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Title: Increasing Personal Efficiency
Author: Conwell, Russell H.
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.

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                         Increasing Personal Efficiency

                                Musical Culture
                                   Self Help
                            Some Advice to Young Men

                            _By_ RUSSELL H. CONWELL

                                   VOLUME 5

    597 Fifth Avenue, New York


    Copyright, 1917, by Harper & Brothers
    Printed in the United States of America

_Increasing Personal Efficiency_



Some women may be superficial in education and accomplishments,
extravagant in tastes, conspicuous in apparel, something more than
self-assured in bearing, devoted to trivialities, inclined to frequent
public places. It is, nevertheless, not without cause that art has
always shown the virtues in woman's dress, and that true literature
teems with eloquent tributes and ideal pictures of true womanhood--from
Homer's Andromache to Scott's Ellen Douglas, and farther. While
Shakespeare had no heroes, all his women except Ophelia are heroines,
even if Lady Macbeth, Regan, and Goneril are hideously wicked. In the
moral world, women are what flowers and fruit are in the physical. "The
soul's armor is never well set to the heart until woman's hand has
braced it; and it is only when she braces it loosely that the honor of
manhood fails."

Men will mainly be what women make them, and there can never be
_entirely free men_ until there are _entirely free women_ with no
special privileges, but with all her rights. The wife makes the home,
the mother makes the man, and she is the creator of joyous boyhood and
heroic manhood; when women fulfil their divine mission, all reform
societies will die, brutes will become men, and men shall be divine.
There are unkind things said of her in the cheaper writings of
to-day--perhaps because their authors have seen her only in
boarding-houses, restaurants, theaters, dance-halls, and at
card-parties; and the poor, degraded stage with its warped mirror shows
her up to the ridicule of the cheaper brood. The greatest writings and
the greatest dramas of all time have more than compensated for all this
indignity, and we have only to read deep into the great literature to be
disillusioned of any vulgar estimations of womanhood, and to understand
the beauty and power of soul of every woman who is true to the royalty
of womanhood.

There are few surer tests of a manly character than the estimation he
has of women, and it is noteworthy that the men who stand highest in the
esteem of both men and women are always men with worthy ideas of
womanhood, and with praiseworthy ideals for their mothers, sisters,
wives, and daughters. As men sink in self-respect and moral worth, their
esteem of womanhood lowers. The women who become the theme for poets and
philosophers and high-class playwrights are the women who have been bred
mainly in the home. They seem without exception to abhor throngs, and
only stern necessity can induce them to appear in them; the motherly,
matronly, and filial graces appeal strongly to them--such as are
portrayed in Cornelia, Portia, and Cordelia. They may yearn for society,
but it is the best society--for the "women whose beauty and sweetness
and dignity and high accomplishments and grace make us understand the
Greek mythology, and for the men who mold the time, who refresh our
faith in heroism and virtue, who make Plato and Zeno and Shakespeare and
all Shakespeare's gentlemen possible again."

If there is any inferiority in women, it is the result of environment
and of lack of opportunity--never from lack of intelligence and other
soul-powers. There is no sex in spiritual endowments, and woman seems
entitled to all the rights of man--plus the right of protection. Ruskin
says, "We are foolish without excuse in talking of the superiority of
one sex over the other; each has attributes the other has not, each is
completed by the other, and the happiness of both depends upon each
seeking and receiving from the other what the other can alone give."

In speaking of the time when perfect manhood and perfect womanhood has
come, Tennyson says in "The Princess":

    Yet in the long years liker must they grow:
    The man be more of woman, she of man;
    He gain in sweetness and in moral height,
    Nor lose the _wrestling_ thews that throw the world;
    She mental breadth, nor fail in childward care,
    Nor lose the childlike in the larger mind.

Home is the true sphere for woman; her best work for humanity has always
been done there, or has had its first impulse from within those four
walls. It was home with all its duties that made the Roman matron
Cornelia the type of the lofty woman of the world and the worthy mother.
While it endowed her with the power to raise two sons as worthy as any
known to history, who sacrificed their lives in defense of the Roman
poor, it also endowed her with courage to say to the second of her sons
when he was leaving her for the battle which brought his death, "My son,
see that thou returnest with thy shield or on it." Napoleon claimed
that it was the women of France who caused the loss at Waterloo, not its

"Man's intellect is for speculation and invention, and his energy is for
just war and just conquest; woman's intellect is for sweet ordering,
arrangement, and decision; her energy is not for battle, but for rule."
Apparently relying upon man's magnanimity not to resent her abdicating
her home, woman's exigencies--and perhaps her ambitions--have forced her
more and more during the past fifty years into man's domains of
speculation and energy--perhaps into some war and some conquest. The
ever-increasing demand for her in these man-realms which she has invaded
or into which she has intruded herself is abundant evidence that she has
creditably acquitted herself in the betterment of business, education,
and literature, as well as in the numberless things which she has
invented to add beauty and comfort to the home, and to remove much of
the bitter drudgery from house and office, and to promote the health and
happiness of millions. All these helps she has given, even if she has
undoubtedly lost some of the graces which have always made so lovable
the woman of whom Andromache, Portia, and Cordelia are but types.

Although matrimony and motherhood were the first conditions of women and
only conditions that poets sing about and philosophers write about, and
although these are still the conditions where she is doing her largest
and noblest work in humanizing, yet her proper sphere is as man's,
wherever she can live nobly and work nobly. How many myriads in this
country alone are drudging or almost drudging in shops and offices to
relieve the too stern pressure of pain or poverty from some one who is
dear to them, yet are doing it unselfishly and uncomplainingly! A young
woman lately told me that she had for several years been employed to
interview women applicants for positions; that during these years she
had interviewed scores of women daily, and had learned much of their
private lives; that although the majority were working partly or
entirely to maintain others, yet had she never heard one complaint of
the sacrifices this service involved. Hundreds of other women, like
George Eliot, Charlotte Brontë and Helen Hunt will long continue to
bring pleasure and profit to millions through their writings.

It is women, too, whose inventions have not only lightened domestic work
and brightened the home, but also have so far removed the modern
schoolroom from the little red schoolhouse of long ago; and it is women
who have improved the books and the studies for children. They seem to
have entered almost every activity outside of the home, and their finer
powers of observation, aided by their innate love of the beautiful and
the practicality they have learned while in service, seem mainly to have
bettered conditions for wage-earners as well as for home and childhood.
Think of the thousands upon thousands in this land whose work with the
smaller children of the school could never be so well done by men! Think
of the service daily rendered by women outside the home, and picture the
confusion that would now arise if all these remained at home, even for
one week!

As a class, women do not speak so well as men, but they excel him as a
talker. In truth it is less difficult for them to talk little, than to
talk well. Somebody has said that there is nothing a woman cannot endure
if she can only talk. It is the woman who is ordained to teach talking
to infancy. Those who see short distances see clearly, which probably
accounts for woman's being able to see into and through character so
much better than men. A man admires a woman who is worthy of admiration.
As dignity is a man's quality, loveliness is a woman's; her heart is
love's favorite seat; women who are loyal to their womanhood can ever
influence the gnarliest hearts. They go farther in love than men, but
men go farther in friendship than women. Women mourn for the lost love,
says Dr. Brinton, men mourn for the lost loved-one. A woman's love
consoles; a man's friendship supports. What a real man most desires in a
woman is womanhood. As every woman despises a womanish man, so every man
despises a mannish woman.

Men are more sincere with the women of most culture, although mere
brain-women never please them so much as heart-women. Men feel that it
is the exceptional woman who should have exceptional rights; but they
scorn women whose soul has shrunk into mere intellect, and a godless
woman is a supreme horror to them. When to her womanly attributes she
adds the lady's attributes of veracity, delicate honor, deference, and
refinement, she becomes a high school of politeness for all who know
her. "True women," says Charles Reade, "are not too high to use their
arms, nor too low to cultivate their minds," but Hamerton believes that
her greatest negative quality is, that she does not of her own force
push forward intellectually; that she needs watchful masculine
influence for this. It is claimed that single women are mainly best
comforters, best sympathizers, best nurses, best companions.

Dean Swift says: "So many marriages prove unhappy because so many young
women spend their time in making nets, not in making cages." Perhaps
this is why they say that, in choosing a wife, the ear is a safer guide
than the eye. The gifts a gentlewoman seeks are packed and locked up in
a manly heart. Without a woman's love, a man's soul is without its
garden. He is happiest in marriage who selects as his wife the woman he
would have chosen as his bosom-companion, a happy marriage demands a
soul-mate as for as a house-mate or a yoke-mate. Spalding says that it
is doubtful whether a woman should ever marry who cannot sing and does
not love poetry. The conceptions of a wife differ. When the Celt
married, he put necklace and bracelets upon his wife; when the Teuton
married, he gave his wife a horse, an ox, a spear, and a shield. A true
wife delights both sense and soul; with her, a man unfolds a mine of
gold. Like a good wine, the happiest marriages take years to attain
perfection, and Hamerton says that marriage is a long, slow intergrowth,
like that of two trees closely planted in a forest. The marriage of a
deaf man and a blind woman is always happy; but this does not imply that
conjugal happiness is attained only under these conditions. The greatest
merit of many a man is his wife, but no real woman ever wears her
husband as her appendage.

Maternity is the loveliest word in the language, and every worthy mother
is an aristocrat. Mothers are the chief requisites of all educational
systems, and the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. The home
has always been the best school in the world, and nothing else that is
known to education can ever supersede it. The cradle is the first room
in the school of life, and what is learned there lasts to the grave.
Dearth of real mothers is responsible for dearth of real education. Each
boy and each man is what his mother has made him, and every worthy
mother rears her children to stand upon their own two feet, and to do
without her.

While a thoughtful wife and mother is busied with the affairs of home,
she is never done with her intellectual education, for she realizes
early in her career that a mother loses half her influence with her
children when she ceases to be their intellectual superior.

Women are far more observant of little things than men, and the
greatest among them have marvelous powers of observation. It is this
power that made Mrs. Gladstone and Mrs. Disraeli the sturdy helpmates
they were to their husbands in all their trying cares of government. It
is said of Gladstone that it was not unusual for him to adjourn a
Cabinet meeting through a desire "to consult with Catherine." Had there
not been large power of observation, we should never have had the works
of George Eliot, Charlotte Brontë, Jane Austin, Helen Hunt, and all the
other notable women creators of fiction. Charlotte Cushman was the
greatest actress America has ever produced because her observation was
so close that not the smallest detail of the character she played
escaped her or was neglected. The beautifying of Athens owes its
inception to Aspasia rather than to Pericles.



Of all the arts, none is more difficult to define than music. No two
persons seem to agree as to what it is, and a harsh sound to one is
often sweet music to another. When music is controlled by those who use
carefully their powers of observation, it will be vastly more useful to
mankind. The need of music in the advancement of humanity it too
apparent to admit of discussion. From the Greek instrument with one
string down to the wonderful pipe-organ, music has been intensely
attractive and marvelously helpful, and for the good of the human

No art or science needs more to be developed to-day than that of music.
Its influence on soul and body has been noticed and advanced by some of
the greatest thinkers of ancient and modern times, therefore it is not
necessary to discuss the supreme need for real music to bring into
harmony motives and movements for good. When we duly consider the
subject of music, and ask where we shall find the great musicians who
are to-day so much in demand, we feel that many so-called schools of
music are often more misleading than instructive, and that they follow
fashions that are far more unreasonable than the fashions of dress.

The art of music needs philosophic study, and it should be begun with a
far better understanding of the many causes which contribute to its
composition. The singing of birds is literally one of the most
discordant expressions of sound. Indeed, the tones of the nightingale
and the meadow-lark are only shrill whistles when they are considered
with reference only to the tones of their voice, yet they furnish the
ideal of some of the richest music to which the ear has ever listened,
being one part of the delicate orchestra of nature. The lowing of the
cow, the bellow of the bull, the bark of an angry dog echoing among the
hills at eventide, combined with so many other different sounds and
impressions, has become enticingly sweet to the pensive listener. The
insect-choir of night has as much of the calming and refining influences
as the bird-choir of the morning.

Real music requires not only that the tones should be clear and
resonant, but that they should be uttered amid harmonious surroundings.
"Dixie" and "Yankee Doodle," sung with a banjo accompaniment on a lawn
in the evening, surrounded by gay companions, may be the most delightful
music, which will start the blood coursing or rest the disturbed mind,
but it would not be called music if sung at a funeral. "I Know That My
Redeemer Liveth" is glorious music when it is sung in a great cathedral,
with echoes from its shadowy arches and the dim light of its
stained-glass windows. But the same solo would be in awful discord with
a ballroom jig.

Harmonious circumstances and appropriate environment are as essential
for perfect effects in music as is the concord of sweet sounds. The
foolish idea that music consists in screaming up to the highest C and
growling down to the lowest B has misled many an amateur, and destroyed
her helpfulness to a world that has far too much misery and far too
little of the joy that comes from a sweet-voiced songster. The beginner
in voice culture who attempts to wiggle her voice like a hired mourner,
and with her tremulous effects sets the teeth of her audience on edge,
has surely been misled into darkest delusion as to music, and will soon
be lost amid the throng of vocal failures. Extremists are out of place
anywhere, but the myriads of them in the musical world make humanity

What is needed in music to-day more than anything else is a standard of
musical culture which shall demand careful discipline in all the
influences that contribute to good music. True music is the music that
always produces benign effects, the music that holds the attention of
the auditor and permanently influences him to nobler thought, feeling,
and action. Those large-hearted, artistic-souled men and women who are
capable of interpreting into feeling what they have heard from voice or
instrument must be the final court of appeal. A trapeze performance in
acoustics is not music.

It has been frequently shown that music is potent in its effects upon
the body as well as upon the soul. In 1901, a notable illustration of
the power of music over disease was given at the Samaritan Hospital,
connected with Temple University in Philadelphia, although the
experiments were made under disadvantageous circumstances and
environment. The patients were informed what the physicians were
endeavoring to do, and the efforts of the first few months were wasted
for the most part. Many of the patients who were placed under the
influence of the music grew confident that they were going to be cured.
While the recovery of some seemed miraculous, those who conducted the
experiments felt that the healing might be largely due to the influence
of the mind and not directly to the music. The matter was dropped for
several months, until the patients were nearly all new cases. The
doctors charged the nurses not to let the patients know for what cause
the music was placed in the hospital. They eliminated also the personal
influence of the nurses as well as the use of drugs at the time the
music was produced. The experiment convinced those who conducted it that
music has a powerful restorative effect even upon a person who is
suffering from a combination of diseases. So many of the patients who
recovered at that time from the influence of the music are alive and in
good health to-day that common honesty disposes us to conclude that
there is some undiscovered benefit in music which should be immediately
investigated. This will never be attained by musical faddists or by
selfish musicians who sing or perform for applause or money. Some plain,
every day-man or woman will ultimately be the apostle of music for the
people, and the experiments at Samaritan Hospital furnish only a
suggestion of the resources of music which must soon be known to the

There was one patient in the hospital who had lost his memory through
"softening of the brain." He lay most of the time unconscious, but
occasionally talked irrationally upon all sorts of subjects. A quartet
sang several pieces in his ward, but the nurses who sat upon each side
of him noticed no effect whatever upon him until the quartet sang "My
Old Kentucky Home." Then his eyes brightened and he began to hum the
tune. Before they had finished the third verse, he asked the nurse about
the singing, and requested the quartet to repeat the song. His
intelligence seemed completely normal for a little while after the music
ceased. He asked and answered questions clearly, but soon relapsed into
his incoherent talk and listlessness.

When the man's lawyer heard of the effects upon the patient, he asked
that the song might be sung while he was present, that he might then ask
the patient about some very important papers of great value to the
patient's family. As soon as the song was again sung by the quartet his
intelligence returned. He informed the lawyer accurately as to the bank
vault in which his box was locked, and told where he had left the keys
in a private drawer of his desk.

Although the effect of the music was not permanent as to his case, many
persons who know of it feel that some time music may be so applied as
permanently to cure even such cases, if kept up for a sufficient length
of time. Accidents to the skull, heart diseases, nervous exhaustion, and
spinal ailments seem especially amenable to music. Two of the hospital
cases of paralysis were permanently relieved by music. In one of these
cases instrumental music seemed to produce a strong electric effect.
While four violins were accompanied by an organ, the patient could use
his feet and hands, but it was several weeks before he could walk
without music. In the other case, vocal music put an insomnia patient to
sleep, but after sleeping through the program, the patient was better;
after a few trials he returned home.

Some of the hundred cases experimented upon were complete failures. But
those conducting the experiments were convinced that the failure was
attributable to the fact that they were unable to find the right kind of
music. In the use of religious selections, "Pleyel's Hymn" made the
patients of every ward worse; but "The Dead March" from Saul was
soothing to typhoid patients. When this march was rendered softly, the
nurses discovered that two cases had been so susceptible to the
influences of the music that the physicians omitted the usual treatment
and the patients recovered sooner than some other patients who had the
disease in a less dangerous form.

Children were helped by a different class of music from that used with
adults, and difference in sex also was noted. Mothers who sing to their
children may become the best investigators as to the power of vocal
music on the healthy development of childhood.

In the Baptist Temple, Philadelphia, several hymns were once forcefully
rendered by the great chorus of the church to a congregation of three
thousand people. At the close, slips of paper were passed to the
worshipers, and they were asked to write upon the paper what thoughts
the music had suggested to them. While there was nothing in the anthems
suggestive of youth, and the burden of the stanzas seemed to divert from
childhood, yet more than half of the two thousand slips returned
attested that the hearer had been reminded of his schooldays and of the
games of childhood; these slips were collected before the congregation
had time to confer. It shows that the music was not in accord with the
words, and that it had greater power upon the mind than the words had.
It proves that, to produce its highest effects, sacred music must
harmonize with the meaning of the words and with the environment. It
also shows that the purpose for which one sings is an important
factor--random vociferations or a display of vocal gymnastics even of
the most cultured kind is both inartistic and unmusical.

These pages have been written to suggest that music is still with the
common people; that the future blessings which mankind shall derive from
musical art and science are probably dependent upon some observant
person who is free from the trammels of misguided and misdirected
culture, and who may come to it with an independent genius, and handle
the subject in the light of every-day common-sense.



Oratory has always been a potent influence for good. The printing-press
with its newspapers and magazines and tens of thousands of books has
done much during the past fifty years to draw attention away from
oratory. The printing-press is a huge blessing, and has greatly advanced
during these years that oratory has declined in public esteem or public
attention. But we are learning that there is yet something in the
_living_ man, in his voice and his manner and his mesmeric force, which
cannot be expressed through the cold lead of type. Hence the need for
orators, both men and women, has been steadily increasing during the
past few years, until there seems to be a pressing demand for the
restoration of the science and the art of oratory.

The country lad or the hard-working laborer or mechanic who thinks that
public speaking is beyond his reach has done himself a wrong. It was
such as they who oftener than can be told have become some of the
greatest orators of history. Men who afterward became great as effective
debaters made their first addresses to the cows in the pasture, to the
pigs in pens, to the birds in trees, and to the dog and the cat upon the
hearth. They often drew lessons concerning the effects of their
addresses from the actions of the animal auditors which heard their
talk, and were attracted or repulsed by what they heard and saw.

There is a mystery about public speaking. After years of study and
application, some men cannot accomplish as much by their addresses as
some uncultured laborer can do with his very first attempt. Some have
imperfectly called this power "personal magnetism." While this is mainly
born with men and women--as the power of the true poet and the true
teacher--yet it can be cultivated to a surprising degree. The schools of
elocution so often seem to fail to recognize the wide gulf that exists
between elocution and oratory. The former is an art which deals
primarily with enunciation, pronunciation, and gesture; the work of the
later science is persuasive--it has to do mainly with influencing the
head and the heart.

There is a law of oratory which does not seem to be understood or
recognized by elocution teachers. The plow-boy in a debating society of
the country school may feel that natural law, like Daniel Webster,
without being conscious that he is following it. But there is a danger
of losing this great natural power through injurious cultivation. The
powerful speaker is consciously or unconsciously observant at all times
of his audience, and he naturally adopts the tones, the gesture, and the
language which attract the most attention and leave the most potent
influence upon the audience. That is the law of all oratory, whether it
applies to the domestic animals, to conversation with our fellows, to
debates or addresses, lectures, speeches, sermons, or arguments. Where
the orator has not been misdirected or misled by some superficial
teacher of elocution, his aim will be first "to win the favorable
attention of his audience" and then to strongly impress them with his
opening sentence, his appearance, his manners, and his subject. His
reputation will have also very much to do with winning this favorable
impression at first. The words of the speaker either drive away or
attract, and the speaker endeavors at the outset to command the
attention of the hearers, whether they be dogs or congregation.

The beginner in oratory who is true to his instincts strives to adopt
the methods which he feels will favorably impress those for whom he has
a message. In his oration at the funeral of Julius Cæsar, Mark Anthony
disarmed the enemies of Cæsar and of himself by opening his oration
with, "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury
Cæsar, not to _praise_ him." Almost any man or woman can become an
orator of power by keeping himself or herself natural while talking.

The second condition of a successful oration is the statements of the
important facts or truths. Cicero, the elder Pitt, and Edward Everett
held strictly to the statement of all the facts at the outset of their
speech. Facts and truths are the most important things in all kinds of
oratory; as they are the most difficult to handle, the audience is more
likely to listen to them at the opening of the talk, and they must be
placed before the hearers clearly and emphatically, before the speaker
enters upon the next division of his address.

The third condition of a successful address is the argument, or
reasoning which is used to prove the conclusion he wishes his hearers to
reach. It is here that logic has its special place; it is at this vital
point that many political speakers fail to convince the men they
address. After he has thus reasoned, the natural orator makes his
appeal, which is the _chief purpose_ of all true oratory. It is here
where the orator becomes vehement, here where he shows all the ornament
of his talk in appropriate figures of speech. The most effective orators
are always those whose hearts are in strong sympathy with humanity, and
whose sympathies are always aroused to plead for men. This is the
condition that accounts for the eloquence--the power to arouse
hearers--which characterizes men like Logan, the American Indian, and
which characterizes many of the religious enthusiasts like Peter the
Hermit, who have surprised the world and often moved them to mighty

So long as our government depends upon the votes of the people, just so
long must there be a stirring need of men and women orators to teach the
principles of government and to keep open to the light of truth the
consciences of the thousands and millions whose votes will decide the
welfare or the misfortune of our nation. As the speaker must adapt
himself and his message to all kinds of people, it is difficult to
advise any one in certain terms how to accomplish this. It is another
instance of the necessity of cultivating the daily habit of observation,
and of being always loyal to our instincts.

While schools and colleges have their uses, they are by no means a
necessity for those who will accomplish great things through their
oratory. Many a man laden with a wealth of college accomplishment has
been an utter failure on the platform. Where reading-matter is as
abundant and as cheap as it is in America, the poor boy at work upon the
farm or in the factory, with no time but his evenings for study, may get
the essentials of education, and by observing those who speak may give
himself forms of oratorical expression that will enable him to outshine
those with scholarship who have been led into fads.

We must be impressed with a high sense of duty in becoming an orator of
any class; we must feel that it is our calling to adhere to the truth
always and in all things, to warn our hearers of dangers, and to
encourage the good and help those who are struggling to be so. We must
have a passion for oratory which shall impel us to vigorous thought and
eloquent expression. The greatest oratory is that which is most
persuasive. It is not so fully in what an orator says or the vehemence
with which he says it that counts, but the practical good that results
from it. Many an oration has been elegant enough from its choice diction
and labored phraseology, yet it has fallen flat upon the audience.

When a man has been worked into natural passion over his theme, his
words will strike root and inspire his hearers into similar passion. It
is wonderful how true are our instincts in detecting what comes from the
heart and that which is mere words. The greatest orators have been those
who have not learned "by rote" what they have spoken. When Lincoln broke
away in his celebrated Cooper Institute address, and pictured the word
freedom written by the Lord across the skies in rainbow hues, the hearts
of his audience stopped beating for the instant. It is foolhardy for any
one to presume to speak with no preparation, for those who wish to give
themselves to oratory should carefully study the great debaters, learn
how they expressed themselves, and then accumulate important truths and
facts concerning their subject. But we must not forget that too much
study as to nicety of expression may lose something of the mountainous
effects of what we wish to state.

When an orator _feels_ his subject, his soul overflows with a thrill
indescribable, which is known only to those who have felt it. Genius is
lifted free for the moment to fly at will to the mountain heights, and
finds supreme delight therein. Everything that is food for the mind is
helpful to the orator, whether it come from school or work. But it is an
attainment which can be reached by the every-day plain man employed in
any every-day occupation. Demosthenes, the greatest orator the world has
yet known, found his School of Oratory along the shore talking to the
waves. John B. Gough and Henry Clay and both the elder and the younger
Pitt gained all their powers by means as humble. The mere study of
grammar has never yet made a correct speaker; the mere study of rhetoric
has never yet made a correct and powerful writer; and the study of
elocution cannot make an orator. Grammar, rhetoric, and elocution may
teach him only the laws which govern speech, writing, oratory, and leave
him ignorant of the best methods of execution.

During the last hundred years the leading orators of Congress have
mainly come from among the humble and the poor, and all the learning
they had of their art was got in the schoolhouse, the shop, the fields,
and the University of Hard Knocks. It is a calling that seems to be open
to every man and woman of fair talent. If you desire to become a
platform orator, read the lives of successful orators, and apply to
yourself the means which helped them to distinction. But be vigilant not
to lose your own individuality, and never strive to be any one but
yourself. In no place more than upon the platform does _sham_ mean
_shame_; nothing is more transparent.



Although Samuel Smiles's "Self-Help" is the first and perhaps the best
of the many inspirational books that have been written of late years, it
is by far the most serviceable of all to any one who wishes and intends
to stand squarely on his own feet and to fight his own battle of life
from start to finish. That book is attractive because it is anecdotal of
life and character, and because of the interest that all men feel in
those who have achieved great things through their own labors, their
trials, and their struggles. It abounds with references to men who were
forced to be self-helpful, who were born lowly enough, but died among
God's gentlemen, and often among the aristocracy of the land, through
sheer force of character, labor, and determination. They have left their
"footprints on the sands of time" mainly because they were
_self-reliant_ and _self-helpful_.

The aids to the royal life are all within, and no life is worthless
unless its owner wills it; the fountain of all good is within, and it
will bubble up, if we dig.

Doctor Holland used to say that there is a super-abundance of
inspiration in America, but a lamentable dearth of perspiration.
Aspiration plus perspiration carries men to dizzy heights of success;
aspiration minus perspiration often lands them in the gutter.

Self-help is not selfishness. The duty of helping oneself in the highest
sense always involves the duty of helping others. The self-helpful are
not always the men who have achieved greatest success in what vulgarians
call success. That man's life is a success which has attained the end
for which he started out--the greatest failure may sometimes be the
hugest success through the discipline it has afforded. They tell us that
men never fail who die in a worthy cause; that it is nobler to have
failed in a noble cause than to have won in a low one; that it is not
failure, but low aim, that is wicked. God sows the seed and starts us
all out with about the same quantity and the same quality; whether the
crop shall be abundant depends upon the environment in which we grow and
the way we take care of the field.

The supreme end of each man's life is to take individual care of his
own garden. When this is neglected his life is wasted, and there is no
immorality that is comparable to the immorality of a wasted life--and
every life is wasted unless its owner has made it yield its full
capacity. If it is only a ten-bushel-an-acre field, he has done worthy
work who has reaped ten bushels from an acre; if it is a
seventy-bushel-an-acre field it is dishonorable to have reaped
sixty-nine bushels from an acre. God gives us the chance; the
improvement of it we give ourselves.

The spirit of self-help is the root of all genuine growth. Help from the
outside may be convenient, but it enfeebles; all self-help invigorates.
The self-helper must be self-reliant; the measure of his self-help is
always proportioned to the measure of his self-reliance. The
self-reliant does not consider himself as the creature of circumstances,
but the architect of them. "All that Adam had, all that Cæsar could, we
have had and can." The self-reliant and the self-helpful are the
minority; the majority are forever looking toward and relying upon some
government or some institution to do for them what they should only do
for themselves. A real man wants no protection; so long as his human
powers are left to him, he asks nothing more than the freedom to win
his own battles. The best any government or any institution can do for
men is to leave them as free as possible from either guidance or help,
so that they may best develop and improve themselves. As it has been
during the centuries, we put too much faith in government and other
institutions, and too little in ourselves.

Men who count for something do not wait for opportunities from any
source--they help themselves to their opportunities. They can win who
believe they can, and the strong-hearted always ultimately achieve
success. A nation is worth just what the individuals of that nation are
worth, and the highest philanthropy and patriotism does not wholly
consist in aiding institutions and enacting laws--especially the laws
which teach men to lean--but they rather consist in helping men to
improve themselves through their own self-help. There is no aid
comparable to the aid that is given a man to help himself--we may stand
him upon his feet, but remaining upon them should be his own task. He is
a magnificent somebody who steadfastly refuses to hang upon others; and
nothing brings the blush sooner to the true-hearted man, than to feel
that he has been unnecessarily helped to anything by men or by
governments. There is no man who rides through life so well as the man
who has learned to ride by being set upon the bare-backed horse called

Paradise was not meant for cowards; self-reliance and self-help is the
manliness of the soul.

The solid foundations of all liberty rest upon individual character, and
individual character is the only sure guaranty for social security and
national progress. Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, no
matter by what other name you call it. The gods are always on the side
of the man who relies on himself and helps himself; men's arms are long
enough to reach stars, if they will only stretch them. It is so contrary
to the spirit of our nation to be anything but self-helpful. "The flag
of freedom cannot long float over a nation of deadheads; only those who
determine to pay their way from cradle to grave have a right to make the
journey." Schiller says that the kind of education that perfects the
human race is action, conduct, self-culture, self-control. It has been
said that the individual is perfected far more by work than by reading,
by action more than by study, by character more than by biography; these
are courses that are given by the University of Life more completely
than in all other institutions known to men.

The great men of science, literature, art, action--those apostles of
great thoughts and lords of the great heart--belong to no special rank.
They come from colleges, workshops, farms, from poor men's huts and rich
men's mansions; but they all began with reliance upon themselves, and
with an instinctive feeling that they must help themselves solely in
climbing to the work or the station which they had assigned to
themselves. Many of God's greatest apostles of thought and feeling and
action have come from the humblest stations, but the most insuperable
difficulties have not long been obstacles to them. These greatest of
difficulties are true men's greatest helpers--they stimulate powers that
might have lain dormant all through life, but often have readily yielded
to the stout and reliant heart. There is no greater blessing in the
world than poverty which is allied to self-reliance and the spirit of
self-help. "Poverty is the northwind which lashes men into vikings."
Lord Bacon says that men believe too great things of riches, and too
little of indomitable perseverance.

Every nation that has a history has a long list of men who began life in
the humblest stations, yet rose to high station in honor and service. No
inheritance and environments can do for a man what he can do for
himself. Cook, the navigator, Brindley, the engineer, and Burns, the
poet, are three men who began life as day laborers; the most poetic of
clergymen, Jeremy Taylor; the inventor of the spinning-jenny and founder
of cotton manufacture, Sir Richard Arkwright; the greatest of landscape
painters, Turner, and that most distinguished Chief-justice Tenterden
were barbers. Ben Jonson, the poet; Telford, the engineer; Hugh Miller,
the geologist; Cunningham, the sculptor, were English stone-masons.
Inigo Jones, the architect; Hunter, the physiologist; Romney and Poie,
the painters; Gibson, the sculptor; Fox, the statesman; Wilson, the
ornithologist; Livingstone, the missionary--started life as weavers.
Admiral Sir Cloudesly Shovel; Bloomfield, the poet; Carey, the
missionary--were shoemakers. Bunyan, was a tinker; Herschel, a musician;
Lincoln, a rail-splitter; Faraday, a book-binder; Stephenson, the
inventor of the locomotive, a stoker; Watt, the discoverer of
steam-power, a watchmaker; Franklin, a printer; President Johnson, a
tailor; President Garfield, an employee on a canal-boat; Louisa Alcott,
both housemaid and laundress; James Whitcomb Riley, an itinerant
sign-painter; Thoreau, a man-of-all-work for Emerson; the poets, Keats
and Drake, as well as Sir Humphry Davy, were druggists.

Benjamin Thompson was a humble New Hampshire schoolmaster whose
industry, perseverance, and integrity, coupled to his genius and a truly
benevolent spirit, ultimately made him the companion of kings and
philosophers, Count Rumford of the Holy Roman Empire. He declined to
participate in the Revolution, and was compelled to flee from his home
in Rumford, now Concord (New Hampshire), leaving behind his mother,
wife, and friends; but this persecution by his countrymen led to his
greatness. In the spring of 1776 General Howe sent him to England with
important despatches for the Ministry. At once the English government
appreciated his worth and scientific men sought his acquaintance. In
less than four years after he landed in England he became
Under-Secretary of State. In 1788, he left England with letters to the
Elector of Bavaria, who immediately offered him honorable employment
which the English government permitted him to accept after he had been
knighted by the king.

In Bavaria he became lieutenant-general, commander-in-chief of staff,
minister of war, member of the council of state, knight of Poland,
member of the academy of science in three cities, commander-in-chief of
the general staff, superintendent of police of Bavaria, and chief of the
regency during the sovereign's compulsory absence in 1798. During his
ten years' service he made great civil and military reforms and produced
such salutary changes in the condition of the people that they erected a
monument in his honor in the pleasure-grounds of Munich, which he had
made for them. When Munich was attacked by an Austrian army in 1796, he
conducted the defense so successfully that he was accorded the highest
praise throughout Europe. The Bavarian monarch showed his appreciation
by making him a count; he chose the title of Count Rumford as an honor
to the birthplace of his wife and child. He ended his days at Paris in
literary and scientific studies and in the society of the most learned
men of Europe.

The Rumford professorship at Harvard was very liberally endowed by him,
and he gave five thousand dollars to the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences in 1796.



A life is divine when duty is a joy. The best work we ever do is the
work we get pleasure from doing, and the work we are likeliest to enjoy
most is the work we are best fitted to do with our talent. There is
nothing in the world except marriage that we should be slower in taking
upon ourselves than our life-work; therefore, think much, read much,
inquire much before you assume any life career.

When you have once decided what is best fitted for you, pursue it
ceaselessly and courageously, no matter how far distant it may be, how
arduous the labor attending it, or how difficult the ascent. The greater
the difficulty surmounted, the more you will value your achievement and
the greater power you will have for keeping on with your work after you
have reached your goal. Do your utmost to find a friend who is older
than you, and consult him freely, and give every man your ear, for the
humblest in station and those with the most meager acquirements in other
matters may see some few things more clearly than other men, and may be
well stored with what you most require. Take each man's advice, but act
according to your own judgment. Teachers should be the best advisers of
those about to enter upon their life-work, and no service of the
schoolmaster or professor can ever be more helpful to the young
intrusted to him than that of helping them to choose a career.

The best work real teachers do for their pupils is by no means the
teaching of a few minor branches--it is almost always the work he is not
paid for, and which nobody outside of those who realize what real
education is, seems ever to consider. It is sympathy for their students,
getting them to understand the great things that are involved in the
process of getting an education, making them realize that true education
means growth of all our spiritual faculties--head and heart and will,
and that what we get from textbooks is the very least part of an
education. It is helping them to understand that knowledge got from
books and from schoolmasters is always a menace to a man whose spiritual
faculties of head, heart, and will have not been thoroughly
disciplined. It is wise counsel in choosing a life career. Instead of
looking upon this side of the work as divine, instead of being wise
counselors and friendly guides during this great transitional stage from
youth to manhood, teachers can be far more interested in their
individual concerns or in what they call "research-work"--the
research-work may give some temporary glory to themselves, and give some
little advertisement to the institutions that employ them; but the
supreme duty they owe to their students, to God, and to humanity is to
do their utmost to make full men, and worthy and successful men, out of
the youths whose education they have taken upon themselves. No traitor
is such a traitor to his country and to the whole world as the man who
is unfaithful to this sacred trust. Once again, find some sincere and
prudent elder counselor, and turn to him in all your difficulties.

Get advice as to the best books to read--a good book is the best of
counselors, for it is the best of some good man; and it is a patient
counselor whom we may continually consult upon the same subject as often
as we wish. But waste no time, especially at the opening of your career,
upon books which have no message for your manhood and no helpfulness in
the work you shall assume for life. When you have once taken up a book
as your counselor, don't put it aside until it has been thoroughly
digested and assimilated. One book read is worth a hundred books peeped
through; and of all the dilettantes, a literary dilettante is the most
contemptible. Bacon says, "Some books are to be tasted, others to be
swallowed, some few to be chewed and digested." But it is only the books
that are to be chewed and digested that we can afford to peruse at the
outset in our career; the literary pleasure--gardens--may come later in

Do your utmost to understand poetic expression, for the poets are the
greatest teachers in the world as well as the greatest of all
legislators. It is they who teach the great in conduct and the pure in
thought. Without education that shall enable us to take them as our
friends, life bears upon it the stamp of death. The great poets are now
the only truth-tellers left to God. They are free, and they make their
lovers free; the great poet is nature's masterpiece. At the touch of his
imagination words blossom into beauty. A true poet is the most precious
gift to a nation, for he feels keenest the glorious duty of serving
truth; he cannot strive for despotism of any kind, for it is still the
instinct of all great spirits to be free. More than other authors, the
poets make us self-forgetful, make life and the whole human race nobler
in our eyes; all things are friendly and sacred to them, all days holy,
all good men divine.

There is very little worthy work nowadays that does not need some
schooling that it may be well done. If you have an opportunity to give
yourself this help, don't neglect it. Carefully select the courses that
will be most helpful to you in your career, and don't be side-tracked by
any of what we sentimentalists term "culture studies." There's nothing
better in the world than culture study, if we can afford it and have
time for it. But there is not a greater or more wicked waste of valuable
time than the time spent upon what some sentimentalists term culture

When you have once taken up the studies you have decided upon, keep
steadily to your course and shun diversions. Recreations are as
essential to the student who intends to do high-class work as food is to
the body; but diversions disqualify him for earnest work, and may breed
a habit of halfness that shall bring his failure. Don't be foolish and
hope to be great in many lines. Who sips of many arts drinks none. In
every vocation to-day competition is so keen that the man who will
succeed must be content to be supreme in one thing alone.

_Halfness_ weakens all our spiritual powers, and thoroughness is the
_central_ passion of all worthy characters.

It is nobler to be confined to one calling, and to excel in that, than
to dabble in forty. There is some odor about a dabbler that makes him
especially offensive to all clean high-class men and women. But when we
have formed the habit of doing carelessly other tasks than our
life-work, we shall soon get into the way of doing carelessly the work
of our chosen calling. There is nothing that gives us greater assurance
that our life-work will be thoroughly done than to habituate ourselves
to do the slightest task completely. Sing the last note fully, make the
last letter of your name complete. Eat the last morsel deliberately. In
a real man's life there are no trifles. Whatever is worth doing by him
is worth doing well. The many-sided Edward Everett attributed his being
able to do so many things well to his early habit of doing even the
least thing thoroughly. He used to say that he prided himself upon the
way he tied up the smallest paper parcel.

Although schools may be very helpful, don't forget to emphasize again
that they are merely helpers. The man is somebody only when the fight
is won within himself. Without the schools men have often reached the
pinnacles of success, through their own individual earnestness and
energy. Schools make wise men wiser, but they may make fools greater
fools than ever. If colleges have fallen somewhat into disrepute, it is
largely due to the fact that we may have sent more fools than wise men
to college. Many a man has been the better for being too poor to attend
school, like Franklin, Lincoln, Peter Cooper, and ten thousand other
Americans. Their thirst for what books had to give them forced them to
work harder and to deny themselves all the enjoyments that so vulgarize
yet so charm the cheaper brood.

All that is won by sacrifice and downright hard work is priceless, and
many noble men and women who have risen to high honor and station owe
their place and power solely to this. Be always mindful that power is
the only safe foundation for reputation. Thoughtful Americans are not
concerning themselves about who your ancestors were, and whether or not
they were graduated from some college. Like Doctor Holmes, they feel
that old families and old trees generally have their best parts
underground, and that the only progressive is the man who is bigger in
thought and feeling and accomplishment than his father was. They believe
that it is unimportant where you buy your educational tools, if you are
only doing good work with them.

There is only one _true aristocracy in America_--those with more
spiritual power and individual accomplishment than the rest of men.

Emerson says that "all the winds that move the vanes of universities
blow from antiquity," and this is responsible for many foolish words and
many fool acts of schoolmen which are so often misleading the
unsuspecting public.

Nothing is more foolish than the idea that any schooling is worthless
which is obtained in schools after the regular school hours; and more
than one attempt has been made to enact laws which shall hinder from
practice physicians and lawyers who have been obliged to get their
knowledge through channels other than the conventional. The victory of
the general does not depend upon the place where he got his military
training or the time of the day when he studied. Oliver Cromwell, the
greatest general of his day, was a farmer until his fortieth year, when
he entered the army of the Parliament against Charles I. The only
question that concerns the nation that puts a general at the head of
its forces is, has he the powers that shall make us victorious?

Men in distress don't ask for the pedigree of the life-saver, nor do
they stop to inquire when he graduated. Don't be frightened off by
sticklers for what is customary. Knowledge is the right of the poorest
boy and girl in America, and it can be had by the humblest in the land.
Be convinced of this and enter the race. The world steps aside and lets
the man pass who knows where he is going; all the world will shout to
clear the track when they see a determined giant is coming. In choosing
your career, don't be limited to the old professions. There are to-day
many more occupations calling for the highest skill and offering the
highest inducements than there were twenty years ago, and these
positions are steadily increasing. Many occupations which were recently
regarded almost as menial have risen almost to professions--cooking,
agriculture, decorative art, forestry, nursing, sanitation, designing
apparel, and countless others; and the men and women qualified for these
are surer of better positions than formerly, and far better rewards.

But the youth who is imbued with the determination to _be_ right and to
_do_ right must never lose sight of this truth--that life is vastly
more than place and meat and raiment. Living for self is suicide; men
that are men get far greater enjoyment and far greater reward from
making life a blessing for those who come their way than they get from
all other things combined. No man lives so truly for himself as he who
lives for other people, and one of the chiefest purposes of education is
that it gives larger views of life and adds greater power to serve
humanity. The man who is really in earnest to make his life count is
studiously observant. Each day and each place multiplies his means of
happiness for himself and others.


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