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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”
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
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 circum. ance, 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 lotrace 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 somethivg 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,
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 absolute. be 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 healtla. valuation, or at a reputed valuation ; and Character and ability of the highest order, as such an over-estinate 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, Iuck is power. ance. Opportunity is indispensable to sucful 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 bath 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 tiines 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 indigna. weighed 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 hay and possessed in a less degree 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
LUCK, MERIT, AND SUCCESS.
BY GEORGE R. GALLAHER.
It was once said of the French Army unsatisfied ambition. The extent of an that every man carried a marshal's baton individual's success is to be estimated, not in his knapsack. Encouraging as such a by his present position in the world, but figure of speech may at first sight appear, by the distance between that position and it meant nothing more than that no one the point of starting. A soldier of hum. was precluded from competing for the ble origin who has risen from the ranks to prize, although probably only one in a be a subaltern officer may claim to have hundred thousand of those who entered achieved very great success, whereas an the ranks ever succeeded in attaining to aristocratic cadet who attains to the same that much coveted position. Similarly, rank has very little to boast of. From no natural-born subject of Her Majesty is whatever position in life one commences debarred from aspiring to become Lord his career it will be found on examination Chancellor, Premier, or Primate ; whether that the requisites of success are very simhe will ever get beyond the first rung of ilar, differing principally in degree. the ladder depends much on himself, but Success in life depends upon a combinanot by any means entirely, and the object tion of merit and luck. Luck, pure and of this essay is to make an attempt to an- simple, may confer a very great amount alyze and classify the principal causes of of success of a kind, but a man cannot and obstacles to success.
possibly achieve any considerable success Success, from the worldly point of view, on his merits without a large amount of in which aspect alone it is proposed to re- good fortune of some description coming gard it in this article, may be defined in a to his aid. By luck or good fortune is general way as the attainment to a posi- not meant merely the operations of tion of comfort, influence, wealth, honors chance ; the term is here used as a coland respect. Wealth, indeed, may be in- lective expression for all circumstances cluded in influence, as it is nothing more favorable to a person's success, but not than command over commodities in gen- due to any inherent merit of his own. eral, and to a great extent over ease, The good qualities which constitute power, honors and respect. Happiness merit may be divided into two classes : cannot be included, for while success character and ability. The favorable cirwould probably conduce to happiness, a cumstances which we have called luck may successful man may yet be very unhappy. likewise be classified under two categories : Happiness is, perhaps, correctly defined opportunity and assistance. as a continuing placid state of mind result It will be convenient, before proceeding ing from the absence of disquieting con- further, to again subdivide these four ditions and circumstances rather than from classes, in so far as they include qualities the presence of elating and exhilarating or circumstances which usually contribute causes, which produce the transitory effect to a successful career. called joy. Fortunately for the human Character is divisible into honesty, 80race, a high degree of happiness may ex- briety, self respect, morality, punctuality ist apart altogether from success in life, a and thrift. lack of material prosperity being fre Ability, for the purpose of advancing quently more than counterbalanced by do- one's self, consists of natural talent, educa. mestic felicity, a contented mind, good tion or acquired ability, energy, discretion, health, a clear conscience, and the com- address and self-assertion. fort of religious hope. So little is happi Opportunity includes choice of business ness a result of success that it is sometimes or profession, removal of obstacles to prothe concomitant of a share of this world's motion, health, age, and absence of goods so meagre as to be almost bordering temptation. on poverty, and conjoined with a life of Assistance comprises unearned capital, labor and obscurity. Indeed, a quiet life parentage, friends, marriage, appearance, has certainly the advantage of being free good report, and the accident of chance. from the strife and jealousy of a life of The whole of the above qualities and
surroundings being favorable to and con on to positions of success and emolument centrated in one person would make con- without being dependent upon men. siderable success a certainty. But it will Happily the modern man is evincing a disusually be found that one or more of these position to be less selfish and more just and various constituents of luck and merit are considerate in this respect than his forerepresented by a negative quantity. Upon fathers. However, as society is at present the extent of the deficiencies and the num- organized, when we speak of success in ber of adverse elements depends failure or life we are principally concerned with the success. A small minus quantity of hon- advancement of men, leaving to women, esty may annihilate every advantage of with few exceptions, sometimes very brillability, opportunity and assistance, iant exceptions, only the reflected glory although a superabundance of discretion of a successful husband, father, or son. and natural talent might reduce its dam. Nevertheless, many women are compelled aging effects to a minimum.
to take their places in the great battle of It is obvious, from an examination of life precisely on the same terms as men, the qualities and circumstances already and to such the following rules and remarks enumerated, that women are more depen- are equally applicable. dent upon luck and less on ability than men As previously stated, all the qualities are. The prevalent form of assisting luck and circumstances favorable to a successful which may give a woman great worldly career may be classed under one or other prosperity and honors at one bound, or of these four categories : character, abilmay, when the luck is a negative quantity, ity, opportunity, and assistance. make her life a dismal failure, is marriage. In commercial life, in the professions, It may here be noticed that our system of and in most descriptions of service, the society allows women of ambition to soar great sesame is character. Woe unto the to much higher positions in the social man who has lost his character, or who scale than men are permitted to attain to. has none to lose ! To him the door of A man of middle-class birth, however im- success is closed, bolted and barred. maculate his character and transcendent The chief components of character his abilities, very seldom indeed becomes which most completely ruin a man's a peer; and however high the position he chances of success are dishonesty and may reach in the political world, the basin drunkenness. Of the fearful curse of inwhich surrounds the fountain of honor, temperance it is quite unnecessary to even though he attain to the premiership, speak ; its victims are legion, its havoc he must regard an earldom as finality in terrible, its warnings everywhere. Its acthat direction ; whereas, on the other tion is usually slow but certain. A swifter hand, a middle-class woman, with very lit- enemy is dishonesty, it may kill at a blow ; tle merit, may possibly become a duchess. but frequently it, too, grows as a habit Personal beauty may be, perhaps, the upon its victim till at last his doom is cause of such a rapid rise to one of the sealed. Dishonesty is of two kinds : dishighest places of influence, wealth, and honesty that brings one within the law, honors ; but personal beauty is an acci. and dishonesty which does not.
A man dent of birth, and is the purest chance. may be thoroughly dishonest without actSo, it may be said, is natural talent ; but ually being a thief. The consequences of there is this difference, that while natural being a thief are as well known as the contalent is useless, or nearly so, unless cul- sequences of being a drunkard. But the tivated to some extent, natural beauty other form of dishonesty must also be would probably deteriorate by being sub- avoided by those who wish to climb the jected to any process of cultivation. ladder of success. Veiled dishonesty in
To the vast majority of women the prin- business, which, for the sake of euphony, cipal road to success in life is only to be is usually called “sharp practice, may found in a satisfactory matrimonial alli- secure gain at the time, but tells to one's ance. This dependence upon luck rather disadvantage in the long run. Duplicity, than merit is the result of the restrictions untruthfulness, and a want of straightwhich the custom of society formerly rig- forwardness are forms of dishonesty which orously enforced in closing against women often, not always, retard the progress of almost every channel through which, by otherwise gifted men. means of their abilities, they might pass If success in life meant nothing more
can ; but if
than the acquisition of wealth, it would respect too far is certainly to err in the only be necessary to follow the rule by right direction. which some people guide their conduct in Another item of character which plays life, viz. “Get money, honestly if you an important part in moulding the future
you can't get it honestly, get is one's ideas regarding“ standard of comWant of honesty and morality may fort' and expenditure. If a man makes in some isolated instances be no bar to ac up his mind to practise thrift, and if he quiring mere wealth, but generally would considers that word a synonym for meanbe, more particularly in the case of employ- ness, stinginess, and shabbiness, in order
to save money, he has very little knowlThe same may be said of punctuality. edge of the world.
edge of the world. “Take care of the Punctuality is a habit which indicates a pence, and the pounds will take care of great deal more than the simple facts of themselves” is advice ill-suited to the rebeing at business in good time, keeping an quirements of modern life. Judicious ex. appointment punctually, or making pay- penditure has probably made more fortunes ments promptly ; it is an indication of than saving and economy have ; and even character, and as such should be carefully among those whose incoines are not large cultivated. It is, perhaps, quite unneces- and whose resources are limited (clerks in sary to lay stress upon the need of main banks and similar institutions, men in bustaining a character for honesty, sobriety, iness, or budding professional men) the morality, and punctuality by those who are expenditure of a disproportionately large ambitious to rise to important positions in part of income on appearances, not per . life.
sonal appearance only, is freqpently one of There are, however, elements of charac- the very best investments that could be ter more subtle, less easy to cultivate, and made with the money. Extravagance is yet which have tremendous influence in not judicious expenditure, and usually infixing the stratum of society to which a dicates a weak point in one's character. man is ultimately to rise or fall. Two of A man who has no other merit will frethese are self-respect and thrift. With quently rely upon reckless expenditure to regard to self-respect it cannot be too obtain for him the character for liberality strongly impressed that the chief means of and the good opinion of his fellows. gaining the respect of others is to respect The foregoing brief summary is perhaps one's self. But there is danger in both di sufficient to show to how large an extent rections. Want of self-respect will soon success is dependent upon character. But bring one down, no matter how favorable a good character is hardly an active cause other circumstances may be ; but in guard of success, although it is a condition necing against it, and it must be guarded essary to success. Everybody is expected against at all hazards, it is possible to go to be honest, sober, punctual, moral, and to the other extreme, and the production to possess self-respect; and, strictly speakwill be conceit and snobbery. There is, ing, there is no comparative or superlative however, plenty of distance between Scylla of these qualities in their positive form. and Charybdis ; the one must be avoided, If one man is less honest than another, the and it is well not to go too near the other. former must be at least slightly dishonest. The moment self-respect becomes a nega If a man is not very honest, he is not an tive quality there is great risk to the honest man at all ; and if not very sober, career, while as a positive quantity it may his sobriety becomes a negative quantity develop and increase considerably before at once. But if honesty and sobriety are it becomes injurious to success.
By those not active causes of success, on the other whose standard of self-respect is low any hand dishonesty, intemperance, and want higher standard than their own will be im of self-respect are very active causes of mediately dubbed conceit, and therefore failure, and may exist in every state and judgment is required to fix the lines be- stage from positive to superlative. tween want of self-respect and self-esteem It would be impossible within the limits carried to excess, This zone, for it can of a magazine article to dwell at length not be described as a line, must not be upon each item of the component parts of fixed for us by others, but by ourselves, the four classes into which the elements of and the taunt of conceit must not be too success have been divided ; indeed, to do readily taken to heart, for to carry self so would probably result in a réchauffé of