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HOW TO GET ON IN THE WORLD
A LADDER TO PRACTICAL SUCCESS
MAJOR A. R. CALHOUN
First digital edition 2017 by Gianluca Ruffini
CHAPTER I - WHAT IS SUCCESS?
CHAPTER II - THE IMPORTANCE OF CHARACTER
CHAPTER III - HOME INFLUENCES
CHAPTER IV – ASSOCIATION
CHAPTER V - COURAGE AND DETERMINED EFFORT
CHAPTER VI - THE IMPORTANCE OF CORRECT HABITS
CHAPTER VII - AS TO MARRIAGE
CHAPTER VIII - EDUCATION AS DISTINGUISHED FROM LEARNING
CHAPTER IX - THE VALUE OF EXPERIENCE
CHAPTER X - SELECTING A CALLING
CHAPTER XI - WE MUST HELP OURSELVES
CHAPTER XII - SUCCESSFUL FARMING
CHAPTER XIII - AS TO PUBLIC LIFE
CHAPTER XIV - THE NEED OF CONSTANT EFFORT
CHAPTER XV - SOME OF LABOR’S COMPENSATIONS
CHAPTER XVI - PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE
CHAPTER XVII - SUCCESS BUT SELDOM ACCIDENTAL
CHAPTER XVIII - CULTIVATE OBSERVATION AND JUDGMENT
CHAPTER XIX - SINGLENESS OF PURPOSE
CHAPTER XX - BUSINESS AND BRAINS
CHAPTER XXI - PUT MONEY IN THY PURSE HONESTLY
CHAPTER XXII - A SOUND MIND IN A SOUND BODY
CHAPTER XXIII - LABOR CREATES THE ONLY TRUE NOBILITY
CHAPTER XXIV - THE SUCCESSFUL MAN IS SELF-MADE
CHAPTER XXV - UNSELFISHNESS AND HELPFULNESS
CHAPTER I - WHAT IS SUCCESS?
It has been said that“Nothing Succeeds Like Success.”What is Success? If we consult the dictionaries, they will give us the etymology of thismuch-usedword, and in general terms the meaning will be“the accomplishment of a purpose.”Butas the objects in nearly every life differ, so success cannot mean the same thing to all men.
The artist’s idea of success is very different from that of the business man, and the scientist differs from both, as does the statesman from all three. We read of successful gamblers, burglars or freebooters, but no true success was ever won or ever can be won that sets at defiance the laws of God and man.
To win, so that we ourselves and the world shall be the better for our having lived, we must begin the struggle, with a high purpose, keeping ever before our minds the characters and methods of the noble men who have succeeded along the same lines.
The young man beginning the battle of life should never lose sight of the fact that the age of fierce competition is upon us, and that this competition must, in the nature of things, become more and more intense. Success grows less and less dependent on luck and chance. Preparation for the chosen field of effort, an industry that increasing, a hope that never flags, a patience that never grows weary, a courage that never wavers, all these, and a trust in God, are the prime requisites of the man who would win in this age of specialists and untiring activity.
The purpose of this work is not to stimulate genius, for genius is law unto itself, and finds its compensation in its own original productions. Genius has benefited the world, without doubt, but too often its life compensation has been a crust and a garret. After death, in not a few cases, the burial was through charity of friends, and this can hardly be called an adequate compensation, for the memorial tablet or monument that commemorates a life of privation, if not of absolute wretchedness.
It is, perhaps, as well for the world that genius is phenomenal; it is certainly well for the world that success is not dependent on it, and that every young man, and young woman too, blessed with good health and a mind capable of education, and principles that are true and abiding, can win the highest positions in public and private life, and dying leave behind a heritage for their children, and an example for all who would prosper along the same lines. And all this with the blessed assurance of hearing at last the Master’s words:“Well done, good and faithful servant!”
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all yourmight”.Thereis a manly ring in this fine injunction, that stirs like a bugle blast.“But what can my hands find to do? How can I win? Who will tell me the work for which I am best fitted? Where is the kindly guide who will point out to me the life path that will lead to success?”So far as is possible it will be the purpose of this book to reply fully to theseall-importantquestions, and by illustration and example to show how others in the face of obstacles that would seem appalling to the weak and timid, carefully and prayerfully prepared themselves for what has been aptly called“the battle oflife,”andthen in the language of General Jackson,“pitched in to win.”
A copy line, in the old writing books, reads,“Many men of many minds.”It is this diversity of mind, taste and inclination that opens up to us so many fields of effort, and keeps any one calling or profession from being crowded by able men. Of the incompetents and failures, who crowd every field of effort, we shall have but little to say, for to“Win Success”is our watchword.
What a great number of paths the observant young man sees before him! Which shall he pursue to find it ending in victory? Victory when the curtain falls on this brief life, and a greater victory when the death-valley is crossed and the life eternal begins?
The learned professions have widened in their scope and number within the past thirty years. To divinity, law, and medicine, we can now add literature, journalism, engineering and all the sciences. Even art, as generally understood, is now spoken of as a profession, and there are professors to teach its many branches in all the great universities. Any one of these professions, if carefully mastered and diligently pursued, promises fame, and, if not fortune, certainly a competency, for the calling that does not furnish a competency for a man and his family, can hardly be called a success, no matter the degree of fame it brings.
“Since Adam delved and Eve span,”agriculture has been the principal occupation of civilized man. With the advance of chemistry, particularly that branch known as agricultural chemistry, farming has become more of a science, and its successful pursuit demands not only unceasing industry, but a high degree of trained intelligence. Of late yearsfarming,has rather fallen into disrepute with ambitious young men, who long for the excitement and greater opportunities afforded by our cities; but success and happiness have been achieved in farming, and the opportunities for both will increase with proper training and a correct appreciation of a farmer’s life.
“Business”is a very comprehensive word, and may properly embrace every life-calling; but in its narrow acceptance it is applied to trade, commerce and manufactures. It is in these three lines of business that men have shown the greatest energy and enterprise, and in which they have accomplished the greatest material success. As a consequence, eager spirits enter these fields,encouraged by the examples of men who from small beginnings, and in the face of obstacles that would have daunted less resolute men, became merchant princes and the peers of earth’s greatest.
In the selection of your calling do not stand hesitating and doubting too long. Enter somewhere, no matter how hard or uncongenial the work, do it with all your might, and the effort will strengthen you and qualify you to find work that is more in accord with your talents.
Bear in mind that the first condition of success in every calling, is earnest devotion to its requirements and duties. This may seem so obvious a remark that it is hardly worth making. And yet, with all its obviousness the thing itself is often forgotten by the young. They are frequently loath to admit the extent and urgency of business claims; and they try to combine with these claims, devotion to some favorite, and even it may be conflicting, pursuit. Such a policy invariably fails. We cannot travel every path. Success must be won along one line. You must make your business the one life purpose to which every other, save religion, must be subordinate.
“Eternal vigilance,”it has been said,“is the price of liberty.”With equaltruth,it may be said,“Unceasing effort is the price of success.”If we do not work with our might, others will; and they will outstrip us in the race, and pluck the prize from our grasp.“The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,”in the race of business or in the battle of professional life, but usually the swiftest wins the prize, and the strongest gains in the strife.
CHAPTER II -THE IMPORTANCE OF CHARACTER
That“Heaven helps those who help themselves,”is a maxim as true as it is ancient. The great and indispensable help to success is character.
Character is crystallized habit, the result of training and conviction. Every character is influenced by heredity, environment and education; but these apart, if every man were not to a great extent the architect of his own character, he would be a fatalist, an irresponsible creature of circumstances, which, even the skeptic must confess he is not. So long as a man has the power to change one habit, good or bad, for another, so long he is responsible for his own character, and this responsibility continues with life and reason.
A man may be a graduate of the greatest university, and even a great genius, and yet be a most despicable character. Neither Peter Cooper, George Peabody nor Andrew Carnegie had the advantage of a college education, yet character made them the world’s benefactors and more honored than princes.
“You insist,”wrote Perthes to a friend,“on respect for learned men. I say, Amen! But at the same time, don’t forget that largeness of mind, depth of thought, appreciation of the lofty, experience of the world, delicacy of manner, tact and energy in action, love of truth, honesty, and amiability--that all these may be wanting in a man who may yet be very learned.”
When someone in Sir Walter Scott’s hearing made a remark as to the value of literary talents and accomplishments, as if they were above all things to be esteemed and honored, he observed,“God help us! What a poor world this would be if that were the true doctrine! I have read books enough,and observed and conversed with enough of eminent and splendidly-cultured minds, too, in my time; but I assure you, I have heard higher sentiments from the lips of the poor uneducated men and women, when exerting the spirit of severe, yet gentle heroism under difficulties and afflictions, or speaking their simple thoughts as to circumstances in the lot of friends and neighbors, than I ever yet met with out of the Bible.”
In the affairs of life or of business, it is not intellect that tells so much as character--not brains so much as heart--not genius so much as self-control, patience, and discipline, regulated by judgment. Hence there is no better provision for the uses of either private or public life, than a fair share of ordinary good sense guided by rectitude. Good sense, disciplined by experience and inspired by goodness, issued in practical wisdom. Indeed, goodness in a measure implies wisdom,the highest wisdom,the union of the worldly with the spiritual.“The correspondences of wisdom and goodness,”says Sir Henry Taylor,“are manifold; and that they will accompany each other is to be inferred, not only because men’s wisdom makes them good, but because their goodness makes them wise.”
The best sort of character, however,cannotbe formed without effort. There needs the exercise of constant self-watchfulness, self-discipline, and self-control. There may be much faltering, stumbling, and temporary defeat; difficulties and temptations manifold to be battled with and overcome; but if the spirit be strong and the heart be upright, no one need despair of ultimate success. The very effort to advanceto arrive at a higher standard of character than we have reachedis inspiring and invigorating; and even though we may fall short of it, wecannotfail to be improved by every honest effort made in an upward direction.
“Instead of saying that man is the creature of circumstance, it would be nearer the mark to say that man is the architect of circumstance. It is character which builds an existence out of circumstance. Our strength is measured by our plastic power. From the same materials one man builds palaces, anotherhovel; one warehouses, anothervilla. Bricks and mortar are mortar and bricks, until the architect can make them something else.Thus,it is that in the same family, in the same circumstances, one man rears a stately edifice, while his brother, vacillating and incompetent, lives forever amid ruins; the block of granite which was an obstacle on the pathway of the weak, becomes a stepping-stone on the pathway of the strong.”
When the elements of character are brought into action by determinate will, and influenced by high purpose, man enters upon and courageously perseveres in the path of duty, at whatever cost of worldly interest, he may be said to approach the summit of his being. He then exhibits character in its most intrepid form, and embodies the highest idea of manliness. The acts of such a man become repeated in the life and action of others. His very words live and become actions.Thus,every word of Luther’s rang through Germany like a trumpet. As Richter said of him,“His words were half-battles.”And thus Luther’s life became transfused into the life of his country, and still lives in the character of modern Germany.
Speaking of the courageous character of John Knox, Carlyle says, with characteristic force:“Honor to all the brave and true; everlasting honor to John Knox, one of the truest of the true! That, in the moment while he and his cause, amid civil broils, in convulsion and confusion, were still but struggling for life, he sent the schoolmaster forth to all comers, and said,‘Let the people be taught;’this is butone, and, indeed, an inevitable and comparatively inconsiderable item in his great message to men. This message, in its true compass, was,‘Let men know that they are men; created by God, responsible to God; whose work in any meanest moment of time what will last through eternity.’
. . . This great message Knox did deliver, with a man’s voice and strength, and found a people to believe him. Of such an achievement, were it to be made once only, the results are immense. Thought, in such a country, may change its form, but cannot go out; the country has attainedmajority; thought, and a certain spiritual manhood, ready for all work that man can do, endures there. The Scotch national, character originated in many circumstances; first of all, in the Saxon stuff there was to work on; but next, and beyond all else except that, in the Presbyterian Gospel of John Knox.”
Washington left behind him, as one of the greatest treasures of his country, the example of a stainless life--of a great, honest, pure, and noble character,a model for his nation to form themselves by in all time to come. And in the case of Washington, as in so many other great leaders of men, his greatness did not so much consist in his intellect, his skill and his genius, as in his honor, his integrity, his truthfulness, his high and controlling sense of duty--in a word, in his genuine nobility of character.
Men such as these are the true life-blood of the country to which they belong. They elevate and uphold it, fortify and ennoble it, and shed a glory over it by the example of life and character which they have bequeathed.“The names and memories of great men,”says an able writer,“are the dowry of a nation. Widowhood, overthrow, desertion, even slavery cannot take away from her this sacred inheritance . . . Whenever national life begins to quicken . . . the dead heroes rise in the memories of men, and appear to the living to stand by in solemn spectatorship and approval. No country can be lost which feels herself overlooked by such glorious witnesses. They are the salt of the earth, in death as well as in life. What they did once, their descendants have still and always a right to do after them; and their example lives in their country, a continual stimulant and encouragement for him who has the soul to adopt it.”
It would be well for every young man, eager for success and anxious to form a character that will achieve it, to commit to memory the advice of Bishop Middleton:
Persevere against discouragements. Keep your temper. Employ leisure in study, and always have some work in hand. Be punctual and methodical in business, and never procrastinate. Never be in a hurry. Preserve self-possession, and do not be talked out of a conviction. Rise early, and be an economist of time. Maintain dignity without the appearance of pride; manner is something with everybody, and everything with some. Be guarded in discourse, attentive, and slow to speak. Never acquiesce in immoral or pernicious opinions.
Be not forward to assign reasons to those who have no right to ask. Think nothing in conduct unimportant or indifferent. Rather set than follow examples. Practice strict temperance; and in all your transactions remember the final account.
CHAPTER III - HOME INFLUENCES
“A careful preparation is half the battle.”Everything depends on a good start and the right road. To retrace one’s steps is to lose not only time but confidence.“Be sure you are right then go ahead”wasthe motto of the famous frontiersman, Davy Crockett, and it is one that every young man can adopt with safety.
Bear in mind there is often a great distinction between character and reputation. Reputation is what the world believes us for the time; character is what we truly are. Reputation and character may be in harmony, but they frequently are as opposite as light and darkness. Many a scoundrel has had a reputation for nobility, and men of the noblest characters have had reputations that relegated them to the ranks of the depraved, in their day and generation.
It is most desirable to have a good reputation. The good opinion of our associates and acquaintances is not to be despised, but every man should see to it that the reputation is deserved, otherwise his life is false, and sooner or later he will stand discovered before the world.
Sudden success makes reputation, as it is said to make friends; but very often adversity is the best test of character as it is of friendship.
It is the principle for which the soldier fights that makes him a hero, not necessarily his success. It is the motive that ennobles all effort. Selfishness may prosper, but it cannot win the enduring success that is based on the character with a noble purpose behind it. This purpose is one of the guards in times of trouble and the reason for rejoicing in the day of triumph.
“Why should I toil and slave,”many a young man has asked,“when I have only myself to live for?”God help the man who has neither mother, sister nor wife to struggle for and who does not feel that toil and the building up of character bring their own reward.
The home feeling should be encouraged for it is one of the greatest incentives to effort. If the young manhasnot parents or brothers and sisters to keep, or if hefindshimself limited in his leisure hours to the room of a boarding house, then if he can at all afford it, he should marry a help-meet and found a home of his own.“I was very poor at the time,”said a great New York publisher,“but regarding it simply from a business standpoint, the best move I ever made in my life was to get married. Instead of increasing my expense’s as I feared, I took a most valuable partner into the business, and she not only made a home for me, but she surrendered to me her well-earned share of the profits.”
A wise marriage is most assuredly an influence that helps. Every young man who loves his mother, if living, or reveres her memory if dead, must recall with feelings of holy emotion, his own home. Blest, indeed is he, over whom the influence of a good home continues.
Home is the first and most important school of character. It is there that every civilized being receives his best moral training, or his worst; for it is there that he imbibes those principles that endure through manhood and cease only with life.
It is a common saying that“Manners make the man;”and there is a second, that“Mind makes the man;”but truer than either is a third, that“Home makes the man.”For the home-training not only includes manners and mind, but character. It is mainly in the home that the heart is opened, the habits are formed, the intellect is awakened, and character moulded for good or for evil.
From that source, be it pure or impure, issue the principles and maxims that govern society. Law itself is but the reflex of homes. The tiniest bits of opinion sown in the minds of children in private life afterward issue forth to the world, and become its public opinion; for nations are gathered out of nurseries, and they who hold the leading strings of children may even exercise a greater power than those who wield the reins of government.
It is in the order of nature that domestic life should be preparatory to social, and that the mind and character should first be formed in the home. There the individuals who afterward form society are dealt with in detail, and fashioned one by one. From thefamily,they enter life, and advance from boyhood to citizenship.Thus,the home may be regarded as the most influential school of civilization. For, after all, civilization mainly resolves itself into a question of individual training; and according as the respective members of society are well or ill trained in youth, so will the community which they constitute be more or less humanized and civilized.
Thus homes, which are the nurseries of children who grow up into men and women, will be good or bad according to the power that governs them. Where the spirit of love and duty pervades the home--where head and heart bear rule wisely there--where the daily life is honest and virtuouswhere the government is sensible, kind and loving, then may we expect from such a home an issue of healthy, useful, and happy beings, capable, as they gain the requisite strength of following the footsteps of their parents, of walking uprightly, governing themselves wisely, and contributing to the welfare of those about them.
On the other hand, if surrounded by ignorance, coarseness, and selfishness, they will unconsciously assume the same character, and grow up to adult years rude, uncultivated, and all the more dangerous to society if placed amidst the manifold temptations of what is called civilized life.“Give your child to be educated by a slave,”said an ancient Greek,“and, instead of one slave, you will then have two.”
The child cannot help imitating what he sees. Everything is to him a modelof manner, of gesture, of speech, of habit, of character.“For the child,”says Richter,“the most important era of life is childhood, when he begins to color and mould himself by companionship with others. Every new educator effects less than his predecessor; until at last, if we regard all life as an educational institution, a circumnavigator of the world is less influenced by all the nations he has seen than by his nurse.”
No man can select his parents or make for himself the early environment that affects character so powerfully, but he can found a home no matter how humble, at the outset, that will make his own future secure, as well as the future of those for whose existence he is responsible.
The poorest dwelling, presided over by a virtuous, thrifty, cheerful, and cleanly woman, may be the abode of comfort, virtue, and happiness; it may be the scene of every ennobling relation in family life; it may be endeared to a man by many delightful associations; furnishing a sanctuary for the heart, a refuge from the storms of life, a sweet resting-place after labor, a consolation in misfortune, a pride in prosperity, and a joy at all times.
The good home is the best of schools, not only in youth but in age. There young and old best learn cheerfulness, patience, self-control and the spirit of service and of duty. Isaak Walton, speaking of George Herbert’s mother, says she governed the family with judicious care, not rigidly nor sourly,“butwith such a sweetness and compliance with the recreations and pleasures of youth, as did incline them to spend much of their time in her company, which was to her great content.”
The home is the true school of courtesy, of which woman is always the best practical instructor.“Without woman,”says the Provencal proverb,“men were but ill-licked cubs.”Philanthropy radiates from the home as from a centre.“To love the little platoon we belong to in society,”said Burke“is the germ of all public affections.”The wisest and the best have not been ashamed to own it to be their greatest joy and happiness to sit“behind the heads of the children”in the inviolable circle of home. A life of purity and duty there is not the least effectual preparative for a life of public work and duty; and the man who loves his home will not the less fondly love and serve his country.
At an address before a girls’school in Boston, ex-President John Quincy Adams, then an old man, said with much feeling:“As a child I enjoyed perhaps the greatest of blessings that can be bestowed upon manthat of a mother who was anxious and capable to form the characters of her children rightly. From her I derived whatever instruction (religious especially and moral) has pervaded a long life,I will not say perfectly, or as it ought to be; but I will say, because it is only justice to the memory of her I revere, that in the course of that life, whatever imperfection there has been or deviation from what she taught me, the fault is mine and not hers.”
So much depends on the home, for it is the corner-stone of society and good government, that it is to be regretted, for the sake of young women, as well as of young men, that our modern life offers so many opportunities to neglect it.
As the home affects the character entirely through the associations, it follows that the young man who has left his home behind him should continue the associations whose memories comfort him. He should never go to a place for recreation where he would not be willing and proud to take his mother on his arm. He should never have as friends men to whom he would not be willing, if need be, to introduce his sister.
These are among the influences that help to success. But association is a matter of such great importance as to deserve fuller treatment.
CHAPTER IV - ASSOCIATION
The old proverb,“Tell me your company and I will tell you what you are,”is as true to-day as when first uttered. In the preparation for success, association is one of the most powerful factors, so powerful, indeed, that if the associations are not of the right kind, failure is inevitable.
As one diseasedsheep,may contaminate a flock, so one evil associate,particularly if he be daring, may seriously injure the morals of many. Every young man can recall the evil influence of one bad boy on a whole school, but he cannot so readily point to the schoolmate, whose example and influence were for good; because goodness, though more potent, never makes itself so conspicuous as vice.
Criminals, preparing for the scaffold, have confessed that their entrance into a life of crime began in early youth, when the audacity of some unprincipled associate tempted them from the ways of innocence. Through all the years of life, even to old age, the life and character are influenced byassociation. If this be true in the case of the more mature and experienced, its force is intensified where the young, imaginative and susceptible, are concerned.
Man,is said to be“an imitative animal.”This is certainly true as to early education, and the tendency to imitate remains to a greater or less extent throughout life. Imitation is responsible for all the queer changes of fashion; and the desire to be“in the swim,”as it is called, is entirely due to association.
In school days, the influence of a good home may counteract the effect of evil associates, whom the boy meets occasionally, but when the boy has grown to manhood, and finds himself battling with the world, away from home and well-tried friends, it is then that he is in the greatest danger from pernicious associates.
The young man who comes to the city to seek his fortune is more apt to be the victim of vile associates than the city raised youth whose experience of men is larger, and who is fortunate in his companionship. The farmer’s son, who finds himself for the first time in a great cityalone and comparatively friendless, appears to himself to have entered a new world, as in truth he has. The crowds of hurrying, well-dressed people impress him forcibly as compared with his own clumsy gait, and roughly clad figure. The noise confuses him. The bustle of commerce amazes him; and for the time he is as desolate in feeling as if he were in the centre of a desert, instead of in the throbbing heart of a great city.
No matter how blessed with physical and mental strength the young man may be, under these circumstances he is very apt, for the time at least, to underestimate his own strength. He is powerfully impressed by what he deems the smartness or the superior manners of those whom he meets in his boarding house, or with whom he is associated in his business, say in a great mercantile establishment. It requires a great deal of moral courage for him to bear in a manly way the ridicule, covert or open, of the companions who regard him as a“hay-seed”or a“greenhorn.”His Sunday clothes, which he wore with pride when he attended meeting with his mother, he is apt to regard with a feeling of mortification; and, perhaps, he secretly determines to dress as well as do his companions when he has saved enough money.
This is a crucial period in the life of every young man who is entering on a business career, and particularly so to him coming from the rural regions. He finds, perhaps, that his associates smoke or drink, or both; things which he has hitherto regarded with horror. He finds, too, they are in the habit of resorting to places of amusement, the splendor and mysteries of which arouse his curiosity, if not envy, as he hears them discussed.
Before leaving home, and while his mother’s arms were still about him, he promised her to be moral and industrious, to write regularly, and to do nothing which she would not approve. If he had the right stuff in him, he would adhere manfully to the resolution made at the beginning; but, if he be weak or is tempted by false pride, or a prurient curiosity to“see the town,”he is tottering on the edge of a precipice and his failure, if not sudden, is sure to come in time.
Cities are represented to be centres of vice, and it cannot be denied that the temptations in such places are much greater than on a farm or in a quiet country village, but at the same time, cities are centres of wealth and cultivation, places where philanthropy is alive and where organized effort has providedplaces of instruction and amusement for all young men, but particularly for that large class of youths who come from the country to seek their fortunes. Churches abound, and in connection with them there are societies of young people, organized for good work, which are ever ready, with open arms, to welcome the young stranger. Then, in all our cities and towns, there are to be found, branches of that most admirable institution, the Young Men’s Christian Association. Not only are there companions to be met in these associations of the very best kind, but the buildings are usually fitted up with appliances for the improvement of mind and body. Here are gymnasiums, where strength and grace can be cultivated under the direction of competent teachers. Here are to be found well organized libraries. Here, particularly in the winter season, there are classes where all the branches of a high school are taught; and there are frequent lectures on all subjects of interest by the foremost teachers of the land.
If the young man falls under these influences, and he will experience not the slightest difficulty in doing so; indeed, he will find friendly hands extended to welcome and to help, the result on his character must be most beneficial. The clumsiness of rural life will soon depart; he will regard his home-made suit with as much pleasure as if it were made by a fashionable tailor, and he will soon learn to distinguish between the vicious and the virtuous, while he imitates the one and regards the other with indifference or contempt.
Next to the association of companions met ineverydaylife nothing so powerfully influences the character of the young as association with good books, particularly those that relate to the lives of men who have struggled up to honor from small beginnings.
With such associations, and a capacity for honest persistent work, success is assured at the very threshold of effort.
CHAPTER V - COURAGE AND DETERMINED EFFORT
Carlyle has said that the first requisite to success is carefully to find your life work and then bravely to carry it out. No soldier ever won a succession of triumphs, and no business man, no matter how successful in the end, who did not find his beginning slow, arduous and discouraging. Courage is a prime essential to prosperity. The young man’s progress may be slow in comparison with his ambition, but if he keeps a brave heart and sticks persistently to it, he will surely succeed in the end.
The forceful, energetic character, like the forceful soldier on the battle-field, not only moves forward to victory himself, but his example has a stimulating influence on others.
Energy of character has always a power to evoke energy in others. It acts through sympathy, one of the most influential of human agencies. The zealous, energetic man unconsciously carries others along with him. His example is contagious and compels imitation. He exercises a sort of electric power, which sends a thrill through every fibre, flows into the nature of those about him, and makes them give out sparks of fire.
Dr. Arnold’s biographer, speaking of the power of this kind exercised by him over young men, says:“It was not so much an enthusiastic admiration for true genius, or learning, or eloquence, which stirred the heart within them; it was a sympathetic thrill, caught from a spirit that was earnestly at work in theworld,whose work was healthy, sustained and constantly carried forward in the fear of God--a work that was founded on a deep sense of its duty and its value.”
The beginner should carefully study the lives of men whose undaunted courage has won in the face of obstacles that would cow weaker natures.
It is in the season of youth, while the character is forming, that the impulse to admire is the greatest. As we advance in life we crystallize into habit and“Nil admirari”too often becomes our motto. It is well to encourage the admiration of great characters while the nature is plastic and open to impressions; for if the good are not admired,as young men will have their heroes of some sort,most probably the great bad may be taken by them for models. Hence it always rejoiced Dr. Arnold to hear his pupils expressing admiration of great deeds, or full of enthusiasm for persons or even scenery.
“I believe,”said he,“that‘Nil admirari’is the devil’s favorite text; and he could not choose a better to introduce his pupils into the more esoteric parts of his doctrine. And therefore, I have always looked upon a man infected with the disorder of anti-romance as one who has lost the finest part of his nature and his best protection against everything low and foolish.”
Great men have evoked the admiration of kings, popes and emperors. Francis de Medicis never spoke to Michael Angelo without uncovering, and Julius III made him sit by his side while a dozen cardinals were standing. Charles V made way for Titian; and one day when the brush dropped from the painter’s hand, Charles stooped and picked it up, saying,“You deserve to be served by an emperor.”
Bear in mind that nothing so discourages or unfits a man for an effort as idleness.“Idleness,”says Burton, in that delightful old book“The Anatomy of Melancholy,”“is the bane of body and mind, the nurse of naughtiness, the chief mother of all mischief, one of the seven deadly sins, the devil’s cushion, his pillow and chief reposal . . . An idle dog will be mangy; and how shall an idle person escape? Idleness of the mind is much worse than that of the body; wit, without employment, is a diseasethe rust of the soul, a plague, a hell itself. As in a standing pool, worms and filthy creepers increase, so do evil and corrupt thoughts in an idle person; the soul is contaminated . . . Thus much I dare boldly say: he or she that is idle, be they of what condition they will, never so rich, so well allied, fortunate, happylet them have all things in abundance, all felicity that heart can wish and desire, all contentment,so long as he, or she, or they, are idle, they shall never be pleased, never well in body or mind, but weary still, sickly still, vexed still, loathing still, weeping, sighing, grieving, suspecting, offended with the world, with every object, wishing themselves gone or dead, or else carried away with some foolish fantasy or other.”.
Barton says a great deal more to the same effect.
It has been truly said that to desire to possess without being burdened by the trouble of acquiring is as much a sign of weakness as to recognize that everything worth having is only to be got by paying its price is the prime secret of practical strength. Even leisure cannot be enjoyed unless it is won by effort. If it has not been earned by work, the price has not been paid for it.
But apart from the supreme satisfaction of winning, the effort required to accomplish anything is ennobling, and, if there were no other success it would be its own reward.
“I don’t believe,”said Lord Stanley, in an address to the young men of Glasgow,“that an unemployed man, however amiable and otherwise respectable, ever was, or ever can be, really happy. As work is our life, show me what you can do, and I will show you what you are. I have spoken of love of one’s work as the best preventive of merely low and vicious tastes. I will go farther and say that it is the best preservative against petty anxieties and the annoyances that arise out of indulged self-love. Men have thought before now that they could take refuge from trouble and vexation by sheltering themselves, as it wore, in a world of their own. The experiment has often been tried and always with one result. You cannot escape from anxiety or labor--it is the destiny of humanity . . . Those who shirk from facing trouble find that trouble comes to them.
“The early teachers of Christianity ennobled the lot of toil by their example.‘He that will not work,’said St. Paul,‘neither shall he eat;’and he glorified himself in that he had labored with his hands and had not been chargeable to any man. When St. Boniface landed in Britain, he came with a gospel in one hand, and a carpenter’s rule in the other; and from England he afterward passed over into Germany, carrying thither the art of building. Luther also, in the midst of a multitude of other employments, worked diligently for a living, earning his bread by gardening, building, turning, and even clock-making.”
Coleridge has truly observed, that“if the idle are described as killing time, the methodical man may be justly said to call it into life and moral being, while he makes it the distinct object, not only of the consciousness, but of the conscience. He organizes the hours and gives them a soul; and by that, the very essence of which is to fleet and to have been, he communicates an imperishable and spiritual nature. Of the good and faithful servant, whose energies thus directed are thus methodized, it is less truly affirmed that he lives in time than that time lives in him. His days and months and years, as the stops and punctual marks in the record of duties performed, will survive the wreck of worlds, and remain extant when time itself shall be no more.”