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Title: How They Succeeded - Life Stories of Successful Men Told by Themselves
Author: Marden, Orison Swett
Language: English
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Life Stories of Successful Men Told by Themselves



Editor of “Success.” Author of “Winning Out,” etc., etc. ❧


Lothrop Publishing Company
Boston        ❧


1901, by
Lothrop Publishing Company.

All Rights Reserved





                               CHAPTER I


               MARSHALL FIELD                         19

               “Determined not to remain poor”        20

               “Saved my Earnings, and Attended       20
                 strictly to Business”

               “I always thought I would be a         21

               An Opportunity                         21

               A Cash basis                           23

               “Every Purchaser must be enabled to    24
                 feel secure”

               The Turning-Point                      25

               Qualities that make for Success        27

               A College Education and Business       27

                               CHAPTER II

               BELL TELEPHONE TALK                    30

               A Night Worker                         30

               The Subject of Success                 31

               Perseverance applied to a Practical    32

               Concentration of Purpose               34

               Young American Geese                   36

               Unhelpful Reading                      36

               Inventions in America                  37

               The Orient                             38

               Environment and Heredity               38

               Professor Bell’s Life Story            40

               “I will make the World Hear it”        41

                              CHAPTER III


               A Face Full of Character               45

               Her Ambitions and Aims                 45

               A Most Charming Charity                46

               Her Practical Sympathy for the Less    49

               Personal Attention to an Unselfish     52

               Her Views upon Education               55

               The Evil of Idleness                   56

               Her Patriotism                         56

               “Our Helen”                            59

               “America”                              60

               Unheralded Benefactions                60

               Her Personality                        63

                               CHAPTER IV

               PHILIP D. ARMOUR’S BUSINESS CAREER     65

               Footing it to California               68

               The Ditch                              70

               He enters the Grain Market             71

               Mr. Armour’s Acute Perception of       72
                 the Commercial Conditions for
                 Building up a Great Business

               System and Good Measure                73

               Methods                                74

               The Turning-Point                      75

               Truth                                  75

               A Great Orator and a Great Charity     75

               Ease in His Work                       77

               A Business King                        78

               Training Youth for Business            79

               Prompt to Act                          82

               Foresight                              83

               Forearmed against Panic                84

               Some Secrets of Success                85

                               CHAPTER V

               WHAT MISS MARY E. PROCTOR DID TO       87

               Audiences are Appreciative             88

               Lectures to Children                   89

               A Lesson in Lecturing                  90

               The Stereopticon                       91

               “Stories from Starland”                93

               Concentration of Attention             94

                               CHAPTER VI


               A Long Tramp to School                 98

               He Always Supported Himself           100

               The Turning-Point of his Life         101

               A Splendid College Record             103

                              CHAPTER VII

               THE STORY OF JOHN WANAMAKER           105

               His Capital at Fourteen               106

               Tower Hall Clothing Store             107

               His Ambition and Power as an          108
                 Organizer at Sixteen

               The Y. M. C. A.                       109

               Oak Hall                              109

               A Head Built for Business             110

               His Relation to Customers             111

               The Merchant’s Organizing Faculty     113

               Attention to Details                  115

               The Most Rigid Economy                115

               Advertising                           116

               Seizing Opportunities                 117

               Push and Persistence                  117

               Balloons                              119

               “To what, Mr. Wanamaker, do you       120
                 Attribute your Great Success?”

               His Views on Business                 121

               Public Service                        124

               Invest in Yourself                    124

               At Home                               126

                              CHAPTER VIII

               GIVING UP FIVE THOUSAND A YEAR TO     129
                 BECOME A SCULPTOR

                               CHAPTER IX

               QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS BUSINESS        139

               Work                                  139

               Self-Dependence                       140

               Thrift                                141

               Expensive Habits—Smoking              141

               Forming an Independent Business       142

               The Multiplication of Opportunities   142
                 To-day in America

               Where is One’s Best Chance? The       143
                 Knowledge of Men

               The Bottom of the Ladder              144

               The Beneficent Use of Capital         145

               Wholesome Discipline of Earning and   146

               Personal: A Word about Cheap Hotels   146

                               CHAPTER X

               NORDICA: WHAT IT COSTS TO BECOME A    149
                 QUEEN OF SONG

               The Difficulties                      150

               “The World was Mine, if I would       152

               “It put New Fire into me”             154

               “I was Traveling on Air”              156

               In Europe                             159

               “Why don’t you Sing in Grand          161

               This was her Crowning Triumph         162

               She was Indispensable in “Aida”       166

               The Kindness of Frau Wagner           167

               Musical Talent of American Girls      169

               The Price of Fame                     170

                               CHAPTER XI

               HOW HE WORKED TO SECURE A FOOT-HOLD   171
                 WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS.

               A Lofty Ideal                         172

               Acquiring a Literary Style            174

               My Workshop                           175

               How to Choose Between Words           177

               The Fate following Collaboration      179

               Consul at Venice                      180

               My Literary Experience                182

               As to a Happy Life                    184

                              CHAPTER XII

               JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER                   185

               His Early Dream and Purpose           186

               School Days                           188

               A Raft of Hoop Poles                  191

               The Odor of Oil                       192

               His First Ledger and the Items in     193

               $10,000                               196

               He Remembered the Oil                 197

               Keeping his Head                      197

               There was Money in a Refinery         198

               Standard Oil                          200

               Mr. Rockefeller’s Personality         201

               At the Office                         202

               Foresight                             203

               Hygiene                               204

               At Home                               205

               Philanthropy                          206

               Perseverance                          207

               A Genius for Money-Making             207

                              CHAPTER XIII

               THE AUTHOR OF THE BATTLE HYMN OF      209
                 THE REPUBLIC HER VIEWS OF

               “Little Miss Ward”                    211

               She was Married to a Reformer         212

               Story of the “Battle Hymn of the      214

               “Eighty Years Young”                  215

               The Ideal College                     217

                              CHAPTER XIV

               A TALK WITH EDISON DRAMATIC           220

               The Library                           221

               A Chemical Newsboy                    223

               Telegraphy                            225

               His Use of Money                      227

               Inventions                            228

               His Arrival at the Metropolis         231

               Mental Concentration                  232

               Twenty Hours a Day                    233

               A Run for Breakfast                   234

               Not by accident and Not for Fun       235

               “I like it—I hate it”                 236

               Doing One Thing Eighteen Hours is     237
                 the Secret

               Possibilities in the Electrical       238

               Only Six Hundred Inventions           238

               His Courtship and his Home            239

                               CHAPTER XV


               A Boyhood of Wasted Opportunities     242

               His Boyhood Love for History and      244

               A Father’s Fruitful Warning           245

               A Manhood of Splendid Effort          246

               “The Regularity of the Work was a     247
                 Splendid Drill for me”

               Self-Education by Reading and         247
                 Literary Composition

               “The Fair God”                        249

               The Origin of “Ben-Hur”               250

               Influence of the Story of the         251
                 Christ upon the Author

                              CHAPTER XVI

               CARNEGIE AS A METAL WORKER            253

               Early Work and Wages                  254

               Colonel Anderson’s Books              255

               His First Glimpse of Paradise         256

               Introduced to a Broom                 258

               An Expert Telegrapher                 259

               What Employers Think of Young Men     261

               The Right Men in Demand               262

               How to Attract Attention              263

               Sleeping-Car Invention                264

               The Work of a Millionaire             266

               An Oil Farm                           267

               Iron Bridges                          268

               Homestead Steel Works                 269

               A Strengthening Policy                270

               Philanthropy                          271

               “The Misfortune of Being Rich Men’s   273

                              CHAPTER XVII

               JOHN B. HERRESHOFF, THE YACHT         276

               PART I.

               “Let the Work Show”                   278

               The Voyage of Life                    279

               A Mother’s Mighty Influence           280

               Self Help                             281

               Education                             282

               Apprentices                           283

               Prepare to Your Utmost: then Do       284
                 Your Best

               Present Opportunities                 284

               Natural Executive Ability             285

               The Development of Power              286

               “My Mother”                           287

               A Boat-Builder in Youth               288

               He Would Not be Discouraged           288

               The Sum of it All                     289

               PART II. What the Herreshoff
                 Brothers have been Doing.

               Racing Jay Gould                      291

               The “Stiletto”                        293

               The Blind Brother                     296

               Personality of John B. Herreshoff     297

               Has he a Sixth Sense?                 299

               Seeing with His Fingers               300

               Brother Nat                           301

                             CHAPTER XVIII

               A SUCCESSFUL NOVELIST: FAME AFTER     304
                 AUTHORS, BY AMELIA E. BARR.

               Value of Biblical and Imaginative     305

               Renunciation                          306

               Delightful Studies                    307

               Fifteen Hours a Day                   308

               An Accident                           309

               Vocation                              310

               Words of Counsel                      310

                              CHAPTER XIX

               HOW THEODORE THOMAS BROUGHT THE       314
                 PEOPLE NEARER TO MUSIC

               “I was Not an Infant Prodigy”         315

               Beginning of the Orchestra            316

               Music had No Hold on the Masses       320

               Working Out His Idea                  323

               The Chief Element of his Success      326

                               CHAPTER XX

               JOHN BURROUGHS AT HOME: THE HUT ON    327
                 THE HILL TOP

                              CHAPTER XXI

               VREELAND’S ROMANTIC STORY HOW HE      341
                 PASSENGERS A DAY.

                              CHAPTER XXII


               Thrown on His Own Resources           357

               Why he Longed to be a Baker           359

               Persistence                           361

               Twenty Years of Rejected              362

               A College Education                   364

               Riley’s Popularity                    365


                           INTRODUCTORY NOTE


THE GREAT INTEREST manifested in the life-stories of successful men and
women, which have been published from time to time in the magazine
SUCCESS, has actuated their production in book form. Many of these
sketches have been revised and rewritten, and new ones have been added.
They all contain the elements that make men and women successful; and
they are intended to show that character, energy, and an indomitable
ambition will succeed in the world, and that in this land, where all men
are born equal and have an equal chance in life, there is no reason for
despair. I believe that the ideal book for youth should deal with
concrete examples; for that which is taken from real life is far more
effective than that which is culled from fancy. Character-building, its
uplifting, energizing force, has been made the basic principle of this

To all who have aided me I express a grateful acknowledgment; and to
none more than to those whose life-stories are here related as a lesson
to young people. Among those who have given me special assistance in
securing those life-stories are, Mr. Harry Steele Morrison, Mr. J.
Herbert Welch, Mr. Charles H. Garrett, Mr. Henry Irving Dodge, and Mr.
Jesse W. Weik. I am confident that the remarkable exhibit of successful
careers made in this book—careers based on sound business principles and
honesty—will meet with appreciation on the part of the reading public.

                                                    ORISON SWETT MARDEN.




THIS world-renowned merchant is not easily accessible to interviews, and
he seeks no fame for his business achievements. Yet, there is no story
more significant, none more full of encouragement and inspiration for

In relating it, as he told it, I have removed my own interrogations, so
far as possible, from the interview.

“I was born in Conway, Massachusetts,” he said, “in 1835. My father’s
farm was among the rocks and hills of that section, and not very
fertile. All the people were poor in those days. My father was a man who
had good judgment, and he made a success out of the farming business. My
mother was of a more intellectual bent. Both my parents were anxious
that their boys should amount to something in life, and their interest
and care helped me.

“I had but few books, scarcely any to speak of. There was not much time
for literature. Such books as we had, I made use of.

“I had a leaning toward business, and took up with it as early as
possible. I was naturally of a saving disposition: I had to be. Those
were saving times. A dollar looked very big to us boys in those days;
and as we had difficult labor in earning it, we did not quickly spend
it. I however,

                    DETERMINED NOT TO REMAIN POOR.”

“Did you attend both school and college?”

“I attended the common and high schools at home, but not long. I had no
college training. Indeed, I cannot say that I had much of any public
school education. I left home when seventeen years of age, and of course
had not time to study closely.

“My first venture in trade was made as clerk in a country store at
Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where everything was sold, including
dry-goods. There I remained for four years, and picked up my first
knowledge of business. I


and so made those four years valuable to me. Before I went West, my
employer offered me a quarter interest in his business if I would remain
with him. Even after I had been here several years, he wrote and offered
me a third interest if I would go back.

“But I was already too well placed. I was always interested in the
commercial side of life. To this I bent my energies; and


“In Chicago, I entered as a clerk in the dry-goods house of Cooley,
Woodsworth & Co., in South Water street. There was no guarantee at that
time that this place would ever become the western metropolis; the town
had plenty of ambition and pluck, but the possibilities of greatness
were hardly visible.”

It is interesting to note in this connection how closely the story of
Mr. Field’s progress is connected with Chicago’s marvelous growth. The
city itself in its relations to the West, was

                            AN OPPORTUNITY.

A parallel, almost exact, may be drawn between the individual career and
the growth of the town. Chicago was organized in 1837, two years after
Mr. Field was born on the far-off farm in New England, and the place
then had a population of a little more than four thousand. In 1856, when
Mr. Field, fully equipped for a successful mercantile career, became a
resident of the future metropolis of the West, the population had grown
to little more than eighty-four thousand. Mr. Field’s prosperity
advanced with the growth of the city; with Chicago he was stricken but
not crushed by the great fire of 1871; and with Chicago he advanced
again to higher achievement and far greater prosperity than before the

“What were your equipments for success when you started as a clerk here
in Chicago, in 1856?”

“Health and ambition, and what I believe to be sound principles;”
answered Mr. Field. “And here I found that in a growing town, no one had
to wait for promotion. Good business qualities were promptly discovered,
and men were pushed forward rapidly.

“After four years, in 1860, I was made a partner, and in 1865, there was
a partial reorganization, and the firm consisted after that of Mr.
Leiter, Mr. Palmer and myself (Field, Palmer, and Leiter). Two years
later Mr. Palmer withdrew, and until 1881, the style of the firm was
Field, Leiter & Co. Mr. Leiter retired in that year, and since then it
has been as at present (Marshall Field & Co.).”

“What contributed most to the great growth of your business?” I asked.

“To answer that question,” said Mr. Field, “would be to review the
condition of the West from the time Chicago began until the fire in
1871. Everything was coming this way; immigration, railways and water
traffic, and Chicago was enjoying ‘flush’ times.

“There were things to learn about the country, and the man who learned
the quickest fared the best. For instance, the comparative newness of
rural communities and settlements made a knowledge of local solvency
impossible. The old State banking system prevailed, and speculation of
every kind was rampant.

                              A CASH BASIS

“The panic of 1857 swept almost everything away except the house I
worked for, and _I learned that the reason they survived was because
they understood the nature of the new country, and did a cash business_.
That is, they bought for cash, and sold on thirty and sixty days;
instead of giving the customers, whose financial condition you could
hardly tell anything about, all the time they wanted. _When the panic
came, they had no debts, and little owing to them_, and so they
weathered it all right. _I learned what I consider my best lesson, and
that was to do a cash business._”

“What were some of the _principles_ you applied to your business?” I

“_I made it a point that all goods should be exactly what they were
represented to be. It was a rule of the house that an exact scrutiny of
the quality of all goods purchased should be maintained, and that
nothing was to induce the house to place upon the market any line of
goods at a shade of variation from their real value. Every article sold
must be regarded as warranted, and_


“Did you suffer any losses or reverses during your career?”

“No loss except by the fire of 1871. It swept away everything,—about
three and a half millions. We were, of course, protected by insurance,
which would have been sufficient against any ordinary calamity of the
kind. But the disaster was so sweeping that some of the companies which
had insured our property were blotted out, and a long time passed before
our claims against others were settled. We managed, however, to start
again. There were no buildings of brick or stone left standing, but
there were some great shells of horse-car barns at State and Twentieth
streets which were not burned, and I hired those. We put up signs
announcing that we would continue business uninterruptedly, and then
rushed the work of fitting things up and getting in the stock.”

“Did the panic of 1873 affect your business?”

“Not at all. We did not have any debts.”

“May I ask, Mr. Fields, what you consider to have been

                           THE TURNING POINT

in your career,—the point after which there was no more danger?”

“Saving the first five thousand dollars I ever had, when I might just as
well have spent the moderate salary I made. Possession of that sum, once
I had it, gave me _the ability to meet opportunities_. That I consider
the turning-point.”

“What trait of character do you look upon as having been the most
essential in your career?”

“_Perseverance_,” said Mr. Field. But Mr. Selfridge, his most trusted
lieutenant, in whose private office we were, insisted upon the addition
of “_good judgment_” to this.

“If I am compelled to lay claim to such traits,” added Mr. Fields, “it
is because I have tried to practise them, and the trying has availed me
much. I have tried to make all my acts and commercial moves the result
of definite consideration and sound judgment. _There were never any
great ventures or risks._ I practised honest, slow-growing business
methods, and tried to back them with energy and good system.”

At this point, in answer to further questions, Mr. Field disclaimed
having overworked in his business, although after the fire of ’71 he
worked about eighteen hours a day for several weeks:—

“My fortune, however, has not been made in that manner. I believe in
reasonable hours, but close attention during those hours. I never worked
very many hours a day. People do not work as many hours now as they once
did. The day’s labor has shortened in the last twenty years for


“What, Mr. Field,” I said, “do you consider to be the first requisite
for success in life, so far as the young beginner is concerned?”

“The qualities of _honesty_, _energy_, _frugality_, _integrity_, are
more necessary than ever to-day, and there is no success without them.
They are so often urged that they have become commonplace, but they are
really more prized than ever. And any good fortune that comes by such
methods is deserved and admirable.”


“Do you believe a college education for the young man to be a necessity
in the future?”

“Not for business purposes. Better training will become more and more a
necessity. The truth is, with most young men, a college education means
that just at the time when they should be having business principles
instilled into them, and be getting themselves energetically pulled
together for their life’s work, they are sent to college. Then
intervenes what many a young man looks back on as the jolliest time of
his life,—four years of college. Often when he comes out of college the
young man is unfitted by this good time to buckle down to hard work, and
the result is a failure to grasp opportunities that would have opened
the way for a successful career.”

_As to retiring from business_, Mr. Field remarked:—

“I do not believe that, when a man no longer attends to his private
business in person every day, he has given up interest in affairs. He
may be, in fact should be, doing wider and greater work. There certainly
is no pleasure in idleness. A man, upon giving up business, does not
cease laboring, but really does or should do more in a larger sense. He
should interest himself in public affairs. There is no happiness in mere
dollars. After they are acquired, one can use but a moderate amount. It
is given a man to eat so much, to wear so much, and to have so much
shelter, and more he cannot use. When money has supplied these, its
mission, so far as the individual is concerned, is fulfilled, and man
must look further and higher. It is only in the wider public affairs,
where money is a moving force toward the general welfare, that the
possessor of it can possibly find pleasure, and that only in constantly
doing more.”

“What,” I said, “in your estimation, is the greatest good a man can do?”

“The greatest good he can do is to cultivate himself, develop his
powers, in order that he may be of greater use to humanity.”





EXTREMELY polite, always anxious to render courtesy, no one carries
great success more gracefully than Alexander G. Bell, the inventor of
the telephone. His graciousness has won many a friend, the admiration of
many more, and has smoothed many a rugged spot in life.

                             A NIGHT WORKER

When I first went to see him, it was about eleven o’clock in the
morning, and he was in bed! The second time, I thought I would go
somewhat later,—at one o’clock in the afternoon. He was eating his
breakfast, I was told; and I had to wait some time. He came in
apologizing profusely for keeping me waiting. When I told him I had come
to interview him, in behalf of young people, about success—its
underlying principles,—he threw back his large head and laughingly said:

“‘Nothing succeeds like success.’ Success did you say? Why, that is a
big subject,—too big a one. You must give me time to think about it; and
you having planted the seed in my brain, will have to wait for me.”

When I asked what time I should call, he said: “Come any time, if it is
only late. I begin my work at about nine or ten o’clock in the evening,
and continue until four or five in the morning. Night is a more quiet
time to work. It aids thought.”

So, when I went to see him again, I made it a point to be late. He
cordially invited me into his studio, where, as we both sat on a large
and comfortable sofa, he talked long on

                        THE SUBJECT OF SUCCESS.

The value of this article would be greatly enhanced, if I could add his
charming manner of emphasizing what he says, with hands, head, and eyes;
and if I could add his beautiful distinctness of speech, due, a great
deal, to his having given instruction to deaf-mutes, who must read the

“What do you think are the factors of success?” I asked. The reply was
prompt and to the point.


“Perseverance is the chief; but perseverance must have some practical
end, or it does not avail the man possessing it. A person without a
practical end in view becomes a crank or an idiot. Such persons fill our
insane asylums. The same perseverance that they show in some idiotic
idea, if exercised in the accomplishment of something practicable, would
no doubt bring success. Perseverance is first, but practicability is
chief. The success of the Americans as a nation is due to their great

“But often what the world calls nonsensical, becomes practical, does it
not? You were called crazy, too, once, were you not?”

“There are some things, though, that are always impracticable. Now,
take, for instance, this idea of perpetual motion. Scientists have
proved that it is impossible. Yet our patent office is continually beset
by people applying for inventions on some perpetual motion machine. So
the department has adopted a rule whereby a working model is always
required of such applicants. They cannot furnish one. The impossible is
incapable of success.”

“I have heard of people dreaming inventions.”

“That is not at all impossible. I am a believer in unconscious
cerebration. The brain is working all the time, though we do not know
it. At night, it follows up what we think in the daytime. When I have
worked a long time on one thing, I make it a point to bring all the
facts regarding it together before I retire; and I have often been
surprised at the results. Have you not noticed that, often, what was
dark and perplexing to you the night before, is found to be perfectly
solved the next morning? We are thinking all the time; it is impossible
not to think.”

“Can everyone become an inventor?”

“Oh, no; not all minds are constituted alike. Some minds are only
adapted to certain things. But as one’s mind grows, and one’s knowledge
of the world’s industries widens, it adapts itself to such things as
naturally fall to it.”

Upon my asking the relation of health to success, the professor

“I believe it to be a primary principle of success; ‘mens sana in
corpore sano,’—a sound mind in a sound body. The mind in a weak body
produces weak ideas; a strong body gives strength to the thought of the
mind. Ill health is due to man’s artificiality of living. He lives
indoors. He becomes, as it were, a hothouse plant. Such a plant is never
as successful as a hardy garden plant is. An outdoor life is necessary
to health and success, especially in a youth.”

“But is not hard study often necessary to success?”

“No; decidedly not. You cannot force ideas. Successful ideas are the
result of slow growth. Ideas do not reach perfection in a day, no matter
how much study is put upon them. It is _perseverance_ in the pursuit of
studies that is really wanted.

                        CONCENTRATION OF PURPOSE

“Next must come concentration of purpose and study. That is another
thing I mean to emphasize. Concentrate all your thought upon the work in
hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.

“I am now thinking about flying machines. Everything in regard to them,
I pick out and read. When I see a bird flying in the air, I note its
manner of flight, as I would not if I were not constantly thinking about
artificial flight, and concentrating all my thought and observation upon
it. It is like a man who has made the acquaintance of some new word that
has been brought forcibly to his notice, although he may have come
across it many times before, and not have noticed it particularly.

“_Man is the result of slow growth_; that is why he occupies the
position he does in animal life. What does a pup amount to that has
gained its growth in a few days or weeks, beside a man who only attains
it in as many years. A horse is often a grandfather before a boy has
attained his full maturity. The most successful men in the end are those
whose success is the result of steady accretion. That intellectuality is
more vigorous that has attained its strength gradually. It is the man
who carefully advances step by step, with his mind becoming wider and
wider,—and progressively better able to grasp any theme or
situation,—persevering in what he knows to be practical, and
concentrating his thought upon it, who is bound to succeed in the
greatest degree.

                          YOUNG AMERICAN GEESE

“If a man is not bound down, he is sure to succeed. He may be bound down
by environment, or by doting parental petting. In Paris, they fatten
geese to create a diseased condition of the liver. A man stands with a
box of very finely prepared and very rich food beside a revolving stand,
and, as it revolves, one goose after another passes before him. Taking
the first goose by the neck, he clamps down its throat a large lump of
the food, whether the goose will or no, until its crop is well stuffed
out, and then he proceeds with the rest in the same very mechanical
manner. Now, I think, if those geese had to work hard for their own
food, they would digest it better, and be far healthier geese. How many
young American geese are stuffed in about the same manner at college and
at home, by their rich and fond parents!”

                           UNHELPFUL READING

“Did everything you ever studied help you to attain success?”

“On the contrary, I did not begin real study until I was over sixteen.
Until that time, my principal study was—reading novels.” He laughed
heartily at my evident astonishment. “They did not help me in the least,
for they did not give me an insight into real life. It is only those
things that give one a grasp of practical affairs that are helpful. To
read novels continuously is like reading fairy stories or “Arabian
Nights” tales. It is a butterfly existence, so long as it lasts; but,
some day, one is called to stern reality, unprepared.”

                         INVENTIONS IN AMERICA

“You have had experience in life in Europe and in America. Do you think
the chances for success are the same in Europe as in America?”

“It is harder to attain success in Europe. There is hardly the same
appreciation of progress there is here. Appreciation is an element of
success. Encouragement is needed. My thoughts run mostly toward
inventions. In England, people are conservative. They are well contented
with the old, and do not readily adopt new ideas. Americans more quickly
appreciate new inventions. Take an invention to an Englishman or a Scot,
and he will ask you all about it, and then say your invention may be all
right, but let somebody else try it first. Take the same invention to an
American, and if it is intelligently explained, he is generally quick to
see the feasibility of it. America is an inspiration to inventors. It is
quicker to adopt advanced ideas than England or Europe. The most
valuable inventions of this century have been made in America.”

                               THE ORIENT

“Do you think there is a chance for Americans in the Orient?”

“There is only a chance for capital in trade. American labor cannot
compete with Japanese and Chinese. A Japanese coolie, for the hardest
kind of work, receives the equivalent of six cents a day; and the whole
family, father, mother and children, work and contribute to the common
good. A foreigner is only made use of until they have absorbed all his
useful ideas; then he is avoided. The Japanese are ahead of us in many

                        ENVIRONMENT AND HEREDITY

“Do you think environment and heredity count in success?”

“Environment, certainly; heredity, not so distinctly. In heredity, a man
may stamp out the faults he has inherited. There is no chance for the
proper working of heredity. If selection could be carried out, a man
might owe much to heredity. But as it is, only opposites marry. Blonde
and light-complexioned people marry brunettes, and the tall marry the
short. In our scientific societies, men only are admitted. If women who
were interested especially in any science were allowed to affiliate with
the men in these societies, we might hope to see some wonderful workings
of the laws of heredity. A man, as a general rule, owes very little to
what he is born with. A man is what he makes of himself.

“Environment counts for a great deal. A man’s particular idea may have
no chance for growth or encouragement in his community. Real success is
denied that man, until he finds a proper environment.

“_America is a good environment for young men. It breathes the very
spirit of success. I noticed at once, when I first came to this country,
how the people were all striving for success, and helping others to
attain success. It is an inspiration you cannot help feeling._ AMERICA

                      PROFESSOR BELL’S LIFE STORY

Alexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, March 3, 1847.
His father, Alexander Melville Bell, now in Washington, D.C., was a
distinguished Scottish educator, and the inventor of a system of
“visible speech,” which he has successfully taught to deaf-mutes. His
grandfather, Alexander Bell, became well known by the invention of a
method of removing impediments of speech.

The younger Bell received his education at the Edinburgh High School and
University; and, in 1867, he entered the University of London. Then, in
his twenty-third year, his health failing from over-study, he came with
his father to Canada, as he expressed it, “to die.” Later, he settled in
the United States, becoming first a teacher of deaf-mutes, and
subsequently professor of vocal physiology in Boston University. In
1867, he first began to study the problem of conveying articulate sound
by electric currents; which he pursued during his leisure time. After
nine long years of research and experiment, he completed the first
telephone, early in 1876, when it was exhibited at the Centennial
Exposition, and pronounced the “wonder of wonders in electric
telegraphy.” This was the judgment of scientific men who were in a
position to judge, and not of the world at large. People regarded it
only as a novelty, as a curious scientific toy; and most business men
doubted that it would ever prove a useful factor in the daily life of
the world, and the untold blessing to mankind it has since become. All
this skepticism he had to overcome. “A new art was to be taught to the
world, a new industry created, business and social methods

                    “I WILL MAKE THE WORLD HEAR IT”

“It does speak,” cried Sir William Thompson, with fervid enthusiasm; and
Bell’s father-in-law added: “I will make the world hear it.” In less
than a quarter of a century, it is conveying thought in every civilized
tongue; Japan being the first country outside of the United States to
adopt it. In the first eight years of its existence, the Bell Telephone
Company declared dividends to the extent of $4,000,000; and the great
sums of money the company earns for its stockholders is a subject of
current comment and wonder. Some fierce contests have been waged over
the priority of his invention, but Mr. Bell has been triumphant in every

He has become very wealthy from his invention. He has a beautiful winter
residence in Washington; fitted up with a laboratory, and all sorts of
electrical conveniences mostly of his own invention. His summer
residence is at Cambridge, Massachusetts.

His wife, Mabel, the daughter of the late Gardiner G. Hubbard, is a
deaf-mute, of whose education he had charge when she was a child.

Mr. Bell, with one of his beautiful daughters, recently made a visit to
Japan. The Order of the Rising Star, the highest order in the gift of
the Japanese Emperor, was bestowed upon him. He is greatly impressed by
the character of the people; believing them capable of much greater

Mr. Bell is the inventor of the photophone, aiming to transmit speech by
a vibratory beam of light. He has given much time and study to problems
of multiplex telegraphy, and to efforts to record speech by
photographing the vibrations of a jet of water.

Few inventors have derived as much satisfaction and happiness from their
achievements as Mr. Bell. In this respect, his success has been ideal,
and in impressive contrast with the experience of Charles Goodyear, the
man who made india-rubber useful, and of some other well-known
inventors, whose services to mankind brought no substantial reward to

Mr. Bell is in nowise spoiled by his good fortune; but is the same
unpretending person to-day, that he was before the telephone made him
wealthy and famous.



Why the American People Like Helen Gould

MISS HELEN GOULD has won a place for herself in the hearts of Americans
such as few people of great wealth ever gain. Her strong character,
commonsense, and high ideals, have made her respected by all, while her
munificence and kindness have won for her the love of many.

Upon my arrival at her Tarrytown home, I was made to feel that I was
welcome, and everyone who enters her presence feels the same. The grand
mansion, standing high on the hills overlooking the Hudson, has a
home-like appearance. Chickens play around the little stone cottage at
the grand entrance, and the grounds are not unlike those of any other
country house, with trees in abundance, and beautiful lawns. There are
large beds of flowers, and in the gardens all the summer vegetables were

Miss Gould takes a very great interest in her famous greenhouses, the
gardens, the flowers, and the chickens, for she is a home-loving woman.
It is a common thing to see her in the grounds, digging and raking and
planting, like some farmer’s girl. That is one reason why her neighbors
all like her; she seems so unconscious of her wealth and station.

                        A FACE FULL OF CHARACTER

When I entered Lyndhurst, she came forward to meet me in the pleasantest
way imaginable. Her face is not exactly beautiful, but has a great deal
of character written upon it, and it is very attractive. She held out
her hand for me to shake in the good old-fashioned way, and then we sat
down in the wide hall to talk. Miss Gould was dressed very simply. Her
gown was of dark cloth, close-fitting, and her skirt hung several inches
above the ground, for she is a believer in short skirts for walking. Her
entire costume was very becoming. She never over-dresses, and her
garments are neat, and naturally of excellent quality.

                         HER AMBITIONS AND AIMS

In the conversation that followed, I was permitted to learn much of her
ambitions and aims. She is ambitious to leave an impression on the world
by good deeds well done, and this ambition is gratified to the utmost.
She is modest about her work.

“I cannot find that I am doing much at all,” she said, “when there is so
very much to be done. I suppose I shouldn’t expect to be able to do
everything, but I sometimes feel that I want to, nevertheless.”

                        A MOST CHARMING CHARITY

One of her most charming charities is “Woody Crest,” two miles from
Lyndhurst, a haven of delight where some twoscore waifs are received at
a time for a two weeks’ visit.

Years before Miss Gould’s name became associated throughout the country
with charity, she was doing her part in trying to make a world happier.
Every summer she was hostess to scores of poor children, who were guests
at one of the two Gould summer homes; little people with pinched, wan
faces, and crippled children from the tenements, were taken to that home
and entertained. They came in relays, a new company arriving once in two
weeks, the number of children thus given a taste of heaven on earth
being limited only by the capacity of the Gould residence. This was her
first, and, I am told, her favorite charity.

Little children do things naturally. It was when a child that Helen
Gould commenced the work that has given her name a sacred significance.
When a little girl, she could see the less fortunate little girls
passing the great Gould home on Fifth avenue, and she pitied them and
loved them, and from her own allowance administered to their comfort.

“My father always encouraged me in charitable work,” she writes a
friend. How much the American people owe to that encouragement. A frown
from that father, idolized as he was by his daughter, would have frosted
and killed that budding philanthropy which has made a great fortune a
fountain of joy, and carried sunshine into many lives.

“Woody Crest” is a sylvan paradise, a nobly wooded hill towering above
the sumptuous green of Westchester, a place with wild flowers and
winding drives, and at its crest a solid mansion built of the native
rock. One can look out from its luxuriant lawns to the majestic Hudson,
or turn aside into the shadiest of nooks among the trees. What a place
for the restful breezes to fan the tired brows from the tenements. Do
the little folks enjoy it? Ask them, and their eyes will sparkle with
gladness for answer. Ask those, too, who are awaiting their turn in hot
New York, and watch the eagerness of their anticipation. For two long
and happy weeks they become as joyous as mortals are ever permitted to

Miss Gould has a personal oversight of the place, and, by her frequent
visits, makes friends with the wee visitors, who look upon her as a
combination of angel and fairy godmother. Every day, a wagonette drawn
by two horses takes the children, in relays, for long drives into the
country. Amusements are provided, and some of those who remain for an
entire season at Woody Crest are instructed in different branches. Twice
a month some of the older boys set the type for a little magazine which
is devoted to Woody Crest matters. There are several portable cottages
erected there, one for the sick, one for servants’ sleeping rooms, and a
third for a laundry.

And the munificent hostess of these children of the needy gets her
reward in eyes made bright, in cheeks made ruddy, in the “God bless
you,” that falls from the lips of grateful parents.

All winter long, instead of closing “Woody Crest” and waiting for the
summer sunshine to bring about a return of her charitable opportunities,
Miss Gould has kept the place running at full expense. During the winter
she herself occupies her town residence. Ordinarily she would not keep
“Woody Crest” open longer than Thanksgiving Day, but in the past winter
fifteen small boys were entertained for six months. Six of these were
cripples, and nine were sound of limb. Though it required many servants,
I am told that the little guests were given as much consideration as the
same number of grown people would have received. They had nurses and
physicians for those who needed them, governesses and instructors for
those who were well.


When, one day, I was privileged to meet Miss Gould at Woody Crest, I saw
a hundred children scattered around the lawn in front of the stately
mansion. It had been an afternoon of labor and anxiety on her part, for
she felt the responsibility of entertaining and caring for so many
little ones. As she finally cooled herself on the piazza and looked at
her little charges romping around on the lawn, I asked her if she
thought any of the little ones before her would ever make their mark in
the world.

“That’s hard to say,” she replied, after a moment’s hesitation, “but no
one can tell what may be in children until they have grown up and
developed. But the hardest thing to me is to see genius struggling under
obstacles and in surroundings that would discourage almost anybody. I do
not see, for my part, how any child from the poorest tenements could
ever grow up and develop into strong, successful men or women. Many of
them, of course, have no gifts or endowments to do this, but even if
they had, the surroundings are enough to stifle every spark of ambition
in them. It is a mystery to me how they can preserve such bright and
eager faces. What would we do if we were brought up in such
environments! I know I should never be able to survive it, and would
never succeed in rising above my surroundings. And it is harder on the
girls than the boys! The boys can go forth into the world and probably
secure a position which in time will bring them different companionship
and surroundings; but the poor girls have so few opportunities. They
must drudge and drag along for the bare necessities of life. My heart
aches sometimes for them, and I wish I had the power to lighten the
burdens of everyone.”

“The hardest thing, I suppose, is to see real ability fighting against
odds, with no one to help and encourage?”

“Yes, that seems the worst, and I think we all ought to make it possible
for such ones to get a little encouragement and help. When a boy is
deserving of credit it should be given unstintedly. It goes a long way
toward making him more hopeful for the future. We don’t as a rule
receive enough encouragement in this world. Certainly not the poor.
Everybody seems so busy and intent upon making his own way in the world
that he forgets to drop a word of cheer for those who have not been so
fortunate by birth or surroundings.”[1]

Footnote 1:

  NOTE.—For four paragraphs preceding I am indebted to GEORGE ETHELBERT
  WALSH, whose interview was published in the _Boston Transcript_, Oct.
  12, 1900.

For a number of years, Miss Gould has supported certain beds in the
Babies’ Shelter, in connection with the Church of the Holy Communion,
New York, and the Wayside Day Nursery, near Bellevue Hospital, has
always found in her a good friend. Once a year she makes a tour through
the day nurseries of New York, noting the special needs of each, and
often sending money or materials for meeting those needs.


Her charities, says Mr. Walsh, in the article above cited, are probably
the most practical on record. She does not go “slumming,” as so many
fashionable girls do, but she does go and investigate personal charities
herself and apply the medicine as she thinks best. She puts herself out
in more ways to relieve distress around than she would to accommodate
her wealthiest friend. Not only has she always pitied the sufferers in
the world less fortunate than herself, but she has always had a great
desire to help those struggling for a living in practical ways to get
along. It is this side of her noble work that stands out most
conspicuously to-day. The public realizes for the first time that this
young woman, who first came into actual fame at the time of our war with
Spain, has been supporting and encouraging young people in different
parts of the country for years past. These protéges are all worthy of
her patronage, and _they have been sought out by her. Not one has ever
approached Miss Gould for help, and in fact such an introduction would
undoubtedly operate against her inclination to help them_. _She has
discovered them_; and then through considerable tact and discretion
obtained from them their ambitious desires and hopes. Through equally
good tact and sense she has then placed them in positions where they
could work out their own destinies without feeling that they were
accepting charity. This is distinctly what Miss Gould wishes to avoid in
helping her little protéges. She does not offer them charity or do
anything to make them dependent upon her if it can be helped. By her
money and influence she obtains for them positions which will give them
every chance in the world to rise and develop talents which she thinks
she has discovered in them.

Some of her protéges, continues Mr. Walsh, have been sent away to
schools and colleges. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to
offer a scholarship in some institution and then place her young protége
in such a position that he or she can win it, and in this way have four
years of tuition free. Fully a dozen different scholars are now enjoying
the benefits of Miss Gould’s kindness in this and other respects. Four
others have been enabled to attend art schools, and two are studying
music under the best teachers through the instrumentality of this young
woman. Two of these scholars were literally rescued from the tenement
dregs of New York, and they showed such aptitude for study and work that
Miss Gould undertook to give them a fair start in the world. Unusual
aptitude, brightness, or kindness on the part of children always attract
Miss Gould, and she has become the patron saint of more than a hundred.
When her name is mentioned they show their interest and concern, not by
looks of awe and fear but of eagerness and happiness. Those of their
number who have been lifted from their low estate and put in high
positions to carve out a life of success through their common patron
saint, bring back stories of her kindness and consideration that make
the children look upon her as they would the Madonna. But she is a
youthful Madonna, and the very idea of posing as such, even before the
poor and ignorant of her little friends, would amuse her. Nevertheless,
that is the nearest that one can interpret their ideas concerning her.

Miss Gould’s beneficiaries have been sometimes aided in obtaining the
most advanced schooling in the land; and she visits with equal interest
the industrial classes of Berea and the favored students of the College

                        HER VIEWS UPON EDUCATION

Miss Gould is well educated, and a graduate of a law school. I tried to
ascertain her views regarding the education of young women of to-day,
and what careers they should follow. This is one of her particular
hobbies, and many are the young girls she has helped to attain to a
better and more satisfactory life.

“I believe most earnestly in education for women,” she said; “not
necessarily the higher education about which we hear so much, but a
good, common-school education. As the years pass, girls are obliged to
make their own way in the world more and more; and to do so, they must
have good schooling.”

“And what particular career do you think most desirable for young

“Oh, as to careers, there are many that young women follow, nowadays. I
think, if I had my own way to make, I should fit myself to be a private
secretary. That is a position which attracts nearly every young woman;
but, to fill it, she must study hard and learn, and then work hard to
keep the place. Then there are openings for young women in the fields of
legitimate business. Women know as much about money affairs as men, only
most of them have not had much experience. In that field, there are
hundreds of things that a woman can do.

                          THE EVIL OF IDLENESS

“But I don’t think it matters much what a girl does so long as she is
active, and doesn’t allow herself to stagnate. There’s nothing, to my
mind, so pathetic as a girl who thinks she can’t do anything, and is of
no use to the world.”

                             HER PATRIOTISM

The late Admiral Philip, he of the “Texas” in the Santiago fight,
regarded Miss Gould as an angel, and the sailors of the Brooklyn navy
yard fairly worship her. A hustling Y. M. C. A. chap, Frank Smith by
name, started a little club-house for “Jack Ashore,” near the Brooklyn
navy yard. Miss Gould heard of this club, and visited it. At a glance
she grasped the meaning, and, on her return home she wrote a letter and
a check for fifty thousand dollars, and there sprang from that letter
and check, a handsome building in which there are sixty beds, a library,
a pipe organ, a smoking-room, and a restaurant. Do you wonder that the
“Jackies” adore her, and that the gale that sweeps over the ship out in
the open sea is often freighted with the melody of her name?

“When I visited Cuba and Porto Rico,” says Congressman Charles B.
Landis, of Indiana,—to whom I am greatly indebted in preparing this
article,—“I talked with officers and privates everywhere along the
journey, visited camps and hospitals in cities and isolated towns, and
everywhere it seemed that the sickness and suffering and heart yearning
of the American soldier had been anticipated by Helen Gould. Voices that
quivered and eyes that moistened at the mention of the name of this
young American girl were one continuous tribute to her heart and work.
She cannot fully realize how far-reaching have been her efforts.”

A business man looks for results. What impressed me most with Miss
Gould’s work was the visible, tangible results. Every dollar spent by
her seemed to go, straight as a cannon-ball, to some mark. Miss Gould
has a business head, and is not hysterical in her work. She gives, but
follows the gift and sees that it goes to the spot. She has studied
results and knows which charity pays a premium in smiles, and tears, and
joy, and better life, and very little of her money will be wasted in
impracticable schemes. She has a happy faculty of getting in actual
touch with conditions, realizing that she cannot hit an object near at
hand by aiming at a star.

Miss Gould’s practical business sense was beautifully exemplified at
Montauk Point. Hundreds of soldiers from the hospitals in Cuba and Porto
Rico were suddenly unloaded there. Elsewhere were government
supplies—tents and cots and rations,—but there the sick soldiers were
without shelter, were hungry, had no medicine, and were sleeping on the

Why? Because of red tape. This young lady appeared in person and amazed
the strutters in shoulder-straps and the slaves to discipline by having
the sick soldier boys made comfortable on army cots, placed in army
tents, and fed on army rations,—and this, too, without any
“requisition.” She grasped a situation, cut the ropes of theory and
introduced practice. From her own purse she provided nurses and
dainties, and bundled up scores of soldier boys and sent them to her
beautiful villa on the Hudson.

The camp rang with this refrain:—

                   You’re the angel of the camp,
                           Helen Gould,
                   In the sun-rays, in the damp,
                   On the weary, weary tramp,
                   To our darkness you’re a lamp,
                           Helen Gould.

                   Thoughts of home and gentle things,
                           Helen Gould,
                   To the camp your coming brings;
                   All the place with music rings
                   At the rustle of your wings,
                           Helen Gould.

                              “OUR HELEN”

On the day of the Dewey parade in New York, Miss Gould was in front of
her house, on a platform she had erected for the small children of
certain Asylums. Mayor Van Wyck told Admiral Dewey who she was, and the
Admiral stood up in his carriage and bowed to her three times. Then the
word went down the line that Miss Gould was there, and every company
saluted her as it passed.

But it was when a body of young recruits stopped for a moment before her
door that the real excitement began.

“She shan’t marry a foreign prince,” they cried, tossing their hats and
stamping their feet. “She’s Helen, our Helen, and she shall not marry a
foreign prince.”


Miss Gould’s patriotism is very real and intense, and is not confined to
times of war. Two years ago, she caused fifty thousand copies of the
national hymn, “America,” to be printed and distributed among the pupils
of the public schools of New York.

“I believe every one should know that hymn and sing it,” she declared,
“if he sings no other. I would like to have the children sing it into
their very souls, till it becomes a part of them.”

She strongly favors patriotic services in the churches on the Sunday
preceding the Fourth of July, when she would like to hear such airs as
“America,” “Hail Columbia,” and “The Star Spangled Banner,” and see the
sacred edifices draped in red, white, and blue.

                        UNHERALDED BENEFACTIONS

Miss Gould has a strong prejudice against letting her many gifts and
charities be known, and even her dearest friends never know “what
Helen’s doing now.” Of course, her great public charities, as when she
gives a hundred thousand dollars at a time, are heralded. Her recent
gift of that sum to the government, for national defense, has made her
name beloved throughout the land; but, had she been able, she would have
kept that secret also.

The place Helen Gould now holds in the love and esteem of the republic
exemplifies how quickly the nation’s heart responds to the touch of
gentleness, and how easy it is for wealth to conquer and rise
triumphant, if only it be seasoned with common sense and sympathy.

I will not attempt to specify the numerous projects of charity that have
been given life and vigor by Miss Gould. I know her gifts in recent
years have passed the million-dollar mark.

“It seems so easy to do things for others,” said Miss Gould, recently.
It is easy to do good, if the doing is natural and without thought of

Miss Gould’s views upon “How to Make the Most of Wealth,” are well set
forth in her admirable letter to Dr. Louis Klopsch, as published in the
_Christian Herald_:—

“The Christian idea that wealth is a stewardship, or trust, and not to
be used for one’s personal pleasure alone, but for the welfare of
others, certainly seems the noblest; and those who have more money or
broader culture owe a debt to those who have had fewer opportunities.

“And there are so many ways one can help. Children, the sick and the
aged especially, have claims on our attention, and the forms of work for
them are numerous; from kindergartens, day-nurseries and industrial
schools, to ‘homes’ and hospitals. Our institutions for higher education
require gifts in order to do their best work, for the tuition fees do
not cover the expense of the advantages offered; and certainly such
societies as those in our churches, and the Young Woman’s Christian
Association and the Young Men’s Christian Association, deserve our
hearty cooperation. The earnest workers who so nobly and lovingly give
their lives to promote the welfare of others, give far more than though
they had simply made gifts of money, so those who cannot afford to give
largely need not feel discouraged on that account. After all, sympathy
and good-will may be a greater force than wealth, and we can all extend
to others a kindly feeling and courteous consideration, that will make
life sweeter and better.

“Sometimes it seems to me we do not sufficiently realize the good that
is done by money that is used in the different industries in giving
employment to great numbers of people under the direction of clever men
and women; and surely it takes more ability, perseverance and time to
successfully manage such an enterprise than to merely make gifts.”

                            HER PERSONALITY

Miss Gould’s life at Tarrytown is an ideal one. She runs down to the
city at frequent intervals, to attend to business affairs; but she lives
at Lyndhurst. She entertains but few visitors, and in turn visits but
seldom. The management of her property, to which she gives close
attention, makes no inconsiderable call upon her time. “I have no time
for society,” she said, “and indeed I do not care for it at all; it is
very well for those who like it.”

Would you have an idea of her personality? “If so,” replies Landis, “you
will think of a good young woman in your own town, who loves her parents
and her home; who is devoted to the church; who thinks of the poor on
Thanksgiving Day and Christmas; whose face is bright and manner
unaffected; whose dress is elegant in its simplicity; who takes an
interest in all things, from politics to religion; whom children love
and day-laborers greet by reverently lifting the hat; and who, if she
were graduated from a home seminary or college, would receive a bouquet
from every boy in town. If you can think of such a young woman, and
nearly every community has one (and ninety-nine times out of a hundred
she is poor), you have a fair idea of the impression made on a plain man
from a country town by Miss Gould.”

Helen Miller Gould is just at the threshold of her beautiful career.
What a promise is there in her life and work for the coming century?

She has pledged a Hall of Fame for the campus of the New York
University, overlooking the Harlem river. It will have tablets for the
names of fifty distinguished Americans; and proud will be the
descendants of those whose names are inscribed thereon.

The human heart is the tablet upon which Miss Gould has inscribed her
name, and her “Hall of Fame” is as broad and high as the republic



Philip D. Armour’s Business Career

I MET Mr. Armour in the quiet of the Armour Institute, his great
philanthropic school for young men and women. He was very courteous, and
there was no delay. He took my hand with a firm grasp—reading with his
steady gaze such of my characteristics as interested him,—and saying, at
the same time, “Well, sir.”

In stating my desire to learn such lessons from his business career as
might be helpful to young men, I inquired whether the average American
boy of to-day has equally _as good a chance to succeed in the world_ as
he had, when he began life.

“Every bit and better. The affairs of life are larger. There are greater
things to do. There was never before such a demand for able men.”

“Were the conditions surrounding your youth especially difficult?”

“No. They were those common to every small New York town in 1832. I was
born at Stockbridge, in Madison county. Our family had its roots in
Scotland. My father’s ancestors were the Robertsons, Watsons, and
McGregors of Scotland; my mother came of the Puritans, who settled in

“Dr. Gunsaulus says,” I ventured, “that _all these streams of heredity
set toward business affairs_.”

“Perhaps so. I like trading well. My father was reasonably prosperous
and independent for those times. My mother had been a schoolteacher.
There were six boys, and of course such a household had to be managed
with the strictest economy in those days. My mother thought it her duty
to bring to our home some of the rigid discipline of the school-room. We
were all trained to work together, and everything was done as
systematically as possible.”

“Had you access to any books?”

“Yes, the Bible, ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ and a History of the United

It is said of the latter, by those closest to Mr. Armour, that it was as
full of shouting Americanism as anything ever written, and that Mr.
Armour’s whole nature is yet colored by its stout American prejudices;
also that it was read and re-read by the Armour children, though of this
the great merchant did not speak.

“Were you always of _a robust constitution_?” I asked.

“Yes, sir. All our boys were. We were stout enough to be bathed in an
ice-cold spring, out of doors, when at home. There were no bath tubs and
warm water arrangements in those days. We had to be strong. My father
was a stern Scotchman, and when he laid his plans they were carried out.
When he set us boys to work, we worked. It was our mother who insisted
on keeping us all at school, and who looked after our educational needs;
while our father saw to it that we had plenty of good, hard work on the

“How did you enjoy that sort of life?” I asked.

“Well enough, but not much more than any boy does. Boys are always more
or less afraid of hard work.”

The truth is, I have heard, but not from Mr. Armour, that when he
attended the district school, he was as full of pranks and capers as the
best; and that he traded jack-knives in summer and bob-sleds in winter.
Young Armour was often to be found, in the winter, coasting down the
long hill near the schoolhouse. Later, he had a brief term of schooling
at the Cazenovia Seminary.

                        FOOTING IT TO CALIFORNIA

“When did you leave the farm for a mercantile life?” I asked.

“I was a clerk in a store in Stockbridge for two years, after I was
seventeen, but was engaged with the farm more or less, and wanted to get
out of that life. I was a little over seventeen years old when the
California gold excitement of 1849 reached our town. Wonderful tales
were told of gold already found, and the prospects for more on the
Pacific coast. I brooded over the difference between tossing hay in the
hot sun and digging up gold by handfuls, until one day I threw down my
pitchfork and went over to the house and told mother that I had quit
that kind of work.

“People with plenty of money could sail around Cape Horn in those days,
but I had no money to spare, and so decided to walk across the country.
That is, we were carried part of the way by rail and walked the rest. I
persuaded one of the neighbor’s boys, Calvin Gilbert, to go along with
me, and we started.

“I provided myself with an old carpet sack into which to put my clothes.
I bought a new pair of boots, and when we had gone as far as we could on
canals and wagons, I bought two oxen. With these we managed for awhile,
but eventually reached California afoot.”

Young Armour suffered a severe illness on the journey, and was nursed by
his companion Gilbert, who gathered herbs and steeped them for his
friend’s use, and once rode thirty miles in the rain to get a doctor.
When they reached California, he fell in with Edward Croarkin, a miner,
who nursed him back to health. The manner in which he remembered these
men gives keen satisfaction to the friends of the great merchant.

“Did you have any money when you arrived at the gold-fields?”

“Scarcely any. I struck right out, though, and found a place where I
could dig, and I struck pay dirt in a little time.”

“Did you work entirely alone?”

“No. It was not long before I met Mr. Croarkin at a little mining camp
called Virginia. He had the next claim to mine, and we became partners.
After a little while, he went away, but came back in a year. We then
bought in together. The way we ran things was ‘turn about.’ Croarkin
would cook one week, and I the next, and then we would have a clean-up
every Sunday morning. We baked our own bread, and kept a few hens, which
kept us supplied with eggs. There was a man named Chapin who had a
little store in the village, and we would take our gold dust there and
trade it for groceries.”

                               THE DITCH

“Did you discover much gold?” I asked.

“Oh, I worked with pretty good success,—nothing startling. _I didn’t
waste much, and tried to live carefully._ I also _studied the business
opportunities_ around, and persuaded some of my friends to join me in
buying and developing a ‘ditch,’—a kind of aqueduct, to convey water to
diggers and washers. That proved more profitable than digging for gold,
and at the end of the year, the others sold out to me, took their
earnings and went home. I stayed, and bought up several other
water-powers, until, in 1856, I thought I had enough, and so I sold out
and came East.”

“How much had you made, altogether?”

“About four thousand dollars.”

This was when Mr. Armour was twenty-four years old,—his capital for
beginning to do business.

                       HE ENTERS THE GRAIN MARKET

“Did you return to Stockbridge?”

“A little while, but my ambition set in another direction. I had been
studying the methods then used for moving the vast and growing food
products of the West, such as grain and cattle, and I believed that I
could improve them and make money. The idea and the field interested me
and I decided to enter it.

“My standing was good, and I raised the money, and bought what was then
the largest elevator in Milwaukee. This put me in contact with the
movement of grain. At that time, John Plankington had been established
in Milwaukee a number of years, and, in partnership with Frederick
Layton, had built up a good pork-packing concern. I bought in with those
gentlemen, and so came in contact with the work I liked. One of my
brothers, Herman, had established himself in Chicago some time before,
in the grain-commission business. I got him to turn that over to the
care of another brother, Joseph, so that he might go to New York as a
member of the new firm, of which I was a partner. It was important that
the Milwaukee and Chicago houses should be able to ship to a house of
their own in New York,—that is, to themselves. Risks were avoided in
this way, and we were certain of obtaining all that the ever-changing
markets could offer us.”

“When did you begin to build up your Chicago interests?”

“They were really begun, before the war, by my brother Herman. When he
went to New York for us, we began adding a small packinghouse to the
Chicago commission branch. It gradually grew with the growth of the

                          UP A GREAT BUSINESS

“Is there any one thing that accounts for the immense growth of the
packing industry here?” I asked.

“System and the growth of the West did it. Things were changing at
startling rates in those days. The West was growing fast. Its great
areas of production offered good profits to men who would handle and
ship the products. Railway lines were reaching out in new directions, or
increasing their capacities and lowering their rates of transportation.
These changes and the growth of the country made the creation of a
food-gathering and delivering system necessary. Other things helped. At
that time (1863), a great many could see that the war was going to
terminate favorably for the Union. Farming operations had been enlarged
by the war demand and war prices. The state banking system had been done
away with, and we had a uniform currency, available everywhere, so that
exchanges between the East and the West had become greatly simplified.
Nothing more was needed than a steady watchfulness of the markets by
competent men in continuous telegraphic communication with each other,
and who knew the legitimate demand and supply, in order to sell all
products quickly and with profit.”

                        SYSTEM AND GOOD MEASURE

“Do you believe that system does so much?” I ventured.

“System and good measure. _Give a measure heaped full and running over,
and success is_ _certain._ That is what it means to be the intelligent
servants of a great public need. We believed in thoughtfully adopting
every attainable improvement, mechanical or otherwise, in the methods
and appliances for handling every pound of grain or flesh. Right
liberality and right economy will do everything where a public need is
being served. Then, too, our


improved all the time. There was a time when many parts of cattle were
wasted, and the health of the city injured by the refuse. Now, by
adopting the best known methods, nothing is wasted; and buttons,
fertilizers, glue and other things are made cheaper and better for the
world in general, out of material that was before a waste and a menace.
I believe in finding out the truth about all things—the very latest
truth or discovery,—and applying it.”

“You attribute nothing to good fortune?”

“Nothing!” Certainly the word came well from a man whose energy,
integrity, and business ability made more money out of a ditch than
other men were making out of rich placers in the gold region.

                           THE TURNING POINT

“May I ask what you consider the turning-point of your career?”

“The time when I began to save the money I earned at the gold-fields.”


“What trait do you consider most essential in young men?”

“Truth. Let them get that. Young men talk about getting capital to work
with. Let them get truth on board, and capital follows. It’s easy enough
to get that.”


“Did you always desire to follow a commercial, rather than a
professional life?”

“Not always. I have no talent in any other direction; but I should have
liked to be a great orator.”

Mr. Armour would say no more on this subject, but his admiration for
oratory has been demonstrated in a remarkable way.

It was after a Sunday morning discourse by the splendid orator, Dr.
Gunsaulus, at Plymouth Church, Chicago, in which the latter had set
forth his views on the subject of educating children, that Mr. Armour
came forward and said:—

“You believe in those ideas of yours, do you?”

“I certainly do,” said Dr. Gunsaulus.

“And would you carry them out if you had the opportunity?”

“I would.”

“Well, sir,” said Mr. Armour, “if you will give me five years of your
time, I will give you the money.”

“But to carry out my ideas would take a million dollars!” exclaimed

“I have made a little money in my time,” returned Mr. Armour. And so the
famous Armour Institute of Technology, to which its founder has already
given sums aggregating $2,800,000, was associated with Mr. Armour’s love
of oratory.

One of his lieutenants says that Gerritt Smith, the old abolitionist,
was Armour’s boyhood’s hero, and that to-day Mr. Armour will go far to
hear a good speaker, often remarking that he would have preferred to be
a great orator rather than a great capitalist.

                            EASE IN HIS WORK

“There is no need to ask you,” I continued, “whether you believe in
constant, hard labor?”

“I should not call it hard. I believe in close application, of course,
while laboring. Overwork is not necessary to success. Every man should
have plenty of rest. I have.”

“You must rise early to be at your office at half past seven?”

“Yes, but I go to bed early. I am not burning the candle at both ends.”

The enormous energy of this man, who is too modest to discuss it, is
displayed in the most normal manner. Though he sits all day at a desk
which has direct cable connection with London, Liverpool, Calcutta, and
other great centers of trade, with which he is in constant
connection,—though he has at his hand long-distance telephone connection
with New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco, and direct wires from his
room to almost all parts of the world, conveying messages in short
sentences upon subjects which involve the moving of vast amounts of
stock and cereals, and the exchange of millions in money, he is not,
seemingly, an overworked man. The great subjects to which he gives calm,
undivided attention from early morning until evening, are laid aside
with the ease with which one doffs his raiment, and outside of his
office the cares weigh upon him no more. His mind takes up new and
simpler things.

“What do you do,” I inquired, “after your hard day’s work,—think about

“Not at all. I drive, take up home subjects, and never think of the
office until I return to it.”

“Your sleep is never disturbed?”

“Not at all.”

                            A BUSINESS KING

And yet the business which this man forgets, when he gathers children
about him and moves in his simple home circle, amounts in one year, to
over $100,000,000 worth of food products, manufactured and distributed;
the hogs killed, 1,750,000; the cattle, 1,080,000; the sheep, 625,000.
Eleven thousand men are constantly employed, and the wages paid them are
over $5,500,000; the railway cars owned and moving about all parts of
the country, four thousand; the wagons of many kinds and of large
number, drawn by seven hundred and fifty horses. The glue factory,
employing seven hundred and fifty hands, makes over twelve million
pounds of glue. In his private office, it is he who takes care of all
the general affairs of this immense world of industry, and yet at
half-past four he is done, and the whole subject is comfortably off his

                      TRAINING YOUTH FOR BUSINESS

“Do you believe in inherited abilities, or that any boy can be taught
and trained, and made a great and able man?”

“I recognize inherited ability. Some people have it, and only in a
certain direction; but I think men can be taught and trained so that
they become much better and more useful than they would be, otherwise.
Some boys require more training and teaching than others. There is
prosperity for everyone, according to his ability.”

“What would you do with those who are naturally less competent than

“Train them, and give them work according to their ability. I believe
that life is all right, and that this difference which nature makes is
all right. Everything is good, and is coming out satisfactorily, and we
ought to make the most of conditions, and try to use and improve
everything. The work needed is here, and everyone should set about doing

When asked if he thought the chances for young men as good to-day as
they were when he was young. “Yes,” he said, “I think so. The world is
changing every day and new fields are constantly opening. We have new
ideas, new inventions, new methods of manufacture, and new ways to-day
everywhere. There is plenty of room for any man who can do anything
well. The electrical field is a wonderful one. There are other things
equally good, and the right man is never at a loss for an opportunity.
Provided he has some ability and good sense to start with, is thrifty,
honest and economical, there is no reason why any young man should not
accumulate money and attain so called success in life.”

When asked to what qualities he attributed his own success, Mr. Armour
said: “I think that thrift and economy had much to do with it. I owe
much to my mother’s training and to a good line of Scotch ancestors, who
have always been thrifty and economical. As to my business education, I
never had any. I am, in fact, a good deal like Topsy, ‘I just growed.’
My success has been largely a matter of organization.

“I have always made it a point to surround myself with good men. I take
them when they are young and keep them just as long as I can. Nearly all
of the men I now have, have grown up with me. Many of them have worked
with me for twenty years. They have started in at low wages, and have
been advanced until they have reached the highest positions.” Mr. Armour
thinks that most men who accumulate a large amount of money, inherited
the money-making instinct. The power of making and accumulating money,
he says, is as much a natural gift as are those of a singer or an
artist. “The germs of the power to make money must be in the mind. Take,
for instance, the people we have working with us. I can get millions of
good bookkeepers or accountants, but not more than one out of five
hundred in all of those I have employed has made a great success as an
organizer or trader.”

Mr. Armour is a great believer in young men and young brains. He never
discharges a man if he can possibly avoid it. If the man is not doing
good work where he is, he puts him in some other department, but never
discharges him if he can find him other work. He will not, however,
tolerate intemperance, laziness or getting into debt. Some time ago a
policeman entered his office. In answer to Mr. Armour’s question, “What
do you want here?” he replied: “I want to garnishee one of your men’s
wages for debt.” “Indeed,” said Mr. Armour, “and who is the man?” Asking
the officer into his private room he sent for the debtor. “How long have
you been in debt?” asked Mr. Armour. The clerk replied that he had been
behind for twenty years and could not seem to catch up. “But you get a
good salary, don’t you?” “Yes, but I can’t get out of debt.” “But you
must get out, or you must leave here,” said Mr. Armour. “How much do you
owe?” The clerk then gave the amount, which was less than a
thousand-dollars. “Well,” said Mr. Armour, handing him a check, “there
is enough to pay all your debts, and if I hear of you again getting into
debt, you will have to leave.” The clerk paid his debts and remodeled
his life on a cash basis.

                             PROMPT TO ACT

In illustration of Mr. Armour’s aptitude for doing business, and his
energy, it is related that when, in 1893, local forces planned to defeat
him in the grain market, and everyone was crying that at last the great
Goliath had met his David, he was all energy. He had ordered immense
quantities of wheat. The opposition had shrewdly secured every available
place of storage, and rejoiced that the great packer, having no place to
store his property, would suffer immense loss, and must capitulate. He
foresaw the fray and its dangers, and, going over on Goose Island,
bought property at any price, and began the construction of immense
elevators. The town was placarded with the truth that anyone could get
work at Armour’s elevators. No one believed they could be done in time,
but three shifts of men working night and day, often under the direct
supervision of the millionaire, gradually forced the work ahead, and
when, on the appointed day, the great grain-ships began to arrive, the
opposition realized failure. The vessels began to pour the contents of
their immense holds into these granaries, and the fight was over.


The foresight that sent him to New York in 1864, to sell pork, brought
him back from Europe in 1893, months before the impending panic was
dreamed of by other merchants. It is told of him that he called all his
head men to New York, and announced to them:—

“Gentlemen, there’s going to be financial trouble soon.”

“Why, Mr. Armour,” they said, “you must be mistaken. Things were never
better. You have been ill, and are suddenly apprehensive.”

“Oh, no,” he said, “I’m not. There is going to be trouble;” and he gave
as his reasons certain conditions which existed in nearly all countries,
which none of those present had thought of. “Now,” said he to the first
of his many lieutenants, “how much will you need to run your department
until next year?”

The head man named his need. The others were asked, each in turn, the
same question, and, when all were through, he counted up, and, turning
to the company, said:—

“Gentlemen, go back and borrow all you need in Chicago, on my credit.
Use my name for all it will bring in the way of loans.”

                        FOREARMED AGAINST PANIC

The lieutenants returned, and the name of Armour was strained to its
utmost limit. When all had been borrowed, the financial flurry suddenly
loomed up, but it did not worry the great packer. In his vaults were
$8,000,000 in gold. All who had loaned him at interest then hurried to
his doors, fearing that he also was imperiled. They found him supplied
with ready money, and able to compel them to wait until the stipulated
time of payment, or to force them to abandon their claims of interest
for their money, and so tide him over the unhappy period. It was a
master stroke, and made the name of the great packer a power in the
world of finance.

                        SOME SECRETS OF SUCCESS

“Do you consider your financial decisions which you make quickly to be
brilliant intuitions?” I asked.

“I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did anything I have
come that way. No, I never decide anything without knowing the
conditions of the market, and never begin unless satisfied concerning
the conclusion.”

“Not everyone could do that,” I said.

“I cannot do everything. Every man can do something, and there is plenty
to do,—never more than now. The problems to be solved are greater now
than ever before. _Never was there more need of able men. I am looking
for trained men all the time._ More money is being offered for them
everywhere than formerly.”

“Do you consider that _happiness_ consists in labor alone?”

“_It consists in doing something for others._ If you give the world
better material, better measure, better opportunities for living
respectably, there is happiness in that. You cannot give the world
anything without labor, and there is no satisfaction in anything but
such labor as looks toward doing this, and does it.”



What Miss Mary E. Proctor Did to Popularize Astronomy

“YOU can never know what your possibilities are,” said Miss Proctor,
“till you have put yourself to the test. There are many, many women who
long to do something, and could succeed, if they would only banish their
doubts, and plunge in. For example, I was not at all sure that I could
interest audiences with talks on astronomy, but, in 1893, I began, and
since then have given between four and five hundred lectures.”

Miss Proctor is so busy spreading knowledge of the beauties and marvels
of the heavens, that she was at home in New York for only a two days’
interval between tours, when she consented to talk to me about her work.
This talk showed such enthusiasm and whole-souled devotion to the theme
that it is easy to understand Miss Proctor’s success as a lecturer,
although she is physically diminutive, and is very domestic in her

                       AUDIENCES ARE APPRECIATIVE

“I am always nervous in going before an audience,” she said, “but there
is so much I want to tell them that I have no time at all to think of
myself. I find that if the lecturer is really interested in the subject,
those who come to listen usually are; and it is certainly true, as I
have learned by going upon the platform, tired out from a long journey,
that you cannot expect enthusiasm in your audience, unless you are
enthusiastic yourself. But I think that audiences are very responsive
and appreciative of intelligent efforts to interest them, and,
therefore, I am sure, that if a woman possesses, or can acquire a
thorough knowledge of some practical, popular subject, and has
enthusiasm and a fair knowledge of human nature, she can attain success
on the lecture platform.

“The field is broad, and far from over-crowded, and it yields
bountifully to those who are willing to toil and wait. There is Miss
Roberts, for instance, who commands large audiences for her lectures on
music; and Mrs. Lemcke, who has been remarkably successful in her
practical talks on cooking; and Mary E. Booth, who gives wonderfully
instructive and entertaining lectures on the revelations of the
microscope; and Miss Very, who takes audiences of children on most
delightful and profitable imaginary trips to places of importance.

                          LECTURES TO CHILDREN

“Children, by the way, are my most satisfactory audiences. Grown-up
people never become so absorbed. It is the greatest pleasure of my
lecturing to talk to the little tots, and watch them drink it all in.
Indeed, I prepared my very first lecture for children, but didn’t
deliver it. That episode marked the beginning of my career as a

“Do you ask me to tell you about it? My father, Richard A. Proctor,
wrote, as you know, many books on popular astronomy. When I was a girl I
did not read them very carefully; my education at South Kensington,
London, following a musical and artistic direction. In fact, I was
ambitious to become a painter. But when my father died, in 1888, I found
comfort in reading his books all over again; and as he had drilled me to
write for his periodical, ‘_Knowledge_,’ I began to write articles on
astronomy for anyone who would accept them. One day, in the spring of
1893, I received a letter from Mrs. Potter Palmer, asking me if I would
talk to an audience of children in the Children’s Building at the
World’s Fair. The idea of lecturing was new to me, but I decided that I
would try, at any rate, and so I took great pains to prepare a talk that
I thought the children would understand, and be interested in. But when
I reached the building, I found an audience, not of children, but of men
and women. _There was hardly a child in all the assembled five hundred
people._ It would never do to give them the childish talk I had
prepared, and as it was my first attempt to talk from a platform, you
can imagine my state of mind. I was determined, however, that my first
effort should not be a fiasco, so I stepped out upon the platform and
talked about the things that had most interested me in my father’s books
and conversations.”

                         A LESSON IN LECTURING

“I have lectured a great many times since then, but my first lecture was
the most trying. I am now glad that things happened as they did, for
that experience taught me a valuable lesson. I learned not to commit my
talks to memory, but merely to have the topics and facts and general
arrangement of the lecture well in mind. By this method, I can change
and adapt myself to my audience at any time; and I often have to do
this. I am able to feel intuitively whether I have gained my listeners’
sympathy and interest, and when I feel that I have not, I immediately
take another tack. Another great advantage of not committing what you
are going to say to memory, word for word, is the added color and
animation and spontaneity which the conversational tone and manner gives
the lecture.”

                            THE STEREOPTICON

“My stereopticon pictures of the heavenly bodies are of great help to
me. They naturally add much to the interest, and are really a revelation
to most of my audiences, for the reason that they show things that can
never be seen with the naked eye. How my father would have delighted in
them, and how effectively he would have used them. But celestial
photography had not been made practical at the time of his death; it is,
indeed, quite a new art, although its general principles are very
simple. A special lens and photographic plate are adjusted in the
telescope, and the plate is exposed as in an ordinary camera, except
that the exposure is much longer. It usually continues for about four
hours, the greater the length of time the greater being the number of
stars that will be seen in the photograph. After the developing, these
stars appear as mere specks on the plate. That they are so small is not
surprising, for most of them are stars that are never seen by the eye
alone. When the photograph is enlarged by the stereopticon, the result
is like looking at a considerable portion of the heavens through a
powerful telescope.

“The children utter exclamations of delight when they see the
pictures,—the children, dear, imaginative little souls, it is my
ambition to devote more and more of my time to them, and finally talk
and write for them altogether. They are greatly impressed with the new
world in the skies which is opened to them, and I like to think that
these early impressions will give them an understanding and appreciation
of the wonders of astronomy that will always be a pleasure to them.”

                        “STORIES FROM STAR LAND”

“For the children, my first book, ‘Stories From Starland,’ was written.
I tried to weave into it poetical and romantic ideas, that appeal to the
imaginative mind of the child, and quicken the interest without any
sacrifice of accuracy in the facts with which I deal. I wrote the book
in a week. The publisher came to me one Saturday, and told me that he
would like a children’s book on astronomy. I devoted all my days to it
till the following Saturday night, and on Monday morning took the
completed manuscript to the publishing house. They seemed very much
surprised that it should be finished so soon; but as a matter of fact it
was not much more than the manual labor of writing out the manuscript
that I did in that week. _The little book itself is the result of ten
years’ thought and study._

“It is much the same with my lectures. I deliver them in a hasty,
conversational tone, and they seem, as one of my listeners told me
recently, to be ‘just offhand chats.’ But in reality I devote a great
deal of labor to them, and am constantly adding new facts and new

                       CONCENTRATION OF ATTENTION

“I learned very soon after I began my work, that _I must give myself up
to it absolutely_ if I were to achieve success. There could be no side
issues, nothing else to absorb any of my energy, or take any of my
thought or time. One of the first things I did was to take a thorough
course in singing, for the purpose of acquiring complete control of my
voice. I put aside all social functions, of which I am rather fond and
have since devoted my days and nights to astronomy,—not that I work at
night, except when I lecture; I rest and retire early, so that in the
morning I may have the spirit and enthusiasm necessary to do good work.

“_Enthusiasm_, it seems to me, is an important factor in success. It
combats discouragement, makes work a pleasure, and sacrifices easier.

“A great many women fail in special fields of endeavor, who might
succeed if they were willing to sacrifice something, and would not let
the distractions creep in. There is more in a woman’s life to divert her
attention from a single purpose than in a man’s; but if the woman has
chosen some line of effort that is worthy to be called life work, and
if—refusing to be drawn aside,—she keeps her eyes steadfastly upon the
goal, I believe that she is almost certain to achieve success.”



The Boyhood Experience of President Schurman of Cornell University

AT ten years of age, he was a country lad on a backwoods farm on Prince
Edward Island.

At thirteen, he had become a clerk in a country store, at a salary of
thirty dollars a year.

At eighteen, he was a college student, supporting himself by working in
the evenings as a bookkeeper.

At twenty, he had won a scholarship in the University of London, in
competition with all other Canadian students.

At twenty-five, he was professor of philosophy, Acadia College, Nova

At thirty-eight, he was appointed President of Cornell University.

At forty-four, he was chairman of President McKinley’s special
commission to the Philippines.

In this summary is epitomized the career of Jacob Gould Schurman. It is
a romance of real life such as is not unfamiliar in America. Mr.
Schurman’s career differs from that of some other self-made men,
however. Instead of heaping up millions upon millions, he has applied
his talents to winning the intellectual prizes of life, and has made his
way, unaided, to the front rank of the leaders in thought and learning
in this country. His career is a source of inspiration to all poor boys
who have their own way to make in the world, for he has won his present
honors by his own unaided efforts.

President Schurman says of his early life:—

“It is impossible for the boy of to-day, no matter in what part of the
country he is brought up, to appreciate the life of Prince Edward Island
as it was forty years ago. At that time, it had neither railroads nor
daily newspapers, nor any of the dozen other things that are the merest
commonplaces nowadays, even to the boys of the country districts. I did
not see a railroad until late in my ’teens. I was never inside of a
theatre until after I was twenty. The only newspaper that came to my
father’s house was a little provincial weekly. The only books the house
contained were a few standard works,—such as the Bible, Bunyan’s
‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ Fox’s ‘Book of Martyrs,’ and a few others of that
class. Remember, too, that this was not back at the beginning of the
century, but little more than a generation ago, for I was born in the
year 1854.

“My father had cleared away the land on which our house stood. He was a
poor man, but no poorer than his neighbors. No amount of land, and no
amount of work could yield much more than the necessaries of life in
that time and place. There were eight children in our family, and there
was work for all of us.”

                         A LONG TRAMP TO SCHOOL

“Our parents were anxious to have their children acquire at least an
elementary education; and so, summer and winter, we tramped the mile and
a half that lay between our house and the district school, and the snow
often fell to the depth of five or six feet on the island, and
sometimes, when it was at its worst, our father would drive us all to
school in a big sleigh. But no weather was bad enough to keep us away.

“That would be looked upon as a poor kind of school, nowadays, I
suppose. The scholars were of all ages, and everything, from A,-B,-C, to
the Rule of Three, was taught by the one teacher. But whatever may have
been its deficiencies, the work of the school was thorough. The teacher
was an old-fashioned drillmaster, and whatever he drove into our heads
he put there to stay. I went to this school until I was thirteen, and by
that time I had learned to read and write and spell and figure with
considerable accuracy.

“At the age of thirteen, I left home. I had formed no definite plans for
the future. I merely wanted to get into a village, and to earn some

“My father got me a place in the nearest town,—Summerside,—a village of
about one thousand inhabitants. For my first year’s work I was to
receive thirty dollars and my board. Think of that, young men of to-day!
Thirty dollars a year for working from seven in the morning until ten at
night! But I was glad to get the place. It was a start in the world, and
the little village was like a city to my country eyes.”

                      HE ALWAYS SUPPORTED HIMSELF

“From the time I began working in the store until to-day, I have always
supported myself, and during all the years of my boyhood I never
received a penny that I did not earn myself. At the end of my first
year, I went to a larger store in the same town, where I was to receive
sixty dollars a year and my board. I kept this place for two years, and
then I gave it up, against the wishes of my employer, because I had made
up my mind that I wanted to get a better education. I determined to go
to college.

“I did not know how I was going to do this, except that it must be by my
own efforts. I had saved about eighty dollars from my store-keeping, and
that was all the money I had in the world.” _Out of a hundred and fifty
dollars, the only cash he received as his first earnings during three
years, young Schurman had saved eighty dollars; this he invested in the
beginnings of an education._

“When I told my employer of my plan, he tried to dissuade me from it. He
pointed out the difficulties in the way of my going to college, and
offered to double my pay if I would stay in the store.”

                     THE TURNING-POINT OF HIS LIFE

“That was the turning-point in my life. On one side was the certainty of
one hundred and twenty dollars a year, and the prospect of promotion as
fast as I deserved it. Remember what one hundred and twenty dollars
meant in Prince Edward Island, and to a poor boy who had never possessed
such a sum in his life. On the other side was my hope of obtaining an
education. I knew that it involved hard work and self-denial, and there
was the possibility of failure in the end. But my mind was made up. I
would not turn back. I need not say that I do not regret that early
decision, although I think that I should have made a successful

“With my eighty dollars capital, I began to attend the village high
school, to get my preparation for college. I had only one year to do it
in. My money would not last longer than that. I recited in Latin, Greek
and algebra, all on the same day, and for the next forty weeks I studied
harder than I ever had before or have since. At the end of the year I
entered the competitive examination for a scholarship in Prince of Wales
College, at Charlotte Town, on the island. I had small hope of winning
it, my preparation had been so hasty and incomplete. But when the result
was announced, I found that I had not only won the scholarship from my
county, but stood first of all the competitors on the island.

“The scholarship I had won amounted to only sixty dollars a year. It
seems little enough, but I can say now, after nearly thirty years, that
the winning of it was the greatest success I have ever had. I have had
other rewards, which, to most persons, would seem immeasurably greater,
but with this difference: that first success was essential; without it I
could not have gone on. The others I could have done without, if it had
been necessary.”

For two years young Schurman attended Prince of Wales College. He lived
on his scholarship and what he could earn by keeping books for one of
the town storekeepers, spending less than one hundred dollars during the
entire college year. Afterwards, he taught a country school for a year,
and then went to Acadia College in Nova Scotia to complete his college

                       A SPLENDID COLLEGE RECORD

One of Mr. Schurman’s fellow-students in Acadia says that he was
remarkable chiefly for taking every prize to which he was eligible. In
his senior year, he learned of a scholarship in the University of
London, to be competed for by the students of Canadian colleges. The
scholarship paid five hundred dollars a year for three years. The young
student in Acadia was ambitious to continue his studies in England, and
saw in this offer his opportunity. He tried the examination and won the

During the three years in the University of London, Mr. Schurman became
deeply interested in the study of philosophy, and decided that he had
found in it his life work. He was eager to go to Germany and study under
the great leaders of philosophic thought. A way was opened for him,
through the offer of the Hibbard Society in London; the prize being a
traveling fellowship with two thousand dollars a year. The honor men of
the great English universities like Oxford and Cambridge were among the
competitors, but the poor country boy from Prince Edward Island was
again successful, greatly to the surprise of the others.

At the end of his course in Germany, Mr. Schurman, then a Doctor of
Philosophy, returned to Acadia College to become a teacher there. Soon
afterwards, he was called to Dalhousie University, at Halifax, Nova
Scotia. In 1886, when a chair of philosophy was established at Cornell,
President White, who once met the brilliant young Canadian, called him
to that position. Two years later, Dr. Schurman became Dean of the Sage
School of Philosophy at Cornell; and, in 1892, when the President’s
chair became vacant, he was placed at the head of the great university.
At that time, he was only thirty-eight years of age.

President Schurman is a man of great intellectual power, and an
inspiring presence. Though one of the youngest college presidents in the
country, he is one of the most successful, and under his leadership
Cornell has been very prosperous. He is deeply interested in all the
affairs of young men, and especially those who, as he did, must make
their own way in the world. He said, the other day:—

“Though I am no longer engaged directly in teaching, I should think my
work a failure if I did not feel that my influence on the young men with
whom I come in contact is as direct and helpful as that of a teacher
could be.”



The Story of John Wanamaker

IN a plain two-story dwelling, on the outskirts of Philadelphia, the
future merchant prince was born, July 11, 1837. His parents were
Americans in humble station; his mother being of that sturdy
Pennsylvania Dutch stock which has no parallel except the Scotch for
ruggedness. His father, a hardworking man, owned a brickyard in the
close vicinity of the family residence. Little John earned his first
money, seven big copper cents, by assisting his father. He was too small
to do much, but turned the bricks every morning as they lay drying in
the summer sun. As he grew older and stronger, the boy was given harder
tasks around the brickyard.

He went to school a little, not much, and he assisted his mother in the
house a great deal. His father died when John was fourteen, and this
changed the whole course of his life. He abandoned the brickyard and
secured a place in a bookstore owned by Barclay Lippincott, on Market
Street, Philadelphia, at a salary of one dollar and twenty-five cents a

It was a four-mile walk from his home to his place of business.
Cheerfully he trudged this distance morning and night; purchasing an
apple or a roll each noon for luncheon, and giving his mother all the
money that he saved. He used to deny himself every comfort, and the only
other money that he ever spent was on books for his mother. This seems
to have been the boy’s chief source of pleasure at that period. Even
to-day, he says of his mother: “Her smile was a bit of heaven, and it
never faded out of her face till her dying day.” Mrs. Wanamaker lived to
see her son famous and wealthy.

                        HIS CAPITAL AT FOURTEEN

John Wanamaker, the boy, had no single thing in all his surroundings to
give him an advantage over any one of hundreds of other boys in the city
of Philadelphia. Indeed, there were hundreds and hundreds of other boys
of his own age for whom anyone would have felt safe in prophesying a
more notable career. His capital was not in money. Very few boys in all
that great city had less money than John Wanamaker, and comparatively
few families of average position but were better off in the way of
worldly goods. John Wanamaker’s capital, that stood him in such good
stead in after life, comprised good health, good habits, a clean mind,
thrift in money matters, and tireless devotion to whatever he thought to
be duty.

People who were well acquainted with John Wanamaker when he was a book
publisher’s boy, say that he was exceptionally promising as a boy; that
he was studious as well as attentive to business. He did not take kindly
to rough play, or do much playing of any kind. He was earnest in his
work, unusually earnest for a boy. And he was saving of his money.

When, a little later, he went to a Market street clothing house and
asked for a place, he had no difficulty in getting it, nor had he any
trouble in holding it, and here he could earn twenty-five cents a week
more wages.

                       TOWER HALL CLOTHING STORE

Men who worked with him in the Tower Hall Clothing Store say that he was
always bright, willing, accommodating, and very seldom out of temper.
His effort was to be first at the store in the morning, and he was very
likely to be one of the last, if not the last, at the store in the
evening. If there was an errand, he was always prompt and glad to do it.
And so the store people liked him, and the proprietor liked him, and,
when he began to sell clothing, the customers liked him. He was
considerate of their interests. He did not try to force undesirable
goods upon them. He treated them so that when they came again they would
be apt to ask, “Where is John?”


Colonel Bennett, the proprietor of Tower Hall, said of him at this

“John was certainly the most ambitious boy I ever saw. I used to take
him to lunch with me, and he used to tell me how he was going to be a
great merchant.

“He was very much interested in the temperance cause; and had not been
with me long before he persuaded most of the employees in the store to
join the temperance society to which he belonged. He was always
organizing something. He seemed to be a natural-born organizer. This
faculty is largely accountable for his great success in after life.”

                            THE Y. M. C. A.

Young Wanamaker’s religious principles were always at the forefront in
whatever he did. His interest in Sunday School work, and his skill as an
organizer became well known. And so earnestly did he engage in the work
of the Young Men’s Christian Association, that he was appointed the
first salaried secretary of the Philadelphia branch, at one thousand
dollars a year. Never since has a secretary enrolled so many members in
the same space of time. He passed seven years in this arduous work.

                                OAK HALL

He saved his money; and, at twenty-four, formed a partnership with his
brother-in-law Nathan Brown, and opened Oak Hall Clothing store, in
April, 1861. Their united capital was only $3,500; yet Wanamaker’s
capital of popular good-will was very great. He was already a great
power in the city. I can never forget the impression made upon my mind,
after he had been in business but a few months, when I visited his
Bethany Sunday School, established in one of the most unpromising
sections of the city, which had become already a factor for good, with
one of the largest enrollments in the world. And he was foremost in
every form of philanthropic work.

It was because of his great capacity to do business that Wanamaker had
been able to “boom” the Young Men’s Christian Association work. He knew
how to do it. And he could “boom” a Sunday School, or anything else that
he took hold of. He had

                       A HEAD BUILT FOR BUSINESS,

whatever the business might be. And as for Oak Hall, he knew just what
to do with it.

_The first thing he did was to multiply his working capital by getting
the best help obtainable for running the store._

At the very outset, John Wanamaker did what almost any other business
man would have stood aghast at. He chose the best man he knew as a
salesman in the clothing business in Philadelphia,—the man of the most
winning personality who could attract trade,—and agreed to pay him
$1,350 for a year,—one-third of the entire capital of the new concern.

It has been a prime principle with this merchant prince not only to deal
fairly with his employees, but to make it an object for them to earn
money for him and to stand by him. Capacity has been the first demand.
_He engaged the very best men to be had._ There are to-day dozens of men
in his employ who receive larger salaries than are paid to cabinet
ministers. All the employees of the Thirteenth Street store, which he
occupied in 1877, participate in _a yearly division of profits. Their
share at the end of the first year amounted to $109,439.68._

                       HIS RELATION TO CUSTOMERS

A considerable portion of the trade of the new store came from people in
the country districts. Mr. Wanamaker had a way of getting close to them
and gaining their good will. He understood human nature. He put his
customer at ease. He showed interest in the things that interested the
farmer. An old employee of the firm says: “John used to put a lot of
chestnuts in his pocket along in the fall and winter, and, when he had
one of these countrymen in tow, he’d slip a few of the nuts into the
visitor’s hand and both would go munching about the store.”

Wanamaker was the first to introduce the “one-price system” into the
clothing trade. It was the universal rule in those days, in the clothing
trade, not to mark the prices plainly on the goods that were for sale.
Within rather liberal bounds, the salesman got what he could from the
customer. Mr. Wanamaker, after a time, instituted at Oak Hall the plan
of “but one price and that plainly marked.” In doing this he followed
the cue of Stewart, who was the first merchant in the country to
introduce it into the dry-goods business.

The great Wanamaker store of 1877 went much further:—

He announced that _those who bought goods of him were to be satisfied
with what they bought, or have their money back_.

To the old mercantile houses of the city, this seemed like committing
business suicide.

It was, also, unheard-of that special effort should be made to add to
the comfort of visitors; to make them welcome whether they cared to buy
or not; to induce them to look upon the store as a meeting-place, a
rendezvous, a resting-place,—a sort of city home, almost.


was so great that General Grant once remarked to George W. Childs that
Wanamaker would have been a great general if his lot had been that of
army service.

Wanamaker used to buy goods of Stewart, and the New York merchant
remarked to a friend: “If young Wanamaker lives, he will be a greater
merchant than I ever was.”

Sometime in recent years, since Wanamaker bought the Stewart store, he
said to Frank G. Carpenter:—

“A. T. Stewart was a genius. I have been surprised again and again as I
have gone through the Broadway and Tenth Street building, to find what a
knowledge he had of the needs of a mercantile establishment. Mr. Stewart
put up a building which is to-day, I believe, better arranged than any
of the modern structures. He seemed to know just what was needed.

“I met him often when I was a young man. I have reason to think that he
took a liking to me. One day, I remember, I was in his woolen department
buying some stuffs for my store here, when he came up to me and asked if
I would be in the store for fifteen minutes longer. I replied that I
would. At the end of fifteen minutes he returned and handed me a slip of
paper, saying:—

“‘Young man, I understand that you have a mission school in
Philadelphia; use that for it.’

“Before I could reply he had left. I looked down at the slip of paper.
It was a check for one thousand dollars.”

Wanamaker early showed himself the peer of the greatest merchants. He
created the combination or department store. He lifted the retail
clothing business to a higher plane than it had ever before reached. In
ten years from the time he began to do business for himself, he had
absorbed the space of forty-five other tenants and become the leading
merchant of his native city. Four years later, he had purchased, for
$450,000, the freight depot of the Pennsylvania Railroad, covering the
entire square where his present great store is located. The firm name
became simply John Wanamaker. His lieutenants and business partners
therein are his son Thomas B. Wanamaker, and Robert C. Ogden. Their two
Philadelphia establishments alone do a business of between $30,000,000
and $40,000,000 annually. Mr. Wanamaker’s private fortune is one of the
most substantial in America.

                          ATTENTION TO DETAILS

Yet in all these years he has been early and late at the store, as he
was when a boy. He has always seen to it that customers have prompt and
careful attention. He early made the rule that if a sale was missed, a
written reason must be rendered by the salesman. There was no hap-hazard
business in that store,—nothing of the happy-go-lucky style. Each man
must be alert, wide-awake, attentive, or there was no place for him at
Oak Hall.

                         THE MOST RIGID ECONOMY

has been always a part of the system. It is told of him that, in the
earlier days of Oak Hall, he used to gather up the short pieces of
string that came in on parcels, make them into a bunch, and see that
they were used when bundles were to be tied. He also had a habit of
smoothing out old newspapers, and seeing that they were used as wrappers
for such things as did not require a better grade of paper.

The story has been often related of the first day’s business at the
original store in ’61, when Wanamaker delivered the sales by wheeling a


The first day’s business made a cash profit of thirty-eight dollars; and
the whole sum was invested in one advertisement in the next day’s

His advertising methods were unique; he paid for the best talent he
could get in this line.

Philadelphia woke one morning to find “W. & B.” in the form of six-inch
square posters stuck up all over the town. There was not another letter,
no hint, just “W. & B.” Such things are common enough now, but then the
whole city was soon talking and wondering what this sign meant. After a
few days, a second poster modestly stated that Wanamaker & Brown had
begun to sell clothing at Oak Hall. Before long there were great signs,
each 100 feet in length, painted on special fences built in a dozen
places about the city, particularly near the railroad stations. These
told of the new firm and were the first of a class that is now seen all
over the country. Afterwards


more than twenty feet high were sent up, and a suit of clothes was given
to each person who brought one of them back. Whole counties were stirred
up by the balloons. It was grand advertising, imitated since by all
sorts of people. When the balloon idea struck the Oak Hall management it
was quickly found that the only way to get these air-ships was to make
them, and so, on the roof of the store, the cotton cloth was cut and
oiled and put together. Being well built, and tied very tightly at the
neck, they made long flights and some of them were used over and over
again. In one instance, a balloon remained for more than six months in a
cranberry swamp, and when the great bag was discovered, slowly swaying
in the breeze, among the bushes, the frightened Jerseymen thought they
had come upon an elephant, or, maybe, a survivor of the mastodons. This
made more advertising of the very best kind for the clothing store,—the
kind that excites interested, complimentary talk.

                         SEIZING OPPORTUNITIES

Genius consists in taking advantage of opportunities quite as much as in
making them. Here was a young man doing things in an advertising way
regardless of the custom of the business world, and with a wonderful
knowledge of human nature. He took commonsense advantage of
opportunities that were open to everybody.

Soon after the balloon experience, tally-ho coaching began to be a
Philadelphia fad of the very exclusives. Immediately afterwards a crack
coach was secured, and six large and spirited horses were used instead
of four, and Oak Hall employees, dressed in the style of the most ultra
coaching set, traversed the country in every direction, scattering
advertising matter to the music of the horn. Sometimes they would be a
week on a trip. No wonder Oak Hall flourished. It was kept in the very
front of the procession all the time.

A little later, in the yachting season, the whole town was attracted and
amused by processions and scatterings of men, each wearing a wire body
frame that supported a thin staff from which waved a wooden burgee, or
pointed flag reminding them of Oak Hall. Nearly two hundred of these
prototypes of the “Sandwich man” were often out at one time.

But it was not only in the quick catching of a novel advertising thought
that the new house was making history; in newspaper advertising, it was
even further in advance. The statements of store news were crisp and
unhackneyed, and the first artistic illustrations ever put into
advertisements were used there. So high was the grade of this
picture-work that art schools regularly clipped the illustrations as
models; and the world-famous Shakespearian scholar, Dr. Horace Howard
Furness, treasured the original sketches of “The Seven Ages” as among
the most interesting in his unique collection.

                          PUSH AND PERSISTENCE

“The chief reason,” said Mr. Wanamaker upon one occasion, “that
everybody is not successful is the fact that they have not enough
persistency. I always advise young men who write me on the subject to do
one thing well, throwing all their energies into it.”

To his employees he once said:—“We are very foolish people if we shut
our ears and eyes to what other people are doing. I often pick up things
from strangers. As you go along, pick up suggestions here and there, jot
them down and send them along. Even writing them down helps to
concentrate your mind on that part of the work. You need not be afraid
of overstepping the mark. The more we push each other, the better.”


In reply to this question when asked, he replied:—“To thinking, toiling,
trying, and trusting in God.”

A serene confidence in a guiding power has always been one of the
Wanamaker characteristics. He is always calm. Under the greatest stress
he never loses his head.

In one physical particular, Mr. Wanamaker is very remarkable. He can
work continually for a long time without sleep and without evidence of
strain, and make up for it by a good rest afterwards.

When upon one occasion he was asked to name the essentials of success,
he replied, curtly:—“I might write a volume trying to tell you how to
succeed. _One way is to not be above taking a hint from a master._ I
don’t care to tell why I succeeded; because I object to talking about
myself,—it isn’t modest.”

A feature of his make-up that has contributed largely to his success is
his ability to concentrate his thoughts. No matter how trivial the
subject brought before him, he takes it up with the appearance of one
who has nothing else on his mind.

                         HIS VIEWS ON BUSINESS

When asked whether the small tradesmen has any “show” to-day against the
great department stores, he said:—

“All of the great stores were small at one time. Small stores will keep
on developing into big ones. You wouldn’t expect a man to put an iron
band about his business in order to prevent expansion, would you? There
are, according to statistics, a greater number of prosperous small
stores in the city than ever before. What better proof do you want?

“The department store is a natural product, evolved from conditions that
exist as a result of fixed trade laws. Executive capacity, combined with
command of capital, finds opportunity in these conditions, which are
harmonious with the irresistible determination of the producer to meet
the consumer directly, and of merchandise to find distribution along the
lines of least resistance. Reduced prices stimulate consumption, and
increase employment; and it is sound opinion that the increased
employment created by the department stores goes to women without
curtailing that of men. In general it may be stated that large retail
stores have shortened the hours of labor; and by systematic discipline
have made it lighter. The small store is harder upon the sales-person
and clerk. The effects upon the character and capacity of the employees
are good. A well ordered, modern retail store is the means of education
in spelling, writing, English language, system and method. Thus it
becomes to the ambitious and serious employees, in a small way, a
university, in which character is broadened by intelligent instruction
practically applied.”

When asked if a man with means but no experience would be safe in
embarking in a mercantile business, he replied quickly:—

“A man can’t drive a horse who has never seen one. No; a man must have
training, must know how to buy and sell; only experience teaches that.”

I have heard people marvel at the unbroken upward course of Mr.
Wanamaker’s career, and lament that they so often make mistakes. But
hear him:—

“Who does not make mistakes? Why, if I were to think only of the
mistakes I have made, I should be miserable indeed.”

I have heard it said a hundred times that Mr. Wanamaker started when
success was easy. Here is what he says himself about it:—

“I think I could succeed as well now as in the past. It seems to me that
the conditions of to-day are even more favorable to success than when I
was a boy. There are better facilities for doing business, and more
business to be done. Information in the shape of books and newspapers is
now in the reach of all, and the young man has two opportunities where
he formerly had one.

“We are much more afraid of combinations of capital than we have any
reason for being. Competition regulates everything of that kind. No
organization can make immense profits for any length of time without its
field soon swarming with competitors. It requires brain and muscle to
manage any kind of business, and the same elements which have produced
business success in the past will produce it now, and will always
produce it.”

                             PUBLIC SERVICE

With the exception of his term of service as postmaster-general of the
United States in President Harrison’s cabinet—a service which was marked
by great executive ability and the institution of many reforms,—Mr.
Wanamaker has devoted his attention almost entirely to his business and
his church work.

Yet as a citizen he has always taken a most positive course in
opposition to the evils that threaten society. He has been forever
prompted by his religious convictions to pursue vice either in the
“dive,” or in municipal, state or national life. He hates a barroom, but
he hates a treasury looter far more fiercely. His idea of Christian duty
was evidently derived from the scene wherein the Master took a scourge
and drove the corrupt traders and office-holders out of the temple. It
is vigorous, it is militant; but it makes enemies. Consequently, Mr.
Wanamaker is not without persistent maligners; getting himself well
hated by the worst men in the community.

                           INVEST IN YOURSELF

Mr. Wanamaker’s views of what life is for are well expressed in the
following excerpt from one of his addresses to young men.

In the course of his address, he related that he was once called upon to
invest in an expedition to recover Spanish mahogany and doubloons from
the Spanish Main, which, for half a century, had lain under the rolling
waves in sunken frigates. “But, young men,” he continued, “I know of
better expeditions than this right at home, deep down under the sea of
neglect and ignorance and discouragement. Near your own feet lie
treasures untold, and you can have them all for your own by earnest
watch and faithful study and proper care.

“Let us not be content to mine the most coal, make the largest
locomotives and weave the largest quantities of carpets; but, amid the
sounds of the pick, the blows of the hammer, the rattle of the looms,
and the roar of the machinery, take care that the immortal mechanism of
God’s own hand,—the mind,—is still full-trained for the highest and
noblest service.

“This is the most enduring kind of property to acquire, a property of
soul which no disaster can wreck or ruin. Whatever may be the changes
that shall sweep over our fair land, no power can ever take away from
you your investments in knowledge.”

                                AT HOME

Like all other magnetic and forceful men, Mr. Wanamaker is striking in
appearance, strong rather than handsome. He has a full, round head, a
broad forehead, a strong nose, heavy-lidded eyes that flash with energy,
heavy jaws that denote strength of will, and tightly closed lips that
just droop at the corners, giving an ever-present touch of sedateness.
His face is as smooth as a boy’s and as mobile as an actor’s; and, when
lighted up in discussion, it beams with expression. He wears a hat that
is only six and seven-eighths in size, but is almost completely circular
in form. He is almost six feet tall and finely built, and all his
motions have in them the springiness of health. Nobody ever saw him
dressed in any other color than black, with a black necktie under a
“turn-down” collar. But he always looks as trim as if he were just out
of the hands of both tailor and barber.

It is his delight to pass much time at his country seat in Jenkintown.
He is fond of the field and the river, the trees and flowers, and all
the growths with which God has beautified the earth. His house is a
home-like structure, with wide piazzas, standing upon the crest of a
hill in the midst of a noble lawn. A big rosery and orchid house stand
near by. The before-breakfast ramble of the proprietor is finished in
the flower garden, and every guest is laden with floral trophies.

Mr. Wanamaker was married, while he was the Secretary of the Y. M. C.
A., to one whom he met at a church service, and who has been in full
sympathy with his religious activities. He has been for forty years
superintendent of the Bethany Sunday School in Philadelphia. He began
with two teachers and twenty-seven pupils; and at the recent anniversary
reported a school of 4,500, a church with 3,700 members, 500 having been
added during the past year, several branches, and scores of department

John Wanamaker says to-day that his business success is due to his
religious training. He is first of all a Christian.

The lesson of such a life should be precious to every young man. It
teaches the value of untiring effort, of economy, of common sense
applied to common business. I know of no career in this country that
offers more encouragement to young people. It shows what persistency can
do; it shows what intelligent, well-directed, tireless effort can do;
and it proves that a man may devote himself to helping others, to the
Sunday School, to the Church, to broad philanthropy, and still be
wonderfully successful in a business way.



Giving up Five Thousand Dollars a Year to Become a Sculptor

“MY life?” queried F. Wellington Ruckstuhl, one of the foremost
sculptors of America, as we sat in his studio looking up at his huge
figure of “Force.” “When did I begin to sculpture? As a child I was
forever whittling, but I did not have dreams then of becoming a
sculptor. It was not till I was thirty-two years of age. And
love,—disappointment in my first love played a prominent part.”

“But as a boy, Mr. Ruckstuhl?”

“I was a poet. Every sculptor or artist is necessarily a poet. I was
always reaching out and seeking the beautiful. My father was a foreman
in a St. Louis machine shop. He came to this country in a sailing ship
from Alsace, by way of the Gulf to St. Louis, when I was but six years
old. He was a very pious man and a deacon in a church. One time, Moody
and Sankey came to town, and my father made me attend the meetings; I
think he hoped that I would become a minister. Between the ages of
fourteen and nineteen, I worked in a photographic supply store; wrote
one hundred poems, and read incessantly. I enlarged a view of the statue
of Nelson in Trafalgar Square, London, into a ‘plaster sketch,’ ten
times as large as the picture, but still I did not know my path. I began
the study of philosophy, and kept up my reading for ten years. My
friends thought I would become a literary man. I wrote for the papers,
and belonged to a prominent literary club. I tried to analyze myself. ‘I
am a man,’ I said, ‘but what am I good for? What am I to make of this
life?’ I drifted from one position to another. Every one was sorry to
part with my services, for I always did my duties as well as they could
be done. When I was twenty-five years of age, the girl to whom I was
attached was forced by her mother to marry a wealthy man. She died a
year afterwards; and I ‘pulled up stakes,’ and started on a hap-hazard,
reckless career. I went to Colorado, drifted into Arizona, prospected,
mined, and worked on a ranch. I went to California, and at one time
thought of shipping for China. My experiences would fill a book. Again I
reached St. Louis. For a year, I could not find a thing to do, and
became desperate.”

“And you had done nothing at art so far?” I asked.

“At that time, I saw a clay sketch. I said to myself, ‘I can do as well
as that,’ and I copied it. My second sketch admitted me to the St. Louis
Sketch Club. I told my friends that I would be a sculptor. They laughed
and ridiculed me. I had secured a position in a store, and at odd times
worked at what I had always loved, but had only half realized it.
Notices appeared in the papers about me, for I was popular in the
community. I entered the competition for a statue of General Frank R.
Blair. I received the first prize, but when the committee discovered
that I was only a bill clerk in a store, they argued that I was not
competent to carry out the work; although I was given the first prize
model and the one hundred and fifty dollars accompanying it.”

“But that inspired you?”

“Yes, but my father and mother put every obstacle in the way possible. I
was driven from room to room. I was not even allowed to work in the
attic.” Here Mr. Ruckstuhl laughed. “You see what genius has to contend
with. I was advanced in position in the store, till I became assistant
manager, at two thousand dollars a year. When I told the proprietor that
I had decided to be a sculptor, he gazed at me in blank astonishment. ‘A
sculptor?’ he queried, incredulously, and made a few very discouraging
remarks, emphasized with dashes. ‘Why, young man, are you going to throw
up the chance of a lifetime? I will give you five thousand dollars a
year, and promote you to be manager if you will remain with me.’

“But I had found my life’s work,” said Mr. Ruckstuhl, turning to me. “I
knew it would be a struggle through poverty, till I attained fame. But I
was confident in myself, which is half of the battle.”

“And you went abroad?”

“Yes, with but two hundred and fifty dollars,” he replied. “I traveled
through Europe for five months and visited the French Salon. I said to
myself, ‘I can do that, and that;’ and my confidence grew. But there was
some work that completely ‘beat’ me. I returned to America penniless,
but with a greater insight into art. I determined that I would retrace
my steps to Paris, and study there for three years, and thought that
would be sufficient to fully develop me. My family and friends laughed
me to scorn, and I was discouraged by everyone. In four months, in St.
Louis, I secured seven orders for busts, at two hundred dollars each, to
be done after my return from France. That shows that some persons had
confidence in me and in my talent.

“O, the student life in Paris! How I look back with pleasure upon those
struggling, yet happy days! In two months, I started on my female figure
of ‘Evening,’ in the nude, that is now in the Metropolitan Museum of
Art. I finished it in nine months, and positively sweat blood in my
work. I sent it to the Salon, and went to Italy. When I returned to
Paris, I saw my name in the paper with honorable mention. I suppose you
can realize my feelings; I experienced the first flush of victory. I
brought it to America, and exposed it in St. Louis. Strange to say, I
rose in the estimation of even my family. My father actually
congratulated me. A wealthy man in St. Louis gave me three thousand
dollars to have my ‘Evening’ put into marble. I returned with it to
Paris, and in a month and a quarter it was exhibited in the Salon. At
the World’s Fair, at Chicago, it had the place of honor, and received
one of the eleven grand medals given to American sculptors. In 1892, I
came to New York. This statue of ‘Force’ will be erected, with my statue
of ‘Wisdom,’ on the new Court of Appeals in New York.”

We gazed at it, seated, and clothed in partial armor, of the old Roman
type, and holding a sword across its knees. The great muscles spoke of
strength and force, and yet, with it all, there was an almost benign
look upon the military visage.

“There is force and real action there withal, although there is repose.”
I said in admiration.

“Oh,” said Mr. Ruckstuhl, “that’s it, and that is what it is so hard to
get! That is what every sculptor strives for; and, unless he attains it,
his work, from my point of view, is worthless. There must be life in a
statue; it must almost breathe. In repose there must be dormant action
that speaks for itself.”

“Is most of your work done under inspiration?” I asked.

“There is nothing,—and a great deal,—in so-called inspiration. I firmly
believe that we mortals are merely tools, mediums, at work here on
earth. I peg away, and bend all my energies to my task. I simply
accomplish nothing. Suddenly, after considerable preparatory toil, the
mist clears away; I see things clearly; everything is outlined for me. I
believe there is a conscious and a sub-conscious mind. The sub-conscious
mind is the one that does original work; it cannot be affected by the
mind that is conscious to all our petty environments. When the conscious
mind is lulled and silenced, the sub-conscious one begins to work. That
I call inspiration.”

“Are you ever discouraged?” I asked out of curiosity.

“Continually,” replied Mr. Ruckstuhl, looking down at his hands, soiled
with the working clay. “Some days I will be satisfied with what I have
done. It will strike me as simply fine. I will be as happy as a bird,
and leave simply joyous. The following morning, when the cloths are
removed, I look at my previous toil, and consider it vile. I ask myself:
‘Are you a sculptor or not? Do you think that you ever will be one? Do
you consider that art?’ So it is, till your task is accomplished. You
are your own critic, and are continually distressed at your inability to
create your ideals.”

Mr. F. Wellington Ruckstuhl is forty-six years of age; neither short nor
tall; a brilliant man, with wonderful powers of endurance, for his work
is more exacting and tedious than is generally supposed.

“I have simply worked a month and a quarter on that statue,” he said.
“Certain work dissatisfied me, and I obliterated it. I have raised that
head three times. My eyes get weary, and I become physically tired. On
such occasions I sit down and smoke a little to distract my thoughts,
and to clear my mind. Then my sub-conscious mind comes into play again,”
he concluded with a smile.

Mr. Ruckstuhl’s best known works are: “Mercury Teasing the Eagle of
Jupiter,” which is of bronze, nine feet high, which he made in Paris; a
seven-foot statue of Solon, erected in the Congressional Library, at
Washington; busts of Franklin, Gœthe and Macaulay, on the front of the
same library; and the eleven-foot statue of bronze of “Victory,” for the
Jamaica soldiers’ and sailors’ monument. In competition, he won the
contract for an equestrian statue of General John F. Hartrauft,
ex-Governor of Pennsylvania, which he also made in Paris. It is
considered the finest piece of work of its kind in America. Besides this
labor, he has made a number of medallions and busts; and with the
completion of his statue of “Force,” he will have made a wonderful

“Art was in me as a child,” he said: “I was discouraged whenever it
beckoned me, but finally claimed me. I surrendered a good position to
follow it, whether it led through a thorny road or not. A sculptor is an
artist, a musician, a poet, a writer, a dramatist,—to throw action,
breath and life, music and a soul into his creation. I can pick up an
instrument and learn it instantly; I can sing, and act, so I am in touch
with the sympathies of the beings that I endeavor to create. You will
find most sculptors and artists of my composite nature.

“There,” said Mr. Ruckstuhl, and he stretched out his arm, with his palm
downward, and moved it through the air, as he gazed into distance, “you
strive to create the imagination of your mind, and it comes to you as if
sent from another world.”

“You strive.” That is the way to success.



Questions and Answers: Business Pointers by Darius Ogden Mills

“WHAT is your idea, Mr. Mills,[2] of a successful life?” “If a bootblack
does all the good he possibly can for his fellow-men, his life has been
just as successful as that of the millionaire who helps thousands.”

Footnote 2:

  Mr. Mills was born in Western New York in 1825. He has been a leading
  financier for fifty years, in California, and in New York. He is
  connected with the management of eighteen important business and
  philanthropic corporations in New York City.


“What, Mr. Mills, do you consider the key-note of success?”

“Work,” he replied, quickly and emphatically. “Work develops all the
good there is in a man; idleness all the evil. Work sharpens all his
faculties and makes him thrifty; idleness makes him lazy and a
spendthrift. Work surrounds a man with those whose habits are
industrious and honest; in such society a weak man develops strength,
and a strong man is made stronger. Idleness, on the other hand, is apt
to throw a man into the company of men whose object in life is usually
the pursuit of unwholesome and demoralizing diversions.”


“To what formative influence do you attribute your material success, Mr.
Mills?” I asked.

“I was taught very early that I would have to depend entirely upon
myself; that my future lay in my own hands. I had that for a start, and
it was a good one. I didn’t waste any time thinking about succession to
wealth, which so often acts as a drag upon young men. Many persons waste
the best years of their lives waiting for dead men’s shoes; and, when
they get them, find them entirely too big to wear gracefully, simply
because they have not developed themselves to wear them.

“As a rule, the small inheritance, which, to a boy, would seem large,
has a tendency to lessen his efforts, and is a great damage to him in
the way of acquiring the habits necessary to success.”

                            HABIT OF THRIFT

“No one can acquire a fortune unless he makes a start; and the habit of
thrift, which he learns in saving his first hundred dollars, is of
inestimable value later on. It is not the money, but the habit which

“There is no one so helpless as a man who is ‘broke,’ no matter how
capable he may be, and there is no habit so detrimental to his
reputation among business men as that of borrowing small sums of money.
This cannot be too emphatically impressed upon young men.”

                        EXPENSIVE HABITS—SMOKING

“Another thing is that none but the wealthy, and very few of them, can
afford the indulgence of expensive habits; how much less then can a man
with only a few dollars in his pocket? More young men are ruined by the
expense of smoking than in any other way. The money thus laid out would
make them independent, in many cases, or at least would give them a good
start. A young man should be warned by the melancholy example of those
who have been ruined by smoke, and avoid it.”


“What marked traits, Mr. Mills, have the influential men with whom you
have been associated, possessed, which most impressed you?”

“A habit of thinking and acting for themselves. No end of people are
ruined by taking the advice of others. This may answer temporarily, but
in the long run it is sure to be disastrous. Any man who hasn’t ability
to judge for himself would better get a comfortable clerkship somewhere,
letting some one of more ambition and ability do the thinking necessary
to run the business.”


“Are the opportunities for making money as numerous to-day as they were
when you started in business?”

“Yes, the progress of science and invention has increased the
opportunities a thousandfold, and a man can find them wherever he seeks
them in the United States in particular. It has caused the field of
employment of labor of all kinds to expand enormously, thus creating
opportunities which never existed before. It is no longer necessary for
a man to go to foreign countries or distant parts of his own country to
make money. Opportunities come to him in every quarter. There is hardly
a point in the country so obscure that it has not felt the
revolutionizing influence of commercial enterprise. Probably railroads
and electricity are the chief instruments in this respect. Other
industries follow closely in their wake.”


“In what part of the country do you think the best chances for young men
may be found?”

“The best place for a young man to make money is the town in which he
was born and educated. There he learns all about everybody, and
everybody learns about him. This is to his advantage if he bears a good
character, and to the advantage of his towns-people if he bears a bad
one. While a young man is growing up, he unconsciously absorbs a vast
deal of knowledge of people and affairs, which would be equal to money
if he only has the judgment to avail himself of it. A knowledge of men
is the prime secret of business success. Upon reflection, how absurd it
is for a man to leave a town where he knows everything and everybody,
and go to some distant point where he doesn’t know anything about
anybody or anything, and expect to begin on an equal footing with the
people there who are thoroughly acquainted.”

                        THE BOTTOM OF THE LADDER

“What lesson, Mr. Mills, do you consider it most needful for young men
to learn?”

“The lesson of humility;—not in the sense of being servile or
undignified, but in that of paying due respect to men who are their
superiors in the way of experience, knowledge and position. Such a
lesson is akin to that of discipline. Members of the royal families of
Europe are put in subordinate positions in the navies or armies of their
respective countries, in order that they may receive the training
necessary to qualify them to take command. They must first know how to
obey, if they would control others.

“In this country, it is customary for the sons of the presidents of
great railroads, or other companies, to begin at the bottom of the
ladder and work their way up step by step, just the same as any other
boy in the employ of the corporation. This course has become
imperatively necessary in the United States, where each great business
has become a profession in itself. Most of the big machine shops number
among their employees, scions of old families who carry dinner pails,
and work with files or lathes, the same as anyone else. Such
shoulder-to-shoulder experience is invaluable to a man who is destined
to command, because he not only masters the trade technically, but
learns all about the men he works with and qualifies himself to grapple
with labor questions which may arise.

“There is no end of conspicuous examples of the wisdom of this system in
America. There are also many instances of disaster to great industrial
concerns due to the inexperience or the lack of tact of men placed
suddenly in control.”

                     THE BENEFICENT USE OF CAPITAL

Upon this point, Mr. Mills said:—“A man can, in the accumulation of a
fortune, be just as great a benefactor of mankind as in the distribution
of it. In organizing a great industry, one opens up fields of employment
for a multitude of people who might otherwise be practically helpless,
giving them not only a chance to earn a living for themselves and their
families, but also to lay by a competency for old age. All honest, sober
men, if they have half a chance, can do that; but only a small
percentage can ever become rich. Now the rich man, having acquired his
wealth, knows better how to manage it than those under him would, and
having actual possession, he has the power to hold the community of his
employees and their interests together, and prevent disintegration,
which means disaster so much oftener to the employee than to the


“What is the responsibility of wealth, Mr. Mills?”

“A man must learn not to think too much of money. It should be
considered as a means and not an end; and the love for it should never
be permitted to so warp a man’s mind as to destroy his interest in
progressive ideas. Making money is an education, and the wide experience
thus acquired teaches a man discrimination in both men and projects,
where money is under consideration. Very few men who make their own
money use it carelessly. Most good projects that fail owe their failure
to bad business management, rather than to lack of intrinsic merit. An
inventor may have a very good thing, and plenty of capital may be
enlisted but if a man not acquainted with the peculiar line, or one who
is not a good salesman or financier be employed as manager, the result
is disastrous. A man should spend his money in a way that tends to
advance the best interests of society in the country he lives in, or in
his own neighborhood at least. There is only one thing that is a greater
harm to the community than a rich spendthrift, and that is a miser.”


“How did you happen to establish the system of hotels which bears your
name, Mr. Mills?”

“I had been looking around for several years to find something to do
that would be for the good of the community. My mind was largely on
other matters, but it occurred to me that the hotel project was the
best, and I immediately went to work at it. My purpose was to do the
work on so large a scale that it would be appreciated and spread all
over the country; for as the sources of education extend, we find more
and more need of assisting men who have a disposition for decency and
good citizenship. _The mechanic is well paid, and the man who has
learned to labor is much more independent than he who is prepared for a
profession or a scientific career, or other objects in life that call
for higher education._ Clerks commencing at small salaries need good
surroundings and economy to give themselves a start. Such are the men
for whom the hotels were established.”



Nordica: What it Costs to Become a Queen of Song

OF the internationally famous singers, none is a greater favorite than
Madame Lillian Nordica. She has had honors heaped upon her by every
music-loving country. Milan, St. Petersburg, Paris, London and New York,
in turn accepted her. Jewel cases filled with bracelets, necklaces,
tiaras and diadems, of gold and precious stones, attest the unaffected
sincerity of her admirers in all the great music-centers of the world.
She enjoys, in addition, the distinction of being one of the first two
American women to attain to international fame as a singer in grand

Madame Nordica I met on appointment at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where
she kindly detailed for me

                            THE DIFFICULTIES

she encountered at the outset:—“Distinction in the field of art is
earned: it is not thrust upon anyone. The material for a great voice may
be born in a person—it is, in fact,—but the making of it into a great
voice is a work of the most laborious character.

“In some countries the atmosphere is not very favorable to beginners.
Almost any of the greater European nations is probably better in this
respect than the United States: not much better, however, because nearly
all depends upon strength of character, determination, and the will to
work. If a girl has these, she will rise as high, in the end, anywhere.”

Madame Nordica came of New England stock, being born at Farmington,
Maine, and reared in Boston. Her parents, bearing the name Norton,
possessed no musical talent. “Their opinion of music,” said Madame, “was
that it is an airy, inviting art of the devil, used to tempt men’s feet
to stray from the solemn path of right. They believed music, as a
vocation, to be nearly as reprehensible as a stage career, and for the
latter they had no tolerance whatever. I must be just, though, and own
that they did make an exception in the case of church music, else I
should never have received the slightest encouragement in my
aspirations. They considered music in churches to be permissible,—even
laudable, so when I displayed some ability as a singer, I was allowed to
use it in behalf of religion, and I did. I joined the church choir and
sang hymns about the house almost constantly.

“But I needed a world of training. I had no conception of what work lay
ahead of anyone who contemplates singing perfectly. I had no idea of how
high I might go myself. All I knew was that I could sing, and that I
would win my way with my voice if I could.”

“How did you accomplish it?”

“By devoting all my time, all my thought, and all my energy to that one
object. I devoured church music,—all I could get hold of. I practised
new and difficult compositions all the time I could spare.

“I became a very good church singer; so much so that when there were
church concerts or important religious ceremonies, I was always in
demand. Then there began to be a social demand for my ability, and,
later, a public demand in the way of concerts.

“At first, I ignored all but church singing. My ambition ran higher than
concert singing, and I knew my parents would not consent. I persuaded
them to let me have my voice trained. This was not very difficult,
because my church singing, as it had improved, became a source of
considerable profit; and they saw even greater results for me in the
large churches, and in the religious field. So I went to a teacher of
vocal culture, Professor John O’Neill, one of the instructors in the New
England Conservatory of Music, Boston. He was a fine old teacher, a man
with the highest ideals concerning music, and of the sternest and most
exacting method. He made me feel, at first, that

                  THE WORLD WAS MINE, IF I WOULD WORK.

Hard work was his constant cry. There must be no play, no training for
lower forms of public entertainment, no anything but study and practice.
I must work and perfect myself in private, and then suddenly appear
unheralded in the highest class of opera and take the world by storm.

“It was a fine fancy, but it would not have been possible. O’Neill was a
fine musician. Under him I studied the physiology of the voice, and
practiced singing oratorios. I also took up Italian, familiarizing
myself with the language, with all the songs and endless _arias_. In
fact, I made myself as perfect in Italian as possible. In _three years_
I had been greatly improved. Mr. O’Neill, however, employed methods of
making me work which discouraged me. He was a man who would magnify and
storm over the slightest error, and make light of or ignore the
sincerest achievements. He put his grade of perfection so high that I
began to consider it unattainable, and lost heart. Finally, I gave it up
and rested awhile, uncertain of everything.

“After I had thought awhile and regained some confidence, I came to New
York to see Mme. Maretzek. She was not only a teacher, but also a singer
quite famous in her day, and she thoroughly knew the world of music. She
considered my voice to be of the right quality for the highest grade of
operatic success; and gave me hope that, with a little more training, I
could begin my career. She not only did that, but also set me to
studying the great operas, ‘Lucia’ and the others, and introduced me to
the American musical celebrities. Together we heard whatever was worth
hearing in New York.

“When the renowned Brignola came to New York, she took me to the Everett
House, where he was stopping and introduced me. They were good friends,
and, after gaining his opinion on the character of my voice, she had him
play ‘Faust.’ That was a wonderful thing for me. To hear the great
Brignola! It fired my ambition. As I listened I felt that I could also
be great and that people, some day, might listen to me as enraptured as
I then was by him.”

                        “IT PUT NEW FIRE INTO ME

and caused me to fairly toil over my studies. I would have given up all
my hours if only I had been allowed or requested.

“So it went, until _after several years of study_, Madame Maretzek
thought I was getting pretty well along and might venture some important
public singing. We talked about different ways of appearing and what I
would sing, and so on, until finally Gilmore’s band came to Madison
Square Garden. He was in the heyday of his success then, and carried
important soloists with him. Madame Maretzek decided that she would take
me to see him and get his opinion; and so, one day, toward the very last
of his Madison Square engagement, we went to see him. Madame Maretzek
was on good terms with him also. I remember that she took me in, one
morning, when he was rehearsing. I saw a stout, kindly, genial-looking
man who was engaged in tapping for attention, calling certain
individuals to notice certain points, and generally fluttering around
over a dozen odds and ends. Madame Maretzek talked with him a little
while and then called his attention to me. He looked toward me.

“‘Thinks she can sing, eh? Yes, yes. Well, all right! Let her come right

“Then he called to me,—‘Come right along now. Step right up here on the
stage. Yes, yes. Now, what can you sing?’

“I told him I could sing almost anything in oratorio or opera, if he so
wished. He said: ‘Well, well, have a little from both. Now, what shall
it be?’

“I shall never forget his kindly way. He was like a good father, gentle
and reassuring, and seemed really pleased to have me there and to hear
me. I went up on the platform and told him that I would begin with ‘Let
the Bright Seraphim,’ and he called the orchestra to order and had them
accompany me.”

“I was slightly nervous at first, but recovered my equanimity and sang
up to my full limit of power. When I was through, he remarked, ‘Very
good! very good!’ and ‘Now, what else?’ I next sang an _aria_ from
‘Somnambula.’ He did not hesitate to express his approval, which was
always, ‘Very good! very good! Now, what you want to do,’ he said, ‘is
to get some roses in your cheeks, and come along and sing for me.’ After
that, he continued his conference with Madame Maretzek and then we went
away together.”

                        “I WAS TRAVELING ON AIR

when I left, I can assure you. His company was famous. Its engagement
had been most successful. Madame Poppenheim was singing with it, and
there were other famous names. There were only two more concerts to
conclude his New York engagement, but he had told Madame Maretzek that
if I chose to come and sing on these occasions, he would be glad to have
me. I was more than glad of the opportunity and agreed to go. We
arranged with him by letter, and, when the evening came, I sang. My work
made a distinct impression on the audience, and pleased Mr. Gilmore
wonderfully. After the second night, when all was over, he came to me,
and said: ‘Now, my dear, of course there is no more concert this summer,
but I am going West in the fall. Now, how would you like to go along?’

“I told him that I would like to go very much, if it could be arranged;
and, after some negotiation, he agreed to pay the expenses of my mother
and myself, and give me one hundred dollars a week besides. I accepted,
and when the western tour began, we went along.

“I gained thorough control of my nerves upon that tour, and learned
something of audiences, and of what constitutes distinguished ‘stage
presence.’ _I studied all the time_, and, with the broadening influence
of travel, gained a great deal. At the end of the tour, my voice was
more under my control than ever before, and I was a better singer all

“You did not begin with grand opera, after all?”

“No, I did not. It was not a perfect conclusion of my dreams, but it was
a great deal. My old instructor, Mr. O’Neill, took it worse than I did.
He regarded my ambitions as having all come to naught. I remember that
he wrote me a letter in which he thus called me to account:—

“‘After all my training, my advice, that you should come to this! A
whole lifetime of ambition and years of the hardest study consumed to
fit you to go on the road with a brass band! Poh!’

“I pocketed the sarcasm in the best of humor, because I was sure of my
dear old teacher’s unwavering faith in me, and knew that he wrote only
for my own good. Still, I felt that I was doing wisely in getting before
the public, and so decided to wait quietly and see if time would not
justify me.

“When the season was over, Mr. Gilmore came to me again. He was the most
kindly man I ever knew. His manner was as gentle and his heart as good
as could be.

“‘I am going to Europe,’ he said. ‘I am going to London and Paris and
Vienna and Rome, and all the other big cities. There will be a fine
chance for you to see all those places and let Europeans hear you. They
appreciate good singers. Now, little girl, do you want to come? If you
do, you can.’”

“I talked it over with my mother and Madame Maretzek, and decided to go;
and so, the next season, we were

                               IN EUROPE.

“We gave seventy-eight concerts in England and France. We opened the
Trocadero at Paris, and mine was the first voice of any kind to sing
there. This European tour of the American band was a great and
successful venture. American musicians still recall the _furore_ which
it created, and the prestige which it gained at home. Mr. Gilmore was
proud of his leading soloists. In Paris, where the great audiences went
wild over my singing, he came to praise me personally in unmeasured
terms. ‘My dear,’ he said, ‘you are going to be a great singer. You are
going to be crowned in your own country yet. Mark my words: they are
going to put diamonds on your brow!’ [Madame Nordica had good occasion
to recall this, in 1898, many years after, when her enthusiastic New
York admirers crowned her with a diamond tiara as a tribute of their
admiration and appreciation.]

“It was at the time when Gilmore was at the height of his Paris
engagement that his agent ran off with his funds and left the old
bandmaster almost stranded. Despite his sincere trouble, he retained his
imperturbable good nature, and came out of it successfully. He came to
me, one morning, smiling good-naturedly, as usual. After greeting me and
inquiring after my health, he said: ‘My dear child, you have saved some
little money on this tour?’ I told him I had.

“‘Now, I would like to borrow that little from you.’

“I was very much surprised at the request, for he said nothing whatever
of his loss. Still, he had been so uniformly kind and generous, and had
won our confidence and regard so wholly, that I could not hesitate. I
turned over nearly all I had, and he gathered it up and went away,
simply thanking me. Of course, I heard of the defalcation later. It
became generally known. Our salaries went right on, however, and in a
few months the whole thing had been quite forgotten, when he came to me
one morning with money ready in his hand.

“‘To pay you what I owe you, my dear,’ he said.

“‘Oh, yes!’ I said; ‘so and so much,’—naming the amount.

“‘Here it is,’ he said; and, handing me a roll of bills, he went away.
Of course, I did not count it until a little later; but, when I did, I
found just double the amount I had named, and no persuasion would ever
induce him to accept a penny of it back.”

“When did you part with Gilmore?”

“At the end of that tour. He determined to return to America, and I had
decided to spend some of my earnings on further study in Italy.
Accordingly, I went to Milan, to the singing teacher San Giovanni. On
arriving there, I visited the old teacher and stated my object. I said
that I wanted to sing in grand opera.”

                 “‘WHY DON’T YOU SING IN GRAND OPERA?’

“He answered; ‘let me hear your voice.’

“I sang an _aria_ from ‘Lucia’; and, when I was through, he said, dryly:
‘You want to sing in grand opera?’


“‘Well, why don’t you?’

“‘I need training.’

“‘Nonsense!’ he answered. ‘We will attend to that. You need a few months
to practice Italian methods,—that is all.’

“So I spent three months with him. After much preparation, I made my
_début_ as Violetta in Verdi’s opera, ‘La Traviata,’ at the Teatro
Grande, in Brescia.”

The details of Madame Nordica’s Italian appearance are very interesting.
Her success was instantaneous. Her fame went up and down the land, and
across the water—to her home. She next sang in Gounod’s “Faust,” at
Geneva, and soon afterwards appeared at Navarro, singing Alice in
Meyerbeer’s “Roberto,” the enthusiastic and delighted subscribers
presenting her with a handsome set of rubies and pearls. After that, she
was engaged to sing at the Russian capital, and accordingly went to St.
Petersburg, where, in October, 1881, she made her _début_ as La Filina
in “Mignon.”

There, also her success was great. She was the favorite of the society
of the court, and received pleasant attentions from every quarter.
Presents were made her, and inducements for her continued presence until
two winters had passed. Then she decided to revisit France and Paris.

                     THIS WAS HER CROWNING TRIUMPH

“I wanted to sing in grand opera at Paris,” she said to me. “I wanted to
know that I could appear successfully in that grand place. I counted my
achievements nothing until I could do that.”

“And did you?”

“Yes. In July, 1882, I appeared there.”

This was her greatest triumph. In the part of Marguerite, she took the
house by storm, and won from the composer the highest encomiums.
Subsequently, she appeared with equal success as Ophélie, having been
specially prepared for both these rôles by the respective composers,
Charles Gounod and Ambroise Thomas.

“You should have been satisfied, after that,” I said.

“I was,” she answered. “So thoroughly was I satisfied that soon
afterwards I gave up my career, and was married. For two years, I
remained away from the public; but after that time, my husband having
died, I decided to return.

“I made my first appearance at the Burton Theatre in London, and was
doing well enough when Colonel Mapleson came to me. He was going to
produce grand opera,—in fact he was going to open Covent Garden, which
had been closed for a long time, with a big company. He was another
interesting character. I found him to be generous and kind-hearted and
happy-spirited as anyone could be. When he came to me, it was in the
most friendly manner. ‘I am going to open Covent Garden.’ he said. ‘Now,
here is your chance to sing there. All the great singers have appeared
there. Patti, Gerster, Nilsson, Tietjens; now it’s your turn,—come and

“‘How about terms?’ I asked.

“‘Terms!’ he exclaimed; ‘terms! Don’t let such little details stand in
your way. What is money compared to this? Ignore money. Think of the
honor, of the memories of the place, of what people think of it.’ And
then he waved his arms dramatically.

“Yet, we came to terms, not wholly sacrificial on my part, and the
season began. Covent Garden had not been open for a long time. It was in
the spring of the year, cold and damp. There was a crowded house,
though, because fashion accompanied the Prince of Wales there. He came,
night after night, and heard the opera through with an overcoat on.

“It was no pleasant task for me, or healthy, either, but the Lord has
blessed me with a sound constitution. I sang my parts, as they should be
sung—some in bare arms and shoulders, with too little clothing for such
a temperature. I nearly froze, but it was Covent Garden and a great
London audience, and so I bore up under it.

“Things went on this way very successfully until Sir Augustus Harris
took Drury Lane and decided to produce grand opera. He started in
opposition to Colonel Mapleson, and so Covent Garden had to be given up.
Mr. Harris had more money, more prestige with society, and Colonel
Mapleson could not live under the division of patronage. When I saw the
situation, I called on the new manager and talked with him concerning
the next season. He was very proud and very condescending, and made sure
to show his indifference to me. He told me all about the brilliant
season he was planning, gave me a list of the great names he intended to
charm with, and wound up by saying he would call on me, in case of need,
but thought he had all the celebrities he could use, but would let me

“Of course, I did not like that; but I knew I could rest awhile, and so
was not much disturbed. The time for the opening of the season arrived.
The papers were full of accounts of the occasion, and there were plenty
of remarks concerning my non-appearance. Then ‘Aida’ was produced, and I
read the criticisms of it with interest.

                    SHE WAS INDISPENSABLE IN “AIDA”

“The same afternoon a message came for me: ‘Would I come?’ and ‘Would I
do so and so?’ I would, and did. I sang ‘Aida’ and then other parts, and
gradually all the parts but one, which I had longed to try, but had not
yet had the opportunity given to me. I was very successful, and Sir
Augustus was very friendly.

“The summer after that season, I visited Ems, where the De Reszkes were.
One day they said: ‘We are going to Beirut, to hear the music,—don’t you
want to go along?’ I thought it over, and decided that I did. My mother
and I packed up and departed. When I got there and saw those splendid
performances, I was entranced. It was perfectly beautiful. Everything
was arranged after an ideal fashion. I had a great desire to sing there,
and boasted to my mother that I would. When I came away, I was fully
determined to carry it out.”

“Could you speak German?”

“Not at all. I began, though, at once, to study it; and, when I could
talk it sufficiently, I went to Beirut and saw Madame Wagner.”

                      THE KINDNESS OF FRAU WAGNER

“Did you find her the imperious old lady she is said to be?”

“Not at all. She welcomed me most heartily; and, when I told her that I
had come to see if I could not sing there, she seemed much pleased. She
treated me like a daughter, explained all that she was trying to do, and
gave me a world of encouragement. Finally, I arranged to sing and create
‘Elsa’ after my own idea of it, during the season following the one then

“Meanwhile I came to New York to fulfill my contract for the season of
1894-1895. While doing that, I made a study of Wagner’s, and, indeed, of
all German music; and, when the season was over, went back and sang it.”

Madame Nordica has found her work very exacting. For it she has needed a
good physique; her manner of study sometimes calling for an
extraordinary mental strain:—

“I remember once, during my season under Augustus Harris, that he gave a
garden party, one Sunday, to which several of his company were
invited,—myself included. When the afternoon was well along, he came to
me and said: ‘Did you ever sing “Valencia” in “The Huguenots?”’ I told
him I had not.

“‘Do you think you could learn the music and sing it by next Saturday

“I felt a little appalled at the question, but ventured to say that I
could. I knew that hard work would do it.

“‘Then do,’ he replied; ‘for I must have you sing it.’

“The De Reszkes, Jean and Edouard, were near at the time, and offered to
assist me. ‘Try it,’ they said, and so I agreed. We began rehearsals,
almost without study, the very next day, both the De Reszkes prompting
me, and by Friday they had me letter-perfect and ready to go on. Since
the time seemed so peculiarly short, they feared for me, and, during the
performance, stationed themselves, one in either wing, to reassure me.
Whenever I approached near to either side of the stage, it was always to
hear their repeated ‘Be calm!’ whispered so loud that the audience could
almost hear it. Yet I sang easily, never thinking of failure.”


“Let me ask you one thing,” I said. “Has America good musical material?”

“As much as any other country, and more, I should think. The higher
average of intelligence here should yield a greater percentage of
musical intelligence.”

“Then there ought to be a number of American women who can do good work
of a high order?”

“There ought to be, but it is a question whether there will be. They are
not cut out for the work which it requires to develop a good voice. I
have noticed that young women seem to _underestimate the cost of
distinction_. It means more than most of them are prepared to give; and,
when they face the exactions of art, they falter and drop out. Hence we
have many middle-class singers, but few really powerful ones.”

“What are these exactions you speak of?”

“_Time, money, and loss of friends, of pleasure. To be a great singer
means, first, to be a great student. To be a great student means that
you have no time for balls and parties, very little for friends, and
less for carriage rides and_ _pleasant strolls. All that is really left
is a shortened allowance of sleep, of time for meals, and time for

                           THE PRICE OF FAME

“Permanent recognition, which cannot be taken away from you, is acquired
only by _a lifetime of most earnest labor_. People are never
internationally recognized until they have reached middle life. Many
persons gain notoriety young, but that goes as quickly as it comes. _All
true success is founded on real accomplishment acquired with

“Many young people have genius; but they need training for valuable
service. The world gives very little recognition for a great deal of
labor paid in; and, when I earn a thousand dollars for a half hour’s
singing sometimes, it does not nearly average up for all the years and
for the labor much more difficult which I contributed without



How William Dean Howells Worked to Secure a Foothold

IN answer to my question, what constitutes success in life, Mr. Howells
replied that everything is open to the beginner who has sufficient
energy, perseverance and brains.

“A young man stands at the parting of two ways,” he added, “and can take
his path this way or that. It is comparatively easy then, with good
judgment. Youth is certainly the greatest advantage which life

Upon my inquiring about his early life, he replied: “I was born in a
little southeastern Ohio village—Martin’s Ferry,—which had little of
what people deem advantages in schools, railroads, or population. I am
not sure, however, that compensation was not had in other things.”

As to any special talent for literary composition, Mr. Howells remarked
that he came of a reading race, which had always loved literature in a
way, and that it was his inclination to read.

Upon this, I ventured to ask: “Would you say that, with a leaning toward
a special study, and good health, a fair start, and perseverance, anyone
can attain to distinction?”

“That is a probability, only. You may be sure that distinction will not
come without those qualities. The only way to succeed, is to have them;
although having them will not necessarily guarantee distinction. I can
only say that I began with

                             A LOFTY IDEAL.

“My own youth was not specially marked by advantages. There were none,
unless you can call a small bookcase full of books, which my home
contained, an advantage. The printing-office was my school from a very
early date. My father thoroughly believed in it, and he had his belief
as to work, which he illustrated as soon as we were old enough to learn
the trade he followed. We could go to school and study, or we could go
into the printing-office and work, with perhaps an equal chance of
learning; but we could not be idle.”

“And you chose the printing-office?”

“Not wholly. As I recall it, I went to and fro between the schoolhouse
and the printing-office. When I tired of one, I was promptly given the

“As the world goes now, we were poor. My father’s income was never above
twelve hundred a year, and his family was large; but nobody was rich
then. We lived in the simple fashion of that time and place.

“My reading, somehow, went on pretty constantly. No doubt my love for it
won me a chance to devote time to it. The length varied with varying

“Sometimes I read but little. There were so many years of work—of
over-work, indeed, which falls to the lot of many,—that I should be
ashamed to speak of it except in accounting for the fact of my little
reading. My father had sold his paper in Hamilton, and bought an
interest in another at Dayton, and at that time we were all straining
our utmost to help pay for it. In that period very few hours were given
to literature. My daily tasks began so early, and ended so late, that I
had little time, even if I had the spirit for reading. Sometimes I had
to sit up until midnight, waiting for telegraphic news, and be up again
at dawn to deliver the papers, working afterwards at the case; but that
was only for a few years.”

                       ACQUIRING A LITERARY STYLE

“When did you find time to seriously apply yourself to literature?”

“I think I did so before I really had the time. Literary aspirations
were stirred in me by the great authors whom I successively discovered,
and I was perpetually imitating the writings of these,—modeling some
composition of my own after theirs, but never willing to own it.”

“Do you attribute your style to the composite influence of these various

“No doubt they had their effect, as a whole, but individually I was
freed from the last by each succeeding author, until at length I came to
understand that I must be like myself, and no other.”

“Had you any conveniences for literary research, beyond the bookcase in
your home?”

“If you mean a place to work, I had a narrow, little space, under the
stairs. There was a desk pushed back against the wall, which the
irregular ceiling sloped down to meet, behind it; and at my left was a
window, which gave a good light on the writing leaf of my desk. This was

                              MY WORKSHOP

for six or seven years,—and it was not at all a bad one. It seemed, for
a while, so very simple and easy to come home in the middle of the
afternoon, when my task at the printing-office was done, and sit down to
my books in my little study, which I did not finally leave until the
family were all in bed. My father had a decided bent for literature;
and, when I began to show a liking for it, he was eager to direct my
choice. This finally changed to merely recommending books, and
eventually I was left to my own judgment,—a perplexed and sorrowfully
mistaken judgment, at times.”

“In what manner did you manage to read the works of all your favorite

“My hours in the printing-office began at seven and ended at six, with
an hour at noon for dinner, which I used for putting down such verses as
had come to me in the morning. As soon as supper was over I got out my
manuscripts, and sawed, and filed, and hammered away at my blessed
poems, which were little less than imitations, until nine, when I went
regularly to bed, to rise again at five. Sometimes the foreman gave me
an afternoon off on Saturday, which I devoted to literature.”

As I questioned further, it was said: “As I recall it, my father had
secured one of those legislative clerkships in 1858, which used to fall
sometimes to deserving country editors; and together we managed and
carried out a scheme for corresponding with some city papers. Going to
Columbus, the State Capital, we furnished a daily letter giving an
account of the legislative proceedings, which I mainly wrote from the
material he helped me to gather. The letters found favor, and my father
withdrew from the work wholly. These letters I furnished during two

“At the end of the first winter, a Cincinnati paper offered me the city
editorship, but one night’s round with the reporters at the police
station satisfied me that I was not meant for that kind of work. I then
returned home for the summer, and spent my time in reading, _and in
sending off poems, which regularly came back_. I worked in my father’s
printing-office; but, as soon as my task was done, went home to my
books, and worked away at them until supper. Then a German bookbinder,
with whom I was endeavoring to read Heine in the original, met me in my
father’s editorial room, and with a couple of candles on the table
between us, and our Heine and the dictionary before us, we read until we
were both tired out.”

As to the influence of this constant writing and constant study, Mr.
Howells remarked: “It was not without its immediate use. I learned

                      HOW TO CHOOSE BETWEEN WORDS,

after a study of their fitness; and, though I often employed them
decoratively, and with no vital sense of their qualities, still, in mere
decoration, they had to be chosen intelligently, and after some thought
about their structure and meaning. I could not imitate great writers
without imitating their method, which was to the last degree
intelligent. They knew what they were doing, and, although I did not
always know what I was doing, they made me wish to know, and ashamed of
not knowing. The result was beneficial.”

Mr. Howells then spoke of his astonishment, when one day he was at work
as usual in the printing-office at home, upon being invited to take a
place upon a Republican newspaper at Columbus, the Capital; where he was
given charge of the news department. This included the literary notices
and book reviews, to which, at once, he gave his prime attention.

“When did you begin to contribute to the literature of the day?”

“If you mean, when did I begin to attempt to contribute, I should need
to fix an early date, for I early had experience with rejected
manuscripts. One of my pieces, upon the familiar theme of Spring, was
the first thing I ever had in print. My father offered it to the editor
of the paper I worked on in Columbus, where we were then living, and I
first knew what he had done, when with mingled shame and pride, I saw it
in the journal. In the tumult of my emotions, I promised myself that if
I ever got through that experience safely, I would never suffer anything
else of mine to be published; but it was not long before I offered the
editor a poem, myself.”

“When did you publish your first story?”

“My next venture was a story in the Ik Marvel manner, which it was my
misfortune to carry into print. I did not really write it, but composed
it, rather, in type, at the case. It was not altogether imitated from Ik
Marvel, for I drew upon the easier art of Dickens, at times, and helped
myself out in places with bold parodies of ‘Bleak House.’ It was all
very well at the beginning, but I had not reckoned with the future
sufficiently to start with any clear ending in my mind; and, as I went
on, I began to find myself more and more in doubt about it. My material
gave out; my incidents failed me; the characters wavered, and threatened
to perish in my hands. To crown my misery, there grew up an impatience
with the story among its readers; and this found its way to me one day,
when I overheard an old farmer, who came in for his paper, say that he
‘did not think that story amounted to much.’ I did not think so either,
but it was deadly to have it put into words, and how I escaped the moral
effect of the stroke I do not know. Somehow, I managed to bring the
wretched thing to a close, and to live it slowly down.”


“My next contribution to literature was jointly with John J. Piatt, the
poet, who had worked with me as a boy in the printing-office at
Columbus. We met in Columbus, where I was then an editor, and we made
our first literary venture together in a volume entitled, ‘Poems of Two
Friends.’ _The volume became instantly and lastingly unknown to fame_;
the West waited, as it always does, to hear what the East should say.
The East said nothing, and two-thirds of the small edition of five
hundred copies came back upon the publisher’s hands. This did not deter
me, however, from contributing to the periodicals, which from time to
time, accepted my efforts.

“I remained as an editor, in Columbus, until 1861, when I was appointed

                           CONSUL AT VENICE.

I really wanted to go to Germany, that I might carry forward my studies
in German literature; and I first applied for the Consulate at Munich.
The powers at Washington thought it quite the same thing to offer me
Rome, but I found that the income of the Roman Consulate would not give
me a living, and I was forced to decline it. Then the President’s
private secretaries, Mr. John Nicolay and Mr. John Hay, who did not know
me, except as a young Westerner who had written poems in the ‘Atlantic
Monthly,’ asked me how I would like Venice, promising that the salary
would be put up to $1,000 a year. It was really put up to $1,500, and I
accepted. I had four years of nearly uninterrupted leisure at Venice.”

“Was it easier, when you returned from Venice?”

“Not at all. On my return to America, my literary life took such form
that most of my reading was done for review. I wrote at first a good
many of the lighter criticisms in ‘The Nation;’ and then I went to
Boston, to become assistant editor of ‘The Atlantic Monthly,’ where I
wrote the literary notices for that periodical for four or five years;
then I became editor until 1881. And I have had some sort of close
relation with magazines ever since.”

“Would you say that all literary success is very difficult to achieve?”
I ventured.

“All that is enduring.”

“It seems to me ours is an age when fame comes quickly.”

“Speaking of quickly made reputations,” said Mr. Howells, meditatively,
“did you ever hear of Alexander Smith? He was a poet who, in the
fifties, was proclaimed immortal by the critics, and ranked with
Shakespeare. I myself read him with an ecstasy which, when I look over
his work to-day, seems ridiculous. His poem, ‘Life-Drama,’ was heralded
as an epic, and set alongside of ‘Paradise Lost.’ I cannot tell how we
all came out of this craze, but the reading world is very susceptible to
such lunacies. He is not the only third-rate poet who has been thus
apotheosized, before and since. You might have envied his great success,
as I certainly did; but it was not success, after all; and I am sure
that real success is always difficult to achieve.”

                         MY LITERARY EXPERIENCE

“Do you believe that success comes to those who have a special bent or
taste, which they cultivate by hard work?”

“I can only answer that out of _my literary experience_. For my own
part, I believe I have _never got any good from a book, that I did not
read merely because I wanted to read it_. I think this may be applied to
anything a person does. The book, I know, which you read from a sense of
duty, or because for any reason you must, is apt to yield you little.
This, I think, is also true of everything, and the endeavor that does
one good—and lasting good,—is _the endeavor one makes with pleasure_.
Labor done in another spirit will serve in a way, but pleasurable labor
brings, on the whole, I think, the greatest reward.”

Referring again to his early years, it was remarked: “A definite
literary ambition grew up in me; and in the long reveries of the
afternoon, when I was distributing my case in the printing-office, I
fashioned a future of over-powering magnificence and undying celebrity.
I should be ashamed to say what literary triumphs I achieved in those
preposterous deliriums. But I realize now that such dreams are nerving,
and sustain one in an otherwise barren struggle.”

“Were you ever tempted and willing to abandon your object of a literary
life for something else?”

“I was, once. My first and only essay aside from literature was in _the
realm of law_. It was arranged with a United States Senator that I
should study law in his office. I tried it a month, but almost from the
first day, I yearned to return to my books. _I had not only_ _to go back
to literature, but to the printing-office, and I gladly chose to do
it,—a step I never regretted._”

                          AS TO A HAPPY LIFE,

it was said by Mr. Howells, at the close of our interview:—

“I have come to see life, not as the chase of a forever-impossible
personal happiness, but as _a field for endeavor toward the happiness of
the whole human family_. There is no other success. I know, indeed, of
nothing more subtly satisfying and cheering than a knowledge of the real
good will and appreciation of others. Such happiness does not come with
money, nor does it flow from a fine physical state. It cannot be bought.
But it is the keenest joy, after all; and the toiler’s truest and best




THE richest man in the United States, John Davidson Rockefeller, has
consented to break his rule never to talk for publication; and he has
told me the story of his early struggles and triumphs, and given
utterance to some strikingly interesting observations anent the same. In
doing so, he was influenced by the argument that there is something of
helpfulness, of inspiration, in the career of every self-made man.

While many such careers have been prolific of vivid contrasts, this one
is simply marvelous. Whatever may be said by political economists of the
dangers of vast aggregations of wealth in the hands of the few, there
can be no question of the extraordinary interest attaching to the life
story of a man who was a farm laborer at the age of fifteen, who left
school at eighteen, because he felt it to be his duty to care for his
mother and brother, and who, at the zenith of his business career, has
endowed Chicago University with $7,500,000 out of a fortune estimated at
over $300,000,000,—probably the largest single fortune on earth.

The story opens in a fertile valley in Tioga County, New York, near the
village of Richford, where John D. Rockefeller was born on his father’s
farm in July, 1838. The parents of the boy were church-going,
conscientious, debt-abhorring folk, who preferred the independence of a
few acres to a mortgaged domain. They were Americans to the backbone,
intelligent, industrious people, not very poor and certainly not very
rich, for at fourteen John hired out to neighboring farmers during the
summer months, in order to earn his way and not be dependent upon those
he loved. His father was able to attend to the little farm himself, and
thus it happened that the youth spent several summers away from home,
toiling from sunrise to sunset, and sharing the humble life of the
people he served.

                      HIS EARLY DREAM AND PURPOSE

Did the tired boy, peering from his attic window, ever dream of his

He said to a youthful companion of Richford, a farmer’s boy like
himself: “I would like to own all the land in this valley, as far as I
can see. I sometimes dream of wealth and power. Do you think we shall
ever be worth one hundred thousand dollars, you and I? I hope to,—some

Who can estimate the influence such a life as this must have had upon
the future multi-millionaire? I asked Mr. Rockefeller about this, and
found him enthusiastic over the advantages which he had received from
his rural surroundings, and full of faith in the ability of the country
boy to surpass his city cousin.

“To my mind,” he said, “there is something unfortunate in being born in
a city. Most young men raised in New York and other large centers have
not had the struggles which come to us who were reared in the country.
It is a noticeable fact that the country men are crowding out the city
fellows who have wealthy fathers. They are willing to do more work and
go through more for the sake of winning success in the end. Sons of
wealthy parents haven’t a ghost of a show in competition with the
fellows who come from the country with a determination to do something
in the world.”

The next step in the young man’s life was his going to Cleveland, Ohio,
in his sixteenth year.

“That was a great change in my life,” said he. “Going to Cleveland was
my first experience in a great city, and I shall never forget those
years. I began work there as an office-boy, and learned a great deal
about business methods while filling that position. But what benefited
me most in going to Cleveland was the new insight I gained as to what a
great place the world really is. I had plenty of ambition then, and saw
that, if I was to accomplish much, I would have to work very, very hard,

                              SCHOOL DAYS

He found time, during the year 1854, to attend the sessions of the
school which is now known as the Central High School. It was a brick
edifice, surrounded by grounds which contained a number of hickory
trees. It has long since been superseded by a larger and handsomer
building, but Andrew J. Freese, the teacher, is still living. It is one
of the proudest recollections of this delightful old gentleman’s life
that John D. Rockefeller went to school with him. I visited him at his
residence in Cleveland the other day, and he said:—

“John was one of the best boys I had. He was always polite, but when the
other boys threw hickory clubs at him, or attempted any undue
familiarities with him, he would stop smiling and sail into them. Young
Hanna—Marcus A. Hanna,—who was also a pupil, learned this, to his cost,
more than once, and so did young Jones, the present Nevada senator. I
have had several very distinguished pupils, you see, and one of my girls
is now Mrs. John D. Rockefeller. I had Edward Wolcott, the Colorado
senator, later on. Yes, John was about as intelligent and well-behaved a
chap as I ever had. Here is one of his essays which you may copy, if you

Mr. Rockefeller, I am quite sure, will pardon me for copying his
composition at this late day, for its tone and subject matter reflect
credit upon him:—

“Freedom is one of the most desirable of all blessings. Even the
smallest bird or insect loves to be free. Take, for instance, a robin
that has always been free to fly from tree to tree, and sing its
cheerful song from day to day,—catch it, and put it into a cage which is
to it nothing less than a prison, and, although it may be there tended
with the choicest care, yet it is not content. How eloquently does it
plead, though in silence, for liberty. From day to day it sits
mournfully upon its perch, meditating, as it were, some way for its
escape, and when at last this is effected, how cheerfully does it wing
its way out from its gloomy prison-house to sing undisturbed in the
branches of the first trees.

“If even the birds of the air love freedom, is it not natural that man,
the lord of creation, should? I reply that it is, and that it is a
violation of the laws of our country, and the laws of our God, that man
should hold his fellowman in bondage. Yet how many thousands there are
at the present time, even in our own country, who are bound down by
cruel masters to toil beneath the scorching sun of the South. How can
America, under such circumstances, call herself free? Is it extending
freedom by granting to the South one of the largest divisions of land
that she possesses for the purpose of holding slaves? It is a freedom
that, if not speedily checked, will end in the ruin of our country.”

It was greatly to the regret of the teacher that John came to him one
day to announce his purpose to leave school. Mr. Freese urged him to
remain two years longer, in order that he might complete the course, but
the young man told him he felt obliged to earn more money than he was
getting, because of his desire to provide for his mother and brother. He
had received an offer, he said, of a place on the freight docks as a
bill clerk, and this job would take him away from his studies.

                          A RAFT OF HOOP POLES

A short time afterwards, when Mr. Freese visited his former pupil at the
freight dock, he found the young man seated on a bale of goods, bill
book and pencil in hand. Pointing to a raft of hoop poles in the water,
John told his caller that he had purchased them from a Canadian who had
brought them across Lake Erie, expecting to sell them. Failing in this,
the owner gladly accepted a cash offer from young Rockefeller, who named
a price below the usual market rates. The young man explained that he
_had saved a little money out of his wages_, and that this was his first
speculation. He afterwards told Mr. Freese that he rafted the purchase
himself to a flour mill, and disposed of his bargain at a profit of
fifty dollars.[3]

Footnote 3:

  This hoop pole story is matched by another, related by a friend, of
  Rockefeller’s later warehouse days in Cleveland. He one day bought a
  lot of beans. He bought them cheap, because they were damaged. Instead
  of selling them at a slight advance, as most dealers would have done,
  he spent all his spare time, for weeks, in the attic of his warehouse,
  sorting over those beans. He took out all the blackened and injured
  ones, and in the end he got a fancy price for the remainder, because
  they were of extra quality.

                            THE ODOR OF OIL

It was Mr. Freese, too, who first got the young man interested in oil.
They were using sperm oil in those days, at a dollar and a half a
gallon. Somebody had found natural petroleum, thick, slimy, and
foul-smelling, in the Pennsylvania creeks, and a quantity of it had been
received in Cleveland by a next-door neighbor of the schoolmaster. The
neighbor thought it could be utilized in some way, but his experiments
were as crude as the ill-favored stuff itself. These consisted of
boiling, burning, and otherwise testing the oil, and the only result was
the incurring of the disfavor of the near-by residents. The young man
became interested at once. He, too, experimented with the black slime,
draining off the clearer portions and touching matches to it. The flames
were sickly, yellow, and malodorous.

“_There must be some way of deodorizing this oil_,” said John, “_and I
will find it_. There ought to be a good sale for it for illuminating
purposes, if the good oil can be separated from the sediment, and that
awful smell gotten rid of.”

How well the young man profited by the accidental meeting is a matter of
history. But I am digressing.


While in Cleveland, slaving away at his tasks, Mr. Rockefeller was
training himself for the more busy days to come. He kept a small ledger
in which he entered all his receipts and expenditures, and I had the
privilege of examining this interesting little book, and having its
contents explained to me. It was nothing more than a small, paper-backed
memorandum book.

“When I looked this book up the other day, I thought I had but the
cover,” said Mr. Rockefeller, “but, on examination, I perceived that I
had utilized the cover to write on. In those days I was very economical,
just as I am economical now. Economy is a virtue. I hadn’t seen my
little ledger for a long time, when I found it among some old things. It
is more than forty-two years ago since I wrote what it contains. I
called it ‘Ledger A,’ and I wouldn’t exchange it now for all the ledgers
in New York city and their contents. A glance through it shows me how
carefully I kept account of my receipts and disbursements. I only wish
more young men could be induced to keep accounts like this nowadays. It
would go far toward teaching them the value of money.

“_Every young man should take care of his money. I think it is a man’s
duty to make all the money he can, keep all he can, and give away all he
can._ I have followed this principle religiously all my life, as is
evidenced in this book. It tells me just what I did with my money during
my first few years in business. Between September, 1855, and January,
1856, I received just fifty dollars. Out of this sum I paid for my
washing and my board, and managed to save a little besides. I find, in
looking through the book, that I gave a cent to Sunday school every
Sunday. It wasn’t much, but it was all that I could afford to give to
that particular object. _What I could afford to give to the_ _various
religious and charitable works, I gave regularly. It is a good habit for
a young man to get into._

“During my second year in Cleveland, I earned twenty-five dollars a
month. I was beginning to be a capitalist,” said Mr. Rockefeller, “and I
suppose I ought to have considered myself a criminal for having so much
money. I paid all my own bills at this time, and had some money to give
away. I also had the happiness of saving some. I am not sure, but I was
more independent then than now. I couldn’t buy the most fashionable cut
of clothing, but I dressed well enough. I certainly did not buy any
clothes I couldn’t pay for, as some young men do that I know of. I
didn’t make any obligations I could not meet, and _my earnest advice is
for every young man to live within his means. One of the swiftest
‘toboggan slides’ I know of, is for a young fellow just starting out
into the world to go into debt._

“During the time between November, 1855, and April, 1856, I paid out
just nine dollars and nine cents for clothing. And there is one item
that was certainly extravagant as I usually wore mittens in the winter.
This item is for fur gloves, two dollars and a half. In this same period
_I gave away five dollars and fifty-eight cents. In one month I gave to
foreign missions, ten cents, to the mite society, fifty cents, and
twelve cents to the Five Points Mission, in New York._ I wasn’t living
here then, of course, but I suppose I thought the Mission needed money.
These little contributions of mine were not large, but they brought me
into direct contact with church work, and that has been a benefit to me
all my life. It is a mistake for a man to think that he must be rich to
help others.”

                          TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS

_He earned and saved ten thousand dollars before he was twenty-five
years old._

Before he attained his majority, Rockefeller formed a partnership with
another young man named Hewett, and began a warehouse and produce
business. This was the natural outgrowth of his freight clerkship on the
docks. _In five years, he had amassed about ten thousand dollars_
besides earning a reputation for business capacity and probity.

                         HE REMEMBERED THE OIL

He never forgot those experiments with the crude oil. Discoveries became
more and more frequent in the Pennsylvania oil territory. There was a
rush of speculators to the new land of fortune. Men owning impoverished
farms suddenly found themselves rich. Thousands of excited men bid
wildly against each other for newly-shot wells, paying fabulous sums
occasionally for dry holes.

                            KEEPING HIS HEAD

John D. Rockefeller looked the entire field over carefully and calmly.
Never for a moment did he lose his head. His Cleveland bankers and
business friends had asked him to purchase some wells, if he saw fit,
offering to back him up with $75,000 for his own investment [he was
worth about $10,000 at the time], and to put in $400,000 more on his

_The business judgment of this young man at twenty-five was so good,
that his neighbors were willing to invest half a million dollars at his

He returned to Cleveland without investing a dollar. Instead of joining
the mad crowd of producers, he sagaciously determined to begin at the
other end of the business,—the refining of the product.


The use of petroleum was dangerous at that time, on account of the
highly inflammable gases it contained. Many persons stuck to candles and
sperm oil through fear of an explosion if they used the new illuminant.
The process of removing these superfluous gases by refining, or
distilling, as it was then called, was in its infancy. There were few
men who knew anything about it.

Among Rockefeller’s acquaintances in Cleveland was one of these men. His
name was Samuel Andrews. He had worked in a distillery, and was familiar
with the process. He believed that there was a great business to be
built up by removing the gases from the crude oil and making it safe for
household use. Rockefeller listened to him, and became convinced that he
was right. Here was a field as wide as the world, limited only by the
production of crude oil. It was a proposition on which he could figure
and make sure of the result. It was just the thing Rockefeller had been
looking for. He decided to leave the production of oil to others, and to
devote his attention to preparing it for market.

Andrews was a brother commission merchant. The two started a refinery,
each closing out his former business connection. In two weeks it was
running night and day to fill orders. So great was the demand, and so
great was the judgment of young Rockefeller,—seeing what no one else had

A second refinery had to be built at once, and in two years their plants
were turning out two thousand barrels of refined petroleum per day.
Henry M. Flagler, already wealthy, came into the firm, the name of which
then became Rockefeller, Flagler and Andrews. More refineries were
built, not only at Cleveland, but also at other advantageous points.
Competing refineries were bought or rendered ineffective by the cutting
of prices.

It is related that Mr. Andrews became one day dissatisfied, and he was
asked,—“What will you take for your interest?” Andrews wrote carelessly
on a piece of paper,—“One million dollars.” Within twenty-four hours he
was handed that amount; Mr. Rockefeller saying,—“Cheaper at one million
than ten.” In building up the refinery business Rockefeller was the
head; the others were the hands. He was always the general commanding,
the tactician. He made the plans and his associates carried them out.
Here was the post for which he had fitted himself, and in which his
genius for planning had full sway. In the conduct of the refinery
affairs, as in every enterprise in which he has taken part, he
exemplified another rule to which he had adhered from his boyhood days.
He was the leader in whatever he undertook. In going into any
undertaking, John D. Rockefeller has made it his rule to have the chief
authority in his own hands or to have nothing to do with the matter.

                              STANDARD OIL

In 1870, when Mr. Rockefeller was thirty-two years old, the business was
merged into the Standard Oil Company, starting with a capital of one
million dollars. Other pens have written the later story of that great
corporation; how it started pipe lines to carry the oil to the seaboard;
how it earned millions in by-products which had formerly run to waste;
how it covered the markets of the world in its keen search for trade,
distancing all competition, and cheapening its own processes so that its
dividends in one year, 1899, amounted to $23,000,000 in excess of the
fixed dividend upon the whole capital stock. This is the outcome of
thirty years’ development. The corporation is now the greatest business
combination of modern times, or of any age of the world. Mr.
Rockefeller’s annual income from his holdings of Standard Oil stock is
estimated at about sixteen millions of dollars.

                     MR. ROCKEFELLER’S PERSONALITY

The brains of all this, the owner of the largest percentage of the stock
in the parent corporation, and in most of the lesser ones, is now
sixty-two years old. His personality is simple and unaffected, his
tastes domestic, and the trend of his thoughts decidedly religious. His
Cleveland residential estate is superb, covering a large tract of
park-like land,—but even there he has shown his unselfishness by
donating a large portion of his land to the city for park purposes. His
New York home is not a pretentious place,—solid, but by no means elegant
in outward appearance. Between the two homes he divides his time with
his wife and children. He is an earnest and hardworking member of the
Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, in New York, and does much to promote the
good work carried on by that organization. He is particularly interested
in the Sunday-school work.

                             AT THE OFFICE

He arises early in the morning, at his home, and, after a light
breakfast, attends to some of his personal affairs there. He is always
early on hand at the great Standard Oil building on lower Broadway, New
York, and, during the day, he transacts business connected with the
management of that vast corporation. There is hardly one of our business
men of whom the public at large knows so little. He avoids publicity as
most men would the plague. The result is that he is the only one of our
very wealthy men who maintains the reputation of being different from
the ordinary run of mortals. To most newspaper readers, he is a man of
mystery, a sort of financial wizard who sits in his office and heaps up
wealth after the fashion of Aladdin and other fairy-tale heroes.

All this is wide of the mark. It would be hard to find a more
commonplace, matter-of-fact man than John D. Rockefeller. His tall form,
with the suggestion of a stoop in it, his pale, thoughtful face and
reserved manner, suggest the scholar or professional man rather than an
industrial Hercules or a Napoleon of finance. He speaks in a slow,
deliberate manner, weighing each word. There is nothing impulsive or
bombastic about him. But his conversation impresses one as consisting of
about one hundred per cent. of cold, compact, boiled-down common sense.

Here is to be noted one characteristic of the great oil magnate which
has helped to make him what he is. The popular idea of a
multi-millionaire is a man who has taken big risks, and has come out
luckily. He is a living refutation of this conception. He is careful and
cautious by nature, and he has made these traits habitual for a
lifetime; he conducts all his affairs on the strictest business


The qualities which have made him so successful are largely those which
go to the making of any successful business man,—industry, thrift,
perseverance, and foresight. Three of these qualities would have made
him a rich man; the last has distinguished him as the richest man. One
of his business associates said of him, the other day:—

“I believe the secret of his success, so far as there is any secret,
lies in power of foresight, which often seems to his associates to be
wonderful. It comes simply from his habit of looking at every side of a
question, of weighing the favorable and unfavorable features of a
situation, and of sifting out the inevitable result through his
unfailing good judgment.”

This is his own personal statement, put into other words, so it may be
accepted as true. The encouraging part of it is that, while such
foresight as Rockefeller displays may be ascribed partly to natural
endowment, both he and his friend say that it is more largely a matter
of habit, made effective by continual practice.


At noon he takes a very simple lunch at his club, or at some downtown
restaurant. The lunch usually consists of a bowl of bread and milk. He
remains at the office until late in the afternoon, and before dinner he
takes some exercise. _In winter, he skates when possible._ And at other
seasons of the year he nearly always drives in the park or on the
avenues. Mr. Rockefeller has great faith in fresh air as a tonic.

                                AT HOME

The evenings are nearly always spent at home, for neither Mr.
Rockefeller nor any of the children are fond of “society,” as the word
is understood in New York. The children seem to have inherited many of
their father’s sensible ideas, and John D. Rockefeller, Jr., has
apparently escaped the fate of most rich men’s sons. He has a deep sense
of responsibility as the heir-apparent to so much wealth; and, since his
graduation from college, he has devoted himself to a business career,
starting at the bottom and working upward, step by step. It is now
generally known that he has been very successful in his business
ventures, and he bids fair to become a worthy successor to his father.
He is now actively engaged in important philanthropic enterprises in New
York. Miss Bessie became the wife of a poor clergyman of the Baptist
Church in Cleveland; while Miss Alta is married to a prominent young
business man in Chicago.


Mr. Rockefeller has during many years turned over to his children a
great many letters from needy people, asking them to exercise their own
judgment in distributing charities.

While he has himself given away millions for education and charity, he
would have given more were it not for his dread of seeming ostentatious.
But he never gives indiscriminately, nor out of hand. When a charity
appeals to him, he investigates it thoroughly, just as he would a
business scheme. If he decides that its object is worthy, he gives
liberally; otherwise, not a cent can be got out of him.

It may be imagined that such a man is busy to the full limit of his
working capacity. This is true. He is too busy for any of the pastimes
and pleasures in which most wealthy men seek diversion. He is thoroughly
devoted to his home and family, and spends as much as possible of his
time with them. He is a man who views life seriously, but in his quiet
way he can get as much enjoyment out of a good story or a meeting with
an old friend as can any other man.


When I asked Mr. Rockefeller what he considers has most helped him in
obtaining success in business, he answered: “It was early training, and
the fact that I was willing to persevere. I do not think there is any
other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of
perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.”

It is to be said of his business enterprises, looking at them in a large
way, that he has given to the world good honest oil, of standard
quality; that his employees are always well paid; that he has given away
more money in benevolence than any other business man in America. And
everything about the man indicates that he is likely to “persevere” in
the course he has so long pursued, turning his vast wealth into
institutes for public service.

                       A GENIUS FOR MONEY MAKING

“There are men born with a genius for money-making,” says Mathews. “They
have the instinct of accumulation. The talent and the inclination to
convert dollars into doubloons by bargains or shrewd investments are in
them just as strongly marked and as uncontrollable as were the ability
and the inclination of Shakespeare to produce Hamlet and Othello, of
Raphael to paint his cartoons, of Beethoven to compose his symphonies,
or Morse to invent an electric telegraph. As it would have been a gross
dereliction of duty, a shameful perversion of gifts, had these latter
disregarded the instincts of their genius and engaged in the scramble
for wealth, so would a Rothschild, an Astor, and a Peabody have sinned
had they done violence to their natures, and thrown their energies into
channels where they would have proved dwarfs and not giants.”

The opportunity which came to young Rockefeller does not occur many
times in many ages: and in a generous interpretation of his opportunity
he has already invested a great deal of his earnings in permanently
useful philanthropies.



The Author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic—Her Views of Education for
    Young Women

A POET, author, lecturer, wit and conversationalist, Mrs. Julia Ward
Howe unites with the attributes of a tender, womanly nature—which has
made her the idol of her husband and children—the sterner virtues of a
reformer; the unflinching courage which dares to stand with a small
minority in the cause of right; the indomitable perseverance and force
of character which persist in the demand for justice in face of the
determined opposition of narrow prejudice and old-time conservatism.

Although more Bostonian than the Bostonians themselves, Mrs. Howe first
saw the light in New York, and has spent much of her later life at
Newport. Born in 1819, in a stately mansion near the Bowling Green, then
the most fashionable quarter of New York, she was the fourth child of
Samuel Ward and Julia Cutler Ward, people of unusual culture,
refinement, and high ideals. Mr. Ward was a man of spotless honor and
business integrity; and, although not wealthy as compared with the
millionaires of to-day, his fortune was ample enough to surround his
wife and children with all the luxuries and refinements that the most
fastidious nature could crave. Mrs. Ward possessed a rare combination of
personal charms and mental gifts, which endeared her to all who had the
privilege of knowing her. All too soon, the death angel came and bore
away the lovely young wife and mother, then in her twenty-eighth year.

Rousing himself, with a great effort, from the grief into which the
death of his wife had plunged him, Mr. Ward devoted himself to the
training, and education of his children. Far in advance of his age in
the matter of higher education for women he selected as the tutor of his
daughters the learned Doctor Joseph Green Cogswell, with instruction to
teach them the full curriculum of Harvard college.

                           “LITTLE MISS WARD”

The scholarly and refined atmosphere of her father’s home, which was the
resort of the most distinguished men of letters of the day, was an
admirable school for the development of the literary and philosophic
mind of the “little Miss Ward,” as Mr. Ward’s eldest daughter had been
called from childhood.

Learned even beyond advanced college graduates of to-day, an
accomplished linguist, a musical amateur of great promise, the young and
beautiful Miss Julia Ward, of Bond street, soon became a leader of the
cultured and fashionable circle in which she moved. In the series,
“Authors at Home,” by M. C. Sherwood, we get a glimpse of her, about
that time, in a whimsical entry from the diary of a Miss Hamilton,
written at the time of the return of Doctor Howe, from Greece, whither
he had gone to fight the Turks:—

“I walked down Broadway with all the fashion and met the pretty blue
stocking, Miss Julia Ward, with her admirer, Doctor Howe, just home from
Europe. She had on a blue satin cloak and a white muslin dress. I looked
to see if she had on blue stockings, but I think not. I suspect that her
stockings were pink, and she wore low slippers, as grandmamma does. They
say she dreams in Italian and quotes French verses. She sang very
prettily at a party last evening. I noticed how white her hands were.
Still, though attractive, the muse is not handsome.”

                         SHE MARRIED A REFORMER

Soon after the loss of her father, in 1839, Miss Ward paid the first of
a series of visits to Boston, where she met, among other distinguished
people who became life-long friends, Sarah Margaret Fuller, Horace Mann,
Charles Sumner, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. In 1843 she was married to the
director of the institute for the blind, in South Boston, the physician
and reformer, Doctor Samuel G. Howe, of whom Sydney Smith
spoke—referring to the remarkable results attained in his education of
Laura Bridgman,—as “a modern Pygmalion who has put life into a statue.”
Immediately after their marriage, Doctor and Mrs. Howe sailed for
Europe, making London their first stopping place. There they met many
famous men and women, among them Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, Sydney
Smith, Thomas Moore, the Duchess of Sutherland, John Forster, Samuel
Rogers, Richard Monckton Milnes, and many others. After an extensive
continental tour, including the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany,
France, and Italy, Doctor and Mrs. Howe returned home and took up their
residence in South Boston.

One of her friends has said: “Mrs. Howe wrote leading articles from her
cradle;” and it is true that at seventeen, at least, she was an
anonymous but valued contributor to the _New York Magazine_, then a
prominent periodical. In 1854, her first volume of poems was published.
She named it “Passion Flowers,” and the Boston world of letters hailed
her as a new poet. Though published anonymously, the volume at once
revealed its author; and Mrs. Howe was welcomed into the poetic
fraternity by such shining lights as Emerson, Whittier, Longfellow,
Bryant, and Holmes. The poem by which the author will be forever
enshrined in her country’s memory is, _par excellence_, “The Battle Hymn
of the Republic,” which, like Kipling’s “Recessional,” sang itself at
once into the heart of the nation. As any sketch of Mrs. Howe would be
incomplete without the story of the birth of this great song of America,
it is here given in brief.


It was in the first year of our Civil War that Mrs. Howe, in company
with her husband and friends, visited Washington. During their stay in
that city, the party went to see a review of troops, which, however, was
interrupted by a movement of the enemy, and had to be put off for the
day. The carriage in which Mrs. Howe was seated with her friends was
surrounded by armed men; and, as they rode along, she began to sing, to
the great delight of the soldiers, “John Brown.” “Good for you!” shouted
the boys in blue, who, with a will, took up the refrain. Mrs. Howe then
began conversing with her friends on the momentous events of the hour,
and expressed the strong desire she felt to write some words which might
be sung to this stirring tune, adding that she feared she would never be
able to do so. “She went to sleep,” says her daughter, Maude Howe Eliot,
“full of thoughts of battle, and awoke before dawn the next morning to
find the desired verses immediately present to her mind. She sprang from
her bed, and in the dim gray light found a pen, and paper, whereon she
wrote, scarcely seeing them, the lines of the poem. Returning to her
couch, she was soon asleep, but not until she had said to herself, ‘I
like this better than anything I have ever written before.’”

                          “EIGHTY YEARS YOUNG”

Of Mrs. Howe it may very fittingly be said that she is eighty years
young. Her blue eye retains its brightness, and her dignified carriage
betokens none of the feebleness of age. Above all, her mind seems to
hold, in a marvelous degree, its youthful vigor and elasticity; a fact
that especially impressed me as the author of “The Battle Hymn of the
Republic” expressed her views on the desirability of a college training
for girls.

“The girls who go to college,” said Mrs. Howe, “are very much in
request, I should say for everything,—certainly for teaching. Then,
naturally, if they wish to follow literature, they have a very great
advantage over those who have not had the benefit of a college course,
having a liberal education to begin with.”

“Which is the greater advantage to a girl, to have talent or great

“In order to accomplish anything really worth doing, I think great
perseverance is of the first importance. On the other hand, one cannot
do a great deal without talent, while special talent without
perseverance never amounts to much. I once heard Mr. Emerson say,
‘Genius without character is mere friskiness;’ and we all know of highly
gifted people, who, because lacking the essential quality of
perseverance, accomplish very little in the world.”

“Do you think the college girl will exercise a greater influence on
modern progress and the civilization of the future than her untrained

“Oh, very much greater,” was the quick, emphatic reply. “In the first
place, I think that college-bred girls are quite as likely to marry as
others, and when a college girl marries, then the whole family is lifted
to a higher plane, the natural result of the well-trained, cultivated
mind. Mothers of old, you know, were very ignorant. Indeed, it is sad to
think what few advantages they had. Of course, some of them had
opportunities to study alone, but this solitary study could not
accomplish for them what the colleges, with their corps of specialists
and trained professors, are doing for the young women of to-day.”

                           THE IDEAL COLLEGE

Speaking of the advantages and disadvantages of coeducational
institutions, Mrs. Howe said:—

“While there are many advantages in coeducation, there are also some
dangers. The great advantage consists in the mingling of both sorts of
mind, the masculine and the feminine. This gives a completeness that
cannot otherwise be obtained. I have observed that when committees are
made up of both men and women, we get a roundness and completeness that
are lacking when the membership is composed of either sex alone; and so
in college recitations, where the boys present their side and the girls
theirs, we get better results. This, of course, is natural. Fortunately,
so far, scandals have been very rare, if found at all, in coeducation at
colleges. Many people, however, would not care to trust their children,
nor would we send every girl, to such colleges; and, for this reason, I
am glad that we have women’s colleges. I think, however, that, if the
students are at all earnest, and have high ideals set before them, the
coeducational is the ideal college; for the course in these colleges is
like a great intellectual race, which arouses and stimulates all the
nobler faculties.”

“What influence do you think environment has on one’s career,—on success
in life?”

“What do you mean by environment?”

“Well, I mean especially the sort of people with whom one is associated;
their order of mind?”

“I think it has a very important effect. If we are kept perpetually
under lowering influences—lowering both morally and æsthetically,—the
tendency will inevitably be to drag us down. I say æsthetically, because
I think in that sense good taste is a part of good morals. You can, of
course, have good taste without good morals; but with morality there is
a certain feeling or measure of reserve and nicety which does not
accompany good taste without good morals. You know St. Paul says: ‘Evil
communications corrupt good manners.’ That is as true to-day as it ever
was. We can’t always be with our equals or our superiors, however; we
must take people as we find them. But we should try to be with people
who stand for high things, morally and intellectually. Then, when we
have to be among people of a lower grade, we can help them, because I
think human nature, on the whole, desires to be elevated rather than

“Do you think it is necessary to success in life to have a special aim?”

“I think it is a great thing to have a special aim or talent, and it is
better to make one thing the leading interest in life than to run after





TO discover the opinion of Thomas A. Edison concerning what makes and
constitutes success in life is an easy matter—if one can first discover
Mr. Edison. I camped three weeks in the vicinity of Orange, N.J.,
awaiting the opportunity to come upon the great inventor and voice my
questions. It seemed a rather hopeless and discouraging affair until he
was really before me; but, truth to say, he is one of the most
accessible of men, and only reluctantly allows himself to be hedged in
by pressure of endless affairs.

“Mr. Edison is always glad to see any visitor,” said a gentleman who is
continually with him, “except when he is hot on the trail of something
he has been working for, and then it is as much as a man’s head is worth
to come in on him.”

He certainly was not hot on the trail of anything on the morning when,
for the tenth time, I rang at the gate in the fence which surrounds the
laboratory on Valley Road, Orange. A young man appeared, who conducted
me up the walk to the Edison laboratory office.

                              THE LIBRARY

is a place not to be passed through without thought, for, with a further
store of volumes in his home, it contains one of the most costly and
well-equipped scientific libraries in the world; the collection of
writings on patent laws and patents, for instance, is absolutely
exhaustive. It gives, at a glance, an idea of the breadth of thought and
sympathy of this man who grew up with scarcely a common school

On the second floor, in one of the offices of the machine shop, I was
asked to wait, while a grimy youth disappeared with my card, which he
said he would “slip under the door of Mr. Edison’s office.”

“Curious,” I thought; “what a lord this man must be if they dare not
even knock at his door!”

Thinking of this and gazing out the window, I waited until a working
man, who had entered softly, came up beside me. He looked with a sort of
“Well, what is it?” in his eyes, and quickly it began to come to me that
the man in the sooty, oil-stained clothes was Edison himself. The
working garb seemed rather incongruous, but there was no mistaking the
broad forehead, with its shock of blackish hair streaked with gray. The
gray eyes, too, were revelations in the way of alert comprehensiveness.

“Oh!” was all I could get out at the time.

“Want to see me?” he said, smiling in the most youthful and genial way.

“Why,—yes, certainly, to be sure,” I stammered.

He looked at me blankly.

“You’ll have to talk louder,” said an assistant who worked in another
portion of the room; “he don’t hear well.”

This fact was new to me, but I raised my voice with celerity, and piped
thereafter in an exceedingly shrill key. After the usual humdrum opening
remarks, in which he acknowledged his age as fifty-two years, and that
he was born in Erie county, O., of Dutch parentage, the family having
emigrated to America in 1730, the particulars began to grow more

His great-grandfather, I learned, was a banker of high standing in New
York; and, when Thomas was but a child of seven years, the family
fortune suffered reverses so serious as to make it necessary that he
should become a wage-earner at an unusually early age, and that the
family should move from his birth-place to Michigan.

“Did you enjoy mathematics as a boy?” I asked.

“Not much,” he replied. “I tried to read Newton’s ‘Principia,’ at the
age of eleven. That disgusted me with pure mathematics, and I don’t
wonder now. I should not have been allowed to take up such serious

“You were anxious to learn?”

“Yes, indeed, _I attempted to read through the entire Free Library at
Detroit_, but other things interfered before I had done.”

                           A CHEMICAL NEWSBOY

“Were you a book-worm and dreamer?” I questioned.

“Not at all,” he answered, using a short, jerky method, as though he
were unconsciously checking himself up. “I became a newsboy, and liked
the work. Made my first coup as a newsboy in 1869.”

“What was it?” I ventured.

“I bought up on ‘futures’ a thousand copies of the _Detroit Free Press_
containing important war news,—gained a little time on my rivals, and
sold the entire batch like hot cakes. The price reached twenty-five
cents a paper before the end of the route,” and he laughed. “I ran the
_Grand Trunk Herald_, too, at that time—a little paper I issued from the

“When did you begin to be interested in invention?” I questioned.

“Well,” he said, “I began to dabble in chemistry at that time. I fitted
up a small laboratory on the train.”

In reference to this, Mr. Edison subsequently admitted that, during the
progress of some occult experiments in this workshop, certain
complications ensued in which a jolted and broken bottle of sulphuric
acid attracted the attention of the conductor. He, who had been long
suffering in the matter of unearthly odors, promptly ejected the young
devotee and all his works. This incident would have been only amusing
but for its relation to, and explanation of, his deafness. A box on the
ear, administered by the irate conductor, caused the lasting deafness.


“What was your first work in a practical line?” I went on.

“A telegraph line between my home and another boy’s, I made with the
help of an old river cable, some stove-pipe wire, and glass-bottle
insulators. I had my laboratory in the cellar and studied telegraphy

“What was the first really important thing you did?”

“I saved a boy’s life.”


“The boy was playing on the track near the depot. I saw he was in danger
and caught him, getting out of the way just in time. His father was
station-master, and taught me telegraphy in return.”

Dramatic situations appear at every turn of this man’s life. He seems to
have been continually arriving on the scene at critical moments, and
always with the good sense to take things in his own hands. The chance
of learning telegraphy only gave him a chance to show how apt a pupil he
was, and the railroad company soon gave him regular employment. At
seventeen, he had become one of the most expert operators on the road.

“Did you make much use of your inventive talent at this time?” I

“Yes,” he answered. “I invented an automatic attachment for my telegraph
instrument which would send in the signal to show I was awake at my
post, when I was comfortably snoring in a corner. I didn’t do much of
that, though,” he went on; “for some such boyish trick sent me in
disgrace over the line into Canada.”

“Were you there long?”

“Only a winter. If it’s incident you want, I can tell you one of that
time. The place where I was and Sarnier, the American town, were cut off
from telegraphic and other means of communication by the storms, until I
got at a locomotive whistle and tooted a telegraphic message. I had to
do it again and again, but eventually they understood over the water and
answered in the same way.”

According to his own and various recorded accounts, Edison was
successively in charge of important wires in Memphis, Cincinnati, New
Orleans, and Louisville. He lived in the free-and-easy atmosphere of the
tramp operators—a boon companion with them, yet absolutely refusing to
join in the dissipations to which they were addicted. So highly esteemed
was he for his honesty, that it was the custom of his colleagues, when a
spree was on hand, to make him the custodian of those funds which they
felt obliged to save. On a more than usually hilarious occasion, one of
them returned rather the worse for wear, and knocked the treasurer down
on his refusal to deliver the trust money; the other depositors, we may
be glad to note, gave the ungentlemanly tippler a sound thrashing.

                            HIS USE OF MONEY

“Were you good at saving your own money?” I asked.

“No,” he said, smiling. “I never was much for saving money, as money. I
devoted every cent, regardless of future needs, to scientific books and
materials for experiments.”

“You believe that an excellent way to succeed?”

“Well, it helped me greatly to future success.”


“What was your next invention?” I inquired.

“An automatic telegraph recorder—a machine which enabled me to record
dispatches at leisure, and send them off as fast as needed.”

“How did you come to hit upon that?”

“Well, at the time, I was in such straits that I had to walk from
Memphis to Louisville. At the Louisville station they offered me a
place. I had perfected a style of handwriting which would allow me to
take legibly from the wire, long hand, forty-seven and even fifty-four
words a minute, but I was only a moderately rapid sender. I had to do
something to help me on that side, and so I thought out that little

Later I discovered an article by one of his biographers, in which a
paragraph referring to this Louisville period, says:—

“True to his dominant instincts, he was not long in gathering around him
a laboratory, printing-office, and machine shop. He took press reports
during his whole stay, including on one occasion, the Presidential
message, by Andrew Johnson, and this at one sitting, from 3.30 P.M. to
4.30 A.M.

“He then paragraphed the matter he had received over the wires, so that
printers had exactly three lines each, thus enabling them to set up a
column in two or three minutes’ time. For this, he was allowed all the
exchanges he desired, and the Louisville press gave him a dinner.”

“How did you manage to attract public attention to your ability?” I

“I didn’t manage,” said the Wizard. “Some things I did created comment.
A device that I invented in 1868, which utilized one sub-marine cable
for two circuits, caused considerable talk, and the Franklin telegraph
office of Boston gave me a position.”

It is related of this, Mr. Edison’s first trip East, that he came with
no ready money and in a rather dilapidated condition. His colleagues
were tempted by his “hayseed” appearance to “salt” him, as professional
slang terms the process of giving a receiver matter faster than he can
record it. For this purpose, the new man was assigned to a wire
manipulated by a New York operator famous for his speed. But there was
no fun at all. Notwithstanding the fact that the New Yorker was in the
game and was doing his most speedy clip, Edison wrote out the long
message accurately, and, when he realized the situation, was soon firing
taunts over the wire at the sender’s slowness.

“Had you patented many things up to the time of your coming East?” I

“Nothing,” said the inventor, ruminatively. “I received my first patent
in 1869.”

“For what?”

“A machine for recording votes, and designed to be used in the State

“I didn’t know such machines were in use,” I ventured.

“They ar’n’t,” he answered, with a merry twinkle. “The better it worked,
the more impossible it was; the sacred right of the minority, you
know,—couldn’t filibuster if they used it,—didn’t use it.”


“Yes, it was an ingenious thing. Votes were clearly pointed and shown on
a roll of paper, by a small machine attached to the desk of each member.
I was made to learn that such an innovation was out of the question, but
it taught me something.”

“And that was?”

“To be sure of the practical need of, and demand for, a machine, before
expending time and energy on it.”

“Is that one of your maxims of success?”

“It is. It is a good rule to give people something they want, and they
will pay money to get it.”

                     HIS ARRIVAL AT THE METROPOLIS

In this same year, Edison removed from Boston to New York, friendless
and in debt on account of the expenses of his experiment. For several
weeks he wandered about the town with actual hunger staring him in the
face. It was a time of great financial excitement, and with that strange
quality of Fortunism, which seems to be his chief characteristic, he
entered the establishment of the Law Gold Reporting Company just as
their entire plant had shut down on account of an accident in the
machinery that could not be located. The heads of the firm were anxious
and excited to the last degree, and a crowd of the Wall street
fraternity waited about for the news which came not. The shabby stranger
put his finger on the difficulty at once, and was given lucrative
employment. In the rush of the metropolis, a man finds his true level
without delay especially when his talents are of so practical and
brilliant a nature as were this young telegrapher’s. It would be an
absurdity to imagine an Edison hidden in New York. Within a short time,
he was presented with a check for $40,000, as his share of a single
invention—an improved stock printer. From this time, a national
reputation was assured him. He was, too, now engaged upon the duplex and
quadruplex systems—systems for sending two and four messages at the same
time over a single wire,—which were to inaugurate almost a new era in

                          MENTAL CONCENTRATION

Recalling the incident of the Law Gold Reporting Company, I inquired:
“Do you believe want urges a man to greater efforts, and so to greater

“It certainly makes him keep a sharp look-out. I think it does push a
man along.”

“Do you believe that invention is a gift, or an acquired ability?”

“I think it’s born in a man.”

“And don’t you believe that familiarity with certain mechanical
conditions and defects naturally suggests improvements to any one?”

“No. Some people may be perfectly familiar with a machine all their
days, knowing it inefficient, and never see a way to improve it.”

“What do you think is the first requisite for success in your field, or
any other?”

“_The ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem
incessantly without growing weary._”

                           TWENTY HOURS A DAY

“Do you have regular hours, Mr. Edison?” I asked.

“Oh,” he said, “I do not work hard now. I come to the laboratory about
eight o’clock every day and go home to tea at six, and then I study or
work on some problem until eleven, which is my hour for bed.”

“Fourteen of fifteen hours a day can scarcely be called loafing,” I

“Well,” he replied, “for fifteen years I have worked on an average of
twenty hours a day.”

When he was forty-seven years old, he estimated his true age at
eighty-two, since working only eight hours a day would have taken till
that time.

Mr. Edison has sometimes worked sixty consecutive hours upon one
problem. Then after a long sleep, he was perfectly refreshed and ready
for another.

                          A RUN FOR BREAKFAST

Mr. Dickson, a neighbor and familiar, gives an anecdote told by Edison
which well illustrates his untiring energy and phenomenal endurance. In
describing his Boston experience, Edison said he bought Faraday’s works
on electricity, commenced to read them at three o’clock in the morning
and continued until his room-mate arose, when they started on their long
walk to get breakfast. That object was entirely subordinated in Edison’s
mind to Faraday, and he suddenly remarked to his friend: “‘Adams, I have
got so much to do, and life is so short, that I have got to hustle,’ and
with that I started off on a dead run for my breakfast.”

“I’ve known Edison since he was a boy of fourteen,” said another friend;
“and of my own knowledge I can say he never spent an idle day in his
life. Often, when he should have been asleep, I have known him to sit up
half the night reading. He did not take to novels or wild Western
adventures, but read works on mechanics, chemistry, and electricity; and
he mastered them too. But in addition to his reading, which he could
only indulge in at odd hours, he carefully cultivated his wonderful
powers of observation, till at length, when he was not actually asleep,
it may be said he was learning all the time.”

                    NOT BY ACCIDENT AND NOT FOR FUN

“Are your discoveries often brilliant intuitions? Do they come to you
while you are lying awake nights?” I asked him.

“I never did anything worth doing by accident,” he replied, “nor did any
of my inventions come indirectly through accident, except the
phonograph.[4] No, when I have fully decided that a result is worth
getting, I go about it, and make trial after trial, until it comes.”

Footnote 4:

  “I was singing to the mouthpiece of a telephone,” said Edison, “when
  the vibrations of my voice caused a fine steel point to pierce one of
  my fingers held just behind it. That set me to thinking. If I could
  record the motions of the point and send it over the same surface
  afterward, I saw no reason why the thing would not talk. I determined
  to make a machine that would work accurately, and gave my assistants
  the necessary instructions, telling them what I had discovered. That’s
  the whole story. The phonograph is the result of the pricking of a

“I have always kept,” continued Mr. Edison, “strictly within the lines
of commercially useful inventions. I have never had any time to put on
electrical wonders, valuable only as novelties to catch the popular

                         “I LIKE IT—I HATE IT”

“What makes you work?” I asked with real curiosity. “What impels you to
this constant, tireless struggle? You have shown that you care
comparatively nothing for the money it makes you, and you have no
particular enthusiasm for the attending fame. What is it?”

“I like it,” he answered, after a moment of puzzled expression. “I don’t
know any other reason. Anything I have begun is always on my mind, and I
am not easy while away from it, until it is finished; and then I hate

“Hate it?” I said.

“Yes,” he affirmed, “when it is all done and is a success, I can’t bear
the sight of it. I haven’t used a telephone in ten years, and I would go
out of my way any day to miss an incandescent light.”[5]

Footnote 5:

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


“You lay down rather severe rules for one who wishes to succeed in
life,” I ventured, “working eighteen hours a day.”

“Not at all,” he said. “You do something all day long, don’t you? Every
one does. If you get up at seven o’clock and go to bed at eleven, you
have put in sixteen good hours, and it is certain with most men, that
they have been doing something all the time. They have been either
walking, or reading, or writing, or thinking. The only trouble is that
they do it about a great many things and I do it about one. If they took
the time in question and applied it in one direction, to one object,
they would succeed. Success is sure to follow such application. The
trouble lies in the fact that people do not have an object—one thing to
which they stick, letting all else go. Success is the product of the
severest kind of mental and physical application.”


“You believe, of course,” I suggested, “that much remains to be
discovered in the realm of electricity?”

“It is the field of fields,” he answered. “We can’t talk of that, but it
holds the secrets which will reorganize the life of the world.”

“You have discovered much about it,” I said, smiling.

“Yes,” he said, “and yet very little in comparison with the
possibilities that appear.”

                      ONLY SIX HUNDRED INVENTIONS

“How many inventions have you patented?”

“Only six hundred,” he answered, “but I have made application for some
three hundred more.”

“And do you expect to retire soon, after all this?”

“I hope not,” he said, almost pathetically. “I hope I will be able to
work right on to the close. I shouldn’t care to loaf.”

                       HIS COURTSHIP AND HIS HOME

The idea of the great electrician’s marrying was first suggested by an
intimate friend, who told him that his large house and numerous servants
ought to have a mistress. Although a very shy man, he seemed pleased
with the proposition, and timidly inquired whom he should marry. The
friend, annoyed at his apparent want of sentiment, somewhat testily
replied,—“Anyone.” But Edison was not without sentiment when the time
came. One day, as he stood behind the chair of a Miss Stillwell, a
telegraph operator in his employ, he was not a little surprised when she
suddenly turned round and said:

“Mr. Edison, I can always tell when you are behind me or near me.”

It was now Miss Stillwell’s turn to be surprised, for, with
characteristic bluntness and ardor, Edison fronted the young lady, and,
looking her full in the face, said:

“I’ve been thinking considerably about you of late, and, if you are
willing to marry me, I would like to marry you.”

The young lady said she would consider the matter, and talk it over with
her mother. The result was that they were married a month later, and the
union proved a very happy one.

It was in fact no more an accident than other experiments in the Edison
laboratory—his bride having been long the subject of the Wizzard’s
observation—her mental capacity, her temper and temperament, her
aptitude for home-making being duly tested and noted.



  _General Lew Wallace in his study._
  (_See page 241._)]



                         BY GENERAL LEW WALLACE

IN his study, a curiously-shaped building lighted from the top, and
combining in equal portions the Byzantine, Romanesque and Doric styles
of architecture, the gray-haired author of “Ben-Hur,” surrounded by his
pictures, books, and military trophies, is spending, in serene and
comfortable retirement, the evening of his life. As I sat beside him,
the other day, and listened to the recital of his earlier struggles and
later achievements, I could not help contrasting his dignified bearing,
careful expression, and gentle demeanor, with another occasion in his
life, when, as a vigorous, black-haired young military officer, in the
spring of 1861, he appeared, with flashing eye and uplifted sword, at
the head of his regiment, the gallant and historic Eleventh Indiana

General Wallace never repels a visitor, and his greeting is cordial and

“If I could say anything to stimulate or encourage the young men of
to-day,” he said, “I would gladly do so, but I fear that the story of my
early days would be of very little interest or value to others. So far
as school education is concerned, it may be truthfully said that I had
but little, if any; and if, in spite of that deficiency, I ever arrived
at proficiency, I reached it, I presume, as Topsy attained her
stature,—‘just growed into it.’”


“Were you denied early school advantages?” I asked.

“Not in the least. On the contrary, I had most abundant opportunity in
that respect.

“My father was a lawyer, enjoying a lucrative practice in Brookville,
Indiana,—a small town which bears the distinction of having given to the
world more prominent men than any other place in the Hoosier State. Not
long after my birth, he was elected lieutenant-governor, and, finally,
governor of the state. He, himself, was an educated man, having been
graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and
having served as instructor in mathematics there. He was not only an
educated man, but a man of advanced ideas generally, as shown by the
fact that _he failed of a re-election to congress in 1840, because, as a
member of the committee on commerce, he gave the casting vote in favor
of an appropriation to develop Morse’s magnetic telegraph_.

“Of course, he believed in the value, and tried to impress upon me the
necessity of a thorough school training. But, in the face of all the
solicitude and encouragement which an indulgent father could waste on an
unappreciative son, I remained vexatiously indifferent. I presume I was
like some man in history,—it was Lincoln, I believe,—who said that his
father taught him to work, but he never quite succeeded in teaching him
to love it.

“My father sent me to school, and regularly paid tuition,—for in those
days there were no free schools; but, much to my discredit, he failed to
secure anything like regular attendance at recitations, or even a decent
attempt to master my lessons at any time. In fact, much of the time that
should have been given to school was spent in fishing, hunting, and
roaming through the woods.”


“But were you thus indifferent to all forms of education?”

“No, my case was not quite so hopeless as that. I did not desert the
schools entirely, but my attendance was so provokingly irregular and my
indifference so supreme, I wonder now that I was tolerated at all. But I
had one mainstay; I loved to read. I was a most inordinate reader. In
some lines of literature, especially history and some kinds of fiction,
my appetite was insatiate, and many a day, while my companions were
clustered together in the old red brick schoolhouse, struggling with
their problems in fractions or percentage, I was carefully hidden in the
woods near by, lying upon my elbows, munching an apple, and reveling in
the beauties of Plutarch, Byron or Goldsmith.”

“Did you not attend college, or the higher grade of schools?”

“Yes, for a brief period. My brother was a student in Wabash
College,—here in Crawfordsville,—and hither I also was sent; but within
six weeks I had tired of the routine, was satiated with discipline, and
made my exit from the institution.

“I shall never forget what my father did when I returned home. He called
me into his office, and, reaching into one of the pigeon-holes above his
desk, withdrew therefrom a package of papers neatly folded and tied with
the conventional red tape. He was a very systematic man, due, perhaps,
to his West Point training, and these papers proved to be the receipts
for my tuition, which he had carefully preserved. He called off the
items, and asked me to add them together. The total, I confess,
staggered me.”

                      A FATHER’S FRUITFUL WARNING

“‘That sum, my son,’ he said, with a tone of regret in his voice,
‘represents what I have expended in these many years past to provide you
with a good education. How successful I have been, you know better than
anyone else.’

“‘After mature reflection, I have come to the conclusion that I have
done for you in that direction all that can reasonably be expected of
any parent; and I have, therefore, called you in to tell you that you
have now reached an age when you must take up the lines yourself. If you
have failed to profit by the advantages with which I have tried so hard
to surround you, the responsibility must be yours. I shall not upbraid
you for your neglect, but rather pity you for the indifference which you
have shown to the golden opportunities you have, through my indulgence,
been enabled to enjoy.’”

                      A MANHOOD OF SPLENDID EFFORT

“What effect did his admonition have on you? Did it awaken or arouse

“It aroused me, most assuredly. It set me to thinking as nothing before
had done. The next day, I set out with a determination to accomplish
something for myself. My father’s injunction rang in my ears. New
responsibilities rested on my shoulders, as I was, for the first time in
my life, my own master. I felt that I must get work on my own account.

“After much effort, I finally obtained employment from the man with whom
I had passed so many afternoons strolling up and down the little streams
in the neighborhood, trying to fish. He was the county clerk, and he
hired me to copy what was known as the complete record of one of the
courts. I worked for months in a dingy, half-lighted room, receiving for
my pay something like ten cents per hundred words. The tediousness and


and taught me the virtue of persistence as one of the avenues of
success. It was at this time I began to realize _the deficiency in my
education_, especially as I had an ambition to become a lawyer. Being
deficient in both mathematics and grammar, _I was forced to study
evenings_. Of course, the latter was a very exacting study, after a full
day’s hard work; but I was made to realize that _the time I had spent
with such lavish prodigality could not be recovered_, and that I must
extract every possible good out of the golden moments then flying by all
too fast.”


“Had you a distinct literary ambition at that time?”

“Well, I had always had a sort of literary bent or inclination. I read
all the literature of the day, besides the standard authors, and finally
began to devote my odd moments to a book of my own,—a tale based on the
days of the crusades. When completed, it covered about three hundred and
fifty pages, and bore the rather high-sounding title, ‘The Man-at-Arms.’
I read a good portion of it before a literary society to which I
belonged; the members applauded it, and I was frequently urged to have
it published.

“The Mexican War soon followed, however, and I took the manuscript with
me when I enlisted. But before the close of my service it was lost, and
my production, therefore, never reached the public eye.”

“But did not the approval which the book received from the few persons
who read it encourage you to continue writing?”

“Fully fifty years have elapsed since then, and it is, therefore, rather
difficult, at this late day, to recall just how such things affected me.
I suppose I was encouraged thereby, for, in due course of time, another
book which turned out to be

                             “THE FAIR GOD”

my first book to reach the public,—began to shape itself in my mind. The
composition of this work was not, as the theatrical people would say, a
continuous performance, for there were many and singular interruptions;
and it would be safe to say that months, and, in one case, years,
intervened between certain chapters. A few years after the war, I
finished the composition, strung the chapters into a continuous
narrative, leveled up the uneven places, and started East with the
manuscript. A letter from Whitelaw Reid, then editor of the New York
_Tribune_, introduced me to the head of one of the leading publishing
houses in Boston. There I was kindly received, and delivered my
manuscript, which was referred to a professional reader, to determine
its literary, and also, I presume, its commercial value.

“It would be neither a new nor an interesting story to acquaint the
public with the degree of anxious suspense that pervaded my mind when I
withdrew to await the reader’s judgment. Every other writer has, I
assume, at one time or another, undergone much the same experience. It
was not long until I learned from the publisher that the reader reported
in favor of my production. Publication soon followed, and for the first
time, in a literary sense, I found myself before the public, and my book
before the critics.”

                        THE ORIGIN OF “BEN-HUR”

“How long after this did ‘Ben-Hur’ appear, and what led you to write

“I began ‘Ben-Hur’ about 1876, and it was published in 1880. The
purpose, at first, was a short serial for one of the magazines,
descriptive of the visit of the wise men to Jerusalem as mentioned in
the first two verses of the second chapter of Matthew. It will be
recognized in ‘Book First’ of the work as now published. For certain
reasons, however, the serial idea was abandoned, and the narrative,
instead of ending with the birth of the Saviour, expanded into a more
pretentious novel and only ended with the death scene on Calvary. The
last ten chapters were written in the old adobe palace at Santa Fé, New
Mexico, where I was serving as governor.

“It is difficult to answer the question, ‘what led me to write the
book;’ or why I chose a piece of fiction which used Christ as its
leading character. In explanation, it is proper to state that I had
reached an age in life when men usually begin to study themselves with
reference to their fellowmen, and reflect on the good they may have done
in the world. _Up to that time, never having read the Bible_, I knew
nothing about sacred history; and, in matters of a religious nature,
although I was not in every respect an infidel, I was persistently and
notoriously indifferent. _I did not know, and therefore, did not care._
I resolved to begin the study of the good book in earnest.


“I was in quest of knowledge, but I had no faith to sustain, no creed to
bolster up. The result was that the whole field of religious and
biblical history opened up before me; and, my vision not being clouded
by previously formed opinions, I was enabled to survey it without the
aid of lenses. I believe I was thorough and persistent. I know I was
conscientious in my search for the truth. I weighed, I analyzed, I
counted and compared. The evolution from conjecture into knowledge,
through opinion and belief, was gradual but irresistible; and at length
I stood firmly and defiantly on the solid rock.

“Upward of seven hundred thousand copies of ‘Ben-Hur’ have been
published, and it has been translated into all languages from French to
Arabic. But, whether it has ever influenced the mind of a single reader
or not, I am sure its conception and preparation—if it has done nothing
more—have convinced its author of the divinity of the lowly Nazarene who
walked and talked with God.”



Carnegie as a Metal Worker

“THERE is no doubt,” said Mr. Carnegie, in reply to a question from me,
“that it is becoming harder and harder, as business gravitates more and
more to immense concerns, for a young man without capital to get a start
for himself, and in the large cities it is especially so, where large
capital is essential. Still it can be honestly said that there is no
other country in the world, where able and energetic young men and women
can so readily rise as in this. A president of a business college
informed me, recently, that he has never been able to supply the demand
for capable, first-class [Mark the adjective.] bookkeepers, and his
college has over nine hundred students. In America, young men of ability
rise with most astonishing rapidity.”

“As quickly as when you were a boy?”

“Much more so. When I was a boy, there were but very few important
positions that a boy could aspire to. Every position had to be made. Now
a boy doesn’t need to make the place,—all he has to do is to fit himself
to take it.”

                          EARLY WORK AND WAGES

“Where did you begin life?”

“In Dunfermline, Scotland, during my earliest years. The service of my
life has all been in this country.”

“In Pittsburg?”

“Largely so. My father settled in Allegheny City, when I was only ten
years old, and I began to earn my way in Pittsburg.”

“Do you mind telling me what your first service was?”

“Not at all. I was a bobbin boy in a cotton factory, then an engine-man
or boy in the same place, and later still I was a messenger boy for a
telegraph company.”

“At small wages, I suppose?”

“One dollar and twenty cents a week was what I received as a bobbin boy,
and I considered it pretty good, at that. When I was thirteen, I had
learned to run a steam engine, and for that I received a dollar and
eighty cents a week.”

“You had no early schooling, then?”

“None except such as I gave myself.”

                        COLONEL ANDERSON’S BOOKS

“There were no fine libraries then, but in Allegheny City, where I
lived, there was a certain Colonel Anderson, who was well to do and of a
philanthropic turn. He announced, about the time I first began to work,
that he would be in his library at home, every Saturday, ready to lend
books to working boys and men. He had only about four hundred volumes,
but I doubt if ever so few books were put to better use. Only he who has
longed, as I did for Saturday to come, that the spring of knowledge
might be opened anew to him, can understand what Colonel Anderson did
for me and others of the boys of Allegheny. Quite a number of them have
risen to eminence, and I think their rise can be easily traced to this
splendid opportunity.”[6]

Footnote 6:

  It was Colonel Anderson’s kindness that led Carnegie to bestow his
  wealth so generously for founding libraries, as he is now doing every

                     HIS FIRST GLIMPSE OF PARADISE

“How long did you remain an engine-boy?”

“Not very long,” Mr. Carnegie replied; “perhaps a year.”

“And then?”

“I entered a telegraph office as a messenger boy.”

Although Mr. Carnegie did not dwell much on this period, he once
described it at a dinner given in honor of the American Consul at
Dunfermline, Scotland, when he said:—

“I awake from a dream that has carried me away back to the days of my
boyhood, the day when the little white-haired Scottish laddie, dressed
in a blue jacket, walked with his father into the telegraph office in
Pittsburg to undergo examination as an applicant for a position as
messenger boy.

“Well I remember when my uncle spoke to my parents about it, and my
father objected, because I was then getting one dollar and eighty cents
per week for running the small engine in a cellar in Allegheny City, but
my uncle said a messenger’s wages would be two dollars and fifty
cents.... If you want an idea as to heaven on earth, imagine what it is
to be taken from a dark cellar, where I fired the boiler from morning
until night, and dropped into an office, where light shone from all
sides, with books, papers, and pencils in profusion around me, and oh,
the tick of those mysterious brass instruments on the desk, annihilating
space and conveying intelligence to the world. This was my first glimpse
of paradise, and I walked on air.”

“How did you manage to rise from this position?”

“I learned how to operate a telegraph instrument, and then waited an
opportunity to show that I was fit to be an operator. Eventually my
chance came.”

The truth is that James D. Reid, the superintendent of the office, and
himself a Scotchman, favored the ambitious lad. In his “History of the
Telegraph,” he says of him:—

“I liked the boy’s looks, and it was easy to see that, though he was
little, he was full of spirit. He had not been with me a month when he
asked me to teach him to telegraph. He spent all his spare time in
practice, sending and receiving by sound and not by tape, as was the
custom in those days. Pretty soon he could do as well as I could at the

                         INTRODUCED TO A BROOM

“As you look back upon it,” I said to Mr. Carnegie, “do you consider
that so lowly a beginning is better than one a little less trying?”

“For young men starting upon their life work, it is much the best to
begin as I did, at the beginning, and occupy the most subordinate
positions. Many of the present-day leading men of Pittsburg, had serious
responsibility thrust upon them at the very threshold of their careers.
They were introduced to the broom, and spent the first hours of their
business life sweeping out the office. I notice we have janitors and
janitresses now in offices, and our young men, unfortunately, miss that
salutary branch of early education. It does not hurt the newest comer to
sweep out the office.”

“Did you?”

“Many’s the time. And who do you suppose were my fellow sweepers? David
McBargo, afterwards superintendent of the Allegheny Valley Railroad;
Robert Pitcairn, afterwards superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad;
and Mr. Mooreland, subsequently City Attorney of Pittsburg. We all took
turns, two each morning doing the sweeping; and now I remember Davie was
so proud of his clean shirt bosom that he used to spread over it an old
silk handkerchief which he kept for the purpose, and we other boys
thought he was putting on airs. So he was. None of us had a silk

“After you had learned to telegraph, did you consider that you had
reached high enough?”

“Just at that time my father died, and the burden of the support of the
family fell upon me. I earned as an operator twenty-five dollars a
month, and a little additional money by copying telegraphic messages for
the newspapers, and managed to keep the family independent.”

                         AN EXPERT TELEGRAPHER

More light on this period of Mr. Carnegie’s career is given by the
“_Electric Age_,” which says:—“As a telegraph operator he was abreast of
older and experienced men; and, although receiving messages by sound
was, at that time, forbidden by authority as being unsafe, young
Carnegie quickly acquired the art, and he can still stand behind the
ticker and understand its language. As an operator, he delighted in full
employment and the prompt discharge of business, and a big day’s work
was his chief pleasure.”

“How long did you remain with the telegraph company?”

“Until I was given a place by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.”

“As an operator?”

“At first,—until I showed how the telegraph could minister to railroad
safety and success; then I was made secretary to Thomas A. Scott, the
superintendent; and not long afterwards, when Colonel Scott became
vice-president, I was made superintendent of the western division.”

Colonel Scott’s attention was drawn to Carnegie by the operator’s
devising a plan for running trains by telegraph, so making the most of a
single track. Up to this time no one had ever dreamed of running trains
in opposite directions, towards each other, directing them by telegraph,
one train being sidetracked while the other passed. The boy studied out
a train-despatching system which was afterwards used on every
single-track railroad in the country. Nobody had ever thought of this
before, and the officials were so pleased with the ingenious lad, that
they placed him in charge of a division office, and before he was twenty
made him superintendent of the western division of the road.


Concerning this period of his life, I asked Mr. Carnegie if his
promotion was not a matter of chance, and whether he did not, at the
time, feel it to be so. His answer was emphatic.

“Never. Young men give all kinds of reasons why, in their cases, failure
is attributable to exceptional circumstances, which rendered success
impossible. Some never had a chance, according to their own story. This
is simply nonsense. No young man ever lived who had not a chance, and a
splendid chance, too, if he was ever employed at all. He is assayed in
the mind of his immediate superior, from the day he begins work, and,
after a time, if he has merit, he is assayed in the council chambers of
the firm. His ability, honesty, habits, associations, temper,
disposition,—all these are weighed and analyzed. The young man who never
had a chance is the same young man who has been canvassed over and over
again by his superiors, and found destitute of necessary qualifications,
or is deemed unworthy of closer relations with the firm, owing to some
objectionable act, habit or association, of which he thought his
employers ignorant.”

“It sounds true.”

“It is.”

                        THE RIGHT MEN IN DEMAND

“Another class of young men attributes failure to rise to employers
having near relatives or favorites whom they advance unfairly. They also
insist that their employers dislike brighter intelligences than their
own, and are disposed to discourage aspiring genius, and delighted in
keeping young men down. There is nothing in this. On the contrary, there
is no one suffering more for lack of the right man in the right place as
the average employer, nor anyone more anxious to find him.”

“Was this your theory on the subject when you began working for the
railroad company?”

“I had no theory then, although I have formulated one since. It lies
mainly in this: Instead of the question, ‘What must I do for my
employer?’ substitute, ‘What can I do?’ Faithful and conscientious
discharge of duties assigned you is all very well, but the verdict in
such cases generally is that you perform your present duties so well,
that you would better continue performing them. Now, this will not do.
It will not do for the coming partners. There must be something beyond
this. We make clerks, bookkeepers, treasurers, bank tellers of this
class, and there they remain to the end of the chapter. _The rising man
must do something exceptional, and beyond the range of his special
department. He must attract attention._”

                        HOW TO ATTRACT ATTENTION

“How can he do that?”

“Well, if he is a shipping clerk, he may do so by discovering in an
invoice an error with which he has nothing to do and which has escaped
the attention of the proper party. If a weighing clerk, he may save for
the firm in questioning the adjustment of the scales, and having them
corrected, even if this be the province of the master mechanic. If a
messenger boy, he can lay the seed of promotion by going beyond the
letter of his instructions in order to secure the desired reply. There
is no service so low and simple, neither any so high, in which the young
man of ability and willing disposition cannot readily and almost daily
prove himself capable of greater trust and usefulness, and, what is
equally important, show his invincible determination to rise.”

“In what manner did you reach out to establish your present great
fortune?” I asked.

“By saving my money. I put a little money aside, and it served me later
as a matter of credit. Also, I invested in a sleeping-car industry,
which paid me well.”

                         SLEEPING-CAR INVENTION

Although I tried earnestly to get the great iron-king to talk of this,
he said little, because the matter has been fully dealt with by him in
his “Triumphant Democracy.” From his own story there, it appears that
one day at this time, when Mr. Carnegie still had his fortune to make,
he was on a train examining the line from a rear window of a car, when a
tall, spare man, accosted him and asked him to look at an invention he
had made. He drew from a green bag a small model of a sleeping-berth for
railway cars, and proceeded to point out its advantages. It was Mr. T.
T. Woodruff, the inventor of the sleeping-car. As Mr. Carnegie tells the

“He had not spoken a moment before, like a flash, the whole range of the
discovery burst upon me. ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘that is something which this
continent must have,’

“Upon my return, I laid it before Mr. Scott, declaring that it was one
of the inventions of the age. He remarked: ‘You are enthusiastic, young
man, but you may ask the inventor to come and let me see it.’ I did so,
and arrangements were made to build two trial cars, and run them on the
Pennsylvania Railroad. I was offered an interest in the venture, which I
gladly accepted.

“The notice came that my share of the first payment was $217.50. How
well I remember the exact sum. But two hundred and seventeen dollars and
a half were as far beyond my means as if it had been millions. I was
earning fifty dollars per month, however, and had prospects, or at least
I always felt that I had. I decided to call on the local banker and
boldly ask him to advance the sum upon my interest in the affair. He put
his hand on my shoulder and said: ‘Why, of course, Andie; you are all
right. Go ahead. Here is the money.’

“It is a proud day for a man when he pays his last note, but not to be
named in comparison with the day in which he makes his first one, and
gets a banker to take it. I have tried both, and I know. The cars
furnished the subsequent payments by their earnings. I paid my first
note from my savings, so much per month, and thus I got my foot upon
fortune’s ladder. It was easy to climb after that.”

                       THE MARK OF A MILLIONAIRE

“I would like some expression from you,” I said to Mr. Carnegie, “in
reference to the importance of laying aside money from one’s earnings,
as a young man.”

“You can have it. There is one sure mark of the coming partner, the
future millionaire; his revenues always exceed his expenditures. He
begins to save early, almost as soon as he begins to earn. I should say
to young men, no matter how little it may be possible to save, save that
little. Invest it securely, not necessarily in bonds, but in anything
which you have good reason to believe will be profitable. Some rare
chance will soon present itself for investment. The little you have
saved will prove the basis for an amount of credit utterly surprising to
you. Capitalists trust the saving man. For every hundred dollars you can
produce as the result of hard-won savings, Midas, in search of a
partner, will lend or credit a thousand; for every thousand, fifty
thousand. _It is not capital that your seniors require, it is the man
who has proved that he has the business habits which create capital. So
it is the first hundred dollars that tell._”

                              AN OIL FARM

“What,” I asked Mr. Carnegie, “was the next enterprise with which you
identified yourself?”

“In company with several others, I purchased the now famous Storey farm,
on Oil Creek, Pennsylvania, where a well had been bored and natural oil
struck the year before. This proved a very profitable investment.”

In “Triumphant Democracy,” Mr. Carnegie has expatiated most fully on
this venture, which is so important. “When I first visited this famous
well,” he says, “the oil was running into the creek, where a few
flat-bottomed scows lay filled with it, ready to be floated down the
Alleghany River, on an agreed-upon day each week, when the creek was
flooded by means of a temporary dam. This was the beginning of the
natural-oil business. We purchased the farm for $40,000, and so small
was our faith in the ability of the earth to yield for any considerable
time the hundred barrels per day, which the property was then producing,
that we decided to make a pond capable of holding one hundred thousand
barrels of oil, which, we estimated, would be worth, when the supply
ceased, $1,000,000.

“Unfortunately for us, the pond leaked fearfully; evaporation also
caused much loss, but we continued to run oil in to make the losses good
day after day, until several hundred thousand barrels had gone in this
fashion. Our experience with the farm is worth reciting: its value rose
to $5,000,000; that is—the shares of the company sold in the market upon
this basis; and one year it paid cash dividends of $1,000,000—upon an
investment of $40,000.”

                              IRON BRIDGES

“Were you satisfied to rest with these enterprises in your hands?” I

“No. Railway bridges were then built almost exclusively of wood, but the
Pennsylvania Railroad had begun to experiment with cast-iron. It struck
me that the bridge of the future must be of iron; and I organized, in
Pittsburg, a company for the construction of iron bridges. That was the
Keystone Bridge Works. We built the first iron bridge across the Ohio.”

His entrance of the realm of steel was much too long for Mr. Carnegie to
discuss, although he was not unwilling to give information relating to
the subject. It appears that he realized the immensity of the steel
manufacturing business at once. The Union Iron Mills soon followed as
one of the enterprises, and, later, the famous Edgar Thompson Steel Rail
Mill. The last was the outcome of a visit to England, in 1868, when
Carnegie noticed that English railways were discarding iron for steel
rails. The Bessemer process had been then perfected, and was making its
way in all the iron-producing countries. Carnegie, recognizing that it
was destined to revolutionize the iron business, introduced it into his
mills and made steel rails with which he was enabled to compete with
English manufacturers.

                         HOMESTEAD STEEL WORKS

His next enterprise was the purchase of the Homestead Steel Works,—his
great rival in Pittsburg. In 1888, he had built or acquired seven
distinct iron and steel works, all of which are now included in the
Carnegie Steel Company, Limited. All the plants of this great firm are
within a radius of five miles of Pittsburg. Probably in no other part of
the world can be found such an aggregation of splendidly equipped steel
works as those controlled by this association. It now comprises the
Homestead Steel Works, the Edgar Thompson Steel Works and Furnaces, the
Duquesne Steel Works and Furnaces, all within two miles of one another;
the Lucy Furnaces, the Keystone Bridge Works, the Upper Union Rolling
Mills, and the Lower Union Rolling Mills.

In all branches, including the great coke works, mines, etc., there are
employed twenty-five thousand men. The monthly pay roll exceeds one
million, one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars, or nearly fifty
thousand dollars for each working day. Including the Frick Coke Company,
the united capital of the Carnegie Steel Company exceeds sixty million

                         A STRENGTHENING POLICY

“You believe in taking active measures,” I said, “to make men


  _Partial view of the Homestead Steel Works._]

“I believe in anything which will help men to help themselves. To induce
them to save, every workman in our company is allowed to deposit part of
his earnings, not exceeding two thousand dollars, with the firm, on
which the high interest rate of six per cent. is allowed. The firm also
lends to any of its workmen to buy a lot, or to build a house, taking
its pay by installments.”

“Has this contributed to the success of your company?”

“I think so. The policy of giving a personal interest to the men who
render exceptional service is strengthening. With us there are many
such, and every year several more are added as partners. It is the
policy of the concern to interest every superintendent in the works,
every head of a department, every exceptional young man. Promotion
follows exceptional service, and there is no favoritism.”


“All you have said so far, merely gives the idea of getting money,
without any suggestion as to the proper use of great wealth. Will you
say something on that score?”

“My views are rather well known, I think. What a man owns is already
subordinate, in America, to what he knows; but in the final aristocracy,
the question will not be either of these, but what has he done for his
fellows? Where has he shown generosity and self-abnegation? Where has he
been a father to the fatherless? And the cause of the poor, where has he
searched that out?”

That Mr. Carnegie has lived up in the past, and is still living up to
this radical declaration of independence from the practice of men who
have amassed fortunes around him, will be best shown by a brief
enumeration of some of his almost unexampled philanthropies. His largest
gift has been to the city of Pittsburg, the scene of his early trials
and later triumphs. There he has built, at a cost of more than a million
dollars, a magnificent library, museum, concert hall and picture
gallery, all under one roof, and endowed it with a fund of another
million, the interest of which (fifty thousand dollars per annum) is
being devoted to the purchase of the best works of American art. Other
libraries, to be connected with this largest as a center, are now being
constructed, which will make the city of Pittsburg and its environs a
beneficiary of his generosity to the extent of five million dollars.

While thus endowing the city where his fortune was made, he has not
forgotten other places endeared to him by association or by interest. To
the Allegheny Free Library he has given $375,000; to the Braddock Free
Library, $250,000; to the Johnstown Free Library, $50,000; and to the
Fairfield (Iowa) Library, $40,000. To the Cooper Institute, New York, he
has given $300,000. To his native land he has been scarcely less
generous. To the Edinburgh Free Library he has given $250,000, and to
his native town of Dunfermline, $90,000. Other Scottish towns to the
number of ten have received helpful donations of amounts not quite so
large. He has given $50,000 to aid poor young men and women to gain a
musical education at the Royal College of Music in London.


“I should like to cause you to say some other important things for young
men to learn and benefit by.”

“Our young partners in the Carnegie company have all won their spurs by
_showing that we did not know half as well what was wanted as they did_.
Some of them have acted upon occasions with me as if they owned the firm
and I was but some airy New Yorker, presuming to _advise upon what I
knew very little about_. Well, they are not now interfered with. _They
were the true bosses,—the very men we were looking for._”

“Is this all for the poor boy?”

“Every word. Those who have the misfortune to be rich men’s sons are
heavily weighted in the race. A basketful of bonds is the heaviest
basket a young man ever had to carry. He generally gets to staggering
under it. The vast majority of rich men’s sons are unable to resist the
temptations to which wealth subjects them, and they sink to unworthy
lives. It is not from this class that the poor beginner has rivalry to
fear. The partner’s sons will never trouble you much, but look out that
some boys poorer, much poorer, than yourselves, whose parents cannot
afford to give them any schooling, do not challenge you at the post and
pass you at the grand stand. Look out for the boy who has to plunge into
work direct from the common school, and begins by sweeping out the
office. He is the probable dark horse that will take all the money and
win all the applause.”[7]

Footnote 7:

  Mr. Carnegie’s recent retirement from business, and the sale of his
  vast properties to the Morgan Syndicate, marks a new era in his
  remarkable career; and it gives him the more leisure to consider
  carefully every dollar he bestows in the series of magnificent
  charities that he has inaugurated.



Herreshoff, the Yacht Builder


                           THE VOYAGE OF LIFE

                 Total eclipse; no sun, no moon;
                 Darkness amid the blaze of noon!—MILTON

AMID the ranks of the blind, we often find men and women of culture and
general ability, but we do not look for world-renowned specialists. No
one is surprised at a display of enterprise in a “booming” western town,
where everybody is “hustling;” but in a place which has once ranked as
the third seaport in America, but has seen its maritime glory decline, a
man who can establish a marine industry on a higher plane than was ever
before known, and attract to his work such world-wide attention as to
restore the vanished fame of his town, is no ordinary person. Moreover,
if such a man has laid his plans and done his work in the disheartening
eclipse of total blindness, he must possess qualities of the highest

The office of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, at Bristol, Rhode
Island, is in a building that formerly belonged to the Burnside Rifle
Company. It is substantial, but unpretentious, and is entered by a short
stairway on one side. The furniture throughout is also plain, but has
been selected with excellent taste, and is suggestive of the most
effective adaptation of means to ends in every detail. On the mantel and
on the walls are numerous pictures, most of them of vessels, but very
few relating directly to any of the great races for the “America’s” cup.
The first picture to arrest one’s attention, indeed, is an excellent
portrait of the late General Ambrose E. Burnside, who lived in Bristol,
and was an intimate friend of John B. Herreshoff.

Previous inquiry had elicited the information that the members of the
firm are very busy with various large orders, in addition to the rush of
work on Cup Defenders; so it was a very agreeable surprise when I was
invited into the tasteful private office, where the blind president sat,
having just concluded a short conversation with an attorney.

                          “LET THE WORK SHOW”

“Well, sir,” said he, rising and grasping my hand cordially, “what do
you wish?”

“I realize how very busy you must be, Mr. Herreshoff,” I replied, “and
will try to be as brief as possible; but I venture to ask a few minutes
of your time, to obtain suggestions and advice from you to young

“But why select me, in particular, as an adviser?”

This was “a poser,” at first, especially when he added, noting my

“We are frequently requested to give interviews in regard to our
manufacturing business; but, since as it is the settled policy of our
house to do our work just as well as we possibly can and then leave it
to speak for itself, we have felt obliged to decline all these requests.
It would be repugnant to our sense of propriety to talk in public about
our special industry. ‘Let the work show!’ seems to us a good motto.”

                           THE VOYAGE OF LIFE

“True,” said I. “But the readers of my books may not care to read of
cutters or ‘skimming dishes,’ center-boards or fin keels, or copper
coils _versus_ steel tubes for boilers. They leave the choice in such
matters to you, realizing that you have always proved equal to the
situation. What I want now is advice in regard to the race of life,—the
voyage in which each youth must be his own captain, but in which the
words of others who have successfully sailed the sea before will help to
avoid rocks and shoals, and to profit by favoring currents and trade
winds. You have been handicapped in an unusual degree, sailing in total
darkness and beset by many other difficulties, but have, nevertheless,
made a very prosperous voyage. In overcoming such serious obstacles, you
must have learned much of the true philosophy of both success and
failure, and I think you will be willing to help the young with
suggestions drawn from your experience.”

“I always want to help young people, or old people, either, for that
matter, if anything I can say will do so. But what can I say?”

                      A MOTHER’S MIGHTY INFLUENCE

“What do you call the prime requisite of success?”

“I shall have to answer that by a somewhat humorous but very shrewd
suggestion of another,—select a good mother. Especially for boys, I
consider an intelligent, affectionate but considerate mother an almost
indispensable requisite to the highest success. If you would improve the
rising generation to the utmost, appeal first to the mothers.”

“In what way?”

“_Above all things else, show them that reasonable self-denial is a
thousandfold better for a boy than to have his every wish gratified.
Teach them to encourage industry, economy, concentration of attention
and purpose, and indomitable persistence._”

“But most mothers try to do this, don’t they?”

“Yes, in a measure; but many of them, perhaps most of them, do not
emphasize the matter half enough. A mother may wish to teach all these
lessons to her son, but she thinks too much of him, or believes she
does, to have him suffer any deprivation, and so indulges him in things
which are luxuries for him, under the circumstances, rather than
necessaries. Many a boy, born with ordinary intellect, would follow the
example of an industrious father, were it not that his mother wishes him
to appear as well as any boy in the neighborhood. So, without exactly
meaning it, she gets to making a show of her boy, and brings him up with
a habit of idling away valuable time, to keep up appearances. The
prudent mother, however, sees the folly of this course, and teaches her
son to excel in study and work, rather than in vain display. The
difference in mothers makes all the difference in the world to children,
who like brooks, can be turned very easily in their course of life.”

                               SELF HELP

“What ranks next in importance?”

“Boys and girls themselves, especially as they grow older, and have a
chance to understand what life means, should not only help their parents
as a matter of duty, but should learn to help themselves, for their own
good. I would not have them forego recreation, a reasonable amount every
day, but let them learn the reality and earnestness of existence, and
resolve to do the whole work and the very best work of thorough,
reliable young men and women.”

                              WHAT CAREER

“What would you advise as to choosing a career?”

“In that I should be governed largely by the bent of each youth. What he
likes to do best of all, that he should do; and he should try to do it
better than anyone else. That is legitimate emulation. Let him devote
his full energy to his work; with the provision, however, that he needs
change or recreation more in proportion as he uses his brain more. The
more muscular the work, if not too heavy, the more hours, is a good
rule: the more brain work, the fewer hours. Children at school should
not be expected to work so long or so hard as if engaged in manual
labor. Temperament, too, should be considered. A highly organized,
nervous person, like a racehorse, may display intense activity for a
short time, but it should be followed by a long period of rest; while
the phlegmatic person, like the ox or the draft horse, can go all day
without injury.”


“I believe in education most thoroughly, and think no one can have too
much knowledge, if properly digested. But in many of our colleges, I
have often thought, not more than one in five is radically improved by
the course. Most collegiates waste too much time in frivolity, and
somehow there seems to be little restraining power in the college to
prevent this. I agree that students should have self-restraint and
application themselves, but, in the absence of these, the college should
supply more compulsion than is now the rule.”


“Do you favor reviving the old apprentice system for would-be

“Only in rare cases. As a rule, we have special machines now that do as
perfect work as the market requires; some of them, indeed, better work
than can be done by hand. A boy or man can soon learn to tend one of
these, when he becomes, for ordinary purposes, a specialist. Very few
shops now have apprentices. No rule, however, will apply to all, and it
may still be best for one to serve an apprenticeship in a trade in which
he wishes to advance beyond any predecessor or competitor.”


“Is success dependent more upon ability or opportunity?”

“Of course, opportunity is necessary. You couldn’t run a mammoth
department store on the desert of Sahara. But, given the possibility,
the right man can make his opportunity, and should do so, if it is not
at hand, or does not come, after reasonable waiting. Even Napoleon had
to wait for his. On the other hand, if there is no ability, none can
display itself, and the best opportunity must pass by unimproved. The
true way is to first develop your ability to the last ounce, and then
you will be ready for your opportunity, when it comes, or to make one,
if none offers.”

                         PRESENT OPPORTUNITIES

“Is the chance for a youth as good as it was twenty-five or fifty years

“Yes, and no. In any country, as it becomes more thickly populated, the
chance for purely individual enterprises is almost sure to diminish. One
notices this more as he travels through other and older countries,
where, far more than with us, boys follow in the footsteps of their
fathers, generation after generation. But for those who are willing to
adapt themselves to circumstances, the chance, to-day, at least from a
pecuniary standpoint, is better than ever before, for those starting in
life. There was doubtless more chance for the individual boat-builder,
in the days of King Philip, when each Indian made his own canoe; but
there is certainly more profit now for an employee of our firm of

                       NATURAL EXECUTIVE ABILITY

“Granted, however, that he can find employment, how do his chances of
rising compare with those of your youth?”

“They still depend largely upon the individual. _Some seem to have
natural executive ability, and others develop it, while most men never
possess it. Those who lack it cannot hope to rise far, and never could._
Jefferson’s idea that all men are created equal is true enough, perhaps,
so far as their political rights are concerned, but from the point of
view of efficiency in business, it is ridiculous. In any shop of one
hundred men, you will find one who is acknowledged, at least tacitly, as
the leader, and he sooner or later becomes so in fact. A rich boy may
get and hold a place in an office, on account of his wealth or
influence; but in the works, merit alone will enable a man to hold a
place long.”

                        THE DEVELOPMENT OF POWER

“But what is his chance of becoming a proprietor?”

“That is smaller, of course, as establishments grow larger and more
valuable. It is all bosh for every man to expect to become a Vanderbilt
or a Rockefeller, or to be President. But, in the long run, a man will
still rise and prosper in almost exact proportion to his real value to
the business world. He will rise or fall according to his ability.”

“Can he develop ability?”

“Yes, to a certain extent. As I have said, we are not all alike, and no
amount of cultivation will make some minds equal to those of others who
have had but little training. But, whether great or small, everyone has
some weak point; let him first study to overcome that.”

“How can he do it?”

“The only way I know of is to—do it. But this brings me back to what I
told you at first. A good mother will show one how to guard against his
weak points. She should study each child and develop his individual
character, for character is the true foundation, after all. She should
check extravagance and encourage industry and self-respect. My mother is
one of the best, and I feel I owe her a debt I can never repay.”

                              “MY MOTHER”

“Your mother? Why, I thought you had been a boat-builder for half a
century! How old is she?”

“She is eighty-eight, and still enjoys good health. If I have one thing
more than another to be thankful for, it is her care in childhood and
her advice and sympathy through life. How often have I thought of her
wisdom when I have seen mothers from Europe (where they were satisfied
to be peasants), seek to outshine all their neighbors after they have
been in America a few years, and so bring financial ruin to their
husbands or even goad them into crime, and curse their children with
contempt for honest labor in positions for which they are fitted, and a
foolish desire to keep up appearances, even by living beyond their means
and by seeking positions they cannot fill properly.”

                        A BOAT-BUILDER IN YOUTH

“You must have been quite young, when you began to build boats?”

“About thirteen or fourteen years old. You see, my father was an amateur
boat-builder, in a small way, and did very good work, but usually not
for sale. But I began the work as a business thirty-six years ago, when
I was about twenty-two.”

                      HE WOULD NOT BE DISCOURAGED

“You must have been terribly handicapped by your blindness.”

“It was an obstacle, but I simply would not allow it to discourage me,
and did my best, just the same as if I could see. My mother had taught
me to think, and so I made thought and memory take the place of eyes. I
acquired a kind of habit of mental projection which has enabled me to
see models in my mind, as it were, and to consider their good and bad
points intelligently. Besides, I cultivated my powers of observation to
the utmost, in other respects. Even now, I take an occasional trip of
observation, for I like to see what others are doing, and so keep
abreast of the progress of the age. But I must stop or I shall get to
‘talking shop,’ the thing I declined to do at first.

                           THE SUM OF IT ALL

“The main thing for a boy is to have a good mother, to heed her advice,
to do his best, and not get a ‘swelled head’ as he rises,—in other
words, not to expect to put a gallon into a pint cup, or a bushel into a
peck measure. Concentration, decision, industry and economy should be
his watchwords, and invincible determination and persistence his rule of

With another cordial handshake, he bade me good-by.



Their recent Cup Defenders have made their names familiar to all, but
shipping circles have long known them. The business of the firm was long
confined almost wholly to the creation of boats with single masts, each
craft from twenty to thirty-six feet long. In their first ten years of
associated work, they built nearly two thousand of these. But they were
wonderful little boats, and of unrivaled swiftness. Then they made as
wonderful a success in building steam fishing yachts. Then came torpedo


  _The race between the “Vigilant” and the “Valkyrie.”_
  (_The “Vigilant,” Herreshoff boat, the winner._)]

And in 1881 their proposal to the British government to build two
vedette boats was accepted on condition they should outmatch the work of
White, the naval launch builder at Cowes. No firm had ever been able to
compete with White. But in the following July the two Herreshoff boats
were in the Portsmouth dockyard, England, ready for trial. They were
each forty-eight feet long, nine feet in beam, and five feet deep,
exactly the same size as White’s. They made fifteen and one-half knots
an hour, while White’s only recorded twelve and two-fifths knots. “With
all their machinery coal and water in place, the Herreshoff boats were
filled with water, and then twenty men were put aboard each, that human
load being just so much in excess the admiralty test, and even then each
had a floating capacity of three tons. The examiners pronounced
enthusiastically in favor of the Herreshoff safety coil boilers as
unexplodable, less liable to injury from shock, capable of raising steam
more quickly, far lighter, and in all respects superior to those that
had been formerly used for the purpose.” The boats were accepted, and
orders given at once for two pinnaces, each thirty-three feet long.
Again John Samuel White competed, but his new boats could only make
seven and one-eighth knots, while the Herreshoff’s easily scored nine
and one-quarter.

                            RACING JAY GOULD

In July, 1883, Jay Gould was highly elated over the speed of his
beautiful steam yacht “Atalanta,” which had several times met and
distanced Edward S. Jaffray’s wonderful “Stranger;” but, on the
twentieth of that month, his happiness, as the story is told, was very
suddenly dashed.

After a hard day’s work, the jaded Jay boarded the “Atalanta” and began
to shake out his pin-feathers a little, figuratively speaking. But
before his boat had gone far on her run to Irvington, the bold
manipulator of Wall Street made out a craft on his weather-quarter that
seemed to be gliding after the “Atalanta” with intent to overhaul her.
He had a good start, however, and sang out to the captain to keep a
sharp eye on the persistent little stranger, so unlike the “Stranger” he
had vanquished.

“I wonder what it is!” he exclaimed to a friend beside him.

The friend looked long and carefully at the oncoming boat, then turned a
quizzical eye on Jay, remarking:—

“In a little while we can tell.”

“Will she get that close?”

“I think she will.”

It was not long before the strange boat was abreast of the “Atalanta,”
and Jay was then able to make out the mystical number “100” on her. He
rubbed his eyes. Those were the very figures he had long hoped to see on
the stock ticker, after the words “Western Union,” but that day they had
lost their charm. Before long he was not only able to see the broadside
of the “100,” but also had a good view of the stern of the vessel,
whereon the same figures soon appeared and nearly as soon disappeared,
as the “100” bade good-by to the “Atalanta,” which was burning every
pound of coal that could possibly be carried without putting Mr. Gould
or some efficient substitute on the safety valve.

“He seems to be out of humor to-night,” said his coachman, after leaving
his employer at the door of his Irvington mansion.

The mystic “100” which, by the way, was just one hundred feet over all,
was merely the hundredth steamer built by the Herreshoffs, but on her
first trip up the Hudson she attracted as much attention as the “Half
Moon” of Henry Hudson or the “Clermont” of Robert Fulton. She was the
fastest yacht in the world, and was beaten on the river by only one
vessel, the “Mary Powell”—four and one-half minutes in twenty miles.

Although Mr. Gould was considerably irritated at his defeat, he knew a
good thing when he saw it, and the next year he ordered a small steam
launch of the Herreshoffs.

The “100” made a great stir in Boston Harbor. Later on she steamed
through the Erie canal and the Great Lakes, and made her home with the
millionaire Mark Hopkins.

                             THE “STILETTO”

The versatility of the Herreshoffs has appeared in their famous boiler
improvement, and in the great variety of vessels they have built. The
“Stiletto” only ninety-four feet long, over all, astonished the yachting
world in 1885. On June 10, she beat the “Mary Powell” two miles in a
race of twenty-eight miles on the Hudson. At one time, the “Stiletto”
circled completely around the big steamer and then moved rapidly away
from her.

Secretary Whitney bought the “Stiletto” for the United States navy, in
which she has done valuable service. She was followed, in 1890, by the
still faster “Cushing,” whose record in the recent Spanish-American war
is so well known.

Admiral Porter wrote to Secretary of the Navy Chandler, that the little
Herreshoff steam launches were faster than any other owned by the
government, their great superiority showing especially against a strong
head wind and sea, when they would remain dry while their rivals
required constant bailing. They were better trimmed, lighter, more
buoyant, and in every way superior in nautical qualities, and twice as
fast as others in a gale.

Nineteen vessels have been built by this firm for the United States

“There is a certain speed that attaches to every vessel, which may be
called its natural rate,” says Lewis Herreshoff; “it is mainly governed
by its length and the length of the carrier wave which always
accompanies a vessel parallel to her line of motion. When she reaches a
speed great enough to form a wave of the same length as the moving body,
then that vessel has reached her natural rate of speed, and all that can
be obtained above that is done by sheer brute force. The natural limit
of speed of a boat forty feet long is about ten miles an hour; of a
vessel sixty feet in length, twelve and one-quarter miles; of one a
hundred feet long, fifteen and three-fourths miles; of one two hundred
feet long, twenty-two miles.”

As the speed is increased, this double or carrier wave, one-half on
either side of the yacht, lengthens in such a way that the vessel seems
to settle more the faster she goes, and so has to climb the very wave
she makes. Hence the motive power must be increased much faster than the
speed increases. Further, in order to avoid this settling and consequent
climbing as much as possible, lightness of construction, next to correct
proportions, is made the great desideratum in the Herreshoffs’ ideal
boat. They use wood wherever possible, as it is not only lighter than
metal, but is reasonably strong and generally much more durable.
Wherever heavy strains come, a bracing form of construction is adopted,
and metal is used also.

The engine of the “Stiletto” weighs ten pounds for each indicated
horse-power; that of the “Cushing,” fifteen. The entire motive plant of
the “Cushing” weighs sixty-five pounds for each horse-power; that of the
“City of Paris,” two hundred. Comparing displacement, the former has
eight times the power of the latter.

For four years our government kept a staff of officers stationed at the
Herreshoff works to experiment with high-speed machinery, in which the
firm then led the country. One of their steamers, ascending the St.
Lawrence River to the Thousand Islands, ran up all the rapids except the
Lachine, where a detour by canal was made. The Canadians were deeply
impressed by this triumph.

                           THE BLIND BROTHERS

One of the Herreshoff sisters is blind and a remarkable musician; and
one brother blind who studied music in Berlin, and who conducts a school
of music in Providence. Lewis Herreshoff, one of the boat-builders, is
also blind. He, too, is a fine musician and an excellent bass singer,
having received careful vocal training in Europe. He has fine literary
taste, a very clear style, and writes for magazines, especially on
boat-building and engineering. He has a large foreign correspondence,
all of which he answers personally on the typewriter. It would be
difficult to find a greater favorite with young people, to whom he
devotes much of his time, teaching them games or lessons, also how to
sail or row a boat, how to swim or float, and how to save each other
from drowning. When walking along the street with a group of chatting
children, he will ask, “What time is it by the clock on St. Michael’s
Church?” pointing right at the steeple. He will wind a clock and set it
exactly, and regulate it, if it does not go right.


From his boyhood, John B. Herreshoff evinced a great fondness for boats
and machinery, finding most pleasure, in his leisure hours, when boys of
his age usually think only of play, in haunting boat-builders’ yards and
machine shops, studying how and why things were done, and reading what
had been done elsewhere in those branches of industry, beyond his field
of observation.

At the age of eleven, he was studying the best lines for vessels’ hulls
and making models and three years later he began building boats.

His terrible affliction has never seemed to weaken his self-reliance or
turn him aside from following the chosen pursuit of his life, but has
rather strengthened his devotion to it and his capacity for it by
concentrating all his faculties upon it.

His many years of blindness have given him not only the serious,
patient, introspective look common to those who suffer like him, and
their gentle, clearly modulated voice, but have also developed all his
other faculties to such an extent as to largely replace the missing

He can tell as much about an ordinary-sized steam launch, her lines,
methods of construction, etc., by feeling, as others can by seeing, and
he goes on inventing and building just as if his eyes were not closed
forever. He is a tall, big-brained man, who couldn’t help inventing and
working if he tried. Such a man would have to suffer the loss of more
than one of his senses before his mental efficiency would be impaired.
When he wanted to build some steam launches for the government, he went
to the navy yard at Washington and felt of the government launches, to
discover their shape and how they were made. Then he went to Bristol and
made better launches suitable for the government’s use.

                         HAS HE A SIXTH SENSE?

He reads and understands the most delicate intonations and modulations
of voices addressing him, as others read and understand facial
expression. His sensitive fingers detect differences in metals, and
follow, as if with a gift of perception, the lines of models submitted
to him, and his mind sees even more clearly than by mere physical sight
the intricacies of the most complicated machinery intelligently
described to him, or over which his fingers are allowed to move. “That
is a good stick,” he will say, examining a pile of lumber with his
fingers. “Here’s a shaky piece, throw it out; it won’t do for this
work,” may come next, or, “Saw off this end; it’s poor stock. The rest
is all right.” On hearing him criticize, direct, and explain things
within his province, a stranger finds it hard to believe he cannot see
at least a little,—out of one eye.

                        SEEING WITH THE FINGERS

By the constant practice, he has, as he expresses it, learned to see
with his hands, not quite so quickly, but he believes as perfectly, as
he could with his eyes, and this means more than it does in the case of
an ordinary blind man; for, by a touch, he can tell whether the graceful
double curves of a boat’s bottom are in correct proportion, one with
another, and then, by a few rapid sweeps of his hands, over all, he can
instantly judge of the symmetry and perfection of the whole. Even more
than this, he will give minute directions to the carpenters and
mechanics, running his hand along the piece of work one had produced,
will immediately detect the slightest deviation from the instruction he
has given. If at all impatient, he will seize the plane or other tool,
and do the work himself. And yet the world calls this man “blind!”

While skill plays a material part, one of John B. Herreshoff’s boats is
a product of the mind, in a very great degree. Psychologists tell us
that we do not see with our eyes, but with the brain proper. This blind
man sees, and constructs, not that which is objective and real to
others, but that which is evolved from a transcendental intelligence
applied to the most practical purposes.

                              BROTHER NAT

One of the brothers, who has good eyes, is a prominent chemist in New
York; and one who can see is Nat the designer for the boat-building.

Nathaniel G., the great yacht designer, was born in 1848. When he was
not more than two years old, he was often found asleep on the sand along
shore, with the rising tide washing his bare feet. Whenever he was
missing, he was sought for first on the shore, where he would generally
be found watching the ships or playing with toy boats.

At nine years of age, he was an excellent helmsman, and at twelve he
sailed the “Sprite” to her first victory and won a prize. When older
grown, he was known as a vigilant watcher of every chance as well as a
skillful sailor. Once, when steering the “Ianthe” in a failing wind, he
veered widely from a crowd of contestants, so as to run into a good
breeze he noted far to starboard, and won the race.

He took a four years’ course at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, and then served an apprenticeship with the famous Corliss
Engine Company. He worked on the great engine at the Centennial
Exposition, and took a course of engineering abroad, visiting many noted
shipyards. He joined the firm in 1877, fourteen years after the works
were opened.

Nathaniel Greene Herreshoff, named for General Greene of Revolutionary
fame, is seven years younger, and only less famous than his blind
brother as a boat-builder,—only second to John B. in about the same way
that Greene was second to Washington. “General Greene is second to no
one,” said Washington. John B. would have done splendid work without Nat
as he did for years before the latter joined the firm, but it would have
been in a smaller way.

For years John B., his father, and his brothers, James B. or Lewis, and
Nathaniel G., were accustomed to get together frequently in the
dining-room of the old homestead, and talk and plan together in regard
to boat-building. Nat would usually make the first model on lines
previously agreed upon, and then John B. would feel it over and suggest
changes, which would be made, and the consultation continued until all
was satisfactory.

Nathaniel is described as “a tall, thin man, with a full beard and a
stoop,” the latter said to have been acquired in “watching his rivals in
his races, craning his head in order to see them from under the boom.”

“We have been always together from boyhood,” said John B., speaking of
“Nat;” “we have had the same pleasures, the same purposes, the same
aspirations; in fact, we have almost been one, and we have achieved
nothing for which a full share of credit is not his just due. Nothing
has ever been done by one without the other. Whenever one found an
obstacle or difficulty, the other helped him to remove it; and he, being
without the disadvantage I have, never makes a mistake.”



A Successful Novelist: Fame After Fifty[8]

                   Practical Hints to Young Authors,

                         BY MRS. AMELIA E. BARR

TO be successful! That is the legitimate ideal every true worker seeks
to realize. But success is not the open secret which it appears to be;
its elements are often uncomprehended; and its roots generally go deep
down, into the very beginnings of life. I can compel my soul to look
back into that twilight which shrouds my earliest years, and perceive,
even in them, monitions and tendencies working for that future, which in
my destiny was fashioned and shaped when as yet there was neither hint
nor dream of it. Fortunately, I had parents who understood the


in the formation of the intellect. The men and women whom I knew first
and best were those of the Hebrew world. Sitting before the nursery
fire, while the snow fell softly and ceaselessly, and all the mountains
round were white, and the streets of the little English town choked with
drifts, I could see the camels and the caravans of the Ishmaelitish
merchants, passing through the hot, sandy desert. I could see Hagar
weeping under the palm, and the waters of the Red Sea standing up like a
wall. Miriam clashing the timbrels, and Deborah singing under the oak,
and Ruth gleaning in the wheatfields of Bethlehem, were as real to me as
were the women of my own home. Before I was six years old, I had been
with Christian to the Celestial City, and had watched, with Crusoe, the
mysterious footprint on the sand, and the advent of the savages. Then
came the wonders of afrites and genii, and all the marvels and miracles
of the Arabian tales. These were the mind-builders, and though schools
and teachers and text-books did much afterwards, I can never nor will
forget the glorious company of men and women from the sacred world, and
that marvelous company of caliphs and kings and princesses from Wonder
Land and Fairy Land, that expanded my whole nature, and fitted me for
the future miracles of Nature and Science, and all the marvelous people
of the Poet’s realm.

Footnote 8:

  This is a most remarkable story, communicated to me by Mrs. Barr, and
  related for the first time in this article. The distinguished
  novelist, being a perfect housekeeper and the mother of a large
  family, yet earns $20,000 a year by her books, which have been
  translated into the language of almost every civilized country.—O. S.

For eighteen years I was amassing facts and fancies, developing a crude
intelligence, waiting for the vitalization of the heart. Then Love, the
Supreme Teacher, came; and his first lesson was,


I was to give up father, and mother, home and kindred, friends and
country, and follow where he would lead me, into a land strange and far
off. Child-bearing and child-losing; the limitations and delights of
frontier life; the intimate society of such great and individual men as
Sam Houston, and the men who fought with him; the intense feelings
induced by war, its uncertainties and possibilities, and the awful
abiding in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, with the pestilence that
walked in darkness and the sickness that destroyed at noonday;—all these
events with their inevitable “asides” were instrumental in the education
and preparation of the seventeen years of my married life.

The calamitous lesson of widowhood, under peculiarly tragic
circumstances, was the last initiation of a heart already broken and
humbled before Him who doeth all things well, no matter how hard the
stroke may be. I thought all was over then; yet all was just beginning.
It was the open door to a new life—a life full of comforts, and serene,

                          DELIGHTFUL STUDIES.

Though I had written stories to please my children, and many things to
please myself, it had never occurred to me that money could be made by
writing. The late William Libbey, a man of singular wisdom and kindness,
first made me understand that my brain and my ten fingers were security
for a good living. From my first effort I began to gather in the harvest
of all my years of study and reading and private writing. For there is
this peculiarity about writing—that if in any direction it has merit, it
will certainly find a market.

For fifteen years I wrote short stories, poems, editorials, and articles
on every conceivable subject, from Herbert Spencer’s theories, to
gentlemen’s walking sticks; but bringing to every piece of work, if it
was only ten lines, the best of my knowledge and ability; and so
earning, with a great deal of pleasure, a very good living. During the
earlier years of this time I worked and read on an average

                          FIFTEEN HOURS A DAY;

for I knew that, to make good work, I must have constant fresh material;
must keep up to date in style and method; and must therefore _read_ far
more than I wrote. But I have been an omnivorous reader all my life
long, and no changes, no cares of home and children, have ever
interfered with this mental necessity. In the most unlikely places and
circumstances, I looked for books, and found them. These fifteen years
on the weekly and monthly periodicals gave me the widest opportunities
for information. I had an alcove in the Astor Library, and I practically
lived in it. I slept and ate at home, but I lived in that City of Books.
I was in the prime of life, but neither society, amusements, nor
pleasures of any kind, could draw me away from the source of all my
happiness and profit.

Suddenly, after this long novition, I received the “call” for a
different work. I had

                              AN ACCIDENT

which confined me to my room, and which, I knew, would keep me from
active work for some months. I fretted for my work, as dry wood frets an
inch from the flame, and said, “I shall lose all I have gained; I shall
fall behind in the race; all these things are against me.” They were all
for me. A little story of what seemed exceptional merit, had been laid
away, in the hope that I might some day find time to extend it into a
novel. A prisoner in my chair, I finished the book in six weeks, and
sent it to Dodd, Mead & Co. On Thanksgiving morning, a letter came,
accepting the book, and any of my readers can imagine what a happy
Thanksgiving Day that was! This book was “Jan Vedder’s Wife,” and its
great and immediate success indicated to me the work I was at length
ready for. I was then in my fifty-second year, and every year had been a
preparation for the work I have since pursued. I went out from that sick
room sure of my


and, with a confidence founded on the certainty of my equipment, and a
determination to trust humanity, and take my readers only into green
pastures and ways of purity and heroism, I ventured on my new path as a

I cannot close this paper without a few words to those who wish to
profit by it. I want them to be sure of a few points which, in my
narrative, I may not have emphasized sufficiently.

                            WORDS OF COUNSEL

1. Men and women succeed _because they take pains to succeed_. Industry
and patience are almost genius; and successful people are often more
distinguished for resolution and perseverance than for unusual gifts.
They make determination and unity of purpose supply the place of

2. Success is the reward of those who “spurn delights and live laborious
days.” We learn to do things by _doing them. One of the great secrets of
success is “pegging away.”_ No disappointment must discourage, and a run
back must often be allowed, in order to take a longer leap forward.

3. _No opposition must be taken to heart._ Our enemies often help us
more than our friends. Besides, a head-wind is better than no wind. Who
ever got anywhere in a dead calm?

4. _A fatal mistake is to imagine that success is some stroke of luck._
This world is run with far too tight a rein for luck to interfere.
Fortune _sells_ her wares; she never gives them. In some form or other,
we pay for her favors; or we go empty away.

5. We have been told, for centuries, to watch for opportunities, and to
strike while the iron is hot. Very good; but I think better of Oliver
Cromwell’s amendment.—“_make the iron hot by striking it._”

6. Everything good needs time. Don’t do work in a hurry. Go into
details; it pays in every way. _Time means power for your work._
Mediocrity is always in a rush; but whatever is worth doing at all is
worth doing with consideration. For genius is nothing more nor less than
doing well what anyone can do badly.

7. _Be orderly._ Slatternly work is never good work. It is either
affectation, or there is some radical defect in the intellect. I would
distrust even the spiritual life of one whose methods and work were
dirty, untidy, and without clearness and order.

8. Never be above your profession. I have had many letters from people
who wanted all the emoluments and honors of literature, and who yet
said, “Literature is the accident of my life; I am a lawyer, or a
doctor, or a lady, or a gentleman.” _Literature is no accident. She is a
mistress who demands the whole heart, the whole intellect, and the whole
time of a devotee._

9. Don’t fail through defects of temper and over-sensitiveness at
moments of trial. _One of the great helps to success is to be cheerful_;
to go to work with a full sense of life; to be determined to put
hindrances out of the way; to prevail over them and to get the mastery.
_Above all things else, be cheerful_; there is no beatitude for the

Apparent success may be reached by sheer impudence, in defiance of
offensive demerit. But men who get what they are manifestly unfit for,
are made to feel what people think of them. Charlatanry may flourish;
but when its bay tree is greenest, it is held far lower than genuine
effort. The world is just; it may, it does, patronize quacks; but _it
never puts them on a level with true men_.

It is better to have the opportunity of victory, than to be spared the
struggle; for success comes but as the result of arduous experience. The
foundations of my success were laid before I can well remember; _it was
after at least forty-five years of conscious labor that I reached the
object of my hope_. Many a time my head failed me, my hands failed me,
my feet failed me, but, thank God, my _heart_ never failed me. Because
_I knew that no extremity would find God’s arm shortened_.



How Theodore Thomas Brought the People Nearer to Music

MR. THOMAS is an early riser, and as I found him one morning, in his
chambers in Chicago, he was preparing to leave for rehearsal. The hale
old gentleman actively paced the floor, while I conversed with him.

“Mr. Thomas,” I said, “those familiar with the events of your life
consider them a lesson of encouragement for earnest and high-minded

“That is kind,” he answered.

“I should like, if you will, to have you speak of your work in building
up your great orchestra in this country.”

“That is too long a story. I would have to begin with my birth.”

“Where were you born?” I asked.

“In the kingdom of Hanover, in 1835. My father was a violinist, and from
him I inherited my taste, I suppose. He taught me music. When I was only
six years old, I played the violin at public concerts.”

                     “I WAS NOT AN INFANT PRODIGY”

“I was not an infant prodigy, however. My father had too much wisdom to
injure my chances in that way. He made me keep to my studies in a manner
that did me good. I came to America in 1845.”

“Was the American music field crowded then?”

“On the contrary, there wasn’t any field to speak of. It had to be made.
Music was the pastime of a few. The well-educated and fashionable
classes possessed or claimed a knowledge of it. There was scarcely any
music for the common people.”

“How did you get your start in the New York world of music?” I asked.

“With four associates, William Mason, Joseph Mosenthal, George Matzka
and Frederick Berguer, I began a series of concerts of Chamber Music,
and for many years we conducted this modest artistic enterprise. There
was much musical enthusiasm on our part, but very little reward, except
the pleasure we drew from our own playing.

“These Mason and Thomas _soirées_ are still remembered by old-time music
lovers of New York, not only for their excellence, but for the peculiar
character of the audiences. They were quiet little monthly reunions, to
which most of the guests came with complimentary tickets. The critics
hardly ventured to intrude upon the exercises, and the newspapers gave
them little notice.”

                       BEGINNING OF THE ORCHESTRA

“How did you come to found your great orchestra?”

“It was more of a growth than a full-fledged thought to begin with. It
was in 1861 that I severed my connection with the opera and began to
establish a genuine orchestra. I began with occasional performances,
popular matinée concerts, and so on, and, in a few years, was able to
give a series of Symphony _Soirées_ at the old Irving Hall in New York.”

To the average person this work of Mr. Thomas may seem to be neither
difficult nor great. Yet while anyone could have collected a band in a
week, to make such an orchestra as Mr. Thomas meant to have, required
time and patience. It was when the Philharmonic Society, after living
through a great many hardships, was on the full tide of popular favor.
Its concerts and rehearsals filled the Academy of Music with the flower
of New York society. Powerful social influences had been won to its
support, and Carl Bergmann had raised its noble orchestra of one hundred
performers to a point of proficiency then quite unexampled in this
country, and in some particulars still unsurpassed. Ladies and gentlemen
who moved in the best circles hardly noticed the parallel entertainment
offered in such a modest way, by Mr. Thomas, on the opposite side of the
street. The patrons of his Chamber Concerts, of course, went in to see
what the new orchestra was like; professional musicians hurried to the
hall with their free passes; and there were a few curious listeners
besides who found in the programmes a class of compositions somewhat
different from those which Mr. Bergmann chiefly favored, and, in
particular, a freshness and novelty in the selections, with an
inclination, not yet very strongly marked, toward the modern German
school. Among such of the _dilettanti_ as condescended to think of Mr.
Thomas at all, there was a vague impression that his concerts were
started in opposition to the Philharmonic Society, but that they were
not so good and much less genteel.

It is true that Mr. Thomas was surpassed, at that time, by Mr.
Bergmann’s larger and older orchestra, and that he had much less than an
equal share of public favor, but there was no intentional rivalry. The
two men had entirely different ideas and worked them out in perfectly
original ways. It was only the artist’s dismal period of struggle and
neglect, which every beginner must pass through. He had to meet cold and
meager audiences, and the false judgment of both the critics and the
people. Yet he was a singular compound of good American energy and
German obstinacy, and he never lost courage.

“Was it a long struggle?” I asked.

“Not very long. Matters soon began to mend. The orchestra improved, the
dreadful gaps in the audience soon filled up, and at the end of the year
the Symphony _Soirées_, if they made no excitement in musical circles,
had at least achieved a high reputation.”

“What was your aim, at that time?”

“When I began, I was convinced that there is no music too high for the
popular appreciation,—that no scientific education is required for the
enjoyment of Beethoven. I believed that it is only necessary that a
public whose taste has been vitiated by over-indulgence in trifles,
should have time and opportunity to accustom itself to better things.
The American people at large then (1864) knew little or nothing of the
great composers for the orchestra. Three or four more or less complete
organizations had visited the principal cities of the United States in
former years, but they made little permanent impression. Juillien had
brought over, for his monster concerts, only five or six solo players,
and the band was filled up with such material as he found here. The
celebrated Germania Band of New York, which had first brought Mr.
Bergmann (famous then as the head of the New York Philharmonic Society)
into notice, did some admirable work just previous to my start in New
York, but it disbanded after six years of vicissitude, and, besides, it
was not a complete orchestra.”

“You mean,” I said, as Mr. Thomas paused meditatively, “that you came at
a time when there was a decided opportunity?”

                    MUSIC HAD NO HOLD ON THE MASSES

“Yes. There had been, and were then, good organizations, such as the New
York Philharmonic Society and the Harvard Musical Association in Boston,
and a few similar organizations in various parts of the country. I mean
no disparagement to their honorable labors, but, in simple truth, none
of them had great influence on the masses. They were pioneers of
culture. They prepared the way for the modern permanent orchestra.”

“They were not important?”

“No, no; that cannot be said. It would be the grossest ingratitude to
forget what they did and have done and are still doing, or detract in
the smallest degree from their well-earned fame. But from the very
nature of their organization, it was inevitable that they should stand a
little apart from the common crowd. To the general public, their
performances were more like mysterious rites, celebrated behind closed
doors, in the presence of a select and unchanging company of believers.
Year after year, the same twenty-five hundred people filled the New York
Academy of Music at the Philharmonic concerts, applauding the same class
of master works, and growing more and more familiar with the same
standards of the strictly classical school. This was no cause for
complaint; on the contrary, it was most fortunate that the reverence for
the older forms of art and canons of taste were thus kept alive; and we
know that, little by little, the culture which the Philharmonic Society
diffuses, through the circle of its regular subscribers, spreads beyond
that small company, and raises the æsthetic tone of metropolitan life.
But I believed then, as I believe now, that it would require generations
for this little leaven to leaven the whole mass, and so I undertook to
do my part in improving matters by forming an orchestra.”

“You wanted to get nearer the people with good music?”

“No, I wanted the people to get nearer to music. I was satisfied that
the right course is to begin at the bottom instead of the top, and make
the cultivation of symphonic music a popular movement.”

“Was the idea of a popular permanent orchestra new at that time?”


“Why was it necessary to effect a permanent orchestra?”

“Why? Because the first step in making music popular was to raise the
standard of orchestral performances and increase their frequency. Our
country had never possessed a genuine orchestra, for a band of players
gathered together at rare intervals for a special purpose does not
deserve the name. The musician who marches at the head of a target
company all the morning and plays for a dancing party at night, is out
of tune with the great masters. To express the deep emotions of
Beethoven, the romanticism of Schumann, or the poetry of Liszt, he ought
to live in an atmosphere of art, and keep not only his hand in practice,
but his mind properly attempered. An orchestra, therefore, ought to be a
permanent body, whose members play together every day, under the same
conductor, and devote themselves exclusively to genuine music. Nobody
had yet attempted to found an orchestra of this kind in America when I
began; but I believed it could be done.”

                          WORKING OUT HIS IDEA

“Did you have an idea of a permanent building for your orchestra?”

“Yes. I wanted something more than an ordinary concert-room. The idea
needed it. It was to be a place suitable for use at all seasons of the
year. There was to be communication in summer with an open garden, and
in winter it was to be a perfect auditorium.”

Mr. Thomas’s idea went even further. It must be bright, comfortable,
roomy, well ventilated—for a close and drowsy atmosphere is fatal to
symphonic music,—it must offer to the multitude every attraction not
inconsistent with musical enjoyment. The stage must be adapted for a
variety of performances, for popular summer entertainment as well as the
most serious of classical concerts. There, with an uninterrupted course
of entertainments, night after night, the whole year round, the noblest
work of all the great masters might be worthily presented.

The scheme was never wholly worked out in New York, great as Mr.
Thomas’s fame became, but it was partially realized in the old
Exposition building in Chicago, where he afterwards gave his summer
concerts, and it is still nearer reality in the present permanent
Chicago orchestra, which has the great Auditorium for its home and a
$50,000 annual guarantee.

“What were your first steps in this direction?” I asked.

“I began with a series of _al fresco_ entertainments in the old Terrace
Garden, in June, 1866. They were well patronized; and repeated in 1867.
Then, in 1868, we removed to better quarters in Central Park Garden, and
things prospered, so that, in 1869, I began those annual tours, which
are now so common.”

The first itinerary of this kind was not very profitable, but the young
conductor fought through it. Each new season improved somewhat, but
there were troubles and losses. More than once, the travelers trod close
upon the heels of calamity. The cost of moving from place to place was
so great that the most careful management was necessary to cover
expenses. They could not afford to be idle, even for a night, and the
towns capable of furnishing good audiences generally wanted fun. Hence
they must travel all day, and Thomas took care that the road should be
smoothed with all obtainable comforts. Special cars on the railways,
special attendants to look after the luggage, and lodgings at the best
hotels contributed to make the tour tolerably pleasant and easy, so that
the men came to their evening work fresh and smiling. They were tied up
by freshets and delayed by wrecks; but their fame grew, and the
audiences became greater. Thomas’s fame as a conductor who could
guarantee constant employment permitted him to take his choice of the
best players in the country, and he brought over a number of European
celebrities as the public taste improved.

Theodore Thomas did another wise thing. He treated New York like a
provincial city, giving it a week of music once in a while as he passed
through it on his travels. This excited the popular interest, and when
he came to stay, the next season, a brilliantly successful series of
concerts was the result. At the close, a number of his admirers united
in presenting him a rich silver casket, holding a purse of thirty-five
hundred dollars, as a testimonial of gratitude for his services. The
Brooklyn Philharmonic Society placed itself under his direction. Chicago
gave him a fine invitation to attend benefit entertainments to himself;
and, when he came, decked the hall with abundant natural flowers, as if
for the reception of a hero. He was successful financially and every
other way, and from that time on he merely added to his laurels.


“What,” I asked of him, “do you consider the chief element of your

“That is difficult to say. Perseverance, hard work, stern
discipline,—each had its part.”

“You have never attempted to become rich?”


“Do you still believe in the best music for the mass of the people?”

“I do. My success has been with them. It was so in New York; it is so
here in Chicago.”

“Do you still work as hard as ever?” I inquired.

“Nearly so. The training of a large orchestra never ends. The work must
be gone over and over. There is always something new.”

“And your life’s pleasure lies in this?”

“Wholly so. To render perfect music perfectly—that is enough.”



John Burroughs at Home: The Hut on the Hill Top

WHEN I visited the hill-top retreat of John Burroughs, the distinguished
writer upon nature, at West Park, New York, it was with the feeling that
all success is not material; that mere dollars are nothing, and that the
influential man is the successful man, whether he be rich or poor. John
Burroughs is unquestionably both influential and poor. Relatively poor:
being an owner of some real estate, and having a modest income from
copyrights. He is content: knowing when he has enough. On the wooden
porch of his little bark-covered cabin I waited, one June afternoon,
until he should come back from the woods and fields, where he had gone
for a ramble. It was so still that the sound of my rocker moving to and
fro on the rough boards of the little porch seemed to shock the perfect
quiet. From afar off came the plaintive cry of a wood-dove, and then all
was still again. Presently the interpreter of out-door life appeared in
the distance, and, seeing a stranger at his door, hurried homeward. He
was without coat or vest and looked cool in his white outing shirt and
large straw hat. After some formalities of introduction we reached the
subject which I had called to discuss, and he said:—

“It is not customary to interview men of my vocation concerning

“Any one who has made a lasting impression on the minds of his
contemporaries,” I began, “and influenced men and women—”

“Do you refer to me?” he interrupted, naïvely.

I nodded and he laughed. “I have not endowed a university nor made a
fortune, nor conquered an enemy in battle,” he said.

“And those who have done such things have not written ‘Locusts and Wild
Honey’ and ‘Wake-Robin.’”

“I recognize,” he said quietly, “that success is not always where people
think it is. There are many ways of being successful; and I do not
approve of the mistake which causes many to consider that a great
fortune acquired means a great success achieved. On the contrary, our
greatest men need very little money to accomplish the greatest work.”

“I thought that anyone leading a life so wholly at variance with the
ordinary ideas and customs would see success in life from a different
point of view,” I observed. “Money is really no object with you?”

“The subject of wealth never disturbs me.”

“You lead a very simple life here.”

“Such as you see.”

The sight would impress anyone. So far is this disciple of nature away
from the ordinary mode of the world, that his little cabin, set in the
cup-shaped top of a hill, is practically bare of luxuries and the
so-called comforts of life. His surroundings are of the rudest, the very
rocks and bushes encroaching upon his back door. All about, the crest of
the hill encircles him, and shuts out the world. Only the birds of the
air venture to invade his retreat from the various sides of the
mountain; and there is only one approach by a straggling, narrow path.
In his house are no decorations but such as can be hung upon the exposed
wood. The fireplace is of brick, and quite wide; the floor, rough boards
scrubbed white; the ceiling, a rough array of exposed rafters; and his
bed rudely constructed. Very few and very simple chairs, a plain table
and some shelves for books make the wealth of the retreat and serve for
his ordinary use.[9]

Footnote 9:

  This hut on the hill-top is situated in an old lake bed, some three
  hundred yards wide, half filled with peat and decomposed matter,
  swampy and overgrown. This area was devoted by Mr. Burroughs to the
  raising of celery for the market, when he set out to earn a living
  upon the land.

“Many people,” I said, “think that your method of living is an ideal
example of the way people ought to live.”

“There is nothing remarkable in that. A great many people are very weary
of the way they think themselves compelled to live. They are mistaken in
believing that the disagreeable things they find themselves doing, are
the things they ought to do. A great many take their ideas of a proper
aim in life from what other people say and do. Consequently, they are
unhappy, and an independent existence such as mine strikes them as
ideal. As a matter of fact, it is very natural.”

“Would you say that to work so as to be able to live like this should be
the aim of a young man?”

“By no means. On the contrary, his aim should be to live in such a way
as will give his mind the greatest freedom and peace. This can be very
often obtained by wanting less of material things and more of
intellectual ones. A man who achieved such an aim would be as well off
as the most distinguished man in any field. Money-getting is half a
mania, and some other ‘getting’ propensities are manias also. The man
who gets content comes nearest to being reasonable.”

“I should like,” I said, “to illustrate your point of view from the
details of your own life.”

“Students of nature do not, as a rule, have eventful lives. I was born
at Roxbury, New York, in 1837. That was a time when conditions were
rather primitive. My father was a farmer, and I was raised among the
woods and fields. I came from an uncultivated, unreading class of
society, and grew up among surroundings the least calculated to awaken
the literary faculty. I have no doubt that daily contact with the woods
and fields awakened my interest in the wonders of nature, and gave me a
bent toward investigation in that direction.”[10]

Footnote 10:

  “Blessed is he whose youth was passed upon a farm,” writes Mr.
  Burroughs; “and if it was a dairy farm his memories will be all the
  more fragrant. The driving of the cows to and from the pasture every
  day and every season for years,—how much of summer and of nature he
  got into him on these journeys! What rambles and excursions did this
  errand furnish the excuse for! The birds and birds’ nests, the
  berries, the squirrels, the woodchucks, the beech woods into which the
  cows loved so to wander and browse, the fragrant wintergreens, and a
  hundred nameless adventures, all strung upon that brief journey of
  half a mile to and from the remote pasture.”

“Did you begin early to make notes and write upon nature?” I questioned.

“Not before I was sixteen or seventeen. Earlier than that, the art of
composition had anything but charms for me. I remember that while at
school, at the age of fourteen, I was required, like other students, to
write ‘compositions’ at stated times, but I usually evaded the duty one
way or another. On one occasion, I copied something from a comic
almanac, and unblushingly handed it in as my own. But the teacher
detected the fraud, and ordered me to produce a twelve-line composition
before I left school. I remember I racked my brain in vain, and the
short winter day was almost closing when Jay Gould, who sat in the seat
behind me, wrote twelve lines of doggerel on his slate and passed it
slyly over to me. I had so little taste for writing that I coolly copied
that, and handed it in as my own.”

“You were friendly with Gould then?”

“Oh, yes, ‘chummy,’ they call it now. His father’s farm was only a
little way from ours, and we were fast friends, going home together
every night.”

“His view of life must have been considerably different from yours.”

“It was. I always looked upon success as being a matter of mind, not
money; but Jay wanted the material appearances. I remember that once we
had a wrestling match, and as we were about even in strength, we agreed
to abide by certain rules,—taking what we called ‘holts’ in the
beginning and not breaking them until one or the other was thrown. I
kept to this in the struggle, but when Jay realized that he was in
danger of losing the contest, he broke the ‘holt’ and threw me. When I
remarked that he had broken his agreement, he only laughed and said, ‘I
threw you, didn’t I?’ And to every objection I made, he made the same
answer. The fact of having won was pleasing to him. It satisfied him,
although it wouldn’t have contented me.”

“Did you ever talk over success in life with him?”

“Yes, quite often. He was bent on making money, and did considerable
trading among us schoolboys,—sold me some of his books. I felt then that
my view of life was more satisfactory to me than his would have been. I
wanted to obtain a competence, and then devote myself to high thinking
instead of to money-making.”[11]

Footnote 11:

  An old schoolmate in the little red schoolhouse has said, that “John
  and Jay were not like the other boys. They learned their lessons
  easier; and at recess they looked on the games, but did not join in
  them. John always knew where to find the largest trout; he could show
  you birds’ nests, and name all the flowers. He was fond of reading,
  and would walk five miles to borrow a book. Roxbury is proud of John
  Burroughs. We celebrated ‘Burroughs Day’ instead of Arbor Day here
  last spring, in the high school, in honor of him.”

“How did you plan to attain this end?”

“By study. I began in my sixteenth or seventeenth year to try to express
myself on paper, and when, after I had left the country school, I
attended the seminary at Ashland and at Cooperstown, I often received
the highest marks in composition, though only standing about the average
in general scholarship. My taste ran to essays, and I picked up the
great works in that field at a bookstore, from time to time, and filled
my mind with the essay idea. I bought the whole of Dr. Johnson’s works
at a second-hand bookstore in New York, because, on looking into them I
found his essays appeared to be solid literature, which I thought was
just the thing. Almost my first literary attempts were moral
reflections, somewhat in the Johnsonian style.”

“You were supporting yourself during these years?”

“I taught six months and ‘boarded round’ before I went to the seminary.
That put fifty dollars into my pocket, and the fifty paid my way at the
seminary.[12] Working on the farm, studying and teaching filled up the
years until 1863, when I went to Washington and found employment in the
Treasury Department.”

Footnote 12:

  It was when he was attending the academy, that young Burroughs first
  saw that wonderful being—a living author:—

  “I distinctly remember with what emotion I gazed upon him,” he said,
  “and followed him about in the twilight, keeping on the other side of
  the street. He was of little account,—a man who had failed as a
  lawyer, and then had written a history of Poland, which I have never
  heard of since that time; but to me he was the embodiment of the
  august spirit of authorship, and I looked upon him with more reverence
  and enthusiasm than I had ever before looked upon any man with. I
  cannot divine why I should have stood in such worshipful fear and awe
  of this obscure individual, but I suppose it was the instinctive
  tribute of a timid and imaginative youth to a power he was just
  beginning to see,—or to feel,—the power of letters.”

“You were connected with the Treasury then?”[13]

Footnote 13:

  “My first book, ‘Wake-Robin,’ was written while I was a government
  clerk in Washington,” says Mr. Burroughs. “It enabled me to live over
  again the days I had passed with the birds, and in the scenes of my
  youth. I wrote the book while sitting at a desk in front of an iron
  wall. I was the keeper of a vault in which many million of bank-notes
  were stored. During my long periods of leisure, I took refuge in my
  pen. How my mind reacted from the iron wall in front of me, and sought
  solace in memories of the birds and of summer fields and woods.”

“Oh, yes; for nearly nine years. I left the department in 1872, to
become receiver of a bank, and subsequently for several years I
performed the work of a bank examiner. I considered it only as an
opportunity to earn and save up a little money on which I could retire.
I managed to do that, and came back to this region, where I bought a
fruit farm. I worked that into paying condition, and then gave all my
time to the pursuit of the studies I like.”

“Had you abandoned your interest in nature during your Washington life?”

“No. I gave as much time to the study of nature and literature as I had
to spare. When I was twenty-three I wrote an essay on ‘Expression,’ and
sent it to the ‘_Atlantic_.’ It was so Emersonian in style, owing to my
enthusiasm for Emerson at that time, that the editor thought some one
was trying to palm off on him an early essay of Emerson’s which he had
not seen. He found that Emerson had not published any such paper,
however, and printed it, though it had not much merit. I wrote off and
on for the magazines.”

The editor in question was James Russell Lowell, who, instead of
considering it without merit, often expressed afterwards the delight
with which he read this contribution from an unknown hand, and the swift
impression of the author’s future distinction which came to him with
that reading.

“Your successful work, then, has been in what direction?” I said.

“In studying nature. It has all come by living close to the plants and
animals of the woods and fields, and coming to understand them. There I
have been successful. Men who, like myself, are deficient in
self-assertion, or whose personalities are flexible and yielding, make a
poor show in business, but in certain other fields these defects become
advantages. Certainly it is so in my case. I can succeed with bird or
beast, for I have cultivated my ability in that direction. I can look in
the eye of an ugly dog or cow and win, but with an ugly man I have less

“I consider the desire which most individuals have for the luxuries
which money can buy, an error of mind” he added. “Those things do not
mean anything except a lack of higher tastes. Such wants are not
necessary wants, nor honorable wants. If you cannot get wealth with a
noble purpose, it is better to abandon it and get something else. Peace
of mind is one of the best things to seek, and finer tastes and
feelings. The man who gets these, and maintains himself comfortably, is
much more admirable and successful than the man who gets money and
neglects these. The realm of power has no fascination for me. I would
rather have my seclusion and peace of mind. This log hut, with its bare
floors, is sufficient. I am set down among the beauties of nature, and
in no danger of losing the riches that are scattered all about. No one
will take my walks or my brook away from me. The flowers, birds and
animals are plentifully provided. I have enough to eat and wear, and
time to see how beautiful the world is, and to enjoy it. The entire
world is after your money, or the things you have bought with your
money. It is trying to keep them that makes them seem so precious. I
live to broaden and enjoy my own life, believing that in so doing I do
what is best for everyone. If I ran after birds only to write about
them, I should never have written anything that anyone else would have
cared to read. I must write from sympathy and love,—that is, from
enjoyment,—or not at all. I come gradually to have a feeling that I want
to write upon a given theme. Whenever the subject recurs to me, it
awakens a warm, personal response. My confidence that I ought to write
comes from the feeling or attraction which some subjects exercise over
me. The work is pleasure, and the result gives pleasure.”

“And your work as a naturalist is what?”

“Climbing trees to study birds, lying by the waterside to watch the
fishes, sitting still in the grass for hours to study the insects, and
tramping here and there, always to observe and study whatever is common
to the woods and fields.”

“Men think you have done a great work,” I said.

“I have done a pleasant work,” he said, modestly.

“And the achievements of your schoolmate Gould do not appeal to you as
having anything in them worth aiming for?” I questioned.

“Not for me. I think my life is better for having escaped such vast and
difficult interests.”

The gentle, light-hearted naturalist and recluse came down the long
hillside with me, “to put me right” on the main road. I watched him as
he retraced his steps up the steep, dark path, lantern in hand. His
sixty years sat lightly upon him, and as he ascended I heard him
singing. Long after the light melody had died away, I saw the serene
little light bobbing up and down in his hand, disappearing and
reappearing, as the lone philosopher repaired to his hut and his couch
of content.



Vreeland’s Romantic Story: How He Came to Transport a Million Passengers
    a Day

A SHORT time ago, New York learned with interest and some astonishment,
that the head of its greatest transportation system, Herbert H.
Vreeland, had received from several of his associates as individuals, a
“valentine” present of $100,000, in recognition of his superb management
of their properties. Many New Yorkers then learned, for the first time,
what railroad experts throughout the country had long known, that the
transportation of a million people a day in New York’s busy streets,
without serious friction or public annoyance, is not a matter of chance,
but is the result of perhaps the most perfect traffic organization ever
created, at the head of which is a man, quiet, forceful, able, with the
ability of a great general—a master and at the same time, a friend of
men,—himself one for whom in the judgment of his associates almost any
higher railroad career is possible.

Thirty years ago Mr. Vreeland, then a lad thirteen years old, was, to
use his own humorous, reminiscent phrase, “h’isting ice” on the Hudson
River, one of a gang of eighteen or twenty men and boys filling the ice
carts for retail city delivery. A picture just brought to light, shows
him among the force lined up to be photographed, as a tall, loosely
built, hatchet-faced lad in working garb, with a fragment of a smile on
his face, as if he could appreciate the contrast of the boy of that day
with the man of the future.

How do these things happen? What was the divine spark in this boy’s
brain and heart that should lift him out of the crowd of the commonplace
to the position of responsibility and influence in the world which he
now occupies? If my readers could have been present at the interview
kindly granted by Mr. Vreeland to the writer, and could have heard him
recalling his early life and its many struggles and disappointments with
a smile that was often near a tear, they would have gone away feeling
that nothing is impossible to him who dares, and, above all else, who
_works_, and they would have derived inspiration far greater than can
possibly be given in these written words.

“I first entered the railroad business in 1875,” said Mr. Vreeland,
“shoveling gravel on one of the Long Island Railroad Company’s night
construction trains. Though this position was humble enough, it was a
great thing to me then to feel myself a railroad man, with all that that
term implied; and when, after a few months’ trial, I was given the job
of inspecting ties and roadbed at a dollar a day, I felt that I was well
on the road to the presidency.

“One day the superintendent asked my boss if he could give him a
reliable man to replace a switchman who had just made a blunder leading
to a collision, and had been discharged. The reply was, ‘Well, I’ve got
a man named Vreeland here, who will do exactly what you tell him to.’
They called me up, and, after a few short, sharp questions from the
train-master, I went down to the dreary and desolate marsh near
Bushwick, Long Island, and took charge of a switch. For a few days I had
to camp out near that switch, in any way that might happen, but finally
the officers made up their minds that they could afford me the luxury of
a two-by-four flag-house with a stove in it, and I settled down for more

“The Bushwick station was not far away, and one of the company’s
division headquarters was there. I soon made the acquaintance of all the
officials around that station, and got into their good graces by
offering to help them out in their clerical work at any and all times
when I was off duty. It was a godsend to them, and exactly what I
wanted, for I had determined to get into the inside of the railroad
business from bottom to top. Many’s the time I have worked till eleven
or twelve o’clock at night in that little station, figuring out train
receipts and expenses, engine cost and duty, and freight and passenger
statistics of all kinds; and, as a result of this work, I quickly
acquired a grasp of railroad details in all stages, which few managers
possess, for, in one way and another, I got into and through every
branch of the business.

“My Bushwick switch was a temporary one, put in for construction
purposes only, and, after some months’ use, was discontinued, and I was
discharged. This did not suit me at all, and I went to one of the
officials of the road and told him that I wanted to remain with the Long
Island Railroad Company in any capacity whatsoever, and would be obliged
to him if he would give me a job. He said, at first, that he hadn’t a
thing for me to do, but finally added, as if he was ashamed to suggest
it, that, if I had a mind to go down on another division and sweep out
and dust cars, I might do it. I instantly accepted, and thereby learned
the details of another important railroad department.

“Pretty soon they made me brakeman on an early morning train to
Hempstead, and then I found that I was worth to the world, after two
years of railroad training, just forty dollars a month, _plus_ a
perquisite or two obtained from running a card-table department in the
smoking-cars. I remembered that I paid eighteen dollars of my munificent
salary for board and lodging, sent twenty dollars home for the support
of my mother and sister, and had two dollars a month and the aforesaid
perquisites left for ‘luxuries.’

“It was about this time, thus early in my career, that I first came to
be known as ‘President Vreeland.’ An old codger upon the railroad, in
talking to me one day, said, in a bantering way: ‘Well, I suppose you
think your fortune is made, now you have become a brakeman, but let me
tell you what will happen. You will be a brakeman about four or five
years, and then they will make you a conductor, at about one hundred
dollars a month, and there you’ll stick all your life, if you don’t get
discharged.’ I responded, rather angrily, ‘Do you suppose I am going to
be satisfied with remaining a conductor? I mean to be president of a
railroad.’ ‘Ho, ho, ho!’ laughed the man. He told the story around, and
many a time thereafter the boys slyly placed the word ‘President’ before
my name on official instructions and packages sent to me.

“A conductor on one of the regular trains quarreled one morning with the
superintendent and was discharged. I was sent for and told to take out
that train. This was jumping me over the heads of many of the older
brakemen, and, as a consequence, all the brakemen on that train quit.
Others were secured, however, and I ran the train regularly for a good
many months.

“Then came an accident one day, for which the engineer and I were
jointly responsible. We admitted our responsibility, and were
discharged. I went again to the superintendent, however, and, upon a
strong plea to be retained in the service, he sent me back to the ranks
among the brakemen. I had no complaint to make, but accepted the
consequence of my mistake.

“Soon after this, the control of the road passed into other hands. Many
were discharged, and I was daily expecting my own ‘blue envelope.’ One
day, I was detailed to act as brakeman on a special which was to convey
the president and directors of the road, with invited guests, on a trip
over the lines. By that time I had learned the Long Island Railroad in
all its branches pretty well; and, in the course of the trip, was called
upon to answer a great many questions. The next day I received word that
the superintendent wanted to see me. My heart sank within me, for
summonses of this kind were ominous in those days, but I duly presented
myself at the office and was asked, ‘Are you the good-looking brakeman
who was on the special yesterday who shows his teeth when he smiles?’ I
modestly replied that I was certainly on the special yesterday, and I
may possibly have partly confirmed the rest of the identification by a
smile, for the superintendent, without further questioning, said: ‘The
president wants to see you, up stairs.’

“I went up, and in due time was shown into the presence of the great
man, who eyed me closely for a minute or two, and then asked me abruptly
what I was doing. I told him I was braking Number Seventeen. He said:
‘Take this letter to your superintendent. It contains a request that he
relieve you from duty, and put somebody else in your place. After he has
done so, come back here.’

“All this I did, and, on my return to the president, he said, ‘Take this
letter at once to Admiral Peyron, of the French fleet (then lying in the
harbor on a visit of courtesy to this country), and this to General
Hancock, on Governor’s Island. They contain invitations to each to dine
with me to-morrow night at my home in Garden City with their staffs. Get
their answers, and, if they say yes, return at once to New York, charter
a steamer, call for them to-morrow afternoon, land them at Long Island
City, arrange for a special train from Long Island City to Garden City,
take them there, and return them after the banquet. I leave everything
in your hands. Good day.’

“I suppose this might be considered a rather large job for a common
brakeman, but I managed to get through with it without disgracing
myself, and apparently to the satisfaction of all concerned. For some
time thereafter, I was the president’s special emissary on similar
matters connected with the general conduct of the business, and while I
did not, perhaps, learn so very much about railroading proper, I was put
in positions where I learned to take responsibility and came to have
confidence in myself.

“The control of the Long Island Railroad again changed hands, and I was
again ‘let out,’ this time for good, so far as that particular road was
concerned,—except that, within the last two or three years, I have
renewed my acquaintance with it through being commissioned by a banking
syndicate in New York City to make an expert examination of its plant
and equipment as a preliminary to reorganization.

“This was in 1881, or about that time, and I soon secured a position as
conductor on the New York and Northern Railroad, a little line running
from One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Street, New York City, to Yonkers. Not
to go into tedious detail regarding my experience there, I may say in
brief that in course of time I practically ‘ran the road.’ After some
years, it changed hands (a thing which railways, particularly small
ones, often do, and always to the great discomposure of the employees),
and the new owners, including William C. Whitney, Daniel S. Lamont,
Captain R. Somers Hayes and others, went over the road one day on a
special train to visit the property. As I have said, I was then
practically running the road, owing to the fact that the man who held
the position of general manager was not a railroad man and relied upon
me to handle all details, but my actual position was only that of
train-master. I accompanied the party, and knowing the road thoroughly,
not only physically but also statistically, was able to answer all the
questions which they raised. This was the first time I had met Mr.
Whitney, and I judge that I made a somewhat favorable impression upon
him, for not long after I was created general manager of the road.

“A few months later, I received this telegram:—

    ‘H. H. VREELAND.

    ‘Meet me at Broadway and Seventh Avenue office at two o’clock

                                                WILLIAM C. WHITNEY.’

“I had to take a special engine to do this, but arrived at two o’clock
at the office of the Houston Street, West Street and Pavonia Ferry
Railroad Company, which I then knew, in an indistinct sort of way, owned
a small horse railway in the heart of New York. After finding that Mr.
Whitney was out at lunch, I kicked my heels for a few minutes outside
the gate, and then inquired of a man who was seated inside in an
exceedingly comfortable chair, when Mr. Whitney and his party were
expected, saying, also, that my name was Vreeland, and I had an
appointment at two. He replied: ‘Oh, are you Mr. Vreeland? Well, here is
a letter for you. Mr. Whitney expected to be here at two o’clock, but is
a little late.’ I took my letter and sat down again outside, thinking
that it might possibly contain an appointment for another hour. It was,
however, an appointment of quite a different character. It read as

    ‘MR. H. H. VREELAND.

    ‘DEAR SIR:—At a meeting of the stockholders of the Houston
    Street, West Street and Pavonia Ferry Railroad Company, held
    this day, you were unanimously elected a director of the

    ‘At a subsequent meeting of the directors, you were unanimously
    elected president and general manager, your duties to commence

              ‘Yours truly,

                   C. E. WARREN, Secretary.’

“By the time I had recovered from my surprise at learning that I was no
longer a steam-railroad, but a street-railroad man, Mr. Whitney and
other directors came in, and, after spending about five minutes in
introductions, they took up their hats and left, saying, simply, ‘Well,
Vreeland, you are president; now run the road.’ I then set out to learn
what kind of a toy railway it was that had come into my charge.”

Here Mr. Vreeland’s narrative stops, for the rest of the history is well
known to the people of New York, and to experts in street railroading
throughout the country. The “Whitney syndicate,” so called, was then in
possession of a few only out of some twenty or more street railway
properties in New York City, the Broadway line, however, being one of
these, and by far the most valuable. With the immense financial
resources of Messrs. Whitney, Widener, Elkins, and their associates,
nearly all the other properties were added to the original ones owned by
the syndicate, and with the magnificent organizing and executive ability
of Mr. Vreeland, there has been built up in New York a street railway
system which, while including less than two hundred and fifty miles of
track, is actually carrying more than one-half as many passengers each
year as are being carried by all the steam railroads of the United
States together.

Mr. Vreeland’s first work on coming to New York was, naturally, to
familiarize himself with the transportation conditions in New York City,
and to learn how to handle the peculiarly complex problems involved in
street railroading. He first had to gain, also, the confidence of his
men, but this is never hard for anyone who is sincerely solicitous for
their welfare, and in such sympathy with their work and hardships as a
man like himself must have been, with his own past history in mind.

With his hand firmly on the tiller, and with his scheme of organization
perfected, he was soon able to take up the larger questions of
administration. To Mr. Vreeland is due the credit of initiating and
rapidly extending a general free transfer system in New York, by which
the public is able to ride from almost any part of the largest city in
the country to any other part, for a single five-cent fare, whereas,
before the consolidation, two, three, and sometimes four fares would
have to be paid for the same ride.

It was upon Mr. Vreeland’s recommendation, also, backed by that of F. S.
Pearson, the well-known consulting engineer of the Whitney syndicate,
that the latter determined to adopt the underground conduit electric
system in the reconstruction of the lines. At that time this decision
involved the greatest financial and technical courage, since there was
but one other road of this kind in existence, and that a small tramway
in an Austrian city, while previous American experience with this system
had been uniformly unsuccessful.

Not only in street railroading proper, but also in steam railroading,
automobile work and the electric lighting field, Mr. Vreeland possesses
the absolute confidence of his associates, who rely implicitly upon his
judgment, intelligence and business acumen. The recent gift, already
referred to, is one only of several which he has received from men who
feel that they have made millions through his ability. Although he is
not to-day a wealthy man, as men are counted wealthy in New York City,
he is certainly well along on the road to millionaire-dom.

Best of all, however, and what has probably satisfied him most in his
life, has been the host of genuine friendships which he has made, and
the strong hold which he has upon the workingman. A strike of the
employees of the Metropolitan Street Railway Company is absolutely
impossible so long as he remains at the head of the company’s affairs,
for the men know well that there will be in that position a man who is
always fair, and even generous with them, bearing in mind ever his duty
to his stockholders; and they know, too, that no injustice will be
committed by any of the department heads. Any one of his four or five
thousand employees can meet him personally on a question of grievance,
and is sure of being treated as a reasonable fellow man. Time and again
have labor leaders sought to form an organization of the Metropolitan
employees, and as often the men have said in reply, “Not while Vreeland
is here,—we know he will treat us fairly.”

In a recent address Mr. Vreeland said:—

“No artificial condition can ever, in my judgment, keep down a man who
has health, capacity and honesty. You can temporarily interfere with him
or make the road to the object of his ambition more difficult, but you
cannot stop him. That tyranny is forever dead, and since its death there
has come a great enlightenment to the possessors of power and wealth.
Instead of preventing a man from rising, there is not a concern the wide
world over that is not to-day eagerly seeking for capable people. The
great hunger of the time is for good men, strong men, men capable of
assuming responsibility; and there is sharp competition for those who
are available.”



How James Whitcomb Riley Came to be Master of the Hoosier Dialect

IT is doubtful if there is in the literary world, to-day, a personage
whose boyhood and young manhood can approach in romance and unusual
circumstances that of the author of “The Old Swimmin’ Hole.”

All tradition was against his accomplishing anything in the world. How,
indeed, said the good folks of the little town of Greenfield, Indiana,
could anything be expected of a boy who cared nothing for school, and
deserted it at the first opportunity, to take up a wandering life.

                      THROWN ON HIS OWN RESOURCES

The boy’s father wanted the boy to follow in his footsteps, in the legal
profession, and he held out alluring hopes of the possibility of scaling
even greater heights than any to which he had yet attained. Better
still,—from the standpoint of the restless James,—he took the youngster
with him as he made his circuit from court to court.

These excursions, for they were indeed such to the boy, sowed deep in
his heart the seed of a determination to become a nomad; and it was not
long until he started out as a strolling sign-painter, determined upon
the realization of his ideals.

Oftentimes business was worse than dull, and, on one occasion, hunger
drove him for recourse to his wits, and lo, he blossomed forth as a
“blind sign-painter,” led from place to place by a little boy, and
showered with sympathy and trade in such abundance that he could hardly
bear the thought of the relinquishment of a pretense so ingenious and
successful, entered on at first as a joke.

Then came another epoch. The young man fell in with a patent-medicine
man, with whom he joined fortunes, and here the young Indianian, who had
been scribbling more or less poetry, found a new use for his talent; for
his duties in the partnership were to beguile the people with joke and
song, while his co-worker plied the sales of his cure-all. There were
many times when, but for his fancy, the young poet might have seen his
audience dwindle rapidly away. It was while thus engaged, that he had
the opportunities which enabled him to master thoroughly the Hoosier

When the glamor of the patent-medicine career had faded somewhat, the
nomadic Riley joined a band of strolling Thespians, and, in this brief
portion of his life, after the wont of players of his class, played many

At length, he began to give a little more attention to his literary
work; and, later, obtained a place on an Indianapolis paper, where he
published his first poems, and they won their author almost instant

                      WHY HE LONGED TO BE A BAKER

When I drew Mr. Riley out to talk still further of those interesting
days, and the strange experiences which came to him therein, the
conversation finally turned on the subject of his youthful ambition.

“I think my earliest remembered one,” he said, “was an insatiate longing
to become a baker. I don’t know what prompted it, unless it were the
visions of the mountains of alluring ‘goodies,’ which, as they are
ranged in the windows of the pastry shops, appear doubly tempting to the
youth whose mother not only counsels moderation, but enforces it.

“Next, I imagined that I would like to become a showman of some sort.

“Then, my shifting fancy conjured up visions of how grand it would be to
work as a painter, and decorate houses and fences in glowing colors.

“Finally, as I grew a little older, there returned my old longing to
become an actor. When, however, my dreams were realized, and I became a
member of a traveling theatrical company, I found that the life was full
of hardships, with very little chance of rising in the world.

“I never had any literary ambition whatever, so far as I can remember. I
wrote, primarily, simply because I desired to have something to read,
and could not find selections that exactly suited me. Gradually I found
a demand for my little efforts springing up; and so my brother, who
could write legibly transcribed them.”


At this point I asked Mr. Riley his idea of the prime requisites for
success in the field of letters.

“The most essential factor,” he replied “is persistence,—the
determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by
the discouragement that must inevitably come. I believe that he is
richer for the battle with the world, in any vocation, who has great
determination and little talent, rather than his seemingly more
fortunate brother with great talent, perhaps, but little determination.
As for the field of literature, I cannot but express my conviction that
meteoric flights, such as have been taken, of recent years, by some
young writers with whose names almost everybody is familiar, cannot fail
to be detrimental, unless the man to whom success comes thus early and
suddenly is an exceptionally evenly-balanced and sensible person.

“Many persons have spoken to me about Kipling’s work, and remarked how
wonderful a thing is the fact that such achievements could have been
possible for a man comparatively so young. I say, not at all. What do we
find when we investigate? Simply that Kipling began working on a
newspaper when he was only thirteen years of age, and he has been
toiling ever since. So you see, even that case confirms my theory that
every man must be ‘tried in the fire,’ as it were.

“He may begin early or late—and in some cases the fight is longer than
in others—but of one thing I feel sure, that there is no short-cut to
permanent, self-satisfying success in literature, or anything else.”


“Mr. Riley,” I asked, “would you mind saying something about the
obstacles over which you climbed to success?”

“I am afraid it would not be a very pleasant story,” he replied. “A
friend came to me once, completely heartbroken, saying that his
manuscripts were constantly returned, and that he was the most miserable
wretch alive. I asked him how long he had been trying? ‘Three years,’ he
said. ‘My dear man,’ I answered, laughing, ‘go on, keep on trying till
you have spent as many years at it as I did.’ ‘As many as you did!’ he
exclaimed. ‘Yes, as long as I did.’ ‘What, you struggled for years!’
‘Yes, sir; through years, through sleepless nights, through almost
hopeless days. For twenty years I tried to get into one magazine; back
came my manuscripts eternally. I kept on. In the twentieth year, that
magazine accepted one of my articles.’

“I was not a believer in the theory that one man does a thing much
easier than any other man. Continuous, unflagging effort, persistence
and determination will win. Let not the man be discouraged who has

“What would you advise one to do with his constantly rejected
manuscript?” I asked.

“Put it away awhile; then remodel it. Young writers make the mistake I

“What mistake?” I asked.

“Hurrying a manuscript off before it was dry from my pen, as if the
world were just waiting for that article and must have it. Now it can
hardly be drawn from me with a pair of tweezers. Yes, lay it aside
awhile. Reread. There is a rotten spot somewhere. Perhaps it is full of
hackneyed phrases, or lacks in sparkle and originality. Search, examine,
rewrite, simplify. Make it lucid. _I am glad, now, that my manuscripts
did come back._ Presently I would discover this defect, then that.
Perhaps three or four sleepless nights would show my failure to be in an
unsymmetrical arrangement of the verses.

“See these books?” he said, rapping upon the book case with the back of
his hand. “Classics! but of what do they tell? Of the things of their
own day. Let us write the things of our day. Literary fields exhausted!
Nonsense. If we write well enough, ours will be the classics of
to-morrow. Our young Americans have, right at hand, the richest material
any country ever offered. Let them be brave and work in earnest.”

                          A COLLEGE EDUCATION

Answering other questions, the poet said:—“A college education for the
aspirant for literary success is, of course, an advantage, provided he
does not let education foster a false culture that will lead him away
from the ideals he ought to cling to.

“There is another thing that the young man in any artistic pursuit must
have a care for; and that is, to be practical. This is a practical
world, and it is always ready to take advantage of this sort of people:
so that one must try to cultivate a practical business sense as well as
an artistic sense. We have only a few men like Rudyard Kipling and F.
Hopkinson Smith, who seem to combine these diverse elements of character
in just the right proportions; but I believe that it is unfortunate for
the happiness and peace of mind of our authors, and artists, and
musicians, that we have not more of them.”

                           RILEY’S POPULARITY

Riley’s poetry is popular because it goes right to the feelings of the
people. He could not have written as he does, but for the schooling of
that wandering life, which gave him an insight into the struggle for
existence among the great unnumbered multitude of his fellow-men. He
learned in his travels and journeys, in his hard experience as a
strolling sign-painter and patent-medicine peddler the freemasonry of
poverty. His poems are natural; they are those of a man who feels as he
writes. As Thoreau painted nature in the woods, and streams, and lakes,
so Riley depicts the incidents of everyday life, and brightens each
familiar lineament with that touch that makes all the world akin.


                             SUCCESS BOOKS

                       By DR. ORISON SWETT MARDEN


                            STEPPING STONES

      12mo. Red Cloth. Decorative Cover. Illustrated. Price, $1.25

Dr. Marden’s new volume of essays, “Stepping Stones,” has the attractive
qualities made familiar to a large audience of readers by his earlier
books. At the same time it is entirely new in contents and most helpful
and entertaining in character. It contains talks to young people of both
sexes full of practical value, happy sketches of great characters,
salient suggestions on deportment and conduct, and shrewd advice of all
kinds touching everyday living. The author’s wide knowledge of history
and literature is used to give the essays atmosphere and quality, and no
success book of the series is more engaging and wholesome than “Stepping

                           HOW THEY SUCCEEDED

           Life Stories of Successful Men told by Themselves

      12mo. Red Cloth. Decorative Cover. Illustrated. Price, $1.50

The author in this book has set down the story of successful men and
women told by themselves, either in a series of interviews or by
semi-autobiographical sketches. They make a most entertaining and
inspiring series of life stories, full of incentive to ambitious youth.

The Boston Transcript says: “To the young man who is determined to
succeed in life, no matter in what direction his aim may lie, this
volume will be a direct source of inspiration. It shows that the people
‘who have got there’ have invariably done so through pluck,
perseverance, and principle, and not through ‘pull’ or social position.
It emphasizes the fact that success depends wholly and entirely upon the
person himself.”

                              WINNING OUT

                          A Book about Success

 12mo. Red Cloth. Decorative Cover. Gilt Top. Illustrated. Price, $1.00

Dr. Marden has made for himself a wide reputation by his earlier
volumes, “Architects of Fate” and “Pushing to the Front.” But “Winning
Out,” while constructed along somewhat the same lines, is his first book
designed especially for young readers. Its theme is “Character Building
by Habit Forming.”

The Louisville Courier-Journal says: “Pleasant teaching Dr. Marden’s
anecdotes make. They are of men and things that have actually been and
happened. The moral is often an epigram, always apropos. Through the
pages of the small volume pass a procession of figures that have
aspired, struggled, and achieved. Such work is good for the world, good
for the youth in it, and for more experienced and serious middle age.”

                           Defending The Bank

                         By EDWARD S. VAN ZILE

Author of “With Sword and Crucifix,” etc. Four illustrations by I. B.
    Hazelton. 12mo. Pictorial cover in color. Price, $1.25.

“Defending the Bank,” by Edward S. Van Zile, is a most amusing and
interesting detective story for boys and girls, in which a couple of
bright boys and girls appoint themselves amateur detectives and are able
to run down a couple of bank robbers who are planning to rob the bank of
which the father of one of the boys is president. This is at once an
exciting and wholesome tale, of which the scene is laid in Troy, N.Y.,
the former home of the author. It will be widely welcomed.

                             The Mutineers

                         By EUSTACE L. WILLIAMS

Author of “The Substitute Quarterback.” 12mo. Four illustrations by I.
    B. Hazelton. Pictorial cover in color. Price, $1.25.

“The Mutineers” is a rattling boys’ story by Mr. Eustace L. Williams of
the Louisville Courier-Journal. It gives a picture of life in a large
boarding-school, where a certain set of boys control the athletics, and
shows how their unjust power was broken by the hero of the tale, who
forms a rival baseball nine and manages to defeat his opponents, thus
bringing a better state of things in the school socially and as to
sports. The story is full of lively action, and deals with baseball and
general athletic interests in a large school in a manner which shows
that the author is thoroughly acquainted with and sympathetic to his




● Transcriber’s note:

    ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was silently corrected.

    ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.

    ○ Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation were made consistent only
      when a predominant form was found in this book.

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