How to Succeed, or Stepping-Stones to Fame and Fortune

CHAPTER VI.

WILL YOU PAY THE PRICE?

The gods sell anything and to everybody at a fair price.
–EMERSON.

All desire knowledge, but no one is willing to pay the price.
–JUVENAL.

There is no royal path which leads to geometry.
–EUCLID.

There is no road to success but through a clear, strong
purpose. A purpose underlies character, culture, position,
attainment of whatever sort.
–T. T. MUNGER.

Remember you have not a sinew whose law of strength is not
action; you have not a faculty of body, mind, or soul, whose
law of improvement is not energy.
–E. B. HALL.

“We have but what we make, and every good
Is locked by nature in a granite hand,
Sheer labor must unclench.”

“Oh, if I could thus put a dream on canvas!” exclaimed an enthusiastic young artist, pointing to a most beautiful painting. “Dream on canvas!” growled the master, “it is the ten thousand touches with the brush you must learn to put on canvas that make your dream.”

“There is but one method of attaining excellence,” said Sydney Smith, “and that is hard labor.”

“If only Milton’s imagination could have conceived his visions,” says Waters, “his consummate industry alone could have carved the immortal lines which enshrine them. If only Newton’s mind could reach out to the secrets of nature, even his genius could only do it by the homeliest toil. The works of Bacon are not midsummer-night’s dreams, but, like coral islands, they have risen from the depths of truth, and formed their broad surfaces above the ocean by the minutest accretions of persevering labor. The conceptions of Michael Angelo would have perished like a night’s phantasy, had not his industry given them permanence.”

Salvini contributes the following to the _Century_ as to his habits of study before he had established himself as a past master of tragedy: “I imposed upon myself a new method of study. While I was busying myself with the part of Saul, I read and reread the Bible, so as to become impregnated with the appropriate sentiments, manners and local color. When I took up Othello, I pored over the history of the Venetian Republic and that of the Moorish invasion of Spain. I studied the passions of the Moors, their art of war, their religious beliefs, nor did I overlook the romance of Giraldi Cinthio, in order the better to master that sublime character. I did not concern myself about a superficial study of the words, or of some point of scenic effect, or of greater or less accentuation of certain phrases with a view to win passing applause; a vaster horizon opened out before me–an infinite sea on which my bark could navigate in security, without fear of falling in with reefs.”

His method was not new, but he considered it so, and gives his opinion in quotation-marks. He speaks of characters with which, his name is not always associated by writers on the stage, but is correct, I think, in the main.

Many years ago a little boy entered Harrow school and was put in a class beyond his years, wherein all the other boys had the advantage of previous instruction. His master used to reprove his dullness, but all his efforts could not raise him from the lowest place in the class. The boy finally procured the elementary books which the other boys had studied. He devoted the hours of play and many of the hours of sleep to mastering the elementary principles of these books. This boy was soon at the head of his class and the pride of Harrow. The statue of that boy, Sir William Jones, stands to-day in St. Paul’s Cathedral; for he lived to be the greatest Oriental scholar of Europe.

“What is the secret of success in business?” asked a friend of Cornelius Vanderbilt. “Secret! there is no secret about it,” replied the commodore; “all you have to do is to attend to your business and go ahead.” If you would adopt Vanderbilt’s method, know your business, attend to it, and keep down expenses until your fortune is safe from business perils.

“Work or starve,” is nature’s motto,–and it is written on the stars and the sod alike,–starve mentally, starve morally, starve physically. It is an inexorable law of nature that whatever is not used, dies. “Nothing for nothing,” is her maxim. If we are idle and shiftless by choice, we shall be nerveless and powerless by necessity.