BLTC Press Titles

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Vanity Fair

William Thackery

Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

The Bhagavad Gita


Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

Ethics of success

by William Makepeace Thayer


There are six millions of young men in our country who ought to possess a strong desire to win in the battle of life. On these, and as large a number of young women, shortly will rest the burden of a nation's life. The destiny of the republic will be in their hands; for which shall it be — weal or woe?

Never was there such an opportunity to compete for the prizes as there is to-day. There never was so much room for the best as now. The field of exploits stretches beyond the "Father of Waters" to the shores of the Pacific; from Alaska on the north down to the Gulf of Mexico on the south; and Providence invites every young man and woman to this vast arena of action extending from sea to sea.

Already the pioneer is found at the utmost verge of this territory, training, mining, farming, surveying; already commerce has appropriated the products of its soil and the minerals of its mountains to swell the nation's wealth; already learning has built her temples where the savage was but recently the only human denizen, and religion reared her altars where the march of enterprise is arrested only by the sea. A fourth of a century hence one hundred millions of people will inhabit this remarkable country, with wealth and commerce, art and science, toil and trade, learning and religion enlarged in like proportion, to make the land an example of work, thrift, and power. The youth of to-day will come into the possession of these immense interests of territory, commerce, manufactures, mechanic arts, political and civil institutions, schools, colleges, churches, and benevolent enterprises.

A golden opportunity surely! Let golden aims and efforts seize the crisis, and the highest prizes will reward the aspirants. The poorest boy may become the richest man; the obscurest girl may preside over the finest home or the noblest Christian institution; the humblest youth may win the brightest fame. Quicker, surer than ever before, aims and efforts that are equal to the grand occasion will surmount obstacles and achieve signal success.

How did Washington, Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, or any other honored American, reach greatness? Each one possessed character, a noble purpose, ability to do, courage to dare, industry, perseverance, and patience, or waiting for results. Whatever other qualities they possessed, these led the van and controlled all.

Hon. Stephen Allen, one of the most eminent and useful citizens of New York, perished on the steamer " Henry Clay," which was burned on the Hudson River. In his pocket was found printed rules by which he had been guided, and among them the following: "Good character is above all things else. Never be idle. If your hands cannot be usefully employed, attend to the cultivation of your mind. Your character cannot be essentially injured except by your own acts. Make no haste to be rich if you would prosper. Never play at any kind of game of chance. Earn money before you spend it. Live within your income. If anyone speaks evil of you, let your life be such that none will believe him,"

Here are substantially the qualities which are found in the career of every successful person; and there is success in even the humblest occupation for him who will pay the price. The irresolute, limp young man or woman, who expects to find success " marked down " some day, is doomed to disappointment. It is a fair price that God has set upon it, and he is not half a man who attempts to get it for less.

These conditions admit of no such alternative as "luck."

A "lucky hit," a "lucky fellow," are common expressions. There is no such thing as becoming learned or great without forethought, plan, or purpose; it must be the result of well-directed and persevering effort.

When the time comes that idleness reaps rich harvests and industry begs bread; that economy goes to the poorhouse and prodigality to the palace; that temperance invites want and drunkenness revels in plenty; that virtue is condemned and imprisoned and vice extolled and crowned,— then, and not until then, can a sensible man embrace the popular delusion about luck. It had nothing to do with the triumphs of the great and good in the past, and it can have nothing to do with the triumphs of this class in the future.

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