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Title: Making Life Worth While
Author: Fairbanks, Douglas
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 "Making Life Worth While" ***

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[Illustration: A modern Musketeer]



    _Author of “Laugh and Live”_



    COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY



  CHAPTER                                         PAGE
        I  LITTLE GRAINS OF SAND                    13

       II  AS THE TWIG IS BENT                      23

      III  THE NEW ORDER OF LIVING                  31

       IV  FEEDING THE INTELLECT                    41

        V  BACKING UP THE FLAG                      49

       VI  HALF-BAKED KNOWLEDGE                     57

      VII  HARNESSING THE BRAIN                     65

     VIII  EXALTING THE EGO                         73

       IX  GENIUS PLUS INITIATIVE                   81

        X  THE BIG FOUR                             87

       XI  APPLYING THE RULE OF REASON              95


     XIII  IN ANSWER TO MANY FRIENDS               115

      XIV  THINGS THAT MONEY WON’T BUY             127

       XV  THE BOY ACROSS THE SEA                  133

      XVI  SUPERIOR--SUPERIORITY--SUPER            139

     XVII  WHEN THE BOYS COME HOME                 147

    XVIII  REGENERATION                            153



    A Modern Musketeer--(_Frontis_)
    ----and his brother John
    Teaching his dog to smile
    “And her name is Maud”
    A pointed argument
    “Smile when you say it”
    “What ho!” says the King. “Ho, hum!” replied his guest
    Where once one equals two
    A quick getaway
    A rattling good story
    A one-minute reverie
    A studio confab
    Alone with the Grand Canyon
    “In tune with the Infinite”

_Decorations by Harold A. Van Buren_



In _Laugh and Live_, my sole purpose was to emphasize our first duty
toward ourselves, which consists of doing our level best at everything
we undertake, and making the best of every situation that arises to
confront us.

All through my early life I read inspirational books and liked them
best of all. They seemed to beckon me on. I could feel myself being
pulled along by an unseen hand.

Let there be no mistake about _Making Life Worth While_. It has no
particular plan or sequence whereby to back up its title. Nearly
everything has to do with such a subject and that is what the book
contains--everything in general--and nothing in particular--just such
things as came to mind that seemed worth while.

As a follow up to _Laugh and Live_ here’s hoping that it will _fill the

            D. F.





Holding down a seat in the _rocking chair fleet_ out on the shady
piazza is most certainly not making the most out of life.

We all remember the line--“If wishes were fishes we’d have some fried.”
That is the answer to those who rock and dream, and hope for something
to _turn up_ instead of _turning up_ something on their own account.

Of course, there is a time for everything, even the stealthy, creeping
rocking chair--and that’s about bedtime. In the estimation of an
eminent neurologist there is no crime against nature in the home
that cannot be traced to this monstrous thief of time, which, while
apparently screeching and groaning under its load, is, in reality,
shouting with joy at the job it is putting up on its occupant.

_Taking the most out of life_ is the proper label for this old
squeaker--breeder of idle contentment, day-dreams, inertia. Like
everything else that saps the energy from mind and body, it counts its
victims by the score, and throws them up on the sands of time.

[Illustration: ----and his brother John]

Speaking of sand may serve to remind the reader of a well-known poem
handed down from Grandmother days, which holds a lot of precious
wisdom--probably more than any poem of its length--its breadth and
depth being equal to the world in which we live. In childhood days this
poem took my fancy, being short, to the point, and easy to remember.
I was ready to recite it immediately and _automatically_ upon request.
I had no thought then as to its meaning, but as the years rolled by it
tagged along in memory until now I find in it a sort of statement of
fact upon which to build my theory of making life worth while. Here it

    _Little drops of water,
    Little grains of sand,
    Maketh the mighty ocean
    And a pleasant land._

To those who adopt the idea of finding out just _why_ little drops
of water and little grains of sand accomplish so much, will come the
greatest reward in the way of mental satisfaction--and, meanwhile,
they’ll keep busy.

There is unbounded happiness in the pursuit of knowledge; a wonderful
satisfaction in building up one’s treasure house of information. It’s
all so easy, requiring nothing more than a healthy, enquiring mind--and
_a zest for the sport_.

Zest is a big word. It has to do with _get up and git_, which has
been most appropriately boiled down into the word _pep_. Lazy people,
mentally or bodily, seldom get anywhere. What they do get is either
accidental or by _absorption_--if by the latter process, more likely
through the pores than the brain. No use to talk to them about making
life worth while.

[Illustration: Teaching his dog to smile]

The greatest of human possessions are a well-trained _mind_, a _body_
to match, and a love of achievement, without which a man is old
before his time. After that comes _energy_--the great propeller! What
the brain directs the body will carry out--if the _propeller_ is
working. No hesitation--when the _will_ commands the _body_ acts. They
synchronize--they are attuned, harmonious, fraternal, so to speak.
And to hitch them together is just as easy as getting wet by standing
bareheaded in the rain.

There is no intention of littering up this chapter with ways and means
of putting one’s upper story in fine working order--or the physical
structure below. That is first-reader information. If we treat
ourselves right, the brain will behave and the body will follow suit.
_Activity_, mental and physical, is _the meat in the cocoanut_. Seeking
knowledge leads along the sunlit paths of life where happiness abounds.
The alternative is _mental shiftlessness_, leading from nowhere to
nothing at all.

Cain killed Abel because, undoubtedly, of the shiftless life he led.
Indolence and ignorance being the order of his day, he lacked the
stamina with which to control his mind. His physical forces merely
acted in consonance with his rage at Abel’s popularity. Cupidity led
him on, but if Cain hadn’t lost his head through lack of _will to
control himself_ the example of murder might never have been set before

Centuries have come and gone and still the passion to kill continues
upon the face of the earth. To stop it is but a matter of correcting
human thought through physical and mental training so that those
notions which interfere with a normal, healthy brain tendency, will
cease to exist. This done, the degenerate born of indolence somewhere
along the line, will disappear from the face of the earth in jig time.

New intellectual forces will do the trick; forces built up from
healthy, right thinking, energetic investigation, and consequent
acquisition of knowledge.

How the world will wag a few years hence depends upon Mothers and
Fathers of today. As great trials are _strengthening to character_, the
prospect seems bright.





Temperament looms large in the game of life, and, like all other human
brain tendencies, is subject to regulation through the exercise of
ordinary horse sense. We often hear one person speak of another’s
temperamental qualities in the light of an _incurable disease_, and
more than likely in an apologetic way. A faulty tendency is usually
laid at the door of a doughty grandsire on one or both sides of the
house and left there as a piece of ordinary table gossip to be resumed
any old time without notice.

We’ve all heard someone dispose of another with quick dispatch by
the casual remark, “_He’s temperamental_.” It all depends upon the
inflection of the speaker’s voice whether his words are intended as a
knockout blow or an apology in behalf of the culprit. But any time you
want to pursue the subject you’ll hear about some obdurate old ancestor
who passed the buck on to his posterity.

While we most assuredly do inherit various _mental attitudes_ from our
ancestors, there’s nothing we cannot get rid of if we resolve to do so.
There is nothing fatal about preconceived notions handed down to us.
Mental culture through education and association is the royal road. If,
through ignorance, or narrow-mindedness, one should prefer to hang on
to certain personal or mental crudities just for the sake of posing as
a “chip off of the old block,” then let the punishment fit the crime.

Temperament plays a big part in _making life worth while_ and is more
largely due to the time in which we live and with whom we associate
than to inheritance. It is the physical department that is really
handed down to us--the _blood in our veins_ rather than the dents on
our brains. To be subject to scrofula from infancy is no fault of our
own, but to continue an eccentricity under the claim of _inherited
temperament_ is excusable only upon the score of ignorance.

People do inherit brain tendencies, but they are all subject to control
through the will to _do or don’t_, as the case may be. Supposing
grandfather used to swear like a trooper--and he probably did--the
habit was temperamental to the extent of being in tune with the times
in which he lived. But what grandson of to-day would think of claiming
exemption by reason of inherited temperament if addicted to the same
vulgar habit? On the other hand, if we are born with _rheumatic_
tendencies we may expect to fight with them all our lives. One is a
brain tendency, _subject to control_; the other is a blood-inheritance
that _we may never correct_.

Personal habits of thought or action are temperamental according to the
avidity with which we cling to them. George Ade has said that a man
might be born with a hair lip or a club foot, but _whiskers_ were his
own fault. Thus we were handed the best possible line of demarcation
between the _inherited tendency_ and the _personal temperament_.
So, if we were of the temperament to wear a beard because our great
grandfather wore one we could, if the notion struck us, take it to the
barber and have it cut away. Just so we may get out from any other
_temperamental habit_, or thought, or action, through the very simple
process of becoming masters of our own minds. Grandfather may hand us a
line of tainted blood that we can’t manage, but temperament is our own
to manage as we will.

Control over one’s temperament is positively necessary in making life
worth while. If we are bent on securing full happiness for having
lived, we are bound to contribute our share toward an ultimate _world
sanity_ in which the word temperament may not serve to cloak _mental
deficiency_. College life takes the kink out of the untrained mind and
makes it behave normally. It makes no allowance for the accentuated
temperament. Fool notions brought along from the dear old home town are
soon sifted into the chaff barrel and _common sense_ comes into its





We’re never old until we think we are--this I say, not as a _sop_ to
those beyond the half-way station, but as a conclusion after some years
of observation and association with men.

I know some _young men of sixty_ who are putting over a sample of golf
that annexes my goat. One forgets their age when he finds them up and
coming on every proposition of legitimate sport and pleasure. They’ve
_learned how to live_ and _are_ living.

There is a big change in the habits of men. The day in which we live is
replete with simple enjoyments and facilities whereby to make the most
of them. _Achievement_ keeps them young, and achievement is a matter of
management rather than working hours. _Organization_ cuts the hours off
of the business day which leaves ample time for the recreation needed
to insure a good appetite, a healthy body, and the right kind of sleep.
If there is any secret in this simple process then consider that the
cat is “out of the bag.” _It’s yours._

[Illustration: “And her name was Maud”]

If we see a lean, hungry, decrepit mule wearily dragging his load along
we know at a glance that he is underfed, overworked, and _doesn’t
receive proper care_. He works too many hours a day, stands abuse
from his driver, becomes morose, just the same as a human being, and
finally, indifferent to what happens. Thus reduced to the depth of
despair, he actually awaits the crack of the whip across his loins
before answering the call to move along.

But times are changing for both men and mules. Neither will stand the
abuse and neglect of years gone by. Men are no longer the slaves of the
_big boss_. They have certain hours for work, after which their time is
their own.

Fortunately the era of treating one’s self decently is on. The barroom
has ceased to be the national indoor sport. Every self-respecting
town or city has joined in the _community of interests_ theory that
out-of-door life is good for its citizens. The result is _play-grounds_
for children, _public parks_ for all of the family, and _golf courses_
nearby for the men. It beats the old front porch rocking chair
proposition forty ways.

It isn’t more than twenty-five years since the real out-of-door era
began to dawn. I remember distinctly as a boy of ten how hard it was
to raise a companion after the evening meal. My parents held liberal
views on the subject. They trusted me in the matter of keeping out of
mischief and about the only warning I received was, “Don’t go far, and
_don’t stay out too late_.” With such elastic instructions I had very
little trouble in keeping the record straight, for my parents never
held me to strict account.

In my meanderings, however, I found the boys of my acquaintance pretty
well hemmed in during the evening hours. The scene is easily recalled.
The front stoop is plastered with rugs; the mother, father, sisters,
aunts, and grandmother are seated about on the steps, hammock or porch
chairs. Bob, Bill, Dick or Jim, as the case might be, was first to
be noticed leaning against the front gate, or looking dreamily over
the side fence. But as soon as the porch arguments began to warm up he
could be seen edging along slowly, inch by inch, toward the rear--just
nonchalantly, two pickets at a time, without any special semblance of
hurrying. If his mother _had the floor_ in the argument he got away
speedily and he generally waited for that.

But success was not always the case. Many times have I stood
impatiently out of view giving the _hurry-up_ signal, when suddenly
there came a loud call from the front that caused Robert to fall back
into his own yard and walk quickly around to the whenceness of the

“What do you want, Ma?” he would enquire--as if he didn’t thoroughly
well know.

“I want you to stay around here where I can keep an eye on you. _Then
I’ll know where you are._”

Sometimes this kind of a backset would require nearly a half hour of
skilful jockeying to repair. After that only the boldest of plans stood
a chance to succeed, such as walking into the house from the front as
if in deep disgust, or after a drink of water in the rear of the house.
Then out through the kitchen door and over the back fence in a jiffy.

[Illustration: A pointed argument]

A nudge from _sister_ often nullified this subterfuge when the mother
seemed about to fall for the project, and that meant the loss of
another fifteen minutes during which Bobby would actually go and take a
swallow of water and come back to the porch, there to stretch and yawn
until told that he’d better go in and go to bed. _Victory at last_
for Bob, showing that there was more than one way to win a battle even
in those days. The slamming of an upstairs bed-room door, meant for his
mother’s ears, a slide down the “rain pipe”--and over the fence for

But what a wonderful change has come into the parental mind since then.
Now all Bob does is to announce where he is going--to the “gym,” over
to Bill’s, motor-boating, canoeing, bicycling, a hike in the park, or a
look in on the movies. Home and to bed by ten o’clock.

And what is the result? Boys of twelve now days become officers
in Boy Scout companies. They go in for everything likely to make
them _athletic, manly and alert_. At sixteen they have more general
knowledge than boys of twenty had twenty-five years ago. And their
minds are cleaner, likewise their bodies. Schooling comes easier to
them, although the courses are far more advanced. It takes knowledge to
get started off right now days.

This is an age of _pep_, and the competition of today means _pep
vs. pep_. With equal mental preparedness the man with the brawn
will stand the gaff that would kill his soft competitor. _Lest we
forget_--recreation, a good appetite, a healthy body, and the proper
amount of sleep--are positive requirements in _making life worth




Feeding the intellect is naturally the most fascinating pursuit in this
life and probably will be in the life to come. There is nothing like
stocking up the mind, tickling the brain cells, making dents in the
cerebellum, for thereby is induced the most _perfect sanity_ and the
power to think with precision.

It is bully to be able to think straight to the point, and to quickly
analyze right down to the bone. Such ability loans us proper respect
for ourselves and compels the respect of all with whom we may brush

Power to think begins with _first realizations_, and thereafter we have
only to add fuel to the intellectual fires day by day, month by month,
and year by year, until we arrive at that state of mental sufficiency
which may happily be termed “the fullness thereof.”

Not until we cross this bridge are we safe--not until then will we have
come into a state of _sane thinking_--nor will we be _fully alive_!
On our march we will have learned to delve with patience, listen
with understanding, and communicate with intelligence. Then we may
give and take with common understanding with the best of them. What
we get we store away for use when needed. Then may we commune with
our intellectual equals on the basis of _quid pro quo_--_horse and
horse_--“_even Stephen_.”

But what a heartache when we cannot give! What a sensation of regret
when we find ourselves standing still intellectually while we
watch the procession go by. Not capable of giving, likewise we are
handicapped in our ability to receive--_we’re hitched to a post_, so to
speak, along with other species of lesser understanding.

Alongside of us in our journey through life are sure to be men of
more than ordinary achievement, who by dint of _special genius_ have
accomplished worthy objects most passing well--something that brought
them wealth or fame and likely both--but left them dumb and speechless
in the presence of intellectual persons, who, in self-defense, must
pass them up for want of _mental fellowship_.

To speak of the “_Dark Ages_” is but a polite reference to that period
of time when mankind generally was known to be “addle-pated.” The light
refused to shine upon his _thimbleful of brains_, although the sun of
centuries had blazed down upon a world of half-baked intellects--and
even yet has work ahead. But coming through the ages, in the due course
of events, a few master minds coincided in the belief that a little
exercise was good for the “noddle” and set about it to experiment.

The first hard work indulged in by our early ancestry, after receiving
a slight smattering of instruction, was to _kill off their teachers_.
Many centuries were allowed to skip by before education was again
utilized in stimulating the understanding.

[Illustration: “Smile when you say it”]

Pending the dawn of the new era, man was taught only the use of his
hands and feet for the sake of his stomach--his upper story becoming a
warehouse for dark superstitions, and fearful forebodings. It is not
unlikely that from this period descended the later day reference
to certain persons as _numskulls_--a species of mankind known to have
_bats in the belfry_.

Notwithstanding the seeming uselessness of many hundreds of centuries
in their relation to human intelligence, there is no discounting the
fact that we have finally come into an age when brain power is not
counted a misdemeanor and made subject to fine and imprisonment. From
the end of our Civil War to the breaking out of the great world-wide
strife, the intellect of man had expanded tremendously. More important
still, intellect had been discovered to be a _world-asset_, and of such
mighty consequence that _human knowledge_ progressed amazingly.

Pity it is that the world’s brain power could not have forestalled the
great slaughter--impossible, however, at this stage of our mental
development. But the time is coming--our grandchildren will see the
day--when _intellectuality_ will rule the universe. Brains and bodies
of individuals are to be developed for other _uses than war_. Until
that day arrives we are bound to continue as before, and will, with
true patriotism, _follow the flag of our cause_.

Some day when our intellects have been fed up into a higher state
of efficiency and humanity is more nearly matched in brain power,
settlements between nations will be made beside the lamp of reason
rather than under the flare of the cannon’s mouth.




Loyalty is one of those three-syllable words with a big meaning all
its own. Out of the letters composing it can be spelled two other
words--the preposition _to_; and the adverb _all_. _Loyalty to
all_--everything worth while; our country, our homes, our government,
and the friends we have “and their adoption tried.” It seems a shame
to hear this fine word used in any other connection, such as “loyal to
the gang”--“loyal to his confederates”--“loyal to the enemy.” It is too
fine a word to be employed in a manner possessing the significance of
the word “traitor.”

Now that the word _loyalty_ has come back into such vast everyday
usage, the time is ripe to nail it down hard and fast to the principles
for which it stands. Why not say “he was in cahoots with the
gang”--“false to his constituency”--“dishonest with his confederates?”
Then, in our mind’s eye, let us hang the word _loyalty_ alongside of
the _flag_ and keep it there for all time.

As I write this chapter, keeping in mind the subject of _Making Life
Worth While_, a feeling of serenity pervades my inner consciousness. I
believe that loyalty practically reigns supreme in America. I believe
that the fifty-fifty variety has become scarcer than hen’s teeth when
measured by the whole citizenship. Only among the unenlightened, the
profligates, the misanthropes and _enemy aliens_, are they bound to be
found at all.

Thanks to governmental efficiency during times most trying, the
searchlight has been turned upon the meaning of the word loyalty in
this country. The flag symbolizes it and it hangs everywhere. We take
off our hats to it when we pass it on the street, and when we hear the
songs that match it we join our voices with the rest.

To love the flag is a _soul_ quality and when the souls of a hundred
million strong go out in support of the _Stars and Stripes_ there is
mighty little standing room for _the mere onlooker_.

_He is either with us or against us_--that’s the slogan that thins the
ranks of the unbelievers in our country. It makes them sit up and stare
at the truth. It makes them blink their eyes in wonder, which is first
aid in thinking things over. It causes them to look around and compare
their standpoint with that represented by the _Star Spangled Banner._

In taking stock of the situation here is what they found to be
true--that this great country stands for peace--not only for itself,
but its neighbors all over the world. That peace is so desirable, and
so essential that it is worth fighting for to the _last man_ and the
_last dollar_. That without peace nothing counts as of value in the
entire inventory of things worth while and, therefore, nothing remains
but to fight--_and to a finish_.

[Illustration: Companions]

When your Uncle Sam rolls up his sleeves preparatory to a scrap he
begins to take on size that distinguishes him from the ordinary
fighter. He goes about it methodically, and allows himself the proper
time in which to get in readiness. Then he takes a running jump into
the middle of the ring. After this the disinterested onlooker isn’t
long in catching the fact that, as a mere matter of discretion, it is
far better to be _with_ Uncle Sam than to be _against_ him. Also it
must creep into his mind that if he doesn’t want to be _smashed_ into a
proper state of mind, the best thing to do is to _join in and help_.

If a hundred million people want peace bad enough to fight for it, both
for themselves and their neighbors, it isn’t for _slackers_ either in
thought or in spirit to stand on the side lines and watch the scrap.
People of that mould do not belong in America.

Everybody must do his part and do it right. There are thousands of ways
of helping on toward victory. There is more than one way of fighting.
The most potent of all is to _back up the man who does_--except, of
course, when his time comes, every man capable of pulling a trigger
must pick up his pack and take his place _on the firing line_.
Meanwhile it behooves _all of us_ to be ready for the call.





It will take more than a _star shell_ to light up the pathway of a
man who clutters his brain with half-baked knowledge. Pitfalls galore
are ahead of him no matter which way he may turn. Such people are, by
nature, of the cocksure variety, going in where angels fear to tread,
and gaining nothing for certain by reason of their experiences. In time
they earn the reputation of being _bull-headed_ and sooner or later are
on their way downstream without a rudder.

Sometimes the strong-willed fellow of fragmentary knowledge isn’t to
blame for his affliction. Every little circumstance has something to
do with his future course and if he happens to be born “on the wrong
side of the moon,” his course is more or less _predestined_. He views
things through a film--hazy-like, and inaccurate. To him investigation
means nothing. His mind is like a sieve that will not retain the fine
particles which must accumulate until a firm foundation forms upon
which to bear _a permanent housing for his reasoning powers_.

The worst phase of the ever-ready reckoner of uncertain statistics is
that he usually circulates among the credulous. Who of us is there that
hasn’t at some time in our variegated careers sat across from him at an
old-fashioned boarding house _table d’hote_? Even now we can hear him
saying, “_My notion of that is this!_” And wasn’t it fun to watch those
who drank it all in and gulped it down with their coffee? The green
cheese story about the moon would have been swallowed by some of them
if our _half-baked know-it-all_ persisted in its truth.

For such as him, no doubt, was composed Kipling’s wonderfully cynical
line, “alas, we know he never could know and never could understand.”
And also for such as him it was ordained that he should never stay
in one place long. Something tells him to keep moving--perhaps the
giggling that breaks out in the midst of a lofty peroration; a snort
of derision at some observation intended to be philosophical but which
fell far short of the mark.

While it doesn’t take long to pack up and locate elsewhere, it must
be tedious work to have continually the task on hand of making new
friends--_only to lose them_. But that is the penalty of becoming the
butt of the jokester, who will not be denied. Once he finds a victim
it’s time for that victim to move. The jokester has no pity, and in
lofty speech he tells his victim so--accompanied by shouts of approval
from those who hear and understand.

[Illustration: “What ho!” says the King. “Ho hum!” replied his guest.]

The ego of ignorance which stands by its false assumptions from sheer
lack of correct understanding invites pity that it seldom receives. In
due course of human events the distributor of half-baked wisdom will be
grafted with a twig from the tree of learning and thus the species will
become extinct. This, as Shakespeare says, “is devoutly to be wished,”
and while wishing it seems perfectly all right to express the hope that
those who read this short chapter will make a point of sowing a few
seeds in certain gardens where tall weeds now grow, “just for the
lack of the rake and the hoe.” A little sarcasm will turn the trick.






To make life truly worth while one would, if possible, follow his
natural bent, having trained himself accordingly, otherwise no
matter how successful he might become in _a material sense_, regrets
would be inevitable and likely to lead to a _surly old age_. It is a
vast mistake to believe that the possession of great wealth insures
happiness--and _without happiness_ whose life is worth while?

The makings of many a good butcher, baker, or candlestick-maker have
gone to waste when a youngster walked through the _wrong doorway_
in search of his _first job_. That is the initial lottery ticket we
buy--and sometimes pay for most dearly.

The situation is better now than heretofore, particularly if the
youngster has, on starting out, the advantage of at least a high school
education. To that extent he has a _trained mind_. If he could have
gone on through _college or technical school_ his success would be
practically assured. To get through would mean that he had acquired
proper _mental balance_.

Nevertheless, the great majority still go forth into the world of
affairs with small educational equipment, just when their minds are
least prepared, which accounts for the old saying--“_a little knowledge
is a dangerous thing_.”

So, when John Henry Jones, the hat-maker’s son, shows a disinclination
to go to school his father is pretty sure to take a shot at him
something like this:

“Either go to school, or go to work. _You can’t lay around and loaf._”

Now there was where John’s father got off on the wrong foot. There
and then he missed his chance for a real heart to heart talk and at a
time when his boy, from pure lack of reasoning ability, had worked his
mind into a bad state. Then was the time to have dropped his tools and
straightened out the kinks in the youngster’s noggin. A little friendly
counsel might easily have shown the folly of going out into the world
without _brain tools_ to work with.

As for the boy, his whole future most likely hung upon the result of
an interview inside _the first doorway he entered_. Not possessing a
proper amount of mental training his natural tendency became his sole
guardian at the supreme moment of his career--_the start_. Surely it
would be a matter of luck how he came through. His future, in a sense,
was in the hands of strangers and a strange environment.

In these days people are employed to fill a certain niche. If they
fill it, they are allowed to _keep on filling it_. There’s little
chance to look up from the job--and when the day’s work ends there’s
little chance to look around for another. Thus if John Henry was set to
work in a menial position at the beginning he might never be regarded
as eligible for a position leading toward real advancement. He came
without knowledge and for lack of opportunity he gained none. Being a
perfectly good _sweeper_ and _duster_ he remained to sweep and dust
until, in despair, he tries for a job at another place.

[Illustration: Tweedle-dee--Tweedle-dum]

“But,” you say, “the example is not trustworthy. Look at the great
men who started out in a small way. They are now the bulwark of the

Perhaps true, but times have changed radically. It is the _boy
graduate_ that is being sought after now. “Big Business” is bidding for
the annual graduating classes long in advance. It wants _trained minds_
to fill _brain positions_--and that’s why the college man and the
graduates of technical schools forge ahead so quickly. They literally
run over the half-educated, untrained workers who sit and wonder at
their own lack of advancement.

It’s not a matter to pout about. There’s only one thing to do--_work
out of it_. A special course in the thing the mind and talent is best
fitted for is the way out. Why wait for “lightning” to strike us? Night
schools abound in all branches of learning. Many a man has turned
himself into a brilliant lawyer, expert accountant, or famous editor,
through _night school work_. Diligence and perseverance is the price of
success, and only through success do we find life entirely worth while.

I have received many letters from boys and young men who had read
_Laugh and Live_, asking me to name the requisites for success. I have
made but one answer to all such inquiries:--_A healthy, clean body and
a trained, clean mind._ There is no other answer.




Some day I propose to write a novel!

The main reason for this determination is the fact that I have never
written one. I don’t know that it will become a “best goer”--and the
chances are against it--but I’ll do my best just the same. _And I hope
to win._

My reason for writing a fictional story is that by so doing I will
exercise my imaginative faculties and thus _prolong their usefulness_.
The power to imagine is an asset that must not be dulled by neglect. It
responds to exercise just as readily as do the arms and legs.

Mental gymnastics are helpful, in fact they are absolutely necessary
in keeping alert the upper story of the general structure. They make
of the brain a _spectacular trapeze performer_ toward which all eyes
upturn when it takes its place upon the swinging bar.

The ability to write a successful novel would be a crowning achievement
since it draws upon experience and vision in order to assemble
interesting characters around an agreeable plot. Love, of course, must
furnish the motif because love is the highest and most noble form of
passion--and _passion rules the universe_.

When we contemplate the writing of a novel we indulge in aspiration of
the highest order. The fact that not one novel in a thousand is likely
to measure up to a masterpiece should not halt one’s determination to
put over a winner if possible. But novel writing is _big game hunting_,
requiring ammunition of considerable power--and the _aim must be

One should try for small game first, being careful to make a bonfire
out of every effort that will not stand the test of several months in
cold storage. Real fiction can wait. It needn’t be served to order.
Any novel that is going to live through one generation of applauding
readers will keep a few months while its author uses the pruning hook.
His judgment will be all the keener each time he goes over it.

When I write my novel I shall allow no close friend to read it in
advance of its legitimate publication, after having been duly passed
upon by a calm and candid professional critic _with a beady eye_. When
one of these zest-worn individuals wades through my effort from first
to last page and comes up smiling it will be time enough to indulge in
a faint hope. It is always best for success to _ooze in_ rather than
to come as a deluge. It gives us time to consider ways and means of
taking care of the output. Also it serves to ward off an aggravated
case of disappointment if it doesn’t turn out to be a _genuine gusher_.
We never know the real verdict until we hear from the multitude. No
multitude, no verdict necessary--_the book is dead_.

[Illustration: Where once one equals two]

It isn’t for the reason that I lack for things to do that I propose to
try to write a successful novel, nor is my reason mercenary. There is
no secret about the matter either. Some years ago I determined _not_ to
go through life with a _single track mind_. To obviate this calamity it
dawned upon me that I must take an interest in every little and big
thing that came my way. Once the resolution took the form of habit, it
became a great pleasure to persist in the pursuit of information, but
the main benefit derived has been the development of a determination to
_do things myself_.

Determination stands in constant need of repair else it deteriorates
into mere obsession and falls of its own weight. _The habit of
investigation_ builds up self-confidence, without which, determination
has no prop with which to sustain itself.

Investigation is a two-sided activity of the mental processes--it
comes in loaded and can go out loaded if there’s anything inside to
facilitate the movement. To prove this theory is my reason for taking
a fling at novel writing, and by succeeding my case is made. At least
it will have been proved that one’s mind is a reconverter--that what it
imbibes in one form it may exude in another. Also it proves that if one
does not exalt his own ego no one else can do it for him.



[Illustration: A quick getaway]



Genius is twenty per cent idea, thirty per cent talent, and fifty per
cent _initiative_. Ideas are small in themselves when reduced to _brass
tacks_, but when we put the steam behind they often turn into something

Even a fool may have an idea, but it takes _brains and pep_ to put one

Most every one has had a notion worth while, but in most cases they
hold it cheap on the theory that if it really amounted to anything some
_genius_ would have thought of it long ago and put it into practical
use. There is where _initiative_ was lacking--perhaps talent as
well--but initiative would have brought in talent _from the outside_.

The word genius has been largely misapplied. Many men who were merely
astute in one way or another have been placarded with the label of
genius. But the _real genius_ is one whose idea has saved something for
his fellow man in _time_, _labor_, and _money_. Who would have thought
forty years ago that the whispering cups which children talked into,
and by means of which they could hear each other’s voices a distance
of fifty or a hundred feet, would turn into the greatest labor-saving
device in all the world! Such has been the fact ever since the
telephone became an everyday utility.

The principle was discovered in a toy--the practical, every-day
application as a labor-saving device was to come--but it came soon.
A genius brought it about by inventing a transmitter which enlarged
the sound waves when vibrated over electrically charged wires. Just as
simple as water boiling in a tea kettle--which, by the way, led to the
_steam engine_.

_Steam, steel, and electricity!_--the playground of the world’s
greatest inventors--_where genius abounds_. Here were born our captains
of industry, our fabulous fortunes, our _empire building resources_.
Intertwined with these three great principles the _super-genius_ has
romped and played with nature’s secrets until the age in which we live
is one of _touch the button_--and some labor-saving device does the

We think it wonderful to live in the present age of genius. Nothing
seems lacking. But what snails we’ll seem to those who come along _a
hundred years from now_. Do we think that Arizona will lack for rain
when she needs it--even fifty years hence? Surely the _drudgery of the
horse_ will have passed into oblivion. Mr. Ford to the rescue! Having
taken him out of the roadway, he most certainly will not allow the
horse to go on slaving in the plough field. That blessing is already in
process of solution.

The real period for the genius is in the foreground. The hardships of
the past are over. Capital is ready and waiting eagerly for the new
idea no matter how small, _or how big_. Genius has but to shake off
inertia, _build up initiative_ and make full use of its talents. There
isn’t a stumbling block in sight. _The road is clear_--and every added
facility helps that much toward making everybody’s life worth while.




I’m for that hard-hitting type of manhood which stands adamant for the
_square deal and no surrender_ under all circumstances. It is one thing
to wish for justice--quite another to stand up and _fight for it_.

Probably not one man in a thousand is geared with sufficient heart
action to run counter to _a false public opinion_. It takes moral
courage to do this, even on a small scale, whereas to ride a bucking
broncho one needs physical prowess which is quite another kind of
bravery. We’ve all known men who would fight their weight in wild cats
but would run like a frightened rabbit at the sight of a pretty woman.
To get up and _make a speech_ would have been out of the question for

I heard of a case where a fine, quiet fellow who had been elected as
a delegate to a small county convention, was instructed to arise to
his feet at the moment of a certain nomination and shout “I second the
nomination!” Instead of following instructions _he fainted_. This so
excited the delegate who was to “move that the nominations be closed”
that he forgot his part, with the result that an opposition candidate
was quickly proposed, carried the convention, and, in due course, _was
elected_ by the vote of the people.

Men of the type of President Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, each
distinctly different in personality, are about as scarce as hen’s
teeth. There are just two such men in our hundred and odd millions
today. They stand unique in the courage of their convictions, and their
ability to reach _the boundary lines of public opinion over the world_.
Lloyd George belongs in the same corral.

Speaking of President Wilson, one is amazed at his perspicuity. In
procedure directly opposite from Roosevelt or Lloyd George, he has no
counterpart either in pattern or turn of mind. Everything yields before
him--he appears to be _indomitable._

The need of such a man at this hour is apparent. He asserts the rights
of the nation as a whole in such a way that the individual trails in
behind him without a quaver of fear or a compunction of conscience.
The President seems to know the road and results bear testimony to
the fact. In the shortest possible time he has mobilized the greatest
nation in the world to a war basis of such magnitude that its martial
tread _extends around the world_. This being the first globe-girdling
war in all history, who can say that any other man would have done
better--_or even so well_?

Fortunately, this country has another man who, in the absence of our
present leader, could have stirred the American nation into action in
behalf of its own security. Hardly need it be said that this man is
_Theodore Roosevelt_. His distinguished services in the past would have
proclaimed him the leader in such a vast enterprise _had the emergency
existed_. Taking things as they are, his influence has been of
tremendous importance in effecting _a united effort_. His willingness
to go to the front himself at the head of a Volunteer Division had
its own weight in determining the whole nation that _the battle was
ours_ as well as for those more adjacent to the fighting zone. But, to
start with at least, this is a young man’s war, and the four sons of
Roosevelt that went to the front constitute an ample offering from this
great man at this stage of affairs.

If Lloyd George were a citizen of these United States, I’d give him
a seat beside the President on the score of _bull-dog tenacity_. And
I’d give him a look in on Roosevelt for _brain activity_ and _physical
courage_. And a seat between both of them for his ability to _scorch
the hides of the recalcitrants_.

Three big men these--_Wilson_, _Roosevelt_, _Lloyd George_. They sit
tight for what’s right. They stand exalted in the estimation of all
right-thinking citizens of the world, and at this period of their lives
are peerless in the beneficence of their influence upon mankind.

And now for the fourth man on my slate--stand forth _General Joffre_!
Your initiative at the first battle of the Marne saved the world from
disaster. You had _one chance in a hundred_ and--you saw and you took
it. Your victory saved civilization a colossal setback. Had your
beloved France been forced to surrender, the dream of the enemy would
have been transformed into fact with Mad Moloch in the saddle for many
a weary year.

_Here’s to the Big Four_--long may they live to witness the gratitude
of all mankind!




During one of my four-day jumps from coast to coast recently, I made
the acquaintance of a very affable gentleman in his early fifties. He
had the advantage of me in age, having passed through my period some
twenty years back, while my advantage lay before me, yet to be disposed
of. He was a man of brains, his eyes were alert, his years rested
easily upon him. I marveled at his physical activity, also his _mental
pep_. One thing he said to me that will hang in my memory the rest of
my days.

“I am guided by my _hindsight_--you at your age, by your _foresight_,”
said he. Then he went on to explain.

At my age he had ambitions and crowded on the steam. At _forty_ his
success in all ways seemed assured, so he rushed forward with all his
might. At _forty-five_ he experienced a period of physical reaction,
which, in the light of his present knowledge, was a warning, but he did
not heed it. At _forty-seven_ he was a _physical_ and _mental wreck_.

“I had failed to adjust myself to my failing powers,” said he. “I took
on greater responsibilities than ever, bent, as I was, on rounding out
a huge success. I almost wound up in my grave.”

Now here was a chance for a real pointer from a man of intellectual
force, so I urged him to go on through the sequence of events that had
brought him back to such superb health and spirits.

[Illustration: A rattling good story]

“It took me three years to get by that ugly period of mental and
physical depression, the early part of which I spent in floundering
around from one expert to another, traveling here and there and gaining
nothing in the way of respite, to say nothing of cure. Then suddenly,
I stumbled into an acquaintance with a new adviser--_a life insurance

I broke out laughing at this point and he joined good-naturedly.

“I knew you’d be amused,” said he. “Every friend I have jokes on the
subject. Nevertheless,” he continued, “this life insurance agent cured
me and I haven’t taken a spoonful of medicine since I met him. Are you
interested as to details?” he asked, his eyes twinkling, his cheeks
glowing with health. (Courage, friend reader. This isn’t the beginning
of the novel I intend to write.)

“Up to my ears,” I replied. “I am interested in every little thing that

“Well, it’s worth your while,” he continued dryly, “and the ‘cure’ may
serve you well some day. I met this man at Long Beach. I was sitting
under a large umbrella-tent watching the bathers and feeling like “_Sam
Hill_,” when a fine, strapping young man came dripping out of the waves
and sauntered up near me. It was a hot day and noting my ample shade
he came over and looked down at me good-naturedly. I would have given
all I possessed for his robust health and grand physique. I motioned to
some unoccupied space under my tent, which he accepted.

“‘Not sick, I hope?’ said he enquiringly.

“‘Oh-no!’ I blurted back at him. ‘I’m feeling like a young kitten.’
Then I glowered at him ferociously. That made him laugh, and he was a
good hand at it. I turned away from him in disgust, and let him do his
worst. Finally he calmed down and quite soberly remarked:

“‘_You’re not sick_--nothing the matter with you! I’ll write a policy
on you in a week’s time if you’ll do as I direct. I am a life insurance
agent and I mean what I say.’

“‘I’ll take you up,’ I bellowed in reply, ‘and I’ll bet you five
hundred you lose!’ I was pretty much exasperated at the fellow.

“‘You’re on,’ said he, ‘but I won’t take your five hundred if I win.
Let’s put it this way--if you are well enough to pass a rigid physical
examination one week from today will you let me write you up for a
fifty-thousand dollar policy?’

“‘I will, young man, and you can start your _shell game_ at your
pleasure. But I won’t stand for any _science work or nonsense_. If you
bore me I shall tell you so and that means all bets are off and you go
your way.’

“‘We’ll begin now,’ said he quietly, but there was a certain air of
confidence in his voice that made me wonder.

“‘First, I’m going to tell you about yourself,’ he went on to say.
‘You’re pretty much like an engineer who went along forty years without
an accident and then his engine broke down and both went to the ditch
in a heap. You’ve been successful in business, anyone would know that
at a glance, but you’ve made a mess of your physical resources.’ I
nodded. He was right thus far.

[Illustration: A one-minute reverie]

“‘You started in early at the game, your affairs grew, your
responsibilities enlarged, and you worked your gray matter overtime
without stopping to oil up your machinery. In other words, you have
never played, you haven’t laughed, you haven’t mingled with people in a
social way. So now you are pretty near ready for the scrap heap. Am I

“‘Uhuh--go on,’ said I.

“‘You once came pretty near asking a fine woman to marry you, but
something came up and you forgot it.’

“‘Yep--you’re right, Mr. Mind-Reader. Proceed,’ I said, ‘and whatever
you do or say _don’t mind my feelings_.’ He noted the resentment in my
voice I presume, for he waited some time before going on.

“‘The rest is easy--any life insurance agent who knows his business
could take up the story at this point and go ahead with it.’ He
laughed good-naturedly as I shrugged my shoulders.

“‘You’re an agent, go on with the case. What’s the answer? Let’s hear
all of the horrible details.’ I was getting peevish, although the
fellow had my interest aroused.

“‘Very well. Yours is the old, old story. At forty big things loomed
ahead--_your circle enlarged_. You gave yourself up to big plans. They
progressed famously and at _forty-five_ you were a rich and influential
man. But there were a lot of multi-millionaires that had you skinned on
_size of pile_ so you took the plunge and went after them. You never
gave your waning physical powers a thought for the next two years, and
then you went all to pieces--_mentally_.’

“‘Mentally! what do you mean when you say _mentally_? Am I crazy?’ The
thought made me laugh.

“‘Mentally,’ he repeated with a good-natured smile. ‘You didn’t go
crazy--_your brain fagged_. It wore out just like a typewriter ribbon
wears out--_from constant usage_. You’ve been thinking ever since that
your physical department was to blame for your condition. Nothing of
the sort. You are in fine physical trim, or will be when you take your
mind off of your ailments and forget about the old deals. Come on,
let’s take a dip,’ he urged, and the first thing I knew he was dragging
me along into the brine.

“To make a long story short, that fellow _got me to laughing_ and
playing like a boy. We violated every rule of health that had been laid
down by doctors and in five days were playing golf together.”

“So he won his bet after all,” said I enthusiastically, for I had been
pulling for the agent all through the recital.

“You bet he did, and I let him write me up for _a half million_ instead
of the sum he named.”

“Bully for you!” I replied. “And I’m going to remember what you have
told me.”

“That’s right--at _forty_ begin to adjust yourself to the next
period--_forty-five_. Arriving there safely, begin to adjust for
_fifty_. If you are alive then you should go on for years, always
keeping in mind that you must readjust every _fifth_ year after you
cross the forty line.”

There is an old saying that you can’t fool a percentage table, and
that was what the agent went by. So, if our lives are to be made worth
while we must surely observe the simple rules governing health and
longevity. The candle won’t burn at both ends and stand up in the
bargain. At forty I’m going to begin to adjust--_I believe what the
agent said_.




[Illustration: A studio confab]



A college man not only wants his _sheepskin_ when the great day comes,
but his _letters_ as well. To win his degree he must contribute to
the _sum of human knowledge_--a man-sized job--considering the large
storehouse already filled to overflowing. But the wreath somehow rests
easier upon the brow of learning when Ph.D. or Ph.B. are safely tucked
away among the laurel leaves.

Only the trained mind that delves its way successfully through college
or university is likely to add to existing facts. The vast majority
only succeed in developing a severe headache. Their intentions were
good, but----

It isn’t so much the doing of the thing as the _satisfaction of having
done it_.

My college career was cut short before my aspiration to excel took
root. If I missed anything it didn’t occur to me then, but looking
backward it has been only natural to regret that I didn’t stick it out
and try for the honors.

But there are many other ways of making life worth while. _Versatility_
wins more “heats” these days than _originality_. Ideas are worth little
to the man who can’t put them over and are usually to be bought at
bargain prices. _Versatility_ and _personality_ hitched tandem are
certified winners before they start as against mere originality.

It is not given to all men to make a success in college. But there’s
one thing certain, whatever the gain coming out of an attempt _is that
much to the good_.

College life in itself, with all its joys and stunts, is a fierce
competitor of the curriculum. Those who would win a degree must
necessarily _bone for it_, never for an instant straying from the
narrow path leading to the goal. Likewise it behooves them to keep both
eyes glued upon a lucky star--_for every little helps_.

Somewhere in the “milky way” of admonition he is almost sure to come
upon that famous old signboard, which reads like this:

  “_’Tis naught for sun to shine! Contribute thy share to the oceans
  of human knowledge--you can if you will._”

I must confess that this bit of poetic advice made a deep impression
upon me. It seemed to urge me on but not to the same extent that
other matters _urged me off_. It is a good little verse just the same
and worthy of a hook in anyone’s memory. Aspiration, perseverance,
never-give-up-the-ship-stick-to-itiveness is the way the prescription
reads for those who would plant so much as a mustard seed of original
information in the garden of wisdom.




As I have stated in my foreword, this book is not intended to adhere
to any fixed plan. I am writing on subjects covering a wide latitude,
many of which have been suggested by questions out of letters written
to me by friendly spirits who like my picture plays. Although the facts
relating to my theatrical career have been published over and over
again, hardly a day goes by without receipt of letters on that subject.

The prevailing notion is that I come from a theatrical family and
that I was educated for the stage. Nothing is further from the truth.
My father was a lawyer with a knowledge of the drama such as few
professionals have had. From the time I was able to eat I was fed on
Shakespeare. When I was twelve years old I could recite the principal
speeches in most of that gentleman’s plays.

My article in _Photoplay_ some months ago gave the whole story in
fewest words and the same is herewith appended.

My dramatic education was augmented by frequent contact with great
actors. My father was a friend of Mansfield, Edwin Booth, Stuart
Robson, John Drew, Frederick Warde and other famous actors who were his
guests whenever they visited Denver.

I once asked Mr. Mansfield about the best way to prepare for the stage
and he told me that there was no such thing as preparation for the
stage; but that there were certain accomplishments that were essential
to _great success_. These included a knowledge of fencing, painting and
the French language. Modesty precludes a discussion of the result of
following that advice. Suffice to say, I can defend myself fairly well
with rapier or broadsword, I can tell a Corot from a Raphael without
the aid of artificial devices, and I have made my way through France
without being arrested or going hungry.

Writers who give advice to the ambitious usually cite experiences from
their own book of life, but if any young man were to follow in my
footsteps, he’d take a rather devious path to the stage and he’d have
to travel _some_.

My parents were far from convinced that I was cut out for the stage,
so I was sent to the Colorado School of Mines to become a mining
engineer. But there didn’t seem to be any room in my head for calculus,
trigonometry and such things. I could never master higher mathematics;
therefore I could never be a mining engineer, so I quit.

Now I’m not desirous of inflicting a recital of my deficiencies on
a magnanimous public; just trying to show that one may fail in many
things before finding one’s niche in life. Certainly I failed in many
ventures, even in my first attack on the American stage. The first
onslaught didn’t even make a dent on that historic institution.

Important results have often hinged on trivial things. Tiny causes have
had _titanic effects_. If a certain actor hadn’t been sent to jail in
Minnesota a dozen and a half years ago, I wouldn’t now be writing this.

If you are familiar with baseball--and the chances are nine in ten
that you are--you know the meaning of the expression, “the breaks of
the game.” Given two baseball teams of equal strength, victory will
invariably perch on the banner of the side which “gets the breaks.”

It’s much the same on the stage or in business. Many a good player
has been sedulously avoided by whatever fate it is that deals out
fame, because the “breaks” have been against him. Conversely, many a
mediocre--or even worse player, has tasted all the fruits of victory
because he “got the breaks,” as they say on the diamond. But don’t
think I’m going to classify myself, because I’m not. Give it any name
you like--_even modesty_.

Just where I would have wound up had it not been for a strange quirk
of fate, of course no one can tell, but it was the misfortune of a
fellow player that gave me the big chance I was looking for. Perhaps
it was an indiscretion rather than a misfortune. But whatever it was,
the victim of the circumstance found himself in jail on the day we were
scheduled to treat the natives of Duluth, Minn., to a rendition of

Now I’m not going to tell you how the star couldn’t show up and I
stepped into the breach and soliloquoyed all over the stage to the
thunderous applause of the Northmen; that would be too conventional.
Strangely enough I hadn’t set my sights that high. But I _did_ want to
play Laertes and my colleague having run afoul of some offense which
was the subject of a chapter of the Minnesota Penal Code, I played it
that night.

Well, to make a long story short, I played the part so well (?) that
it only took about ten years more to become a star on Broadway, the
ultimate goal of all who choose the way of the footlights. Seriously,
however, that was my chance and I took full advantage of it.

Perhaps the greatest pleasure I get out of my work for the screen is
contained in the daily mail bag. Letters come from everywhere, not only
this country, but from such far-off places as Australia. By the way,
I believe they are more enthusiastic over the screen in the Antipodes
than they are in this country, proportionately speaking.

One of the most frequent questions I am asked to answer is that
relating to success in athletics.

It may sound strange to some of those who have been following my work
on the screen, but I was a failure as an athlete. In college at the
Colorado School of Mines I did not excel in any particular branch of
sports. I went in for nearly everything, but the student body never
wrote or sang any songs about me. I never came up in the ninth with the
score three to nothing against us, with three men on base, and put the
ball over the fence. I never even ran the length of the field with the
pigskin and scored the winning touchdown with only fifteen seconds of
play left.

When I went to Harvard later I still was active in athletics, but
while just about able to get by in most of the games, I never got _the
spotlight_ in any specific instances. It might have been different had
I remained, but the call of the footlights was too insistent.

There is one rule which every athlete must follow to be successful.
_Be clean in mind and body._ For a starter, I know of no better advice.

I am not much given to preaching, but if I ever took it up as a
vocation, I would preach cleanliness first and most.

The boy who wishes to get to the front in athletics must adopt a
program of mental and bodily cleanliness.

Perhaps the greatest foe to athletic success, among young college men
is _strong drink_. Personally I have never tasted liquor of any sort.

It was my mother’s influence that was responsible for that, as I
promised her when I was eight years old that I would never drink. I
might state, parenthetically and without violating a confidence, that
my family tree had several decorations consisting of ambitious men
who had sought valiantly, if futilely, to decrease the visible supply
of liquor. I do not wish to take a great amount of credit for my
abstention. Really, more credit is due to a person who has fallen under
its influence and fought his way out; but I know that the keeping of
my promise to my mother has had a powerful effect on my life and my




Everything depends on something else. There is no such thing as
absolute independence, and those who think differently are simply
asleep at the switch. Of all things sought for in this world happiness
stands first, and to be sure of this estatic state of being the common
mistake is made in selecting the path supposed to lead most directly

Wealth--choice No. 1. _The common error_ of the human family.

Wealth is the great destroyer of happiness, for it breeds _discontent
and worry_. In the first place comes the worry of accumulating wealth
and once possessed of it comes the worry of hanging on to it. It is but
a step from worry to discontent.

But take away the doubt, for the sake of argument, and analyze wealth
from the standpoint of possession. Now that we have wealth let’s go
ahead and enjoy it. Let us make of our lives an elysian dream. All
right, here goes.

But first, just what is an _elysian dream_? Answer--an elysian dream
is most quickly defined by the word _naught_. It is a figure of speech
and only useful in poetic flights--no transfers issued. The iridescent
dream is the nearest high-sounding vagary that can be bought for cash
and that has a rainbow finish. It soon fades and is lost from view.

[Illustration: Alone with the Grand Canyon]

So we come quickly back to the proposition that wealth, while useful
to the stomach and the back, has no purchasing power with the soul.
Happiness is a _soul quality_--how to reach it is a quandary.

Of things earthly we only require a certain amount; an overplus takes
away zest. The sport of the hunt is no more, when the quarry is tied
up by the heels. Anticipations are happier far than realizations. When
we aspired we looked forward, and up. When we indulged to the full our
eyes fell to the ground.

“_The fun of gettin’ money is the gettin’ of it, son._” This line is
the wind-up of a wild Western solo one of the boys in camp used to sing
with banjo accompaniment. That is all I remember of the song. It struck
me as funny and also as being gospel truth. After having satiated one’s
utmost desires, every luxury seems trivial and vain. Anticipation,
which is a species of joy, no longer dwells in the heart. Thereafter
we hunger for the unattainable--_contentment_. Very seldom do we
change our ways when we have waxed fat and soft--and money won’t buy
everything. Note the “if” in old Aunt Dinah’s Camp Meeting ditty:--

    “If Heaven was a place that money could buy
     The rich would live and the po’r would die----”

And there we are, blockaded with a measley “if.” There are things
that money won’t buy--for instance, a _good night’s sleep_. Our “open
sesame” to the higher level is via the _Self-Denial line_. Money won’t
buy a ticket--only the good and faithful servant may pass through the




Paraphrasing a well-known song to fit a new emergency one of my good
friends, on learning the title of my new book, sends the following
lines which he hopes may find a place in _Making Life Worth While_. And
so they shall, with many, many thanks to the contributor.

    Keep the home fires burning,
    For our boy across the sea,
    Then he’ll know, when he comes home
    Things are as he hoped they’d be.

    Loving hearts are yearning,
    Eager eyes grow dim,
    Many are there bowed down in prayer--
    Hoping--longing--calling for him.

There is a wonderful pathos in this lyric. Al Jolson, in a serious
moment, could put enough soul stirring melody in the last line to bring
an audience to its feet. And wouldn’t “Rodey” make a Billy Sunday
meeting fairly ring with it?

There is more than sentiment in the verse quoted--there is _duty_,
_loyalty_, _fidelity_. Our boys have a right to expect that nothing
untoward shall be allowed to disturb their dear ones while they are
absent, and that whatever the misfortune to themselves over there, the
welcome home will be whole-hearted and genuine.

If ever there was need of cheerful sympathy, the genuine article, it
should come forth now for distribution among the homes from which
husband, son, or brother has gone forward in defense of civilization.
One need not fear to show an interest, which is heartfelt, to any
wife, mother, father, or other relatives of an American soldier. It
is a relief to them to share their hopes and fears with friendly
neighbors. They are brave as they never were before. They are
_fortified_ by the spirit of the manly fellow who went forth to war
through the very gate you lean upon as they tell what they know.

One very dear mother, much too young in appearance to suggest the idea
of having sent a son to the front, told me as she smiled through tears
that he had _brought down two_ in a single action, but unfortunately
was forced to land on enemy soil and was made a prisoner.

“I hope they don’t starve him,” said she sweetly, “nor treat him
cruelly. He is so gentle and kindly himself. I believe they will be
good to him.”

“Of course they will,” said I, joining my hope with her own and
wishing with all my might that I could really share in her belief. Then
her wistful look changed into one of confident expectancy. I had added
to her _store of hopefulness_ and left her laughing heartily at my
prophecy that her boy would probably “_kidnap his guard some night and
ride him back to camp_.”

No doubt about her keeping the home fires burning, nor of the
strong heart within her--“_hoping, longing, calling for him_.”




This word _super_ is getting its name in the papers every day in the
week. The _super-human_ effort required to keep things moving along
toward the _final triumph_ has needed just such expressive terms. It
is a last word in inspiration--big, effective--_over and beyond_--and
it fits the job we’re engaged in exactly from super-dreadnaught to
super-abundance of will-power, mainstrength, and _get there_.

When our boys went over and lined up alongside their war-worn Allies,
the whole situation changed. The _pep_ and _snap_ they brought along
completely banished the waning spirit which, nevertheless, still
held in check a relentless and overpowering foe. No tonic is there so
productive of renewed energy as the _entrance of a friend_ who quietly
takes his place by one’s side.

To merely say that the boys in khaki have won the hearts of their
comrades over there is inadequate. They have _sealed a compact_ that is
destined to shape the orderly course of the whole world for a century
to come. Their induction was not of the “make way for the conquering
heroes” kind. Nothing like that--more of the fashion of _those who are
tardy_ and quietly take the places reserved for them.

Once in the ranks, comradeship was a matter of course. No one could
hold out against American good nature. No chance that these new
soldiers ranging themselves alongside of veterans would resort
to grandstand play. There would be no chasing after the medal. If
it came, well and good, but the job in hand would be the first
consideration--and in that respect the men of the Allied armies and
navies _are well met_.

To my way of thinking the every-day athletic sports of the
English-speaking races make for _a gallant hardihood_. No braver
are they, but hardier perhaps, and more agile than their Latin
brother-in-arms because of their all-of-the-year-round season of
out-of-door recreation. Baseball, golf, hockey, polo, motor-boating,
rowing, skiing, football, riding to hounds and what not, even down to
the game of marbles, which, after all, is out-of-door exercise for the
small boy.

Take football, for instance. If medals of honor were given out for
_daring physical action and bravery_ that occurs on the “grid-irons”
of America, England, Canada and Australia each year even the Kaiser’s
_Iron Cross factory_ would be unable to supply the demand. In other
words, out-of-door sports make for _alertness_ of mind and body. In
this respect they differ from the labor of the soil which, while
hardening and muscle-making, is inspiriting from lack of competitive
prowess with _a goal in sight_ to work for.

It is fine to read about our boys over there. They have taken hold
of their end of the big job without splurge or pompous bearing. They
have aroused no jealousies, no heart-burnings through competitive
ambitions--_they go where sent_. Their inborn initiative spurs them
on to deeds that terminate to victories they least expect. It is not
a part of their dispositions to “grab all” for honors. They will
give rather than take from the credit of their comrades in arms. The
old charge of _American brag_ will fall of its own weight on the
battlefields of France. To excel is an American trait no less and no
more than their brothers in the field of action. One of the blessings
that must surely follow in the wake of the great slaughter will be the
common understanding that every Allied soldier _did his duty like a

Since writing this chapter, I came across an editorial in the New York
_Evening Telegram_, which backs up my theory exactly. It reads as

“American soldiers and sailors have won the hearts of England and
France. ‘I like their keenness,’ said a pain-racked British sergeant
through his bandages. ‘It’s good to be fresh and alive to every little
happening for you and your boys who can plunge into hades for the
first time and keep their heads. You may be sure they will go a long

At Hamel, where the Americans went in with the Australians, Lucien and
’Arry and Paul and Tony and Pat and Izzy stood shoulder to shoulder,
one loyally helping the other. The commander-in-chief of the Anzacs,
Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash, is a Jew. Hovering over our
fighters were an aviator from Fort Wayne, Ind.; one from New York and
another from Nogales, Ariz.

Of a surety, as Kipling sang:--

    “For there is neither East nor West,
      Border nor breed nor birth,
    When two strong men stand face to face.
      Though they came from the ends of the earth.”

[Illustration: “In tune with the Infinite”]




Mighty powers are at work in the world today. Mighty changes are taking
place within the depths of our natures. We are not satisfied with the
old order of things that have trailed along with our _opulent years_.
The great holocaust of war has sobered our senses and we find ourselves
taking stock of the past with particular reference to the future--the
near future we hope.

We are thinking of the day when the boys will _come back home_ and
we have it in mind to tidy up considerably by the time they begin to
arrive. We believe they will approve of our work, and unless they do we
may as well look the situation squarely in the face--they’ll do some
cleaning up on their own account. _They’ll finish the job._

The order of the day is _change_. There are old, worn-out labels that
must give place to new ones, particularly one which has outlived its
usefulness, entitled--_the inherent rights of man_. It needs revising.
Its by-laws must be revamped, recast along modern lines in order
that _liberty_ shall not be mistaken for _license_ nor any man claim
immunity on the assumption that because this is a free country _he may
do as he may please_.

When the boys come home they are going to ask for an accounting. They
will want to take more than just a peep at our stewardship. Where are
the _loafers_ hanging out? They’ll ask us that. And they’ll ask about
the dives and dens and _thief-making sports_ that boldly flaunted
themselves in the days before _the great change_.

A lot of the boys won’t come home. They’ll be asleep, over there, but
the big majority will return and they will be men of brawn--_resolute
and brave_. They will begin at once to ask questions that will make
some of us wince, and they are going to insist upon truthful answers.
“_What about the profiteers?_” They’re going to insist on knowing
all about these fellows. They will seek them out and compel them to
disgorge their ill-gotten gains--profits taken from the families
of these men who crossed the seas to rid the world of _just such a
piratical crew_.

And what about _booze_--have we given that traffic the final punch? If
it wasn’t good for soldiers to _fight on_ how could it be useful in
_civil life_? These are questions we’ve got to answer when the boys
come home and it looks as though we were going to be able to give a
good account of ourselves--_thanks to the government_.

Things are changing--many things have already changed. The big crucial
tests upon our national conscience are coming to a head. Our government
is _far-seeing_ and alert. Abuses still exist, but the eyes of able men
are upon them. A government that is capable of sending millions of men
under prime conditions to foreign lands in behalf of our _most precious
rights_ need not be expected to fall down on the task of cleaning
things up at home while they are away. The whole world is to be made
safe and clean, _including the U. S. A._




When the great war broke upon an unsuspecting brotherhood of fellow
humans, we were, as a nation, from prosperity and self-indulgence,
perilously near the brink of disaster. It is only in the light of
events and a backward glance toward the precipice which had yawned for
us that we may now indulge in a certain sort of solemn consolation. At
least, we have been saved from a worse fate, one that has bells on its
toes--our _national intellect_ was on the wane; likewise our _national
conscience_. But we were not alone--all nations were afflicted, ours no
more than the rest, but we were the younger and more opulent.

_Regeneration or degeneracy?_ That was the uppermost question in
the public mind when the king of Berlin turned loose his hosts of
degeneracy, thereby bringing back to its sober senses the brain power
of civilized mankind. And with it came the brawn.

Now when _brain and brawn_ hook up together the danger of getting stuck
in the mire is well nigh impossible. Men who had gone sordid while
amassing great fortunes and looked on passively while their families
cut the swath to which wealth and position seemed to entitle them,
jumped to their feet with a _new light_ in their eyes, while men just
entering upon the threshold of success stood in awe of consequences
beyond their control. But the main thing to happen was that the world
turned its face toward the great intruder and, thereby, its heels
toward the fatal abyss into which millions would have fallen _from
sheer crowding from behind_.

We had been following the modern tendency and had gone the limit in
quest of that will-o’-the-wisp called _pleasure_--which we never quite
found. We nearly did, or thought we surely would, but in our hot
pursuit we heard the blast of a _war trumpet_ and we stopped in our

The weakest link in the chain of _self-gratification_ had broken--the
War Lord and his hosts had gone stark mad! Now was the time for
the cohorts of insanity to wreak vengeance upon the joy-seeking,
peace-loving people of the world. We who were on the brink of another
kind of pitfall--_too much opulence_--paused in awe and horror to gaze
upon the oncoming hords. And right here began _the regeneration of

No one, taking the larger view of the world’s greatest catastrophe
since the flood, will hesitate to believe that, even unto its most
horrible detail, it represents the working out of _some great plan_.
The world was far better off after the flood, for when the waters
receded it was found that the valleys had been enriched by the washings
from the mountain-sides and the hills. A new virginity had entered into
the soil, the future value of which, to mankind, being wholly beyond

And so in the final reckoning this tremendous letting of blood will
have long since shed light upon its true significance. To-day we
estimate it upon the basis of its horrors, its seeming uselessness,
_the blight of its trail_ across our own dooryards. But we’ve all heard
of the _fungus growth_ which blights the progress of plants and trees;
and _parasites_ which destroy the grains of the field, bringing famine
upon the population. In the present case the tentacles of the great
Octopus of Degeneracy took such strangling hold upon the body politic
that half a world seems doomed to die that the other half may live in
aid of the great plan of the universe. In the meantime, _no life is
worth while_ that takes no part in the titanic struggle, which must go
on and on until, in the words of our leader, “_the world is made safe
for democracy_.”

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    1. _Whistle and Hoe--Sing as We Go_
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    3. _Initiation and Self-Reliance_
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    5. _Profiting by Experience_
    6. _Wedlock in Time_

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Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Redundant chapter titles have been deleted from this eBook.

The first uncaptioned illustration represents the cover; the other
uncaptioned illustrations are semi-decorative line drawings of the

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