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

CHAPTER XXI.

ABOVE RUBIES.

The best way to settle the quarrel between capital and labor is
by allopathic doses of Peter-Cooperism.
–TALMAGE.

In the sublimest flights of the soul, rectitude is never
surmounted, love is never outgrown.
–EMERSON.

“One ruddy drop of manly blood the surging sea outweighs.”

Virtue alone out-builds the pyramids:
Her monuments shall last when Egypt’s fall.
–YOUNG.

He believed that he was born, not for himself, but for the
whole world.
–LUCAN.

Wherever man goes to dwell, his character goes with him.
–AFRICAN PROVERB.

The spirit of a single mind
Makes that of multitudes take one direction,
As roll the waters to the breathing wind.
–BYRON.

“No, say what you have to say in her presence, too,” said King Cleomenes of Sparta, when his visitor Anistagoras asked him to send away his little daughter Gorgo, ten years old, knowing how much harder it is to persuade a man to do wrong when his child is at his side. So Gorgo sat at her father’s feet, and listened while the stranger offered more and more money if Cleomenes would aid him to become king in a neighboring country. She did not understand the matter, but when she saw her father look troubled and hesitate, she took hold of his hand and said, “Papa, come away–come, or this strange man will make you do wrong.” The king went away with the child, and saved himself and his country from dishonor. Character is power, even in a child. When grown to womanhood, Gorgo was married to the hero Leonidas. One day a messenger brought a tablet sent by a friend who was a prisoner in Persia. But the closest scrutiny failed to reveal a single word or line on the white waxen surface, and the king and all his noblemen concluded that it was sent as a jest. “Let me take it,” said Queen Gorgo; and, after looking it all over, she exclaimed, “There must be some writing underneath the wax!” They scraped away the wax and found a warning to Leonidas from the Grecian prisoner, saying that Xerxes was coming with his immense host to conquer all Greece. Acting on this warning, Leonidas and the other kings assembled their armies and checked the mighty host of Xerxes, which is said to have shaken the earth as it marched.

“I fear John Knox’s prayers more than an army of ten thousand men,” said Mary, Queen of Scotland.

“The man behind the sermon,” said William M. Evarts, “is the secret of John Hall’s power.” In fact if there is not a man with a character behind it nothing about it is of the slightest consequence.

Thackeray says, “Nature has written a letter of credit upon some men’s faces which is honored wherever presented. You can not help trusting such men; their very presence gives confidence. There is a ‘promise to pay’ in their very faces which gives confidence, and you prefer it to another man’s indorsement.” _Character is credit._

In the great monetary panic of 1857, a meeting was called of the various bank presidents of New York City. When asked what percentage of specie had been drawn during the day, some replied fifty per cent., some even as high as seventy-five per cent., but Moses Taylor of the City Bank said: “We had in the bank this morning, $400,000; this evening, $470,000.” While other banks were badly “run,” the confidence in the City Bank under Mr. Taylor’s management was such that people had deposited in that institution what they had drawn from other banks. Character gives confidence.

“There is no such thing as a small country,” said Victor Hugo. “The greatness of a people is no more affected by the number of its inhabitants than the greatness of an individual is measured by his height.”

“It is the nature of party in England,” said John Russell, “to ask the assistance of men of genius, but to follow the guidance of men of character.”

“A handful of good life,” says George Herbert, “is worth a bushel of learning.”

“I have read,” Emerson says, “that they who listened to Lord Chatham felt that there was something finer in the man than anything which he said.” It has been complained of Carlyle that when he has told all his facts about Mirabeau they do not justify his estimate of the latter’s genius. The Gracchi, Agis, Cleomenes, and others of Plutarch’s heroes do not in the record of facts equal their own fame. Sir Philip Sidney and Sir Walter Raleigh are men of great figure and of few deeds. We cannot find the smallest part of the personal weight of Washington in the narrative of his exploits. The authority of the name of Schiller is too great for his books. This inequality of the reputation to the works or the anecdotes is not accounted for by saying that the reverberation is longer than the thunder-clap; but something resided in these men which begot an expectation that outran all their performance. The largest part of their power was latent. This is that which we call character,–a reserved force which acts directly by presence, and without means. What others effect by talent or eloquence, the man of character accomplishes by some magnetism. “Half his strength he puts not forth.” His victories are by demonstration of superiority, and not by crossing bayonets. He conquers, because his arrival alters the face of affairs. “O Iole! how didst thou know that Hercules was a god?” “Because,” answered Iole, “I was content the moment my eyes fell on him. When I beheld Theseus, I desired that I might see him offer battle, or at least drive his horses in the chariot-race; but Hercules did not wait for a contest; he conquered whether he stood, or walked, or sat, or whatever else he did.”