HOLD UP YOUR HEAD.
Thoroughly to believe in one’s own self, so one’s self were
thorough, were to do great things.
If there be a faith that can remove mountains, it is faith in
one’s own power.
Let no one discourage self-reliance; it is, of all the rest,
the greatest quality of true manliness.
It needs a divine man to exhibit anything divine. * * * Trust
thyself; every breast vibrates to that iron string. Accept the
place that divine Providence has found for you, the society of
your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have
always done so. * * * Nothing is at last sacred but the
integrity of our own mind.
This above all,–to thine own self be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
“Yes,” said a half-drunken man in a cellar to a parish visitor, a young girl, “I am a tough and a drunkard, and am just out of jail, and my wife is starving; but that doesn’t give you the right to come into my house without knocking to ask questions.”
Another zealous girl declared in a reform club in New York City that she always went to visit the poor in her carriage, with the crest on the door and liveried servants. “It gives me authority,” she said. “They listen to my words with more respect.”
The Fräulein Barbara, who founded the home for degraded and drunken sailors in London, used other means to gain influence over them. “I too,” she would say, taking the poor applicant by the hand when he came to her door, “I, too, as well as you, am one of those for whom Christ died. We are brother and sister, and will help each other.”
An English artist, engaged in painting a scene in the London slums, applied to the Board of Guardians of the poor in Chelsea for leave to sketch into it, as types of want and wretchedness, certain picturesque paupers then in the almshouse. The board refused permission on the ground that “a man does not cease to have self-respect and rights because he is a pauper, and that his misfortunes should not be paraded before the world.”
The incident helps to throw light on the vexed problem of the intercourse of the rich with the poor. Kind but thoughtless people, who take up the work of “slumming,” intent upon elevating and reforming the needy classes, are apt to forget that these unfortunates have self-respect and rights and sensitive feelings.
“But I am not derided,” said Diogenes, when some one told him he was derided. “Only those are ridiculed who feel the ridicule and are discomposed by it.”
Dr. Franklin used to say that if a man makes a sheep of himself the wolves will eat him. Not less true is it that if a man is supposed to be a sheep, wolves will very likely try to eat him.
“O God, assist our side,” prayed the Prince of Anhalt-Dessau, a general in the Prussian service, before going into battle. “At least, avoid assisting the enemy, and leave the result to me.”
“If a man possesses the consciousness of what he is,” said Schelling, “he will soon also learn what he ought to be; let him have a theoretical respect for himself, and a practical will soon follow.” A person under the firm persuasion that he can command resources virtually has them. “Humility is the part of wisdom, and is most becoming in men,” said Kossuth; “but let no one discourage self-reliance; it is, of all the rest, the greatest quality of true manliness.” Froude wrote: “A tree must be rooted in the soil before it can bear flowers or fruit. A man must learn to stand upright upon his own feet, to respect himself, to be independent of charity or accident. It is on this basis only that any superstructure of intellectual cultivation worth having can possibly be built.”
“I think he is a most extraordinary man,” said John J. Ingalls, speaking of Grover Cleveland. “While the Senate was in session to induct Hendricks into office, I had an opportunity to study Cleveland, as he sat there like a sphinx. He occupied a seat immediately in front of the vice-president’s stand, and from where I sat, I had an unobstructed view of him.
“I wanted to fathom, if possible, what manner of a man it was who had defeated us and taken the patronage of the government over to the democracy. We had a new master, so to speak, and a democrat at that, and I looked him over with a good deal of curiosity.
“There sat a man, the president of the United States, beginning his rule over the destinies of sixty millions of people, who less than three years before was an obscure lawyer, scarcely known outside of Erie County, shut up in a dingy office over a livery stable. He had been mayor of the city of Buffalo at a time when a crisis in its affairs demanded a courageous head and a firm hand and he supplied them. The little prestige thus gained made him the democratic nominee for governor, and at a time (his luck still following him) when the Republican party of the State was rent with dissensions. He was elected, and (still more luck) by the unprecedented and unheard of majority of nearly 200,000 votes. Two years later his party nominated him for president and he was elected.