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France today has not shaken off the spell of that name. In the fair city on the Seine the mystic " N " confronts you everywhere.

Oh, the power of a great purpose to work miracles It has changed the face of the world. Napoleon knew that there were plenty of great men in France, but they did not know the might of the unwavering aim by which he was changing the destinies of Europe. He saw that what was called the " balance of power " was only an idle dream; that, unless some master-mind could be found which was a match for events, the millions would rule in anarchy. His iron will grasped the situation; and like William Pitt, he did not loiter around balancing the probabilities of failure or success, or dally with his purpose. There was no turning to the right nor to the left; no dreaming away time, nor building air-castles; but one look and purpose, forward, upward and onward, straight to his goal. His great success in war was due largely to his definiteness of aim. He always hit the bull's-eye. He was like a great burning-glass, concentrating the rays of the sun upon a single spot; he burned a hole wherever he went. After finding the weak place in the enemy's ranks, he would mass his men and hurl them like an avalanche upon the critical point, crowding volley upon volley, charge upon charge, till he made a breach. What a lesson of the power concentration there is in this man's life

To succeed today a man must concentrate all the faculties of his mind upon one unwavering aim, and have a tenacity of purpose which means death or victory. Every other inclination which tempts him from his aim must be suppressed.

A man may starve on a dozen half-learned trades or occupations; he may grow rich and famous upon one trade thoroughly mastered, even though it be the humblest.

Even Gladstone, with his ponderous yet active brain, said he could not do two things at once; he threw his entire strength upon whatever he did. The intensest energy characterized everything he undertook, even his recreation. If such concentration of energy is necessary for the success of a Gladstone, what can we common mortals hope to accomplish by " scatteration "?

All great men have been noted for their power of concentration which makes them oblivious of everything outside their aim. Victor Hugo wrote his " Notre Dame " during the revolution of 1830, while the bullets were whistling across his garden. He shut himself up in one room, locking his clothes up in another, lest they should tempt him to go out into the street, and spent most of that winter wrapped in a big gray comforter, pouring his very life into his work.

Abraham Lincoln possessed such power of concentration that he could repeat quite correctly a sermon to which he had listened in his boyhood.

A New York sportsman, in answer to an advertisement, sent twenty-five cents for a sure receipt to prevent a shotgun from scattering, and received the following: " Dear Sir: To keep a gun from scattering put in but a single shot."

It is the men who do one thing in this world who come to the front. Who is the favorite actor? It is a Jefferson, who devotes a lifetime to a " Rip Van Winkle," a Booth, an Irving, a Kean, who plays one character until he can play it better than any other man living, and not the shallow players who impersonate all parts. The great man is the one who never steps outside of his specialty or dissipates his individuality. It is an Edison, a Morse, a Bell, a Howe, a Stephenson, a Watt. It is an Adam Smith, spending ten years on the " Wealth of Nations."

It is a Gibbon, giving twenty years to his " Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." It is a Hume, writing thirteen hours a day on his " History of England." It is a Webster, spending thirty-six years on his dictionary. It is a Bancroft, working twenty-six years on his "History of the United States." It is a Field, crossing the ocean fifty times to lay a cable, while the world ridicules. It is a Newton, writing his " Chronology of Ancient Nations " sixteen times.

A one-talent man who decides upon a definite object accomplishes more than a ten-talent man who scatters his energies and never knows exactly what he will do. The weakest living creature, by concentrating his powers upon one thing, can accomplish something; the strongest, by dispersing his over many, may fail to accomplish anything.

A great purpose is cumulative; and, like a great magnet, it attracts all that is kindred along the stream of life.

A Yankee can splice a rope in many different ways; an English sailor only knows one way, but that is the best one. It is the one-sided man, the sharp-eyed man, the man of single and intense purpose, the man of one idea, who cuts his way through obstacles and forges to the front. The time has gone forever when a Bacon can span universal knowledge; or when, absorbing all the knowledge of the times, a Dante can sustain arguments against fourteen disputants in the University of Paris, and conquer in them all. The day when a man can successfully drive a dozen callings abreast is a thing of the past. Concentration is the keynote of the century.

Scientists estimate that there is energy enough in less than fifty acres of sunshine to run all the machinery in the world, if it could be concentrated. But the sun might blaze out upon the earth forever without setting anything on fire; although these rays focused by a burning-glass would melt solid granite, or even change a diamond into vapor.

There are plenty of men who have ability enough; the rays of their faculties, taken separately, are all right, but they are powerless to collect them, to bring them all to bear upon a single spot. Versatile men, universal geniuses, are usually weak, because they have no power to concentrate their talents upon one point, and this makes all the difference between success and failure.

Chiseled upon the tomb of a disappointed, heartbroken king, Joseph II of Austria, in the Royal Cemetery at Vienna, a traveler tells us, is this epitaph " Here lies a monarch who, with the best of intentions, never carried out a single plan."

Sir James Mackintosh was a man of remarkable ability. He excited in every one who knew him the greatest expectations. Many watched his career with much interest, expecting that he would dazzle the world; but there was no purpose in his life. He had intermittent attacks of enthusiasm for doing great things, but his zeal all evaporated before he could decide what to do. This fatal defect in his character kept him balancing between conflicting motives; and his whole life was almost thrown away. He lacked power to choose one object and persevere with a single aim, sacrificing every interfering inclination. He, for instance, vacillated for weeks trying to determine whether to use " usefulness " or " utility " in a composition.

One talent utilized in a single direction will do infinitely more than ten talents scattered. A thimbleful of powder behind a ball in a rifle will do more execution than a carload of powder unconfined. The rifle barrel is the purpose that gives direct aim to the powder, which otherwise, no matter how good it might be, would be powerless.

The poorest scholar in school or college often, in practical life, far outstrips the class leader or senior wrangler, simply because what little ability he has he employs for a definite object, while the other, depending upon his general ability and brilliant prospects, never concentrates his powers.

It is fashionable to ridicule the man of one idea, but the men who have changed the front of the world have been men of a single aim. No man can make his mark on this age of specialties who is not a man of one idea, one supreme air, one master passion. The man who would make himself felt on this bustling planet, who would make a breach in the compact conservatism of our civilization, must play all his guns on one point. A wavering aim, a faltering purpose, has no place in the twentieth century.

" Mental shiftlessness " is the cause of many a failure. The world is full of unsuccessful men who spend their lives letting empty buckets down into empty wells.

" Mr. A. often laughs at me," said a young American chemist, " because I have but one idea. He talks about everything, aims to excel in many things; but I have learned that, if I ever wish to make a breach, I must play my guns continually upon one point." This great chemist, when an obscure schoolmaster, used to study by the light of a pine knot in a log cabin. Not many years later he was performing experiments in electro-magnetism before English earls, and subsequently he was at the head of one of the largest scientific institutes of this country. He was the late Professor Henry, of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington.

We should guard against a talent which we can not hope to practise in perfection, says Goethe. Improve it as we may, we shall always, in the end, when the merit of the matter has become apparent to us, painfully lament the loss of time and strength devoted to such botching.

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Volume II Copyright 1911


An old proverb says: " The master of one trade will support a wife and seven children, and the master of seven will not support himself."

It is the single aim that wins. Men with monopolizing ambitions rarely live in history. They do not focus their powers long enough to burn their names indelibly into the roll of honor. Edward Everett, even with his magnificent powers, disappointed the expectations of his friends. He spread himself over the whole field of knowledge

and elegant culture; but the mention of the name of Everett does not call up any one great achievement as does that of names like Garrison and Phillips. Voltaire called the Frenchman La Harpe an oven which was always heating, but which never cooked anything. Hartley Coleridge was splendidly endowed with talent, but there was one fatal lack in his character - he had no definite purpose, and his life was a failure. Unstable as water, he could not excel. Southey, the uncle of Coleridge, says of him: " Coleridge has two left hands." He was so morbidly shy from living alone in his dreamland that he could not open a letter without trembling. He would often rally from his purposeless life, and resolve to redeem himself from the oblivion he saw staring him in the face; but, like Sir James Mackintosh, he remained a man of promise merely to the end of his life.

The man who succeeds has a program. He fires his course and adheres to it. He lays his plans and executes them. He goes straight to his goal. He is not pushed this way and that every time a difficulty is thrown in his path; if he can not get over it he goes through it. Constant and steady use of the faculties under a central purpose gives strength and power, while the use of faculties without an aim or end only weakens them. The mind must be focused on a definite end, or, like machinery without a balance-wheel, it will rack itself to pieces.

This age of concentration calls, not for educated men merely, not for talented men, not for geniuses, not for jacks-of-all-trades, but for men who are trained to do one thing as well as it can be done. Napoleon could go through the drill of his soldiers better than any one of his men.

Stick to your aim. The constant changing of one's occupation is fatal to all success. After a young man has spent five or six years in a dry goods store, he concludes that he would rather sell groceries, thereby throwing away five years of valuable experience which will be of very little use to him in the grocery business; and so he spends a large part of his life drifting around from one kind of employment to another, learning part of each but all of none, forgetting that experience is worth more to him than money and that the years devoted to learning his trade or occupation are the most valuable. Half-learned trades, no matter if a man has twenty, will never give him a good living, much less a competency, while wealth is absolutely out of the question.

How many young men fail to reach the point of efficiency in one line of work before they get discouraged and venture into something else! How easy to see the thorns in one's own profession or vocation, and only the roses in that of another! A young man in business, for instance, seeing a physician riding about town in his carriage, visiting his patients, imagines that a doctor must have an easy, ideal life, and wonders that he himself should have embarked in an occupation so full of disagreeable drudgery and hardships. He does not know of the years of dry, tedious study which the physician has consumed, the months and perhaps years of waiting for patients, the dry detail of anatomy, the endless names of drugs and technical terms.

There is a sense of great power in a vocation after a man has reached the point of efficiency in it, the point of productiveness, the point where his skill begins to tell and brings in returns.

Up to this point of efficiency, while he is learning his trade, the time seems to have been almost thrown away. But he has been storing up a vast reserve of knowledge of detail, laying foundations, forming his acquaintances, gaining his reputation for truthfulness, trustworthiness, and integrity, and in establishing his credit. When he reaches this point of efficiency, all the knowledge and skill, character, influence, and credit thus gained come to his aid, and he soon finds that in what seemed almost thrown away lies the secret of his prosperity. The credit he established as a clerk, the confidence, the integrity, the friendships formed, he finds equal to a large capital when he starts out for himself and takes the highway to fortune; while the young man who half learned several trades, got discouraged and stopped just short of the point of efficiency, just this side of success, is a failure because he didn't go far enough; he did not press on to the point at which his acquisition would have been profitable.

In spite of the fact that nearly all very successful men have made a life-work of one thing, we see on every hand hundreds of young men and women flitting about from occupation to occupation, trade to trade, in one thing today and another tomorrow, -just as though they could go from one thing to another by turning a switch, as though they could run as well on another track as on the one they have left, regardless of the fact that no two careers have the same gage, that every man builds his own road upon which another man's engine can not run either with speed or safety. This fickleness, this disposition to shift about from one occupation to another, seems to be peculiar to American life, so much so that, when a young man meets a friend whom he has not seen for some time, the commonest question to ask is, "What are you doing now?" showing the improbability or uncertainty that he is doing today what he was doing when they last met.

Some people think that if they " keep everlastingly at it " they will succeed, but this is not always so. Working without a plan is as foolish as going to sea without a compass.

A ship which has broken its rudder in mid-ocean may " keep everlastingly at it," may keep on a full head of steam, driving about all the time, but it never arrives anywhere, it never reaches any port unless by accident; and if it does find a haven, its cargo may not be suited to the people, the climate, or conditions. The ship must be directed to a definite port, for which its cargo is adapted, and where there is a demand for it, and it must aim steadily for that port through sun shine and storm, through tempest and fog.

So a man who would succeed must not drift about rudderless on the ocean of life. He must not only steer straight toward his destined port when the ocean is smooth, when the currents and winds serve, but he must keep his course in the very teeth of the wind and the tempest, and even when enveloped in the fogs of disappointment and mists of opposition. Atlantic liners do not stop for fogs or storms; they plow straight through the rough seas with only one thing in view, their destined port, and no matter what the weather is, no matter what obstacles they encounter, their arrival in port can be predicted to within a few hours.

On the prairies of South America there grows a flower that always inclines in the same direction. If a traveler loses his way and has neither compass nor chart, by turning to this flower he will find a guide on which he can implicitly rely; for no matter how the rains descend or the winds blow, its leaves point to the north.

So there are many men whose purposes are so well known, whose aims are so constant, that no matter what difficulties they may encounter, or what opposition they may meet, you can tell almost to a certainty where they will come out. They may be delayed by head winds and counter currents, but they will always head for the port and will steer straight towards the harbor. You know to a certainty that whatever else they may lose, they will not lose their compass or rudder.

Whatever may happen to a man of this stamp, even though his sails may be swept away and his mast stripped to the deck, though he may be wrecked by the storms of life, the needle of his compass will still point to the North Star of his hope. Whatever comes, his life will not be purposeless. Even a wreck that makes its port is a greater success than a full-rigged ship with all its sails flying, with every mast and every rope intact, which merely drifts along into an accidental harbor.

To fix a wandering life and give it direction is not an easy task, but a life which has no definite aim is sure to be frittered away in empty and purposeless dreams. " Listless triflers," " busy idlers," " purposeless busy-bodies," are seen everywhere. A healthy, definite purpose is a remedy for a thousand ills which attend aimless lives. Discontent and dissatisfaction flee before a definite purpose. What we do begrudgingly without a purpose becomes a delight with one, and no work is well done nor healthily done which is not enthusiastically done.

Mere energy is not enough; it must be concentrated on some steady, unwavering aim. What is more common than " unsuccessful geniuses," or failures with "commanding talents"? Indeed, the term " unrewarded genius " has become a proverb. Every town has unsuccessful educated and talented men.

But education is of no value, talent is worthless, unless it can do something, achieve something. Men who can do something at everything and a very little at anything are not wanted in this age.

What this age wants is young men and women who can do one thing without losing their identity or individuality, or becoming narrow, cramped, or dwarfed. Nothing can take the place of an all-absorbing purpose; education can not, genius can not, talent can not, industry can not, will-power can not. The purposeless life must ever be a failure. What good are powers, faculties, unless we can use them for a purpose? What good would a chest of tools do a carpenter unless he could use them? A college education, a head full of knowledge, are worth little to the men who cannot use them to some definite end.

The man without a purpose never leaves his mark upon the world. He has no individuality; he is absorbed in the mass, lost in the crowd, weak, wavering, and incompetent.

" Consider, my lord," said Rowland Hill to the Prime Minister of England, " that a letter to Ireland and the answer back would cost thousands upon thousands of my affectionate countrymen more than a fifth of their week's wages. If you shut the post-office to them, which you do now, you shut out warm hearts and generous affections from home, kindred, and friends." The lad learned that it cost to carry a letter from London to Edinburgh, four hundred and four miles, one eighteenth of a cent, while the government charged for a simple folded sheet of paper twenty-eight cents, and twice as much if there was the smallest inclosure. Against the opposition and contempt of the post-office department he at length carried his point, and on January 10, 1840 penny postage was established throughout Great Britain. Mr. Hill was chosen to introduce the system, at a salary of fifteen hundred pounds a year.

His success was most encouraging, but at the end of two years a Tory minister dismissed him without paying for his services, as agreed. The public was indignant, and at once contributed sixty-five thousand dollars; and, at the request of Queen Victoria, Parliament voted him one hundred thousand dollars cash, together with ten thousand dollars a year for life.

It is a great purpose which gives meaning to life; it unifies all our powers, binds them together in one cable and makes strong and united what was weak, separated, scattered.

" Smatterers " are weak and superficial. Of what use is a man who knows a little of everything and not much of anything? It is the momentum of constantly repeated acts that tells the story. " Let thine eyes look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left."

One great secret of St. Paul's power lay in his strong purpose. Nothing could daunt, nothing intimidate him. The Roman Emperor could not muzzle him, the dungeon could not appall him, no prison suppress him, obstacles could not discourage him. "This one thing I do " was written all over his work. The quenchless zeal of his mighty purpose burned its way down through the centuries, and its contagion will never cease to fire the hearts of men.

" Try and come home somebody," said his mother to Gambetta as she sent him off to Paris to school. Poverty pinched this lad hard in his little garret study and his clothes were shabby, but what of that? He had made up his mind to get on in the world. For years he was chained to his desk and worked like a hero. At last his opportunity came. Jules Favre was to plead a great cause on a certain day; but, being ill, he chose this young man, absolutely unknown, rough and uncouth, to take his place.

For many years Gambetta had been preparing for such an opportunity, and he was equal to it. He made one of the greatest speeches that up to that time had ever been made in France. That night all the papers in Paris were sounding the praises of this ragged, uncouth Bohemian, and soon all France recognized him as the Republican leader. This sudden rise was not due to luck or accident. He had been steadfastly working and fighting his way up against oppositions and poverty for just such an occasion. Had he not been equal to it, it would only have made him ridiculous. What a stride; yesterday, poor and unknown, living in a garret; today, deputy-elect, in the city of Marseilles, and the great Republican leader

When Louis Napoleon had been defeated at Sedan and had delivered his sword to William of Prussia, and when the Prussian army was marching on Paris, the brave Gambetta went out of the besieged city in a balloon barely grazed by the Prussian guns, landed in Amiens, and by almost superhuman skill raised three armies of 800,000 men, provided for their maintenance, and directed- their military operations. A German officer said: " This colossal energy is the most remarkable event of modern history, and will carry down Gambetta's name to remote posterity."

This youth who was poring over his books in an attic while other youths were promenading the Champs Elysees, although but thirty-two years old, was now virtually dictator of France, and the greatest orator in the Republic. What a striking example of the great reserve of personal power, which, even in dissolute lives, is sometimes called out by a great emergency or sudden sorrow, and ever after leads the life to victory! When Gambetta found that his first speech had electrified all France, his great reserve rushed to the front; he was suddenly weaned from dissipation, and resolved to make his mark in the world.

Nor did he lose his head in his quick leap into fame. He still lived in the upper room in the musty Latin Quarter, and remained a poor man, without stain of dishonor, though he might easily have made himself a millionaire. When he died the " Figaro " said, " The Republic has lost its greatest man." American boys should study this great man, for he loved our country, and took our Republic as the pattern for France.

There is no grander sight in the world than that of a young man fired with a great purpose, dominated by one unwavering aim. He is bound to win; the world stands to one side and lets him pass; it always makes way for the man with a will in him. He does not have one-half the opposition to overcome that the undecided, purposeless man has who, like driftwood, runs against all sorts of snags to which he must yield simply because he has no momentum to force them out of his way. What a sublime spectacle it is to see a youth going straight to his goal, cutting his way through difficulties, and surmounting obstacles which dishearten others, as though they were but steppingstones! Defeat, like a gymnasium, only gives him new power; opposition only doubles his exertions; dangers only increase his courage. No matter what comes to him, sickness, poverty, disaster, he never turns his eye from his goal.

"Duos qui sequitur lepores, neutrum capit."


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