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

Bismarck adopted it as the aim of his public life “to snatch Germany from Austrian oppression,” and to gather round Prussia, in a North German Confederation, all the states whose tone of thought, religion, manners and interest “were in harmony with those of Prussia.” “To attain this end,” he once said in conversation, “I would brave all dangers–exile, the scaffold itself. What matter if they hang me, provided the rope with which I am hung binds this new Germany firmly to the Prussian throne?”

It is related of Greeley that, when he was writing his “American Conflict,” he found it necessary to conceal himself somewhere, to prevent constant interruptions. He accordingly took a room in the Bible house, where he worked from ten in the morning till five in the afternoon, and then appeared in the sanctum, seemingly as fresh as ever.

Cooper Institute is the evening school which Peter Cooper, as long ago as 1810, resolved to found some day, when he was looking about as an apprentice for a place where he could go to school evenings. Through all his career in various branches of business he never lost sight of this object; and, as his wealth increased, he was pleased that it brought nearer the realization of his dream.

“See a great lawyer like Rufus Choate,” says Dr. Storrs, “in a case where his convictions are strong and his feelings are enlisted. He saw long ago, as he glanced over the box, that five of those in it were sympathetic with him; as he went on he became equally certain of seven; the number now has risen to ten; but two are still left whom he feels that he has not persuaded or mastered. Upon them he now concentrates his power, summing up the facts, setting forth anew and more forcibly the principles, urging upon them his view of the case with a more and more intense action of his mind upon theirs, until one only is left. Like the blow of a hammer, continually repeated until the iron bar crumbles beneath it, his whole force comes with ceaseless percussion on that one mind till it has yielded, and accepts the conviction on which the pleader’s purpose is fixed. Men say afterward, ‘He surpassed himself.’ It was only because the singleness of his aim gave unity, intensity, and overpowering energy to the mind.”

“The foreman of the jury, however,” said Whipple, “was a hard-hearted, practical man, a model of business intellect and integrity, but with an incapacity of understanding any intellect or conscience radically differing from his own. Mr. Choate’s argument, as far as the facts and the law were concerned, was through in an hour. Still he went on speaking. Hour after hour passed, and yet he continued to speak with constantly increasing eloquence, repeating and recapitulating, without any seeming reason, facts which he had already stated and arguments which he had already urged. The truth was, as I gradually learned, that he was engaged in a hand-to-hand–or rather in a brain-to-brain and a heart-to-heart–contest with the foreman, whose resistance he was determined to break down, but who confronted him for three hours with defiance observable in every rigid line of his honest countenance. ‘You fool!’ was the burden of the advocate’s ingenious argument. ‘You rascal!’ was the phrase legibly printed on the foreman’s incredulous face. But at last the features of the foreman began to relax, and at the end the stern lines melted into acquiescence with the opinion of the advocate, who had been storming at the defences of his mind, his heart, and his conscience for five hours, and had now entered as victor. The verdict was ‘Not guilty.'”

“He who would do some great thing in this short life must apply himself to the work with such a concentration of his forces as, to idle spectators, who live only to amuse themselves, looks like insanity.”

It is generally thought that when a man is said to be dissipated in his habits he must be a drinking man, or a gambler, or licentious, or all three; but dissipation is of two kinds, coarse and refined. A man can dissipate or scatter all of his mental energies and physical power by indulging in too many respectable diversions, as easily as in habits of a viler nature. Property and its cares make some men dissipated; too many friends make others. The exactions of “society,” the balls, parties, receptions, and various entertainments constantly being given and attended by the _beau monde_, constitute a most wasting species of dissipation. Others, again, fritter away all their time and strength in political agitations, or in controversies and gossip; others in idling with music or some other one of the fine arts; others in feasting or fasting, as their dispositions and feelings incline. But the man of concentration of purpose is never a dissipated man in any sense, good or bad. He has no time to devote to useless trifling of any kind, but puts in as many strokes of faithful work as possible toward the attainment of some definite good.