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

CHAPTER VIII.

THE CONQUEST OF OBSTACLES.

Nature, when she adds difficulties, adds brains.
–EMERSON.

Exigencies create the necessary ability to meet and conquer
them.
–WENDELL PHILLIPS.

Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous
difficulties.
–SPURGEON.

The rugged metal of the mine
Must burn before its surface shine.
–BYRON.

When a man looks through a tear in his own eye, that is a lens
which opens reaches in the unknown, and reveals orbs no
telescope could do.
–BEECHER.

No man ever worked his way in a dead calm.
–JOHN NEAL.

“Kites rise against, not with, the wind.”

Then welcome each rebuff,
That turns earth’s smoothness rough,
Each sting, that bids not sit nor stand, but go.
–BROWNING.

“What a fine profession ours would be if there were no gibbets!” said one of two highwaymen who chanced to pass a gallows. “Tut, you blockhead,” replied the other, “gibbets are the making of us; for, if there were no gibbets, every one would be a highwayman.” Just so with every art, trade, or pursuit; it is the difficulties that scare and keep out unworthy competitors.

“Life,” says a philosopher, “refuses to be so adjusted as to eliminate from it all strife and conflict and pain. There are a thousand tasks, that, in larger interests than ours, must be done, whether we want them or no. The world refuses to walk upon tiptoe, so that we may be able to sleep. It gets up very early and stays up very late, and all the while there is the conflict of myriads of hammers and saws and axes with the stubborn material that in no other way can be made to serve its use and do its work for man. And then, too, these hammers and axes are not wielded without strain or pang, but swung by the millions of toilers who labor with their cries and groans and tears. Nay, our temple building, whether it be for God or man, exacts its bitter toll, and fills life with cries and blows. The thousand rivalries of our daily business, the fierce animosities when we are beaten, the even fiercer exultation when we have beaten, the crashing blows of disaster, the piercing scream of defeat–these things we have not yet gotten rid of, nor in this life ever will. Why should we wish to get rid of them? We are here, my brother, to be hewed and hammered and planed in God’s quarry and on God’s anvil for a nobler life to come.” Only the muscle that is used is developed.

“Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things,” said Beecher. “Far up the mountain side lies a block of granite, and says to itself, ‘How happy am I in my serenity–above the winds, above the trees, almost above the flight of birds! Here I rest, age after age, and nothing disturbs me.’

“Yet what is it? It is only a bare block of granite, jutting out of the cliff, and its happiness is the happiness of death.

“By and by comes the miner, and with strong and repeated strokes he drills a hole in its top, and the rock says, ‘What does this mean?’ Then the black powder is poured in, and with a blast that makes the mountain echo, the block is blown asunder, and goes crashing down into the valley. ‘Ah!’ it exclaims as it falls, ‘why this rending?’ Then come saws to cut and fashion it; and humbled now, and willing to be nothing, it is borne away from the mountain and conveyed to the city. Now it is chiseled and polished, till, at length, finished in beauty, by block and tackle it is raised, with mighty hoistings, high in air, to be the top-stone on some monument of the country’s glory.”

“It is this scantiness of means, this continual deficiency, this constant hitch, this perpetual struggle to keep the head above water and the wolf from the door, that keeps society from falling to pieces. Let every man have a few more dollars than he wants, and anarchy would follow.”

“Do you wish to live without a trial?” asks a modern teacher. “Then you wish to die but half a man. Without trial you cannot guess at your own strength. Men do not learn to swim on a table. They must go into deep water and buffet the waves. Hardship is the native soil of manhood and self-reliance. Trials are rough teachers, but rugged schoolmasters make rugged pupils. A man who goes through life prosperous, and comes to his grave without a wrinkle, is not half a man. Difficulties are God’s errands. And when we are sent upon them we should esteem it a proof of God’s confidence. We should reach after the highest good.”

Suddenly, with much jarring and jolting, an electric car came to a standstill just in front of a heavy truck that was headed in an opposite direction. The huge truck wheels were sliding uselessly round on the car tracks that were wet and slippery from rain. All the urging of the teamster and the straining of the horses were in vain–until the motorman quietly tossed a shovelful of sand on the track under the heavy wheels, and then the truck lumbered on its way. “Friction is a very good thing,” remarked a passenger.