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



I shall show the cinders of my spirits
Through the ashes of my chance.

Perseverance is a virtue
That wins each god-like act, and plucks success
E’en from the spear-proof crest of rugged danger.

Never say “Fail” again.

It is the one neck nearer that wins the race and shows the
blood; the one pull more of the oar that proves the “beefiness
of the fellow,” as Oxford men say; it is the one march more
that wins the campaign; the five minutes’ more persistent
courage that wins the fight. Though your force be less than
another’s, you equal and out-master your opponent if you
continue it longer and concentrate it more.

“I know no such unquestionable badge and ensign of a sovereign
mind as that tenacity of purpose which, through all changes of
companions, or parties, or fortunes, changes never, bates no
jot of heart or hope, but wearies out opposition and arrives at
its port.”

“Well done, Tommy Brooks!” exclaimed his teacher in pleased surprise when the dunce of the school spoke his piece without omitting a single word. The other boys had laughed when he rose, for they expected a bad failure. But when the rest of the class had tried, the teacher said Tommy had done the best of all, and gave him the prize.

“And now tell me,” said she, “how you learned the poem so well.”

“Please, ma’am, it was the snail on the wall that taught me how to do it,” said Tommy. At this the other pupils laughed aloud, but the teacher said: “You need not laugh, boys, for we may learn much from such things as snails. How did the snail teach you, Tommy?”

“I saw it crawl up the wall little by little,” replied the boy. “It did not stop nor turn back, but went on, and on; and I thought I would do the same with the poem. So I learned it little by little, and did not give up. By the time the snail reached the top of the wall, I had learned the whole poem.”

“I may here impart the secret of what is called good and bad luck,” said Addison. “There are men who, supposing Providence to have an implacable spite against them, bemoan in the poverty of old age the misfortunes of their lives. Luck forever runs against them, and for others. One with a good profession lost his luck in the river, where he idled away his time a-fishing. Another with a good trade perpetually burnt up his luck by his hot temper, which provoked all his employes to leave him. Another with a lucrative business lost his luck by amazing diligence at everything but his own business. Another who steadily followed his trade, as steadily followed the bottle. Another who was honest and constant to his work, erred by his perpetual misjudgment,–he lacked discretion. Hundreds lose their luck by indulging sanguine expectations, by trusting fraudulent men, and by dishonest gains. A man never has good luck who has a bad wife. I never knew an early-rising, hard-working, prudent man, careful of his earnings and strictly honest, who complained of his bad luck. A good character, good habits, and iron industry are impregnable to the assaults of the ill luck that fools are dreaming of. But when I see a tatterdemalion creeping out of a grocery late in the forenoon with his hands stuck into his pockets, the rim of his hat turned up, and the crown knocked in, I know he has had bad luck,–for the worst of all luck is to be a sluggard, a knave, or a tippler.”

“You have a difficult subject,” said Anthony Trollope at Niagara Falls, to an artist who had attempted to draw the spray of the waters. “All subjects are difficult,” was the reply, “to a man who desires to do well.” “But yours, I fear, is impossible,” said Trollope. “You have no right to say so till I have finished my picture,” protested the artist.

“Tell Louisa to stick to her teaching; she can never succeed as a writer.” When her father delivered the rejected manuscript of a story sent to James T. Fields, editor of the _Atlantic Monthly_, with the above message, Miss Alcott said, “Tell him I _will_ succeed as a writer, and some day I shall write for the _Atlantic_.” Not long after she sent an article to the _Atlantic_ and received a check for $50. With the money she said she bought “a second hand carpet for the parlor, a bonnet for her sister, shoes and stockings for herself.” Her father was calling upon Longfellow some time after this, when Longfellow took the _Atlantic_, and said, “I want to read to you Emerson’s fine poem upon Thoreau’s flute.” Mr. Alcott interrupted him with delight and said, “My daughter Louisa wrote that.”

“Men talk as if victory were something fortunate,” says Emerson. “_Work is victory._ Wherever work is done victory is obtained. _There is no chance and no blanks._ You want but one verdict; if you have your own, you are secure of the rest. But if witnesses are wanted, witnesses are near.”

“Young gentlemen,” said Francis Wayland, “remember that nothing can stand day’s work.”

Alexander the Great exclaimed to his soldiers, disaffected after a long campaign, “Go home and tell them that you left Alexander to conquer the world alone.”