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Brutes find out where their talents lie; A bear will not attempt to fly, A foundered horse will oft debate Before he tries a five-barred gate. A dog by instinct turns aside Who sees the ditch too deep and wide. But man we find the only creature Who, led by folly, combats nature; Who, when she loudly cries -forbear! With obstinacy fixes there; And where his genius least inclines, Absurdly bends his whole designs.


The crowning fortune of a man is to be born to some pursuit which finds him in employment and happiness, whether it

be to make baskets, or broadswords, or canals, or statues, or songs. - EMERSON.

And he who waits to have his task marked out, Shall die and leave his errand unfulfilled. LOWELL.

Whatever you are by nature, keep to it; never desert your line of talent. Be what nature intended you for, and you will

succeed; be anything else, and you will be ten thousand times worse than nothing. - SYDNEY SMITH.

In the measure in which thou seekest to do thy duty shalt thou know what is in thee. But what is thy duty? The demand

of the hour. - GOETHE.

Do noble things, not dream them, all day long,

And so make life, death, and the vast forever, one grand, sweet song.


"EVERY man has got a Fort," said Artemus Ward. “It's some men's fort to do one thing, and some other men's fort to do another, while there is numeris’ shiftless critters goin' round loose whose fort is not to do nothin.” "Twice I've endevered to do things which they wasn’t my Fort. The first time was when I undertook to lick a owdashus cuss who cut a hole in my tent and krawld threw. Sez I, 'My jentle sir, go out, or I shall fall onto you putty bevy.' Sez he, 'Wade in, Old Wax Figgers,' whereupon I went for him, but he cawt me powerful on the hed and knockt me threw the tent into a cow pasture. He pursood the attack and flung me into a mud puddle. As I aroze and rung out my drencht garmints, I concluded fitin’ was n't my fort. I'le now rize the curtain upon seen 2nd. It is rarely seldum that I seek consolation in the Flowin Bole. But in a certain town in Injianny in the Faul of 18-, my orgin grinder got sick with the fever and died. I never felt so ashamed in my life, and I thought I'd hist in a few swallers of suthin strengthnin. Konsequents was, I histed so much I did in't zackly know whereabouts I was. I turned my livin wild beasts of Pray loose into the streets, and split all my wax-works. I then Bet I Good play hoss. So I hitched myself to a kanawl bote, there bein two other bosses behind and anuther ahead of me. But the bosses bein onused to such a arrangemunt, begun to kick and squeal and rair up. Konsequents was. I was kicked vilently in the stummuck and back, and presently, I found myself in the kanawl with the other bosses, kikin and yellin like a tribe of Cusscaroorus sav, ajis. I was rescood, and as I was bein carried to the tavern on a hemlock bored I sed in a feeble voice, ' Boys, playin hoss is n't my Fort'

" Moral : Never don't do nothin which is n't your Fort, for if you do you'll find yourself splashin round in the kanawl, figgeratively speakin."

The following advertisement, which appeared day after day in a Western paper, did not bring a single reply: -

"Wanted. - Situation by a Practical Printer, who is competent to take charge of any department in a printing and publishing house. Would accept a professorship in any of the academies. Has no objection to teach ornamental painting and penmanship, geometry,
trigonometry, and many other sciences. Has had some experience as a lay preacher. Would have no objection to form a small class of young ladies and gentlemen to instruct them in the higher branches. To a dentist or chiropodist he would be invaluable; or he would cheerfully accept a position as bass or tenor singer in a choir."

At length there appeared this addition to the notice :

" P.S. Will accept an offer to saw and split wood at less than the usual rates." This secured a situation at once, and the advertisement was seen no more.

Your talent is your call. Your legitimate destiny speaks in your character. If you have found your place, your occupation has the consent of every faculty of your being.

If possible, choose that occupation which focuses the largest amount of your experience and tastes. You will then not only have a congenial vocation, but will utilize largely your skill and business knowledge, which is your true capital.

Follow your bent. You cannot long fight successfully against your aspirations. Parents, friends, or misfortune may stifle and suppress the longings of the heart, by compelling you to perform unwelcome tasks; but, like a volcano, the inner fire will burst the crusts which confine it and pour forth its pent-up genius in eloquence, in song, in art, or in some favorite industry. Beware of "a talent which you cannot hope to practice in perfection." Nature hates all botched and half-finished work, and will pronounce her curse upon it.

“Better be the Napoleon of bootblacks, or the Alexander of chimney-sweeps,” let us say with Matthew Arnold, “than a shallow-brained attorney who, like necessity, knows no law.”

"The ignorance of men who know not for what time and to what thing they be fit," said Roger Ascham, “causeth some to wish themselves rich for whom it were better a great deal to be poor; some to desire to be in the court, which be born and be fitter rather for the cart; some to be masters and rule others, who never yet began to rule themselves; some to teach, which rather should learn ; some to be priests, which were fitter to be clerks."

Half the world seems to have found uncongenial occupation, as if the human race had been shaken up together and exchanged places in the operation. A servant girl is trying to teach, and a natural teacher is tending store. Good farmers are murdering the law, while Choates and Websters are running down farms, each tortured by the consciousness of unfulfilled destiny. Boys are pining in factories who should be wrestling with Greek and Latin, and hundreds are chafing beneath unnatural loads in college who should be on the farm or before the mast.

Artists are spreading "daubs " on canvas who should be whitewashing board fences. Behind counters stand clerks who hate the yard-stick, and neglect their work to dream of other occupations. A good shoemaker writes a few verses for the village paper, his friends call him a poet, and the last, with which he is familiar, is abandoned for the pen which he uses awkwardly. Other shoemakers are cobbling in Congress, while statesmen are pounding shoe lasts. Laymen are murdering sermons while Beechers and Whitefields are failing as merchants, and people are wondering what can be the cause of empty pews. A boy who is always making something with tools is railroaded through the university and started on the road to inferiority in one of the three honorable professions. Real surgeons are handling the meatsaw and-cleaver, while butchers are amputating human limbs.

How fortunate that:

"There's a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them how we will."

“He that hath a trade," says Franklin, “hath an estate ; and he that hath a calling hath a place of profit and honor. A ploughman on his legs is higher than a gentleman on his knees."

A man's business does more to make him than anything else. It hardens his muscles, strengthens his body, quickens his blood, sharpens his mind, correct, his judgment, wakes up his inventive genius, puts his wits to work, starts him on the race of life, arouses his ambition, makes him feel that he is a man and must fill a man's shoes, do a man's work, bear a man's part in life, and show himself a man in that part. No man feels himself a man who is not doing a man's business. A man without employment is not a man. He does not prove by his works that he is a man. A hundred and fifty pounds of bone and muscle do not make a man. A good cranium full of brains is not a man. The bone and muscle and brain must know how to do a man's work, think a man's thoughts, mark out a man's path, and bear a man's weight of character and duty before they constitute a man.

"No man is fit to win," says Bulwer, “who has not sat down alone to think; and who has not come forth with purpose in his eye, with white cheeks, set lips, and clenched palms, able to say: ' I am resolved what to do.' "

Go-at-it-iveness is the first requisite for success. Stick-to-it-iveness is the second. Under ordinary circumstances, and with practical common sense to guide him, one who has these requisites will not fail.

Don't wait for a higher position or a larger salary. Enlarge the position you already occupy; put originality of method into it. Fill it as it never was filled before. Be more prompt, more energetic, more thorough, more polite than your predecessor or fellow workmen. Study your business, devise new modes of operation, be able to give your employer points. The art lies not in giving satisfaction merely, not in simply filling your place, put in doing better than was expected, in surprising your employer; and the reward will be a better place and a larger salary. When out of work, take the first respectable job that offers, heeding not the disproportion between your faculties and your task. If you put your manhood into your labor, you will soon be given something better to do.

One of the saddest sights is that of a young man who, without ever having asked himself if he possessed sufficient strength of nerve to endure the strain of an intellectual career, has been graduated heavily in debt, and has sacrificed what little health and constitution he had for a college course. No one told him that, even if he should obtain his degree, he would be totally unfitted to excel in intellectual pursuits, and would be doomed to perpetual mediocrity. He thought that if he could only get through college, even if he were broken in health and in purse, he could get on somehow. He is no longer content with his former lot, his ambition is poisoned by visions of impossible goals, his vitality exhausted, his energies scattered, and so the youth who might have become a useful farmer or a skillful mechanic, staggers under his load of pecuniary obligation, ill health, and unsatisfied ambition, until death relieves him of his misery.

This question of a right aim in life has become exceedingly perplexing in our complicated age. It is not a difficult problem to solve when one is the son of a Zulu or the daughter of a Bedouin. The condition of the savage hardly admits of but one choice; but as one rises higher in the scale of civilization and creeps nearer to the great centres of activity, the difficulty of a correct decision increases with its importance. In proportion as one is hard pressed in competition is it of the sternest necessity for him to choose the right aim, so as to be able to throw the whole of his energy and enthusiasm into the struggle for success. The
dissipation of strength or hope is fatal to prosperity even in the most attractive field.

Gladstone says there is a limit to the work that can be got out of a human body, or a human brain, and he is a wise man who wastes no energy on pursuits for which he is not fitted.

"Blessed is he who has found his work," says Carlyle. "Let him ask no other blessedness. He has a work - a life purpose; he has found it, and will follow it"

In choosing an occupation do not ask yourself how you can make the most money or gain the most notoriety, but choose that work which will call out all your powers and develop your manhood into the greatest strength and symmetry. Not money, not notoriety, not fame even, but power is what you want. Manhood is greater than wealth, grander than fame. Character is greater than any career. Each faculty must be educated, and any deficiency in its training will appear in whatever you do. The hand must be educated to be graceful, steady, and strong. The eye must be educated to be alert, discriminating, and microscopic. The heart must be educated to be tender, sympathetic, and true. The memory must be drilled for years in accuracy, retention, and comprehensiveness. The world does not demand that you be a lawyer, minister, doctor, farmer, scientist, or merchant. It does not dictate what you shall do, but it does require that you be a master in whatever you undertake. If you are a master in your line, the world will applaud you and all doors will fly open to you. But the world condemns all botches, abortions, and failures.

"Whoever is well educated to discharge the duty of a man," says Rousseau, "cannot be badly prepared to fill any of those offices that have relation to him. It matters little to me whether my pupils 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."

In 1744, at the treaty of the government of Virginia with the Six Nations at Lancaster, Pa., the Indians were invited to send six youths to Williamsburg College to be educated free.

It is a rule of Indian courtesy not to answer important questions on the day they are asked. After deliberating they declined the invitation. They said that they had sent several young men to the colleges of the northern provinces; and, when they returned, they were poor runners, ignorant of how to get a living in the woods, could not bear cold or hunger, could not build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy, and spoke their own language badly. They were not fit for hunters, warriors, or councilors; they were totally good for nothing. "If the gentlemen of Virginia will send us a dozen of their sons, we will take great care of their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them."

In the great race of life common sense has the right of way. Wealth, a diploma, a pedigree, talent, genius, without tact and common sense, cut but a small figure. The incapables and the impracticables, though loaded with diplomas and degrees, are left behind. Not what do, you know, or who are you, but what can you do, is the interrogation of the century.

George Herbert has well said: " What we are is much more to us than what we do." An aim that carries in it the least element of doubt as to its justice or honor or right should be abandoned at once. The art of dishing up the wrong so as to make it look and taste like the right, has never been more extensively cultivated than in our day. It is a curious fact that reason will, on pressure, overcome a man's instinct of right. An eminent scientist has said that a man could soon reason himself out of the instinct of decency if be would only take pains and work hard enough. So when a doubtful but attractive future is placed before one, there is a great temptation to juggle with the wrong until it seems the right, just as Hermann or Keller apparently changes a rabbit into an omelet. Yet any aim that is immoral carries in itself the germ of certain failure, in the real sense of the word-failure that is physical and spiritual.

There is no doubt that every person has a special adaptation for his own peculiar part in life. A very few - the geniuses, we call them - have this marked in an unusual degree, and very early in life. .

Madame de Stael was engrossed in political philosophy at an age when other girls are dressing dolls. Mozart, when but four years old, played the clavichord, and composed minuets and other pieces still extant. The little Chalmers would preach often from a stool in the nursery, with solemn air and earnest gestures. Goethe wrote tragedies at twelve, and Grotius published an able philosophical work before he was fifteen. Pope "lisped in numbers." Chatterton wrote good poems at eleven, and Cowley published a volume of poetry in his sixteenth year. Thomas Lawrence and Benjamin West drew likenesses almost as soon as they could walk. Liszt played in public at twelve. Canova made models in clay while a mere child. Bacon exposed the defects of Aristotle's philosophy when but sixteen. Napoleon was at the head of armies when throwing snowballs at Brienne. Kean played Shylock the, first night almost as well as he ever did.

All these showed their bent while young, and followed it in active life. But precocity is not common, and, except in rare cases, we must discover the bias in our natures, and not wait for the proclivity to make itself manifest. When found, it is worth more to us than a vein of gold.

"It is a vain thought," said George Eliot, "to flee from the work that God appoints us, for the sake of finding a greater blessing to our own souls, as if we could choose for ourselves where we shall find the fullness of the Divine Presence, instead of seeking it where alone it can be found, - in loving obedience."

"I do not forbid you to preach," said a Bishop to a young clergyman, "but nature does."

"The age has no aversion to preaching as such," said Phillips Brooks, "it may not listen to your preaching." But though it may not listen to your preaching, it will wear your boots, or buy your flour, or see stars through your telescope. It has a use for every person, and it is his business to find out what that use is.

Lowell said: " It is the vain endeavor to make ourselves what we are not, that has strewn history with so many broken purposes, and lives left in the rough."

You have not found your place until all your faculties are roused, and your whole nature consents and approves of the work you are doing; not until you are so enthusiastic in it that you take it to bed with you. You may be forced to drudge at uncongenial toil for a time, but emancipate yourself as soon as possible. Carey, the “ Consecrated Cobbler," before he went as a missionary said: " My business is to preach the gospel. I cobble shoes to pay expenses."

If your vocation be a humble one, elevate it with more manhood than others put into it. Put into it brains and heart and energy and economy. Broaden it by originality of methods. Extend it by enterprise and industry. Study it as you would a profession. Learn everything that is to be known about it. Concentrate your faculties upon it, for the greatest achievements are reserved for the man of single aim, in whom no



rival powers divide the empire of the soul Better adorn your own than seek another's place.

Go to the bottom of your business if you would climb to the top. Nothing is small which concerns your business. Master every detail. This was the secret of A.T. Stewart's and of John Jacob Astor's great success. They knew everything about their business.

As to the responsibility for our environments which. has troubled great minds in all ages, and as to what we shall do, a noted clergyman says: "You are not responsible for your parentage, or grand-parentage. You are not responsible for any of the cranks that may have lived in your ancestral line, and who a hundred years before you were born may have lived a style of life that more or less affects you today. You are not responsible for the fact that your temperament is sanguine, or melancholic, or bilious, or lymphatic, or nervous. Neither are you responsible for the place of your nativity, whether among the granite hills of New England, or the cotton plantations of Louisiana, or on the banks of the Clyde, or the Dnieper, or the Shannon, or the Seine. Neither are you responsible for the religion taught in your father's house, or for his religion. Do not bother yourself about what you cannot help, or about circumstances that you did not decree. Take things as they are and decide the question so that you shall be able safely to say: ' To this end was I born.' How will you decide it ? By direct application to the only Being in the universe who is competent to tell you - the Lord Almighty."

As love is the only excuse for marriage, and the only thing which will carry one safely through the troubles and vexations of married life, so love for an occupation is the only thing which will carry one safely and surely through the troubles which overwhelm ninety-five out of every one hundred who choose the life of a merchant, and very many in every other career.

A famous Englishman said to his nephew, "Don't choose medicine, for we have never had a murderer in our family, and the chances are that in your ignorance you may kill a patient; as to the law, no prudent man is willing to risk his life or his fortune to a young lawyer; who has not only no experience, but is generally too conceited to know the risks be incurs for his client, who alone is the loser; therefore, as the mistakes of a clergyman in doctrine or advice to his parishioners cannot be clearly determined in this world, I advise you by all means to enter the church."

"I felt that I was in the world to do something, and thought I must," said Whittier, thus giving the secret of his great power. It is the man who must enter law, literature, medicine, the ministry, or any other of the overstocked professions, who will succeed. His certain call, that is his love for it, and his fidelity to it, are the imperious factors of his career. If a man enters a profession simply because his grandfather made a great name in it, or his mother wants him to, with no love or adaptability for it, it were far better for him to be a motor-man on an electric car at one dollar and seventy five cents a day. In the humbler work, his intelligence may make him a leader; in the other career he might do as much harm as a boulder rolled from its place upon a railroad track, a menace to the next express.

Only a few years ago marriage was the only “ sphere" open to girls, and the single woman had to face the disapproval of her friends. Lessing said: “The woman who thinks is like a man who puts on rouge, ridiculous." Not many years have elapsed since the ambitious woman who ventured to study or write would keep a bit of embroidery at hand to throw over her book or manuscript when callers entered.

Dr. Johnson likened a woman speaking to a dog walking on his hind legs. "It is not surprising that she does not do it well," he said; “the wonder is that she does it at all” Dr. Gregory said to his daughters: “If you happen to have any learning, keep it a profound secret from the men, who generally look with a jealous and malignant eye on a woman of great parts and a cultivated understanding." Women who wrote books in those days would deny the charge as though a public disgrace. All this has changed, and what a change it is ! As Frances Willard says, the greatest discovery of the century is the discovery of woman. We have emancipated her, and are opening countless opportunities for our girls outside of marriage. Formerly only a boy could choose a career, now his sister can do the same. This freedom is one of the greatest glories of the nineteenth century. But with freedom comes responsibility, and under these changed conditions every girl should have a definite aim..

" Girls, you cheapen yourselves by lack of purpose in life," says Rena L. Miner. "You show commendable zeal in pursuing your studies; your alertness in comprehending and ability in surmounting difficult problems have become proverbial; nine times out of every ten you outrank your brothers thus far; but when the end is attained, the goal reached, whether it be the graduating certificate from a graded school, or a college diploma, for nine out of every ten it might as well be added thereto, 'dead to further activity,' or, ‘sleeping until marriage shall resurrect her.'

" Crocheting, placquing, dressing, visiting, music, and flirtations make up the sum total for the expense and labor expended for your existence. If forced to earn your support, you are content to stand behind a counter, or teach school term after term in the same grade, while the young men who graduated with you walk up the grades, as up a ladder, to professorship and good salary, from which they swing off into law, physics, or perhaps, the legislative firmament, leaving difficulties and obstacles like nebulae in their wake. You girls, satisfied with mediocrity, have an eye mainly for the ‘main chance’- marriage. If you marry wealthy, -which is marrying well according to the modern popular idea, - you dress more elegantly, cultivate more fashionable society, leave your thinking for your husband and your minister to do for you, and become in the economy of life but a sentient nonentity. If you are true to the grand passion, and accept with it poverty, you bake, brew, scrub, spank the children, and talk with your neighbor over the back fence for recreation, spending the years literally like the horse in a treadmill, all for the lack of a purpose, -a purpose sufficiently potent to convert the latent talent into a gem of living beauty, a creative force which makes all adjuncts secondary, like planets to their central sun. Choose some one course or calling, and master it in all its details, sleep by it, swear by it, work for it, and, if marriage crowns you, it can but add new glory to your labor."

Dr. Hall says that the world has urgent need of “girls who are mother's right hand; girls who can 'cuddle the little ones next best to mamma, and smooth out the tangles in the domestic skein when things get twisted; girls whom father takes comfort in for something better than beauty, and the big brothers are proud of for something that outranks the ability to dance or shine in society. Next, we want girls of sense, - girls who have a standard of their own regardless of conventionalities, and are independent enough to live up to it ; girls who simply won't wear a trailing dress on the street to gather up microbes and all sorts of defilement; girls who don't wear a high hat to the theatre, or lacerate their feet and endanger their health with high heels and corsets; girls who will wear what is pretty and becoming and snap their fingers at the dictates of fashion when fashion is horrid and silly. And we want good girls, - girls who are sweet, right straight out from the heart to the lips; innocent and pure and simple girls, with less knowledge of sin and duplicity and evil-doing at twenty than the pert little schoolgirl of ten has all too often. And we want careful girls and prudent girls, who think enough of the generous father who toils to maintain them in comfort, and of the gentle mother who denies herself much that they may have so many pretty things, to count the cost and draw the line between the essentials and non-essentials; girls who strive to save and not to spend; girls who are unselfish and eager to be a joy and a comfort in the home rather than an expense and a useless burden. We want girls with hearts, - girls who are full of tenderness and sympathy, with tears that flow for other people's ills, and smiles that light outward their own beautiful thoughts. We have lots of clever girls, and brilliant girls, and witty girls. Give us a consignment of jolly girls, warm-hearted and impulsive girls;. kind and entertaining to their own folks, and with little desire to shine in the garish world. With a few such girls scattered around, life would freshen up for all of us, as the weather does under the spell of summer showers."

They talk about a woman's sphere, As though it had a limit; There's not a place in earth or heaven, There's not a task to mankind given, There's not a blessing or a woe, There's not a whisper, Yes or No, There's not a life, or death, or birth, That has a feather's weight of worth, Without a woman in it.

"Do that which is assigned you," says Emerson, "and you cannot hope too much or dare too much. There is at this moment for you an utterance brave and grand as that of the colossal chisel of Phidias, or trowel of the Egyptians, or the pen of Moses or Dante, but different from all these."

“ The best way for a young man to begin, who is without friends or influence is," said Russell Sage, “first, by
getting a position; second, keeping his mouth shut; third, observing; fourth, being faithful; fifth, making his employer think he would be lost in a fog without him; and sixth, being polite"

“Close application, integrity, attention to details, discreet advertising," are given as the four steps to success by John Wanamaker, whose motto is, "Do the next thing."

"There lives not a man on earth, outside of a lunatic asylum," says Bulwer, "who has not in him the power to do good. What can writers, haranguers, or speculators do more than that ? Have you ever entered a cottage, ever traveled in a coach, ever talked with a peasant in the field, or loitered with a mechanic at the loom, and not found that each of those men had a talent you had not, knew some things you knew not ? The most useless creature that ever yawned at a club, or counted the vermin on his rags, under the sun of Calabria, has no excuse for want of intellect. What men want is not talent, it is purpose; in other words, not the power to achieve, but the will to labor."

Whatever you do in life, be greater than your calling. Most people look upon an occupation or calling as a mere expedient for earning a living. What a mean, narrow view to take of what was intended for the great school of life, the great man-developer, the character builder ; that which should broaden, deepen, heighten, and round out into symmetry, harmony, and beauty, all the God-given faculties within us! How we shrink from the task and evade the lessons which were intended for the unfolding of life's great possibilities into usefulness and power, as the sun unfolds into beauty and fragrance the petals of the flower.

I am glad to think

I am not bound to make the world go round;

But only to discover and to do,

With cheerful heart, the work that God appoints.


There is only one constant factor that can enter into all professions and businesses-the service of mankind. It need interfere with no honest calling, or with its success. That Christian factor is the only thing that gives the highest success, the most enduring life - a worthy immortality. We do not choose our parts in life and have nothing to do with those parts. Our simple duty is confined to playing them well. - Epictetus.

"' What shall I do to be forever known?'

Thy duty ever !

This did full many who yet sleep all unknown,’

Oh, never, never !

Think'st thou, perchance, that they remain unknown

Whom thou know'st not?

By angel trumps in heaven their praise is blown,

Divine their lot."


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