[Frontispiece: Phillips Brooks]
"The best-loved man in New England."
"The ideal life, the life full of completion, haunts us all. We feel the thing we ought to be beating beneath the thing we are."
"First, be a man."
ARCHITECTS OF FATE
OR, STEPS TO SUCCESS AND POWER
A BOOK DESIGNED TO INSPIRE YOUTH TO CHARACTER BUILDING, SELF-CULTURE AND NOBLE ACHIEVEMENT
ORISON SWETT MARDEN
AUTHOR OF "PUSHING TO THE FRONT OR, SUCCESS UNDER DIFFICULTIES"
ILLUSTRATED WITH SIXTEEN FINE PORTRAITS OF EMINENT PERSONS
"All are architects of fate Working in these walls of time."
"Our to-days and yesterdays Are the blocks with which we build."
"Let thy great deed be thy prayer to thy God."
MONTREAL: C. W. COATES
HALIFAX: S. F. HUESTIS
BY ORISON SWETT MARDEN.
All rights reserved.
The demand for more than a dozen editions of "Pushing to the Front" during its first year and its universally favorable reception, both at home and abroad, have encouraged the author to publish this companion volume of somewhat similar scope and purpose. The two books were prepared simultaneously, and the story of the first, given in its preface, applies equally well to this.
Inspiration to character-building and worthy achievement is the keynote of the present volume, its object, to arouse to honorable exertion youth who are drifting without aim, to awaken dormant ambitions in those who have grown discouraged in the struggle for success, to encourage and stimulate to higher resolve those who are setting out to make their own way, with perhaps neither friendship nor capital other than a determination to get on in the world.
Nothing is so fascinating to a youth with high purpose, life, and energy throbbing in his young blood as stories of men and women who have brought great things to pass. Though these themes are as old as the human race, yet they are ever new, and more interesting to the young than any fiction. The cry of youth is for life! more life! No didactic or dogmatic teaching, however brilliant, will capture a twentieth-century boy, keyed up to the highest pitch by the pressure of an intense civilization. The romance of achievement under difficulties, of obscure beginnings and triumphant ends; the story of how great men started, their struggles, their long waitings, amid want and woe, the obstacles overcome, the final triumphs; examples, which explode excuses, of men who have seized common situations and made them great, of those of average capacity who have succeeded by the use of ordinary means, by dint of indomitable will and inflexible purpose: these will most inspire the ambitious youth. The author teaches that there are bread and success for every youth under the American flag who has the grit to seize his chance and work his way to his own loaf; that the barriers are not yet erected which declare to aspiring talent, "Thus far and no farther"; that the most forbidding circumstances cannot repress a longing for knowledge, a yearning for growth; that poverty, humble birth, loss of limbs or even eyesight, have not been able to bar the progress of men with grit; that poverty has rocked the cradle of the giants who have wrung civilization from barbarism, and have led the world up from savagery to the Gladstones, the Lincolns, and the Grants.
The book shows that it is the man with one unwavering aim who cuts his way through opposition and forges to the front; that in this electric age, where everything is pusher or pushed, he who would succeed must hold his ground and push hard; that what are stumbling-blocks and defeats to the weak and vacillating, are but stepping-stones and victories to the strong and determined. The author teaches that every germ of goodness will at last struggle into bloom and fruitage, and that true success follows every right step. He has tried to touch the higher springs of the youth's aspiration; to lead him to high ideals; to teach him that there is something nobler in an occupation than merely living-getting or money-getting; that a man may make millions and be a failure still; to caution youth not to allow the maxims of a low prudence, dinned daily into his ears in this money-getting age, to repress the longings for a higher life; that the hand can never safely reach higher than does the heart.
The author's aim has been largely through concrete illustrations which have pith, point, and purpose, to be more suggestive than dogmatic, in a style more practical than elegant, more helpful than ornate, more pertinent than novel.
The author wishes to acknowledge valuable assistance from Mr. Arthur W. Brown, of W. Kingston, R. I.
O. S. M.
43 BOWDOIN ST., BOSTON, MASS.
December 2, 1896.
I. WANTED—A MAN
God after a man. Wealth is nothing, fame is nothing. Manhood is everything.
Dare to live thy creed. Conquer your place in the world. All things serve a brave soul.
III. THE WILL AND THE WAY
Find a way or make one. Everything is either pusher or pushed. The world always listens to a man with a will in him.
IV. SUCCESS UNDER DIFFICULTIES
There is scarcely a great truth or doctrine but has had to fight its way to recognition through detraction, calumny, and persecution.
V. USES OR OBSTACLES
The Great Sculptor cares little for the human block as such; it is the statue He is after; and He will blast, hammer, and chisel with poverty, hardships, anything to get out the man.
VI. ONE UNWAVERING AIM
Find your purpose and fling your life out to it. Try to be somebody with all your might.
VII. SOWING AND REAPING
What is put into the first of life is put into the whole of life. Start right.
Self-made or never made. The greatest men have risen from the ranks.
IX. WORK AND WAIT
Don't risk a life's superstructure upon a day's foundation.
X. CLEAR GRIT
The goddess of fame or of fortune has been won by many a poor boy who had no friends, no backing, or anything but pure grit and invincible purpose to commend him.
XI. THE GRANDEST THING IN THE WORLD
Manhood is above all riches and overtops all titles; character is greater than any career.
XII. WEALTH IN ECONOMY
"Hunger, rags, cold, hard work, contempt, suspicion, unjust reproach, are disagreeable; but debt is infinitely worse than all."
XIII. RICH WITHOUT MONEY
To have nothing is not poverty. Whoever uplifts civilization is rich though he die penniless, and future generations will erect his monument.
XIV. OPPORTUNITIES WHERE YOU ARE
"How speaks the present hour? Act." Don't wait for great opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great.
XV. THE MIGHT OF LITTLE THINGS
There is nothing small in a world where a mud-crack swells to an Amazon, and the stealing of a penny may end on the scaffold.
Guard your weak point. Be lord over yourself.
LIST OF PORTRAITS.
I. Phillips Brooks . . . . . . . . . Frontispiece II. Oliver Hazard Perry III. Walter Scott IV. William Hickling Prescott V. John Bunyan VI. Richard Arkwright VII. Victor Hugo VIII. James A. Garfield (missing from book) IX. Thomas Alva Edison X. Andrew Jackson XI. John Greenleaf Whittier (missing from book) XII. Alexander Hamilton XIII. Ralph Waldo Emerson XIV. Thomas Jefferson XV. Louis Agassiz XVI. James Russell Lowell
ARCHITECTS OF FATE.
"Wanted; men: Not systems fit and wise, Not faiths with rigid eyes, Not wealth in mountain piles, Not power with gracious smiles, Not even the potent pen: Wanted; men."
Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man.—JEREMIAH.
All the world cries, Where is the man who will save us? We want a man! Don't look so far for this man. You have him at hand. This man,—it is you, it is I, it is each one of us! . . . How to constitute one's self a man? Nothing harder, if one knows not how to will it; nothing easier, if one wills it.—ALEXANDRE DUMAS.
"'Tis life, not death for which we pant! 'Tis life, whereof our nerves are scant: More life and fuller, that we want."
I do not wish in attempting to paint a man to describe an air-fed, unimpassioned, impossible ghost. My eyes and ears are revolted by any neglect of the physical facts, the limitations of man.—EMERSON.
But nature, with a matchless hand, sends forth her nobly born, And laughs the paltry attributes of wealth and rank to scorn; She moulds with care a spirit rare, half human, half divine, And cries exulting, "Who can make a gentleman like mine?" ELIZA COOK.
"In a thousand cups of life," says Emerson, "only one is the right mixture. The fine adjustment of the existing elements, where the well-mixed man is born with eyes not too dull, nor too good, with fire enough and earth enough, capable of receiving impressions from all things, and not too susceptible, then no gift need be bestowed on him. He brings his fortune with him."
Diogenes sought with a lantern at noontide in ancient Athens for a perfectly honest man, and sought in vain. In the market place he once cried aloud, "Hear me, O men;" and, when a crowd collected around him, he said scornfully: "I called for men, not pygmies."
The world has a standing advertisement over the door of every profession, every occupation, every calling; "Wanted—A Man."
Wanted, a man who will not lose his individuality in a crowd, a man who has the courage of his convictions, who is not afraid to say "No," though all the world say "Yes."
Wanted, a man who, though he is dominated by a mighty purpose, will not permit one great faculty to dwarf, cripple, warp, or mutilate his manhood; who will not allow the over-development of one facility to stunt or paralyze his other faculties.
Wanted, a man who is larger than his calling, who considers it a low estimate of his occupation to value it merely as a means of getting a living. Wanted, a man who sees self-development, education and culture, discipline and drill, character and manhood, in his occupation.
A thousand pulpits vacant in a single religious denomination, a thousand preachers standing idle in the market place, while a thousand church committees scour the land for men to fill those same vacant pulpits, and scour in vain, is a sufficient indication, in one direction at least, of the largeness of the opportunities of the age, and also of the crying need of good men.
Wanted, a man who is well balanced, who is not cursed with some little defect or weakness which cripples his usefulness and neutralizes his powers. Wanted, a man of courage, who is not a coward in any part of his nature.
Wanted, a man who is symmetrical, and not one-sided in his development, who has not sent all the energies of his being into one narrow specialty, and allowed all the other branches of his life to wither and die. Wanted, a man who is broad, who does not take half views of things. Wanted, a man who mixes common sense with his theories, who does not let a college education spoil him for practical, every-day life; a man who prefers substance to show, who regards his good name as a priceless treasure.
Wanted, a man "who, no stunted ascetic, is full of life and fire, but whose passions are trained to heed a strong will, the servant of a tender conscience; who has learned to love all beauty, whether of nature or of art, to hate all vileness, and to respect others as himself."
God calls a man to be upright and pure and generous, but he also calls him to be intelligent and skillful and strong and brave.
The world wants a man who is educated all over; whose nerves are brought to their acutest sensibility, whose brain is cultured, keen, incisive, penetrating, broad, liberal, deep; whose hands are deft; whose eyes are alert, sensitive, microscopic, whose heart is tender, broad, magnanimous, true.
The whole world is looking for such a man. Although there are millions out of employment, yet it is almost impossible to find just the right man in almost any department of life. Every profession and every occupation has a standing advertisement all over the world: "Wanted—A Man."
Rousseau, in his celebrated essay on education, says: "According to the order of nature, men being equal, their common vocation is the profession of humanity; and whoever is well educated to discharge the duty of a man cannot be badly prepared to fill any of those offices that have a relation to him. It matters little to me whether my pupil be designed for the army, the pulpit, or the bar. Nature has destined us to the offices of human life antecedent to our destination concerning society. To live is the profession I would teach him. When I have done with him, it is true he will be neither a soldier, a lawyer, nor a divine. Let him first be a man; Fortune may remove him from one rank to another as she pleases, he will be always found in his place."
A little, short doctor of divinity in a large Baptist convention stood on a step and said he thanked God he was a Baptist. The audience could not hear and called "Louder." "Get up higher," some one said. "I can't," he replied. "To be a Baptist is as high as one can get." But there is something higher than being a Baptist, and that is being a man.
As Emerson says, Talleyrand's question is ever the main one; not, is he rich? is he committed? is he well-meaning? has he this or that faculty? is he of the movement? is he of the establishment? but is he anybody? does he stand for something? He must be good of his kind. That is all that Talleyrand, all that State Street, all that the common sense of mankind asks.
When Garfield was asked as a young boy, "what he meant to be," he answered: "First of all, I must make myself a man, if I do not succeed in that, I can succeed in nothing."
Montaigne says our work is not to train a soul by itself alone, nor a body by itself alone, but to train a man.
One great need of the world to-day is for men and women who are good animals. To endure the strain of our concentrated civilization, the coming man and woman must have an excess of animal spirits. They must have a robustness of health. Mere absence of disease is not health. It is the overflowing fountain, not the one half full, that gives life and beauty to the valley below. Only he is healthy who exults in mere animal existence; whose very life is a luxury; who feels a bounding pulse throughout his body, who feels life in every limb, as dogs do when scouring over the field, or as boys do when gliding over fields of ice.
Pope, the poet, was with Sir Godfrey Kneller, the artist, one day, when the latter's nephew, a Guinea slave-trader, came into the room. "Nephew," said Sir Godfrey, "you have the honor of seeing the two greatest men in the world." "I don't know how great men you may be," said the Guinea man, "but I don't like your looks. I have often bought a much better man than either of you, all muscles and bones, for ten guineas."
Sydney Smith said, "I am convinced that digestion is the great secret of life, and that character, virtue and talents, and qualities are powerfully affected by beef, mutton, pie crust, and rich soups. I have often thought I could feed or starve men into virtues or vices, and affect them more powerfully with my instruments of torture than Timotheus could do formerly with his lyre."
What more glorious than a magnificent manhood, animated with the bounding spirits of overflowing health?
It is a sad sight to see thousands of students graduated every year from our grand institutions, whose object is to make stalwart, independent, self-supporting men, turned out into the world saplings instead of stalwart oaks, "memory-glands" instead of brainy men, helpless instead of self-supporting, sickly instead of robust, weak instead of strong, leaning instead of erect. "So many promising youths, and never a finished man!"
The character sympathizes with and unconsciously takes on the nature of the body. A peevish, snarling, ailing man cannot develop the vigor and strength of character which is possible to a healthy, robust, jolly man. There is an inherent love in the human mind for wholeness, a demand that man shall come up to the highest standard; and there is an inherent protest or contempt for preventable deficiency. Nature too demands that man be ever at the top of his condition. The giant's strength with the imbecile's brain will not be characteristic of the coming man.
Man has been a dwarf of himself, but a higher type of manhood stands at the door of this age knocking for admission.
As we stand upon the seashore while the tide is coming in, one wave reaches up the beach far higher than any previous one, then recedes, and for some time none that follows comes up to its mark, but after a while the whole sea is there and beyond it, so now and then there comes a man head and shoulders above his fellow-men, showing that Nature has not lost her ideal, and after a while even the average man will overtop the highest wave of manhood yet given to the world.
Apelles hunted over Greece for many years, studying the fairest points of beautiful women, getting here an eye, there a forehead and there a nose, here a grace and there a turn of beauty, for his famous portrait of a perfect woman which enchanted the world. So the coming man will be a composite, many in one. He will absorb into himself not the weakness, not the follies, but the strength and the virtues of other types of men. He will be a man raised to the highest power. He will be self-centred, equipoised, and ever master of himself. His sensibility will not be deadened or blunted by violation of nature's laws. His whole character will be impressible, and will respond to the most delicate touches of nature.
What a piece of work—this coming man! "How noble in reason. How infinite in faculties. In form and motion how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god. The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals."
The first requisite of all education and discipline should be man-timber. Tough timber must come from well grown, sturdy trees. Such wood can be turned into a mast, can be fashioned into a piano or an exquisite carving. But it must become timber first. Time and patience develop the sapling into the tree. So through discipline, education, experience, the sapling child is developed into hardy mental, moral, physical timber.
What an aid to character building would be the determination of the young man in starting out in life to consider himself his own bank; that his notes will be accepted as good or bad, and will pass current everywhere or be worthless, according to his individual reputation for honor and veracity; that if he lets a note go to protest, his bank of character will be suspected; if he lets two or three go to protest, public confidence will be seriously shaken; that if they continue to go to protest, his reputation will be lost and confidence in him ruined.
If the youth should start out with the fixed determination that every statement he makes shall be the exact truth; that every promise he makes shall be redeemed to the letter; that every appointment shall be kept with the strictest faithfulness and with full regard for other men's time, if he should hold his reputation as a priceless treasure, feel that the eyes of the world are upon him, that he must not deviate a hair's breadth from the truth and right; if he should take such a stand at the outset, he would, like George Peabody, come to have almost unlimited credit and the confidence of all, and would have developed into noble man-timber.
What are palaces and equipages; what though a man could cover a continent with his title-deeds, or an ocean with his commerce, compared with conscious rectitude, with a face that never turns pale at the accuser's voice, with a bosom that never throbs with the fear of exposure, with a heart that might be turned inside out and disclose no stain of dishonor? To have done no man a wrong; to have put your signature to no paper to which the purest angel in heaven might not have been an attesting witness; to walk and live, unseduced, within arm's length of what is not your own, with nothing between your desire and its gratification but the invisible law of rectitude;—this is to be a man.
"He that of such a height hath built his mind, And reared the dwelling of his thought so strong As neither fear nor hope can shake the frame Of his resolved powers; nor all the wind Of vanity or malice pierce to wrong His settled peace, or to disturb the same; What a fair seat hath he; from whence he may The boundless wastes and wilds of man survey." [Lines found in one of the books of Beecher's Library.]
A man is never so happy as when he is totus in se; as when he suffices to himself, and can walk without crutches or a guide. Said Jean Paul Richter: "I have made as much out of myself as could be made of the stuff, and no man should require more."
Man is the only great thing in the universe. All the ages have been trying to produce a perfect model. Only one complete man has yet been evolved. The best of us are but prophecies of what is to come.
What constitutes a state? Not high-raised battlement or labored mound, Thick wall or moated gate; Not cities proud with spires and turrets crowned; Not bays and broad-armed ports, Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride; Not starred and spangled courts, Where low-browed baseness wafts perfume to pride. No: men, high-minded men, With powers as far above dull brutes endued In forest, brake, or den, As beasts excel cold rocks and brambles rude,— Men who their duties know, But know their rights, and knowing, dare maintain, Prevent the long-aimed blow, And crush the tyrant while they rend the chain. WILLIAM JONES.
God give us men. A time like this demands Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands: Men whom the lust of office does not kill; Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy; Men who possess opinions and a will; Men who have honor—men who will not lie; Men who can stand before a demagogue And scorn his treacherous flatteries without winking; Tall men sun-crowned, who live above the fog In public duty, and in private thinking. ANON.
Open thy bosom, set thy wishes wide, And let in manhood—let in happiness; Admit the boundless theatre of thought From nothing up to God . . . which makes a man! YOUNG.
"The wisest man could ask no more of fate Than to be simple, modest, manly, true."
In speech right gentle, yet so wise; princely of mien, Yet softly mannered; modest, deferent, And tender-hearted, though of fearless blood. EDWIN ARNOLD.
The Spartans did not inquire how many the enemy are, but where they are.—AGIS II.
What's brave, what's noble, let's do it after the high Roman fashion, and make death proud to take us.—SHAKESPEARE.
Better, like Hector, in the field to die, Than, like a perfumed Paris, turn and fly. LONGFELLOW.
Let me die facing the enemy.—BAYARD.
Who conquers me, shall find a stubborn foe.—BYRON.
Courage in danger is half the battle.—PLAUTUS.
No great deed is done By falterers who ask for certainty. GEORGE ELIOT.
Fortune befriends the bold.—DRYDEN.
Tender handed stroke a nettle, And it stings you for your pains; Grasp it like a man of mettle, And it soft as silk remains. AARON HILL.
We make way for the man who boldly pushes past us.—BOVEE.
Man should dare all things that he knows is right, And fear to do nothing save what is wrong. PHEBE CARY.
Soft-heartedness, in times like these, Shows softness in the upper story. LOWELL.
O friend, never strike sail to fear. Come into port grandly, or sail with God the seas.—EMERSON.
To stand with a smile upon your face against a stake from which you cannot get away—that, no doubt, is heroic. But the true glory is resignation to the inevitable. To stand unchained, with perfect liberty to go away, held only by the higher claims of duty, and let the fire creep up to the heart,—this is heroism.—F. W. ROBERTSON.
"Steady, men! Every man must die where he stands!" said Colin Campbell to the Ninety-third Highlanders at Balaklava, as an overwhelming force of Russian cavalry came sweeping down. "Ay, ay, Sir Colin! we'll do that!" was the cordial response from men many of whom had to keep their word by thus obeying.
* * * * * *
"We have met the enemy and they are ours."
"He either fears his fate too much Or his deserts too small, That dares not put it to the touch, To gain or lose it all."
* * * * * *
"Bring back the colors," shouted a captain at the battle of the Alma, when an ensign maintained his ground in front, although the men were retreating. "No," cried the ensign, "bring up the men to the colors." "To dare, and again to dare, and without end to dare," was Danton's noble defiance to the enemies of France.
"The Commons of France have resolved to deliberate," said Mirabeau to De Breze, who brought an order from the king for them to disperse, June 23, 1789. "We have heard the intentions that have been attributed to the king; and you, sir, who cannot be recognized as his organ in the National Assembly,—you, who have neither place, voice, nor right to speak,—you are not the person to bring to us a message of his. Go, say to those who sent you that we are here by the power of the people, and that we will not be driven hence, save by the power of the bayonet."
When the assembled senate of Rome begged Regulus not to return to Carthage to fulfill an illegal promise, he calmly replied: "Have you resolved to dishonor me? Torture and death are awaiting me, but what are these to the shame of an infamous act, or the wounds of a guilty mind? Slave as I am to Carthage, I still have the spirit of a Roman. I have sworn to return. It is my duty. Let the gods take care of the rest."
The courage which Cranmer had shown since the accession of Mary gave way the moment his final doom was announced. The moral cowardice which had displayed itself in his miserable compliance with the lust and despotism of Henry displayed itself again in six successive recantations by which he hoped to purchase pardon. But pardon was impossible; and Cranmer's strangely mingled nature found a power in its very weakness when he was brought into the church of St. Mary at Oxford on the 21st of March, to repeat his recantation on the way to the stake. "Now," ended his address to the hushed congregation before him,—"now I come to the great thing that troubleth my conscience more than any other thing that ever I said or did in my life, and that is the setting abroad of writings contrary to the truth; which here I now renounce and refuse as things written by a hand contrary to the truth which I thought in my heart, and written for fear of death to save my life, if it might be. And, forasmuch as my hand offended in writing contrary to my heart, my hand therefore shall be the first punished; for if I come to the fire it shall be the first burned." "This was the hand that wrote it," he again exclaimed at the stake, "therefore it shall suffer first punishment;" and holding it steadily in the flame, "he never stirred nor cried till life was gone."
"Oh, if I were only a man!" exclaimed Rebecca Bates, a girl of fourteen, as she looked from the window of a lighthouse at Scituate, Mass., during the War of 1812, and saw a British warship anchor in the harbor. "What could you do?" asked Sarah Winsor, a young visitor. "See what a lot of them the boats contain, and look at their guns!" and she pointed to five large boats, filled with soldiers in scarlet uniforms, who were coming to burn the vessels in the harbor and destroy the town. "I don't care, I'd fight," said Rebecca. "I'd use father's old shotgun—anything. Think of uncle's new boat and the sloop! And how hard it is to sit here and see it all, and not lift a finger to help. Father and uncle are in the village and will do all they can. How still it is in the town! There is not a man to be seen." "Oh, they are hiding till the soldiers get nearer," said Sarah, "then we'll hear the shots and the drum." "The drum!" exclaimed Rebecca, "how can they use it? It is here. Father brought it home last night to mend. See! the first boat has reached the sloop. Oh! they are going to burn her. Where is that drum? I've a great mind to go down and beat it. We could hide behind the sandhills and bushes." As flames began to rise from the sloop the ardor of the girls increased. They found the drum and an old fife, and, slipping out of doors unnoticed by Mrs. Bates, soon stood behind a row of sandhills. "Rub-a-dub-dub, rub-a-dub-dub," went the drum, and "squeak, squeak, squeak," went the fife. The Americans in the town thought that help had come from Boston, and rushed into boats to attack the redcoats. The British paused in their work of destruction; and, when the fife began to play "Yankee Doodle," they scrambled into their boats and rowed in haste to the warship, which weighed anchor and sailed away as fast as the wind would carry her.
A woman's piercing shriek suddenly startled a party of surveyors at dinner in a forest of northern Virginia on a calm, sunny day in 1750. The cries were repeated in quick succession, and the men sprang through the undergrowth to learn their cause. "Oh, sir," exclaimed the woman as she caught sight of a youth of eighteen, but a man in stature and bearing; "you will surely do something for me! Make these friends release me. My boy,—my poor boy is drowning, and they will not let me go!" "It would be madness; she will jump into the river," said one of the men who was holding her; "and the rapids would dash her to pieces in a moment!" Throwing on his coat, the youth sprang to the edge of the bank, scanned for a moment the rocks and whirling currents, and then, at sight of part of the boy's dress, plunged into the roaring rapids. "Thank God, he will save my child!" cried the mother, and all rushed to the brink of the precipice; "there he is! Oh, my boy, my darling boy! How could I leave you?"
But all eyes were bent upon the youth struggling with strong heart and hope amid the dizzy sweep of the whirling currents far below. Now it seemed as if he would be dashed against a projecting rock, over which the water flew in foam, and anon a whirlpool would drag him in, from whose grasp escape would seem impossible. Twice the boy went out of sight, but he had reappeared the second time, although frightfully near the most dangerous part of the river. The rush of waters here was tremendous, and no one had ever dared to approach it, even in a canoe, lest he should be dashed to pieces. The youth redoubled his exertions. Three times he was about to grasp the child, when some stronger eddy would toss it from him. One final effort he makes; the child is held aloft by his strong right arm, but a cry of horror bursts from the lips of every spectator as boy and man shoot over the falls and vanish in the seething waters below.
"There they are!" shouted the mother a moment later, in a delirium of joy. "See! they are safe! Great God, I thank Thee!" And sure enough they emerged unharmed from the boiling vortex, and in a few minutes reached a low place in the bank and were drawn up by their friends, the boy senseless, but still alive, and the youth almost exhausted. "God will give you a reward," solemnly spoke the grateful woman. "He will do great things for you in return for this day's work, and the blessings of thousands besides mine will attend you."
The youth was George Washington.
"Your Grace has not the organ of animal courage largely developed," said a phrenologist, who was examining Wellington's head. "You are right," replied the Iron Duke, "and but for my sense of duty I should have retreated in my first fight." That first fight, on an Indian field, was one of the most terrible on record.
In the reverses which followed Napoleon, he met the allies at Arcis. A live shell having fallen in front of one of his young battalions, which recoiled and wavered in expectation of an explosion, Napoleon, to reassure them, spurred his charger toward the instrument of destruction, made him smell the burning match, waited unshaken for the explosion, and was blown up. Rolling in the dust with his mutilated steed, and rising without a wound amid the plaudits of his soldiers, he calmly called for another horse, and continued to brave the grape-shot, and to fly into the thickest of the battle.
When General Jackson was a judge and was holding court in a small settlement, a border ruffian, a murderer and desperado, came into the court-room with brutal violence and interrupted the court. The judge ordered him to be arrested. The officer did not dare to approach him. "Call a posse," said the judge, "and arrest him." But they also shrank in fear from the ruffian. "Call me, then," said Jackson; "this court is adjourned for five minutes." He left the bench, walked straight up to the man, and with his eagle eye actually cowed the ruffian, who dropped his weapons, afterwards saying, "There was something in his eye I could not resist."
One of the last official acts of the late President Carnot, of France, was the sending of a medal of the French Legion of Honor to a little American girl, who lives in Indiana. While a train on the Pan Handle Railroad, having on board several distinguished Frenchmen, was bound to Chicago and the World's Fair, Jennie Carey, who was then ten years old, discovered that a trestle was on fire, and that if the train, which was nearly due, entered it a dreadful wreck would take place. Thereupon she ran out upon the track to a place where she could be seen from some little distance. Then she took off her red flannel skirt and, when the train came in view, waved it back and forth across the track. It was seen, and the train stopped. On board of it were seven hundred people, many of whom must have suffered death but for Jennie's courage and presence of mind. When they returned to France, the Frenchmen brought the occurrence to the notice of President Carnot, and the result was the sending of the medal of this famous French society, the purpose of which is the honoring of bravery and merit, wherever they may be found.
After the battle of Fort Donelson, the wounded were hauled down the hill in rough board wagons, and most of them died before they reached St. Louis. One blue-eyed boy of nineteen, with both arms and both legs shattered, had lain a long time and was neglected. He said, "Why, you see they couldn't stop to bother with us because they had to take the fort. When they took it we all forgot our sufferings and shouted for joy, even to the dying."
Louis IX. of France was captured by the Turks at the battle of Mansoora, during the Seventh Crusade, and his wife Marguerite, with a babe at the breast, was in Damietta, many miles away. The Infidels surrounded the city, and pressed the garrison so hard that it was decided to capitulate. The queen summoned the knights, and told them that she at least would die in armor upon the ramparts before the enemy should become masters of Damietta.
"Before her words they thrilled like leaves When winds are in the wood; And a deepening murmur told of men Roused to a loftier mood."
Grasping lance and shield, they vowed to defend their queen and the cross to the last. Damietta was saved.
Pyrrhus marched to Sparta to reinstate the deposed Cleonymus, and quietly pitched his tents before Laconia, not anticipating resistance. In consternation, the Spartans in council decided to send their women to Crete for safety. But the women met and asked Queen Archidamia to remonstrate. She went to the council, sword in hand, and told the men that their wives did not care to live after Sparta was destroyed.
"We are brave men's mothers, and brave men's wives; We are ready to do and dare; We are ready to man your walls with our lives, And string your bows with our hair."
They hurried to the walls and worked all night, aiding the men in digging trenches. When Pyrrhus attacked the city next day, his repulse was so emphatic that he withdrew from Laconia.
Charles V. of Spain passed through Thuringia in 1547, on his return to Swabia after the battle of Muehlburg. He wrote to Catherine, Countess Dowager of Schwartzburg, promising that her subjects should not be molested in their persons or property if they would supply the Spanish soldiers with provisions at a reasonable price. On approaching Eudolstadt, General Alva and Prince Henry of Brunswick, with his sons, invited themselves, by a messenger sent forward, to breakfast with the Countess, who had no choice but to ratify so delicate a request from the commander of an army. Just as the guests were seated at a generous repast, the Countess was called from the hall and told that the Spaniards were using violence and driving away the cattle of the peasants.
Quietly arming all her retinue, she bolted and barred all the gates and doors of the castle, and returned to the banquet to complain of the breach of faith. General Alva told her that such was the custom of war, adding that such trifling disorders were not to be heeded. "That we shall presently see," said Catharine; "my poor subjects must have their own again, or, as God lives, prince's blood for oxen's blood!" The doors were opened, and armed men took the places of the waiters behind the chairs of the guests. Henry changed color; then, as the best way out of a bad scrape, laughed loudly, and ended by praising the splendid acting of his hostess, and promising that Alva should order the cattle restored at once. Not until a courier returned, saying that the order had been obeyed, and all damages settled satisfactorily, did the armed waiters leave. The Countess then thanked her guests for the honor they had done her castle, and they retired with protestations of their distinguished consideration.
It was the heroic devotion of an Indian girl that saved the life of Captain John Smith, when the powerful King Powhatan had decreed his death. Ill could the struggling colony spare him at that time.
When the consul shouted that the bridge was tottering, Lartius and Herminius sought safety in flight. But Horatius strode still nearer the foe, the single champion of his country and liberty, and dared the ninety thousand to come on. Dead stillness fell upon the Tuscans, so astonished were they at the audacity of the Roman. He first broke the awful silence, so deep that his clear, strong voice could be heard by thousands in both armies, between which rolled the Tiber, as he denounced the baseness and perfidy of the invaders. Not until his words were drowned by the loud crash of fiercely disrupturing timbers, and the sullen splash of the dark river, did his enemies hurl their showers of arrows and javelins. Then, dexterously warding off the missiles with his shield, he plunged into the Tiber. Although stabbed in the hip by a Tuscan spear which lamed him for life, he swam in safety to Rome.
"It is a bad omen," said Eric the Red, when his horse slipped and fell on the way to his ship, moored on the coast of Greenland, in readiness for a voyage of discovery. "Ill-fortune would be mine should I dare venture now upon the sea." So he returned to his house, but his young son Leif decided to go, and, with a crew of thirty-five men, sailed southward in search of the unknown shore upon which Captain Biarni had been driven by a storm, while sailing in another Viking ship two or three years before. The first land that they saw was probably Labrador, a barren, rugged plain. Leif called this country Heluland, or the land of flat stones. Sailing onward many days, he came to a low, level coast thickly covered with woods, on account of which he called the country Markland, probably the modern Nova Scotia. Sailing onward, they came to an island which they named Vinland on account of the abundance of delicious wild grapes in the woods. This was in the year 1000. Here where the city of Newport, R. I., stands, they spent many months, and then returned to Greenland with their vessel loaded with grapes and strange kinds of wood. The voyage was successful, and no doubt Eric was sorry he had been frightened by the bad omen.
May 10, 1796, Napoleon carried the bridge at Lodi, in the face of the Austrian batteries. Fourteen cannon—some accounts say thirty—were trained upon the French end of the structure. Behind them were six thousand troops. Napoleon massed four thousand grenadiers at the head of the bridge, with a battalion of three hundred carbineers in front. At the tap of the drum the foremost assailants wheeled from the cover of the street wall under a terrible hail of grape and canister, and attempted to pass the gateway to the bridge. The front ranks went down like stalks of grain before a reaper; the column staggered and reeled backward, and the valiant grenadiers were appalled by the task before them. Without a word or a look of reproach, Napoleon placed himself at their head, and his aids and generals rushed to his side. Forward again, this time over heaps of dead that choked the passage, and a quick run, counted by seconds only, carried the column across two hundred yards of clear space, scarcely a shot from the Austrians taking effect beyond the point where the platoons wheeled for the first leap. So sudden and so miraculous was it all that the Austrian artillerists abandoned their guns instantly, and their supports fled in a panic instead of rushing to the front and meeting the French onslaught. This Napoleon had counted on in making the bold attack. The contrast between Napoleon's slight figure and the massive grenadiers suggested the nickname "Little Corporal."
The great secret of the success of Joan of Arc was the boldness of her attacks.
When Stephen of Colonna fell into the hands of base assailants, and they asked him in derision, "Where is now your fortress?" "Here," was his bold reply, placing his hand upon his heart.
It was after the Mexican War when General McClellan was employed as a topographical engineer in surveying the Pacific coast. From his headquarters at Vancouver he had gone south to the Columbia River with two companions, a soldier and a servant. One evening he received word that the chiefs of the Columbia River tribes desired to confer with him. From the messenger's manner he suspected that the Indians meant mischief. He warned his companions that they must be ready to leave camp at a moment's notice. Mounting his horse, he rode boldly into the Indian village. About thirty chiefs were holding council. McClellan was led into the circle, and placed at the right hand of Saltese. He was familiar with the Chinook jargon, and could understand every word spoken in the council. Saltese made known the grievance of the tribes. Two Indians had been captured by a party of white pioneers and hanged for theft. Retaliation for this outrage seemed indispensable. The chiefs pondered long, but had little to say. McClellan had been on friendly terms with them, and was not responsible for the forest executions. Still, he was a white man, and the chiefs had vowed vengeance against the race. The council was prolonged for hours before sentence was passed, and then Saltese, in the name of the head men of the tribes, decreed that McClellan should immediately be put to death in retaliation for the hanging of the two Indian thieves.
McClellan had said nothing. He had known that argument and pleas for justice or mercy would be of no avail. He had sat motionless, apparently indifferent to his fate. By his listlessness he had thrown his captors off their guard. When the sentence was passed he acted like a flash. Flinging his left arm around the neck of Saltese, he whipped out his revolver and held it close to the chief's temple. "Revoke that sentence, or I shall kill you this instant!" he cried, with his fingers clicking the trigger. "I revoke it!" exclaimed Saltese, fairly livid from fear. "I must have your word that I can leave this council in safety." "You have the word of Saltese," was the quick response. McClellan knew how sacred was the pledge which he had received. The revolver was lowered. Saltese was released from the embrace of the strong arm. McClellan strode out of the tent with his revolver in his hand. Not a hand was raised against him. He mounted his horse and rode to his camp, where his two followers were ready to spring into the saddle and to escape from the villages. He owed his life to his quickness of perception, and to his accurate knowledge of Indian character.
In 1866, Rufus Choate spoke to an audience of nearly five thousand in Lowell in favor of the candidacy of James Buchanan for the presidency. The floor of the great hall began to sink, settling more and more as he proceeded with his address, until a sound of cracking timber below would have precipitated a stampede with fatal results but for the coolness of B. F. Butler, who presided. Telling the people to remain quiet, he said that he would see if there were any cause for alarm. He found the supports of the floor in so bad a condition that the slightest applause would be likely to bury the audience in the ruins of the building. Returning rather leisurely to the platform, he whispered to Choate as he passed, "We shall all be in —— in five minutes," then he told the crowd that there was no immediate danger if they would slowly disperse, although he thought it prudent to adjourn to a place where there would be no risk whatever. The post of danger, he added, was on the platform, which was most weakly supported, therefore he and those with him would be the last to leave. No doubt many lives were saved by his coolness.
Many distinguished foreign and American statesmen were present at a fashionable dinner party where wine was freely poured, but Schuyler Colfax, then vice-president of the United States, declined to drink from a proffered cup. "Colfax dares not drink," sneered a Senator who had already taken too much. "You are right," said the Vice-President, "I dare not."
When Grant was in Houston several years ago, he was given a rousing reception. Naturally hospitable, and naturally inclined to like a man of Grant's make-up, the Houstonites determined to go beyond any other Southern city in the way of a banquet and other manifestations of their good-will and hospitality. They made great preparations for the dinner, the committee taking great pains to have the finest wines that could be procured for the table that night. When the time came to serve the wine, the head-waiter went first to Grant. Without a word the general quietly turned down all the glasses at his plate. This movement was a great surprise to the Texans, but they were equal to the occasion. Without a single word being spoken, every man along the line of the long tables turned his glasses down, and there was not a drop of wine taken that night.
A deep sewer at Noyon, France, had been opened for repairs, and carelessly left at night without covering or lights to warn people of danger. Late at night four men stumbled in, and lay some time before their situation was known in the town. No one dared go to the aid of the men, then unconscious from breathing noxious gases, except Catherine Vassen, a servant girl of eighteen. She insisted on being lowered at once. Fastening a rope around two of the men, she aided in raising them and restoring them to consciousness. Descending again, she had just tied a rope around a third man, when she felt her breath failing. Tying another rope to her long, curly hair, she swooned, but was drawn up with the man, to be quickly revived by fresh air and stimulants. The fourth man was dead when his body was pulled up, on account of the delay from the fainting of Catherine.
Two French officers at Waterloo were advancing to charge a greatly superior force. One, observing that the other showed signs of fear, said, "Sir, I believe you are frightened." "Yes, I am," was the reply, "and if you were half as much frightened, you would run away."
"That's a brave man," said Wellington, when he saw a soldier turn pale as he marched against a battery; "he knows his danger, and faces it."
"There are many cardinals and bishops at Worms," said a friend to Luther, "and they will burn your body to ashes as they did that of John Huss." Luther replied: "Although they should make a fire that should reach from Worms to Wittenberg, and that should flame up to heaven, in the Lord's name I would pass through it and appear before them." He said to another: "I would enter Worms though there were as many devils there as there are tiles upon the roofs of the houses." Another said: "Duke George will surely arrest you." He replied: "It is my duty to go, and I will go, though it rain Duke Georges for nine days together."
"Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me," exclaimed Luther at the Diet of Worms, facing his foes.
A Western paper recently invited the surviving Union and Confederate officers to give an account of the bravest act observed by each during the Civil War. Colonel Thomas W. Higginson said that at a dinner at Beaufort, S. C., where wine flowed freely and ribald jests were bandied, Dr. Miner, a slight, boyish fellow who did not drink, was told that he could not go until he had drunk a toast, told a story, or sung a song. He replied: "I cannot sing, but I will give a toast, although I must drink it in water. It is 'Our Mothers.'" The men were so affected and ashamed that some took him by the hand and thanked him for displaying courage greater than that required to walk up to the mouth of a cannon.
It took great courage for the commercial Quaker, John Bright, to espouse a cause which called down upon his head the derision and scorn and hatred of the Parliament. For years he rested under a cloud of obloquy, but Bright was made of stern stuff. It was only his strength of character and masterly eloquence, which saved him from political annihilation. To a man who boasted that his ancestors came over with the Conquerors, he replied, "I never heard that they did anything else." A Tory lordling said, when Bright was ill, that Providence had inflicted upon Bright, for the measure of his talents, disease of the brain. When Bright went back into the Commons he replied: "This may be so, but it will be some consolation to the friends and family of the noble lord to know that that disease is one which even Providence cannot inflict upon him."
"When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the World, and takes him boldly by the beard," says Holmes, "he is often surprised to find it come off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away timid adventurers."
It takes courage for a young man to stand firmly erect while others are bowing and fawning for praise and power. It takes courage to wear threadbare clothes while your comrades dress in broadcloth. It takes courage to remain in honest poverty when others grow rich by fraud. It takes courage to say "No" squarely when those around you say "Yes." It takes courage to do your duty in silence and obscurity while others prosper and grow famous although neglecting sacred obligations. It takes courage to unmask your true self, to show your blemishes to a condemning world, and to pass for what you really are.
It takes courage and pluck to be outvoted, beaten, laughed at, scoffed, ridiculed, derided, misunderstood, misjudged, to stand alone with all the world against you, but
"They are slaves who dare not be In the right with two or three."
"There is never wanting a dog to bark at you."
"An honest man is not the worse because a dog barks at him."
"Let any man show the world that he feels Afraid of its bark, and 'twill fly at his heels. Let him fearlessly face it, 't will leave him alone, And 't will fawn at his feet if he fling it a bone."
We live ridiculously for fear of being thought ridiculous.
"'Tis he is the coward who proves false to his vows, To his manhood, his honor, for a laugh or a sneer: 'Tis he is the hero who stands firm, though alone, For the truth and the right without flinching or fear."
The youth who starts out by being afraid to speak what he thinks will usually end by being afraid to think what he wishes.
How we shrink from an act of our own. We live as others live. Custom or fashion dictates, or your doctor or minister, and they in turn dare not depart from their schools. Dress, living, servants, carriages, everything must conform, or be ostracized. Who dares conduct his household or business affairs in his own way, and snap his fingers at Dame Grundy?
Many a man has marched up to the cannon's mouth in battle who dared not face public opinion or oppose Mrs. Grundy.
It takes courage for a public man not to bend the knee to popular prejudice. It takes courage to refuse to follow custom when it is injurious to his health and morals. To espouse an unpopular cause in Congress requires more courage than to lead a charge in battle. How much easier for a politician to prevaricate and dodge an issue than to stand squarely on his feet like a man.
As a rule, eccentricity is a badge of power, but how many women would not rather strangle their individuality than be tabooed by Mrs. Grundy? Yet fear is really the only thing to fear.
"Whoever you may be," said Sainte-Beuve, "great genius, distinguished talent, artist honorable or amiable, the qualities for which you deserve to be praised will all be turned against you. Were you a Virgil, the pious and sensible singer par excellence, there are people who will call you an effeminate poet. Were you a Horace, there are people who will reproach you with the very purity and delicacy of your taste. If you were a Shakespeare, some one will call you a drunken savage. If you were a Goethe, more than one Pharisee will proclaim you the most selfish of egotists."
As the strongest man has a weakness somewhere, so the greatest hero is a coward somewhere. Peter was courageous enough to draw his sword to defend his master, but he could not stand the ridicule and the finger of scorn of the maidens in the high priest's hall, and he actually denied even the acquaintance of the master he had declared he would die for.
"I will take the responsibility," said Andrew Jackson, on a memorable occasion, and his words have become proverbial. Not even Congress dared to oppose the edicts of John Quincy Adams.
If a man would accomplish anything in this world, he must not be afraid of assuming responsibilities. Of course it takes courage to run the risk of failure, to be subjected to criticism for an unpopular cause, to expose one's self to the shafts of everybody's ridicule, but the man who is not true to himself, who cannot carry out the sealed orders placed in his hands at his birth, regardless of the world's yes or no, of its approval or disapproval, the man who has not the courage to trace the pattern of his own destiny, which no other soul knows but his own, can never rise to the true dignity of manhood. All the world loves courage; youth craves it; they want to hear about it, they want to read about it. The fascination of the "blood and thunder" novels and of the cheap story papers for youth are based upon this idea of courage. If the boys cannot get the real article, they will take a counterfeit.
Don't be like Uriah Heep, begging everybody's pardon for taking the liberty of being in the world. There is nothing attractive in timidity, nothing lovable in fear. Both are deformities and are repulsive. Manly courage is dignified and graceful. The worst manners in the world are those of persons conscious "of being beneath their position, and trying to conceal it or make up for it by style."
Bruno, condemned to be burned alive in Rome, said to his judge: "You are more afraid to pronounce my sentence than I am to receive it." Anne Askew, racked until her bones were dislocated, never flinched, but looked her tormentor calmly in the face and refused to abjure her faith.
"We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other." "Half a man's wisdom goes with his courage," said Emerson. Physicians used to teach that courage depends on the circulation of the blood in the arteries, and that during passion, anger, trials of strength, wrestling or fighting, a large amount of blood is collected in the arteries, and does not pass to the veins. A strong pulse is a fortune in itself.
"Rage," said Shaftesbury, "can make a coward forget himself and fight."
"I should have thought fear would have kept you from going so far," said a relative who found the little boy Nelson wandering a long distance from home. "Fear?" said the future admiral, "I don't know him."
"Doubt indulged becomes doubt realized." To determine to do anything is half the battle. "To think a thing is impossible is to make it so." Courage is victory, timidity is defeat.
That simple shepherd-lad, David, fresh from his flocks, marching unattended and unarmed, save with his shepherd's staff and sling, to confront the colossal Goliath with his massive armor, is the sublimest audacity the world has ever seen.
"Dent, I wish you would get down, and see what is the matter with that leg there," said Grant, when he and Colonel Dent were riding through the thickest of a fire that had become so concentrated and murderous that his troops had all been driven back. "I guess looking after your horse's legs can wait," said Dent; "it is simply murder for us to sit here." "All right," said Grant, "if you don't want to see to it, I will." He dismounted, untwisted a piece of telegraph wire which had begun to cut the horse's leg, examined it deliberately, and climbed into his saddle. "Dent," said he, "when you've got a horse that you think a great deal of, you should never take any chances with him. If that wire had been left there for a little time longer he would have gone dead lame, and would perhaps have been ruined for life."
Wellington said that at Waterloo the hottest of the battle raged round a farmhouse, with an orchard surrounded by a thick hedge, which was so important a point in the British position that orders were given to hold it at any hazard or sacrifice. At last the powder and ball ran short and the hedges took fire, surrounding the orchard with a wall of flame. A messenger had been sent for ammunition, and soon two loaded wagons came galloping toward the farmhouse. "The driver of the first wagon, with the reckless daring of an English boy, spurred his struggling and terrified horses through the burning heap; but the flames rose fiercely round, and caught the powder, which exploded in an instant, sending wagon, horses, and rider in fragments into the air. For an instant the driver of the second wagon paused, appalled by his comrade's fate; the next, observing that the flames, beaten back for the moment by the explosion, afforded him one desperate chance, sent his horses at the smouldering breach and, amid the deafening cheers of the garrison, landed his terrible cargo safely within. Behind him the flames closed up, and raged more fiercely than ever."
At the battle of Friedland a cannon-ball came over the heads of the French soldiers, and a young soldier instinctively dodged. Napoleon looked at him and smilingly said: "My friend, if that ball were destined for you, though you were to burrow a hundred feet under ground it would be sure to find you there."
When the mine in front of Petersburg was finished, the fuse was lighted, and the Union troops were drawn up ready to charge the enemy's works as soon as the explosion should make a breach. But seconds, minutes, and tens of minutes passed, without a sound from the mine, and the suspense became painful. Lieutenant Doughty and Sergeant Kees volunteered to examine the fuse. Through the long subterranean galleries they hurried in silence, not knowing but they were advancing to a horrible death. They found the defect, fired the train anew, and soon a terrible upheaval of earth gave the signal to march to victory.
At the battle of Copenhagen, as Nelson walked the deck slippery with blood and covered with the dead, he said: "This is warm work, and this day may be the last to any of us in a moment. But, mark me, I would not be elsewhere for thousands." At the battle of Trafalgar, when Nelson was shot and was being carried below, he covered his face, that those fighting might not know their chief had fallen.
In a skirmish at Salamanca, while the enemy's guns were pouring shot into his regiment, Sir William Napier's men became disobedient. He at once ordered a halt, and flogged four of the ringleaders under fire. The men yielded at once, and then marched three miles under a heavy cannonade as coolly as if it were a review.
Execute your resolutions immediately. Thoughts are but dreams till their effects be tried. Does competition trouble you? work away; what is your competitor but a man? Conquer your place in the world, for all things serve a brave soul. Combat difficulty manfully; sustain misfortune bravely; endure poverty nobly; encounter disappointment courageously. The influence of the brave man is a magnetism which creates an epidemic of noble zeal in all about him. Every day sends to the grave obscure men, who have only remained in obscurity because their timidity has prevented them from making a first effort; and who, if they could have been induced to begin, would, in all probability, have gone great lengths in the career of usefulness and fame. "No great deed is done," says George Eliot, "by falterers who ask for certainty." The brave, cheerful man will survive his blighted hopes and disappointments, take them for just what they are, lessons and perhaps blessings in disguise, and will march boldly and cheerfully forward in the battle of life. Or, if necessary, he will bear his ills with a patience and calm endurance deeper than ever plummet sounded. He is the true hero.
Then to side with Truth is noble when we share her wretched crust, Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and 't is prosperous to be just; Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside, Doubting in his abject spirit, till his Lord is crucified. LOWELL.
Our doubts are traitors, And make us lose the good we oft might win, By fearing to attempt. SHAKESPEARE.
After the great inward struggle was over, and he had determined to remain loyal to his principles, Thomas More walked cheerfully to the block. His wife called him a fool for staying in a dark, damp, filthy prison when he might have his liberty by merely renouncing his doctrines, as some of the bishops had done. But he preferred death to dishonor. His daughter allowed the power of love to drive away fear. She remained true to her father when all others, even her mother, had forsaken him. After his head had been cut off and exhibited on a pole on London Bridge, the poor girl begged it of the authorities, and requested that it be buried in the coffin with her. Her request was granted, for her death occurred soon.
When Sir Walter Raleigh came to the scaffold he was very faint, and began his speech to the crowd by saying that during the last two days he had been visited by two ague fits. "If, therefore, you perceive any weakness in me, I beseech you ascribe it to my sickness rather than to myself." He took the axe and kissed the blade, and said to the sheriff: "'T is a sharp medicine, but a sound cure for all diseases."
Don't waste time dreaming of obstacles you may never encounter, or in crossing bridges you have not reached. Don't fool with a nettle! Grasp with firmness if you would rob it of its sting. To half will and to hang forever in the balance is to lose your grip on life.
Abraham Lincoln's boyhood was one long struggle with poverty, with little education, and no influential friends. When at last he had begun the practice of law, it required no little daring to cast his fortune with the weaker side in politics, and thus imperil what small reputation he had gained. Only the most sublime moral courage could have sustained him as President to hold his ground against hostile criticism and a long train of disaster; to issue the Emancipation Proclamation; to support Grant and Stanton against the clamor of the politicians and the press; and through it all to do the right as God gave him to see the right.
Lincoln never shrank from espousing an unpopular cause when he believed it to be right. At the time when it almost cost a young lawyer his bread and butter to defend the fugitive slave, and when other lawyers had refused, Lincoln would always plead the cause of the unfortunate whenever an opportunity presented. "Go to Lincoln," people would say, when these hounded fugitives were seeking protection; "he's not afraid of any cause, if it's right."
As Salmon P. Chase left the court room after making an impassioned plea for the runaway slave girl Matilda, a man looked at him in surprise and said: "There goes a fine young fellow who has just ruined himself." But in thus ruining himself Chase had taken the first important step in a career in which he became Governor of Ohio, United States Senator from Ohio, Secretary of the United States Treasury, and Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
At the trial of William Penn for having spoken at a Quaker meeting, the recorder, not satisfied with the first verdict, said to the jury: "We will have a verdict by the help of God, or you shall starve for it." "You are Englishmen," said Penn; "mind your privileges, give not away your right." At last the jury, after two days and two nights without food, returned a verdict of "Not guilty." The recorder fined them forty marks apiece for their independence.
What cared Christ for the jeers of the crowd? The palsied hand moved, the blind saw, the leper was made whole, the dead spake, despite the ridicule and scoffs of the spectators.
What cared Wendell Phillips for rotten eggs, derisive scorn, and hisses? In him "at last the scornful world had met its match." Were Beecher and Gough to be silenced by the rude English mobs that came to extinguish them? No! they held their ground and compelled unwilling thousands to hear and to heed. Did Anna Dickinson leave the platform when the pistol bullets of the Molly Maguires flew about her head? She silenced those pistols by her courage and her arguments.
"What the world wants is a Knox, who dares to preach on with a musket leveled at his head, a Garrison, who is not afraid of a jail, or a mob, or a scaffold erected in front of his door.
"Storms may howl around thee, Foes may hunt and hound thee: Shall they overpower thee? Never, never, never."
When General Butler was sent with nine thousand men to quell the New York riots, he arrived in advance of his troops, and found the streets thronged with an angry mob, which had already hanged more than one man to lamp-posts. Without waiting for his men, Butler went to the place where the crowd was most dense, overturned an ash barrel, stood upon it, and began: "Delegates from Five Points, fiends from hell, you have murdered your superiors," and the blood-stained crowd quailed before the courageous words of a single man in a city which Mayor Fernando Wood could not restrain with the aid of police and militia.
"Our enemies are before us," exclaimed the Spartans at Thermopylae. "And we are before them," was the cool reply of Leonidas. "Deliver your arms," came the message from Xerxes. "Come and take them," was the answer Leonidas sent back. A Persian soldier said: "You will not be able to see the sun for flying javelins and arrows." "Then we will fight in the shade," replied a Lacedemonian. What wonder that a handful of such men checked the march of the greatest host that ever trod the earth.
"It is impossible," said a staff officer, when Napoleon gave directions for a daring plan. "Impossible!" thundered the great commander, "impossible is the adjective of fools!" Napoleon went to the edge of his possibility.
Grant never knew when he was beaten. When told that he was surrounded by the enemy at Belmont, he quietly replied: "Well, then we must cut our way out."
The courageous man is an example to the intrepid. His influence is magnetic. He creates an epidemic of nobleness. Men follow him, even to the death.
The spirit of courage will transform the whole temper of your life. "The wise and active conquer difficulties by daring to attempt them. Sloth and folly shiver and sicken at the sight of trial and hazard, and make the impossibility they fear."
"The hero," says Emerson, "is the man who is immovably centred."
Emin Pasha, the explorer of Africa, was left behind by his exploring party under circumstances that were thought certainly fatal, and his death was reported with great assurance. Early the next winter, as his troop was on its toilsome but exciting way through Central Africa, it came upon a most wretched sight. A party of natives had been kidnapped by the slave-hunters, and dragged in chains thus far toward the land of bondage. But small-pox had set in, and the miserable company had been abandoned to their fate. Emin sent his men ahead, and stayed behind in this camp of death to act as physician and nurse. How many lives he saved is not known, though it is known that he nearly lost his own. The age of chivalry is not gone by. This is as knightly a deed as poet ever chronicled.
A mouse that dwelt near the abode of a great magician was kept in such constant distress by its fear of a cat, that the magician, taking pity on it, turned it into a cat itself. Immediately it began to suffer from its fear of a dog, so the magician turned it into a dog. Then it began to suffer from fear of a tiger. The magician therefore turned it into a tiger. Then it began to suffer from fear of hunters, and the magician said in disgust: "Be a mouse again. As you have only the heart of a mouse, it is impossible to help you by giving you the body of a nobler animal."
Men who have dared have moved the world, often before reaching the prime of life. It is astonishing what daring to begin and perseverance have enabled even youths to achieve. Alexander, who ascended the throne at twenty, had conquered the known world before dying at thirty-three. Julius Caesar captured eight hundred cities, conquered three hundred nations, and defeated three million men, became a great orator and one of the greatest statesmen known, and still was a young man. Washington was appointed adjutant-general at nineteen, was sent at twenty-one as an ambassador to treat with the French, and won his first battle as a colonel at twenty-two. Lafayette was made general of the whole French army at twenty. Charlemagne was master of France and Germany at thirty. Conde was only twenty-two when he conquered at Rocroi. Galileo was but eighteen when he saw the principle of the pendulum in the swinging lamp in the cathedral at Pisa. Peel was in Parliament at twenty-one. Gladstone was in Parliament before he was twenty-two, and at twenty-four he was Lord of the Treasury. Elizabeth Barrett Browning was proficient in Greek and Latin at twelve; De Quincey at eleven. Robert Browning wrote at eleven poetry of no mean order. Cowley, who sleeps in Westminster Abbey, published a volume of poems at fifteen. N. P. Willis won lasting fame as a poet before leaving college. Macaulay was a celebrated author before he was twenty-three. Luther was but twenty-nine when he nailed his famous thesis to the door of the bishop and defied the pope. Nelson was a lieutenant in the British Navy before he was twenty. He was but forty-seven when he received his death wound at Trafalgar. Charles the Twelfth was only nineteen when he gained the battle of Narva; at thirty-six, Cortez was the conqueror of Mexico; at thirty-two, Clive had established the British power in India. Hannibal, the greatest of military commanders, was only thirty when, at Cannae, he dealt an almost annihilating blow at the republic of Rome; and Napoleon was only twenty-seven when, on the plains of Italy, he outgeneraled and defeated, one after another, the veteran marshals of Austria.
Equal courage and resolution are often shown by men who have passed the allotted limit of life. Victor Hugo and Wellington were both in their prime after they had reached the age of threescore years and ten. George Bancroft wrote some of his best historical work when he was eighty-five. Gladstone ruled England with a strong hand at eighty-four, and was a marvel of literary and scholarly ability.
"Not every vessel that sails from Tarshish will bring back the gold of Ophir. But shall it therefore rot in the harbor? No! Give its sails to the wind!"
Shakespeare says: "He is not worthy of the honeycomb that shuns the hive because the bees have stings."
"The brave man is not he who feels no fear, For that were stupid and irrational; But he whose noble soul its fear subdues And bravely dares the danger nature shrinks from."
The inscription on the gates of Busyrane: "Be bold." On the second gate: "Be bold, be bold, and ever more be bold;" the third gate: "Be not too bold."
Many a bright youth has accomplished nothing of worth simply because he did not dare to commence.
Begin! Begin!! Begin!!!
Whatever people may think of you, do that which you believe to be right. Be alike indifferent to censure or praise.—PYTHAGORAS.
Fear makes man a slave to others. This is the tyrant's chain. Anxiety is a form of cowardice embittering life.—CHANNING.
Courage is generosity of the highest order, for the brave are prodigal of the most precious things. Our blood is nearer and dearer to us than our money, and our life than our estate. Women are more taken with courage than with generosity.—COLTON.
Who chooses me must give and hazard all he hath. Merchant of Venice, Inscription on Leaden Casket.
I dare to do all that may become a man: Who dares do more is none. SHAKESPEAKE.
For man's great actions are performed in minor struggles. There are obstinate and unknown braves who defend themselves inch by inch in the shadows against the fatal invasion of want and turpitude. There are noble and mysterious triumphs which no eye sees, no renown rewards, and no flourish of trumpets salutes. Life, misfortune, isolation, abandonment, and poverty are battlefields which have their heroes.—VICTOR HUGO.
Who waits until the wind shall silent keep, Who never finds the ready hour to sow, Who watcheth clouds, will have no time to reap. HELEN HUNT JACKSON.
Quit yourselves like men.—1 SAMUEL iv. 9.
THE WILL AND THE WAY.
"The 'way' will be found by a resolute will."
"I will find a way or make one."
Nothing is impossible to the man who can will.—MIRABEAU.
A politician weakly and amiably in the right is no match for a politician tenaciously and pugnaciously in the wrong.—E. P. WHIPPLE.
The iron will of one stout heart shall make a thousand quail; A feeble dwarf, dauntlessly resolved, will turn the tide of battle, And rally to a nobler strife the giants that had fled. TUPPER.
"Man alone can perform the impossible. They can who think they can. Character is a perfectly educated will."
The education of the will is the object of our existence. For the resolute and determined there is time and opportunity.—EMERSON.
Invincible determination, and a right nature, are the levers that move the world.—PRESIDENT PORTER.
In the lexicon of youth which fate reserves for a bright manhood there is no such word as fail.—BULWER.
Perpetual pushing and assurance put a difficulty out of countenance and make a seeming difficulty give way.—JEREMY COLLIER.
When a firm and decisive spirit is recognized, it is curious to see how the space clears around a man and leaves him room and freedom.—JOHN FOSTER.
The star of the unconquered will, He rises in my breast, Serene, and resolute and still, And calm and self-possessed. LONGFELLOW.
"As well can the Prince of Orange pluck the stars from the sky, as bring the ocean to the wall of Leyden for your relief," was the derisive shout of the Spanish soldiers when told that the Dutch fleet would raise that terrible four months' siege of 1574. But from the parched lips of William, tossing on his bed of fever at Rotterdam, had issued the command: "Break down the dikes: give Holland back to ocean:" and the people had replied: "Better a drowned land than a lost land." They began to demolish dike after dike of the strong lines, ranged one within another for fifteen miles to their city of the interior. It was an enormous task; the garrison was starving; and the besiegers laughed in scorn at the slow progress of the puny insects who sought to rule the waves of the sea. But ever, as of old, heaven aids those who help themselves. On the first and second of October a violent equinoctial gale rolled the ocean inland, and swept the fleet on the rising waters almost to the camp of the Spaniards. The next morning the garrison sallied out to attack their enemies, but the besiegers had fled in terror under cover of the darkness. The next day the wind changed, and a counter tempest brushed the water, with the fleet upon it, from the surface of Holland. The outer dikes were replaced at once, leaving the North Sea within its old bounds. When the flowers bloomed the following spring, a joyous procession marched through the streets to found the University of Leyden, in commemoration of the wonderful deliverance of the city.
* * * * * *
"The Wizard of the North."
"So nigh is grandeur to our dust, So near is God to man, When Duty whispers low, 'Thou must,' The youth replies, 'I can.'"
* * * * * *
At a dinner party given in 1837, at the residence of Chancellor Kent, in New York city, some of the most distinguished men in the country were invited, and among them was a young and rather melancholy and reticent Frenchman. Professor Morse was one of the guests, and during the evening he drew the attention of Mr. Gallatin, then a prominent statesman, to the stranger, observing that his forehead indicated great intellect. "Yes," replied Mr. Gallatin, touching his own forehead with his finger, "there is a great deal in that head of his: but he has a strange fancy. Can you believe it? He has the idea that he will one day be the Emperor of France. Can you conceive anything more absurd?"
It did seem absurd, for this reserved Frenchman was then a poor adventurer, an exile from his country, without fortune or powerful connections, and yet, fourteen years later, his idea became a fact,—his dream of becoming Napoleon III. was realized. True, before he accomplished his purpose there were long dreary years of imprisonment, exile, disaster, and patient labor and hope, but he gained his ambition at last. He was not scrupulous as to the means employed to accomplish his ends, yet he is a remarkable example of what pluck and energy can do.
When it was proposed to unite England and America by steam, Dr. Lardner delivered a lecture before the Royal Society "proving" that steamers could never cross the Atlantic, because they could not carry coal enough to produce steam during the whole voyage. The passage of the steamship Sirius, which crossed in nineteen days, was fatal to Lardner's theory. When it was proposed to build a vessel of iron, many persons said: "Iron sinks—only wood can float:" but experiments proved that the miracle of the prophet in making iron "swim" could be repeated, and now not only ships of war, but merchant vessels, are built of iron or steel. A will found a way to make iron float.
Mr. Ingram, publisher of the "London Illustrated News," who lost his life on Lake Michigan, walked ten miles to deliver a single paper rather than disappoint a customer, when he began life as a newsdealer at Nottingham, England. Does any one wonder that such a youth succeeded? Once he rose at two o'clock in the morning and walked to London to get some papers because there was no post to bring them. He determined that his customers should not be disappointed. This is the kind of will that finds a way.
There is scarcely anything in all biography grander than the saying of young Henry Fawcett, Gladstone's last Postmaster-General, to his grief-stricken father, who had put out both his eyes by bird-shot during a game hunt: "Never mind, father, blindness shall not interfere with my success in life." One of the most pathetic sights in London streets, long afterward, was Henry Fawcett, M. P., led everywhere by a faithful daughter, who acted as amanuensis as well as guide to her plucky father. Think of a young man, scarcely on the threshold of active life, suddenly losing the sight of both eyes and yet, by mere pluck and almost incomprehensible tenacity of purpose, lifting himself into eminence, in any direction, to say nothing of becoming one of the foremost men in a country noted for its great men. Most youth would have succumbed to such a misfortune, and would never have been heard from again. But fortunately for the world, there are yet left many Fawcetts, many Prescotts, Parkmans, Cavanaghs.
The courageous daughter who was eyes to her father was herself a marvelous example of pluck and determination. For the first time in the history of Oxford College, which reaches back centuries, she succeeded in winning the post which had only been gained before by great men, such as Gladstone,—the post of senior wrangler. This achievement had had no parallel in history up to that date, and attracted the attention of the whole civilized world. Not only had no woman ever held this position before, but with few exceptions it had only been held by men who in after life became highly distinguished. Who can deny that where there is a will, as a rule, there's a way?
When Grant was a boy he could not find "can't" in the dictionary. It is the men who have no "can't" in their dictionaries that make things move.
"Circumstances," says Milton, "have rarely favored famous men. They have fought their way to triumph through all sorts of opposing obstacles."
The true way to conquer circumstances is to be a greater circumstance yourself.
Yet, while desiring to impress in the most forcible manner possible the fact that will-power is necessary to success, and that, other things being equal, the greater the will-power, the grander and more complete the success, we cannot indorse the preposterous theory that there is nothing in circumstances or environments, or that any man, simply because he has an indomitable will, may become a Bonaparte, a Pitt, a Webster, a Beecher, a Lincoln. We must temper determination with discretion, and support it with knowledge and common sense, or it will only lead us to run our heads against posts. We must not expect to overcome a stubborn fact by a stubborn will. We merely have the right to assume that we can do anything within the limit of our utmost faculty, strength, and endurance. Obstacles permanently insurmountable bar our progress in some directions, but in any direction we may reasonably hope and attempt to go, we shall find that the obstacles, as a rule, are either not insurmountable or else not permanent. The strong-willed, intelligent, persistent man will find or make a way where, in the nature of things, a way can be found or made.
Every schoolboy knows that circumstances do give clients to lawyers and patients to physicians; place ordinary clergymen in extraordinary pulpits; place sons of the rich at the head of immense corporations and large houses, when they have very ordinary ability and scarcely any experience, while poor young men with extraordinary abilities, good education, good character, and large experience, often have to fight their way for years to obtain even very ordinary situations. Every one knows that there are thousands of young men, both in the city and in the country, of superior ability, who seem to be compelled by circumstances to remain in very ordinary positions for small pay, when others about them are raised by money or family influence into desirable places. In other words, we all know that the best men do not always get the best places: circumstances do have a great deal to do with our position, our salaries, and our station in life.
Many young men who are nature's noblemen, who are natural leaders, are working under superintendents, foremen, and managers infinitely their inferiors, but whom circumstances have placed above them and will keep there, unless some emergency makes merit indispensable. No, the race is not always to the swift.
Every one knows that there is not always a way where there is a will, that labor does not always conquer all things; that there are things impossible even to him that wills, however strongly; that one cannot always make anything of himself he chooses; that there are limitations in our very natures which no amount of will-power or industry can overcome; that no amount of sun-staring can ever make an eagle out of a crow.
The simple truth is that a will strong enough to keep a man continually striving for things not wholly beyond his powers will carry him in time very far toward his chosen goal.
The greatest thing a man can do in this world is to make the most possible out of the stuff that has been given to him. This is success, and there is no other.
While it is true that our circumstances or environments do affect us, in most things they do not prevent our growth. The corn that is now ripe, whence comes it, and what is it? Is it not large or small, stunted wild maize or well-developed ears, according to the conditions under which it has grown? Yet its environments cannot make wheat of it. Nor can our circumstances alter our nature. It is part of our nature, and wholly within our power, greatly to change and to take advantage of our circumstances, so that, unlike the corn, we can rise much superior to our natural surroundings simply because we can thus vary and improve the surroundings. In other words, man can usually build the very road on which he is to run his race.
It is not a question of what some one else can do or become, which every youth should ask himself, but what can I do? How can I develop myself into the grandest possible manhood?
So far, then, from the power of circumstances being a hindrance to men in trying to build for themselves an imperial highway to fortune, these circumstances constitute the very quarry out of which they are to get paving-stones for the road.
While it is true that the will-power cannot perform miracles, yet that it is almost omnipotent, that it can perform wonders, all history goes to prove. As Shakespeare says:—
"Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings."
"There is nobody," says a Roman Cardinal, "whom Fortune does not visit once in his life: but when she finds he is not ready to receive her, she goes in at the door, and out through the window." Opportunity is coy. The careless, the slow, the unobservant, the lazy fail to see it, or clutch at it when it has gone. The sharp fellows detect it instantly, and catch it when on the wing.
Show me a man who is, according to popular prejudice, a victim of bad luck, and I will show you one who has some unfortunate crooked twist of temperament that invites disaster. He is ill-tempered, or conceited, or trifling; lacks character, enthusiasm, or some other requisite for success.
Disraeli says that man is not the creature of circumstances, but that circumstances are the creatures of men.
What has chance ever done in the world? Has it built any cities? Has it invented any telephones, any telegraphs? Has it built any steamships, established any universities, any asylums, any hospitals? Was there any chance in Caesar's crossing the Rubicon? What had chance to do with Napoleon's career, with Wellington's, or Grant's, or Von Moltke's? Every battle was won before it was begun. What had luck to do with Thermopylae, Trafalgar, Gettysburg? Our successes we ascribe to ourselves; our failures to destiny.
Man is not a helpless atom in this vast creation, with a fixed position, and naught to do but obey his own polarity.
Believe in the power of will, which annihilates the sickly, sentimental doctrine of fatalism,—you must but can't, you ought but it is impossible.
Give me the man
"Who breaks his birth's invidious bar, And grasps the skirts of happy chance, And breasts the blows of circumstance, And grapples with his evil star."
It is only the ignorant and superficial who believe in fate. "The first step into thought lifts this mountain of necessity." "Fate is unpenetrated causes." "They may well fear fate who have any infirmity of habit or aim: but he who rests on what he is has a destiny beyond destiny, and can make mouths at fortune."
The indomitable will, the inflexible purpose, will find a way or make one. There is always room for a man of force.
"He who has a firm will," says Goethe, "moulds the world to himself." "People do not lack strength," says Victor Hugo, "they lack will."
"He who resolves upon any great end, by that very resolution has scaled the great barriers to it, and he who seizes the grand idea of self-cultivation, and solemnly resolves upon it, will find that idea, that resolution, burning like fire within him, and ever putting him upon his own improvement. He will find it removing difficulties, searching out, or making means; giving courage for despondency, and strength for weakness."
Nearly all great men, those who have towered high above their fellows, have been remarkable above all things else for their energy of will. Of Julius Caesar it was said by a contemporary that it was his activity and giant determination, rather than his military skill, that won his victories. The youth who starts out in life determined to make the most of his eyes and let nothing escape him which he can possibly use for his own advancement; who keeps his ears open for every sound that can help him on his way, who keeps his hands open that he may clutch every opportunity, who is ever on the alert for everything which can help him to get on in the world, who seizes every experience in life and grinds it up into paint for his great life's picture, who keeps his heart open that he may catch every noble impulse, and everything which may inspire him,—that youth will be sure to make his life successful; there are no "ifs" or "ands" about it. If he has his health, nothing can keep him from final success.
No tyranny of circumstances can permanently imprison a determined will.
The world always stands aside for the determined man. Will makes a way, even through seeming impossibilities. "It is the half a neck nearer that shows the blood and wins the race; the one march more that wins the campaign: the five minutes more of unyielding courage that wins the fight." Again and again had the irrepressible Carter Harrison been consigned to oblivion by the educated and moral element of Chicago. Nothing could keep him down. He was invincible. A son of Chicago, he had partaken of that nineteenth century miracle, that phoenix-like nature of the city which, though she was burned, caused her to rise from her ashes and become a greater and a grander Chicago, a wonder of the world. Carter Harrison would not down. He entered the Democratic Convention and, with an audacity rarely equaled, in spite of their protest, boldly declared himself their candidate. Every newspaper in Chicago, save the "Times," his own paper, bitterly opposed his election: but notwithstanding all opposition, he was elected by twenty thousand majority. The aristocrats hated him, the moral element feared him, but the poor people believed in him: he pandered to them, flattered them, till they elected him. While we would not by any means hold Carter Harrison up to youth as a model, yet there is a great lesson in his will-power and wonderful tenacity of purpose.
"The general of a large army may be defeated," said Confucius, "but you cannot defeat the determined mind of a peasant."
The poor, deaf pauper, Kitto, who made shoes in the almshouse, and who became the greatest of Biblical scholars, wrote in his journal, on the threshold of manhood: "I am not myself a believer in impossibilities: I think that all the fine stories about natural ability, etc., are mere rigmarole, and that every man may, according to his opportunities and industry, render himself almost anything he wishes to become."
Years ago, a young mechanic took a bath in the river Clyde. While swimming from shore to shore he discerned a beautiful bank, uncultivated, and he then and there resolved to be the owner of it, and to adorn it, and to build upon it the finest mansion in all the borough, and name it in honor of the maiden to whom he was espoused. "Last summer," says a well-known American, "I had the pleasure of dining in that princely mansion, and receiving this fact from the lips of the great shipbuilder of the Clyde." That one purpose was made the ruling passion of his life, and all the energies of his soul were put in requisition for its accomplishment.
Lincoln is probably the most remarkable example on the pages of history, showing the possibilities of our country. From the poverty in which he was born, through the rowdyism of a frontier town, the rudeness of frontier society, the discouragement of early bankruptcy, and the fluctuations of popular politics, he rose to the championship of union and freedom.
Lincoln's will made his way. When his friends nominated him as a candidate for the legislature, his enemies made fun of him. When making his campaign speeches he wore a mixed jean coat so short that he could not sit down on it, flax and tow-linen trousers, straw hat, and pot-metal boots. He had nothing in the world but character and friends.
When his friends suggested law to him, he laughed at the idea of his being a lawyer. He said he hadn't brains enough. He read law barefoot under the trees, his neighbors said, and he sometimes slept on the counter in the store where he worked. He had to borrow money to buy a suit of clothes to make a respectable appearance in the legislature, and walked to take his seat at Vandalia,—one hundred miles. While he was in the legislature, John F. Stuart, an eminent lawyer of Springfield, told him how Clay had even inferior chances to his, had got all of the education he had in a log schoolhouse without windows or doors; and finally induced Lincoln to study law.
See Thurlow Weed, defying poverty and wading through the snow two miles, with rags for shoes, to borrow a book to read before the sap-bush fire. See Locke, living on bread and water in a Dutch garret. See Heyne, sleeping many a night on a barn floor with only a book for his pillow. See Samuel Drew, tightening his apron strings "in lieu of a dinner." See young Lord Eldon, before daylight copying Coke on Littleton over and over again. History is full of such examples. He who will pay the price for victory needs never fear final defeat. Why were the Roman legionaries victorious?
"For Romans, in Rome's quarrels, Spared neither land nor gold, Nor son, nor wife, nor limb nor life, In the brave days of old."
Fowell Buxton, writing to one of his sons, says: "I am sure that a young man may be very much what he pleases."
Dr. Mathews has well said that "there is hardly a word in the whole human vocabulary which is more cruelly abused than the word 'luck.' To all the faults and failures of men, their positive sins and their less culpable shortcomings, it is made to stand a godfather and sponsor. Go talk with the bankrupt man of business, who has swamped his fortune by wild speculation, extravagance of living, or lack of energy, and you will find that he vindicates his wonderful self-love by confounding the steps which he took indiscreetly with those to which he was forced by 'circumstances,' and complacently regarding himself as the victim of ill-luck. Go visit the incarcerated criminal, who has imbued his hands in the blood of his fellow-man, or who is guilty of less heinous crimes, and you will find that, joining the temptations which were easy to avoid with those which were comparatively irresistible, he has hurriedly patched up a treaty with conscience, and stifles its compunctious visitings by persuading himself that, from first to last, he was the victim of circumstances. Go talk with the mediocre in talents and attainments, the weak-spirited man who, from lack of energy and application, has made but little headway in the world, being outstripped in the race of life by those whom he had despised as his inferiors, and you will find that he, too, acknowledges the all-potent power of luck, and soothes his humbled pride by deeming himself the victim of ill-fortune. In short, from the most venial offense to the most flagrant, there is hardly any wrong act or neglect to which this too fatally convenient word is not applied as a palliation."