefactors and more
honored than princes.

"You insist," wrote Perthes to a friend, "on respect for learned men.
I say, Amen! But at the same time, don't forget that largeness of
mind, depth of thought, appreciation of the lofty, experience of the
world, delicacy of manner, tact and energy in action, love of truth,
honesty, and amiability--that all these may be wanting in a man who
may yet be very learned."

When someone in Sir Walter Scott's hearing made a remark as to the
value of literary talents and accomplishments, as if they were above
all things to be esteemed and honored, he observed, "God help us!
What a poor world this would be if that were the true doctrine! I
have read books enough, and observed and conversed with enough of
eminent and splendidly-cultured minds, too, in my time; but I assure
you, I have heard higher sentiments from the lips of the poor
uneducated men and women, when exerting the spirit of severe, yet
gentle heroism under difficulties and afflictions, or speaking their
simple thoughts as to circumstances in the lot of friends and
neighbors, than I ever yet met with out of the Bible."

In the affairs of life or of business, it is not intellect that tells
so much as character--not brains so much as heart--not genius so
much as self-control, patience, and discipline, regulated by
judgment. Hence there is no better provision for the uses of either
private or public life, than a fair share of ordinary good sense
guided by rectitude. Good sense, disciplined by experience and
inspired by goodness, issued in practical wisdom. Indeed, goodness
in a measure implies wisdom--the highest wisdom--the union of the
worldly with the spiritual. "The correspondences of wisdom and
goodness," says Sir Henry Taylor, "are manifold; and that they will
accompany each other is to be inferred, not only because men's
wisdom makes them good, but because their goodness makes them wise."

The best sort of character, however, can not be formed without
effort. There needs the exercise of constant self-watchfulness,
self-discipline, and self-control. There may be much faltering,
stumbling, and temporary defeat; difficulties and temptations
manifold to be battled with and overcome; but if the spirit be
strong and the heart be upright, no one need despair of ultimate
success. The very effort to advance--to arrive at a higher standard
of character than we have reached--is inspiring and invigorating;
and even though we may fall short of it, we can not fail to be
improved by every honest effort made in an upward direction.

"Instead of saying that man is the creature of circumstance, it would
be nearer the mark to say that man is the architect of circumstance.
It is character which builds an existence out of circumstance. Our
strength is measured by our plastic power. From the same materials
one man builds palaces, another hovels; one warehouses, another
villas. Bricks and mortar are mortar and bricks, until the architect
can make them something else. Thus it is that in the same family, in
the same circumstances, one man rears a stately edifice, while his
brother, vacillating and incompetent, lives forever amid ruins; the
block of granite which was an obstacle on the pathway of the weak,
becomes a stepping-stone on the pathway of the strong."

When the elements of character are brought into action by determinate
will, and influenced by high purpose, man enters upon and
courageously perseveres in the path of duty, at whatever cost of
worldly interest, he may be said to approach the summit of his
being. He then exhibits character in its most intrepid form, and
embodies the highest idea of manliness. The acts of such a man
become repeated in the life and action of others. His very words
live and become actions. Thus every word of Luther's rang through
Germany like a trumpet. As Richter said of him, "His words were
half-battles." And thus Luther's life became transfused into the
life of his country, and still lives in the character of modern

Speaking of the courageous character of John Knox, Carlyle says, with
characteristic force: "Honor to all the brave and true; everlasting
honor to John Knox, one of the truest of the true! That, in the
moment while he and his cause, amid civil broils, in convulsion and
confusion, were still but struggling for life, he sent the
schoolmaster forth to all comers, and said, 'Let the people be taught;'
this is but one, and, indeed, an inevitable and comparatively
inconsiderable item in his great message to men. This message, in
its true compass, was, 'Let men know that they are men; created by
God, responsible to God; whose work in any meanest moment of time
what will last through eternity.'

. . . This great message Knox did deliver, with a man's voice and
strength, and found a people to believe him. Of such an achievement,
were it to be made once only, the results are immense. Thought, in
such a country, may change its form, but cannot go out; the country
has attained _majority_; thought, and a certain spiritual manhood,
ready for all work that man can do, endures there. The Scotch
national, character originated in many circumstances; first of all,
in the Saxon stuff there was to work on; but next, and beyond all
else except that, in the Presbyterian Gospel of John Knox."

Washington left behind him, as one of the greatest treasures of his
country, the example of a stainless life--of a great, honest, pure,
and noble character--a model for his nation to form themselves by in
all time to come. And in the case of Washington, as in so many other
great leaders of men, his greatness did not so much consist in his
intellect, his skill and his genius, as in his honor, his integrity,
his truthfulness, his high and controlling sense of duty--in a word,
in his genuine nobility of character.

Men such as these are the true life-blood of the country to which
they belong. They elevate and uphold it, fortify and ennoble it, and
shed a glory over it by the example of life and character which they
have bequeathed. "The names and memories of great men," says an able
writer, "are the dowry of a nation. Widowhood, overthrow, desertion,
even slavery cannot take away from her this sacred inheritance . . .
Whenever national life begins to quicken . . . the dead heroes rise
in the memories of men, and appear to the living to stand by in
solemn spectatorship and approval. No country can be lost which
feels herself overlooked by such glorious witnesses. They are the
salt of the earth, in death as well as in life. What they did once,
their descendants have still and always a right to do after them;
and their example lives in their country, a continual stimulant and
encouragement for him who has the soul to adopt it."

It would be well for every young man, eager for success and anxious
to form a character that will achieve it, to commit to memory the
advice of Bishop Middleton:

Persevere against discouragements. Keep your temper. Employ leisure
in study, and always have some work in hand. Be punctual and
methodical in business, and never procrastinate. Never be in a
hurry. Preserve self-possession, and do not be talked out of a
conviction. Rise early, and be an economist of time. Maintain
dignity without the appearance of pride; manner is something with
everybody, and everything with some. Be guarded in discourse,
attentive, and slow to speak. Never acquiesce in immoral or
pernicious opinions.

Be not forward to assign reasons to those who have no right to ask.
Think nothing in conduct unimportant or indifferent. Rather set than
follow examples. Practice strict temperance; and in all your
transactions remember the final account.



"A careful preparation is half the battle." Everything depends on a
good start and the right road. To retrace one's steps is to lose not
only time but confidence. "Be sure you are right then go ahead" was
the motto of the famous frontiersman, Davy Crockett, and it is one
that every young man can adopt with safety.

Bear in mind there is often a great distinction between character and
reputation. Reputation is what the world believes us for the time;
character is what we truly are. Reputation and character may be in
harmony, but they frequently are as opposite as light and darkness.
Many a scoundrel has had a reputation for nobility, and men of the
noblest characters have had reputations that relegated them to the
ranks of the depraved, in their day and generation.

It is most desirable to have a good reputation. The good opinion of
our associates and acquaintances is not to be despised, but every
man should see to it that the reputation is deserved, otherwise his
life is false, and sooner or later he will stand discovered before
the world.

Sudden success makes reputation, as it is said to make friends; but
very often adversity is the best test of character as it is of

It is the principle for which the soldier fights that makes him a
hero, not necessarily his success. It is the motive that ennobles
all effort. Selfishness may prosper, but it cannot win the enduring
success that is based on the character with a noble purpose behind
it. This purpose is one of the guards in times of trouble and the
reason for rejoicing in the day of triumph.

"Why should I toil and slave," many a young man has asked, "when I
have only myself to live for?" God help the man who has neither
mother, sister nor wife to struggle for and who does not feel that
toil and the building up of character bring their own reward.

The home feeling should be encouraged for it is one of the greatest
incentives to effort. If the young man have not parents or brothers
and sisters to keep, or if he find himself limited in his leisure
hours to the room of a boarding house, then if he can at all afford
it, he should marry a help-meet and found a home of his own. "I was
very poor at the time," said a great New York publisher, "but
regarding it simply from a business standpoint, the best move I ever
made in my life was to get married. Instead of increasing my
expense's as I feared, I took a most valuable partner into the
business, and she not only made a home for me, but she surrendered
to me her well-earned share of the profits."

A wise marriage is most assuredly an influence that helps. Every
young man who loves his mother, if living, or reveres her memory if
dead, must recall with feelings of holy emotion, his own home.
Blest, indeed is he, over whom the influence of a good home

Home is the first and most important school of character. It is there
that every civilized being receives his best moral training, or his
worst; for it is there that he imbibes those principles that endure
through manhood and cease only with life.

It is a common saying that "Manners make the man;" and there is a
second, that "Mind makes the man;" but truer than either is a third,
that "Home makes the man." For the home-training not only includes
manners and mind, but character. It is mainly in the home that the
heart is opened, the habits are formed, the intellect is awakened,
and character moulded for good or for evil.

From that source, be it pure or impure, issue the principles and
maxims that govern society. Law itself is but the reflex of homes.
The tiniest bits of opinion sown in the minds of children in private
life afterward issue forth to the world, and become its public
opinion; for nations are gathered out of nurseries, and they who
hold the leading strings of children may even exercise a greater
power than those who wield the reins of government.

It is in the order of nature that domestic life should be preparatory
to social, and that the mind and character should first be formed in
the home. There the individuals who afterward form society are dealt
with in detail, and fashioned one by one. From the family they enter
life, and advance from boyhood to citizenship. Thus the home may be
regarded as the most influential school of civilization. For, after
all, civilization mainly resolves itself into a question of
individual training; and according as the respective members of
society are well or ill trained in youth, so will the community
which they constitute be more or less humanized and civilized.

Thus homes, which are the nurseries of children who grow up into men
and women, will be good or bad according to the power that governs
them. Where the spirit of love and duty pervades the home--where
head and heart bear rule wisely there--where the daily life is
honest and virtuous--where the government is sensible, kind and
loving, then may we expect from such a home an issue of healthy,
useful, and happy beings, capable, as they gain the requisite
strength of following the footsteps of their parents, of walking
uprightly, governing themselves wisely, and contributing to the
welfare of those about them.

On the other hand, if surrounded by ignorance, coarseness, and
selfishness, they will unconsciously assume the same character, and
grow up to adult years rude, uncultivated, and all the more
dangerous to society if placed amidst the manifold temptations of
what is called civilized life. "Give your child to be educated by a
slave," said an ancient Greek, "and, instead of one slave, you will
then have two."

The child cannot help imitating what he sees. Everything is to him a
model--of manner, of gesture, of speech, of habit, of character.
"For the child," says Richter, "the most important era of life is
childhood, when he begins to color and mould himself by
companionship with others. Every new educator effects less than his
predecessor; until at last, if we regard all life as an educational
institution, a circumnavigator of the world is less influenced by
all the nations he has seen than by his nurse."

No man can select his parents or make for himself the early
environment that affects character so powerfully, but he can found a
home no matter how humble, at the outset, that will make his own
future secure, as well as the future of those for whose existence he
is responsible.

The poorest dwelling, presided over by a virtuous, thrifty, cheerful,
and cleanly woman, may be the abode of comfort, virtue, and
happiness; it may be the scene of every ennobling relation in family
life; it may be endeared to a man by many delightful associations;
furnishing a sanctuary for the heart, a refuge from the storms of
life, a sweet resting-place after labor, a consolation in
misfortune, a pride in prosperity, and a joy at all times.

The good home is the best of schools, not only in youth but in age.
There young and old best learn cheerfulness, patience, self-control
and the spirit of service and of duty. Isaak Walton, speaking of
George Herbert's mother, says she governed the family with judicious
care, not rigidly nor sourly, "but with such a sweetness and
compliance with the recreations and pleasures of youth, as did
incline them to spend much of their time in her company, which was
to her great content."

The home is the true school of courtesy, of which woman is always the
best practical instructor. "Without woman," says the Provencal
proverb, "men were but ill-licked cubs." Philanthropy radiates from
the home as from a centre. "To love the little platoon we belong to
in society," said Burke "is the germ of all public affections." The
wisest and the best have not been ashamed to own it to be their
greatest joy and happiness to sit "behind the heads of the children"
in the inviolable circle of home. A life of purity and duty there is
not the least effectual preparative for a life of public work and
duty; and the man who loves his home will not the less fondly love
and serve his country.

At an address before a girls' school in Boston, ex-President John
Quincy Adams, then an old man, said with much feeling: "As a child I
enjoyed perhaps the greatest of blessings that can be bestowed upon
man--that of a mother who was anxious and capable to form the
characters of her children rightly. From her I derived whatever
instruction (religious especially and moral) has pervaded a long
life--I will not say perfectly, or as it ought to be; but I will
say, because it is only justice to the memory of her I revere, that
in the course of that life, whatever imperfection there has been or
deviation from what she taught me, the fault is mine and not hers."

So much depends on the home, for it is the corner-stone of society
and good government, that it is to be regretted, for the sake of
young women, as well as of young men, that our modern life offers so
many opportunities to neglect it.

As the home affects the character entirely through the associations,
it follows that the young man who has left his home behind him
should continue the associations whose memories comfort him. He
should never go to a place for recreation where he would not be
willing and proud to take his mother on his arm. He should never
have as friends men to whom he would not be willing, if need be, to
introduce his sister.

These are among the influences that help to success. But association
is a matter of such great importance as to deserve fuller treatment.



The old proverb, "Tell me your company and I will tell you what you
are," is as true to-day as when first uttered. In the preparation
for success, association is one of the most powerful factors, so
powerful, indeed, that if the associations are not of the right
kind, failure is inevitable.

As one diseased sheep may contaminate a flock, so one evil associate--
particularly if he be daring, may seriously injure the morals of
many. Every young man can recall the evil influence of one bad boy
on a whole school, but he cannot so readily point to the schoolmate,
whose example and influence were for good; because goodness, though
more potent, never makes itself so conspicuous as vice.

Criminals, preparing for the scaffold, have confessed that their
entrance into a life of crime began in early youth, when the
audacity of some unprincipled associate tempted them from the ways
of innocence. Through all the years of life, even to old age, the
life and character are influenced by association. If this be true in
the case of the more mature and experienced, its force is
intensified where the young, imaginative and susceptible, are

Man is said to be "an imitative animal." This is certainly true as to
early education, and the tendency to imitate remains to a greater or
less extent throughout life. Imitation is responsible for all the
queer changes of fashion; and the desire to be "in the swim," as it
is called, is entirely due to association.

In school days, the influence of a good home may counteract the
effect of evil associates, whom the boy meets occasionally, but when
the boy has grown to manhood, and finds himself battling with the
world, away from home and well-tried friends, it is then that he is
in the greatest danger from pernicious associates.

The young man who comes to the city to seek his fortune is more apt
to be the victim of vile associates than the city raised youth whose
experience of men is larger, and who is fortunate in his
companionship. The farmer's son, who finds himself for the first
time in a great city--alone and comparatively friendless, appears to
himself to have entered a new world, as in truth he has. The crowds
of hurrying, well-dressed people impress him forcibly as compared
with his own clumsy gait, and roughly clad figure. The noise
confuses him. The bustle of commerce amazes him; and for the time he
is as desolate in feeling as if he were in the centre of a desert,
instead of in the throbbing heart of a great city.

No matter how blessed with physical and mental strength the young man
may be, under these circumstances he is very apt, for the time at
least, to underestimate his own strength. He is powerfully impressed
by what he deems the smartness or the superior manners of those whom
he meets in his boarding house, or with whom he is associated in his
business, say in a great mercantile establishment. It requires a
great deal of moral courage for him to bear in a manly way the
ridicule, covert or open, of the companions who regard him as a
"hay-seed" or a "greenhorn." His Sunday clothes, which he wore with
pride when he attended meeting with his mother, he is apt to regard
with a feeling of mortification; and, perhaps, he secretly
determines to dress as well as do his companions when he has saved
enough money.

This is a crucial period in the life of every young man who is
entering on a business career, and particularly so to him coming
from the rural regions. He finds, perhaps, that his associates smoke
or drink, or both; things which he has hitherto regarded with
horror. He finds, too, they are in the habit of resorting to places
of amusement, the splendor and mysteries of which arouse his
curiosity, if not envy, as he hears them discussed.

Before leaving home, and while his mother's arms were still about
him, he promised her to be moral and industrious, to write
regularly, and to do nothing which she would not approve. If he had
the right stuff in him, he would adhere manfully to the resolution
made at the beginning; but, if he be weak or is tempted by false
pride, or a prurient curiosity to "see the town," he is tottering on
the edge of a precipice and his failure, if not sudden, is sure to
come in time.

Cities are represented to be centres of vice, and it cannot be denied
that the temptations in such places are much greater than on a farm
or in a quiet country village, but at the same time, cities are
centres of wealth and cultivation, places where philanthropy is
alive and where organized effort has provided places of instruction
and amusement for all young men, but particularly for that large
class of youths who come from the country to seek their fortunes.
Churches abound, and in connection with them there are societies of
young people, organized for good work, which are ever ready, with
open arms, to welcome the young stranger. Then, in all our cities
and towns, there are to be found, branches of that most admirable
institution, the Young Men's Christian Association. Not only are
there companions to be met in these associations of the very best
kind, but the buildings are usually fitted up with appliances for
the improvement of mind and body. Here are gymnasiums, where
strength and grace can be cultivated under the direction of
competent teachers. Here are to be found well organized libraries.
Here, particularly in the winter season, there are classes where all
the branches of a high school are taught; and there are frequent
lectures on all subjects of interest by the foremost teachers of the

If the young man falls under these influences, and he will experience
not the slightest difficulty in doing so; indeed, he will find
friendly hands extended to welcome and to help, the result on his
character must be most beneficial. The clumsiness of rural life will
soon depart; he will regard his home-made suit with as much pleasure
as if it were made by a fashionable tailor, and he will soon learn
to distinguish between the vicious and the virtuous, while he
imitates the one and regards the other with indifference or

Next to the association of companions met in every day life nothing
so powerfully influences the character of the young as association
with good books, particularly those that relate to the lives of men
who have struggled up to honor from small beginnings.

With such associations, and a capacity for honest persistent work,
success is assured at the very threshold of effort.



Carlyle has said that the first requisite to success is carefully to
find your life work and then bravely to carry it out. No soldier
ever won a succession of triumphs, and no business man, no matter
how successful in the end, who did not find his beginning slow,
arduous and discouraging. Courage is a prime essential to
prosperity. The young man's progress may be slow in comparison with
his ambition, but if he keeps a brave heart and sticks persistently
to it, he will surely succeed in the end.

The forceful, energetic character, like the forceful soldier on the
battle-field, not only moves forward to victory himself, but his
example has a stimulating influence on others.

Energy of character has always a power to evoke energy in others. It
acts through sympathy, one of the most influential of human
agencies. The zealous, energetic man unconsciously carries others
along with him. His example is contagious and compels imitation. He
exercises a sort of electric power, which sends a thrill through
every fibre, flows into the nature of those about him, and makes
them give out sparks of fire.

Dr. Arnold's biographer, speaking of the power of this kind exercised
by him over young men, says: "It was not so much an enthusiastic
admiration for true genius, or learning, or eloquence, which stirred
the heart within them; it was a sympathetic thrill, caught from a
spirit that was earnestly at work in the world--whose work was
healthy, sustained and constantly carried forward in the fear of
God--a work that was founded on a deep sense of its duty and its

The beginner should carefully study the lives of men whose undaunted
courage has won in the face of obstacles that would cow weaker

It is in the season of youth, while the character is forming, that
the impulse to admire is the greatest. As we advance in life we
crystallize into habit and "_Nil admirari_" too often becomes our
motto. It is well to encourage the admiration of great characters
while the nature is plastic and open to impressions; for if the good
are not admired--as young men will have their heroes of some sort--
most probably the great bad may be taken by them for models. Hence it
always rejoiced Dr. Arnold to hear his pupils expressing admiration
of great deeds, or full of enthusiasm for persons or even scenery.

"I believe," said he, "that '_Nil admirari_' is the devil's favorite
text; and he could not choose a better to introduce his pupils into
the more esoteric parts of his doctrine. And therefore I have always
looked upon a man infected with the disorder of anti-romance as one
who has lost the finest part of his nature and his best protection
against everything low and foolish."

Great men have evoked the admiration of kings, popes and emperors.
Francis de Medicis never spoke to Michael Angelo without uncovering,
and Julius III made him sit by his side while a dozen cardinals were
standing. Charles V made way for Titian; and one day when the brush
dropped from the painter's hand, Charles stooped and picked it up,
saying, "You deserve to be served by an emperor."

Bear in mind that nothing so discourages or unfits a man for an
effort as idleness. "Idleness," says Burton, in that delightful old
book "The Anatomy of Melancholy," "is the bane of body and mind, the
nurse of naughtiness, the chief mother of all mischief, one of the
seven deadly sins, the devil's cushion, his pillow and chief
reposal . . . An idle dog will be mangy; and how shall an idle person
escape? Idleness of the mind is much worse than that of the body;
wit, without employment, is a disease--the rust of the soul, a
plague, a hell itself. As in a standing pool, worms and filthy
creepers increase, so do evil and corrupt thoughts in an idle
person; the soul is contaminated . . . Thus much I dare boldly say:
he or she that is idle, be they of what condition they will, never
so rich, so well allied, fortunate, happy--let them have all things
in abundance, all felicity that heart can wish and desire, all
contentment--so long as he, or she, or they, are idle, they shall
never be pleased, never well in body or mind, but weary still,
sickly still, vexed still, loathing still, weeping, sighing,
grieving, suspecting, offended with the world, with every object,
wishing themselves gone or dead, or else carried away with some
foolish fantasy or other.".

Barton says a great deal more to the same effect.

It has been truly said that to desire to possess without being
burdened by the trouble of acquiring is as much a sign of weakness
as to recognize that everything worth having is only to be got by
paying its price is the prime secret of practical strength. Even
leisure cannot be enjoyed unless it is won by effort. If it have not
been earned by work, the price has not been paid for it.

But apart from the supreme satisfaction of winning, the effort
required to accomplish anything is ennobling, and, if there were no
other success it would be its own reward.

"I don't believe," said Lord Stanley, in an address to the young men
of Glasgow, "that an unemployed man, however amiable and otherwise
respectable, ever was, or ever can be, really happy. As work is our
life, show me what you can do, and I will show you what you are. I
have spoken of love of one's work as the best preventive of merely
low and vicious tastes. I will go farther and say that it is the
best preservative against petty anxieties and the annoyances that
arise out of indulged self-love. Men have thought before now that
they could take refuge from trouble and vexation by sheltering
themselves, as it wore, in a world of their own. The experiment has
often been tried and always with one result. You cannot escape from
anxiety or labor--it is the destiny of humanity . . . Those who
shirk from facing trouble find that trouble comes to them.

"The early teachers of Christianity ennobled the lot of toil by their
example. 'He that will not work,' said St. Paul, 'neither shall he
eat;' and he glorified himself in that he had labored with his hands
and had not been chargeable to any man. When St. Boniface landed in
Britain, he came with a gospel in one hand, and a carpenter's rule
in the other; and from England he afterward passed over into
Germany, carrying thither the art of building. Luther also, in the
midst of a multitude of other employments, worked diligently for a
living, earning his bread by gardening, building, turning, and even

Coleridge has truly observed, that "if the idle are described as
killing time, the methodical man may be justly said to call it into
life and moral being, while he makes it the distinct object, not
only of the consciousness, but of the conscience. He organizes the
hours and gives them a soul; and by that, the very essence of which
is to fleet and to have been, he communicates an imperishable and
spiritual nature. Of the good and faithful servant, whose energies
thus directed are thus methodized, it is less truly affirmed that he
lives in time than that time lives in him. His days and months and
years, as the stops and punctual marks in the record of duties
performed, will survive the wreck of worlds, and remain extant when
time itself shall be no more."

Washington, also, was an indefatigable man of business. From his
boyhood he diligently trained himself in habits of application, of
study and of methodical work. His manuscript school-books, which are
still preserved, show that, as early as the age of thirteen, he
occupied himself voluntarily, in copying out such things as forms of
receipts, notes of hand, bills of exchange, bonds, indentures,
leases, land warrants and other dry documents, all written out with
great care. And the habits which lie thus early acquired were, in a
great measure the foundation of those admirable business qualities
which he afterward so successfully brought to bear in the affairs of
the government.

The man or woman who achieves success in the management of any great
affair of business is entitled to honor--it may be, to as much as
the artist who paints a picture, or the author who writes a book, or
the soldier who wins a battle. Their success may have been gained in
the face of as great difficulties, and after as great struggles; and
where they have won their battle it is at least a peaceful one and
there is no blood on their hands.

Courage, combined with energy and perseverance, will overcome
difficulties apparently insurmountable. It gives force and impulse
to effort and does not permit it to retreat. Tyndall said of
Faraday, that "in his warm moments he formed a resolution and in his
cool ones he made that resolution good." Perseverance, working in
the right direction, grows with time and when steadily practiced,
even by the most humble, will rarely fail of its reward. Trusting in
the help of others is of comparatively little use. When one of
Michael Angelo's principal patrons died, he said: "I begin to
understand the promises of the world are for the most part vain
phantoms and that to confide in one's self and become something of
worth and value is the best and safest course."

It ought to be a first principle, in beginning life to do with
earnestness what we have got to do. If it is worth doing at all, it
is worth doing earnestly. If it is to be done well at all it must be
done with purpose and devotion.

Whatever may be our profession, let us mark all its bearings and
details, its principles, its instruments, its applications. There is
nothing about it should escape our study. There is nothing in it
either too high or too low for our observation and knowledge. While
we remain ignorant of any part of it, we are so far crippled in its
use; we are liable to be taken at a disadvantage. This may be the
very point the knowledge of which is most needed in some crisis, and
those versed in it will take the lead, while we must be content to
follow at a distance.

Our business, in short, must be the main drain of our intellectual
activities day by day. It is the channel we have chosen for them
they must follow in it with a diffusive energy, filling every nook
and corner. This is a fair test of professional earnestness. When we
find our thoughts running after our business, and fixing themselves
with a familiar fondness upon its details, we may be pretty sure of
our way. When we find them running elsewhere and only resorting with
difficulty to the channel prepared for them, we may be equally sure
we have taken a wrong turn. We cannot be earnest about anything
which does not naturally and strongly engage our thoughts.



As has been stated, habit is the basis of character. Habit is the
persistent repetition of acts physical, mental, and moral. No matter
how much thought and ability a young man may have, failure is sure
to follow bad habits. While correct habits depend largely on self-
discipline, and often on self-denial, bad habits, like pernicious
weeds, spring up unaided and untrained to choke out the plants of
virtue. It is easy to destroy the seed at the beginning, but its
growth is so rapid, that its evil effects may not be perceptible
till the roots have sapped every desirable plant about it.

No sane youth ever started out with the resolve to be a thief, a
tramp, or a drunkard. Yet it is the slightest deviation from honesty
that makes the first. It is the first neglect of a duty that makes
the second. And it is the first intoxicating glass that makes the
third. It is so easy not to begin, but the habit once formed and the
man is a slave, bound with galling, cankering chains, and the
strength of will having been destroyed, only God's mercy can cast
them off.

Next to the moral habits that are the cornerstone of every worthy
character, the habit of industry should be ranked. In "this day and
generation," there is a wild desire on the part of young men to leap
into fortune at a bound, to reach the top of the ladder of success
without carefully climbing the rounds, but no permanent prosperity
was ever gained in this way.

There have been men, who through chance, or that form of speculation,
that is legalized gambling, have made sudden fortunes; but as a rule
these fortunes have been lost in the effort to double them by the
quick and speculative process.

Betters and gamblers usually die poor. But even where young men have
made a lucky stroke, the result is too often a misfortune. They
neglect the necessary, persistent effort. The habit of industry is
ignored. Work becomes distasteful, and the life is wrecked, looking
for chances that never come.

There have been exceptional cases, where men of immoral habits, but
with mental force and unusual opportunities have won fortunes. Some
of these will come to the reader's mind at once, but he will be
forced to confess that he would not give up his manhood and
comparative poverty, in exchange for such material success.

The best equipment a young man can have for the battle of life is a
conscience void of offense, sound common sense, and good health. Too
much importance cannot be attached to health. It is a blessing we do
not prize till it is gone. Some are naturally delicate and some are
naturally strong, but by habit the health of the vigorous may be
ruined, and by opposite habits the delicate may be made healthful
and strong.

No matter the prospects and promises of overwork, it is a species of
suicide to continue it at the expense of health. Good men in every
department and calling, stimulated by zeal and an ambition
commendable in itself, have worked till the vital forces were
exhausted, and so were compelled to stop all effort in the prime of
life and on the threshold of success.

The best preservers of health are regularity in correct hygienic
habits, and strict temperance. Alexander Stephens, of Georgia, it is
said contracted consumption when a child, and his friends did not
believe he would live to manhood, yet by correct habits, he not only
lived the allotted time of the Psalmist, but he did an amount of
work that would have been impossible to a much stronger man, without
his method of life.

It should not be forgotten that good health is quite as much
dependent on mental as on physical habits. Worry, sensitiveness, and
temper have hastened to the grave many an otherwise splendid

The man of business must needs be subject to strict rule and system.
Business, like life, is managed by moral leverage; success in both
depending in no small degree upon that regulation of temper and
careful self-discipline, which give a wise man not only a command
over himself, but over others. Forbearance and self-control smooth
the road of life, and open many ways which would otherwise remain
closed. And so does self-respect; for as men respect themselves, so
will they usually, respect the personality of others.

It is the same in politics as in business. Success in that sphere of
life is achieved less by talent than by temper, less by genius than
by character. If a man have not self-control, he will lack patience,
be wanting in tact, and have neither the power of governing himself
nor managing others. When the quality most needed in a prime
minister was the subject of conversation in the presence of Mr.
Pitt, one of the speakers said it was "eloquence;" another said it
was "knowledge;" and a third said it was "toil." "No," said Pitt,
"it is patience!" And patience means self-control, a quality in
which he himself was superb. His friend George Rose has said of him
that he never once saw Pitt out of temper.

A strong temper is not necessarily a bad temper. But the stronger the
temper, the greater is the need of self-discipline and self-control.
Dr. Johnson says men grow better as they grow older, and improve
with experience; but this depends upon the width and depth and
generousness of their nature. It is not men's faults that ruin them
so much as the manner in which they conduct themselves after the
faults have been committed. The wise will profit by the suffering
they cause, and eschew them for the future; but there are those on
whom experience exerts no ripening influence, and who only grow
narrower and bitterer, and more vicious with time.

What is called strong temper in a young man, often indicates a large
amount of unripe energy, which will expend itself in useful work if
the road be fairly opened to it. It is said of Girard that when he
heard of a clerk with a strong temper, he would readily take him
into his employment, and set him to work in a room by himself;
Girard being of opinion that such persons were the best workers, and
that their energy would expend itself in work if removed from the
temptation of quarrel.

There is a great difference between a strong temper, "a righteous
indignation," and that irritability that curses its possessor and
all who come near him.

Mr. Motley compares William the Silent to Washington, whom he in many
respects resembled. The American, like the Dutch patriot, stands out
in history as the very impersonation of dignity, bravery, purity,
and personal excellence. His command over his feelings, even in
moments of great difficulty and danger, was such as to convey the
impression, to those who did not know him intimately, that he was a
man of inborn calmness and almost impassiveness of disposition. Yet
Washington was by nature ardent and impetuous; his mildness,
gentleness politeness, and consideration for others, were the result
of rigid self-control and unwearied self-discipline, which he
diligently practiced even from his boyhood. His biographer says of
him, that "his temperament was ardent, his passions strong, and,
amidst the multiplied scenes of temptation and excitement through
which he passed, it was his constant effort, and ultimate triumph,
to check the one and subdue the other." And again: "His passions
were strong, and sometimes they broke out with vehemence, but he had
the power of checking them in an instant. Perhaps self-control was
the most remarkable trait of his character. It was in part the
effect of discipline; yet he seems by nature to have possessed this
power in a degree which has been denied to other men."

The Duke of Wellington's natural temper, like that of Napoleon, was
strong in the extreme and it was only by watchful self-control that
he was enabled to restrain it. He studied calmness and coolness in
the midst of danger, like any Indian chief. At Waterloo, and
elsewhere, he gave his orders in the most critical moments without
the slightest excitement, and in a tone of voice almost more than
usually subdued.

Abraham Lincoln in his early manhood was quick tempered and
combative, but he soon learned self-control and, as all know, became
as patient as he was forceful and sympathetic. "I got into the habit
of controlling my temper in the Black Hawk war," he said to Colonel
Forney, "and the good habit stuck to me as bad habits do to so

Patience is a habit that pays for its own cultivation and the
biographies of earth's greatest men, prove that it was one of their
most conspicuous characteristics.

One who loves right can not be indifferent to wrong, or wrong-doing.
If he feels warmly, he will speak warmly, out of the fullness of his
heart. We have, however, to be on our guard against impatient scorn.
The best people are apt to have their impatient side, and often the
very temper which makes men earnest, makes them also intolerant. "Of
all mental gifts, the rarest is intellectual patience; and the last
lesson of culture is to believe in difficulties which are invisible
to ourselves."

One of Burns' finest poems, written in his twenty-eighth year, is
entitled "A Bard's Epitaph." It is a description, by anticipation,
of his own life. Wordsworth has said of it:

"Here is a sincere and solemn avowal; a public declaration from his
own will; a confession at once devout, poetical, and human; a
history in the shape of a prophecy." It concludes with these lines:

"Reader, attend--whether thy soul
 Soars fancy's flights beyond the pole,
 Or darkling grubs this earthly hole
   In low pursuit;
 Know--prudent, cautious self-control,
   Is Wisdom's root."

Truthfulness is quite as much a habit and quite as amendable to
cultivation as falsehood. Deceit may meet with temporary success,
but he who avails himself of it can be sure that in the end his "sin
will find him out." The credit of the truthful, reliable man stands
when the cash of a trickster might be doubted. "His word is as good
as his bond," is one of the highest compliments that can be paid to
the business man.

Be truthful not only in great things, but in all things. The
slightest deviation from this habit may be the beginning of a career
of duplicity, ending in disgrace.

But truthfulness, like the other virtues, should not be regarded as a
trade mark, a means to success. It brings its own reward in the
nobility it gives the character. An exception might be made here as
to that form of military deceit known as "stratagem," but it is the
duty of the enemy to expect it, and so guard against it. The word of
a soldier involves his honor, and if he pledges that word, to even a
foeman, he will keep it with his life.

Like our own Washington, Wellington was a severe admirer of truth. An
illustration may be given. When afflicted by deafness, he consulted
a celebrated aurist, who, after trying all remedies in vain,
determined, as a last resource, to inject into the ear a strong
solution of caustic. It caused the most intense pain, but the
patient bore it with his usual equanimity. The family physician
accidentally calling one day, found the duke with flushed cheeks and
blood-shot eyes, and when he rose he staggered about like a drunken
man. The doctor asked to be permitted to look at his ear, and then
he found that a furious inflammation was going on, which, if not
immediately checked, must shortly reach the brain and kill him.
Vigorous remedies were at once applied, and the inflammation was
checked. But the hearing of that ear was completely destroyed. When
the aurist heard of the danger his patient had run, through the
violence of the remedy he had employed, he hastened to Apsley House
to express his grief and mortification; but the duke merely said:
"Do not say a word more about it--you did all for the best." The
aurist said it would be his ruin when it became known that he had
been the cause of so much suffering and danger to his grace. "But
nobody need know any thing about it: keep your own counsel, and,
depend upon it, I won't say a word to any one." "Then your grace
will allow me to attend you as usual, which will show the public
that you have not withdrawn your confidence from me?" "No," replied
the duke, kindly but firmly; "I can't do that, for that would be a
lie." He would not act a falsehood any more than he would speak one.

But lying assumes many forms--such as diplomacy, expediency, and
moral reservation; and, under one guise or another, it is found more
or less pervading all classes of society. Sometimes it assumes the
form of equivocation or moral dodging--twisting and so stating the
things said as to convey a false impression--a kind of lying which a
Frenchman once described as "walking round about the truth."

There are even men of narrow minds and dishonest natures, who pride
themselves upon their Jesuitical cleverness in equivocation, in
their serpent-wise shirking of the truth and getting out of moral
backdoors, in order to hide their real opinions and evade the
consequences of holding and openly professing them. Institutions or
systems based upon any such expedients must necessarily prove false
and hollow. "Though a lie be ever so well dressed," says George
Herbert, "it is ever overcome." Downright lying, though bolder and
more vicious, is even less contemptible than such kind of shuffling
and equivocation.



Mention has been made of the great influence on character of the
right kind of a home, in childhood and youth. The right kind of a
home depends almost entirely on the right kind of a wife or mother.

The old saying, "Marry in haste and repent at leisure," will never
lose its force. "Worse than the man whose selfishness keeps him a
bachelor till death, is the young man, who, under an impulse he
imagines to be an undying love, marries a girl as poor, weak, and
selfish as himself. There have been cases where marriage under such
circumstances has aroused the man to effort and made him,
particularly if his wife were of the same character, but these are
so exceptional as to form no guide for people of average common

Again, there have been men, good men, whose lives measured by the
ordinary standards were successful, who never married; but those who
hear or read of them, have the feeling that such careers were

The most important voluntary act of every man and woman's life, is
marriage, and God has so ordained it. Hence it is an act which
should be love-prompted on both sides, and only entered into after
the most careful and prayerful deliberation.

It is natural for young people of the opposite sex, who are much
thrown together, and so become in a way essential to each other's
happiness, to end by falling in love. It is said that "love is
blind," and the ancients so painted their mythological god, Cupid.
It is very certain that the fascination is not dependent on the
will; it is a divine, natural impulse, which has for its purpose the
continuance of the race.

Here, then, in all its force, we see the influence of association,
which has been already treated of. The young man whose associations
are of the right kind is sure to be brought into contact with the
good daughters of good mothers. With such association, love and
marriage should add to life's success and happiness, provided,
always, that the husband's circumstances warrant him in establishing
and maintaining a home.

Granting, then, the right kind of a wife, and the ability to make a
home, the young man, with the right kind of stuff in him, takes a
great stride in the direction of success when he marries.

No wise person will marry for beauty mainly. It may exercise a
powerful attraction in the first place, but it is found to be of
comparatively little consequence afterward. Not that beauty of
person is to be underestimated, for, other things being equal,
handsomeness of form and beauty of features are the outward
manifestations of health. But to marry a handsome figure without
character, fine features unbeautified by sentiment or good nature,
is the most deplorable of mistakes. As even the finest landscape,
seen daily, becomes monotonous, so does the most beautiful face,
unless a beautiful nature shines through it. The beauty of to-day
becomes commonplace to-morrow; whereas goodness, displayed through
the most ordinary features, is perennially lovely. Moreover, this
kind of beauty improves with age, and time ripens rather than
destroys it. After the first year, married people rarely think of
each other's features, whether they be classically beautiful or
otherwise. But they never fail to be cognizant of each other's
temper. "When I see a man," says Addison, "with a sour, riveted
face, I can not forbear pitying his wife; and when I meet with an
open, ingenuous countenance, I think of the happiness of his
friends, his family, and his relations."

Edmund Burke, the greatest of English statesmen, was especially happy
in his marriage. He never ceased to be a lover, and long years after
the wedding he thus describes his wife: "She is handsome; but it is
a beauty not arising from features, from complexion, or from shape.
She has all three in a high degree, but it is not by these she
touches the heart; it is all that sweetness of temper, benevolence,
innocence, and sensibility, which a face can express, that forms her
beauty. She has a face that just raises your attention at first
sight; it grows on you every moment, and you wonder it did no more
than raise your attention at first.

"Her eyes have a mild light, but they awe when she pleases; they
command, like a good man out of office, not by authority, but by

"Her stature is not tall; she is not made to be the admiration of
everybody, but the happiness of one.

"She has all the firmness that does not exclude delicacy; she has all
the softness that does not imply weakness.

"Her voice is a soft, low music--not formed to rule in public
assemblies, but to charm those who can distinguish a company from a
crowd; it has this advantage--you must come close to her to hear it.

"To describe her body describes her mind--one is the transcript of
the other; her understanding is not shown in the variety of matters
it exerts itself on, but in the goodness of the choice she makes.

"She does not display it so much in saying or doing striking things,
as in avoiding such as she ought not to say or do.

"No person of so few years can know the world better; no person was
ever less corrupted by the knowledge of it."

A man's real character will always be more visible in his household
than anywhere else; and his practical wisdom will be better
exhibited by the manner in which he bears rule there than even in
the larger affairs of business or public life. His whole mind may be
in his business; but, if he would be happy, his whole heart must be
in his home. It is there that his genuine qualities most surely
display themselves--there that he shows his truthfulness, his love,
his sympathy, his consideration for others, his uprightness, his
manliness--in a word, his character. If affection be not the
governing principle in a household, domestic life may be the most
intolerable of despotisms. Without justice, also, there can be
neither love, confidence, nor respect, on which all true domestic
rule is founded.

It is by the regimen of domestic affection that the heart of man is
best composed and regulated. The home is the woman's kingdom, her
state, her world--where she governs by affection, by kindness, by
the power of gentleness. There is nothing which so settles the
turbulence of a man's nature as his union in life with a high-minded
woman. There he finds rest, contentment, and happiness--rest of
brain and peace of spirit. He will also often find in her his best
counselor, for her instinctive tact will usually lead him right when
his own unaided reason might be apt to go wrong. The true wife is a
staff to lean upon in times of trial and difficulty; and she is
never wanting in sympathy and solace when distress occurs or fortune
frowns. In the time of youth, she is a comfort and an ornament of
man's life; and she remains a faithful helpmate in maturer years,
when life has ceased to be an anticipation, and we live in its

Luther, a man full of human affection, speaking of his wife, said, "I
would not exchange my poverty with her for all the riches of Croesus
without her." Of marriage he observed: "The utmost blessing that God
can confer on a man is the possession of a good and pious wife, with
whom he may live in peace and tranquility--to whom he may confide
his whole possessions, even his life and welfare." And again he
said, "To rise betimes, and to marry young, are what no man ever
repents of doing."

Some persons are disappointed in marriage, because they expect too
much from it; but many more because they do not bring into the co-
partnership their fair share of cheerfulness, kindliness,
forbearance, and common sense. Their imagination has perhaps
pictured a condition never experienced on this side of heaven; and
when real life comes, with its troubles and cares, there is a sudden
waking-up as from a dream.

We have spoken of the influence of a wife upon a man's character.
There are few men strong enough to resist the influence of a lower
character in a wife. If she do not sustain and elevate what is
highest in his nature, she will speedily reduce him to her own
level. Thus a wife may be the making or the unmaking of the best of
men. An illustration of this power is furnished in the life of
Bunyan, the profligate tinker, who had the good fortune to marry, in
early life, a worthy young woman, of good parentage.

On hearing of the death of his wife, the great explorer, Dr.
Livingstone, wrote to a friend: "I must confess that this heavy
stroke quite takes the heart out of me. Every thing else that has
happened only made me more determined to overcome all difficulties;
but after this sad stroke I feel crushed and void of strength. Only
three short months of her society, after four years' separation! I
married her for love, and the longer I lived with her I loved her
the more. A good wife, and a good, brave, kind-hearted mother was
she, deserving all the praises you bestowed upon her at our parting
dinner, for teaching her own and the native children, too, at
Kolobeng. I try to bow to the blow as from our Heavenly Father, who
orders all things for us . . . I shall do my duty still, but it is
with a darkened horizon that I again set about it."

Besides being a helper, woman is emphatically a consoler. Her
sympathy is unfailing. She soothes, cheers, and comforts. Never was
this more true than in the case of the wife of Tom Hood, whose
tender devotion to him, during a life that was a prolonged illness,
is one of the most affecting things in biography. A woman of
excellent good sense, she appreciated her husband's genius, and, by
encouragement and sympathy, cheered and heartened him to renewed
effort in many a weary struggle for life. She created about him an
atmosphere of hope and cheerfulness, and nowhere did the sunshine of
her love seem so bright as when lighting up the couch of her invalid

Scott wrote beautifully and truthfully:

 "Oh, woman, in our hours of ease,
  Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
  And variable as the shade
  By the light, quivering aspen made,
  When pain and anguish wring the brow,
  A ministering angel thou."



Although not the same kind, there is as much difference between
education and learning, as there is between character and

Learning may be regarded as mental capital, in the way of accumulated
facts. Education is the drawing out and development of the best that
is in the heart, the head, and the hand.

The civilized world has a score of very learned men, to the one who
may be said to be thoroughly educated. The learned man may be
familiar with many languages, and sciences, and have all the facts
of history and literature at his fingers' tip, and yet be as
helpless as an infant and as impractical as a fool. An educated man,
a man with his powers developed by training, may know no language
but his mother tongue, may be ignorant as to literature and art, and
yet be well--yes, even superbly educated.

The learned man's mind may be likened to a store house, or magazine,
in which there are a thousand wonderful things, some of which he can
make of use in the battle of life. He resembles the miser who fills
his coffers with gold and keeps it out of circulation. Beyond the
selfish joy of possession, his wealth is worthless, and its
acquisition has unfitted him for the struggle. The educated man, to
continue the illustration, may not be rich, but he knows how to use
every cent he owns, and he places it where, under his energy, it
will grow into dollars.

Far be it from us to underestimate the value of learning. Many of the
world's greatest men have been learned, but without exception such
men have also been educated. They have been trained to make their
knowledge available for the benefit of themselves and their fellow

The athlete who develops his muscles to their greatest capacity of
strength and flexibility, and this can only be done by observing
strictly the laws of health, is physically an educated man. Every
mechanic whose hands and brain have been trained to the expertness
required by the master workman, is well-educated in his particular
calling. The man who is an expert accountant, or a trained civil
engineer, may know nothing of the higher mathematical principles,
but he is better educated than the scholar who has only a
theoretical knowledge of all the mathematics that have ever been

The educated man is the man who can do something, and the quality of
his work marks the degree of his education. One might be learned in
law in a phenomenal way, and yet, unless he was educated, trained to
the practice, he would be beaten in the preparation of a case by a
lawyer's clerk.

There are men who can write and talk learnedly on political economy
and the laws of trade, and quote from memory all the statistics of
the census library, and yet be immeasurably surpassed in practical
business, by a young man whose college was the store, and whose
university was the counting room.

It should not be inferred from this that learning is not of the
greatest value, or that the facts obtained from the proper books are
to be ignored. The best investment a young man can make is in good
books, the study of which broadens the mind, and the facts of which
equip him the better for his life calling.

But books are not valuable only because of the available information
they give; when they do not instruct, they elevate and refine.

"Books," said Hazlitt, "wind into the heart; the poet's verse slides
into the current of our blood. We read them when young, we remember
them when old. We read there of what has happened to others; we feel
that it has happened to ourselves. They are to be had everywhere
cheap and good. We breathe but the air of books. We owe everything
to their authors, on this side barbarism."

A good book is often the best urn of a life, enshrining the best
thoughts of which that life was capable; for the world of a man's
life is, for the most part, but the world of his thoughts. Thus the
best books are treasuries of good words and golden thoughts, which,
remembered and cherished, become our abiding companions and
comforters. "They are never alone," said Sir Philip Sidney, "that
are accompanied by noble thoughts." The good and true thought may in
time of temptation be as an angel of mercy, purifying and guarding
the soul. It also enshrines the germs of action, for good words
almost invariably inspire to good works.

Thus Sir Henry Lawrence prized above all other compositions
Wordsworth's "Character of the Happy Warrior," which he endeavored
to embody in his own life. It was ever before him as an exemplar. He
thought of it continually, and often quoted it to others. His
biographer says, "He tried to conform his own life and to assimilate
his own character to it; and he succeeded, as all men succeed who
are truly in earnest."

Books possess an essence of immortality. They are by far the most
lasting products of human effort. Temples crumble into ruin;
pictures and statues decay; but books survive. Time is of no account
with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first
passed through their authors' minds, ages ago. What was then said
and thought still speaks to us as vividly as ever from the printed
page. The only effect of time has been to sift and winnow out the
bad products; for nothing in literature can long survive but what is
really good.

To the young man, "thirsting for learning and hungering for
education," there are no books more helpful than the biographies of
those whom it is well to imitate. Longfellow wisely says:

"Lives of great men all remind us,
   We can make our lives sublime,
 And departing leave behind us,
   Footprints on the sands of time--

 Footprints which perhaps another,
   Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
 A forlorn and ship-wrecked brother,
   Seeing, may take heart again."

At the head of all biographies stands the Great Biography--the Book
of Books. And what is the Bible, the most sacred and impressive of
all books--the educator of youth, the guide of manhood, and the
consoler of age--but a series of biographies of great heroes and
patriarchs, prophets, kings and judges, culminating in the greatest
biography of all--the Life embodied in the New Testament? How much
have the great examples there set forth done for mankind! How many
have drawn from them their best strength, their highest wisdom,
their best nurture and admonition! Truly does a great and deeply
pious writer describe the Bible as a book whose words "live in the
ear like a music that never can be forgotten--like the sound of
church-bells which the convert hardly knows how he can forego. Its
felicities often seem to be almost things rather than mere words. It
is part of the national mind, and the anchor of national
seriousness. The memory of the dead passes into it. The potent
traditions of childhood are stereotyped in its verses. The power of
all the griefs and trials of man is hidden beneath its words. It is
the representative of his best moments; and all that has been about
him of soft, and gentle, and pure, and penitent, and good, speaks to
him forever out of his English Bible. It is his sacred thing, which
doubt has never dimmed and controversy never soiled. In the length
and breadth of the land there is not an individual with one spark of
religiousness about him whose spiritual biography is not in his
Saxon Bible."

History itself is best studied in biography. Indeed, history is
biography--collective humanity as influenced and governed by
individual men. "What is all history," says Emerson, "but the work
of ideas, a record of the incomparable energy which his infinite
aspirations infuse into man? In its pages it is always persons we
see more than principles. Historical events are interesting to us
mainly in connection with the feelings, the sufferings, and
interests of those by whom they are accomplished. In history we are
surrounded by men long dead, but whose speech and whose deeds
survive. We almost catch the sound of their voices; and what they
did constitutes the interest of history. We never feel personally
interested in masses of men; but we feel and sympathize with the
individual actors, whose biographies afford the finest and most real
touches in all great historical dramas."

As in portraiture, so in biography--there must be light and shade.
The portrait-painter does not pose his sitter so as to bring out his
deformities; nor does the biographer give undue prominence to the
defects of the character he portrays. Not many men are so outspoken
as Cromwell was when he sat to Cooper for his miniature: "Paint me
as I am," said he, "wart and all." Yet, if we would have a faithful
likeness of faces and characters, they must be painted as they are.
"Biography," said Sir Walter Scott, "the most interesting of every
species of composition, loses all its interest with me when the
shades and lights of the principal characters are not accurately and
faithfully detailed. I can no more sympathize with a mere eulogist
than I can with a ranting hero on the stage."

It is to be regretted that in this day the country is flooded with
cheap, trashy fiction, the general tendency of which is not only not
educational, but is positively destructive. The desire to read this
stuff is as demoralizing as the opium habit.

There are works of fiction, cheap and available, too, whose influence
is elevating, and some knowledge of which is essential to the young
man who is using his spare hours for the purpose of self-education.

There is no room for doubt that the surpassing interest which
fiction, whether in poetry or prose, possesses for most minds arises
mainly from the biographic element which it contains. Homer's "Iliad
"owes its marvelous popularity to the genius which its author
displayed in the portrayal of heroic character. Yet he does not so
much describe his personages in detail as make them develop
themselves by their actions. "There are in Homer," said Dr. Johnson,
"such characters of heroes and combination of qualities of heroes,
that the united powers of mankind ever since have not produced any
but what are to be found there."

The genius of Shakespeare, also, was displayed in the powerful
delineation of character, and the dramatic evolution of human
passions. His personages seem to be real--living and breathing
before us. So, too, with Cervantes, whose Sancho Panza, though
homely and vulgar, is intensely human. The characters in Le Sage's
"Gil Bias," in Goldsmith's "Vicar of Wakefield," and in Scott's
marvelous muster-roll, seem to us almost as real as persons whom we
have actually known; and De Foe's greatest works are but so many
biographies, painted in minute detail, with reality so apparently
stamped upon every page that it is difficult to believe his Robinson
Crusoe and Colonel Jack to have been fictitious persons instead of
real ones.

Then we have a fine American literature, which should be read after
the history of the country is mastered, the stories of Cooper are
fresh and invigorating, and those of Hawthorne are life studies and
prose poems. Holmes, Lowell, Emerson, Bayard Taylor, and scores of
other American writers, whose pens have added lustre to the country,
will well repay the reader.

Good books are among the best of companions; and, by elevating the
thoughts and aspirations, they act as preservatives against low
associations. "A natural turn for reading and intellectual
pursuits," says Thomas Hood, "probably preserved me from the moral
ship-wreck so apt to befall those who are deprived in early life of
their parental pilotage. My books kept me from the ring, the dogpit,
the tavern, the saloon. The closet associate of Pope and
Addison, the mind accustomed to the noble though silent discourse of
Shakespeare and Milton, will hardly seek or put up with low company
and slaves."

It has been truly said that the best books are those which most
resemble good actions. They are purifying, elevating, and
sustaining; they enlarge and liberalize the mind; they preserve it
against vulgar worldliness; they tend to produce high-minded
cheerfulness and equanimity of character; they fashion, and shape,
and humanize the mind. In the Northern universities, the schools in
which the ancient classics are studied are appropriately styled "The
Humanity Classes."

Erasmus, the great scholar, was even of opinion that books were the
necessaries of life, and clothes the luxuries; and he frequently
postponed buying the latter until he had supplied himself with the
former. His greatest favorites were the writings of Cicero, which he
says he always felt himself the better for reading. "I can never,"
he says, "read the works of Cicero on 'Old Age,' or 'Friendship,' or
his 'Tusculan Disputations,' without fervently pressing them to my
lips, without being penetrated with veneration for a mind little
short of inspired by God himself."

It is unnecessary to speak of the enormous moral influence which
books have exercised upon the general civilization of mankind, from
the Bible downward. They contain the treasured knowledge of the
human race. They are the record of all labors, achievements,
speculations, successes, and failures, in science, philosophy,
religion, and morals. They have been the greatest motive-powers in
all times. "From the Gospel to the Contrat Social," says De Bonald,
"it is books that have made revolutions." Indeed, a great book is
often a greater thing than a great battle. Even works of fiction
have occasionally exercised immense power on society.

Bear in mind that it is not all we eat that nourishes, but what we
digest. The learned man is a glutton as to books, but the educated
man knows that, no matter how much is read, benefit is only derived
from the thoughts that develop our own thoughts and strengthen our
own minds.



"What experience have you had?" This is apt to be the first question
put by an employer to the applicant for a place, be he mechanic,
clerk, or laborer. If you need a doctor, you would prefer to trust
your case to a man of experience, rather than to one fresh from a
medical college. Apart from the established reputation, that comes
only with time, and natural abilities which count for much, the
principal difference between men in every calling is the difference
in their experiences.

If this experience is so essential, we must regard as wanting in
judgment the young man, who, after a short service, imagines he is
as well qualified to conduct the business as his superior in place.
No amount of natural ability, and no effort of energy can compensate
for the training that comes from experience. Indeed, it is only
after we have studied and tested ourselves, and overestimated our
talents to our injury, more than once, that experience gives us a
proper estimate of our own strength and weakness.

Contact with others is requisite to enable a man to know himself. It
is only by mixing freely in the world that one can form a proper
estimate of his own capacity. Without such experience, one is apt to
become conceited, puffed up, and arrogant; at all events, he will
remain ignorant of himself, though he may heretofore have enjoyed no
other company.

Swift once said: "It is an uncontroverted truth, that no man ever
made an ill-figure who understood his own talents, nor a good one
who mistook them." Many persons, however, are readier to take
measure of the capacity of others than of themselves. "Bring him to
me," said a certain Dr. Tronchin, of Geneva, speaking of Rousseau--
"bring him to me that I may see whether he has got anything in
him!"--the probability being that Rousseau, who knew himself better,
was much more likely to take measure of Tronchin than Tronchin was
to take measure of him.

A due amount of self-knowledge is, therefore, necessary for those who
would _be_ anything or _do_ anything in the world. It is also one of
the first essentials to the formation of distinct personal
convictions. Frederick Perthes once said to a young friend, "You
know only too well what you _can_ do; but till you have learned what
you _can not_ do, you will neither accomplish anything of moment nor
know inward peace."

Any one who would profit by experience will never be above asking
help. He who thinks himself already too wise to learn of others,
will never succeed in doing anything either good or great. We have
to keep our minds and hearts open, and never be ashamed to learn,
with the assistance of those who are wiser and more experienced than

The man made wise by experience endeavors to judge correctly of the
things which come under his observation and form the subject of his
daily life. What we call common sense is, for the most part, but the
result of common experience wisely improved. Nor is great ability
necessary to acquire it, so much as patience, accuracy, and

The results of experience are, of course, only to be achieved by
living; and living is a question of time. The man of experience
learns to rely upon time as his helper. "Time and I against any
two," was a maxim of Cardinal Mazarin. Time has been described as a
beautifier and as a consoler; but it is also a teacher. It is the
food of experience, the soil of wisdom. It may be the friend or the
enemy of youth; and time will sit beside the old as a consoler or as
a tormentor, according as it has been used or misused, and the past
life has been well or ill spent.

"Time," says George Herbert, "is the rider that breaks youth." To the
young, how bright the new world looks!--how full of novelty, of
enjoyment, of pleasure! But as years pass, we find the world to be a
place of sorrow as well as of joy. As we proceed through life, many
dark vistas open upon us--of toil, suffering, difficulty, perhaps
misfortune and failure. Happy they who can pass through and amidst
such trials with a firm mind and pure heart, encountering trials
with cheerfulness, and standing erect beneath even the heaviest

Thomas A. Edison, the great inventor, in speaking of his success to
the writer, said:

"I had when I started out all the patience and perseverance that I
have now, but I lacked the experience. Seeing that I had only ten
weeks' regular schooling in all my life, I can say with truth that
experience has been my school and my only one.

"Many believe that my life has been a success from the start, and I
do not try to undeceive them, but as a matter of fact my failures
have exceeded my successes as one hundred to one; but even the
experience of these failures has been in itself an educator and has
enabled me not to repeat them."

The brave man will not be baffled, but tries and tries again until he
succeeds. The tree does not fall at the first stroke, but only by
repeated strokes and after great labor. We may see the visible
success at which a man has arrived, but forget the toil and
suffering and peril through which it has been achieved. For the same
reason, it is often of advantage for a man to be under the necessity
of having to struggle with poverty and conquer it. "He who has
battled," says Carlyle, "were it only with poverty and hard toil,
will be found stronger and more expert than he who could stay at
home from the battle, concealed among the provision wagons, or even
rest unwatchfully 'abiding by the stuff.'"

Scholars have found poverty tolerable compared with the privation of
intellectual food. Riches weigh much more heavily upon the mind. "I
cannot but choose say to Poverty," said Richter, "Be welcome! So
that thou come not too late in life." Poverty, Horace tells us,
drove him to poetry and poetry introduced him to Varus and Virgil
and Maecenas. "Obstacles," says Michelet, "are great incentives. I
lived for whole years upon a Virgil and found myself well off."

Many have to make up their minds to encounter failure again and again
before they succeed; but if they have pluck, the failure will only
serve to rouse their courage and stimulate them to renewed efforts.
Talma, the greatest of actors, was hissed off the stage when he
first appeared on it. Lacordaire, one of the greatest preachers of
modern times, only acquired celebrity after repeated failures.
Montalembert said of his first public appearance in the church of
St. Roch: He failed completely, and, on coming out, every one said,
"Though he may be a man of talent he will never be a preacher."
Again and again he tried, until he succeeded, and only two years
after his _debut_, Lacordaire was preaching in Notre Dame to
audiences such as few French orators have addressed since the time
of Bossuet and Massilon.

When Mr. Cobden first appeared as a speaker at a public meeting in
Manchester, he completely broke down and the chairman apologized for
his failure. Sir James Graham and Mr. Disraeli failed and were
derided at first, and only succeeded by dint of great labor and
application. At one time Sir James Graham had almost given up public
speaking in despair. He said to his friend Sir Francis Baring: "I
have tried it every way--extempore, from notes, and committing it
all to memory--and I can't do it. I don't know why it is, but I am
afraid I shall never succeed." Yet by dint of perseverance, Graham,
like Disraeli, lived to become one of the most effective and
impressive of parliamentary speakers.

In every field of effort success has only come after many trials.
Morse with his telegraph and Howe with his sewing machine lived in
poverty and met with many disappointments before the world came to
appreciate the value of their great inventions.

It can be said with truth that these great men could have avoided
much of their trouble if they had had the necessary experience. But
particularly in the two cases cited before, the inventions were new
to the world and it needed that the world should have the experience
of their utility as well as the inventors.

Science also has had its martyrs, who have fought their way to light
through difficulty, persecution and suffering. We need not refer to
the cases of Bruno, Galileo and others, persecuted because of the
supposed heterodoxy of their views. But there have been other
unfortunates among men of science, whose genius has been unable to
save them from the fury of their enemies. Thus Bailly, the
celebrated French astronomer (who had been mayor of Paris) and
Lavoisier, the great chemist, were both guillotined in the first
French Revolution. When the latter, after being sentenced to death
by the Commune, asked for a few days' respite to enable him to
ascertain the result of some experiments he had made during his
confinement, the tribunal refused his appeal, and ordered him for
immediate execution, one of the judges saying that "the Republic has
no need of philosophers." In England also, about the same time, Dr.
Priestley, the father of modern chemistry, had his house burned over
his head and his library destroyed, amidst the shouts of "No
philosophers!" and he fled from his native country to lay his bones
in a foreign land.

Courageous men have often turned enforced solitude to account in
executing works of great pith and moment. It is in solitude that the
passion for spiritual perfection best nurses itself. The soul
communes with itself in loneliness until its energy often becomes
intense. But whether a man profits by solitude or not will mainly
depend upon his own temperament, training and character. While, in a
large-natured man, solitude will make the pure heart purer, in the
small-natured man it will only serve to make the hard heart still
harder; for though solitude may be the nurse of great spirits, it is
the torment of small ones.

Not only have many of the world's greatest benefactors, men whose
lives history now records the most successful, had not only to
contend with poverty, but it was their misfortune to be
misunderstood and to be regarded as criminals. Many a great reformer
in religion, science, and government has paid for his opinions by
imprisonment. Speaking of these great men, a prominent English
writer says: Prisons may have held them, but their thoughts were not
to be confined by prison walls. They have burst through and defied
the power of their persecutors. It was Lovelace, a prisoner, who

"Stone walls do not a prison make,
   Nor iron bars a cage;
 Minds innocent and quiet take
   That for a hermitage."

It was a saying of Milton that, "who best can suffer, best can do."
The work of many of the greatest men, inspired by duty, has been
done amidst suffering and trial and difficulty. They have struggled
against the tide and reached the shore exhausted, only to grasp the
sand and expire. They have done their duty and been content to die.
But death hath no power over such men; their hallowed memories still
survive to soothe and purify and bless us. "Life," said Goethe, "to
us all is suffering. Who save God alone shall call us to our
reckoning? Let not reproaches fall on the departed. Not what they
have failed in, nor what they have suffered, but what they have
done, ought to occupy the survivors."

Thus, it is not ease and facility that try men and bring out the good
that is in them, so much as trial and difficulty. Adversity is the
touchstone of character. As some herbs need to be crushed to give
forth their sweetest odor, so some natures need to be tried by
suffering to evoke the excellence that is in them. Hence trials
often unmask virtues and bring to light hidden graces.

Suffering may be the appointed means by which the higher nature of
man is to be disciplined and developed. Assuming happiness to be the
end of being, sorrow may be the indispensable condition through
which it is to be reached. Hence St. Paul's noble paradox
descriptive of the Christian life--"As chastened, and not killed; as
sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as
having nothing, and yet possessing all things."

Even pain is not all painful. On one side it is related to suffering,
and on the other to happiness. For pain is remedial as well as
sorrowful. Suffering is a misfortune as viewed from the one side,
and a discipline as viewed from the other. But for suffering, the
best part of many men's natures would sleep a deep sleep. Indeed, it
might almost be said that pain and sorrow were the indispensable
conditions of some men's success, and the necessary means to evoke
the highest development of their genius. Shelley has said of poets:

"Most wretched men are cradled into poetry
   by wrong,
 They learn in suffering what they teach in

But the young man meeting with disappointments, as he is sure to do
in the beginning of his career, particularly if he be dependent on
himself, should take comfort from the thought that others who have
risen to success have had to travel the same hard road; and such men
have confessed that these trials, these bitter experiences, were the
most valuable of their lives.

Life, all sunshine without shade, all happiness without sorrow, all
pleasure without pain, were not life at all--at least not human
life. Take the lot of the happiest--it is a tangled yarn. It is made
up of sorrows and joys; and the joys are all the sweeter because of
the sorrows; bereavements and blessings, one following another,
making us sad and blessed by turns. Even death itself makes life
more loving; it binds us more closely together while here. Dr.
Thomas Browne has argued that death is one of the necessary
conditions of human happiness, and he supports his argument with
great force and eloquence. But when death comes into a household, we
do not philosophize--we only feel. The eyes that are full of tears
do not see; though in course of time they come to see more clearly
and brightly than those that have never known sorrow.

There is much in life that, while in this state, we can never
comprehend. There is, indeed, a great deal of mystery in life--much
that we see "as in a glass darkly." But though we may not apprehend
the full meaning of the discipline of trial through which the best
have to pass, we must have faith in the completeness of the design
of which our little individual lives form a part.

We have each to do our duty in that sphere of life in which we have
been placed. Duty alone is true; there is no true action but in its
accomplishment. Duty is the end and aim of the highest life; the
truest pleasure of all is that derived from the consciousness of its
fulfillment. Of all others, it is the one that is most thoroughly
satisfying, and the least accompanied by regret and disappointment.
In the words of George Herbert, the consciousness of duty performed
"gives us music at midnight."

And when we have done our work on earth--of necessity, of labor, of
love, or of duty--like the silk-worm that spins its little cocoon
and dies, we too depart. But, short though our stay in life may be,
it is the appointed sphere in which each has to work out the great
aim and end of his being to the best of his power; and when that is
done, the accidents of the flesh will affect but little the
immortality we shall at last put on.



In reading the lives of great men, one is struck with a very
important fact: that their success has been won in callings for
which in early manhood they had no particular liking. Necessity or
chance has, in many cases, decided what their life-work should be.
But even where the employment was at first uncongenial, a strict
sense of duty and a strong determination to master the difficult and
to like the disagreeable, conquered in the end.

In these days of fierce competition, no matter how ardent the desire
for fame, he is a dreamer who loses sight of the monetary returns of
his life-efforts.

There have been a few men whose wants were simple, and these wants
guarded against by a certain official income, who could afford to
ignore gain and to work for the truths of science or the good of
humanity. The great English chemist Faraday was of this class. Once
asked by a friend why he did not use his great abilities and
advantages to accumulate a fortune, he said: "My dear fellow, I
haven't time to give to money making."

It is, perhaps, to be regretted that in nearly every case the efforts
of to-day, whether in commerce, trade, or science, have for their
purpose the making of fortunes. Nor should this spirit be condemned,
for fortune in the hands of the right men is a blessing to the world
and particularly to those who are more improvident.

Peter Cooper, Stephen Girard, George Peabody, and many other eminent
Americans who made their way to great wealth from comparative
poverty, used that wealth to enable young men, starting life as they
did, to achieve the same success without having to encounter the
same obstacles.

It is a well-known fact that boys who live near the sea have an
intense yearning to become sailors. Every healthy boy has a longing
to be a soldier, and he takes the greatest delight in toy military

Our ideals for living, particularly when they are the creations of a
youthful imagination, are but seldom safe guides for our mature
years. The fairy stories that delighted our childhood and the
romances that fired our youth, are found but poor guides to success,
when the great life-battle is on us.

It is a mistake for parents and guardians to say that this boy or
that girl shall follow out this or that life-calling, without any
regard to the tastes, or any consideration of the natural capacity.
It is equally an error, because the boy or girl may like this or
that branch of study more than another, to infer that this indicates
a talent for that subject. Arithmetic is but seldom as popular with
young people as history, simply because the latter requires less
mental effort to master it. The world is full of professional
incompetents--creatures of circumstances very often, but more
frequently their life-failure is due to the whims of ambitious

While the child and even the young man are but seldom the best judges
of what a life-calling should be, yet the observant parent and
teacher can discover the natural inclination, and by encouragement,
develop this inclination.

As the wrecks on sandy beaches and by rock-bound shores, warn the
careful mariner from the same fate, so the countless wrecks which
the young man sees on every hand, increasing as he goes through
life, should warn him from the same dangers.

It is stated, on what seems good authority, that ninety-five percent
of the men who go into business for themselves, fail at some time.
It would be an error, however, to infer from this that the failures
were due to a mistaken life-calling. They have been due rather to
unforeseen circumstances, over-confidence, or the desire to succeed
too rapidly. Benefiting by these reverses, a large percent of the
failures have entered on the life-struggle again and won.

In the early days of the world's history, the callings or fields of
effort were necessarily limited to the chase, herding or
agriculture. In those times, the toiler had not only to work for the
support of himself and family, but he had also to be a warrior,
trained to the use of arms, and ready to defend the products of his
labor from the theft of robber neighbors.

In this later and broader day, civilization has opened up thousands
of avenues of effort that were unknown to our less fortunate

While the world is filled with human misfits, round pegs in square
holes and square pegs in round holes, the choice of callings has so
spread with the growth of civilization, that every young man who
reasons for himself and studies his own powers, can with more or
less certainty find out his calling, and pursue it with a success
entirely dependent on his own fitness and energy.

In a general way, the great fields of human effort, at this time, may
be divided into three classes. First, the so-called "learned
professions"--journalism, theology, medicine and law. Second, the
callings pertaining to public life, such as politics, military,
science, and education. Third, those vocations that pertain to
production, like agriculture, manufactures, and commerce.

But apart from the callings selected, it should be kept carefully in
mind that, no matter the business, success is dependent entirely on
the man.

Business is the salt of life, which not only gives a grateful smack
to it, but dries up those crudities that would offend, preserves
from putrefaction, and drives off all those blowing flies that would
corrupt it. Let a man be sure to drive his business rather than let
it drive him. When a man is but once brought to be driven, he
becomes a vassal to his affairs. Reason and right give the quickest
dispatch. All the entanglements that we meet with arise from the
irrationality of ourselves or others. With a wise and honest man a
business is soon ended, but with a fool and knave there is no
conclusion, and seldom even a beginning.

Having decided on a calling, bear ever in mind that faith and
trustfulness lie at the foundation of trade and commercial
intercourse, and business transactions of every kind. A community of
known swindlers and knaves would try in vain to avail themselves of
the advantages of traffic, or to gain access to those circles where
honor and honesty are indispensable passports. Hence the value which
is attached, by all right-minded men, to purity of purpose and
integrity of character. A man may be unfortunate, he may be poor and
penniless; but if he is known to possess unbending integrity, an
unwavering purpose to do what is honest and just, he will have
friends and patrons whatever may be the embarrassments and
exigencies into which he is thrown. The poor man may thus possess a
capital of which none of the misfortunes and calamities of life can
deprive him. We have known men who have been suddenly reduced from
affluence to penury by misfortunes, which they could neither foresee
nor prevent. A fire has swept away the accumulations of years;
misplaced confidence, a flood, or some of the thousand casualties to
which commercial men are exposed, have stripped them of their
possessions. To-day they have been prosperous, to-morrow every
prospect is blighted, and everything in its aspect is dark and
dismal. Their business is gone, their property is gone, and they
feel that all is gone; but they have a rich treasure which the fire
cannot consume, which the flood cannot carry away. They have
integrity of character, and this gives them influence, raises up
friends, and furnishes them with means to start afresh in the world
once more. Young men, especially, should be deeply impressed with
the vast importance of cherishing those principles, and of
cultivating those habits, which will secure for them the confidence
and esteem of the wise and good. Let it be borne in mind that no
brilliancy of genius, no tact or talent in business, and no amount
of success, will compensate for duplicity, shuffling, and trickery.
There may be apparent advantage in the art and practice of
dissimulation, and in violating those great principles which lie at
the foundation of truth and duty; but it will at length be seen
that a dollar was lost where a cent was gained; that present
successes are outweighed, a thousand-fold, by the pains and
penalties which result from loss of confidence and loss of
reputation. It cannot be too strongly impressed upon the minds of
young men to abstain from every course, from every act, which shocks
their moral sensibilities, wounds their conscience, and has a
tendency to weaken their sense of honor and integrity.



To the young man of the right kind, the inheritance of a fortune, or
the possession of influential friends, may be great advantages, but
more frequently they are hindrances. To win you must fight for
yourself, and the effort will give you strength.

The spirit of self-help is the root of all genuine growth in the
individual; and, exhibited in the lives of many, it constitutes the
true source of national vigor and strength. Help from without is
often enfeebling in its effects, but help from within invariably
invigorates. Whatever is done _for_ men or classes, to a certain
extent takes away the stimulus and necessity of doing for
themselves; and where men are subjected to over-guidance and over-
government, the inevitable tendency is to render them comparatively

The privileges of a superior education, like the inheritance of a
fortune, depends upon the man. It should encourage those who have
only themselves and God to look to for support, to remember that
self-education is the best education, and that some of the greatest
men have had few or no school advantages.

Daily experience shows that it is energetic individualism which
produces the most powerful effects upon the life and action of
others, and really constitutes the best practical education.
Schools, academies, and colleges give but the merest beginnings of
culture in comparison with it. Far more influential is the life-
education daily given in our homes, in the streets, behind counters,
in workshops, at the loom and the plough, in counting-houses and
manufactories, and in the busy haunts of men. This is that finishing
instruction as members of society, which Schiller designated "the
education of the human race," consisting in action, conduct, self-
culture, self-control--all that tends to discipline a man truly, and
fit him for the proper performance of the duties and business of
life--a kind of education not to be learned from books, or acquired
by any amount of mere literary training. With his usual weight of
words Bacon observes, that "Studies teach not their own use; but
that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation;"
a remark that holds true of actual life, as well as of the
cultivation of the intellect itself. For all experience serves to
illustrate and enforce the lesson, that a man perfects himself by
work more than by reading--that it is life rather than literature,
action rather than study, and character rather than biography, which
tend perpetually to renovate mankind.

No matter how humble your calling in life may be, take heart from the
fact that many of the world's greatest men have had no superior
advantages. Lincoln studied law lying on his face before a log-fire;
General Garfield drove a mule on a canal tow-path in his boyhood,
and George Peabody, owing to the poverty of his family, was an
errand boy in a grocery store at the age of eleven.

Great men of science, literature, and art--apostles of great thoughts
and lords of the great heart--have belonged to no exclusive class or
rank in life. They have come alike, from colleges, workshops, and
farm-houses--from the huts of poor men and the mansions of the rich.
Some of God's greatest apostles have come from "the ranks." The
poorest have sometimes taken the highest places, nor have
difficulties apparently the most insuperable proved obstacles in
their way. Those very difficulties, in many instances, would even
seem to have been their best helpers, by evoking their powers of
labor and endurance, and stimulating into life faculties which might
otherwise have lain dormant. The instances of obstacles thus
surmounted, and of triumphs thus achieved, are indeed so numerous as
almost to justify the proverb that "with will one can do anything."

If we took to England, the mother country, a land where the
advantages are not nearly so great as in this and the difficulties
greater, we shall find noble spirits rising to usefulness and
eminence in the face of difficulties equally great.

Shoemakers have given us Sir Cloudesley Shovel the great admiral,
Sturgeon the electrician, Samuel Drew the essayist, Gifford the
editor of the _Quarterly Review_, Bloomfield the poet, and William
Carey the missionary; whilst Morrison, another laborious missionary,
was a maker of shoe-lasts. Within the last few years, a profound
naturalist has been discovered in the person of a shoemaker at
Banff, named Thomas Edwards, who, while maintaining himself by his
trade, has devoted his leisure to the study of natural science in
all its brandies, his researches in connection with the smaller
crustaceae having been rewarded by the discovery of a new species,
to which the name of "Praniza Edwardsii" has been given by

Nor have tailors been undistinguished. John Stow, the historian,
worked at the trade during some part of his life. Jackson, the
painter, made clothes until he reached manhood. The brave Sir John
Hawkswood, who so greatly distinguished himself at Poictiers, and
was knighted by Edward III for his valor, was in early life
apprenticed to a London tailor. Admiral Hobson, who broke the boom
at Vigo in 1702, belonged to the same calling. He was working as
tailor's apprentice near Bonchurch, in the Isle of Wight, when the
news flew through the village that a squadron of men-of-war was
sailing off the island. He sprang from the shopboard, and ran down
with his comrades to the beach, to gaze upon the glorious sight. The
boy was suddenly inflamed with the ambition to be a sailor; and
springing into a boat, he rowed off to the squadron, gained the
admiral's ship, and was accepted as a volunteer. Years after, he
returned to his native village full of honors, and dined off bacon
and eggs in the cottage where he had worked as an apprentice.

Oliver Goldsmith was regarded as a dunce in his school days, and
Daniel Webster was so dull as a school-boy as not to indicate in any
way the great abilities he was to display.

Humbert was a scapegrace when a youth; at sixteen he ran away from
home and was by turns servant to a tradesman at Nancy, a workman at
Lyons, and a hawker of rabbit-skins. In 1792, he enlisted as a
volunteer and in a year he was general of brigade. Kleber, Lefebvre,
Suchet, Victor, Lannes, Soult, Massena, St. Cyr, D'Erlon, Murat,
Augereau, Bessieres and Ney, all rose from the ranks. In some cases
promotion was rapid, in others it was slow. St. Cyr, the son of a
tanner of Toul, began life as an actor, after which he enlisted in
the chasseurs and was promoted to a captaincy within a year. Victor,
Due de Belluno, enlisted in the artillery in 1781: during the events
preceding the Revolution he was discharged; but immediately on the
outbreak of war he re-enlisted, and in the course of a few months
his intrepidity and ability secured his promotion as adjutant-major
and chief of battalion. Murat was the son of a village innkeeper in
Perigord, where he looked after the horses. He first enlisted in a
regiment of chasseurs, from which he was dismissed for
insubordination; but again, enlisting he shortly rose to the rank of
colonel. Ney enlisted at eighteen in a hussar regiment and gradually
advanced step by step; Kleber soon discovered his merits, surnaming
him "The Indefatigable," and promoted him to be adjutant-general
when only twenty-five.

General Christopher Carson, or "Kit" Carson as he is known to the
world, although strictly temperate in his life and as gentle as a
blue-eyed child in his manner, ran away from his home in Missouri to
the Western wilds, when he was a boy of fourteen. His father wanted
him to be a farmer, but Providence had greater if not nobler uses
for him. Out in the Rocky Mountains--then a wilderness--he learned
the Indian languages, and became as familiar with every trail and
pass as the red men.

It was the knowledge gained in those early days that enabled Kit
Carson to carry succor to Fremont's men perishing in the mountains.
Not only did Carson bring food to the dying men, but when they were
strong enough to move he guided them to a place of safety.

This truly great man averted many an Indian war, and did as much for
the settlement and civilization of the West as any man of his day--
more, indeed. In the days of secession he was a patriot, and though
he might have grown rich at the expense of the Government, he
preferred to die a poor and honored man.

Admiral Farragut, although born in East Tennessee, went into the
United States Navy at the early age of eleven. He was the youngest
midshipman in the service. "Before I had reached the age of
sixteen," he says, "I prided myself on my profanity, and could drink
with the strongest."

One morning on recovering from a debauch he reviewed the situation
and saw the shoals ahead. Then and there he fell on his knees and
asked God to help him. From that day on he gave up tobacco, liquor,
and profanity, devoted himself to the study of his profession, and
so became the greatest Admiral of modern times. "The canal boat
captains, when I was a boy," said General Garfield, "were a profane,
carousing, ignorant lot, and, as a boy, I was eager to imitate them.
But my eyes were opened before I contracted their habits, and I left

John B. Gough is an example of such a change of life that should
encourage every young man who has made a mis-step.

Among like men of the same class may be ranked the late Richard
Cobden, whose start in life was equally humble. The son of a small
farmer at Midhurst in Sussex, he was sent at an early age to London
and employed as a boy in a warehouse in the City. He was diligent,
well-conducted, and eager for information. His master, a man of the
old school, warned him against too much reading; but the boy went on
in his own course, storing his mind with the wealth found in books.
He was promoted from one position of trust to another, became a
traveler for his house, secured a large connection, and eventually
started in business as a calico-printer at Manchester. Taking an
interest in public questions, more especially in popular education,
his attention was gradually drawn to the subject of the Corn Laws,
to the repeal of which he may be said to have contributed more than
all the rest of Parliament.

It would be a mistake, however, to judge from this that all the
world's greatest men, started life poor, or that some men of wealth
and prominent family have not contributed their share, and have not,
by reason of that wealth, sedulously followed a useful life-calling.

Riches are so great a temptation to ease and self-indulgence, to
which men are by nature prone, that the glory is all the greater of
those who, born to ample fortunes, nevertheless take an active part
in the work of their generation--who "scorn delights and live
laborious days."

It was a fine thing said of a subaltern officer in the Peninsular
campaigns, observed trudging along through mud and mire by the side
of his regiment, "There goes 15,000 pounds a year!" and in our own
day, the bleak slopes of Sebastopol and the burning soil of India
have borne witness to the like noble self-denial and devotion on the
part of the richer classes; many a gallant and noble fellow, of rank
and estate, having risked his life, or lost it, in one or other of
those fields of action, in the service of his country.

Nor have the wealthier classes been undistinguished in the more
peaceful pursuits of philosophy and science. Take, for instance, the
great names of Bacon, the father of modern philosophy, and of
Worcester, Boyle, Cavendish, Talbot and Rosse in science. The last
named may be regarded as the great mechanic of the peerage; a man
who, if he had not been born a peer, would probably have taken the
highest rank as an inventor. So thorough was his knowledge of smith-
work that he is said to have been pressed on one occasion to accept
the foremanship of a large workshop, by a manufacturer to whom his
rank was unknown. The great Rosse telescope, of his own fabrication,
is certainly the most extraordinary instrument of the kind that has
yet been constructed.

We are apt to think that the wealthy classes in America are addicted
to idleness, but, in proportion to their number, they are as
usefully industrious as those who are forced to work for a living.
The Adams family, of Massachusetts, for more than a century, has
been even more distinguished for statesmanship and intellect than
for great wealth. The Vanderbilts have all been hard workers and
able business men. George Gould seems to be quite as great a
financier as his remarkable father. The Astors are distinguished for
their literary ability; William Waldorf Astor and his cousin, John
Jacob, are authors of great merit. The Lees, of Virginia, have ever
been distinguished for energy, intellect, and a capacity for hard
work. And so we might cite a hundred examples to prove that even in
America, want is not the greatest incentive to effort.

The indefatigable industry of Lord Brougham has become almost
proverbial. His public labors extended over a period of upward of
sixty years, during which he ranged over many fields--of law,
literature, politics, and science--and achieved distinction in them
all. How he contrived it, has been to many a mystery. Once, when Sir
Samuel Romilly was requested to undertake some new work, he excused
himself by saying that he had no time; "but," he added, "go with it
to that fellow Brougham, he seems to have time for everything." The
secret of it was, that he never left a minute unemployed; withal he
possessed a constitution of iron. When arrived at an age at which
most men would have retired from the world to enjoy their hard-
earned leisure, perhaps to doze away their time in an easy chair,
Lord Brougham commenced and prosecuted a series of elaborate
investigations as to the laws of Light, and he submitted the results
to the most scientific audiences that Paris and London could muster.
About the same time, he was passing through the press his admirable
sketches of the "Men of Science and Literature of the Reign of
George III," and taking his full share of the law business and the
political discussions in the House of Lords. Sydney Smith once
recommended him to confine himself to only the transaction of so
much business as three strong men could get through. But such was
Brougham's love of work--long become a habit--that no amount of
application seems to have been too great for him; and such was his
love of excellence that it has been said of him that if his station
in life had been only that of a shoeblack, he would never have
rested satisfied until he had become the best shoeblack in England.

Chapter XII


According to Holy Writ, man's first calling was agriculture, or,
perhaps, horticulture would better express it. Adam was placed in
the Garden to till and care for it; and even after he was driven
from that blissful abode and compelled to live by the sweat of his
brow, he had to go back to the earth from which his body was made to
sustain the life breathed into it by Jehovah. But the young men of
to-day, and it is much to be regretted, regard farming life with
more and more disfavor. To be sure, the greatest fortunes have not
been accumulated in farming, but this book will not have
accomplished its purpose if it has failed to pint out that lives can
be eminently successful without the accumulation of great wealth.

Before proceeding further, let us state a truth which will be
convincing to every reader who knows anything at all about the
careers of successful men. It is not a little remarkable that the
most successful preachers, lawyers, doctors, merchants, and
mechanics have had their earliest training on the farm.

As we have before said, the successful life is the one that is
happiest and most useful in itself, and which produces happiness and
usefulness in others. And as the majority of workers in most
civilized lands are directly connected with agriculture, and as all
sustenance for our daily lives, and all wealth, save the limited
amount that comes from the sea, is directly traceable to the land,
it follows that agriculture is the most important of all callings--
and I would say the most honorable, were it not that every calling is
honorable that requires for its success energy, industry,
intelligence, and honesty.

The United States, above all countries in the world at this time,
indeed, above all countries of which history furnishes any record,
has been more dependent for its growth and success on agriculture
than on any other vocation. While our manufacturing enterprises rank
us next to England among the world's manufacturing producers, yet
more than nine-tenths of our export trade with foreign countries is
in agricultural products, such as: wheat, corn, cotton, tobacco, and
beef and pork, which, under the present system of farming, are as
much agricultural productions as the grain on which the ox and the
hog are fattened.

In agriculture, or farming, is included the bulk of the balance of
labor not covered by the building and mechanical trades, and the
employments growing out of and connected with them.

Good farming is dependent on good machinery, including tools, and on
good buildings. Doubtless, in its infancy, neither was used, even
the hoe and hut being unknown. Among the first records of producing
from the soil, to be found in any detail, is the raising of corn in
Chaldea and Egypt. Sowing seed in the valley of the Nile, and
turning on the swine to tread it into the soil, was one of the
methods in use, and every process of planting and harvesting was of
the simplest. As population grew more dense, and other climates and
soils were occupied, better processes were developed, and more
varied were the productions. Animal power and rude tools were
gradually brought into use, and about 1000 years before Christ "a
plow with a beam, share and handles" is mentioned. Then agriculture
is spoken of as being in a flourishing condition, and artificial
drainage was resorted to. Grecian farming in the days of its
prosperity attained, in some districts, a creditable advancement,
and the implements in use were, in principle, similar to many of
modern construction. Horses, cattle, swine, sheep, and poultry were
bred and continually improved by importations from other countries.
Manuring of the fields was practiced; ground was often plowed three
times before seeding; and sub-soiling and other mixings of soils
were in some cases employed. A great variety of fruit was
successfully cultivated, and good farming was a source of pride to
the people. The Romans considered it, as Washington did, the most
honorable and useful occupation. Each Roman citizen was allotted a
piece of land of from five to fifty acres by the government, and in
after times, when annexations were made, up to five hundred acres
were allotted. The land was generally closely and carefully
cultivated, and the most distinguished citizens considered it their
greatest compliment to be called good farmers. The Roman Senate had
twenty-eight books, written by a Carthaginian farmer, translated for
the use of the people. The general sentiment among the more
intelligent was to hold small farms and till them well; to protect
their fields from winds and storms, and to defer building or
incurring avoidable expense until fully able.

Thirteen centuries were required to improve upon the plowing of two-
thirds of an acre, which in Roman parlance was a _jugarum_,
necessitating the labor of two days. The eighteenth century made
great improvements in the modes of farming, especially in the matter
of tools, machinery, and farm literature; while this century has
made marked progress in the raising and harvesting of crops,
buildings for farm purposes, and a remarkable improvement in horses,
cattle, and other farm stock. Salt was found to be a fertilizer, and
vegetation proven to be more beneficial on land in summer than
leaving it bare and unoccupied, as had formerly been the theory.
Manures were found to be of increased value when mixed, and guanos
were introduced.

The Germans and French began improvement in farming before the
English, and have well sustained it.

Since the primitive years of the Untied States, her agriculture has
attained unparalleled growth, and remains her chief pride and
revenue. Those were the years that tried the farmers' souls. They
had everything to learn; forests to clear off; seeds and
conveniences to secure; roads to open; new grounds to cultivate;
buildings to erect, and hostile Indians to watch and fight. South
Carolina was the first State to organize an agricultural society,
which was accomplished in 1784. Now nearly all the counties of every
State have similar organizations, besides those of the States
themselves. That they are materially and socially beneficial is
unquestioned, barring the effect of horse-racing and its betting

Among the more valuable auxiliaries of the farmer are the
agricultural journals of the country, for which hundreds of
thousands of dollars are annually expended. With few exceptions they
fill the measure of their publication, and the information they
furnish, if properly and judiciously used, can have none but a
healthy effect. While nine out of every ten farmers doubtless do not
do all, nor as well as they know, the benefit and incitement of
knowing more can but be beneficial. It is as a bill of fare at an
eating-house--while the consumption of every article named therein
would be death, the large selection at hand renders possible a
wholesome meal.

Mr. Joshua Hill in his work entitled "Thought and Thrift"--which, by
the way, would be more valuable if less partisan--has this to say in
connection with the business and courage required in agriculture:

"Neglect of aid that may be had in procuring the best results of
labor, and inattention in applying it, are faults possessed by many.
Every man is by nature possessed of abilities of some sort; and if
he has found the right way to use them, he alone is to blame if he
does not properly apply them with a view to their highest and best
results. There is no use for a rule if there be no measures to take;
thee is no use for a reason if men do not heed it. Human experiences
are full of wise counsel for those who desire to learn and do so;
but for those who close their eyes and wait for results without
effort, the records containing them would just as well never have
been written. There is an absolutely fixed law of nature that denies
to man anything that he does not receive from some kind of labor,
except to such as live by favor and robbery, and not by work. There
are many examples of those who are said to 'live by their wits,' but
the problem as to how it is done may never be solved. Nor does it
need to be solved, as no man should justly expect to enjoy anything
which has not been procured by his own labor. Those who most
appreciated the comforts of life are those who create them for
themselves. In knowing how what we have is obtained, lies its chief
value to us. Men naturally take pride in the possession of a
treasure in proportion to the trouble involved in securing it.
Whoever would thrive in his farming must bend his whole will and
purpose to it. Nothing which can be done to-day should be put off
till to-morrow. To-morrow may never come, and should it come, may
not changed conditions and difficulties render set tasks impossible?
Under some circumstances men trust to fortune, without serious
errors, in postponing the execution of appointed tasks. The maxim
that 'procrastination is the thief of time' points a moral implied
in itself, and is unquestionably true in a majority of instances.
Men of business are often careful in some matters, to the neglect of
others more important. Different men have different methods of
business, which, considering differences of constitution and manner
of application, is only natural; not dangerous, but rather
beneficial. No two men go to work in the same way, notwithstanding
they may have both learned of the same teacher, or been instructed
upon the same principle. The greater trouble lies in improper
application and inattention to details. Trifles make up the sum of
life, as cents make dollars. An overanxious man, he who makes great
haste to be rich, seldom prospers long in any undertaking.
Possibilities, not probabilities, should be the guide. A sanguine
disposition may or may not be useful in business. Disappointment
often follows sanguine hopes. A good business man calculates
closely; does not allow anticipation to run away with his judgment,
nor imagine that any good result can follow a false move.

"For these reasons, the farmer needs to think and to reason more; to
attend more strictly to business rules and methods, and to exercise
a greater courage and persistency in applying them. 'Work while it
is day,' says the Scriptures, 'for the night cometh when no man can
work.' Command the present moment that shakes gold from its wings.
That the future may bring bread for his family, the farmer sows seed
in confidence, and awaits the harvest in hope. But if he fails to do
what is necessary to a proper yield from his crop, he has made a
failure of the talents committed to him. Men must acknowledge the
responsibility that rest upon them, and meet it with that true
courage which directs them aright. The lack of knowledge does not
imply lack of ability to think and to reason. All men, unless of
idiotic, impaired, or diseased minds, are possessed of the faculty
of reason, and should use it for the purpose for which it was given--
to supply needed helps to our temporal existence. From thought comes
ability, and from ability system, courage, attention, application,
the most valuable aids to every man of business.

"But in farming as in every other calling the first great requisite
is self-reliance. The man who depends upon his neighbors, as Aesop
illustrates in one of his fables, never has his work done. But when
he says that he will do it himself on a certain day, then it is
prudent for the bird that has been nesting in his grainfield to
change her habitation."



The relations of the citizen to the state, and of the state to the
citizen, are reciprocal. Every man who becomes a member of an
established government, whether it be voluntary, as where an oath of
allegiance is taken to obey the laws, or involuntary, as by birth,
which is the case of a majority of all citizens, he surrenders
certain natural rights in consideration of the protection which the
government throws about him.

In a state of nature, man is free to do as he pleases, without any
recognition of the rights of others; and his power to have his own
way is entirely dependent on the physical strength and courage which
he has to enforce it. This is why, in a savage state, war is the
almost constant business of the men, and the strongest and the
bravest of the lawless mob, tribe, or clan usually becomes leader.

When through either of these agencies a man finds himself a member of
an established government, he owes to that government implicit
obedience to its laws, in consideration of the protection to life
and property which that government throws about him.

In consideration of the protection which the banded many, known as
the state, gives to the individual, the individual pledges implicit
obedience to the laws of the state.

Horace says : _Dulci et decorum est pro patria mori_--meaning that it
is brave and right to die for one's country. Old Dr. Sam Johnson,
like his successor, Carlyle, was apt to sneer at the grander
impulses of humanity. He said on one occasion: "Patriotism is the
last resort of a scoundrel." And yet we know that the noblest
characters of all history have been the men who felt, with Horace,
that it was noble to die for one's country.

Americans, perhaps more than any other people in the world at this
time, have an intense appreciation of this spirit of patriotism.
From the days of the Revolution to the present time, our most
prominent and most respected characters have been the men who, in
the forum or in the field, have devoted their lives to the
preservation and elevation of the Republic.

Public life has its rewards, but they rarely come to the honest man
in the form of dollars. Franklin, Jackson, Taylor, Jolinson, Grant,
Garfield, and Lincoln were all the sons of poor men, and they died
poor themselves; but who can say that their lives were not grandly

An interest in politics should be the duty of everyone, but the young
man who enters public life for the sake of the money he may
accumulate from office, starts out as a traitor to his country and
an ingrate to his fellows.

Public life should be an unselfish life. The service of the public
requires the strongest bodies, the clearest brains, and the purest
hearts, and the man who devotes his life to this great purpose must
find his reward in a duty well performed, rather than in the
financial emoluments of office.

Duty is the spirit of patriotism, and while this spirit should run
through every act in every calling, it must particularly distinguish
the man who has entered the public service as a soldier or civil
official. It is duty that leads the soldier to face hardships and
death without flinching, and the same high impulse should stimulate
the conduct where there is no physical danger.

Samuel Smiles, to whom we are indebted for much that is valuable in
this work, has the following to say in this connection about duty:

"Duty is a thing that is due, and must be paid by every man who would
avoid present discredit and eventual moral insolvency. It is an
obligation--a debt--which can only be discharged by voluntary effort
and resolute action in the affairs of life.

"Duty embraces man's whole existence. It begins in the home, where
there is the duty which children owe to their parents on the one-
hand, and the duty which parents owe to their children on the other.
There are, in like manner, the respective duties of husbands and
wives, of masters and servants; while outside the home there are the
duties which men and women owe to each other as friends and
neighbors, as employers and employed, as governors and governed.

"'Render, therefore,' says St. Paul, 'to all their dues: tribute to
whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor
to whom honor. Owe no man anything, but to love one another; for he
that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.'

"Thus duty rounds the whole of life, from our entrance into it until
our exit from it--duty to superiors, duty to inferiors, and duty to
equals--duty to man, and duty to God. Wherever there is power to use
or to direct, there is duty. For we are but as stewards, appointed
to employ the means entrusted to us for our own and for others'

"The abiding sense of duty is the very crown of character. It is the
upholding law of man in his highest attitudes. Without it, the
individual totters and falls before the first puff of adversity or
temptation; whereas, inspired by it, the weakest becomes strong and
full of courage. 'Duty,' says Mrs. Jameson, 'is the cement which
binds the whole moral edifice together; without which, all power,
goodness, intellect, truth, happiness, love itself, can have no
permanence; but all the fabric of existence crumbles away from under
us, and leaves us at last sitting in the midst of a ruin, astonished
at our own desolation.'

"Duty is based upon a sense of justice--justice inspired by love,
which is the most perfect form of goodness. Duty is not a sentiment,
but a principle pervading the life: and it exhibits itself in
conduct and in acts, which are mainly determined by man's conscience
and free will."

Sir John Packington, one of England's most famous men, said in
speaking of his public life:

"I am indebted for whatever measure of success I have attained in my
public life, to a combination of moderate abilities with honesty of
intention, firmness of purpose, and steadiness of conduct. If I were
to offer advice to any young man anxious to make himself useful in
public life, I would sum up the results of my experience in three
short rules--rules so simple that any man may act upon them. My
first rule will be, leave it to others to judge of what duties you
are capable, and for what position you are fitted; but never refuse
to give your services in whatever capacity it my be the opinion of
others who are competent to judge that you may benefit your
neighbors and your country. My second rule is, when you agree to
undertake public duties, concentrate every energy and faculty in
your possession with the determination to discharge those duties to
the best of your ability. Lastly, I would counsel you that, in
deciding on the line which you will take in public affairs, you
should be guided in your decision by that which, after mature
deliberation, you believe to be right, and not by that which, in the
passing hour, may happen to be fashionable or popular."

Another author equally eminent writes in the same vein:

"The first great duty of every citizen is that of an abiding love for
his country. This is one of the native instincts of the noble heart.
History tells of many a devoted hero, reared under an oppressive
despotism, and groaning under unjust exactions, with little in the
character of his ruler to excite anything like generous enthusiasm,
who yet has shed his blood and given up his treasures in willing
sacrifice for his country's good. In a country such as this we live
in, it is the duty of every man to be a patriot, and to love and
serve it with an affection that is commensurate both with the
priceless cost of her liberties, and the greatness of her civil and
religious privileges. Indeed, however it may be in other lands, in
this one the youth may be said to draw in the love of country with
his native air; and it is justly taken for granted that all will
seek and maintain her interests, as that the child shall love its
mother, on whose bosom it has been cradled, and of whose life it is
a part.

"In no other country more than this is it important that all should
rightly understand and faithfully fulfill the duties of citizenship.
While ignorance is the natural stronghold of tyranny, knowledge is
the very throne of civil liberty. It is the interest of despotism to
foster a blind, unreasoning obedience to arbitrary law; but where,
as with us, almost the humblest has a voice in the administration of
public affairs, more depends upon the enlightened sentiments of the
masses than upon even the skill of temporary rulers, or the
character of existing laws."

A generation ago, when the integrity of the Union was threatened, the
rich and the poor, the young and the old, particularly in what were
known as the Free States, gave up all for the defense of the
Republic. It should be said, in justice to those who fought on the
opposite side, that no matter how much mistaken, they were in their
own hearts as honest, and by their heroic sacrifices proved
themselves to be as brave and unselfish, as the gallant men who won
in the appeal to arms.

If to-day the honor or the integrity of the Republic were assailed,
every man capable of bearing arms, irrespective of the past
differences of themselves or their fathers, would answer the
country's call in teeming millions, and prove the truth of the Latin
poet's adage, that it is right and noble to die for ones country.

A manly people should cultivate a manly spirit, and be prepared, if
need be, to defend their rights by force, but in the better day,
whose light is coming, we believe that nobler and more equitable
means of adjusting internal and international differences can be
found than by an appeal to arms.

Believing then that every young man who is worthy his American
citizenship would willingly risk his life in defense of his nation's
flag--which, after all, is simply the emblem of what his nation
stands for--he should be willing, if duty requires it, to serve his
country with equal fidelity in times of peace.

It is to be regretted that men of the stamp of those who gave their
lives or risked them and have poured out their wealth with unstinted
hand when the life of the Republic was in danger, should, in days of
peace, regard "politics"--which means an interest in public affairs--
with something like contempt.

It may be argued that politics has fallen into the hands of a rough
and unprincipled class, who make it a profession for the sake of the
gain it offers. To a certain extent this is true; but the men who
are responsible for this state of affairs are not the professional
politicians, but the good citizens, who are in the majority, and who
could control, if they would, but who unpatriotically neglect their
duty to the public, or ignore it in the presence of their individual

One of the best signs of the times is the fact that civil service has
come into our politics to stay. Through this service, the young
aspirant for office, irrespective of his politics, stands an
examination before impartial commissioners, and is rated according
to his qualifications. Once he enters the public service, he cannot
be discharged except for incapacity, and this must be proven before
a proper tribunal.

The rewards of public office, excepting in a few cases where the
positions depend upon the votes of the people, are never great. And,
unfortunately, under our system the aspirant for an elective office
usually spends as much as the office will pay him during his term,
if he depends upon its honest emoluments.

But to the young man who is not ambitious and who will live
contentedly a life of routine with a limited compensation, a public
life has many advantages. The salary continues, irrespective of the
weather or seasons, and there is connected with the place a certain
respect. No matter how humble the position of a man in the public
service, a certain dignity must always attach to him who is at once
a servant and a representative of the people.



It matters not what talent or genius a man may possess, no natural
gift can compensate for hard, persistent toil. The Romans had a
maxim as true to-day as it was when first uttered: "_Labor omnia
vincit_," Toil conquers all things. The earliest Christians lived in
communities and had all things in common. One of their precepts--
a precept up to which all lived--was: "_Laborare est orare_," To work
is to pray.

Someone has said that the difference between the genius and the
ordinary man is that the genius has a tireless capacity for patient,
hard work, while the other regards effort as a painful exaction, and
is ever looking forward to the time when he can rest.

It is encouraging to know that the world's hardest workers have lived
the longest lives. In this alone, labor is its own reward; but
enduring success never came to a poor man without an unflagging
patience and an unceasing toil.

Honorable industry, says one, travels the same road with duty; and
Providence has closely linked both with happiness. The gods, says
the poet, have placed labor and toil on the way leading to the
Elysian fields. Certain it is that no bread eaten by man is so sweet
as that earned by his own labor, whether bodily or mental. By labor
the earth has been subdued, and man redeemed from barbarism; nor has
a single step in civilization been made without it. Labor is not
only a necessity and a duty, but a blessing; only the idler feels it
to be a curse. The duty of work is written on the thews and muscles
of the limbs, the mechanism of the hand, the nerves and lobes of the
brain--the sum of whose healthy action is satisfaction and
enjoyment. In the school of labor is taught the best practical
wisdom; nor is a life of manual employment, as we shall hereafter
find, incompatible with high mental culture.

Hugh Miller, than whom none knew better the strength and the weakness
belonging to the lot of labor, stated the result of his experience
to be, that work, even the hardest, is full of pleasure and
materials for self-improvement. He held honest labor to be the best
of teachers, and that the school of toil is the nobles of schools--
save only the Christian one; that it is a school in which the ability
of being useful is imparted, the spirit of independence learned, and
the habit of persevering effort acquired. He was even of opinion that
the training of the mechanic--by exercise which it gives to his
observant faculties, from his daily dealing with things actual and
practical, and the close experience of life which he acquires--better
fits a man for picking his way along the journey of life, and is more
favorable to his growth as a man, emphatically speaking, than the
training afforded by any other condition.

Watt, the inventor of the steam engine, was one of the most
industrious of men; and the story of his life proves, what all
experience confirms, that it is not the man of the greatest natural
vigor and capacity who achieves the highest results, but he who
employs his powers with the greatest industry and the most carefully
disciplined skill--the skill that comes by labor, application, and
experience. Many men in his time knew far more than Watt, but none
labored so assiduously as he did to turn all that he did know to
useful practical purposes. He was, above all things, most persevering
in the pursuit of facts. He cultivated carefully that habit of active
attention on which all the higher working qualities of the mind
mainly depend. Indeed, Mr. Edgeworth entertained the opinion that the
difference of intellect in men depends more upon the early
cultivation of this _habit of attention_, than upon any great
disparity between the powers of one individual and another.

Arkwright, one of the world's greatest mechanics, and the inventor of
the spinning jenny, was famed for his unceasing industry.

Like most of our great mechanicians, he sprang from the ranks. He was
born in Preston in 1732. His parents were very poor, and he was the
youngest of thirteen children. He was never at school; the only
education he received he gave to himself; and to the last he was only
able to write with difficulty. When a boy, he was apprenticed to a
barber, and after learning the business, he set up for himself in
Bolton, where he occupied an underground cellar, over which he put up
the sign, "come to the subterraneous barber--he shaves for a penny."
The other barbers found their customers leaving them, and reduced
their prices to his standard, when Arkwright, determined to push his
trade, announced his determination to give "A clean shave for a half-

At the close of his life, John Jacob Astor was the wealthiest man in
the United States, and the immense fortune he left has been largely
increased through his wise investments and the habits of business
which he seems to have transmitted with his fortune to his

His life is a most interesting one, particularly to the young man who
stands facing the world without friends or fortune to aid him. But
young Astor had one quality to start with, a quality which success
never lessened, and that was the capacity for unceasing industry.

He was born of peasant parents in the village of Waldorf, near the
great university town of Heidelberg in Germany. When sixteen years of
age he was crowded out of the hive by increasing brothers and
sisters, and without education or experience, he started out to make
his way in the world.

In the days of his great prosperity, he used to tell, with delight
mingled with sadness, of the day when he left father, and mother, and
home, which he was never to see together again. He used to say: "I
had only two dollars in my pocket, and all my clothes were tied up in
a handkerchief fastened at the end of a stick. When I had climbed the
high hill above the village, I sat down to rest my heart rather than
my feet, and to look back at the loved scenes of my childhood. Before
leaving home it was decided that I should make my way to London--then
the city of promise to many young Germans. While I sat there, I made
three resolutions, which during my life I have never broken. I had
never gambled, but I had known others to do so, and my first resolve
was not to follow their example. The second resolution was to be
strictly honest in all my dealings, and this I have tried to adhere
to. The third resolution was quite as important as the other two
together; it was that so long as God gave me health and strength I
should be unceasingly industrious."

John Jacob Astor, as a man, faithfully carried out the resolutions he
made as a boy, and the world knows the consequences.

When the impartial historian comes to write the life of Horace
Greeley, no matter how much he may object to his policies and
politics, he will give him credit for honesty, courage, perseverance,
and an industry that knew no fatigue.

While barely in his teens, young Greeley, whose father was making a
desperate effort to support a large family on a poor farm in New
Hampshire, started in to work for himself. His early education
consisted of a few winter terms in a common school. Before he was
seventeen he had learned the printer's trade, and then resolved not
only to support himself, but to help his parents. Realizing his want
of education, he devoted every minute he could spare from work or
sleep to study.

Speaking of these early days, Mr. Greeley said:

"There was many a heavy load placed on my shoulders, but I staggered
on and bore it as best I could. Many an uncongenial task was forced
upon me, but I can honestly say I never shirked it. If I have
succeeded in my chosen profession, it has not been due to my early
advantages, for I had none, but to my strong belief that patient
industry would triumph in the end."

When Horace Greeley was twenty years of age he was working in a
printing office in Erie, Pennsylvania, and determined to better his
fortunes by coming to New York. He had saved up one hundred and
twenty dollars, and of this he sent one hundred to his father, and
with the rest he turned his face to the great city, about six hundred
miles away. He traveled the entire distance on foot, and reached New
York with fifteen dollars, the whole trip having cost him but five.

Poorly clad, tall, gawky, and green-looking, he entered the city
where he had neither friend nor acquaintance. For weeks he tramped
the streets, looking vainly for work, his cash gradually growing
less, but his spirits never failing. At length he found employment at
his trade, where his integrity and unceasing industry soon made him
conspicuous. Step by step, he worked his way up, never forgetting the
poor family in Vermont, till at length he was able to establish the
_New York Tribune_, which survives as a monument of his perseverance
and industry. Although his early training was so defective, he gave
every spare minute to study, and with such success that he became not
only a great leader, but one of the most perfect masters of the
English language. His name will long live after many writers and
statesmen of greater pretensions are forgotten.

As an example of what perseverance, fortitude and energy will do,
Horace Greeley's story of his own life should be studied by every
ambitious young man.

Horace Greelev never laid claim to physical courage, but he had that
higher courage and industry without which enduring success is
impossible. In speaking of this admirable quality, a famous author

"The greater part of the courage that is needed in the world is not
of an heroic kind. Courage may be displayed in everyday life as well
as on historic fields of action. There needs, for example, the common
courage to be honest--the courage to resist temptation--the courage
to speak the truth--the courage to be what we really are, and not to
pretend to be what we are not--the courage to live honestly within
our own means, and not dishonestly upon the means of others.

"A great deal of the unhappiness, and much of the vice, of the world
is owing to weakness and indecision of purpose--in other words, to
lack of courage and want of industry. Men may know what is right, and
yet fail to exercise the courage to do it; they may understand the
duty they have to do, but will not summon up the requisite resolution
to perform it. The weak and undisciplined man is at the mercy of
every temptation; he cannot say no,' but falls before it. And if his
companionship be bad, he will be all the easier led away by bad
example into wrong-doing.

"Nothing can be more certain than that the character can only be
sustained and strengthened by its own energetic action. The will,
which is the central force of character, must be trained to habits of
decision--otherwise it will neither be able to resist evil nor to
follow good. Decision gives the power of standing firmly, when to
yield, however slightly, might be only the first step in a downhill
course to ruin.

"Calling upon others for help in forming a decision is worse than
useless. A man must so train his habits as to rely upon his own
powers and depend upon his own courage in moments of emergency.
Plutarch tells of a king of Macedon who, in the midst of an action,
withdrew into the adjoining town under pretence of sacrificing to
Hercules; whilst his opponent Emilius, at the same time that he
implored the Divine aid, sought for victory sword in hand, and won
the battle. And so it ever is in the actions of daily life.

"Many are the valiant purposes formed, that end merely in words;
deeds intended, that are never done; designs projected, that are
never begun; and all for want of a little courageous decision. Better
far the silent tongue but the eloquent deed. For in life, and in
business, dispatch is better than discourse; and the shortest of all
is _Doing_. 'In matters of great concern, and which must be done,'
says Tillotson, 'there is no surer argument of a weak mind than
irresolution--to be undetermined when the case is so plain and the
necessity so urgent. To be always intending to live a new life, but
never to find time to set about it--this is as if a man should put
off eating and drinking and sleeping from one day to another, until
he is starved and destroyed.'"



Although it is better for every young man, if possible, to adhere to
one thing, yet, as we shall see when we come to treat of the life of
that remarkable man Peter Cooper, change does not necessarily mean
vacillation. For the mere sake of consistency a man would be foolish
who neglected a good chance to succeed in another field. Edison
started life as a newsboy, but it would be folly to say that he
should have stuck to that very respectable, but not usually lucrative
occupation. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph, was an artist till
middle life. Alexander T. Stewart and James Gordon Bennett, the one a
most successful journalist, and the other the greatest merchant of
his day, began life as school-teachers. And so we might continue the
list; but even these examples do not warrant the belief that a change
of calling is necessary to success, but rather that the change may
increase the chances. As a rule, however, the changes have been
forced by unforeseen circumstances, of which these strong men were
quick to see the advantages.

In beginning the life journey, as in starting out on a day's journey,
it is of great importance to have a destination in view. In every
effort there should be kept in mind the end to be attained--an ideal
to achieve which every faculty must be enlisted.

Men whose lives have been eminently successful tell us that their
greatest reward was not found in the accomplishment of their life
purpose, but in the slow, but certain advance made from day to day.

The joy of travel does not lie in reaching the destination, but in
the companions met with on the journey, the changing scenery through
which the traveler passes, and even the inconveniences that break up
the monotony of the ordinary routine life. It is so with our life-
work. The cradle and the grave mark the beginning and the end of the
journey, but the joy of living lies in the varied incident and effort
to be met with between the two.

It is well for us that this is so; well for us that we do not have to
wait for the reward till the end comes.

We may, as in the cases named, change our means of travel, but so
long as success is our purpose, it matters not so much what variation
we may make in the route, when we seek to attain it.

The old-fashioned country school debating societies had one subject
that never lost its popularity, and on which the rural orators
exhausted their eloquence and ingenuity: "Resolved, that there is
more happiness in participation than in anticipation." We doubt if
any debating society ever settled the question, in a way that would
be acceptable to all. As a rule the younger people decided,
irrespective of the argument, that participation was the most
desirable; but the older people wisely shook their heads and took the
other side of the case.

Often when the end has been gained, it has been discovered that the
reward was not worth the effort, and that the full compensation was
gained in the peace, the regular habits, the health, and the sense of
duty well-performed which kept up the hope and the strength during
the long years of toil.

There is a temperance in eating, as well as in drinking; even honest
labor when carried to an excess that impairs the powers of mind and
body, may be classed with intemperance; indeed, it should be a part
of every young man's course of self-study to learn his own physical
and mental limitations.

There is everything in knowing how to work, and in learning when to
rest. One of the rewards of judicious labor, and by no means the
least of them is--health. Health is not only essential to the
happiness of ourselves and of those with whom we come into contact,
but no permanent success can be won without it.

Benjamin Franklin, himself a model of industry and of good health,
even in old age, says:

"I have always worked hard, but I have regarded as sinful the haste
and toil that sap the health. There is reason why disease should
seize on the idler, but the industrious man, whose toil is well-
regulated, should have no occasion for a physician, unless in case of
accident. Labor, like virtue, is its own reward."

In looking over the callings of people who have retained all their
powers to an age so long beyond the allotted time as to seem
phenomenal, there is not one case that we can recall where the life
has not been distinguished for temperance, orderliness, and
persistent but temperate industry.

The health that waits upon labor is among its best results, as it
must continue to be among its greatest blessings. More particularly
is health to be derived from out-door employment, as life on the farm
and an active participation in its many and varied labors. Physical
exercise is essential to health, under any and all circumstances,
whether it be in the nature of labor or recreation. It must be borne
in mind, however, that in labor are to be found the surest
correctives of many abuses of health, as bringing into play
influences of the more satisfactory sort upon the mind as considered
in contrast to idleness. Idleness is the parent of many vices, some
one says, and it is true. The freedom from the annoying reflection
that one is making no use of physical or mental abilities to secure
protection from want and suffering, sweetens labor and gives it a
value which all true men must appreciate and carefully consider. How
often have the wearied journalist and accountant, tired out in body
and mind at the desk of unremitting application, found, in the life
and labor of the farm and shop, relief and a return to the blessings
of health. There are other occupations and employments just as
necessary, but many of them are pursued under considerations not
leading to, but rather away from, health. Any one, however, may take
from business enough time for rest and healthful exercise. It is in
purifying and driving away from man the tendencies to evil that, in
idleness, prey too continually and strongly upon him, and which he
cannot long successfully resist, that labor possesses its greatest
benefit. The atmosphere of diligent labor usefully directed is always
of a healthy nature. Into it cannot enter the many foes that assail
the idle, who have not the shield of protection that labor gives to
all who enter its hallowed gateway. Labor dignifies and ennobles when
in moderation; it permits the enjoyment of comforts and luxuries, and
gives to home its sacred charm; it dashes away the bitter cup of
poverty, and gives instead the nourishing and acceptable food of
contentment; it dispels dread conceits of coming evil, and dries the
tears of the afflicted. Labor is man's heaven-born heritage in
exchange for the curse of disobedience, and yet men are ungrateful
and disposed to quarrel with their truest friends. What truer and
better friend can anyone possess than useful labor, the key that
unlocks the casket of wisdom and exposes to our startled gaze the
treasures that lie within? For every honest and determined end of
labor there is sure reward. "There is no reward without toil" is a
proverb as old as history and as true to-day as when it first found
lodgment in the minds and hearts of men. The faithful servant of
labor hears in every blow he strikes the sure sound of the power
committed to him and which will bring him the fine gold of merited

The health in labor, considered in all of the relations attaching to
it, further brings a comfort and satisfaction which cannot be too
highly estimated. The surest remedy that can be applied, when men are
suffering from defeat in business and the attendant consequences, is
renewed and persistent labor. Who can measure the value of labor? It
is a possession that cannot be stolen, and only ceases to serve when
men, from exhausted energies or enfeebled age, can no longer command
it. From the beginning to the end of life it waits upon us, and
whoever will use it will not be deprived of its wonderful and
magnificent bounties.

As labor is man's greatest blessing, so is indolence his greatest
curse. As labor is health, so indolence is disease. Man in a
condition of idleness is about as useless a thing as is to be found
in nature. He prefers to live by some one else's labor. The world
owes him a living and he manages somehow to get it. But he is an
industrious collector, although he would walk a mile to get around
work. He attaches himself, like the mistletoe, to whoever will
support him. He is a true parasite. His tongue has but little end to
it. It wags from morning to night; invents seemingly plausible
theories of work, but never attempts them. He is full of advice to
all who will listen. Can such a man be healthy? He _cannot_ enjoy
good health because he is too lazy to do so. No way has as yet been
found to make him healthy and put him to work. He cannot be got rid
of. People who labor and who are compelled to help this poor creature
do not make much effort to turn him in the direction of labor. They
are too busy to take any account of him; so he is left to his misery
and poverty. He has not a grain of independence in his whole
composition. He pines and dies at last, and the world is better for
his being out of it. But like mushrooms, these people spring up. Many
infest our large cities, and these are dignified by the city
directories as "floating population." The term is very nearly
correct; they float for a time upon the current, until borne away to
another port where there is better and safer anchorage. Where free
lunches are abundant there the idler may be found. For this privilege
he is sometimes obliged to do a little work. But how it grieves him!
His whole aim is to get drink, a little food, and less clothing. He
of course, uses tobacco; but this he must obtain in some way that
does not call for money, for of that he has none and never can have,
unless he go to work--and this is highly improbable. He has got to
that point that he cannot work. He is too unhealthy and his influence
is corrupting. Nobody will give him employment, so he must keep on to
the end of the chapter. An even more disgusting specimen is the idler
who develops into a sneakthief and the more genteel sort of gentry--
gamblers and workers of chances. These are, perhaps, to be included
in the list of those who live by their wits and not by any kind of

If there is any worse disease than idleness, it has not yet been
discovered. Good and true men, who value the rewards of labor, look
upon idleness with a dread that equals that of yellow fever; for it
is more general in its effects and more to be detested. While there
may sometimes be luck in leisure, indolence never pays.

But the effects of persistent, systematic effort are not confined to
ourselves; the example is contagious and acts as a guide and a
stimulus to others in the life battle. The good done and the help
given to friends in this way are incalculable, and are not the least
of the rewards labor bestows before the end is attained.

Dr. Miller in his able work "The Building of Character," says very
aptly in this connection:

"We all need human friendship. We need it especially in our times of
darkness. He does not well, he lives not wisely, who in the days of
prosperity neglects to gather about his life a few loving friends,
who will be a strength to him in the days of stress and need."

There is a time to show sympathy, when it is golden; when this time
has passed, and we have only slept meanwhile, we may as well sleep
on. You did not go near your friend when he was fighting his battle
alone. You might have helped him then. What use is there in your
coming to him now, when he has conquered without your aid? You paid
no attention to your neighbor when he was bending under life's loads,
and struggling with difficulties, obstacles, and adversities. You let
him alone then. You never told him that you sympathized with him. You
never said a brave, strong word of cheer to him in those days. You
never even scattered a handful of flowers on his hard path. Now that
he is dead and lying in his coffin, what is the use in your standing
beside his still form, and telling the people how nobly he battled,
how heroically he lived; and speaking words of commendation? No, no;
having let him go on, unhelped, uncheered, unencouraged, through the
days when he needed so sorely your warm sympathy, and craved so
hungrily your cheer, you may as well sleep on and take your rest,
letting him alone unto the end. Nothing can be done now. Too laggard
are the feet that come with comfort when the time for comfort is

"Ah! woe for the word that is never said
  Till the ear is deaf to hear;
And woe for the lack to the fainting head
  Of the ringing shout of cheer;
Ah! woe for the laggard feet that tread
  In the mournful wake of the bier.
A pitiful thing the gift to-day
  That is dross and nothing worth,
Though if it had come but yesterday,
  It had brimmed with sweet the earth;
A fading rose in a death-cold hand,
  That perished in want and dearth."

Shall we not take our lesson from the legend of the robin that
plucked a thorn from the Savior's brow, and thus sought to lessen his
pain, rather than from the story of the disciples, who slept and
failed to give the help which the Lord sought from their love? Thus
can we strengthen those whose burdens are heavy, and whose struggles
and sorrows are sore.

All noble effort, as Sarah K. Bolton beautifully expresses it, is its
own reward:

"I like the man who faces what he must
With step triumphant and a heart of cheer;
Who fights the daily battle without fear;
Sees his hopes fail, yet keeps unfaltering trust
That God is God; that, somehow, true and just,
His plans work out for mortals; not a tear
Is shed when fortune, which the world holds dear,
Falls from his grasp. Better, with love, a crust,
Than living in dishonor; envies not
Nor loses faith in man; but does his best,
Nor ever murmurs at his humbler lot;
But with a smile and words of hope, gives zest
To every toiler. He alone is great
Who, by a life heroic, conquers fate."

"After I have completed an invention," says Thomas A. Edison, "I seem
to lose interest in it. One might think that the money value of an
invention constituted its reward to the man who loves his work. But,
speaking for myself, I can honestly say this is not so. Life was
never so full of joy to me, as when a poor boy I began to think out
improvements in telegraphy, and to experiment with the cheapest and
crudest appliances. But, now that I have all the appliances I need,
and am my own master, I continue to find my greatest pleasure, and so
my reward, in the work that precedes what the world calls success."

Mr. Gladstone, the great English statesman, and though nearing four
score and ten, still one of the most industrious of men, says:

"I have found my greatest happiness in labor. I early formed the
habit of industry, and it has been its own reward. The young are apt
to think that rest means a cessation from all effort, but I have
found the most perfect rest in changing effort. If brain-weary over
books and study, go out into the blessed sunlight and the pure air,
and give heartfelt exercise to the body. The brain will soon become
calm and rested. The efforts of nature are ceaseless. Even in our
sleep, the heart throbs on. If these great forces ceased for an
instant death would follow. I try to live close to nature, and to
imitate her in my labors. The compensation is sound sleep, a
wholesome digestion, and powers that are kept at their best; and this
I take it is the chief reward of industry."

"If I ever get time from work," said Horace Greeley one day, "I'll go
a-fishing, for I was fond of it when a boy." But he never went
a-fishing, never indulged in a healthful change of exercise, and the
result was a mind thrown out of balance, and death in the prime of
life. We all need a restful change at times.



If great success were possible only to men of great talents, then
there would be but little success in the world.

It has been said that talent is quite as much the ability to stick to
a thing, as the aptitude to do it better than another. "I will fight
it out on this line, if it takes all summer." This statement of
General Grant does not indicate the man of genius, but it does show
the man of indomitable perseverance, a perseverance to which he owed
all his success, for it is well known that he was a very modest, and
by no means a brilliant man. The key to his character was
pertinacity: the secret of his success was perseverance.

"I will to-day thrash the Mexicans, or die a-trying!" was what Sam
Houston said to an aide, the morning of the battle of San Jacinto.
And he won.

The soldier who begins the battle in doubt is half beaten in advance.

The man who loses heart after one failure is a fool to make a

There is a great deal in good preparation, but there is a great deal
more in heroic perseverance. The man who declines to make a beginning
till everything he thinks he may need is ready for his hand, is very
apt to make a failure. The greatest things have been achieved by the
simplest means. It is the ceaseless chopping that wears away the
stone. The plodder may be laughed at, and the brilliant man who
accomplishes great things at a leap admired; but we all remember the
fable of the tortoise and the hare; the latter, confident of her
powers, stopped to rest; the former, aware of his limitations,
persevered and toiled laboriously on--and he won the race.

We do not wish to be understood as underestimating genius. We believe
in it; but one of its strongest characteristics is perseverance, and
the next is its capacity to accomplish great results with the
simplest means.

"Easy come, easy go." Those things that are acquired without much
effort, are usually appreciated according to the effort expended.
Determination has a strong _will_; stubbornness has a strong _won't_.
The one is characterized by perseverance, and it builds up; the
other, having no purpose but blind self, ends in destruction.

It is a fact at once remarkable and encouraging that no man of great
genius who has left his mark on his times, ever believed that his
success was due to gifts that lifted him above his fellows. The means
by which he rose were within the reach of all, and perseverance was a
prime requisite.

The greatest results in life are usually attained by simple means,
and the exercise of ordinary qualities. The common life of everyday,
with its cares, necessities, and duties, affords ample opportunity
for acquiring experience of the best kind; and its most beaten paths
provide the true worker with abundant scope for effort and room for
self-improvement. The road of human welfare lies along the old
highway of steadfast well-doing; and they who are the most
persistent, and work in the truest spirit, will usually be the most

Fortune has often been blamed for her blindness; but fortune is not
so blind as men are. Those who look into practical life will find
that fortune is usually on the side of the industrious, as the winds
and waves are on the side of the best navigators. In the pursuit of
even the highest branches of human inquiry, the commoner qualities
are found the most useful--such as common sense, attention,
application, and perseverance. Genius may not be necessary, though
even genius of the highest sort does not disdain the use of these
ordinary qualities. The very greatest men have been among the least
believers in the power of genius, and as worldly wise and persevering
as successful men of the commoner sort. Some have even defined genius
to be only common sense intensified. A distinguished teacher and
president of a college spoke of it as the power of making efforts.
John Foster held it to be the power of lighting one's own fire.
Buffon said of genius, "It is patience."

Newton's was unquestionably a mind of the very highest order, and
yet, when asked by what means he had worked out his extraordinary
discoveries, he modestly answered, "By always thinking unto them." At
another time he thus expressed his method of study: "I keep the
subject continually before me, and wait till the first dawnings open
slowly by little and little into a full and clear light." It was in
Newton's case as in every other, only by diligent application and
perseverance that his great reputation was achieved. Even his
recreation consisted in change of study, laying down one subject to
take up another. To Dr. Bentley he said: "If I have done the public
any service, it is due to nothing but industry and patient thought."
So Kepler, another great philosopher, speaking of his studies and his
progress, said: "As in Virgil, 'Fama mobilitate viget, vires acquirit
eundo,' so it was with me, that the diligent thought on these things
was the occasion of still further thinking; until at last I brooded
with the whole energy of my mind upon the subject."

The extraordinary results effected by dint of sheer industry and
perseverance, have led many distinguished men to doubt whether the
gift of genius be so exceptional an endowment as it is usually
supposed to be. Thus Voltaire held that it is only a very slight line
of separation that divides the man of genius from the man of ordinary
mould. Beccaria was even of opinion that all men might be poets and
orators, and Reynolds that they might be painters and sculptors. If
this were really so, that stolid Englishman might not have been so
very far wrong after all, who, on Canova's death, inquired of his
brother whether it was "his intention to carry on the business!"
Locke, Helvetuis, and Diderot believed that all men have an equal
aptitude for genius, and that what some are able to effect, under the
laws which regulate the operations of the intellect, must also be
within the reach of others who, under like circumstances, apply
themselves to like pursuits. But while admitting to the fullest
extent the wonderful achievements of labor, and recognizing the fact
that men of the most distinguished genius have invariably been found
the most indefatigable workers, it must nevertheless be sufficiently
obvious that, without the original endowment of heart and brain, no
amount of labor, however well applied, could have produced a
Shakespeare, a Newton, a Beethoven, or a Michael Angelo.

Dalton, the chemist, repudiated the notion of his being a "genius"
attributing everything which he had accomplished to simple industry
and perseverance. John Hunter said of himself, "My mind is like a
beehive; but full as it is of buzz and apparent confusion, it is yet
full of order and regularity, and food collected with incessant
industry from the choicest stores of nature." We have, indeed, but to
glance at the biographies of great men to find that the most
distinguished inventors, artists, thinkers, and workers of all kinds,
owe their success, in a great measure, to their indefatigable
industry and application. They were men who turned all things to
good--even time itself. Disraeli, the elder, held that the secret of
success consisted in being master of your subject, such mastery being
attainable only through continuous application and study. Hence it
happens that the men who have most moved the world have not been so
much men of genius, strictly so called, as men of intent mediocre
abilities and untiring perseverance; not so often the gifted, of
naturally bright and shining qualities, as those who have applied
themselves diligently to their work, in whatsoever line that might
lie. "Alas!" said a widow, speaking of her brilliant but careless
son, "he has not the gift of continuance." Wanting in perseverance,
such volatile natures are outstripped in the race of life by the
diligent and even the dull.

Hence, a great point to be aimed at is to get the working quality
well trained. When that is done, the race will be found comparatively
easy. We must repeat and again repeat: facility will come with labor.
Not even the simplest art can be accomplished without it; and what
difficulties it is found capable of achieving! It was by early
discipline and repetition that the late Sir Robert Peel cultivated
those remarkable, though still mediocre, powers, which rendered him
so illustrious an ornament of the British senate. When a boy at
Drayton Manor, his father was accustomed to set him up at table to
practice speaking extempore; and he early accustomed him to repeat as
much of the Sunday's sermon as he could remember. Little progress was
made at first, but by steady perseverance that habit of attention
became powerful, and the sermon was at length repeated almost
verbatim. When afterward replying in succession to the arguments of
his parliamentary opponents--an art in which he was perhaps
unrivaled--it was little surmised that the extraordinary power of
accurate remembrance which he displayed on such occasions had been
originally trained under the discipline of his father in the parish
church of Drayton.

It is indeed marvelous what continuous application will effect in the
commonest of things. It may seem a simple affair to play upon a
violin; yet what a long and laborious practice it requires! Giardini
said to a youth who asked him how long it would take to learn it,
"Twelve hours a day for twenty years together."

Progress, however, of the best kind is comparatively slow. Great
results cannot be achieved at once; and we must be satisfied to
advance in life as we walk, step by step. De Maistre says that "To
know _how to wait_ is the great secret of success." We must sow
before we can reap, and often have to wait long, content meanwhile to
look patiently forward in hope: the fruit best worth waiting for
often ripening the slowest. But "time and patience," says the Eastern
proverb, "change the mulberry leaf to satin."

To wait patently, however, men must work cheerfully. Cheerfulness is
an excellent working quality, imparting great elasticity to the
character. As a bishop has said, "Temper is nine-tenths of
Christianity;" so are cheerfulness and diligence nine-tenths of
practical wisdom. They are the life and soul of success, as well as
of happiness; perhaps the very highest pleasure in life consisting in
clear, brisk, conscious working; energy, confidence, and every other
good quality mainly depending upon it. Sydney Smith, when laboring as
a parish priest at Foston-le-Clay, in Yorkshire--though he did not
feel himself to be in his proper element--went cheerfully to work in
the firm determination to do his best. "I am resolved," he said, "to
like it, and reconcile myself to it, which is more manly than to
feign myself above it, and to send up complaints by the post of being
thrown away, and being desolate, and such like trash." So Dr. Hook,
when leaving Leeds for a new sphere of labor, said, "Wherever I many
be, I shall, by God's blessing, do with my might what my hand findeth
to do; and if I do not fined work, I shall make it."

Laborers for the public good especially have to work long and
patiently, often uncheered by the prospect of immediate recompense or
result. The seeds they sow sometimes lie hidden under the winter's
snow, and before the spring comes the husbandman may have gone to his
rest. It is not every public worker who, like Rowland Hill, sees his
great idea bring forth fruit in his lifetime. Adam Smith sowed the
seeds of a great social amelioration in that dingy old University of
Glasgow, where he so long labored, and laid the foundations of his
"Wealth of Nations;" but seventy years passed before his work bore
substantial fruits, nor indeed are they all gathered in yet.

Nothing can compensate for the loss of hope in a man: it entirely
changes the character. "How can I work--how can I be happy," said a
great but miserable thinker, "when I have lost all hope?" One of the
most cheerful and courageous, because one of the most hopeful of
workers, was Carey, the missionary. When in India, it was no uncommon
thing for him to weary out three pundits, who officiated as his
clerks in one day, he himself taking rest only in change of
employment. Carey, the son of a shoemaker, was supported in his
labors by Ward, the son of a carpenter, and Marsham, the son of a
weaver. By their labors a magnificent college was erected at
Serampore; sixteen flourishing stations were established; the Bible
was translated into sixteen languages, and the seeds were sown of a
beneficent moral revolution in British India. Carey was never ashamed
of the humbleness of his origin. On one occasion, when at the
Governor-General's table, he overheard an officer opposite him asking
another, loud enough to be heard, whether Carey had not once been a
shoemaker: "No, sir," exclaimed Carey immediately; "only a cobbler."
An eminently characteristic anecdote has been told of his
perseverance as a boy. When climbing a tree one day, his foot slipped
and he fell to the ground, breaking his leg by the fall. He was
confined to his bed for weeks, but when he recovered and was able to
walk without support, the very first thing he did was to go and climb
that tree. Carey had need of this sort of dauntless courage for the
great missionary work of his life, and nobly and resolutely he did

It was a maxim of Dr. Young, the philosopher, that "Any man can do
what any other man has done;" and it is unquestionable that he
himself never recoiled from any trials to which he determined to
subject himself. It is related of him, that the first time he mounted
a horse he was in company with the grandson of Mr. Barclay, of Ury,
the well-known sportsman. When the horseman who preceded them leaped
a high fence, Young wished to imitate him, but fell off his horse in
the attempt. Without saying a word, he remounted, made a second
effort, and was again unsuccessful, but this time he was not thrown
farther than on to the horse's neck, to which he clung. At the third
trial he succeeded, and cleared the fence.

The story of Timour, the Tartar, learning a lesson of perseverance
under adversity from the spider is well know. Not less interesting is
the anecdote of Audubon, the American ornithologist, as related by
himself: "An accident," he says, "which happened to two hundred of my
original drawings, nearly put a stop to my researches in ornithology.
I shall relate it, merely to show how far enthusiasm--for by no other
name can I call my perseverance--may enable the preserver of nature
to surmount the most disheartening difficulties. I left the village
of Henderson, in Kentucky, situated on the banks of the Ohio, where I
resided for several years, to proceed to Philadelphia on business. I
looked to my drawings before my departure, placed them carefully in a
wooden box, and gave them in charge of a relative, with injunctions
to see that no injury should happen to them. My absence was of
several months; and when I returned, after having enjoyed the
pleasures of home for a few days, I inquired after my box, and what I
was pleased to call my treasure. The box was produced and opened;
but, reader, feel for me--a pair of Norway rats had taken possession
of the whole, and reared a young family among the gnawed bits of
paper, which, but a month previous, represented nearly a thousand
inhabitants of air! The burning heat which instantly rushed through
my brain was too great to be endured without affecting my whole
nervous system. I slept for several nights, and the days passed like
days of oblivion--until the animal powers being recalled into action
through the strength of my constitution, I took up my gun, my
notebook and my pencils, and went forth to the woods as gayly as if
nothing had happened. I felt pleased that I might now make better
drawings than before; and ere a period not exceeding three years had
elapsed, my portfolio was again filled."

The accidental destruction of Sir Isaac Newton's papers, by his
little dog "Diamond" upsetting a lighted taper upon his desk, by
which the elaborate calculations of many years were in a moment
destroyed, is a well-known anecdote, and need not be repeated: it is
said that the loss caused the philosopher such profound grief that it
seriously injured his health, and impaired his understanding. An
accident of a somewhat similar kind happened to the manuscript of Mr.
Carlyle's first volume of his "French Revolution." He had lent the
manuscript to a literary neighbor to peruse. By some mischance, it
had been left lying on the parlor floor, and become forgotten. Weeks
ran on, and the historian sent for his work, the printers being loud
for "copy." Inquiries were made, and it was found that the maid-of-
all-work, finding what she conceived to be a bundle of waste paper
on the floor, had used it to light the kitchen and parlor fires with!
Such was the answer returned to Mr. Carlyle; and his feelings can be
imagined. There was, however, no help for him but to set resolutely
to work to rewrite the book; and he turned to it and did it. He had
no draft and was compelled to rake up from his memory, facts, ideas,
and expressions which had been long since dismissed. The composition
of the book in the first instance had been a work of pleasure; the
rewriting of it a second time was one of pain and anguish almost
beyond belief. That he persevered and finished the volume under such
circumstances, affords an instance of determination of purpose which
has seldom been surpassed.

There is no walk in life, in which success has been won, that has not
its brilliant examples of the achievements of perseverance. The
literary life, in which all who read are interested, has many
illustrations of this. No great career affords stronger proof of this
than that of the great Sir Walter Scott, who, delighting his own
generation, must be honored by all the generations that follow.

His admirable working qualities were trained in a lawyer's office,
where he pursued for many years a sort of drudgery scarcely above
that of a copying clerk. His daily dull routine made his evenings,
which were his own, all the ore sweet; and he generally devoted them
to reading and study. He himself attributed to his prosaic office
discipline that habit of steady, sober diligence, in which mere
literary men are so often found wanting. As a copying clerk he was
allowed 3_d._ for every page containing a certain number of words; and
he sometimes, by extra work, was able to copy as many as 120 pages in
twenty-four hours, thus earning some 30_s._; out of which he would
occasionally purchase an odd volume, otherwise beyond his means.

During his after-life Scott was wont to pride himself upon being a
man of business, and he averred, in contradiction to what he called
the cant of sonneteers, that there was no necessary connection
between genius and an aversion or contempt for the common duties of
life. On the contrary, he was of opinion that to spend some fair
portion of every day in any matter-of-fact occupation was good for
the higher faculties themselves in the upshot. While afterward acting
as clerk to the Court of Session in Edinburgh, he performed his
literary work chiefly before breakfast, attending the court during
the day, where he authenticated registered deeds and writings of
various kinds. "On the whole," says Lockhart, "it forms one of the
most remarkable features in his history, that throughout the most
active period of his literary career, he must have devoted a large
proportion of his hours, during half at least of every year, to the
conscientious discharge of professional duties." It was a principle
of action which he laid down for himself, that he must earn his
living by business, and not by literature. On one occasion he said,
"I determined that literature should be my staff, not my crutch, and
that the profits of my literary labor, however convenient otherwise,
should not, if I could help it, become necessary to my ordinary

His punctuality was one of the most carefully cultivated of his
habits, otherwise it had not been possible for him to get through so
enormous an amount of literary labor. He mad it a rule to answer
every letter received by him on the same day, except where inquiry
and deliberation were requisite. Nothing else could have enabled him
to keep abreast with the flood of communications that poured in upon
him and sometimes put his good-nature to the severest test. It was
his practice to rise by five o'clock and light his own fire. He
shaved and dressed with deliberation, and was seated at his desk by
six o'clock, with his papers arranged before him in the most accurate
order, his works of reference marshaled round him on the floor, while
at least one favorite dog lay watching his eye, outside the line of
books. Thus by the time the family assembled for breakfast, between
nine and ten, he had done enough--to use his own words--to break the
neck of a day's work. But with all his diligent and indefatigable
industry, and his immense knowledge, the result of may years' patient
labor, Scott always spoke with the greatest diffidence of his own
powers. On one occasion he said, "Throughout every part of my career
I have felt pinched and hampered by my own ignorance."

But perseverance and effort do not always mean successful work.
Freeman Hunt distinguishes admirably between activity and energy in
the following statement, which it would be well to remember:

"There are some men whose failure to succeed in life is a problem to
others, as well as to themselves. They are industrious, prudent, and
economical; yet, after a long life of striving, old age finds them
still poor. They complain of ill-luck; they say fate is against them.
But the real truth is that their projects miscarry because they
mistake mere activity for energy. Confounding two things essentially
different, they suppose that if they are always busy, they must of a
necessity be advancing their fortune; forgetting that labor
misdirected is but a waste of activity."

"The person who would succeed in life is like a marksman firing at a
target--if his shot misses the mark, it is but a waste of powder; to
be of any service at all, it must tell in the bull's eye or near it.
So, in the great game of life, what a man does must be made to count,
or it had almost as well be left undone.

"The idle warrior, cut from a block of wood, who fights the air on
the top of a weather-cock, instead of being made to turn some machine
commensurate with his strength, is not more worthless than the merely
active man who, though busy from sunrise to sunset, dissipates his
labor on trifles, when he ought skillfully to concentrate it on some
great end.

"Every person knows some one in his circle of acquaintance who,
though always active, has this want of energy. The distemper, if we
may call it such, exhibits itself in various ways. In some cases, the
man has merely an executive faculty when he should have a directing
one; in other words, he makes a capital clerk for himself, when he
ought to do the thinking work for the establishment. In other cases,
what is done is either not done at the right time, or not in the
right way. Sometimes there is no distinction made between objects of
different magnitudes, and as much labor is bestowed on a trivial
affair as on a matter of great moment.

"Energy, correctly understood, is activity proportioned to the end.
The first Napoleon would often, when in a campaign, remain for days
without undressing himself, now galloping from point to point, now
dictating dispatches, now studying maps and directing operations. But
his periods of repose, when the crisis was over, were generally as
protracted as his previous exertions had been. He has been known to
sleep for eighteen hours without waking. Second-rate men, slaves of
tape and routine, while they would fall short of the superhuman
exertions of the great emperor, would have considered themselves lost
beyond hope if they imitated what they call his indolence. They are
capital illustrations of activity, keeping up their monotonous jog-
trot for ever; while Napoleon, with his gigantic industry,
alternating with such apparent idleness, is an example of energy.

"We do not mean to imply that chronic indolence, if relieved
occasionally by spasmodic fits of industry, is to be recommended. Men
who have this character run into the opposite extreme of that which
we have been stigmatizing, and fail as invariably of securing success
in life. To call their occasional periods of application energy,
would be a sad misnomer. Such persons, indeed, are but civilized
savages, so to speak; vagabonds at heart in their secret hatred of
work, and only resorting to labor occasionally, like the wild Indian
who, after lying for weeks about his hut, is roused by sheer hunger
to start on a hunting excursion. Real energy is persevering, steady,
disciplined. It never either loses sight of the object to be
accomplished, or intermits its exertions while there is a possibility
of success. Napoleon on the plains of Champagne, sometimes fighting
two battles in one day, first defeating the Russians and then turning
on the Austrians, is an illustration of this energy. The Duke of
Brunswick, idling away precious time when he invaded France at the
outbreak of the first Revolution, is an example of the contrary.
Activity beats about a cover like an untrained dog, never lighting on
the covey. Energy goes straight to the bird at once and captures it."



A man may leap into sudden fortune at a bound, and without effort or
foresight, but it is doubtful if any great permanent success ever was
the outcome of blind chance.

The old adage, "Trust to luck," like many other adages that time has
kept in unmerited circulation, is a bad one. The man who trusts to
luck for his clothing is apt to wear rags, and he who depends on it
for food is sure to go hungry.

We hear a great deal about the wonderful things that have been done
by chance, but we seldom take the time to examine them. We read that
sir Isaac Newton, sitting in his garden one day, "Chanced to see an
apple fall to the ground," and this set him to thinking, and he
discovered the laws of gravitation. New, ever since the first apple
fell from the first tree in Eden, men have been watching that very
commonplace occurrence. We might extend the field so as to embrace
oranges, coconuts and all the fruits and nuts which, in every land
and through all the long centuries of man's existence, have been
falling to the ground--not by chance, however, yet they set no men to
thinking, simply because not one of the millions of men who "chanced"
to see the incident, "chanced" to have the reasoning powers of the
great English scientist. If the apple, instead of falling to the
ground, had shot up, without visible cause, to the sky, then the
dullest observer would have wondered, even if he did not attempt to
find an explanation. The falling of the apple in Newton's garden was
not a chance, but an ordinary incident, which was made much of in the
mind of an extraordinary man.

Watt "chanced" to see the lid of the kettle in his mother's kitchen
lifted by the steam within, and this incident we are asked to believe
was the origin of the engine invented by that great man. If no one
else had ever witnessed a like phenomenon, then we might give some
consideration to the element of chance. It was in the brain of Watt,
and not in the lifting of the kettle lid, that the steam engine was
born. There are no accidents in the progress of science.

In the same way, we are asked to believe that Galileo discovered the
telescope, Whitney the cotton gin, and Howe the sewing machine.

But there have been some curious cases of chance fortune. A man out
hunting in California made a mis-step and was plunged into a deep
gulch in the Sierra Nevada. His gun was broken and he was sorely
bruised, but he was more that repaid for the accident by the
discovery of a rich gold mine at the bottom.

What would you think of the man, who, because of this, should
shoulder a gun and go into the mountains, hoping to be precipitated
into a gulch full of gold. If he started out for this purpose, of
course, the element of chance would be eliminated, and yet that man
would show just as much good sense as do the thousands who go through
life--trusting to luck, and hoping for a miracle that never comes.

Success may be unforeseen, but it is a rare thing for it to come to
the man who has not been preparing for it.

Lord Bacon well says: "Neither the naked hand nor the understanding,
left to itself, can do much; the work is accomplished by instruments
and helps, of which the need is not less for the understanding than
the hand."

The Romans had a saying which is as true to-day as when first
uttered: "Opportunity has hair in front, behind she is bald; if you
seize her by the forelock, you may hold her, but if suffered to
escape, not Jupiter himself can catch her again."

Accident does very little toward the production of any great result
in life. Though sometimes what is called "a happy hit" may be made by
a bold venture, the common highway of steady industry and application
is the only safe road to travel. It is said of the landscape painter,
Wilson, that when he had nearly finished a picture in a tame, correct
manner, he would step back from it, his pencil fixed at the end of a
long stick, and after gazing earnestly on the work, he would suddenly
walk up and by a few bold touches give a brilliant finish to the
painting. But it will not do for everyone who would produce an
effect, to throw his brush at the canvas in the hope of producing a
picture. The capability of putting in these last vital touches is
acquired only by the labor of a life; and the probability is, that
the artist who has not carefully trained himself beforehand, in
attempting to produce a brilliant effect at a dash, will only produce
a blotch.

Sedulous attention and painstaking industry always mark the true
worker. The greatest men are not those who "despise the day of small
things," but those who improve them the most carefully. Michael
Angelo was one day explaining to a visitor at his studio what he had
been doing to a statue since a previous visit. "I have retouched this
part--polished that--softened this feature--brought out that muscle--
given some expression to this lip, and more energy to that limb."
"But these are trifles," remarked the visitor. "It may be so,"
replied the sculptor, "but recollect that trifles make perfection,
and perfection is no trifle." So it was said of Nicolas Poussin, the
painter, that the rule of his conduct was, that "whatever was worth
doing at all was worth doing well;" and when asked, late in life, by
his friend Vigneul de Marville, by what means he had gained so high a
reputation among the painters of Italy, Poussin emphatically
answered, "Because I have neglected nothing."

Although there are discoveries which are said to have been made by
accident, if carefully inquired into it will be found that there has
really been very little that was accidental about them. For the most
part, these so-called accidents, have only been opportunities,
carefully improved by genius. The brilliantly colored soap-bubbles
blown through a common tobacco-pipe--though "trifles light as air" in
most eyes--suggested to Dr. Young his beautiful theory of
"interferences," and led to his discovery relating to the diffraction
of light. Although great men are popularly supposed only to deal with
great things, men such as Newton and Young were ready to detect the
significance of the most familiar and simple facts; their greatness
consisting mainly in their wise interpretation of them.

The difference between men consists, in a great measure, in the
intelligence of their observation. The Russian proverb says of the
nonobservant man, "He goes through the forest and sees no firewood."
"The wise man's eyes are in his head," says Solomon, "but the fool
walketh in darkness." "Sir," said Johnson on one occasion, to a fine
gentleman just returned from Italy, "some men would learn more in the
Hampstead stage than others in the tour of Europe." It is the mind
that sees as well as the eye. Where unthinking gazers observe
nothing, men of intelligent vision penetrate into the very fibre of
the phenomena presented to them, attentively noting differences,
making comparisons and recognizing their underlying idea. Many before
Galileo had seen a suspended weight swing before their eyes with a
measured beat, but he was the first to detect the value of the fact.
One of the vergers in the cathedral at Pisa, after replenishing with
oil a lamp which hung from the roof, left it swinging to and fro; and
Galileo, then a youth of only eighteen, noting it attentively,
conceived the idea of applying it to the measurement of time. Fifty
years of study and labor, however, elapsed before he completed the
invention of his Pendulum--the importance of which, in the
measurement of time and in astronomical calculations, can scarcely be
overrated. In like manner, Galileo, having casually heard that one
Lippershey, a Dutch spectacle-maker, had presented to Count Maurice
of Nassau an instrument by means of which distant objects appeared
nearer to the beholder, addressed himself to the cause of such a
phenomenon, which led to the invention of the telescope and proved
the beginning of the modern science of astronomy. Discoveries such as
these could never have been made by a negligent observer, or by a
mere passive listener.

While Captain (afterward Sir Samuel) Brown was occupied in studying
the construction of bridges, with the view of contriving one of a
cheap description to be thrown across the Tweed near which he lived,
he was walking in his garden one dewy autumn morning, when he saw a
tiny spider's net suspended across his path. The idea immediately
occurred to him, that a bridge of iron ropes or chains might be
constructed in like manner, and the result was the invention of his
suspension bridge. So James Watt, when consulted about the mode of
carrying water by pipes under the Clyde, along the unequal bed of the
river, turned his attention one day to the shell of a lobster
presented at table; and from that model he invented an iron tube,
which, when laid down, was found effectually to answer the purpose.
Sir Isambard Brunel took his first lessons in forming the Thames
Tunnel from the tiny shipworm: he saw how the little creature
perforated the wood with its well-armed head, first in one direction
and then in another, till the archway was complete, and then daubed
over the roof and sides with a kind of varnish; and by copying this
work exactly on a large scale, Brunel was at length enabled to
construct his shield and accomplish his great engineering work.

It is the intelligent eye of the careful observer which gives these
apparently trivial phenomena their value. So trifling a matter as the
sight of seaweed floating past his ship, enabled Columbus to quell
the mutiny which arose amongst his sailors at not discovering land,
and to assure them that the eagerly sought New World was not far off.

It is the close observation of little things which is the secret of
success in business, in art, in science, and in every pursuit in
life. Human knowledge is but an accumulation of small facts, made by
successive generations of men, the little bits of knowledge and
experience carefully treasured up by them growing at length into a
mighty pyramid. Though many of these facts and observations seemed in
the first instance to have but slight significance, they are all
found to have their eventual uses, and to fit into their proper
places. Even many speculations seemingly remote, turn out to be the
basis of results the most obviously practical. In the case of the
conic sections discovered by Apollonius Pergaeus, twenty centuries
elapsed before they were made the basis of astronomy--a science which
enables the modern navigator to steer his way through unknown seas
and traces for him in the heavens an unerring path to his appointed
haven. And had not mathematicians toiled for so long, and, to
uninstructed observers, apparently so fruitlessly, over the abstract
relations of lines and surfaces, it is probably that but few of our
mechanical inventions would have seen the light.

When Franklin made his discovery of the identity of lightning and
electricity, it was sneered at, and people asked, "Of what use is
it?" To which his reply was, "What is the use of a child? It may
become a man!" When Galvani discovered that a frog's leg twitched
when placed in contact with different metals, it could scarcely have
been imagined that so apparently insignificant a fact could have led
to important results. Yet therein lay the germ of the electric
telegraph, which binds the intelligence of continents together, and,
probably before many years have elapsed will "put a girdle round the
globe." So, too, little bits of stone and fossil, dug out of the
earth, intelligently interpreted, have issued in the science of
geology and the practical operations of mining, in which large
capitals are invested and vast numbers of persons profitably

The gigantic machinery employed in pumping our mines, working our
mills and manufactories, and driving our steamships and locomotives,
in like manner depends for its supply of power upon so slight an
agency as little drops of water expanded with heat--that familiar
agency called steam, which we see issuing from that common tea-kettle
spout, but which, when pent up within an ingeniously contrived
mechanism, displays a force equal to that of millions of horses, and
contains a power to rebuke the waves and set even the hurricane at
defiance. The same power at work within the bowels of the earth has
been the cause of those volcanoes and earthquakes which have played
so mighty a part in the history of the globe.

This art of seizing opportunities and turning even accidents to
account, bending them to some purpose, is a great secret of success.
Dr. Johnson has defined genius to be "a mind of large general powers
accidentally determined in some particular direction." Men who are
resolved to find a way for themselves, will always find opportunities
enough; and if they do not lie ready to their hand, they will make
them. It is not those who have enjoyed the advantages of colleges,
museums, and public galleries, that have accomplished the most for
science and art; nor have the greatest mechanics and inventors been
trained in mechanics' institutes. Necessity, oftener than facility,
has been the mother of invention; and the most prolific school of all
has been the school of difficulty. Some of the very best workmen have
had the most indifferent tools to work with. But it is not tools that
make the workman, but the trained skill and perseverance of the man
himself. Indeed it is proverbial that the bad workman never yet had a
good tool. Some one asked Opie by that wonderful process he mixed his
colors. "I mix them with my brains, sir," was his reply. It is the
same with every workman who would excel. Ferguson made marvelous
things--such as his wooden clock, that accurately measured the hours--
by means of a common penknife, a tool in everybody's hand; but then
everybody is not a Ferguson. A pan of water and two thermometers were
the tools by which Dr. Black discovered latent heat; and a prism, a
lens and a sheet of pasteboard enable Newton to unfold the
composition of light and the origin of colors. An eminent foreign
_savant_ once called upon Dr. Wollaston, and requested to be shown
over his laboratories, in which science had been enriched by so many
important discoveries, when the doctor took him into a little study,
and, pointing to an old tea-tray on the table, containing a few
watch-glasses, test-papers, a small balance, and a blowpipe, said,
"There is all the laboratory I have!"

Stothard learnt the art of combining colors by closely studying
butterflies' wings: he would often say that no one knew what he owed
to those tiny insects. A burnt stick and a barn door served Wilkie in
lieu of pencil and canvas. Bewiek first practiced drawing on the
cottage walls of his native village, which he covered with his
sketches in chalk; and Benjamin Watt made his first brushes out of
the cat's tail. Ferguson laid himself down in the fields at night in
a blanket, and made a map of the heavenly bodies by means of a thread
with small beads on it stretched between his eye and the stars.
Franklin first robbed the thundercloud of its lightning by means of a
kite made with two cross-sticks and a silk handkerchief. Watt made
his first model of the condensing steam-engine out of an old
anatomist's syringe, used to inject the arteries previous to
dissection. Gifford worked his first problems in mathematics, when a
cobbler's apprentice, upon small scraps of leather, which he beat
smooth for the purpose; whilst Rittenhouse, the astronomer, first
calculated eclipses on his plow handle.

The most ordinary occasions will furnish a man with opportunities or
suggestions for improvement, if he be but prompt to take advantage of
them. Professor Lee was attracted to the study of Hebrew by finding a
Bible in that tongue in a synagogue, while working as a common
carpenter at the repair of the benches. He became possessed with a
desire to read the book in the original, and, buying a cheap second-
hand copy of a Hebrew grammar, he set to work and learned the
language for himself. As Edmund Stone said to the Duke of Argyle, in
answer to his grace's inquiry how he, a poor gardener's boy, had
contrived to be able to read Newton's Principia in the Latin, "One
needs only to know the twenty-four letters of the alphabet in order
to learn everything else that one wishes." Application and
perseverance, and the diligent improvement of opportunities, will do
the rest.

The attention of Dr. Priestley, the discoverer of so many gases, was
accidentally drawn to the subject of chemistry through his living in
the neighborhood of a brewery. When visiting the place one day, he
noted the peculiar appearances attending the extinction of lighted
chips in the gas floating over the fermented liquor. He was forty
years old at the time, and knew nothing of chemistry. He consulted
books to ascertain the cause, but they told him little, for as yet
nothing was known on the subject. Then he began to experiment, with
some rude apparatus of his own contrivance. The curious results of
his first experiments led to others, which in his hands shortly
became the science of pneumatic chemistry. About the same time,
Scheele was obscurely working in the same direction in a remote
Swedish village; and he discovered several new gases, with no more
effective apparatus at his command than a few apothecaries' vials and
pigs' bladders.

Sir Humphry Davy, when an apothecary's apprentice, performed his
first experiments with instruments of the rudest description. He
extemporized the greater part of them himself, out of the motley
materials which chance threw in his way--to pots and pans of the
kitchen, and the vials and vessels of his master's surgery. It
happened that a French ship was wrecked off the Land's End, and the
surgeon escaped, bearing with him his case of instruments, amongst
which was an old-fashioned clyster apparatus; this article he
presented to Davy, with whom he had become acquainted. The
apothecary's apprentice received it with great exultation, and
forthwith employed it as a part of a pneumatic apparatus which he
contrived, afterward using it to perform the duties of an air-pump in
one of his experiments on the nature and sources of heat.

In like manner, professor Faraday, Sir Humphry Davy's scientific
successor, made his first experiments in electricity by means of an
old bottle, while he was still a working bookbinder. And it is a
curious fact, that Faraday was first attracted to the study of
chemistry by hearing one of Sir Humphry Davy's lectures on the
subject at the Royal Institution. A gentleman, who was a member,
calling one day at the shop where Faraday was employed in binding
books, found him pouring over the article "Electricity," in an
encyclopedia placed in his hands to bind. The gentleman, having made
inquiries, found that the young bookbinder was curious about such
subjects, and gave him an order of admission to the Royal
Institution, where he attended a course of four lectures delivered by
Sir Humphry. He took notes of them, which he showed to the lecturer,
who acknowledged their scientific accuracy, and was surprised when
informed of the humble position of the reporter. Faraday then
expressed his desire to devote himself to the prosecution of chemical
studies, from which Sir Humphry at first endeavored to dissuade him:
but the young man persisting, he was at length taken into the Royal
Institution as an assistant; and eventually the mantle of the
brilliant apothecary's boy fell upon the worthy shoulders of the
equally brilliant bookbinder's apprentice.

The words which Davy entered in his notebook, when about twenty years
of age, working in Dr. Beddoes' laboratory at Bristol, were eminently
characteristic of him: "I have neither riches, nor power, nor birth
to recommend me; yet if I live I trust I shall not be of less service
to mankind and my friends, than if I had been born with all these
advantages." Davy possessed the capability, as Faraday did, of
devoting the whole power of his mind to the practical and
experimental investigation of a subject in all its bearings; and such
a mind will rarely fail, by dint of mere industry and patient
thinking, in producing results of the highest order. Coleridge said
of Davy: "There is an energy and elasticity in his mind, which
enables him to seize on and analyze all questions, pushing them to
their legitimate consequences. Every subject in Davy's mind has the
principle of vitality. Living thoughts spring up like turf under his
feet." Davy, on his part said of Coleridge, whose abilities he
greatly admired: "With the most exalted genius, enlarged views,
sensitive heart, and enlightened mind, he will be the victim of a
want of order, precision, and regularity."

It is not accident, then, that helps a man in the world so much as
purpose and persistent industry. To the feeble, the sluggish and
purposeless, the happiest accidents will avail nothing--they pass
them by, seeing no meaning in them. But it is astonishing how much
can be accomplished if we are prompt to seize and improve the
opportunities for action and effort which are constantly presenting
themselves. Watt taught himself chemistry and mechanics while working
at his trade of a mathematical instrument maker, at the same time
that he was learning German from a Swiss dyer. Stephenson taught
himself arithmetic and mensuration while working as an engine-man,
during the night shifts; and when he could snatch a few moments in
the intervals allowed for meals during the day, he worked his sums
with a bit of chalk upon the sides of the colliery wagons. Dalton's
industry was the habit of his life. He began from his boyhood, for he
taught a little village school when he was only about twelve years
old--keeping the school in winter, and working upon his father's farm
in summer. He would sometimes urge himself and companions to study by
the stimulus of a bet, though bred a Quaker; and on one occasion by
his satisfactory solution of a problem, he won as much as enabled him
to buy a winter's store of candles. He continued his meteorological
observations until a day or two before he died--having made and
recorded upward of 200,000 in the course of his life.

With perseverance, the very odds, and ends of time may be worked up
into results of the greatest value. An hour in every day withdrawn
from frivolous pursuits would, if profitably employed, enable a
person of ordinary capacity to go far toward mastering a science. It
would make an ignorant man a well-informed one in less than ten
years. Time should not be allowed to pass without yielding fruits, in
the form of something learnt worthy of being known, some good
principle cultivated, or some good habit strengthened. Dr. Mason Good
translated Lucretuis while riding in his carriage in the streets of
London, going the round of his patients. Dr. Darwin composed nearly
all his works in the same way while driving about in his "sulky" from
house to house in the country ==writing down his thoughts on little
scraps of paper, which he carried about with him for the purpose.
Hale wrote his "Contemplations" while traveling on circuit. Dr.
Burney learnt French and Italian while traveling on horseback from
one musical pupil to another in the course of his profession. Kirke
White learnt Greek while walking to and fro from a lawyer's office;
and we personally know a man of eminent position who learnt Latin and
French while going messages as an errand-boy.

Hugh Miller was a busy man of observant faculties, who studied
literature as well as science, with zeal and success. The book in
which he has told the story of his life("My Schools and
Schoolmasters"), is extremely interesting, and calculated to be
eminently useful. It is the history of the formation of a truly noble
character in the humblest condition of life, and inculcates most
powerfully the lessons of self-help, self-respect, and self-
dependence. While Hugh was but a child, his father, who was a sailor,
was drowned at sea, and he was brought up by his widowed mother. He
had a school training after a sort, but his best teachers were the
boys with whom he played, the men amongst whom he lived. He read much
and miscellaneously, and picked up odd sorts of knowledge from many
quarters--from workmen, carpenters, fishermen and sailors, and above
all, from the old boulders strewed along the shores of the Cromarty
Firth. With a big hammer which had belonged to his great-grandfather,
an old buccaneer, the boy went about chipping the stones, and
accumulating specimens of mica, porphyry, garnet, and such like.
Sometimes he had a day in the woods, and there, too, the boy's
attention was excited by the peculiar geological curiosities which
came in his way. While searching among the rocks on the beach, he was
sometimes asked, in irony, by the farm-servants who came to load
their carts with sea-weed, whether he "was gettin' siller in the
stanes," but was so unlucky as never to be able to answer in the
affirmative. When of a suitable age he was apprenticed to the trade
of his choice--that of a working stone-mason; and he began his
laboring career in a quarry looking out upon the Cromarty Firth. This
quarry proved one of his best schools. The remarkable geological
formations which it displayed awakened his curiosity. The bar of
deep-red stone beneath, and the bar of pale-red clay above, were
noted by the young quarryman, who even in such unpromising subjects,
found matter of observation and reflection. Where other men saw
nothing, he detected analogies, differences, and peculiarities which
set him a-thinking. He simply kept his eyes and his mind open; was
sober, diligent and persevering; and this was the secret of his
intellectual growth.

His curiosity was excited and kept alive by the curious organic
remains, principally of old and extinct species of fishes, ferns, and
ammonites, which were revealed along the coast by the washings of the
waves, or were exposed by the stroke of his mason's hammer. He never
lost sight of the subject, but went on accumulating observations and
comparing formations, until at length, many years afterward, when no
longer a working mason, he gave to the world his highly interesting
work on the "Old Red Sandstone," which at once established his
reputation as a scientific geologist. But this work was the fruit of
long years of patient observation and research. As he modestly states
in his autobiography, "The only merit to which I lay claim in the
case is that of patient research--a merit in which whoever wills may
rival or surpass me; and this humble faculty of patience, when
rightly developed, may lead to more extraordinary development of
ideas than even genius itself."

"Chance," said an old Vermont farmer, "is like going into a field
with a pail, and waiting for a cow to come to you and back up to be

"Shun delays, they breed remorse;
  Take thy time while time is lent thee;
Creeping snails have weakest force,
  Fly their fault, lest thou repent thee;
    Good is best when sooner wrought,
    Ling'ring labors come to nought.

"Hoist up sail while gale doth last,
  Tide and wind stay no man's pleasure!
Seek not time when time is past,
  Sober speed is wisdom's leisure;
    After-wits are dearly bought,
    Let thy fore-wit guide thy thought.

"Time wears all his locks before,
  Take thou hold upon his forehead;
When he flees he turns no more,
  And behind his scalp is naked.
    Works adjourn'd have many stays,
    Long demurs breed new delays."



"Look before you leap," old Commodore Vanderbilt used to say. "I like
active men, but I have no use for the fellow who is so much in
earnest that he goes off half-cocked." We all know the danger of a
gun that goes off half-cocked, but it is not so apt to bring disaster
as is the man who goes off without due preparation.

It is fortunate for us that we cannot see into the future, but the
Father who has kept from us the gift of prophecy has blessed us with
a foresight and judgment that enable us to see pretty accurately what
must be the inevitable consequence of certain acts.

The power to observe carefully and judge accurately is a rare gift,
but it is one that can be cultivated. The ancients had a motto "Know
thyself," and the great poet Pope tells us that "the proper study of
mankind is man." A knowledge of human nature is invaluable in every
life-calling that brings us into contact with our fellows, and this
can be gained only by careful observation.

Stephen Girard attributed much of his success to his "ability to read
men at a glance." And so carefully did the great merchant prince,
Alexander T, Stewart, study this, that it is said he rarely made a
mistake in the character of a man he took into his employ.

Cultivate observation. Oliver Wendell Holmes maintained that all the
difference in men, no matter their callings, lay in the difference of
their ability to observe and draw proper conclusions from their
observations. Professor Huxley says that "observation is the basis of
all our scientific knowledge." And Andrew Carnegie attributes his
great success to his cultivation of this faculty.

Every young man, ambitious to win--and what young man worthy the name
is not?--should have a standard of excellence for himself, and then
he should carefully study and observe the methods of the men who he
admires or with whom he is brought into contact. It is the ability to
do this that constitutes the difference between the man drudge and
the man anxious to assume greater responsibilities by mastering his
necessary duties.

In a lecture to young men on this subject, Henry Ward Beecher said:

"The young should begin life with a standard of excellence before
them, to which they should readily conform themselves. There should
be a fixed determination to make the best of one's self, in whatever
circumstances we may be placed. Let the young man determine that
whatever he undertakes he will do well; that he will make himself
master of the business upon which he enters, and always prepare
himself for advancement by becoming worthy of it. It is not
opportunity of rising which is wanting, so much as the ability to
rise. It is not the patronage of friends and the outward helps of
fortune, to which the prominent men of our country owe their
elevation, either in wealth or influence, so much as to their own
vigorous and steady exertions. We hear a great many complaints, both
among young men and old, of the favoritism of fortune, and the
partiality of the world; but observation leads us to believe that, to
a very great extent, those who deserve promotion obtain it. Those who
are worthy of confidence will have confidence reposed in them. Those
who give evidence of ability and industry will find opportunity
enough for their exercise."

Take a familiar illustration. A young man engages in some business,
and is, in ever respect, a beginner in life. A common education is
all that he possesses. He knows almost nothing of the world, and very
little of the occupation on which he has entered. He performs his
duty from day to day sufficiently well, and does what he is expected
to do. But it does not enter into his mind to do anything beyond what
is required, nor to enlarge his capacities by reading or reflection.
He is, at the best, a steady plodding man, who will go forward, if at
all, very slowly, and will rise, if at all, to no great elevation. He
is not the sort of person who is looked for to occupy a higher
position. One opportunity of advancement after another may come
directly within his reach, and he asks the influence of friends to
help him to secure it. They give their aid feebly, because they have
no great hopes of success, and are not confident of their own
recommendation. As a matter of course, some one else, more competent
or more in earnest, steps in before him, and then we hear renewed
complaints of favoritism and injustice. Such a one may say in his
defense that he has been guilty of no dereliction of duty; that no
fault has been found with him, and that, therefore, he was entitled
to advancement. But this does not follow. Something more that that
may reasonably be required. To bestow increased confidence, we
require the capacity and habit of improvement in those whom we
employ. The man who is entitled to rise is one who is always
enlarging his capacity, so that he is evidently able to do more that
he is actually doing.

In every department of business, whether mechanical or mercantile, or
whatever it may be, there is a large field of useful knowledge which
should be carefully explored. An observing eye and an inquiring mind
will always find enough for examination and study. It may not seem to
be of immediate use--it may have nothing to do with this week's or
this year's duty--yet it is worth knowing. The mind gains greater
skillfulness by the intelligence which directs it.

The result is all the difference between a mere drudge and an
intelligent workman; between the mere salesman or clerk and the
enterprising merchant; between the obscure and pettifogging lawyer
and the sagacious, influential counselor. It is the difference
between one who deserves to be, and will be, stationary in the world,
and one who, having determined to make the best of himself, will
continually rise in influence and true respectability. This whole
difference we may see every day among those who have enjoyed nearly
equal opportunities. We may allow something for what are called the
accidents of social influence, and the turns of fortune. But, after
all fair allowance has been made, we shall find that the great cause
of difference is in the men themselves. Let the young man who is
beginning life put away from him all notions of advancement without
desert. A man of honorable feelings will not even desire it. He will
ever shrink from engaging in duties which he is not able fairly to
perform. He will, first of all, secure to himself the capacity of
performing them, and then he is ready for them whenever they come.

Without observation and judgment there can be no permanent advance.
Without observation, experience has no value, and the passing years
add nothing to our fund of useful knowledge. Judgment is the ability
to weigh these observations, and use them for our own protection or

Not only in business, but in science and art, observation and good
judgment are necessary. Excellence in art, as in everything else, can
only be achieved by dint of painstaking labor and a close observation
of those whom we regard as our superiors. There is nothing less
accidental than the painting of a fine picture, or the chiseling of a
noble statue. Every skilled touch of the artist's brush or chisel,
though guided by genius, is the product of unremitting study. Sir
Joshua Reynolds was such a believer in the force of industry, that he
held that artistic excellence, "however expressed by genius, taste,
or the gift of heaven may be acquired." Writing to Barry he said,
"Whoever is resolved to excel in painting, or indeed any other art,
must bring all his mind to bear upon that one object from the moment
that he rises till he goes to bed." And on another occasion he said,
"Those who are resolved to excel must go to their work, willing or
unwilling, morning, noon, and, night: they will find it no play, but
very hard labor." But although diligent application is no doubt
absolutely necessary for the achievement of the highest distinction
in art, it is equally true that, without the inborn genius, no amount
of mere industry, however well applied, will make an artist. The gift
comes by nature, but is perfected by self-culture, which is of more
avail that all the imparted learning of the schools. But even genius
without good judgment may be an unbroken steed without a bridle.

All great artists and authors have been famed for their powers of
observation; indeed, it is claimed that it is this power that
distinguishes them from other men.

No matter how generous nature has been in bestowing the gift of
genius, the pursuit of art is nevertheless a long and continuous
labor. Many artists have been precocious, but without diligence their
precocity would have come to nothing. The anecdote related of West is
well known. When only seven years old, struck with the beauty of the
sleeping infant of his eldest sister, whilst watching by its cradle,
he ran to seek some paper, and forthwith drew its portrait in red and
black ink. The little incident revealed the artist in him, and it was
found impossible to draw him from his bent. West might have been a
greater painter had he not been injured by too early success: his
fame, though great, was not purchased by study, trials and
difficulties, and it has not been enduring.

Richard Wilson, when a mere child, indulged himself with tracing
figures of men and animals on the walls of his father's house with a
burnt stick. He first directed his attention to portrait painting;
but when in Italy, calling one day at the house of Zucarelli, and
growing weary with waiting, he began painting the scene on which his
friend's chamber window looked. When Zucarelli arrived, he was so
charmed with the picture that he asked if Wilson had not studied
landscape, to which he replied that he had not. "Then I advise you,"
said the other, "to try; for you are sure of great success." Wilson
adopted the advice, studied and worked hard, and became the first
great English landscape painter.

Sir Joshua Reynolds, when a boy, forgot his lessons, and took
pleasure only in drawing, for which his father was accustomed to
rebuke him. The boy was destined for the profession of physic, but
his strong instinct for art could not be repressed, and he became a
painter. Gainsborough went sketching, when a schoolboy, in the woods
of Sudbury, and at twelve he was a confirmed artist; he was a keen
observer and a hard worker--no picturesque feature of any scene he
had once looked upon escaping his diligent pencil. William Blake, a
hosier's son, employed himself in drawing designs on the backs of his
father's shop-bills, and making sketches on the counter. Edward Bird,
when a child only three or four years old, would mount a chair and
draw figures on the walls, which he called French and English
soldiers. A box of colors was purchased for him, and his father,
desirous of turning his love of art to account, put him apprentice to
a maker of teatrays! Out of this trade he gradually raised himself,
by study and labor, to the rank of a Royal Academician.

Hogarth, though a very dull boy at his lessons, took pleasure in
making drawings of the letters of the alphabet, and his school
exercises were more remarkable for the ornaments with which he
embellished them, than for the matter of the exercises themselves. In
the latter respect he was beaten by all the blockheads of the school,
but in his adornments he stood alone. His father put him apprentice
to a silversmith, where he learnt to draw, and also to engrave spoons
and forks with crests and ciphers. From silver-chasing he went on to
teach himself engraving on copper, principally griffins and monsters
of heraldry, in the course of which practice he became ambitious to
delineate the varieties of human character. The singular excellence
which he reached in this art was mainly the result of careful
observation and study. He had the gift, which he sedulously
cultivated, of committing to memory the precise features of any
remarkable face, and afterward reproducing them on paper; but if any
singularly fantastic form or odd face came in his way, he would make
a sketch of it on the spot upon his thumbnail, and carry it home to
expand at his leisure. Everything fantastical and original had a
powerful attraction for him, and he wandered into many out-of-the-way
places for the purpose of meeting with character. By this careful
storing of his mind, he was afterward enabled to crowd an immense
amount of thought and treasure observation into his works. Hence it
is that Hogarth's pictures are so truthful a memorial of the
character, the manners, and even the very thoughts of the times in
which he live. True painting, he himself observed, can only be learnt
in one school, and that is kept by Nature. But he was not a highly
cultivated man, except in his own walk. His school education had been
of the slenderest kind, scarcely even perfecting him in the art of
spelling; his self-culture did the rest. For a long time he was in
very straitened circumstances, but nevertheless worked on with a
cheerful heart. Poor though he was, he contrived to live within his
small means, and he boasted with becoming pride, that he was "a
punctual paymaster." When he had conquered all his difficulties and
become a famous and thriving man, he loved to dwell upon his early
labors and privations, and to fight over again the battle which ended
so honorably to him as a man and so gloriously as an artist. "I
remember the time," said he on one occasion, "when I have gone
moping into the city with scarce a shilling, but as soon as I have
received ten guineas there for a plate, I have returned home, put on
my sword, and sallied out with all the confidence of a man who had
thousands in his pockets."

Perhaps there is no living man of eminence who so well and forcibly
illustrates these qualities of judgment and observation as that
greatest of living American inventors, Thomas A. Edison.

Mr. Edison, as we have already stated, had only a few weeks at school
in his whole life. He was born in the upper part of New York State in
1847. His parents were poor, and early in life, to use his own
expressive words, he "had to start out and hustle." One would think
that selling newspapers on a railroad train was not a calling that
afforded any educational advantages, but to the man of observation
there is no position in life, whether in the busy haunts of men or
the silence of the wilderness, that is not replete with valuable
information if we but know where to look for it, and have the
judgment to use it after it is obtained.

Through the favor of the telegraph operator, whose child's life he
had saved when the little one was nearly under the wheels of a train,
young Edison was enabled to study telegraphy. During this
apprenticeship, if such it may be called, the boy not only learned
how to send and receive a message, so as to fit himself for the
position of operator, but he learned all about the mechanism and the
batteries of the instrument he operated.

"Nothing escaped Tom Edison's observation," said a man who knew him
at this time. "He saw everything, and he not only saw it, but he set
about learning its whys and wherefores, and he stuck at it till he
had learned all there was to be learned about it."

Said another friend, "I've known Edison since he was a boy of
fourteen, and of my own knowledge I can say he never spent an idle
day in his life. Often when he should have been asleep I have known
him to sit up half the night reading. He did not take to novels or
wild Western adventures, but read works on mechanics, chemistry and
electricity, and he mastered them, too. But in addition to his
reading, which he could only indulge at odd hours, he carefully
cultivated his wonderful powers of observation, till at length, when
he was not actually asleep, it may be said he was learning all the
time. Schools and colleges are all very well, but Mr. Edison's career
goes to show that a man may become famous, prosperous, and well
educated, if he has the necessary capacity for observing and

Another illustrious example of the same kind is the late George W.
Childs, of Philadelphia. He was born in Baltimore, Md., in 1829, and
at the age of twelve he had to begin the battle of life by taking the
position of errand boy in a book store. "I had no schooling," he
said, when speaking of his early struggles, "but I had a quenchless
thirst for information. I had no tine to read the books I had to
handle and carry sometimes in a wheelbarrow, but I kept my eyes and
ears open. I studied the binding and manufacture, though I had not
the slightest idea of the contents; and from these early observations
I made up my mind that one day I would become a publisher on my own

How successfully Mr. Childs did this, we all know. While yet in his
teens, he made his way, without money or friends, to Philadelphia,
and found a place in a book store, where the same method of education
by observation was continued.

The first time he saw a copy of the Philadelphia _Ledger_, a time
when he had scarcely the penny to spare that bought it, he made up
his mind that one day he would own that paper--and he carried out his

So excellent was his judgment that not only publishers, but statesmen
and bankers sought it. From the humblest beginnings George W. Childs
rose up and up till the greatest men of two continents rejoiced in
his friendship, and his name was on the lips of all who admire a
noble life devoted to philanthropic deeds.

Our American biographies are full of examples of self-taught men--men
who have become educated through observation, and great through good
judgment and increasing effort, but there are not many of them that
commend themselves so warmly to the heart as the life of the good,
wise, and generous George W. Childs.



We have all heard of the "Jack of all trades, and master of none."
Such men never win, though they may excite the admiration of the
curious by their impractical versatility.

In early times, even in the early settlement of our own country, it
was necessary for not only men, but women also, to be many-sided in
their capacity for work; but the world's swift advance has made this
unnecessary. A farmer can now buy shoes cheaper than he could make
them at home, and the farmer's wife has no longer to learn the art of
spinning and weaving.

A French philosopher in speaking of this subject says: "It is well to
know something about everything, and everything about something."
That is general information is always useful, but special information
is essential to special success.

The field of learning is too vast to be carefully gone over in one
lifetime, and the business world is too extensive to permit any man
to become acquainted with all its topography. A man may do a number
of things fairly well, but he can do only one thing very well.

Often versatility instead of being a blessing is an injury. A few men
like Michael Angelo in art, Benjamin Franklin in science and letters,
and Peter Cooper in various departments of manufacture have succeeded
in everything they undertook, but to hold these up as examples to be
followed would be to make a rule of an exception.

Singleness of purpose is one of the prime requisites of success.
Fortune is jealous, and refuses to be approached from all sides by
the same suitor.

We have known men of marked ability, but want of purpose, who studied
for the ministry and failed; who then studied law--and failed. After
this they tried medicine and journalism, only to fail in each;
whereas, had they stuck resolutely to one thing success would not
have been uncertain.

A young man may not be able at the very start to hit upon the
vocation for which he is best adapted, but should he find it, he will
see that his ability to avail himself of its advantages will depend
largely on the energy and singleness of purpose displayed in the work
for which he had no liking.

There is a famous speech recorded of an old Norseman, thoroughly
characteristic of the Teuton. "I believe neither in idols nor
demons," said he; "I put my sole trust in my own strength of body and
soul." The ancient crest of a pickaxe with the motto of "Either I
will find a way or make one," was an expression of the same sturdy
independence which to this day distinguishes the descendants of the
Northmen. Indeed, nothing could be more characteristic of the
Scandinavian mythology, than that it had a god with a hammer. A man's
character is seen in small matters; and from even so slight a test as
the mode in which a man wields a hammer, his energy may in some
measure be inferred. Thus an eminent Frenchman hit off in a single
phrase the characteristic quality of the inhabitants of a particular
district, in which a friend of his proposed to settle and buy land.
"Beware," said he, "of making a purchase there; I know the men of
that Department; the pupils who come from it to our veterinary school
at Paris _do not strike hard upon the anvil_; they want energy; and
you will not get a satisfactory return on any capital you may invest

Hugh Miller said the only school in which he was properly taught was
"that world-wide school in which toil and hardship are the severe but
noble teachers." He who allows his application to falter, or shirks
his work on frivolous pretexts, is on the sure road to ultimate
failure. Let any task be undertaken as a thing not possible to be
evaded, and it will soon come to be performed with alacrity and
cheerfulness. Charles IX of Sweden was a firm believer in the power
of will, even in youth. Laying his hand on the head of his youngest
son when engaged on a difficult task, he exclaimed, "He _shall_ do
it! he _shall_ do it!" The habit of application becomes easy in time,
like every other habit. Thus persons with comparatively moderate
powers will accomplish much, if they apply themselves wholly and
indefatigably to one thing at a time. Fowell Buxton placed his
confidence in ordinary means and extraordinary application; realizing
the Scriptural injunction, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it
with thy might;" and he attributed his own success in life to his
practice of "being a whole man to one thing at a time."

"Where there is a will there is a way," is an old and true saying. He
who resolves upon doing a thing, by that very resolution often scales
the barriers to it, and secures its achievement. To think we are
able, is almost to be so--to determine upon attainment is frequently
attainment itself. Thus, earnest resolution has often seemed to have
about it almost a savor of omnipotence. The strength of Suwarrow's
character lay in his power of willing, and, like most resolute
persons, he preached it up as a system. "You can only half will," he
would say to people who failed. Like Richelieu and Napoleon, he would
have the word "impossible" banished from the dictionary. "I don't
know," "I can't," and "impossible," were words which he detested
above all others. "Learn! Do! Try!" he would exclaim. His biographer
has said of him, that he furnished a remarkable illustration of what
may be effected by the energetic development and exercise of
faculties the germs of which at least are in every human heart.

One of Napoleon's favorite maxims was, "The truest wisdom is a
resolute determination." His life, beyond most others, vividly showed
what a powerful and unscrupulous will could accomplish. He threw his
whole force of body and mind direct upon his work. Imbecile rulers
and the nations they governed went down before him in succession. He
was told that the Alps stood in the way of his armies. "There shall
be no Alps," he said, and the road across the Simplon was
constructed, through a district formerly almost inaccessible.
"Impossible," said he, "is a word only to be found in the dictionary
of fools." He was a man who toiled terribly; sometimes employing and
exhausting four secretaries at a time. He spared no one, not even
himself. His influence inspired other men, and put a new life into
them. "I made my generals out of mud" he said. But all was of no
avail; for Napoleon's intense selfishness was his ruin, and the ruin
of France, which he left a prey to anarchy.

Before the man resolutely impelled to action by singleness of
purpose, every obstacle disappears as he approaches, and every lesson
of experience becomes the stepping-stone to further victories in the
same direction.

It is this singleness of purpose, this absorption in a great life-
work, that nerves our missionaries in their exile. A splendid example
of this is presented in the career of the great missionary and
explorer, Dr. Livingstone.

He has told the story of his life in that modest and unassuming
manner which is so characteristic of the man himself. His ancestors
were poor but honest Highlanders, and it is related of one of them,
renowned in his district for wisdom and prudence, that when on his
death-bed, he called his children round him and left them these
words, the only legacy he had to bequeath: "In my lifetime," said he,
"I have searched most carefully through all the traditions I could
find of our family, and I never could discover that there was a
dishonest man among our forefathers; if, therefore, any of you, or
any of your children, should take to dishonest ways, it will not be
because it runs in our blood; it does not belong to you: I leave this
precept with you--Be honest." At the age of ten, Livingstone was sent
to work in a cotton factory near Glasgow as a "piecer." With part of
his first week's wages he bought a Latin grammar, and began to learn
that language, pursuing the study for years at a night-school. He
would sit up conning his lessons till twelve or later, when not sent
to bed by his mother, for he had to be up and at work in the factory
every morning by six. In this way he plodded through Virgil and
Horace, also reading extensively all books, excepting novels, that
came in his way, but more especially scientific works and books of
travels. He occupied his spare hours, which were but few, in the
pursuit of botany, scouring the neighborhood to collect plants. He
even carried on his reading amidst the roar of the factory machinery,
so placing the book upon the spinning-jenny which he worked, that he
could catch sentence after sentence as he passed it. In this way the
persevering youth acquired much useful knowledge; and as he grew
older, the desire possessed him of becoming a missionary to the
heathen. With this object he set himself to obtain a medical
education, in order the better to be qualified for the work. He
accordingly economized his earnings, and saved as much money as
enabled him to support himself while attending the Medical and Greek
classes as well as the Divinity Lectures, at Glasgow, for several
winters, working as a cotton-spinner during the remainder of each
year. He thus supported himself, during his college career, entirely
by his own earnings as a factory workman, never having received a
farthing of help from any other source. "Looking back now," he
honestly said, "at that life of toil, I cannot but feel thankful that
it formed such a material part of my early education; and, were it
possible, I should like to begin life over again in the same lowly
style, and to pass through the same hardy training." At length he
finished his medical curriculum, wrote his Latin thesis, passed his
examinations, and was admitted a licentiate of the Faculty of
Physicians and Surgeons. At first he thought of going to China, but
the war then waging with that country prevented his following out the
idea; and having offered his services to the London Missionary
Society, he was by them sent out to Africa, which he reached in 1840.
He had intended to proceed to China by his own efforts; and he says
the only pang he had in going to Africa at the charge of the London
Missionary Society was, because "it was not quite agreeable to one
accustomed to worked his own way to become, in a manner, dependent
upon others." Arrived in Africa, he set to work with great zeal. He
could not brook the idea of merely entering upon the labors of
others, but cut out a large sphere of independent work, preparing
himself for it by undertaking manual labor in building and other
handicraft employment, in addition to teaching, which, he says, "made
me generally as much exhausted and unfit for study in the evenings as
ever I had been when a cotton-spinner." Whilst laboring amongst the
Bechuanas, he dug canals, built houses, cultivated fields, reared
cattle, and taught the natives to work as well as to worship. When he
first started with a party of them on foot upon a long journey, he
overheard their observations upon his appearance and powers. "He is
not strong," said they; "he is quite slim, and only appears stout
because he puts himself into those bags (trousers): he will soon
knock up." This caused the missionary's Highland blood to rise, and
made him despise the fatigue of keeping them all at the top of their
speed for days together, until he heard them expressing proper
opinions of his pedestrian powers. What he did in Africa, and how he
worked, may be learnt from his own "Missionary Travels," one of the
most fascinating books of its kind that has ever been given to the
public. One of his last known acts is thoroughly characteristic of
the man. The "Birkenhead" steam launch, which he took out with him to
Africa, having proved a failure, he sent home orders for the
construction of another vessel at an estimated cost of 2,000 pounds.
This sum he proposed to defray out of the means which he had set aside
for his children, arising from the profits of his books of travel.
"The children must make it up themselves," was in effect his expression
in sending home the order for the appropriation of the money.

The career of John Howard was throughout a striking illustration of
the same power of patient purpose. His sublime life proved that even
physical weakness could remove mountains in the pursuit of an end
recommended by duty. The idea of ameliorating the condition of
prisoners engrossed his whole thoughts, and possessed him like a
passion; and no toil, or danger, nor bodily suffering could turn him
from that great object of his life. Though a man of no genius and but
moderate talent, his heart was pure and his will was strong. Even in
his own time he achieved a remarkable degree of success; and his
influence did not die with him, for it has continued powerfully to
affect not only the legislation of his own country, but of all
civilized nations, down to the present hour.

Horace Mann, famous as a teacher and reformer in his day, was urged
by his friends in Ohio to go to Congress. He replied: "I have a great
deal of respect for men in public life, but I have more respect for
my on life-work. If I know anything, it is the science or art of
teaching, and to this work, please God, I shall devote the whole of
my life." And he kept his word.

Singleness of purpose implies firmness, for in this day of change and
speculation, the young man who has saved up a little money, hoping
one day to go into business for himself, will find on every hand
temptations to invest in enterprises of which he knows nothing. Here
his resolution will be tested. Remember there is no element of human
character so potential for weal or woe as firmness. To the merchant
and the man of business it is all-important. Before its irresistible
energy the most formidable obstacles become as cobweb barriers in its
path. Difficulties, the terror of which causes the timid and pampered
sons of luxury to shrink back with dismay, provoke from the man a
lofty determination only a smile. The whole history of our race--all
nature, indeed--teems with examples to show what wonders may be
accomplished by resolute perseverance and patient toil.

It is related of Tamerlane, the terror of whose arms spread through
all the Eastern nations, and whom victory attended at almost every
step, that he once learned from an insect a lesson of perseverance,
which had a striking effect on his future character and success.

When closely pursued by his enemies, as a contemporary writer tells
the incident, he took refuge in some old ruins, where left to his
solitary musings, he espied an ant tugging and striving to carry a
single grain of corn. His unavailing efforts were repeated sixty-nine
times, and at each brave attempt, as soon as he reached a certain
point of projection, he fell back with his burden, unable to surmount
it; but the seventieth time he bore away his spoil in triumph, and
left the wondering hero reanimated and exulting in the hope of future

How pregnant the lesson this incident conveys! How many thousand
instances there are in which inglorious defeat ends the career of the
timid and desponding, when the same tenacity of purpose would crown
it with triumphant success.

Resolution is almost omnipotent. It was well observed by a heathen
moralist, that it is not because things are difficult that we dare
not undertake them. Be, then, bold in spirit. Indulge no doubts.
Shakespeare says truly and wisely--

   "Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win,
By fearing to attempt."

In the practical pursuit of our high aim, let us never lose sight of
it in the slightest instance; for it is more by a disregard of small
things, than by open and flagrant offenses, that men come short of
excellence. There is always a right and a wrong; and, if you ever
doubt, be sure you take not the wrong. Observe this rule, and every
experience will be to you a means of advancement.



Many, prompted no doubt by a feeling of envy, are apt to sneer at the
culture and mental ability of the men who have won in business. "Dumb
luck," "mean plodding," "the robbery of employees," these and other
reasons are assigned by the unreasoning and uncharitable for the
prosperity of men who won with fewer advantages than themselves.

Every student of the world's progress knows that business men have
done even more than great authors for the advance of civilization.
And we all know, though the world is apt to kneel to military idols,
that inventors have done far more than have soldiers for the good of

The man who succeeds in commerce, trade, or manufactures, thereby
shows a foresight and executive ability that would surely have
commanded success in any other calling. Men who know books and
nothing else are apt to imagine that the merchant, whose life is
devoted to facts, figures, and results, must by reason of that be
wanting in the higher intellectual faculties. Nor is this belief
wholly confined to authors in America.

Hazlitt, in one of his clever essays, represents the man of business
as a mean sort of person put in a go-cart, yoked to a trade or
profession; alleging that all he has to do is, not to go out of the
beaten track, but merely to let his affairs take their own course.
"The great requisite," he says, "for the prosperous management of
ordinary business is the want of imagination, or of any ideas but
those of custom and interest on the narrowest scale." but nothing
could be more one-sided, and in effect untrue, than such a
definition. Of course, there are narrow-minded men of business, as
there are narrow-minded scientific men, literary men and legislators;
but there are also business men of large and comprehensive minds,
capable of action on the very largest scale. As Burke said in his
speech on the India bill, he knew statesmen who were peddlers, and
merchants who acted in the spirit of statesmen.

If we take into account the qualities necessary for the successful
conduct of any important undertaking--that it requires special
aptitude, promptitude of action on emergencies, capacity for
organizing the labor often of large numbers of men, great tact and
knowledge of human nature, constant self-culture, and growing
experience in the practical affairs of life--it must, we think, be
obvious that the school of business is by no means so narrow as some
writers would have us believe. Mr. Helps spoke much nearer the truth
when he said that consummate men of business are as rare almost as
great poets--rarer, perhaps, than veritable saints and martyrs.
Indeed, of no other pursuit can it so emphatically be said, as of
this, that "business makes men."

It has, however, been a favorite fallacy with dunces in all times
that men of genius are unfitted for business, as well as that
business occupations unfit men for the pursuits of genius. The
unhappy youth who committed suicide a few years since because he had
been "born to be a man and condemned to be a grocer," proved by the
act that his soul was not equal even to the dignity of grocer. For it
is not the calling that degrades the man, but the man that degrades
the calling. All work that brings honest gain is honorable, whether
it be of hand or mind. The fingers may be soiled, yet the heart
remain pure; for it is not material so much as moral dirt that
defiles--greed far more than grime, and vice than verdigris.

The greatest have not disdained to labor honestly and usefully for a
living, though at the same time aiming after higher things. Thales,
the first of the seven sages; Solon, the second founder of Athens,
and Hyperates, the mathematician, were all traders. Plato, called the
Divine by reason of the excellence of his wisdom, defrayed his
traveling expenses in Egypt by the profits derived from the oil which
he sold during his journey. Spinoza maintained himself by polishing
glasses while he pursued his philosophical investigations. Linnaeus,
the great botanist, prosecuted his studies while hammering leather
and making shoes. Shakespeare was the successful manager of a
theatre--perhaps priding himself more upon his practical qualities in
that capacity than on his writing of plays and poetry. Pope was of
opinion that Shakespeare's principal object in cultivating literature
was to secure an hones independence. Indeed, he seems to have been
altogether indifferent to literary reputation. It is not known that
he superintended the publication of a single play, or even sanctioned
the printing of one; and the chronology of his writings is still a
mystery. It is certain, however, that he prospered in his business,
and realized sufficient to enable him to retire upon a competency to
his native town of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Chaucer was in early life a soldier, and afterward an effective
Commissioner of Customs, and Inspector of Woods and Crown Lands.
Spenser was secretary to the Lord Deputy of Ireland, was afterward
Sheriff of Cork, and is said to have been shrewd and attentive in
matters of business. Milton, originally a schoolmaster, was elevated
to the post of Secretary to the Council of State during the
Commonwealth; and the extant Order-book of the Council, as well as
many of Milton's letters which are preserved, give abundant evidence
of his activity and usefulness in that office. Sir Isaac Newton
proved himself an efficient Master of the Mint, the new coinage of
1694 having been carried on under his immediate personal
superintendence. Cowper prided himself upon his business punctuality,
though he confessed that he "never knew a poet, except himself, that
was punctual in anything." But against this we may set the lives of
Wordsworth and Scott--the former a distributor of stamps, the latter
a clerk to the Court of Session--both of whom, though great poets,
were eminently punctual and practical men of business. David Ricardo,
amidst the occupations of his daily business as a London stock-
jobber, in conducting which he acquired an ample fortune, was able to
concentrate his mind upon his favorite subject--on principles of
political economy; for he united in himself the sagacious commercial
man and the profound philosopher. Baily, the eminent astronomer, was
another stock-broker; and Allen, the chemist, was a silk

We have abundant illustrations, in our own day, of the fact, that the
highest intellectual power is not incompatible with the active and
efficient performance of routine duties. Grote, the great historian
of Greece, was a London banker. And it is said that when John Stuart
Mill, one of the greatest modern thinkers, retired from the
Examiner's office of an important company, he carried with him the
admiration and esteem of his fellow-officers, not on account of his
high views of philosophy, but because of the high standard of
efficiency which he had established in his office, and the thoroughly
satisfactory manner in which he had conducted the business of his

The path of success in business is usually the path of common sense.
Patient labor and application are as necessary here as in the
acquisition of knowledge or the pursuit of science. The old Greeks
said, "To become an able man in any profession, three things are
necessary--nature, study, and practice." In business, practice,
wisely and diligently improved, is the great secret of success. Some
may make what are called "lucky hits," but like money earned by
gambling, such "hits" may only serve to lure one to ruin. Bacon was
accustomed to say that it was in business as in ways--the nearest way
was commonly the foulest, and that if a man would go the fairest way
he must go somewhat about. The journey may occupy a longer time, but
the pleasure of the labor involved by it, and the enjoyment of the
results produced, will be more genuine and unalloyed. To have a daily
appointed task of even common drudgery to do makes the rest of life
feel all the sweeter.

One of the best illustrations we know of, of great natural abilities
winning great success in mechanical fields is the career of the now
famous Andrew Carnegie, of Pennsylvania.

This remarkable man was born in Scotland in 1835. When ten years of
age, his parents, who were poor, moved to Pittsburg. Then, as now,
there were excellent public schools in the "Smoky City," but young
Carnegie was not able to avail himself of their advantages, as he
desired to do. While still in his teens he found employment in
running a stationary engine. He did his work well, and every moment
not required by his engine was devoted to study.

Before the youth had seen a practical keyboard, he had mastered the
principles of telegraphy, and succeeded, by reason of the knowledge
obtained in this way, in getting a position as an operator. At that
time all messages were read from rolls of paper, on which the Morse
characters were indented; but Andrew Carnegie, while still under
twenty-one, was the first operator in the world to demonstrate, that
to a skillful man the roll was unnecessary. He learned to read by
sound then, as all operators do now. What scholar will say that a
high order of intellect was not involved in this achievement?

"Hard work, close observation, strict economy, and the determination
to give my employer the best that was in me, without regard to the
compensation, these were my impelling motives in those early days,
and to these I attribute all the prosperity with which Heaven has
blessed me." This is what Mr. Carnegie says of himself, and his words
are full of encouragement and inspiration to the young man who has
the same obstacles to overcome.

"It is not what you make, but what you save that brings wealth." Mr.
Carnegie discovered this early in life, and while he helped his
parents like a dutiful son, he never spent an unnecessary cent on

"I was too busy working and studying to contract the habits that make
such inroads on the health and pockets of young men," says Mr.
Carnegie, "and this helped me in many ways."

While still young he had an opportunity to invest his savings in the
first sleeping car, invented by Woodruff, and out of this he got his
first good start.

Active, industrious, and quick to foresee results, he took an
interest in the oil discoveries of Pennsylvania, and with such
success that from the profits he was enabled to organize the greatest
series of rolling mills and foundries in the world.

Mr. Carnegie is still in the prime of life. He has spent several
fortunes in good works, and is still a very rich as he is certainly a
highly honored man. But the point we wish to make is that Mr.
Carnegie is a fine example of the high order of intellect necessary
for the greatest success in the business world.

Although self-educated, Mr. Carnegie is an author of world-wide
reputation. His work "Triumphant Democracy" is splendid vindication
of the institutions of his adopted country. "He knows more about
books," says one who knows Mr. Carnegie well, "than half the authors,
and he can find himself in no society where he does not find himself
the peer of the best."

Those who fail in life are, however, very apt to assume a tone of
injured innocence, and conclude to hastily that everybody excepting
themselves has had a hand in their personal misfortunes. An eminent
writer lately published a book, in which he described his numerous
failures in business, naively admitting, at the same time, that he
was ignorant of the multiplication-table; and he came to the
conclusion that the real cause of his ill-success in life was the
money-worshiping spirit of the age. Lamartine also did not hesitate
to profess his contempt for arithmetic; but, had it been less.
probably we should not have witnessed the unseemly spectacle of the
admirers of that distinguished personage engaged in collecting
subscriptions for his support in his old age.

Again, some consider themselves born to ill-luck, and make up their
minds that the world invariably goes against them without any fault
on their own part. We have heard of a person of this sort who went so
far as to declare his belief that if he had been a hatter, people
would have been born without heads! There is, however, a Russian
proverb which says that Misfortune is next door to Stupidity; and it
will often be found that men who are constantly lamenting their ill-
luck, are in some way reaping the consequences of their own neglect,
mismanagement, improvidence, or want of application. Dr. Johnson, who
came up to London with a single guinea in his pocket, and who once
accurately described himself in his signature to a letter addressed
to a noble lord, as Impransus, or Dinnerless, has honestly said, "All
the complaints which are made of the world are unjust; I never knew a
man of merit neglected; it was generally by his own fault that he
failed of success."

Did you ever think of the intellectual qualifications essential to
the successful business man? No? well, it would be very difficult to
name such a qualification which the business man cannot make

Attention, application, accuracy, method, punctuality and dispatch,
are the principal qualities required for the efficient conduct of
business of any sort. These, at first sight, may appear to be small
matters; and yet they are of essential importance to human happiness,
well-being, and usefulness. They are little things, it is true; but
human life is made up of comparative trifles. It is the repetition of
little acts which constitutes not only the sum of human character,
but which determines the character of nations. And where men or
nations have broken down, it will almost invariably be found that
neglect of little things was the rock on which they split. Every
human being has duties to be performed, and, therefore, has need of
cultivating the capacity for doing them; whether the sphere of action
be the management of a household, the conduct of a trade or
profession, or the government of a nation.

In addition to the ordinary working qualities, the business man of
the highest class requires quick perception and firmness in the
execution of his plans. Tact is also important; and though this is
partly the gift of nature, it is yet capable of being cultivated and
developed by observation and experience. Men of this quality are
quick to see the right mode of action, and if they have decision of
purpose, are prompt to carry out their undertakings to a successful
issue. These qualities are especially valuable, and indeed
indispensable, in those who direct the action of other men on a large
scale, as for instance, in the case of the commander of an army in
the field. It is not merely necessary that the general should be
great as a warrior, but also as a man of business. He must possess
great tact, much knowledge of character, and ability to organize the
movements of a large mass of men, whom he has to feed, clothe, and
furnish with whatever may be necessary in order that they may keep
the field and win battles. In these respects Napoleon and Wellington
were both first-rate men of business.

Not only does business require the highest order of intellect, but
successful business men, particularly in America, have been the
patrons of the arts and sciences and the founders of great schools.
The prosperity of Princeton is largely due to Marquand and Bonner.
the great Cooper Institute for the free education of poor boys and
girls, in the applied arts and sciences, will endure as long as New
York city, as a monument to the intellectual forethought and noble
munificence of Peter Cooper. Girard College, in Philadelphia, which
yearly sends out hundreds of young men--orphans on entrance, but
admirable fitted to work their way in life--is a refutation of the
charge that successful business men do not appreciate culture.

Lehigh University was founded by Judge Asa Packer, of Mauch Chunk,
who began life as a canal-boat man. Lafayette College, Easton, points
with pride to Pardee Hall, the gift of a man who began the life-
battle without money or friends. Vanderbilt University, Stanford
University, and scores of great schools go to prove that the great
business men who endowed them, were not indifferent to culture and
the needs of higher education.

Yes, business requires brains, and the better the brains and the more
thorough their training, the greater the assurance of success.



"How a man uses money--makes it, saves it, and spends it--is perhaps
one of the best tests of practical wisdom," says Mr. Smiles. Although
money ought by no means to be regarded as a chief end of man's life,
neither is it a trifling matter, to be held in philosophic contempt,
representing, as it does, to so large an extent, the means of
physical comfort and social well-being. Indeed, some of the finest
qualities of human nature are intimately related to the right use of
money; such as generosity, honesty, justice, and self-sacrifice; as
well as the practical virtues of economy and providence. On the other
hand, there are their counterparts of avarice, fraud, injustice, and
selfishness, as displayed by the inordinate lovers of gain; and the
vices of thriftlessness, extravagance, and improvidence, on the part
of those who misuse and abuse the means entrusted to them. "So that,"
as is wisely observed by Henry Taylor in his thoughtful "Notes from
Life," "an right measure and manner of getting, saving, spending,
giving, taking, lending, borrowing, and bequeathing, would almost
argue a perfect man."

Comfort in worldly circumstances is a condition which every man is
justified in striving to attain by all worthy means. It secures that
physical satisfaction which is necessary for the culture of the
better part of his nature; and enables him to provide for those of
his own household, without which, says the apostle, a man is "worse
than an infidel." Nor ought the duty to be any the less pleasing to
us, that the respect which our fellow-men entertain for us in no
slight degree depends upon the manner in which we exercise the
opportunities which present themselves for our honorable advancement
in life. The very effort required to be made to succeed in life with
this object, is of itself an education: stimulating a man's sense of
self-respect, bringing out his practical qualities, and disciplining
him in the exercise of patience, perseverance, and such like virtues.
The provident and careful man must necessarily be a thoughtful man,
for he lives not merely for the present, but with provident forecast
makes arrangements for the future. He must also be a temperate man,
and exercise the virtue of self-denial, than which nothing is so much
calculated to give strength to the character. John Sterling says
truly, that "the worst education which teaches self-denial, is better
than the best which teaches everything else and not that." The Romans
rightly employed the same word (virtus) to designate courage, which
is in a physical sense what the other is in moral; the highest virtue
of all being victory over ourselves.

Hence the lesson of self-denial--the sacrificing of a present
gratification for a future good--is one of the last that is learnt.
Those classes which work the hardest might naturally be expected to
value the most the money which they earn. Yet the readiness with
which so many are accustomed to eat up and drink up their earnings as
they go, renders them, to a great extent, dependent upon the frugal.

Men of business are accustomed to quote the maxim that "Time is
money;" but it is more; the proper improvement of it is self-culture,
self-improvement, and growth of character. An hour wasted daily on
trifles or in indolence, would, if devoted to self-improvement, make
an ignorant man wise in a few years, and, employed in good works,
would make his life fruitful, and death a harvest of worthy deeds.
Fifteen minutes a day devoted to self-improvement, will be felt at
the end of the year. Good thoughts and carefully gathered experience
take up no room, and may be carried about as our companions
everywhere, without cost or encumbrance. An economical use of time is
the true mode of securing leisure: it enables us to get through
business and carry it forward, instead of being driven by it. On the
other hand, the miscalculation of time involves us in perpetual
hurry, confusion, and difficulties; and life becomes a mere shuffle
of expedients, usually followed by disaster. Nelson once said, "I owe
all my success in life to having been always a quarter of an hour
before my time."

Some take no thought of the value of money until they have come to an
end of it, and many do the same with their time. The hours are
allowed to flow by unemployed, and then when life is fast waning,
they bethink themselves of the duty of making a wiser use of it. But
the habit of listlessness and idleness may already have become
confirmed, and they are unable to break the bonds with which they
have permitted themselves to become bound. Lost wealth may be
replaced by industry, lost knowledge by study, lost health by
temperance or medicine, but lost time is gone forever.

A proper consideration of the value of time will also inspire habits
of punctuality. "Punctuality," said Louis XIV, "is the politeness of
kings." It is also the duty of gentlemen, and the necessity of men of
business. Nothing begets confidence in a man sooner than the practice
of this virtue, and nothing shakes confidence sooner than the want of
it. He who holds to his appointment and does not keep you waiting for
him, shows that he has regard for your time as well as for his own.
Thus punctuality is one of the modes by which we testify our personal
respect for those whom we are called upon to meet in the business of
life. It is also conscientiousness, in a measure; for an appointment
is a contract, expressed or implied, and he who does not keep it
breaks faith, as well as dishonestly uses other people's time, and
thus inevitably loses character. We naturally come to the conclusion
that the person who is careless about time is careless about
business, and that he is not the one to be trusted with the
transaction of matters of importance. When Washington's secretary
excused himself for the lateness of his attendance and laid the blame
upon his watch, his master quietly said, "Then you must get another
watch, or I another secretary."

The person who is negligent of time and its employment is usually
found to be a general disturber of others' peace and serenity. It was
wittily said by Lord Chesterfield of the old Duke of Newcastle--"His
Grace loses an hour in the morning, and is looking for it all the
rest of the day." Everybody with whom the unpunctual man has to do is
thrown from time to time into a state of fever: he is systematically
late; regular only in his irregularity. He conducts his dawdling as
if upon system; arrives at his appointment after time; gets to the
railway station after the train has started; posts his letter when
the box has closed. Thus business is thrown into confusion, and
everybody concerned is put out of temper.

To secure independence, the practice of simple economy is all that is
necessary. Economy requires neither superior courage nor eminent
virtue; it is satisfied with ordinary energy, and the capacity of
average minds. Economy, at bottom, is but the spirit of order applied
in the administration of domestic affairs: it means management,
regularity, prudence, and the avoidance of waste. The spirit of
economy was expressed by our Divine Master in the words, "Gather up
the fragments that remain, so that nothing may be lost." His
omnipotence did not disdain the small things of life; and even while
revealing His infinite power to the multitude, he taught the pregnant
lesson of carefulness, of which all stand so much in need.

Economy also means to power of resisting present gratification for
the purpose of securing a future good, and in this light it
represents the ascendancy of reason over the animal instincts. It is
altogether different from penuriousness: for it is economy that can
always best afford to be generous. It does not make money an idol,
but regards it as a useful agent. As Dean Swift observes, "we must
carry money in the head, not in the heart." Economy may be styled the
daughter of Prudence, the sister of Temperance, and the mother of
Liberty. It is eminently conservative--conservative of character, of
domestic happiness, and social well-being. It is, in short, the
exhibition of self-help in one of its best forms.

Francis Horner's father gave him this advice on entering life:
"Whilst I wish you to be comfortable in every respect, I cannot too
strongly inculcate economy. It is a necessary virtue to all; and
however the shallow part of mankind may despise it, it certainly
leads to independence, which is a grand object to every man of a high

Every man ought to contrive to live within his means. This practice
is of the very essence of honesty. For if a man does not manage
honestly to live within his own means, he must necessarily be living
dishonestly upon the means of somebody else. Those who are careless
about personal expenditure, and consider merely their own
gratification, without regard for the comfort of others, generally
find out the real uses of money when it is too late. Though by nature
generous, these thriftless persons are often driven in the end to do
very shabby things. They waste their money as they do their time;
draw bills upon the future; anticipate their earnings; and are thus
under the necessity of dragging after them a load of debts and
obligations, which seriously affect their actions as free and
independent men.

It was a maxim of Lord Bacon, that when it was necessary to
economize, it was better to look after petty savings than to descend
to petty gettings. The loose cash which many persons throw away
uselessly, and worse, would often form a basis of fortune and
independence for life. These wasters are their own worst enemies,
though generally found amongst the ranks of those who rail a the
injustice of "the world." But if a man will not be his own friend,
how can he expect that others will be. Orderly men of moderate means
have always something left in their pockets to help others; whereas,
your prodigal and careless fellows who spend all, never find an
opportunity for helping anybody. It is poor economy, however, to be a
scrub. Narrow-mindedness in living and in dealing is generally short-
sighted, and leads to failure. Generosity and liberality, like
honesty, always prove the best policy after all. Though Jenkinson, in
the "Vicar of Wakefield," cheated his kind-hearted neighbor
Flamborough in one way or another every year, "Flamborough," said he,
"has been regularly growing in riches, while I have come to poverty
and a jail." And practical life abounds in cases of brilliant results
from a course of generous and honest policy.

The proverb says that "an empty bag cannot stand upright;" neither
can a man who is in debt. It is also difficult for a man who is in
debt to be truthful; hence, it is said that lying rides on debt's
back. The debtor has to frame excuses to his creditor for postponing
payment of the money he owes him, and probably also to contrive
falsehoods. It is easy enough for a man who will exercise a healthy
resolution, to avoid incurring the first obligation; but the facility
with which that has been incurred often becomes a temptation to a
second; and very soon the unfortunate borrower becomes so entangled
that no late exertion of industry can set him free. The first step in
debt is like the first step in falsehood; almost involving the
necessity of proceeding in the same course, debt following debt, as
lie follows lie. Haydon, the painter, dated his decline fro the day
on which he first borrowed money. He realized the truth of the
proverb, "Who goes a-borrowing, goes a-sorrowing." The significant
entry in his diary is: "Here began debt and obligation, out of which
I have never been and never shall be extricated as long as I live."
His autobiography shows but too painfully how embarrassment in money
matters produces poignant distress of mind, utter incapacity for
work, and constantly recurring humiliations. The written advice which
he gave to a youth when entering the navy was as follows: "Never
purchase any enjoyment if it cannot be procured without borrowing of
others. Never borrow money; it is degrading. I do not say never lend,
but never lend if by lending you render yourself unable to pay what
you owe; but under any circumstances never borrow." Fichte, the poor
student, refused to accept even presents from his still poorer

Dr. Johnson held that early debt is ruin. His words on the subject
are weighty, and worthy of being held in remembrance. "Do not," said
he, "accustom yourself to consider debt only as an inconvenience; you
will find it a calamity. Poverty takes away so many means of doing
good, and produces so much inability to resist evil, both natural and
moral, that it is by all virtuous means to be avoided. . . . Let it
be your first care, then, not to be in any man's debt. Resolve not to
be poor; whatever you have, spend less. Poverty is a great enemy to
human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and makes some
virtues impracticable and others extremely difficult. Frugality is
not only the basis of quiet, but of beneficence. No man can help
others that wants help himself; we must have enough before we have to

It is the bounden duty of every man to look his affairs in the face,
and to keep an account of his incomings and outgoings in money
matters. The exercise of a little simple arithmetic in this way will
be found of great value. Prudence requires that we shall pitch our
scale of living a degree below our means, rather than up to them. But
this can only be done by carrying out faithfully a plan of living by
which both ends may be made to meet. John Locke strongly advised this
course: "Nothing," said he, "is likelier to keep a man within compass
than having constantly before his eyes the state of his affairs in a
regular course of account." The Duke of Wellington kept an accurate
detailed account of all the moneys received and expended by him. "I
make a point," said he to Mr. Gleig, "of paying my own bills, and I
advise every one to do the same; formerly I used to trust a
confidential servant to pay them, but I was cured of that folly by
receiving one morning, to my great surprise, duns of a year or two's
standing. The fellow had speculated with my money, and left my bills
unpaid." Talking of debt, his remark was, "It makes a slave of a man.
I have often known what it was to be in want of money, but I never
got into debt." Washington was as particular as Wellington was, in
matters of business detail; and it is a remarkable fact, that he did
not disdain to scrutinize the smallest outgoings of his household--
determined as he was to live honestly within his means--even when
holding the high office of President of the United States.

There is a dreadful ambition abroad for being "genteel." We keep up
appearances, too often at the expense of honesty; and though we may
not be rich yet we must seem to be so. We must be "respectable,"
though only in the meanest sense--in mere vulgar outward show. We
have not the courage to go patiently onward in the condition of life
in which it has pleased God to call us; but must needs live in some
fashionable state to which we ridiculously please to call ourselves,
and to gratify the vanity of that unsubstantial genteel world of
which we form a part. There is a constant struggle and pressure for
front streets in the social amphitheatre; in the midst of which all
noble self-denying resolve is trodden down, and many fine natures are
inevitably crushed to death. What waste, what misery, what bankruptcy
come from all this ambition to dazzle others with the glare of
apparent worldly success, we need not describe.

The young man, as he passes through life, advances through a long
line of tempters ranged on either side of him; and the inevitable
effect of yielding is degradation in a greater or a less degree.
Contact with them tends insensibly to draw away from him some portion
of the divine electric element with which his nature is charged; and
his only mode of resisting them is to utter and act out his "No"
manfully and resolutely. He must decide at once, not waiting to
deliberate and balance reasons; for the youth, like "the woman who
deliberates, is lost." Many deliberate, without deciding; but "not to
resolve, _is_ to resolve." A perfect knowledge of man is in the
prayer, "Lead us not into temptation." But temptation will come to
try the young man's strength; and once yielded to, the power to
resist grows weaker and weaker. Yield once, and an element of virtue
has gone. Resist manfully, and the first decision will give strength
for life; repeated it will become a habit. It is in the outworks of
the habits formed in early life that the real strength of the defense
must lie; for it has been wisely ordained that the machinery of moral
existence should be carried on principally through the medium of the
habits, so as to save the wear and tear of the great principles
within. It is good habits which insinuate themselves into the
thousand inconsiderable acts of life, that really constitute by far
the greater part of man's moral conduct.

Many popular books have been written for the purpose of communicating
to the public the grand secret of making money. But there is no
secret whatever about it, as the proverbs of every nation abundantly
testify. "Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of
themselves." "Diligence is the mother of good luck." "No pains, no
gains." "No sweat, no sweet." "Work and thou shalt have." "The world
is his who has patience and industry." "Better go to bed supperless
than rise in debt." Such are specimens of the proverbial philosophy,
embodying the hoarded experience of many generations, as to the best
means of thriving in the world. They were current in people's mouths
long before books were invented; and like other popular proverbs they
were the first codes of popular morals. Moreover, they have stood the
test of time, and the experience of every day still bears witness to
their accuracy, force, and soundness. The Proverbs of Solomon are
full of wisdom as to the force of industry, and the use and abuse of
money: "He that is slothful in work is brother to him that is a great
waster." "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be
wise." Poverty, says the preacher, shall come upon the idler, "as one
that traveleth, and want as an armed man;" but of the industrious and
upright, "the hand of the diligent maketh rich." "the drunkard and
the glutton shall come to poverty; and drowsiness shall clothe a man
with rags." "Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall
stand before kings." But above all, "It is better to get wisdom than
gold; for wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things that may
be desired are not to be compared to it."

Simple industry and thrift will go far toward making any person of
ordinary working faculty comparatively independent in his means. Even
a working man may be so, provided he will carefully husband his
resources, and watch the little outlets of useless expenditure. A
penny is a very small matter, yet the comfort of thousands of
families depends upon the proper spending and saving of pennies. If a
man allows the little pennies, the results of his hard work, to slip
out of his fingers--some to the beer-shop, some this way and some
that--he will find that his life is little raised above one of mere
animal drudgery. On the other hand, if he take care of the pennies--
putting some weekly into a benefit society or an insurance fund,
others into a savings' bank, and confiding the rest to his wife to be
carefully laid out, with a view to the comfortable maintenance and
education of his family--he will soon find that this attention to
small matters will abundantly repay him, in increasing means, growing
comfort at home, and a mind comparatively free from fears as to the
future. And if a working man have high ambition and possess richness
in spirit--a kind of wealth which far transcends all mere worldly
possessions--he may not help himself, but be a profitable helper of
others in his path through life.

While credit is the soul of trade, improperly used it is the death of
business. No man should run into debt for a luxury, and every prudent
man will have money in his purse for life's necessities. Remember,
the man who is in debt without seeing his way out is a slave.
Speaking of this Jacob Abbott says:

"There is, perhaps, nothing which so grinds the human soul, and
produces such an insupportable burden of wretchedness and
despondency, as pecuniary pressure. Nothing more frequently drives
men to suicide; and there is, perhaps, no danger to which men in an
active and enterprising community are more exposed. Almost all are
eagerly reaching forward to a station in life a little above what
they can well afford, or struggling to do a business a little more
extensive than they have capital or steady credit for; and thus they
keep, all through life, _just above_ their means--and just above, no
matter by how small an excess, is inevitable misery.

"Be sure, then, if your aim is happiness, to bring down, at all
hazards, your style of living, and your responsibilities of business,
to such a point that you shall easily be able to reach it. Do this, I
say, at all hazards. If you cannot have money enough for your purpose
in a house with two rooms, take a house with one. It is your only
chance for happiness. For there is such a thing as happiness in a
single room, with plain furniture and simple fare; but there is no
such thing as happiness with responsibilities which cannot be met,
and debts increasing without any prospect of their discharge."

"After I had earned my first thousand dollars by the hardest kind of
work," said Commodore Vanderbilt, "I felt richer and happier than
when I had my first million. I was out of debt, every dollar was
honestly mine, and I saw my way to success."



Gibons, the historian, says: "Every person has two educations--one
which he receives from others, and one, the most important, which he
gives to himself."

"The best part of every man's education," said Sir Walter Scott, "is
that which he gives to himself." The late Sir Benjamin Brodie
delighted to remember this saying, and he used to congratulate
himself on the fact that professionally he was self-taught. But this
is necessarily the case with all men who have acquired distinction in
letters, science, or art. The education received at school or college
is but a beginning, and is valuable mainly inasmuch as it trains the
mind and habituates it to continuous application and study. That
which is put into us by others is always far less ours than that
which we acquire by our own diligent and persevering effort.
Knowledge conquered by labor becomes a possession--a property
entirely our own. A greater vividness and permanency of impression is
secured; and facts thus acquired become registered in the mind in a
way that mere imparted information can never effect. This kind of
self-culture also calls forth power and cultivates strength. The
solution of one problem helps the mastery of another; and thus
knowledge is carried into faculty. Our own active effort is the
essential thing; and no facilities, no books, no teachers, no amount
of lessons learnt by rote, will enable us to dispense with it.

The best teachers have been the readiest to recognize the importance
of self-culture, and of stimulating the student to acquire knowledge
by the active exercise of his own faculties. They have relied more
upon _training_ than upon _telling_, and sought to make their pupils
themselves active parties to the work in which they were engaged;
thus making teaching something far higher than the mere passive
reception of the scraps and details of knowledge. This was the spirit
in which the great Dr. Arnold worked; he strove to teach his pupils
to rely upon themselves, and develop their powers by their own active
efforts, himself merely guiding, directing, stimulating, and
encouraging them. "I would far rather," he said, "send a boy to Van
Diemen's Laud, where he must work for his bread, than send him to
Oxford to live in luxury, without any desire in his mind to avail
himself of his advantages." "If there be one thing on earth," he
observed on another occasion, "which is truly admirable, it is to see
God's wisdom blessing an inferiority of natural powers, when they
have been honestly, truly, and zealously cultivated." Speaking of a
pupil of this character, he said, "I would stand to that man hat in
hand." Once at Laleham, when teaching a rather dull boy, Arnold spoke
somewhat sharply to him, on which the pupil looked up in his face and
said, "Why do you speak angrily, sir? _indeed_, I am doing the best I
can." Years afterward, Arnold used to tell the story to his children,
and added, "I never felt so much ashamed in my life--that look and
that speech I have never forgotten."

From the numerous instances already cited of men of humble station
who have risen to distinction in science and literature, it will be
obvious that labor is by no means incompatible with the highest
intellectual culture. Work in moderation is healthy as well as
agreeable to the human constitution. Work educates the body, as study
educates the mind; and that is the best state of society in which
there is some work for every man's leisure, and some leisure for
every man's work. Even the leisure classes are in a measure compelled
to work, sometimes as a relief from _ennui_, but in most cases to
gratify and instinct which they cannot resist. Some go fox-hunting in
the English counties, others grouse shooting on the Scotch hills,
while many wander away every summer to climb mountains in
Switzerland. Hence the boating, running, cricketing, and athletic
sports of the public schools in which our young men at the same time
so healthfully cultivate their strength both of mind and body. It is
said that the Duke of Wellington, when once looking on at the boys
engaged in their sports in the playground at Eton, where he had spent
many of his own younger days, made the remark, "It was there that the
battle of Waterloo was won!"

Daniel Malthus urged his son when at college to be most diligent in
the cultivation of knowledge, but he also enjoined him to pursue
manly sports as the best means of keeping up the full working power
of his mind, as well as of enjoying the pleasures of intellect.
"Every kind of knowledge," said he, "every acquaintance with nature
and art, will amuse and strengthen your mind, and I am perfectly
pleased that cricket should do the same by your arms and legs; I love
to see you excel in exercises of the body, and I think myself that
the better half, and so much the most agreeable part, of the
pleasures of the mind is best enjoyed while one is upon one's legs."
But a still more important use of active employment is that referred
to by the great divine, Jeremy Taylor. "Avoid idleness," he says,
"and fill up all the spaces of they time with severe and useful
employment; for lust easily creeps in at those emptinesses where the
soul is unemployed and the body is at ease; for no easy, healthful,
idle person was ever chaste, if he could be tempted; but of all
employments bodily labor is the most useful, and of the greatest
benefit for driving away the devil."

Practical success in life depends more upon physical health than is
generally imagined. Hodson, of Hodson's Horse, writing home to a
friend in England, said, "I believe if I get on well in India, it
will be owing, physically speaking, to a sound digestion." The
capacity for continuous working in any calling must necessarily
depend in a great measure upon this; and hence the necessity for
attending to health, even as a means of intellectual labor. It is
perhaps to the neglect of physical exercise that we find amongst
students so frequent a tendency toward discontent, unhappiness,
inaction, and reverie--displaying itself in contempt for real life
and disgust at the beaten tracks of men--a tendency which in England
has been called Byronism, and in Germany Wertherism. Dr. Channing
noted the same growth in our land, which led him to make the remark,
that "too many of our young men grow up in a school of despair." The
only remedy for this green-sickness in youth is physical exercise--
action, work and bodily occupation.

The use of early labor in self-imposed mechanical employments may be
illustrated by the boyhood of Sir Isaac Newton. Though comparatively
a dull scholar, he was very assiduous in the use of his saw, hammer,
and hatchet--"knocking and hammering in his lodging room"--making
models of windmills, carriages, and machines of all sorts; and as he
grew older, he took delight in making little tables and cupboards for
his friends. Smeaton, Watt, and Stephenson were equally handy with
tools when mere boys; and but for such kind of self-culture in their
youth it is doubtful whether they would have accomplished so much in
their manhood. Such was also the early training of the great
inventors and mechanics described in the preceding pages, whose
contrivance and intelligence were practically trained by the constant
use of their hands in early life. Even where men belonging to the
manual labor class have risen above it, and become more purely
intellectual laborers, they have found the advantages of their early
training in their later pursuits. Elihu Burritt says he found hard
labor _necessary_ to enable him to study with effect; and more than
once he gave up school teaching and study, and taking to his leather
apron again, went back to his blacksmith's forge and anvil for the
health of his body and mind's sake.

The training of young men in the use of tools would at the same time
that it educated them in "common things," teach them the use of their
hands and arms, familiarize them with healthy work, exercise their
faculties upon things tangible and actual, give them some practical
acquaintance with mechanics, impart to them the ability of being
useful, and implant in them the habit of persevering physical effort.
This is an advantage which the working classes, strictly so called,
certainly possess over the leisure classes--that they are in early
life under the necessity of applying themselves laboriously to some
mechanical pursuit or other--thus acquiring manual dexterity, and the
use of their physical powers. The chief disadvantage attached to the
calling of the laborious classes is, not that they are employed in
physical work, but that they are too exclusively so employed, often
to the neglect of their moral and intellectual faculties. While the
youths of the leisure classes, having been taught to associate labor
with servility, have shunned it, and been allowed to grow up
practically ignorant, the poorer classes, confining themselves within
the circle of their laborious callings, have been allowed to grow up,
in a large proportion of cases, absolutely illiterate. It seems,
possible, however, to avoid both these evils by combining physical
training or physical work with intellectual culture; and there are
various signs abroad which seem to mark the gradual adoption of this
healthier system of education.

The success of even professional men depends in no slight degree on
their physical health; and a public writer has gone so far as to say
that "the greatness of our great men is quite as much a bodily affair
as a mental one." A healthy breathing apparatus is as indispensable
to the successful lawyer or politician as a well-cultured intellect.
The thorough aeration of his blood by free exposure to a large
breathing surface in the lungs is necessary to maintain that vital
power on which the vigorous working of the brain in so large a
measure depends. The lawyer has to climb the heights of his
profession through close and heated courts, and the political leader
has to bear the fatigue and excitement of long and anxious debates in
a crowded House. Hence the lawyer in full practice and the
parliamentary leader in full work are called upon to display powers
of physical endurance and activity even more extraordinary than those
of the intellect--such powers as have been exhibited in so remarkable
a degree by Brougham, Lyndhurst and Campbell; by Peel, Graham and
Palmerston--all full-chested men.

Though Sir Walter Scott, when at Edinburgh College, went by the name
of "The Greek Blockhead," he was, notwithstanding his lameness, a
remarkably healthy youth; he could spear a salmon with the best
fisher on the Tweed, and ride a wild horse with any hunter in Yarrow.
When devoting himself in after life to literary pursuits, Sir Walter
never lost his taste for field sports, but while writing "Waverley"
in the morning he would in the afternoon course hares. Professor
Wilson was a very athlete, as great at throwing the hammer as in his
flights of eloquence and poetry; and Burns, when a youth, was
remarkable chiefly for his leaping, putting, and wrestling. Some of
the greatest divines were distinguished in their youth for their
physical energies. Isaac Barrow, when at the Charterhouse School, was
notorious for his pugilistic encounters, in which he got many a
bloody nose; Andrew Fuller, when working as a farmer's lad at Soham,
was chiefly famous for his skill in boxing; and Adam Clarke, when a
boy, was only remarkable for the strength displayed by him in
"rolling large stones about"--the secret, possibly, of some of the
power which he subsequently displayed in rolling forth large thoughts
in his manhood.

While it is necessary, then, in the first place to secure this solid
foundation of physical health, it must also be observed that the
cultivation of the habit of mental application is quite indispensable
for the education of the student. The maxim that "labor conquers all
things" holds especially true in the case of the conquest of
knowledge. The road into learning is alike free to all who will give
the labor and the study requisite to gather it; nor are there any
difficulties so great that the student of resolute purpose may not
surmount and overcome them. It was one of the characteristic
expressions of Chatterton, that God had sent his creatures into the
world with arms long enough to reach anything if they chose to be at
the trouble. In study, as in business, energy is the great thing.
There must be "fervet opus;" we must not only strike the iron while
it is hot, but strike it till it is made hot. It is astonishing how
much may be accomplished in self-culture by the energetic and the
persevering, who are careful to avail themselves of opportunities,
and use up the fragments of spare time which the idle permit to run
to waste. Thus Ferguson learnt astronomy from the heavens while
wrapped in a sheepskin on the highland hills. Thus Stone learnt
mathematics while working as a journeyman gardener; thus Drew studied
the highest philosophy in the intervals of cobbling shoes; and thus
Miller taught himself geology while working as a day laborer in a

Sir Joshua Reynolds, as we have already observed, was so earnest a
believer in the force of industry that he held that all men might
achieve excellence if they would but exercise the power of assiduous
and patient working. He held that drudgery lay on the road to genius,
and that there was no limit to the proficiency of an artist except
the limit of his own painstaking. He would not believe in what is
called inspiration, but only in study and labor. "Excellence," he
said, "is never granted to man but as the reward of labor. If you
have great talents, industry will improve them; if you have but
moderate abilities, industry will supply their deficiency. Nothing is
denied to well-directed labor; nothing is to be obtained without it."
Sir Fowell Buxton was an equal believer in the power of study; and he
entertained the modest idea that he could do as well as other men if
he devoted to the pursuit double the time and labor that they did. He
placed his great confidence in ordinary means and extraordinary

"I have known several men in my life," says Dr. Ross, "who may be
recognized in days to come as men of genius, and they were all
plodders, hard-working _intent_ men. Genius is known by its works;
genius without works is a blind faith, a dumb oracle. But meritorious
works are the result of time and labor, and cannot be accomplished by
intention or by a wish . . . Every great work is the result of vast
preparatory training. Facility comes by labor. Nothing seems easy,
not even walking, that was not difficult at first. The orator whose
eye flashes instantaneous fire, and whose lips pour out a flood of
noble thoughts, startling by their unexpectedness and elevating by
their wisdom and truth, has learned his secret by patient repetition,
and after many bitter disappointments."

Thoroughness and accuracy are two principal points to be aimed at in
study. Francis Horner, in laying down rules for the cultivation of
his mind, placed great stress upon the habit of continuous
application to one subject for the sake of mastering it thoroughly;
he confined himself with this object to only a few books, and
resisted with the greatest firmness "every approach to a habit of
desultory reading." The value of knowledge to any man consists, not
in its quantity, but mainly in the good uses to which he can apply
it. Hence a little knowledge of an exact and perfect character is
always found more valuable for practical purposes than any extent of
superficial learning.

It is not the quantity of study that one gets through, or the amount
of reading, that makes a wise man; but the appositeness of the study
to the purpose for which it is pursued; the concentration of the
mind, for the time being, on the subject under consideration; and the
habitual discipline by which the whole system of mental application
is regulated. Abernethy was even of opinion that there was a point of
saturation in his own mind, and that if he took into it something
more than it could hold, it only had the effect of pushing something
else out. Speaking of the study of medicine, he said: "If a man has a
clear idea of what he desires to do, he will seldom fail in selecting
the proper means of accomplishing it."

The most profitable study is that which is conducted with a definite
aim and object. By thoroughly mastering any given branch of knowledge
we render it more available for use at any moment. Hence it is not
enough merely to have books, or to know where to read for information
as we want it. Practical wisdom, for the purposes of life, must be
carried about with us, and be ready for use at call. It is not
sufficient that we have a fund laid up at home, but not a farthing in
the pocket: we must carry about with us a store of the current coin
of knowledge ready for exchange on all occasions, else we are
comparatively helpless when the opportunity for using it occurs.

Decision and promptitude are as requisite in self-culture as in
business. The growth of these qualities may be encouraged by
accustoming young people to rely upon their own resources, leaving
them to enjoy as much freedom of action in early life as is
practicable. Too much guidance and restraint hinder the formation of
habits of self-help. They are like bladders tied under the arms of
one who has not taught himself to swim. Want of confidence is perhaps
a greater obstacle to improvement than is generally imagined. It has
been said that half the failures in life arise from pulling in one's
horse while he is leaping. Dr. Johnson was accustomed to attribute
his success to confidence in his own powers. True modesty is quite
compatible with a true estimate of one's own merits, and does not
demand the abnegation of all merit. Though there are those who
deceive themselves by putting a false figure before their ciphers,
the want of confidence, the want of faith in one's self, and
consequently the want of promptitude in action, is a defect of
character which is found to stand very much in the way of individual
progress; and the reason why so little is done, is generally because
so little is attempted.

There is usually no want of desire on the part of most persons to
arrive at the results of self-culture, but there is a great aversion
to pay the inevitable price for it, of hard work. Dr. Johnson held
that "impatience of study was the mental disease of the present
generation;" and the remark is still applicable. We may not believe
that there is a royal road to learning, but we seem to believe very
firmly in the "popular" one. In education, we invent labor-saving
processes, seek short cuts to science, learn French and Latin "in
twelve lessons," or "without a master." We resemble the lady of
fashion, who engaged a master to teach her on condition that he did
not plague her with verbs and participles. We get our smattering of
science in the same way; we learn chemistry by listening to a short
course of lectures enlivened by experiments, and when we have inhaled
laughing-gas, seen green water turned to red, and phosphorus burnt in
oxygen, we have got our smattering, of which the most that can be
said is, that though it may be better than nothing, it is yet good
for nothing. Thus we often imagine we are being educated while we are
only being amused.

The facility with which young people are thus induced to acquire
knowledge, without study and labor, is not education. It occupies but
does not enrich the mind. It imparts a stimulus for the time, and
produces a sort of intellectual keenness and cleverness; but, without
an implanted purpose and a higher object that mere pleasure, it will
bring with it no solid advantage. In such cases knowledge produces
but a passing impression; a sensation, gut no more; it is, in fact,
the merest epicurism of intelligence--sensuous, but certainly not
intellectual. Thus the best qualities of many minds, those which are
evoked by vigorous effort and independent action, sleep a deep sleep,
and are often never called to life, except by the rough awakening of
sudden calamity or suffering, which, in such cases comes as a
blessing, if it serves to rouse up a courageous spirit that, but for
it, would have slept on.

Accustomed to acquire information under the guise of amusement, young
people will soon reject that which is presented to them under the
aspect of study and labor. Learning their knowledge and science in
sport, they will be too apt to make sport of both; while the habit of
intellectual dissipation, thus engendered, cannot fail, in course of
time, to produce a thoroughly emasculating effect both upon their
mind and character. "Multifarious reading," said Robertson, of
Brighton, "weakens the mind like smoking, and is an excuse for its
lying dormant. It is the idlest of all idlenesses, and leaves more of
impotency than any other."

The evil is a growing one, and operates in various ways. Its least
mischief is shallowness; its greatest, the aversion to steady labor
which it induces, and the low and feeble tone of mind which it
encourages. If we would be really wise, we must diligently apply
ourselves, and confront the same continuous application which our
forefathers did; for labor is still, and ever will be, the inevitable
price set upon everything which is valuable. We must be satisfied to
work with a purpose, and wait the results with patience. All
progress, of the best kind, is slow; but to him who works faithfully
and zealously the reward will, doubtless, be vouchsafed in good time.
The spirit of industry, embodies in a man's daily life, will
gradually lead him to exercise his powers on objects outside himself,
of greater dignity and more extended usefulness. And still we must
labor on; for the work of self-culture is never finished. "To be
employed," said the poet Gray, "is to be happy." "It is better to
wear out that rust out," said Bishop Cumberland. "Have we not all
eternity to rest in?" exclaimed Arnauld. "Repos ailleurs" (rest for
others) was the motto of Marnix de St. Aldegonde, the energetic and
ever-working friend of William the Silent.

It is the use we make of the powers entrusted to us which constitutes
our only just claims to respect. He who employs his one talent aright
is as much to be honored as he to whom ten talents have been given.
There is really no more personal merit attaching to the possession of
superior intellectual powers than there is in the succession to a
large estate. How are those powers used--how is that estate employed?
The mind may accumulate large stores of knowledge without any useful
purpose; but the knowledge must be allied to goodness and wisdom, and
embodied in upright character, else it is naught. Pestalozzi even
held intellectual training by itself to be pernicious; insisting that
the roots of all knowledge must strike and feed in the soil of the
rightly-governed will. The acquisition of knowledge may, it is true,
protect a man against the meaner felonies of life; but not in any
degree against its selfish vices, unless fortified by sound
principles and habits. Hence do we find in daily life so many
instances of men who are well-informed in intellect, but utterly
deformed in character; filled with the learning of the schools, yet
possessing little practical wisdom, and offering examples for warning
rather than imitation. An often-quoted expression at this day is that
"Knowledge is power;" but also, are fanaticism, despotism, and
ambition. Knowledge of itself, unless wisely directed might merely
make bad men more dangerous, and the society in which it was regarded
as the highest good, as little better than pandemonium.

It is not then how much a man may know, that is of importance, but
the end and purpose for which he knows it. The object of knowledge
should be to mature wisdom and improve character, to render us
better, happier, and more useful; more benevolent, more energetic,
and more efficient in the pursuit of every high purpose in life.
"When people once fall into the habit of admiring and encouraging
ability as such, without reference to moral character--and religious
and political opinions are the concrete form of moral character--they
are on the highway to all sorts of degradation." We must ourselves
_be_ and _do_, and not rest satisfied merely with reading and
meditating over what other men have been and done. Our best light
must be made life, and our best thought action. At least we ought to
be able to say, as Richter did, "I have made as much out of myself as
could be made of the stuff, and no man should require more;" for it
is every man's duty to discipline and guide himself, with God's help,
according to his responsibilities and the faculties with which he has
been endowed.

Self-discipline and self-control are the beginnings of practical
wisdom; and these must have their root in self-respect. Hope springs
from it--hope, which is the companion of power, and the mother of
success; for whoso hopes strongly has within him the gift of
miracles. The humblest may say, "To respect myself, to develop
myself--this is my true duty in life. An integral and responsible
part of the great system of society, I owe it to society and to its
Author not to degrade of destroy either my body, mind, or instincts.
On the contrary, I am bound to the best of my power to give to those
parts of my constitution the highest degree of perfection possible. I
am not only to suppress the evil, but to evoke the good elements in
my nature. And as I respect myself, so am I equally bound to respect
others, as they on their part are bound to respect me." Hence mutual
respect, justice, and order, of which law becomes the written record
and guarantee.

Self-respect is the noblest garment with which a man may clothe
himself--the most elevating feeling with which the mind can be
inspired. One of Pythagoras' wisest maxims, in his "Golden Verses,"
is that with which he enjoins the pupil to "reverence himself." Borne
up by this high idea, he will not defile his body by sensuality, nor
his mind by servile thoughts. This sentiment, carried into daily
life, will be found at the root of all the virtues--cleanliness,
sobriety, chastity, morality, and religion. "The pious and just
honoring of ourselves," said Milton, "may be thought the radical
moisture and fountain-head from whence every laudable and worthy
enterprise issues forth." To think meanly of one's self, is to sink
in one's own estimation as well as in the estimation of others. And
as the thoughts are, so will the acts be. Man cannot aspire if he
looks down; if he will rise, he must look up. The very humblest may
be sustained by the proper indulgence of this feeling. Poverty itself
may be lifted and lighted up by self-respect; and it is truly a noble
sight to see a poor man hold himself upright amidst his temptations,
and refuse to demean himself by low actions.



As Americans we are justly proud that we have no hereditary titles,
but each man is measured by his own personal worth.

While believing firmly in the propriety of this order of things, yet
we would not have you imagine that we underestimate the value of a
respectable lineage, but it is better to be the originator of a great
family than to be the degenerate descendant of one.

With but few exceptions those Americans whose lives are very properly
held up as an example for the imitation of our youth, are men who
have had to work their own way from the humblest walks in life, to
the highest in the gift of the nation.

This is true of Franklin, the statesman and philosopher, as it is of
Lincoln, the patriot and martyr, and the splendid list of names that
adorn the pages of our intervening history.

Smiles in his "Self-Help" shows how in England, a land where ancestry
counts for so much, the descendants of the greatest men, even of
kings, have been found in the humblest of callings.

The blood of all men flows from equally remote sources; and though
some are unable to trace their line directly beyond their
grandfathers, all are nevertheless justified in placing at the head
of their pedigree the great progenitors of the race, as Lord
Chesterfield did when he wrote, "ADAM _de Stanhope_--EVE _de
Stanhope_." No class is ever long stationary. The mighty fall, and
the humble are exalted. New families take the place of the old, who
disappear among the ranks of the common people. Burke's "Vicissitudes
of Families" strikingly exhibits the rise and fall of families, and
shows that the misfortunes which overtake the rich and noble are
greater in proportion than those which overwhelm the poor. This
author points out that of the twenty-five barons selected to enforce
the observance of Magna Charta, there is not now in the House of
Peers a single male descendant. Civil wars and rebellions ruined many
of the old nobility and dispersed their families. Yet their
descendants in many cases survive, and are to be found among the
ranks of the people. Fuller wrote in his "Worthies," that "some who
justly hold the surnames of Bohuns, Mortimers, and Plantagenets, are
hid in the heap of common men." Thus Burke shows that two of the
lineal descendants of the Earl of Kent, sixth son of Edward I, were
discovered in a butcher and a toll-gatherer; that the great-grandson
of Margaret Plantagenet, daughter of the Duke of Clarence, sank to
the condition of a cobbler at Newport, in Shropshire; and that among
the lineal descendants of the Duke of Gloucester, son of Edward III,
was the late sexton of St. George's Church, London. It is understood
that the lineal descendant of Simon de Montfort, England's premier
baron, is a saddler in Tooley street. One of the descendants of the
"Proud Percys," a claimant of the title of Duke of Northumberland,
was a Dublin trunkmaker; and not many years since one of the
claimants for the title of Earl of Perth presented himself in the
person of a laborer in a Northumberland coal-pit. Hugh Miller, when
working as a stone-mason near Edinburgh, was served by a hodman, who
was one of the numerous claimants for the earldom of Crauford--all
that was wanted to establish his claim being a missing marriage
certificate; and while the work was going on, the cry resounded from
the walls many times in the day, of "John, Yearl Crauford, bring us
another hod o' lime." One of Oliver Cromwell's great-grandsons was a
grocer in London, and others of his descendants died in great
poverty. Many barons of proud names and titles have perished, like
the sloth, upon their family tree, after eating up all the leaves;
while others have been overtaken by adversities which they have been
unable to retrieve, and have sunk at last into poverty and obscurity.
Such are the mutabilities of rank and fortune.

The great bulk of the English peerage is comparatively modern, so far
as the titles go; but it is not the less noble that it has been
recruited to so large an extent from the ranks of honorable industry.
In olden times, the wealth and commerce of London, conducted as it
was by energetic and enterprising men, was a prolific source of
peerages. Thus, the earldom of Cornwallis was founded by Thomas
Cornwallis, the Cheapside merchant; that of Essex by William Capel,
the draper; and that of Craven by William Craven, the merchant
tailor. The modern Earl of Warwick is not descended from the "King-
maker," but from William Greville, the woolstapler; whilst the modern
dukes of Northumberland find their head, not in the Percys, but in
Hugh Smithson, a respectable London apothecary. The founders of the
families of Dartmouth, Radnor, Ducie, and Pomfret, were respectively
a skinner, a silk manufacturer, a merchant tailor, and a Calais
merchant; whilst the founders of the peerages of Tankerville, Dormer,
and Coventry, were mercers. The ancestors of Earl Romney, and Lord
Dudley and Ward, were goldsmiths and jewelers; and Lord Dacres was a
banker in the reign of Charles I, as Lord Overstone is in that of
Queen Victoria. Edward Osborne, the founder of the dukedom of Leeds,
was apprentice to William Hewet, a rich cloth-worker on London
Bridge, whose only daughter he courageously rescued from drowning, by
leaping into the Thames after her, and whom he eventually married.

William Phipps, at one time Colonial Governor of Massachusetts, and
the founder of the Normandy family, was the son of a gunsmith who
emigrated to Maine, where this remarkable man was born in 1651. He
was one of a family of not fewer than twenty-six children (of whom
twenty-one were sons), whose only fortune lay in their stout hearts
and strong arms. William seems to have had a sash of the Danish
seablood in his veins, and he did not take kindly to the quiet life
of a shepherd in which he spent his early years. By nature bold and
adventurous, he longed to become a sailor and roam through the world.
He sought to join some ship; but not being able to find one, he
apprenticed himself to a ship-builder, with whom he thoroughly learnt
his trade, acquiring the arts of reading and writing during his
leisure hours. Having completed his apprenticeship and removed to
Boston, he wooed and married a widow of some means, after which he
set up a little ship-building yard of his own, built a ship, and
putting to sea in her, he engaged in the lumber trade, which he
carried on in a plodding and laborious way for the space of about ten

It happened that one day, while passing through the crooked streets
of old Boston, he overheard some sailors talking to each other of a
wreck which had just taken place off the Bahamas; that of a Spanish
ship, supposed to have much money on board. His adventurous spirit
was at once kindled, and getting together a likely crew without loss
of time, he set sail for the Bahamas. The wreck being well in shore
he easily found it, and succeeded in recovering a great deal of its
cargo, but very little money; and the result was that he barely
defrayed his expenses. His success had been such, however, as to
stimulate his enterprising spirit; and when he was told of another
and far more richly laden vessel which had been wrecked near Port de
la Plata more than half a century before, he forthwith formed the
resolution of raising the wreck, or at all events of fishing up the

Being too poor, however, to undertake such an enterprise without
powerful help, he set sail for England in the hope that he might
there obtain it. The fame of his success in raising the wreck off the
Bahamas had already preceded him. He applied direct to the
Government. By his urgent enthusiasm, he succeeded in overcoming the
usual inertia of official minds; and Charles II eventually placed at
his disposal the "Rose Algier," a ship of eighteen guns and ninety-
five men, appointing him to the chief command.

Phipps then set sail to find the Spanish ship and fish up the
treasure. He reached the coast of Hispaniola in safety; but how to
find the sunken ship was the great difficulty. The fact of the wreck
was more than fifty years old; and Phipps had only the traditionary
rumors of the even to work upon. There was a wide coast to explore,
and an outspread ocean, without any trace whatever of the argosy
which lay somewhere at its bottom. But the man was stout in heart and
full of hope. He set his seamen to work to drag along the coast, and
for weeks they went on fishing up seaweed, shingle and bits of rock.
No occupation could be more trying to seamen, and they began to
grumble one to another, and to whisper that the man in command had
brought them on a fool's errand.

At length the murmurers gained head, and the men broke into open
mutiny. A body of them rushed one day on to the quarter-deck, and
demanded that the voyage should be relinquished. Phipps, however, was
not a man to be intimidated; he seized the ringleaders, and sent the
others back to their duty. It became necessary to bring the ship to
anchor close to a small island for the purpose of repairs; and, to
lighten her, the chief part of the stores was landed. Discontent
still increasing among the crew, a new plot was laid among the men on
shore to seize the ship, throw Phipps overboard, and start on a
piratical cruise against the Spaniards in the South Seas. But it was
necessary to secure the services of the chief ship-carpenter, who was
consequently made privy to the plot. This man proved faithful, and a
once told the captain of his danger. Summoning about him those whom
he knew to be loyal, Phipps had the ship's guns loaded, which
commanded the shore, and ordered the bridge communicating with the
vessel to be drawn up. When the mutineers made their appearance, the
captain hailed them, and told the men he would fire upon them if they
approached the stores (still on land), when they drew back; on which
Phipps had the stores reshipped under cover of his guns. The
mutineers, fearful of being left upon the barren island, threw down
their arms and implored to be permitted to return to their duty. The
request was granted, and suitable precautions were taken against
further mischief. Phipps, however, took the first opportunity of
landing the mutinous part of the crew, and engaging other men in
their places; but, by the time that he could again proceed actively
with his explorations, he found it absolutely necessary to proceed to
England for the purpose of repairing the ship. He had now, however,
gained more precise information as to the spot where the Spanish
treasure-ship had sunk; and, though as yet baffled, he was more
confident than ever of the eventual success of his enterprise.

Returned to London, Phipps reported the result of his voyage to the
Admirality, who professed to be pleased with his exertions; but he
had been unsuccessful, and they would not entrust him with another
king's ship. James II was now on the throne, and the Government was
in trouble; so Phipps and his golden project appealed to them in
vain. He next tried to raise the requisite means by a public
subscription. At first he was laughed at; but his ceaseless
importunity at length prevailed, and after four years' dinning of his
project into the ears of the great and influential--during which time
he lived in poverty--he at length succeeded. A company was formed in
twenty shares, The Duke of Albemarle, son of General Monk, taking the
chief interest in it, and subscribing the principal part of the
necessary fund for the prosecution of the enterprise.

Phipps was successful in this undertaking. He started other
enterprises and succeeded. He was knighted, and as has been stated,
became the founder of one of England's noble families. It should be
said, however, that beyond his perseverance, he had but few qualities
to commend him. He was coarse, ignorant, and brutal, and had to fly
from Massachusetts to save his life from an indignant people.

But true nobility is not that which is conferred by the warrant of a
monarch. If as Pope says, "An honest man's the noblest work of God,"
then the nobles man is the honest man, who with his own clear brain
and strong right arm, wins his way up from the humblest walks in
life, till by virtue of his manhood, he stands the peer of peers, and
by Divine right the equal of all earth's kings.

We hear a great deal about an American aristocracy, but no matter
what the wishes of a few people with un-American tastes may be, the
only aristocracy that can ever find recognition here, is that of
brains and the success born of hones toil.

Ninety-nine out of every hundred of the rich families that are
wrongly supposed to constitute our aristocracy at this time, were
poor less than fifty years ago. Many of the rich families of fifty
years ago are poor to-day; and so fortune varies and changes in this
new land. Our true aristocrats are successful men like Peter Cooper,
who left the world better for having lived in it. We count among our
aristocrats, patriots like Lincoln, and if his descendants emulate
his noble example, they too will be ennobled by their countrymen. We
reckon Lowell, Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, Hawthorne, Elisha Howe
and George W. Childs among our aristocrats. Andrew Carnegie deserves
a place in the same list of American peers, as does Thomas A. Edison.

But after all the true title to nobility is implied in the words
"gentleman" and "lady," and with these we need not fear comparison
with all the world's titled nobles.



The crown and glory of life is Character. It is the noblest
possession of a man, constituting a rank in itself, and an estate in
the general good-will; dignifying every station, and exalting every
position in society. It exercises a greater power than wealth, and
secures all the honor without the jealousies of fame. It carries with
it an influence which always tells; for it is the result of proved
honor, rectitude and consistency--qualities which, perhaps, more than
any other, command the general confidence and respect of mankind.

Character is human nature in its best form It is moral order embodied
in the individual. Men of character are not only the conscience of
society, but in every well-governed state they are its best motive
power; for it is moral qualities in the main which rule the world.
Even in war, Napoleon said, the moral is to the physical as ten to
one. The strength, the industry, and the civilization of nations--all
depend upon individual character; and the very foundations of civil
security rest upon it. Laws and institutions are but its outgrowth.
In the just balance of nature individuals, nations and races, will
obtain just so much as they deserve, and no more. And as effect finds
its cause, so surely does quality of character amongst a people
produce its befitting results.

Though a man have comparatively little culture, slender abilities,
and but small wealth, yet, if his character be of sterling worth, he
always commands an influence, whether it be in the workshop, the
counting-house, the mart, or the senate. Canning wisely wrote in
1801, "My road must be through Character to Power; I will try no
other course; and I am sanguine enough to believe that this course,
though not perhaps the quickest, is the surest." You may admire men
of intellect; but something more is necessary before you will trust
them. This was strikingly illustrated in the career of Francis
Horner--a man of whom Sydney Smith said that the Ten Commandments
were stamped upon his countenance. "The valuable and peculiar light,"
says Lord Cockburn, "in which his history is calculated to inspire
every right-minded youth, is this: He died at the age of thirty-
eight; possessed of greater public influence than any other private
man, and admired, beloved, trusted, and deplored by all, except the
heartless or the base. Now let every young man ask--how was this
attained? By rank? He was the son of an Edinburgh merchant. By
wealth? Neither he, nor any of his relations, ever had a superfluous
sixpence. By office? He held but one, and only for a few years, of no
influence, and with very little pay. By talents? His were not
splendid, and he had no genius. Cautious and slow, his only ambition
was to be right. By eloquence? He spoke in calm, good taste, without
any of the oratory that either terrifies or seduces. By any
fascination of manner? His was only correct and agreeable. By what,
then, was it? Merely by sense, industry, good principles, and a good
heart--qualities which no well-constituted mind need ever despair of
attaining. It was the force of his character that raised him; and
this character not impressed upon him by nature, but formed, out of
no peculiarly fine elements, by himself. There were many in the House
of Commons of far greater ability and eloquence. But no one surpassed
him in the combination of an adequate portion of these with moral
worth. Horner was born to show what moderate powers, unaided by
anything whatever except culture and goodness, may achieve, even when
these powers are displayed amidst the competition and jealousy of
public life."

Franklin attributed his success as a public man not to his talents or
his powers of speaking--for these were but moderate--but to his known
integrity of character. Hence, it was, he says, "that I had so much
weight with my fellow-citizens. I was but a bad speaker, never
eloquent, subject to much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly
correct in language, and yet I generally carried my point." Character
creates confidence in men in high station as well as in humble life.
It was said of the first Emperor Alexander of Russia, that his
personal character was equivalent to a constitution. During the wars
of the Fronde, Montaigne was the only man amongst the French gentry
who kept his castle gates unbarred; and it was said of him, that his
personal character was a better protection for him than a regiment of
horse would have been.

That character is power, is true in a much higher sense than that
knowledge is power. Mind without heart, intelligence without conduct,
cleverness without goodness, are powers in their way, but they may be
powers only for mischief. We may be instructed or amused by them; but
it is sometimes as difficult to admire them as it would be to admire
the dexterity of a pickpocket or the horsemanship of a highwayman.

Truthfulness, integrity, and goodness--qualities that hang not on any
man's breath--form the essence of manly character, or, as one of our
old writers has it, "that inbred loyalty unto Virtue which can serve
her without a livery." He who possesses these qualities, united with
strength of purpose, carries with him a power which is irresistible.
He is strong to do good, strong to resist evil, and strong to bear up
under difficulty and misfortune. When Stephen of Colonna fell into
the hands of his base assailants, and they asked him in derision,
"Where is now your fortress?" "Here," was his bold reply, placing his
hand upon his heart. It is in misfortune that the character of the
upright man shines forth with the greatest lustre; and when all else
fails, he takes his stand upon his integrity and his courage.

The rules of conduct followed by Lord Erskine--a man of sterling
independence of principle and scrupulous adherence to truth--are
worthy of being engraven on every young man's heart. "It was a first
command and counsel of my earliest youth," he said, "always to do
what my conscience told me to be a duty, and to leave the consequence
to God. I shall carry with me the memory, and I trust the practice,
of this parental lesson to the grave. I have hitherto followed it,
and I have no reason to complain that my obedience to it has been a
temporal sacrifice. I have found it, on the contrary, the road to
prosperity and wealth, and I shall point out the same path to my
children for their pursuit."

Every man is bound to aim at the possession of a good character as
one of the highest objects of life. The very effort to secure it by
worthy means will furnish him with a motive of exertion; and his idea
of manhood, in proportion as it is elevated, will steady and animate
his motive. It is well to have a high standard of life, even though
we may not be able altogether to realize it. "The youth," says Mr.
Disraeli, "who does not look up will look down; and the spirit that
does not soar is destined perhaps to grovel." George Herbert wisely

"Pitch thy behavior low, thy projects high, So shall thou humble and
magnanimous be. Sink not in spirit; who aimeth at the sky Shoots
higher much that he that means a tree."

He who has a high standard of living and thinking will certainly do
better than he who has none at all. "Pluck at a gown of gold," says
the Scotch proverb, "and you may get a sleeve o't." Whoever tries for
the highest results cannot fail to reach a point far in advance of
that from which he started; and though the end attained may fall
short of that proposed, still, the very effort to rise, of itself
cannot fail to prove permanently beneficial.

There are many counterfeits of character, but the genuine article is
difficult to be mistaken. Some, knowing its money value, would assume
its disguise for the purpose of imposing upon the unwary. Colonel
Charteris said to a man distinguished for his honesty, "I would give
a thousand pounds for your good name." "Why?" "Because I could make
ten thousand by it," was the knave's reply.

There is a truthfulness in action as well as in words, which is
essential to uprightness of character. A man must really be what he
seems or purposes to be. When an American gentleman wrote to
Granville Sharp, that from respect for his great virtues he had named
one of his sons after him, Sharp replied: "I must request you to
teach him a favorite maxim of the family whose name you have given
him--_Always endeavor to be really what you would wish to appear_.
This maxim, as my father informed me, was carefully and humbly
practiced by _his_ father, whose sincerity, as a plain and honest
man, thereby became the principal feature of his character, both in
public and private life." Every man who respects himself, and values
the respect of others, will carry out the maxim in act--doing
honestly what he purposes to do--putting the highest character into
his work, scrimping nothing, but priding himself upon his integrity
and conscientiousness. Once Cromwell said to Bernard--a clever but
somewhat unscrupulous lawyer, "I understand that you have lately been
vastly wary in your conduct; do not be too confident of this:
subtlety may deceive you, integrity never will." Men whose acts are
at direct variance with their words, command no respect, and what
they say has but little weight: even truths, when uttered by them,
seem to come blasted from their lips.

The true character acts rightly, whether in secret or in the sight of
men. That boy was well trained who, when asked why he did not pocket
some pears, for nobody was there to see, replied, "Yes, there was; I
was there to see myself; and I don't intend ever to see myself do a
dishonest thing." This is a simple but not inappropriate illustration
of principle, or conscience, dominating in the character, and
exercising a noble protectorate over it; not merely a passive
influence, but an active power regulating the life. Such a principle
goes on moulding the character hourly and daily, growing with a force
that operates every moment. Without this dominating influence,
character has no protection, but is constantly liable to fall away
before temptation; and every such temptation succumbed to, every act
of meanness or dishonesty, however slight, causes self-degradation.
It matters not whether the act be successful or not, discovered or
concealed; the culprit is no longer the same, but another person; and
he is pursued by a secret uneasiness, by self-reproach, or the
workings of what we call conscience, which is the inevitable doom of
the guilty.

And here it may be observed how greatly the character may be
strengthened and supported by the cultivation of good habits. Man, it
has been said, is a bundle of habits; and habit is second nature.
Metastasio entertained so strong an opinion as to the power of
repetition in act and thought, that he said, "All is habit in
mankind, even virtue itself." Butler, in his "Analogy," impresses the
importance of careful self-discipline and firm resistance to
temptation, as tending to make virtue habitual, so that at length it
may become more easy to do good than to give way to sin. "As habits
belonging to the body," he says, "are produced by external acts, so
habits of the mind are produced by the execution of inward practical
purposes, i.e., carrying them into act, or acting upon them--the
principles of obedience, veracity, justice, and charity." And again,
Lord Brougham says, when enforcing the immense importance of training
and example in youth, "I trust everything, under God, to habit, on
which, in all ages, the lawgiver, as well as the schoolmaster, has
mainly placed his reliance; habit, which makes everything easy, and
cast the difficulties upon the deviation from a wonted course." Thus,
make sobriety a habit and intemperance will be hateful; make prudence
a habit, and reckless profligacy will become revolting to every
principle of conduct which regulates the life of the individual.
Hence the necessity for the greatest care and watchfulness against
the inroad of any evil habit; for the character is always weakest at
that point at which it has once given way; and it is long before a
principle restored can become as firm as one that has never been
moved. It is a fine remark of a Russian writer, that "Habits are a
necklace of pearls: untie the knot, and the whole unthreads."

Wherever formed, habit acts involuntarily and without effort; and it
is only when you oppose it, that you find how powerful it has become.
What is done once and again, soon gives facility and proneness. The
habit at first may seem to have no more strength than a spider's web;
but, once formed, it binds us with a chain of iron. The small events
of life, taken singly, may seem exceedingly unimportant, like snow
that falls silently, flake by flake; yet accumulated, these
snowflakes form the avalanche.

Self-respect, self-help, application, industry, integrity--all are of
the nature of habits, not beliefs. Principles, in fact, are but the
names which we assign to habits; for the principles are words, but
the habits are the things themselves: benefactors or tyrants,
according as they are good or evil. It thus happens that as we grow
older, a portion of our free activity and individuality becomes
suspended in habit; our actions become of the nature of fate; and we
are bound by the chains which we have woven around ourselves.

It is indeed scarcely possible to overestimate the importance of
training the young to virtuous habits. In them they are the easiest
formed, and when formed, they last for life; like letters cut on the
bark of a tree, they grow and widen with age. "Train up a child in
the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."
The beginning holds within it the end; the first start on the road of
life determines the direction and the destination of the journey.
Remember, before you are five-and-twenty you must establish a
character that will serve you all your life. As habit strengthens
with age, and character becomes formed, and turning into a new path
becomes more and more difficult. Hence, it is often harder to unlearn
that to learn; and for this reason the Grecian flute-player was
justified who charged double fees to those pupils who had been taught
by an inferior master. To uproot and old habit is sometimes a more
painful thing, and vastly more difficult, than to wrench out a tooth.
Try and reform an habitually indolent, or improvident, or drunken
person, and in a large majority of cases you will fail. For the habit
in each case has wound itself in and through life until it has become
an integral part of it, and can not be uprooted. Hence, as Mr. Lynch
observes, "the wisest habit of all is the habit of care in the
formation of good habits."

Even happiness itself may become habitual. There is a habit of
looking at the bright side of things, and also of looking at the dark
side. Dr. Johnson said that the habit of looking at the best side of
a thing is worth more to a man than a thousand pounds a year. And we
possess the power, to a great extent, of so exercising the will as to
direct the thoughts upon objects calculated to yield happiness and
improvement rather than their opposites. In this way the habit of
happy thought may be made to spring up like any other habit. And to
bring up men or women with a genial nature of this sort, a good
temper, and a happy frame of mind is, perhaps, of even more
importance, in may cases, than to perfect them in much knowledge and
many accomplishments.

As daylight can be seen through very small holes, so little things
will illustrate a person's character. Indeed, character consists in
little acts, well and honorably performed; daily life being the
quarry from which we build it up, and rough-hew the habits which form
it. One of the most marked tests of character is the manner in which
we conduct ourselves toward others. A graceful behavior toward
superiors, inferiors, and equals, is a constant source of pleasure.
It pleases others because it indicates respect for their personality;
but it gives tenfold more pleasure to ourselves. Every man may, to a
large extent, be a self-educator in good behavior, as in everything
else; he can be civil and kind, if he will, though he have not a cent
in his pocket. Gentleness in society is like the silent influence of
light, which gives color to all nature; it is far more powerful than
loudness or force, and far more fruitful. It pushes its way quietly
and persistently, like the tiniest daffodil in spring, which raises
the clod and thrusts it aside by the simple persistency of growing.

Even a kind look will give pleasure and confer happiness. In one of
Robertson's letters, he tells of a lady who related to him "the
delight, the tears of gratitude, which she had witnessed in a poor
girl to whom, in passing I gave a kind look on going out of church on
Sunday. What a lesson! How cheaply happiness can be given! What
opportunities we miss of doing an angel's work! I remember doing it,
full of sad feelings, passing on, and thinking no more about it; and
it gave an hour's sunshine to a human life, and lightened the load of
life to a human heart for a time."

Morals and manners, which give color to life, are of much greater
importance than laws, which are but their manifestations. The law
touches us here and there, but manners are about us everywhere,
pervading society like the air we breathe. Good manners, as we call
them, are neither more nor less than good behavior; consisting of
courtesy and kindness; benevolence being the preponderating element
in all kinds of mutually beneficial and pleasant intercourse amongst
human beings. "Civility," said Lady Montague, "costs nothing and buys
everything." The cheapest of all things is kindness, its exercise
requiring the least possible trouble and self-sacrifice. "Win
hearts," said Burleigh to Queen Elizabeth, "and you have all men's
hearts and purses." If we would only let nature act kindly, free from
affectation and artifice, the results on social good humor and
happiness would be incalculable. The little courtesies which form the
small change of life, may separately appear of little intrinsic
value, but they acquire their importance from repetition and
accumulation. They are like the spare minutes, or the groat a day,
which proverbially produce such momentous results in the course of a
twelvemonth, or in a lifetime.

Manners are the ornament of action; and there is a way of speaking a
kind word, or of doing a kind thing, which greatly enhances its
value. What seems to be done with a grudge, or as an act of
condescension, is scarcely accepted as a favor. Yet there are men who
pride themselves upon their gruffness; and though they may possess
virtue and capacity, their manner is often such as to render them
almost insupportable. It is difficult to like a man who, though he
may not pull your nose, habitually wounds your self-respect, and
takes a pride in saying disagreeable things to you. There are others
who are dreadfully condescending, and cannot avoid seizing upon every
small opportunity of making their greatness felt. When Abernethy was
canvassing for the office of surgeon to St. Bartholomew's Hospital,
he called upon such a person--a rich grocer, one of the governors.
The great man behind the counter seeing the great surgeon enter
immediately assumed the grand air toward the supposed suppliant for
his vote. "I presume, sir," he said, "you want my vote and interest
at this momentous epoch of your life." Abernethy, who hated humbugs,
and felt nettled at the tone, replied: "No, I don't; I want a
pennyworth of figs; come, look sharp and wrap them up; I want to be

The gentleman is eminently distinguished for his self-respect. He
values his character--not so much of it only as can be seen by
others, but as he sees himself; having regard for the approval of his
inward monitor. And, as he respects himself, so, by the same law,
does he respect others. Humanity is sacred in his eyes; and thence
proceed politeness and forbearance, kindness and charity. It is
related of Lord Edward Fitzgerald that, while traveling in Canada, in
company with the Indians, he was shocked by the sight of a poor squaw
trudging along laden with her husband's trappings, while the chief
himself walked on unencumbered. Lord Edward at once relieved the
squaw of her pack by placing it upon his own shoulders--a beautiful
instance of what the French call _politesse de coeur_--the inbred
politeness of the true gentleman.

The true gentleman has a keen sense of honor--scrupulously avoiding
mean actions. His standard of probity in word and action is high. He
does not shuffle or prevaricate, dodge or skulk; but is honest,
upright and straightforward. His law is rectitude--action in right
lines. When he says _yes_, it is a law; and he dares to say the
valiant _no_ at the fitting season.

Riches and rank have no necessary connection with genuine gentlemanly
qualities. The poor man may be a true gentleman--in spirit and in
daily life. He may be honest, truthful, upright, polite, temperate,
courageous, self-respecting, and self-helping--that is, be a true
gentleman. The poor man with a rich spirit is in all ways superior to
the rich man with a poor spirit. To borrow S. Paul's words, the
former is as "having nothing, yet possessing all things," while the
other, though possessing all things, has nothing. The first hopes
everything, and fears nothing; the last hopes nothing, and fears
everything. Only the poor in spirit are really poor. He who has lost
all, but retains his courage, cheerfulness, hope, virtue, and self-
respect, is still rich. For such a man, the world is, as it were,
held in trust; his spirit dominating over its grosser cares, he can
still walk erect, a true gentleman.

Occasionally, the brave and gentle character may be found under the
humblest garb. Here is an old illustration, but a fine one. Once on a
time, when the Adige suddenly overflowed its banks, the bridge of
Verona was carried away with the exception of the centre arch, on
which stood a house, whose inhabitants supplicated help from the
windows, while the foundations were visibly giving way. "I will give
a hundred French louis," said the Count Spolverini, who stood by, "to
any person who will venture to deliver those unfortunate people." A
young peasant came forth from the crowd, seized a boat, and pushed
into the stream. He gained the pier, received the whole family into
the boat, and made for the shore, where he landed them in safety.
"Here is your money, my brave young fellow," said the count. "No,"
was the answer of the young man, "I do not sell my life; give the
money to this poor family, who have need of it." Here spoke the true
spirit of the gentleman, though he was in the garb of a peasant.

There is perhaps no finer example in all history of the self-made man
than George Washington. It may be argued that he belonged to a good
family, and that his family was amongst the richest in the country at
that time. This is true, yet there is not a boy who graduates to-day
at our grammar schools who has not had far better educational
advantages than had Washington. But he was self-taught, and he so
prepared himself that no duty that required him, ever found him
deficient. At an age when most young men are thinking about striking
out for themselves, Washington occupied with success and honor
positions requiring courage, judgment, and decision. He grew with his
own deserved advance, until at length by his own splendid efforts, he
found himself, in the words of Adams, "First in war, first in peace,
and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

With all the avenues of life open to him, or ready to be opened, if
he will but boldly knock, the young man starting out in life to-day
has every advantage. If he will carefully study over the splendid
examples we have cited, and follow along the lines that led to their
success, his own prosperity can no longer be a matter for doubt.



It must never be forgotten that the position a man occupies at the
close of his life is not an infallible criterion of whether he has
got on in the world. There are some places in the world's history so
illustrious that to occupy them it would be worth dying in poverty
and misery. Ambition might well choose to be remembered with
gratitude by succeeding generations and to have an immortal name,
even if to attain it everything were sacrificed that is counted
desirable in life. Who would not surrender wealth and ease and
luxury, if in exchange for them he could leave such a name as
Columbus, Washington, Lincoln, John Brown, Livingstone or Howard?
Posthumous glory counts for something in the reckoning. And this is
often attained by self-sacrifice. Revile the world as we may, it does
not forget the men who have done it service. The men who have
forgotten themselves, who have not striven after their own advantage,
but have devoted their lives to the good of humanity, achieve
immortality. They get on in the world in the sense of receiving a
crown that cannot fade and a glory outshining that of kings and
millionaires. The hero has a reward all his own and he may well
renounce the lower rewards of riches and ease to gain it. But his
qualities must be heroic or he will make his sacrifices to no
purpose. He must be true to himself at all cost. Washington was a
brilliant example of this fidelity to his ideal. Sparks tells us that
when he clearly saw his duty before him, he did it at all hazards,
and with inflexible integrity. He did not do it for effect; nor did
he think of glory, or of fame and its rewards; but of the right thing
to be done, and the best way of doing it.

Yet Washington had a most modest opinion of himself; and when offered
the chief command of the American patriot army he hesitated to accept
it until it was pressed upon him. When acknowledging in Congress the
honor which had been done him in selecting him to so important a
trust, on the execution of which the future of his country in a great
measure depended, Washington said: "I beg it may be remembered, lest
some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, that I
this day declare, with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself
equal to the command I am honored with."

And in his letter to his wife, communicating to her his appointment
as commander-in-chief, he said: "I have used very endeavor in my
power to avoid it, not only from my unwillingness to part with you
and the family, but from a consciousness of its being a trust too
great for my capacity; and that I should enjoy more real happiness in
one month with you at home than I have the most distant prospect of
finding abroad, if my stay were to be seven times seven years. But,
as it has been a kind of destiny that has thrown me upon this
service, I shall hope that my undertaking is designed for some good
purpose. It was utterly out of my power to refuse the appointment,
without exposing my character to such censures as would have
reflected dishonor upon myself, and given pain to my friends. This, I
am sure, could not, and ought not, to be pleasing to you, and must
have lessened me considerably in my own esteem."

Washington pursued his upright course through life, first as
commander-in-chief, and afterward as President, never faltering in
the path of duty. He had no regard for popularity, but held to his
purpose through good and through evil report, often at the risk of
his power and influence. Thus, on one occasion, when the ratification
of a treaty, arranged by Mr. Jay with Great Britain, was in question,
Washington was urged to reject it. But his honor, and the honor of
his country, was committed, and he refused to do so. A great outcry
was raised against the treaty, and for a time Washington was so
unpopular that he is said to have been actually stoned by the mob.
But he, nevertheless, held it to be his duty to ratify the treaty;
and it was carried out in despite of petitions and remonstrances from
all quarters. "While I fell," he said, in answer to the remonstrants,
"the most lively gratitude for the many instances of approbation from
my country, I can no otherwise deserve it than by obeying the
dictates of my conscience."

When the Oregon, coming along the Atlantic coast, was struck in the
middle of the night by that coaster, and a great wound was made in
her side, through which the water was pouring, Captain Murray stood
on the bridge as calm, apparently, as a May morning, and waited until
every passenger was off, and every officer was off, and every man on
the crew was off, and the last man to step from the sinking ship was
the captain himself; and ten minutes after he stepped off, the
steamer gave a quiver, as of apprehension, and then plunged to the
bottom of the ocean. The steamer was his, and the men were his, and
the boats were his, and the passengers were his, all for this: that
he might save them in time of peril; and he would go down to the
bottom of the ocean rather than that, by his recreancy, one of those
entrusted to him should perish. This was the true hero, the man who
would die rather than be false to duty.

One of the most striking instances that could be given of the
character of the dutiful, truthful, laborious man, who works on
bravely in spite of difficulty and physical suffering, is presented
in the life of the late George Wilson, Professor of Technology in the
University of Edinburgh. Wilson's life was, indeed, a marvel of
cheerful laboriousness; exhibiting the power of the soul to triumph
over the body, and almost to set it at defiance. It might be taken as
an illustration of the saying of the whaling-captain to Dr. Kane, as
to the power of moral force over physical: "Bless you, sir, the soul
will any day lift the body out of its boots!"

A fragile but bright and lively boy, he had scarcely entered manhood
ere his constitution began to exhibit signs of disease. As early,
indeed, as his seventeenth year, he began to complain of melancholy
and sleeplessness, supposed to be the effects of bile. "I don't think
I shall live long," he then said to a friend; "my mind will--must
work itself out, and the body will soon follow it." A strange
confession for a boy to make! But he gave his physical health no fair
chance. His life was all brain work, study, and competition. When he
took exercise it was in sudden bursts, which did him more harm than
good. Long walks in the Highlands jaded and exhausted him; and he
returned to his brain-work unrested and unrefreshed.

It was during one of his forced walks of some twenty-four miles, in
the neighborhood of Stirling, that he injured one of his feet, and he
returned home seriously ill. The result was an abscess, disease of
the ankle-joint, and a long agony, which ended in the amputation of
the right foot. But he never relaxed in his labors. He was now
writing, lecturing and teaching chemistry. Rheumatism and acute
inflammation of the eye next attacked him, and were treated by
cupping, blistering, and colchicum. Unable himself to write, he went
on preparing his lectures, which he dictated to his sister. Pain
haunted him day and night, and sleep was only forced by morphia.
While in this state of general prostration symptoms of pulmonary
disease began to show themselves. Yet he continued to give the weekly
lectures to which he stood committed to the Edinburgh School of Arts.
Not one was shirked, though their delivery, before a large audience,
was a most exhausting duty. "Well, there's another nail put into my
coffin," was the remark made on throwing off his top-coat on
returning home; and a sleepless night almost invariably followed.

At twenty-seven, Wilson was lecturing ten, eleven, or more hours
weekly, usually with setons or open blister-wounds upon him--his
"bosom friends," he used to call them. He felt the shadow of death
upon him, and he worked as if his days were numbered. "Don't be
surprised," he wrote to a friend, "if any morning at breakfast you
hear that I am gone." But while he said so, he did not in the least
degree indulge in the feeling of sickly sentimentality. He worked on
as cheerfully and hopefully as if in the very fullness of strength.
"To none," said he, "is life so sweet as to those who have lost all
fear of dying."

Sometimes he was compelled to desist from his labors by sheer
debility, occasioned by loss of blood from the lungs; but after a few
weeks' rest and change of air, he would return to his work, saying,
"The water is rising in the well again!" Though disease had fastened
on his lungs, and was spreading there, and though suffering from a
distressing cough, he went on lecturing as usual. To add to his
troubles, when one day endeavoring to recover himself from a stumble
occasioned by his lameness, he overstrained his arm, and broke the
bone near the shoulder. But he recovered from his successive
accidents and illnesses in the most extraordinary way. The reed bent,
but did not break; the storm passed, and it stood erect as before.

There was no worry, nor fever, nor fret about him; but instead,
cheerfulness, patience and unfailing perseverance. His mind, amidst
all his sufferings, remained perfectly calm and serene. He went about
his daily work with an apparently charmed life, as if he had the
strength of many men in him. Yet all the while he knew he was dying,
his chief anxiety being to conceal his state from those about him at
home, to whom the knowledge of his actual condition would have been
inexpressibly distressing. "I am cheerful among strangers," he said,
"and try to live day by day as a dying man."

He went on teaching as before--lecturing to the Architectural
Institutes and to the School of Arts. One day, after a lecture before
the latter institute, he lay down to rest, and was shortly awakened
by the rupture of a blood-vessel, which occasioned him the loss of a
considerable quantity of blood. He did not experience the despair and
agony that Keats did on a like occasion, though he equally knew that
the messenger of death had come, and was waiting for him. He appeared
at the family meals as usual, and next day he lectured twice,
punctually fulfilling his engagements; but the exertion of speaking
was followed by a second attack of hemorrhage. He now became
seriously ill, and it was doubted whether he would survive the night.
But he did survive; and during his convalescence he was appointed to
an important public office--that of director of the Scottish
Industrial Museum, which involved a great amount of labor, as well as
lecturing, in his capacity of professor of technology, which he held
in connection with the office.

From this time forward, his "dear museum," as he called it, absorbed
all his surplus energies. While busily occupied in collecting models
and specimens for the museum, he filled up his odds-and-ends of time
in lecturing in Ragged Schools and Medical Missionary Societies. He
gave himself no rest, either of mind or body; and "to die working"
was the fate he envied. His mind would not give in, but his poor body
was forced to yield, and a sever attack of hemorrhage--bleeding from
both lungs and stomach--compelled him to relax in his labors. "For a
month, or some forty days," he wrote--"a dreadful Lent--the wind has
blown geographically from 'Araby the blest,' but thermometrically
from Iceland the accursed. I have been made a prisoner of war, hit by
an icicle in the lungs, and have shivered and burned alternately for
a large portion of the last month, and spat blood till I grew pale
with coughing. Now I am better, and to-morrow I give my concluding
lecture (on technology), thankful that I have contrived,
notwithstanding all my troubles, to early on without missing a
lecture to the last day of the Faculty of Arts, to which I belong."

How long was it to last? He himself began to wonder, for he had long
felt his life as if ebbing away. At length he became languid, weary,
and unfit for work; even the writing of a letter cost him a painful
effort, and he felt "as if to lie down and sleep were the only things
worth doing." Yet shortly after, to help a Sunday school, he wrote
his "Five Gateways of Knowledge," as a lecture, and afterward
expanded it into a book. He also recovered strength sufficient to
enable him to proceed with his lectures to the institutions to which
he belonged, besides on various occasions undertaking to do other
people's work. "I am looked upon as being as mad," he wrote to his
brother, "because on a hasty notice, I took a defaulting lecturer's
place at the Philosophical Institution, and discoursed on the
polarization of light . . . But I like work: it is a family

Then followed chronic _malaise_--sleepless nights, days of pain, and
more spitting of blood. "My only painless moments." he says, "were
when lecturing." In this state of prostration and disease, the
indefatigable man undertook to write the "Life of Edward Forbes;" and
he did it, like every thing he undertook, with admirable ability. He
proceeded with his lectures as usual. To an association of teachers
he delivered a discourse on the educational value of industrial
science. After he had spoken to his audience for an hour, he left
them to say whether he should go on or not, and they cheered him on
to another half-hour's address. "It is curious," he wrote, "the
feeling of having an audience, like clay in your hands, to mould for
a season as you please. It is a terribly responsible power . . . I do
not mean for a moment to imply that I am indifferent to the good
opinion of others--far otherwise; but to gain this is much less a
concern with me than to deserve it. It was not so once. I had no wish
for unmerited praise, but I was too ready to settle that I did merit
it. Now, the word DUTY seems to me the biggest word in the world, and
is uppermost in all my serious doings."

That was written only about four months before his death. A little
later he wrote: "I spin my thread of life from week to week, rather
than from year to year." Constant attacks of bleeding from the lungs
sapped his little remaining strength, but did not altogether disable
him from lecturing. He was amused by one of his friends proposing to
put him under trustees for the purpose of looking after his health.
But he would not be restrained from working so long as a vestige of
strength remained.

One day, in the autumn of 1859, he returned from his customary
lecture in the University of Edinburgh with a severe pain in his
side. He was scarcely able to crawl up stairs. Medical aid was sent
for, and he was pronounced to be suffering from pleurisy and
inflammation of the lungs. His enfeebled frame was ill able to resist
so severe a disease, and he sank peacefully to the rest he so longed
for, after a few days' illness.

The life of George Wilson--so admirably and affectionately related by
his sister--is probably one of the most marvelous records of pain and
long-suffering, and yet of persistent, noble and useful work, that is
to be found in the whole history of literature.

Instances of this heroic quality of self-forgetfulness in the
interest of others are more frequent than we realize. Dr. Louis
Albert Banks mentions the following illustration: "The other day, in
one of our cities, two small boys signaled a street-car. When the car
stopped it was noticed that one boy was lame. With much solicitude
the other boy helped the cripple aboard, and, after telling the
conductor to go ahead, returned to the sidewalk. The lame boy braced
himself up in his seat so that he could look out of the car window,
and the other passengers observed that at intervals the little fellow
would wave his hand and smile. Following the direction of his
glances, the passengers saw the other boy running along the sidewalk,
straining every muscle to keep up with the car. They watched his
pantomime in silence for a few blocks, and then a gentleman asked the
lame boy who the other boy was: 'My brother,' was the prompt reply.
'Why does he not ride with you in the car?' was the next question.
'Because he hasn't any money,' answered the lame boy, sorrowfully.
But the little runner--running that his crippled brother might ride--
had a face in which sorrow had no part, only the gladness of a self-
denying soul. O my brother, you who long to do great service for the
King and reach life's noblest triumph, here is your picture--willing
to run that the crippled lives may ride, willing to bear one
another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ--that is the
spirit of the King's country."

"The path of service is open to all, nay, we stumble on to the path
daily without knowing it. Ivan Tourguenieff, in one of his beautiful
poems in prose, says, 'I was walking in the street; a beggar stopped
me--a frail old man. His inflamed, tearful eyes, blue lips, rough
rags, disgusting sores--oh, how horribly poverty had disfigured the
unhappy creature! He stretched out to me his red, swollen, filthy
hands; he groaned and whimpered for alms. I felt in all my pockets;
no purse, watch, or handkerchief did I find; I had left them all at
home. The beggar waited, and his outstretched hand twitched and
trembled. Embarrassed and confused, I seized his dirty hand and
pressed it. 'Don't be vexed with me, brother; I have nothing with me,
brother.' The beggar raised his bloodshot eyes to mine; his blue lips
smiled, and he returned the pressure of my chilled fingers. 'Never
mind, brother,' stammered he; 'thank you for this--this, too, was a
gift, brother.' I felt that I, too, had received a gift from my
brother. This is a line of service open to us all."

A gentleman writing to the Chicago _Interior_, relates this incident
in his own career as a prosecuting attorney: a boy of fifteen was
brought in for trial. He had no attorney, no witnesses and no
friends. As the prosecuting attorney looked him over, he was pleased
with his appearance. He had nothing of the hardened criminal about
him. In fact, he was impressed that the prisoner was an unusually
bright-looking little fellow. He found that the charge against him
was burglary. There had been a fire in a dry goods store, where some
of the merchandise had not been entirely consumed. The place had been
boarded up to protect, for the time being, the damaged articles.
Several boys, among them this defendant, had pulled off a board or
two, and were helping themselves to the contents of the place, when
the police arrived. The others got away, and this was the only one
caught. The attorney asked the boy if he wanted a jury trial. He said
"No;" that he was guilty, and preferred to plead guilty.

Upon the plea being entered, the prosecutor asked him where his home
was. He replied that he had no home.

"Where are your parents?" was asked. He answered that they were both

"Have you no relatives?" was the next question.

"Only a sister, who works out," was the answer.

"How long have you been in jail?"

"Two months."

"Has anyone been to see you during that time?"

"No, sir."

The last answer was very like a sob. The utterly forlorn and
friendless condition of the boy, coupled with his frankness and
pleasing presence, caused a lump to come into the lawyer's throat,
and into the throats of many others, who were listening to the
dialogue. Finally the attorney suggested to the judge that it was a
pity to send the boy to the reformatory, and that what he needed more
than anything else was a home.

By this time the court officials, jurors and spectators had crowded
around, the better to hear what was being said. At this juncture one
of the jurors addressed the court, and said: "Your honor, a year ago
I lost my only boy. If he were alive, he would be about this boy's
age. Ever since he died I have been wanting a boy. If you will let me
have this little fellow, I'll give him a home, put him to work in my
printing establishment, and treat him as if he were my own son."

The judge turned to the boy, and said: "This gentleman is a
successful business man. Do you think, if you are given this splendid
opportunity, you can make a man of yourself?"

"I'll try," very joyfully answered the boy.

"Very well; sign a recognizance, and go with the gentleman," said the

A few minutes later the boy and his new friend left together, while
tears of genuine pleasure stood in many eyes in the crowded
courtroom. The lawyer, who signs his name to the story, declares that
the boy turned out well, and proved to be worthy of his benefactor's

Deeds like that are waiting for the doing on every hand, and no man
gives himself up to this spirit of helpfulness for others without
strengthening his own life.

This spirit of self-forgetfulness and cheerful helpfulness is and
essential quality of the true heroic soul--the soul that is not
disturbed by circumstances, but goes on its way, strong and imparting

We have to be on our guard against small troubles, which, by
encouraging, we are apt to magnify into great ones. Indeed, the chief
source of worry in the world is not real but imaginary evil--small
vexations and trivial afflictions. In the presence of a great sorrow,
all petty troubles disappear; but we are too ready to take some
cherished misery to our bosom, and to pet it here. Very often it is
the child of our fancy; and, forgetful of the many means of happiness
which lie within our reach, we indulge this spoiled child of ours
until it masters us. We shut the door against cheerfulness, and
surround ourselves with gloom. The habit gives a coloring to our
life. We grow querulous, moody and unsympathetic. Our conversation
becomes full of regrets. We are harsh in our judgment of others. We
are unsociable, and think everybody else is so. We make our breast a
store-house of pain, which we inflict upon ourselves as well as upon

This disposition is encouraged by selfishness; indeed, it is, for the
most part, selfishness unmingled, without any admixture of sympathy
or consideration for the feelings of those about us. It is simply
willfulness in the wrong direction. It is willful, because it might
be avoided. Let the necessitarians argue as they may, freedom of will
and action is the possession of every man and woman. It is sometimes
our glory, and very often it is our shame; all depends upon the
manner in which it is used. We can choose to look at the bright side
of things or at the dark. We can follow good and eschew evil
thoughts. We can be wrong-headed and wrong-hearted, or the reverse,
as we ourselves determine. The world will be to each one of us very
much what we make it. The cheerful are its real possessors, for the
world belongs to those who enjoy it.

It must, however, be admitted that there are cases beyond the reach
of the moralist. Once, when a miserable-looking dyspeptic called upon
a leading physician, and laid his case before him, "Oh!" said the
doctor, "you only want a good hearty laugh: go and see Grimaldi."
"Alas!" said the miserable patient, "I am Grimaldi!" So, when
Smollett, oppressed by disease, traveled over Europe in the hope of
finding health, he saw everything through his own jaundiced eyes.

The restless, anxious, dissatisfied temper, that is ever ready to run
and meet care half-way, is fatal to all happiness and peace of mind.
How often do we see men and women set themselves about as if with
stiff bristles, so that one dare scarcely approach them without fear
of being pricked! For want of a little occasional command over one's
temper, and amount of misery is occasioned in society which is
positively frightful. Thus enjoyment is turned into bitterness, and
life becomes like a journey barefooted among thorns and briers and
prickles. "Though sometimes small evils," says Richard Sharp, "like
invisible insects, inflict great pain, and a single hair may stop a
vast machine, yet the chief secret of comfort lies in not suffering
trifles to vex us; and in prudently cultivating and under-growth of
small pleasures, since very few great ones, alas! are let on long

Cheerfulness also accompanies patience, which is one of the main
conditions of happiness and success in life. "He that will be
served," says George Herbert, "must be patient." It was said of the
cheerful and patient King Alfred that "good fortune accompanied him
like a gift of God." Marlborough's expectant calmness was great, and
a principal secret of his success as a general. "Patience will
overcome all things," he wrote to Godolphin, in 1702. In the midst of
a great emergency, while baffled and opposed by his allies, he said,
"Having done all that is possible, we should submit with patience."

One of the chiefest of blessings is Hope, the most common of
possessions; for, as Thales that philosopher said, "Even those who
have nothing else have hope." Hope is the great helper of the poor.
It has even been styled "the poor man's bread." It is also the
sustainer and inspirer of great deeds. It is recorded of Alexander
the Great that, when he succeeded to the throne of Macedon, he gave
away among his friends the greater part of the estates which his
father had left him; and when Perdiccas asked him what he reserved
for himself, Alexander answered, "The greatest possession of all--

The pleasures of memory, however great, are stale compared with those
of hope; for hope is the parent of all effort and endeavor; and
"every gift of noble origin is breathed upon by Hope's perpetual
breath." It may be said to be the moral engine that moves the world
and keeps it in action; and at the end of all there stands before us
what Robertson of Ellon styled "The Great Hope."

The qualities of the strong self-reliant man are sometimes
accompanied by a brusqueness of manner that leas others to misjudge
them. As Knox was retiring from the queen's presence on one occasion
he overheard one of the royal attendants say to another, "He is not
afraid!" Turning round upon them, he said: "And why should the
pleasing face of a gentleman frighten me? I have looked on the faces
of angry men, and yet have not been afraid beyond measure." When the
Reformer, worn out by excess of labor and anxiety, was at length laid
to his rest, the regent, looking down into the open grave, exclaimed
in words which made a strong impression from their aptness and truth--
"There lies he who never feared the face of man!"

Luther also was thought by some to be a mere compound of violence and
ruggedness. But, as in the case of Knox, the times in which he lived
were rude and violent, and the work he had to do could scarcely have
been accomplished with gentleness and suavity. To rouse Europe from
its lethargy, he had to speak and write with force, and even
vehemence. Yet Luther's vehemence was only in words. His apparently
rude exterior covered a warm heart. In private life he was gentle,
loving and affectionate. He was simple and homely, even to
commonness. Fond of all common pleasures and enjoyments, he was any
thing but an austere man or a bigot; for he was hearty, genial, and
even "jolly." Luther was the common people's hero in his lifetime,
and he remains so in Germany to this day.

Samuel Johnson was rude and often gruff in manner. But he had been
brought up in a rough school. Poverty in early life had made him
acquainted with strange companions. He had wandered in the streets
with Savage for nights together, unable between them to raise money
enough to pay for a bed. When his indomitable courage and industry at
length secured for him a footing in society, he still bore upon him
the scars of his early sorrow and struggles. He was by nature strong
and robust, and his experience made him unaccommodating and self-
asserting. When he was once asked why he was not invited to dine out
as Garrick was, he answered, "Because great lords and ladies do not
like to have their mouths stopped;" and Johnson was a notorious
mouth-stopper, though what he said was always worth listening to.

Johnson's companions spoke of him as "Ursa Major;" but, as Goldsmith
generously said of him, "No man alive has a more tender heart; he has
nothing of the bear about him but his skin." The kindliness of
Johnson's nature was shown on one occasion by the manner in which he
assisted a supposed lady in crossing Fleet street. He gave her his
arm and led her across, not observing that she was in liquor at the
time. But the spirit of the act was not the less kind on that
account. On the other hand, the conduct of the book-seller on whom
Johnson once called to solicit employment, and who, regarding his
athletic but uncouth person, told him he had better "go buy a
porter's knot and carry trunks," in howsoever bland tones the advice
might have been communicated, was simply brutal.

While captiousness of manner, and the habit of disputing and
contradicting everything said, is chilling and repulsive, the
opposite habit of assenting to, and sympathizing with, every
statement made, or emotion expressed, is almost equally disagreeable.
It is unmanly, and is felt to be dishonest. "It may seem difficult,"
says Richard Sharp, "to steer always between bluntness and plain-
dealing, between giving merited praise and lavishing indiscriminate
flattery; but it is very easy--good humor, kind heartedness and
perfect simplicity, being all that are requisite to do what is right
in the right way."

At the same time many are unpolite, not because they mean to be so,
but because they are awkward, and perhaps know no better. Thus, when
Gibbon had published the second and third volumes of his "Decline and
Fall," the Duke of Cumberland met him one day, and accosted him with,
"How do you do, Mr. Gibbon? I see you are always _at it_ in the old
way--_scribble, scribble, scribble_!" The duke probably intended to
pay the author a compliment, but did not know how better to do it
than in this blunt and apparently rude way.

Again, many persons are thought to be stiff, reserved and proud, when
they are only shy. Shyness is characteristic of most people of
Teutonic race. It has been styled "the English mania," but it
pervades, to a greater or less degree, all the Northern nations. The
average Frenchman or Irishman excels the average Englishman, German
or American in courtesy and ease of manner, simply because it is his
nature. They are more social and less self-dependent than men of
Teutonic origin, more demonstrative and less reticent; they are more
communicative, conversational, and freer in their intercourse with
each other in all respects; while men of German race are
comparatively stiff, reserved, shy and awkward. At the same time, a
people may exhibit ease, gayety, and sprightliness of character, and
yet possess no deeper qualities calculated to inspire respect. They
may have every grace of manner, and yet be heartless, frivolous,
selfish. The character may be on the surface only, and without any
solid qualities for a foundation.

There can be no doubt as to which of the two sorts of people--the
easy and graceful, or the stiff and awkward--it is most agreeable to
meet either in business, in society, or in the casual intercourse of
life. Which make the fastest friends, the truest men of their word,
the most conscientious performers of their duty, is an entirely
different matter.

As an epitome of good sound advice as to getting on in the world
there has probably been nothing written so forcible, quaint and full
of common sense a the following preface to an old Pennsylvanian
Almanac, entitled "Poor Richard Improved," by the great philosopher,
Benjamin Franklin. It is homely, simple, sensible and practical--a
condensation of the proverbial wit, wisdom and every-day philosophy,
useful at all times, and essentially so in the present day:

"COURTEOUS READER--I have heard that nothing gives an author so great
pleasure as to find his works respectfully quoted by others. Judge,
then, how much I must have been gratified by an incident I am going
to relate to you. I stopped my horse lately where a great number of
people were collected at an auction of merchants' goods. The hour of
the sale not being come, they were conversing on the badness of the
times, and one of the company called to a plain, clean old man with
white locks, 'Pray, Father Abraham, what think you of the times? Will
not these heavy taxes quite ruin the country? How shall we ever be
able to pay them? What would you advise us to do?' Father Abraham
stood up, and replied: 'If you would have my advice I will give it
you in short, for, A word to the wise is enough, as poor Richard
says.' They joined in desiring him to speak his mind, and gathering
round him, he proceeded as follows:

"'Friends, the taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by
the government were the only ones we had to pay we might more easily
discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to
some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times
as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly; and from
these taxes the commissioners cannot ease or deliver us, by allowing
an abatement. However, let us hearken to good advice, and something
may be done for us. God helps them that help themselves, as poor
Richard says.

"'I. It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people
one-tenth part of their time, to be employed in its service; but
idleness taxes many of use more; sloth, by bringing on diseases,
absolutely shortens life. Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than
labor wears; while, The used key is always bright, as poor Richard
says. But, Dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that
is the stuff life is made of, as poor Richard says. How much more
than is necessary do we spend in sleep! forgetting that, The sleeping
fox catches no poultry; and that, There will be sleeping in the
grave, as poor Richard says.

"'If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be,
as poor Richard says, the greatest prodigality; since, as he
elsewhere tells us, Lost time is never found again; and, What we call
time enough always proves little enough. Let us, then, be up and be
doing, and doing to the purpose; so by diligence shall we do more,
and with less perplexity. Sloth makes all things difficult, but
industry all easy; and, He that riseth late must trot all day, and
shall scarce overtake his business at night; while, Laziness travels
so slowly that poverty soon overtakes him. Drive thy business, let
not that drive thee; and Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man
healthy, wealthy and wise, as poor Richard says.

"'So what signifies wishing and hoping for better times? We may make
these times better if we bestir ourselves. Industry need not risk,
and, He that lives upon hopes will die fasting. There are no gains
without pains; then, Help, hands, for I have no lands; or, if I have,
they are smartly taxed. He that hath a trade, hath an estate; and, He
that hath a calling, hath an office of profit and honor, as poor
Richard says; but then the trade must be worked at, and the calling
followed, or neither the estate nor the office will enable us to pay
our taxes. If we are industrious we shall never starve; for, At the
working man's house, hunger looks in, but dares not enter. Nor will
the bailiff or the constable enter; for, Industry pays debts, while
despair increaseth them. What though you have found no treasure, nor
has any rich relation left you a legacy? Diligence is the mother of
good luck, and God gives all things to industry. Then, plough deep,
while sluggards sleep, and you shall have corn to sell and keep. Work
while it is called to-day, for you know not how much you may be
hindered to-morrow. One to-day is worth two to-morrows, as poor
Richard says; and, farther, never leave that till to-morrow that you
can do to-day. If you were a servant, would you not be shamed that a
good master would catch you idle? Are you then your own master, be
ashamed to catch yourself idle, when there is to be so much done for
yourself, your family, your country, and your king. Handle your tools
without mittens; remember that the cat in gloves catches no mice, as
poor Richard says. It is true there is much to be done, and perhaps
your are weak-handed; but stick to it steadily, and you will see
great effects; for, Constant dropping wears away stones; and, By
diligence and patience the mouse at in two the cable; and, Little
strokes fell great oaks.

"'Methinks I hear some of you say, "Must a man afford himself no
leisure?" I will tell thee, my friend, what poor Richard says--Employ
thy time well if thou meanest to gain leisure; and since thou are not
sure of a minute, throw not away an hour. Leisure is time for doing
something useful. This leisure the diligent man will obtain, but the
lazy man never; for a life of leisure and a life of laziness are two
things. Many, without labor, would live by their wits only, but they
break for want of stock; whereas industry gives comfort, and plenty,
and respect. Fly pleasures, and they will follow you. The diligent
spinner has a large shift; and, Now I have a sheep and a cow,
everybody bids me goodmorrow.

"'II. But with our industry we must likewise be steady, settled and
careful, and oversee our own affairs with our own eyes, and not trust
to others; for, as poor Richard says--

"'I never saw an oft-removed tree,
 Nor yet an oft-removed family,
 That throve so well as those that settled be.

And again--Three removes as bad as a fire. And again--Keep thy
shop, and thy shop will keep thee. And again--If you would have your
business done, go; if not, send. And again--

"'He that by the plough would thrive
 Himself must either hold or drive.

And again--The eye of a master will do more work than both his hands.
And again--Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge.
And again--Not to oversee workmen is to leave them your purse open.
Trusting too much to others' care is the ruin of many; for, in the
affairs of this world, men are saved, not by faith, but by the want
of it. But a man's own care is profitable; for if you would have a
faithful servant, and one that you like, serve yourself. A little
neglect may cause great mischief; For want of a nail the shoe was
lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; for want of a horse the
rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by the enemy--all for want
of a little care about a horse-shoe nail.

"'III. So much for industry, my friends, and attention to one's own
business; but to these we must add frugality, if we would make our
industry more certainly successful. A man may, if he knows not how to
save as he gets, keep his nose to the grindstone all his life, and
die not worth a groat at last. A fat kitchen makes a lean will; and

"'Many estates are spent in the getting,
 Since women for tea forsook spinning and knitting,
 And men for punch forsook hewing and splitting.

If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as of getting. The
Indies have not made Spain rich, because her outgoes are greater than
her incomes.

"'Away, then, with your expensive follies, and you will not then have
so much cause to complain of hard times, heavy taxes, and chargeable
families; for

"'Women and wine, game and deceit,
 Make the wealth small and the want great.

"'And further--What maintains one vice would bring up two children.
You may think, perhaps, that a little tea, or a little punch, now and
then, diet a little more costly, clothes a little finer, and a little
entertainment now and then, can be no great matter; but remember--
Many a little makes a nickel. Beware of little expenses--A small leak
will sink a great ship, as poor Richard says. And moreover--Fools
make feasts, and wise men eat them.

"' Here you are all got together at this sale of fineries and nick-
nacks. You call them goods; but if you do not take care they will
prove evils to some of you. You expect they will be sold cheap, and
perhaps they may for less than they cost; but if you have no occasion
for them they must be dear to you. Remember what poor Richard says--
Buy what thou hast no need of, and ere long thou shalt sell thy
necessaries. And again--At a great pennyworth pause awhile. He means
that the cheapness is apparent only, and not real; or the bargain, by
straitening thee in thy business, may do thee more harm than good;
for in another place he says--Many have been ruined by buying good
pennyworths. Again--It is foolish to lay out money in a purchase of
repentance; and yet this folly is practiced every day at auctions,
for want of minding the almanac. Many a one, for the sake of finery
on the back, has gone with a hungry belly and half-starved his
family. Silks and satins, scarlet and velvets, put out the kitchen
fire, as poor Richard says. These are not the necessaries of life;
they can scarcely be called the conveniences; and yet, only because
they look pretty, how many want to have them! By these, and other
extravagances, the genteel are reduced to poverty, and forced to
borrow of those whom they formerly despised, but who, through
industry and frugality, have maintained their standing; in which case
it appears plainly that, A ploughman on his legs is higher than a
gentleman on his knees, as poor Richard says. Perhaps they have had a
small estate left them, which they knew not the getting of; they
think it is day and will never be night; that a little to be spent
out of so much is not worth minding; but, Always taking out of the
meal-tub, and never putting in, soon comes to be the bottom, as poor
Richard says; and then, When the well is dry, they know the worth of
water. But this they might have know before if they had taken his
advice--If they would know the value of money, go and try to borrow
some; for, He that goes a-borrowing goes a-sorrowing, as poor Richard
says; and, indeed, so does he that lends to such people when he goes
to get his own in again. Poor dick further advises, and says:

"'Fond pride or dress is sure a very curse,
 Ere fancy you consult, consult your purse.

And again--Pride is as loud a beggar as want, and a great deal more
saucy. When you have bought one fine thing, you must buy ten more,
that your appearance may be all of a piece; but poor Dick says, It is
easier to suppress the first desire, than to satisfy all that follow
it. And it is as truly folly for the poor to ape the rich, as for the
frog to swell in order to equal the ox.

"'Vessels large may venture more,
 But little boats should keep near shore.

It is, however, a folly soon punished; for, as poor Richard says,
Pride that dines on vanity, sups on contempt. Pride breakfasted with
plenty, dined with poverty, and supped with infamy. And, after all,
of what use is this pride of appearance, for which so much is risked,
so much is suffered? It cannot promote health, nor ease pain; it
makes no increase of merit in the person; it creates envy; it hastens

"'But what madness must it be to run in debt for these superfluities!
We are offered, by the terms of this sale, six months credit; and
that, perhaps, has induced some of us to attend it, because we cannot
spare the ready money, and hope now to be fine without it. But, ah!
think what you do when you run in debt; you give to another power
over your liberty. If you cannot pay at the time, you will be ashamed
to see your creditor; you will be in fear when you speak to him; you
will make poor, pitiful, sneaking excuses, and, by degrees, come to
lose your veracity, and sink into base, downright lying; for, The
second vice is lying, the first is running in debt, as poor Richard
says; and again, to the same purpose, Lying rides upon debt's back . . .

"'And now, to conclude--Experience keeps a dear school, but fools
will learn in no other, as poor Richard says, and scarce in that;
for, it is true, We may give advice, but we cannot give conduct.
However, remember this--They that will not be counseled, cannot be
helped; and further, that, If you will not hear Reason, she will
surely rap your knuckles, as poor Richard says.'

"Thus the old gentleman ended his harangue. The people heard it and
approved the doctrine; and immediately practiced the contrary, just
as if it had been a common sermon, for the auctioneer opened, and
they began to buy extravagantly. I found the good man had thoroughly
studied my almanacs, and digested all I had dropt on these topics
during the course of twenty-five years."

The End.

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