« VorigeDoorgaan »
The teachers of the Christian religion cures the opportunity to achieve success, are continually urging upon mankind the and as success depends so much upon havvirtues of self-sacrifice and abnegation, and ing an opportunity, it follows that the great wickedness of self-seeking and cheek” may be a most valuable factor ambition. Avarice, greed, envy and covet- in making a successful career. ousness are the motives frequently ascribed Character and ability are admitted on to those who endeavor to succeed in life. all hands to be very important elements of Is it too much to say that very many men success. Merit deserves success, but does desire to possess wealth and influence in not always ensure it, for the reason that its order that they may be enabled to benefit value may be neutralized by bad luck, or others, rather than to minister to their some of the elements of luck in a negative own selfish desires and pleasures ? quantity. A youth who has sufficient natWhether it be to ensure the comfort of ural talent for painting or sculpture to their families, to do honor to the family achieve great success if educated for the name, or to be in a position to confer ben- profession, may, through poverty, parental efits on those who stand in need of assist- want of discernment, or other circumance, such motives most frequently are the stances over which he has no control, have real incentives to labor and industry on the the misfortune to be placed in some occupart of men who already have achieved pation which precludes him entirely from soine amount of success.
following his favorite pursuit. Choice of It must be borne in mind that in the profession or business by parents is a lot. race of life, unless a man knows how to tery ; they make soldiers of effeminate keep in the running, there are thousands cowards, parsons of rogues, and lawyers pressing him hard, only too ready to thrust of fools. The coward might do remarkhim aside, and if he fall, to trample upon ably well at something else, but bad luck him without compunction or remorse. has ordained it otherwise.
. The family Self-assertion is indispensable ; it is nec- living in the Church must not be lost, and essary in self-defence. A man who is con- the future rector is nominated from his scious of and has confidence in his abili. very cradle. The fine old family business ties, and who neglects to assert himself, of the solicitor must not pass to strangers ; commits a fraud upon those who are de- the son, whatever his mental capacities, pendent upon him. But self-assertion un- must succeed the father. Luck, however, accompanied by genuine merit becomes lu- often operates in the other direction, and dicrous, and is correctly described by the the profession selected by the parent, by vulgar word "cheek.” But even pure pure accident, may be that best suited to downright “cheek” is frequently the the talents and tastes of the youth, and a means of obtaining a large amount of suc- successful career is the result. cess, because it may secure for one a po Luck plays an enormous part in forming sition of importance, the duties of which, careers. For example, in professions like by the exercise of discretion alone, may be the Army, the Law, the Church, or in the satisfactorily discharged by surrounding Civil Service, and large establishments, a one's self with those whose brains, energy, very important element is the removal or discretion and address provide the quali- retention of obstacles to promotion. Morties which are needed to maintain the po- tality among those holding high positions sition and fulfil its obligations. “ Cheek” may give unexpected promotion to some, may, indeed, do more ; it has sometimes while others, similarly situated and whose obtained for a man a reputation for talents prospects may have appeared better, conand attainments which he does not pos- tinue in subordinate positions because no sess, or for having greater special knowl vacancies occur. edge than he does possess. Having Another operation of chance is the age secured a reputation beyond his merits, at which an individual secures his opporhis only care need be to prevent the world tunity, because an opportunity invaluable from being undeceived. This should not to a man under middle age may be absolutebe very often a matter of difficulty ; the ly worthless to an older man. world has always shown a ready disposi But pure chance exerts its most powertion to assess a man's abilities at his own ful influence in the matter of health. valuation, or at a reputed valuation ; and Character and ability of the highest order, as such an over-estiinate frequently pro- combined with all the other elements of op
portunity and assistance, are, alas ! too many others have lived to know how at often rendered nugatory by some form of some period in their careers they paused ill-health, physical or mental.
before two turnings, and by good fortune When speaking of character, dishonesty alone avoided destruction. was referred to as the frequent cause of Luck consists of opportunity and assistruined lives. Here, again, luck is power ance. Opportunity is indispensable to suc. ful in both its positive and negative forms, cess, but assistance is not indispensable, in the shape of temptation. Who can tell and success may be achieved not only withwhat careers have been blighted and out assistance, but even with that form of wrecked, families ruined, and honored luck in a negative quantity. Unearned names disgraced by the pure accident of capital, influential parentage, useful strong temptation presenting itself ? On friends, good personal appearance, good the other hand, who can say what success- report, and the accident of pure chance ful men have been saved by the good for- favorable at important junctures, these tune of having been spared temptation are circumstances which facilitate one's enwhich at certain periods of their lives they deavors to succeed in life. could not have resisted ?
The talismanic properties of money are So with intemperance ; a youth sur. too well known, alike to those who have it rounded by bad examples and temptation and those who have it not, to require even at home is less likely to possess the virtue the briefest comment. Suffice it to say of sobriety than one brought up among that experience seems to furnish constant abstainers. His failure in life may be the examples of the fulfilment of the Scriptural result due to the accident of chance in paradox : “Unto every one that hath shall being tempted to do wrong. Of course, be given, and he shall have abundance ; a man who is a drunkard, even under such but from him that hath not shall be taken circumstances, must be weak in character ; away even that which he hath." but the same weakness of character might, Parentage, even in the last decade of in the absence of constant temptation, have the nineteenth century, is a potent eleproved no bindrance to success.
ment. The influence of a father who ocThe opportunity to achieve success de- cupies an important position in the world pends so much upon health, age, a con- is, of course, of service to the son. But genial profession, a business in which valuable assistance is derived very often competition is not too keen, and an ab- from the mere possession of a name which sence of irresistible temptation to do seri- indicates influential connections, or kinship ous wrong, through folly, ignorance, or with an aristocratic family, even though weakness of will, that, on the whole, op- it be an impoverished peerage or a new portunity is chance. It may be said that creation. It is undoubtedly true that the a clever man can make his own oppor- English people“ dearly love a lord,” and tunity to achieve success ; he can choose it is not untrue that even professing demohis profession, for instance. True, if he crats have at times betrayed indications of has had the good fortune not to have had a kind of sneaking reverence, not only for an unsuitable one chosen for him by others, lords, but also for remote collateral deor by himself. A man commencing the scendants of aristocratic families, and have business of life frequently has more than not unfrequently shown a preference for one good opening placed before him, and leaders chosen from the classes.” Pamuch depends upon a correct decision as rentage still influences employers in the to which is the better, and that decision selection of clerks and others in similar po. would often be made through some cir- sitions, although not to so large an extent cumstance as purely the operation of as formerly. Caste influence is still so chance as the result of tossing up a coin strong that the appointment of the son of into the air. The advantages of one a mechanic to be a clerk would, in many course may be carefully considered and places of business, produce great indignaweighed against the prospects of the other, tion, and most probably the new-comer and yet chance may be the ultimate arbiter. would be virtually boycotted by men perMany who have failed in life have be. haps morally and mentally his inferiors, moaned that failure was due to their hav- and possessed in a less degrec of the ining adopted a fatal course, through no want stincts and manners of gentlemen. This of judgment, when another was open ; same caste influence is not confined to the
classes mentioned. In more important forgotten. Let a man succeed in having positions in life the accident of humble a speech or lecture reported to the length birth may militate very seriously against of half a column in the daily papers, promotion, and the good fortune of hav- neither he nor his friends will hear very ing superior parentage may greatly assist much about his success ; but let him, on one's advancement, so that men of equal the other hand, have his name mentioned ability and good character, and having the in a small paragraph in any paper, if it be luck of opportunity in equal proportions, connected with something discreditable, a would discover that parentage is a form of bill of sale, a police-court summons, or the assisting luck which it is impossible to like, the news will speedily travel into all ignore. The assistance of friends is classi- the ramifications of his acquaintanceship, fied as luck, because it is external to the and will penetrate with a kind of capillary individual who is thereby aided. The attraction, and be absorbed like moisture assistance of friends, or the evil wrought into a piece of sugar. What is true of by the malevolence of an enemy, is good published information, is equally true of or bad luck, but the process of making oral communications, and the latter are friends is usually due to ability and char more likely to give currency to statements acter, and the making of enemies to indis- which are libelous and false. cretion, or some other negative form of Slander may be unpreventable, and is ability, if only a want of knowing how to then a form of bad luck ; possibly of sufficonciliate. It has been remarked that the cient power to arrest a successful career life of a man who never makes an enemy which otherwise was assured. The indimust be very insipid. Possibly it may vidual who suffers may be in total ignoseem so to those who love quarrels. But rance of its operating against him, and be men of long experience could corroborate quite at a loss to ascertain the reason for the assertion that one enemy is able very his supersession, or his failure, where he often to neutralize the whole favorable in- had anticipated success. fluences of a large number of friends ; in Finally, the pure accident of chance has other words, it is unwisdom to gain friends often made success. Speculation based by making enemies, and bad policy to apon unreliable information, unexpected make enemies at all when it is not unavoid. legacies, an unforeseen demand for one's able. There is an energy in enmity and manufactures ; these causes may bring hate which one seldom finds in friendship; wealth which is potential, although not an enemy will take great pains to do harm, omnipotent in making a successful career. but friends, as a rule there are exceptions The least meritorious are frequently the to the rule), are satisfied to give such aid most fortunate. The operations of chance only as can be given without personal loss seldom coincide with justice, as was the or inconvenience to themselves.
case when the lot fell upon Jonah. Good report and unmerited slander are The foregoing arguments are intended the positive and negative forms of another to lead to the conclusion that success in element of assisting luck, the one proceed- life is dependent upon much that is quite ing from friends, the other emanating from beyond the influence or control of the asenemies ; actual enemies, though not pirant. Great success connotes ambition, always wilful enemies. The man who and implies a will to labor in order to atgives currency to a false statement as to tain the desired end. But it is possible to another's character or abilities is an en- imagine cases where transcendent abilities emy, because he is doing harm, even and spotless character may exist unnoticed, though he may not have the slightest de- unknown, and unrewarded. sire to do harm or reason for wishing Our army of to-day contains in the ranks evil. The worst of slander is that it is so generals as able as Wellington, Napoleon, difficult to unearth and refute, unless it be or Von Moltke, but who will never be repeated to one who has the courage known to fame through not having the luck to inform the person of whom it is of opportunity ; and in every sphere of spoken.
life there are many quite willing to hide Human nature, unfortunately, is prone their light under a bushel, and the bushel to listen to, and be interested in evil re- is eagerly supplied for the purpose by port, and to pay little heed to good report. others whose feeble flicker may then beThe evil is remembered, the good soon come visible.-National Magazine.
AN APRIL FOOL
BY ALFRED AUSTIN.
I SALLIED afield when the bud first swells,
And the sun first slanteth hotly,
And a suit of saffron motley.
He was squat on a bank where a self-taught stream,
Fingering flint and pebble,
And the shake of the throstle's treble.
“Now, who may you be !" I asked, “and where
Do you look for your meals and pillow !" “My roof," he said, " is the spacious air,
And my curtain the waving willow.
“ My meal is a shive of the miller's loaf,
And hunger the grace that blesses : 'Tis
banquet enough for a village oaf,
“ A plague on your feasts where the dish goes round,
Though I know where the truffles burrow, And the plover's eggs may, in fours, be found,
In the folds of the pleated furrow.
dame! O, I am an April Fool, So yclept in the hamlet yonder ; For when old and young are at work or school,
I sit on a stile and ponder.
“ I gather the yellow weasel-snout,
As I wander the woods at random,
And at times, for a lark, I land 'em.
“ But I flick them back ere they gape and pant,
After gazing at gill and speckle.
Who can fish without hook or heckle ?
Yes, I am an April Fool : confessed !
And my pate grows not wise for scratching ; But I know where the kingfisher drills his nest,
And the long-tailed tits are hatching."
Then he leaped to his feet, and he shook his bells
And they jangled all together,
For the joy of a nuptial tether.
And, as they chimed, from the covert near
Where ripens the juicy whortle, The rustling whisper reached my ear
Of a loitering maiden's kirtle.
Whereat he laughed : "I'm an April Fool,
But am jocund withal and jolly, So long as I have this realm to rule,
And a lass to love my folly.
“Go and woo, where the deftly fair parade,
The smiles of a fine court lady ; But I will cuddle my rustic maid,
In the pheasant-drives husht and shady.
Her cheek is as creamy as milk in June,
And the winds nor chap nor warp it; We dance, with the blackbird to give the tune,
And with primroses for carpet.
“Her quick-flashing fingers knit the hose
For her little feet neat and nimble ; Her kiss is as sweet as a half-shut rose,
And her laugh like a silver cymbal.