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What doth the poor man's son inherit? Stout muscles, and a sinewy heart,

A hardy frame, a hardier spirit!

King of two hands he does his part

In every useful toil and art:

A heritage it seems to me,

A king might wish to hold in fee.


Has not God given every man a capital to start with? Are we not born

rich? He is rich who has good health, a sound body, good muscles; he is

rich who has a good head, a good disposition, a good heart; he is rich

who has two good hands, with five chances on each. Equipped? Every man

is equipped as only God could equip him. What a fortune he possesses in

the marvellous mechanism of his body and mind. It is individual effort

that has achieved everything worth achieving.


A big Australian, six feet four, James Tyson, died not long since, with

a property of $25,000,000, who began life as a farm hand. Tyson cared

little for money. He used to say of it:

"I shall just leave it behind me when I go. I shall have done with it

then, and it will not concern me afterwards. But," he would add, with a

characteristic semi-exultant snap of the fingers, "the money is nothing.

It was the little game that was the fun."

Being asked, "What was the little game?" he replied with an energy of concentration peculiar to him: "_Fighting the desert_. That has been my

work. I have been fighting the desert all my life, and I have won. I

have put water where was no water, and beef where was no beef. I have

put fences where there were no fences, and roads where there were no

roads. Nothing can undo what I have done, and millions will be happier

for it after I am long dead and forgotten."

Has not self-help accomplished about all the great things of the world?

How many young men falter, faint, and dally with their purpose because

they have no capital to start with, and wait and wait for some good luck

to give them a lift. But success is the child of drudgery and

perseverance. It cannot be coaxed or bribed; pay the price, and it is

yours. A constant struggle, a ceaseless battle to bring success from

inhospitable surroundings, is the price of all great achievements.


Benjamin Franklin had this tenacity of purpose in a wonderful degree.

When he started in the printing business in Philadelphia, he carried his

material through the streets on a wheelbarrow. He hired one room for his

office, work-room, and sleeping-room. He found a formidable rival in the

city and invited him to his room. Pointing to a piece of bread from

which he had just eaten his dinner, he said:

"Unless you can live cheaper than I can, you cannot starve me out."

It was so that he proved the wisdom of Edmund Burke's saying, that "He

that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill:

our antagonist is our helper."

The poor and friendless lad, George Peabody, weary, footsore, and

hungry, called at a tavern in Concord, N.H., and asked to be allowed to

saw wood for lodging and breakfast. Yet he put in work for everything he

ever received, and out-matched the poverty of early days.

Gideon Lee could not even get shoes to wear in winter, when a boy, but

he went to work barefoot in the snow. He made a bargain with himself to

work sixteen hours a day. He fulfilled it to the letter, and when from

interruption he lost time, he robbed himself of sleep to make it up. He

became a wealthy merchant of New York, mayor of the city, and a member

of Congress.


The business affairs of a gentleman named Rouss were once in a

complicated condition, owing to his conflicting interests in various

states, and he was thrown into prison. While confined he wrote on the

walls of his cell:

"I am forty years of age this day. When I am fifty, I shall be worth half a million; and by the time I am sixty, I shall be worth a million


He lived to accumulate more than three million dollars.

"The ruin which overtakes so many merchants," says Whipple, "is due not so much to their lack of business talent as to their lack of business


Cyrus W. Field had retired from business with a large fortune when he

became possessed with the idea that by means of a cable laid upon the

bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, telegraphic communication could be

established between Europe and America. He plunged into the undertaking

with all the force of his being. It was an incredibly hard contest: the

forests of Newfoundland, the lobby in Congress, the unskilled handling

of brakes on his Agamemnon cable, a second and a third breaking of the

cable at sea, the cessation of the current in a well-laid cable, the

snapping of a superior cable on the Great Eastern--all these availed not

to foil the iron will of Field, whose final triumph was that of mental

energy in the application of science.


To Horace Greeley, the founder of the "Tribune," I need not allude; his story is or ought to be in every school-book.

James Brooks, once the editor and proprietor of the "Daily Express," and

later an eminent congressman, began life as a clerk in a store in Maine,

and when twenty-one received for his pay a hogshead of New England rum.

He was so eager to go to college that he started for Waterville with his

trunk on his back, and when he was graduated he was so poor and plucky

that he carried his trunk on his back to the station as he went home.

When James Gordon Bennett was forty years old he collected all his property, three hundred dollars, and in a cellar with a board upon two

barrels for a desk, himself his own typesetter, office boy, publisher, newsboy, clerk, editor, proofreader, and printer's devil, he started the

"New York Herald." He did this, after many attempts and defeats in trying to follow the routine, instead of doing his own way. Never was

any man's early career a better illustration of Wendell Phillips' dictum: "What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first

steps to something better."

Thurlow Weed, who was a journalist for fifty-seven years, strong,

sensible, genial, tactful, and of magnificent physique, who did so much

to shape public policy in the Empire State, tells a most romantic story

of his boyhood:--

"I cannot ascertain how much schooling I got at Catskill, probably less

than a year, certainly not a year and a half, and this was when I was

not more than five or six years old. I felt a necessity, at an early

age, of trying to do something for my own support.

"My first employment was in sugar-making, an occupation to which I

became much attached. I now look with great pleasure upon the days and

nights passed in the sap-bush. The want of shoes (which, as the snow was

deep, was no small privation) was the only drawback upon my happiness. I

used, however, to tie pieces of an old rag carpet around my feet, and

got along pretty well, chopping wood and gathering up sap. But when the

spring advanced, and bare ground appeared in spots, I threw off the old

carpet encumbrance and did my work barefoot.

"There is much leisure time for boys who are making maple sugar. I

devoted this time to reading, when I could obtain books; but the farmers

of that period had few or no books, save their Bibles. I borrowed books

whenever and wherever I could.

"I heard that a neighbor, three miles off, had borrowed from a still

more distant neighbor a book of great interest. I started off, barefoot,

in the snow, to obtain the treasure. There were spots of bare ground,

upon which I would stop to warm my feet. And there were also, along the

road, occasional lengths of log-fence from which the snow had melted,

and upon which it was a luxury to walk. The book was at home, and the

good people consented, upon my promise that it should be neither torn

nor soiled, to lend it to me. In returning with the prize, I was too

happy to think of the snow or my naked feet.

"Candles were then among the luxuries, not the necessaries, of life. If boys, instead of going to bed after dark, wanted to read, they supplied

themselves with pine knots, by the light of which, in a horizontal

position, they pursued their studies. In this manner, with my body in

the sugar-house, and my head out of doors, where the fat pine was

blazing, I read with intense interest the book I had borrowed, a

'History of the French Revolution.'"

Weed's next earning was in an iron foundry at Onondaga:

"My business was, after a casting, to temper and prepare the molding

'dogs,' myself. This was night and day work. We ate salt pork and rye

and Indian bread, three times a day, and slept on straw in bunks. I

liked the excitement of a furnace life."

When he went to the "Albany Argus" to learn the printing business he worked from five in the morning till nine at night.


The more difficulties one has to encounter, within and without, the more significant and the higher in inspiration his life will be.--_Horace


The story of Weed and of Greeley is not an uncommon one in America. Some

of the most eminent men on the globe have struggled with poverty in

early life and triumphed over it.

The astronomer Kepler, whose name can never die, was kept in constant

anxieties; and he told fortunes by astrology for a livelihood, saying

that astrology, as the daughter of astronomy, ought to keep her mother.

All sorts of service he had to accept; he made almanacs and worked for

any one who would pay him.

Linnaeus was so poor when getting his education that he had to mend his shoes with folded paper, and often had to beg his meals of his friends.

During the ten years in which he made his greatest discoveries, Isaac

Newton could hardly pay two shillings a week to the Royal Society of

which he was a member. Some of his friends wanted to get him excused

from this payment, but he would not allow them to act.

Humphry Davy had but a slender chance to acquire great scientific

knowledge, yet he had true mettle in him, and he made even old pans,

kettles, and bottles contribute to his success, as he experimented and

studied in the attic of the apothecary store where he worked.

George Stephenson was one of eight children whose parents were so poor

that all lived in a single room. George had to watch cows for a

neighbor, but he managed to get time to make engines of clay, with

hemlock sticks for pipes. At seventeen he had charge of an engine, with

his father for fireman. He could neither read nor write, but the engine

was his teacher, and he a faithful student. While the other hands were

playing games or loafing in liquor shops during the holidays, George was

taking his machine to pieces, cleaning it, studying it, and making

experiments in engines. When he had become famous as a great inventor of

improvements in engines, those who had loafed and played called him


It was by steadfastly keeping at it, by indomitable will power, that these men won their positions in life.

"We rise by the things that are under our feet;

By what we have mastered of good or gain."


Among the companions of Sir Joshua Reynolds, while he was studying his

art at Rome, was a fellow-pupil of the name of Astley. They made an

excursion, with some others, on a sultry day, and all except Astley took

off their coats. After several taunts he was persuaded to do the same, and displayed on the back of his waistcoat a foaming waterfall. Distress had compelled him to patch his clothes with one of his own landscapes.

James Sharpies, the celebrated blacksmith artist of England, was very

poor, but he often rose at three o'clock to copy books he could not buy.

He would walk eighteen miles to Manchester and back after a hard day's

work, to buy a shilling's worth of artist's materials. He would ask for the heaviest work in the blacksmith shop, because it took a longer time to heat at the forge, and he could thus have many spare minutes to study the precious book, which he propped up against the chimney. He was a

great miser of spare moments, and used every one as though he might never see another. He devoted his leisure hours for five years to that

wonderful production, "The Forge," copies of which are to be seen in

many a home. It was by one unwavering aim, carried out by an iron will,

that he wrought out his life triumph.

"That boy will beat me one day," said an old painter as he watched a little fellow named Michael Angelo making drawings of pot and brushes,

easel and stool, and other articles in the studio. The barefoot boy did

persevere until he had overcome every difficulty and become the greatest

master of art the world has known. Although Michael Angelo made himself

immortal in three different occupations,--and his fame might well rest

upon his dome of St. Peter as an architect, upon his "Moses" as a

sculptor, or upon his "Last Judgment" as a painter,--yet we find by his

correspondence, now in the British Museum, that when he was at work on

his colossal bronze statue of Pope Julius II., he was so poor that he

could not have his younger brother come to visit him at Bologna, because

he had but one bed in which he and three of his assistants slept

together. Yet

"The star of an unconquered will

Arose in his breast,

Serene, and resolute and still,

And calm and self-possessed."


The struggles and triumphs of those who are bound to win is a

never-ending tale. Nor will the procession of enthusiastic workers cease

so long as the globe is turning on its axle.

Say what we will of genius, specialized in a hundred callings, yet the fact remains that no amount of genius has ever availed upon the earth unless enforced by will power to overcome the obstacles that hedge about every one who would rise above the circumstances in which he was born, or become greater than his calling. Was not Virgil the son of a porter, Horace of a shopkeeper, Demosthenes of a cutler, Milton of a money scrivener, Shakespeare of a wool stapler, and Cromwell of a brewer?

[Illustration: THURLOW WEED,

American Journalist and Politician.

_b. Cairo, N.Y., 1797; d. New York, 1882_.]

Ben Jonson, when following his trade of a mason, worked on Lincoln's Inn

in London with trowel in hand and a book in his pocket. Joseph Hunter

was a carpenter in youth, Robert Burns a plowman, Keats a druggist,

Thomas Carlyle and Hugh Miller masons. Dante and Descartes were

soldiers. Cardinal Wolsey, Defoe, and Kirke White were butchers' sons.

Faraday was the son of a hostler, and his teacher, Humphry Davy, was an

apprentice to an apothecary. Kepler was a waiter boy in a German hotel,

Bunyan a tinker, Copernicus the son of a Polish baker. They rose by

being greater than their callings, as Arkwright rose above mere

barbering, Bunyan above tinkering, Wilson above shoemaking, Lincoln

above rail-splitting, and Grant above tanning. By being first-class

barbers, tinkers, shoemakers, rail-splitters, tanners, they acquired the

power which enabled them to become great inventors, authors, statesmen,

generals. John Kay, the inventor of the fly-shuttle, James Hargreaves, who introduced the spinning-jenny, and Samuel Compton, who originated mule-spinning, were all artisans, uneducated and poor, but were endowed

with natural faculties which enabled them to make a more enduring

impression upon the world than anything that could have been done by the

mere power of scholarship or wealth.

It cannot be said of any of these great names that their individual courses in life would have been what they were, had there been lacking a superb will power resistless as the tide to bear them upward and onward.

Let Fortune empty her whole quiver on me,

I have a soul that, like an ample shield,

Can take in all, and verge enough for more;

Fate was not mine, nor am I Fate's:

Souls know no conquerors.



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