Inspiration to character-building and worthy achievement is the keynote of the present volume, its object, to arouse to honorable exertion youth who are drifting without aim, to awaken dormant ambitions in those who have grown discouraged in the struggle for success, to encourage and stimulate to higher resolve those who are setting out to make their own way, with perhaps neither friendship nor capital other than a determination to get on in the world. Nothing is so fascinating to a youth with high purpose, life, and energy throbbing in his young blood as stories of men and women who have brought great things to pass. Though these themes are as old as the human race, yet they are ever new, and more interesting to the young than any fiction. The cry of youth is for life! more life!
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"Wanted; men:Not systems fit and wise,Not faiths with rigid eyes,Not wealth in mountain piles,Not power with gracious smiles,Not even the potent pen:Wanted; men."
Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man.—JEREMIAH.
All the world cries, Where is the man who will save us? We want a man! Don't look so far for this man. You have him at hand. This man,—it is you, it is I, it is each one of us!… How to constitute one's self a man? Nothing harder, if one knows not how to will it; nothing easier, if one wills it.—ALEXANDRE DUMAS.
"'Tis life, not death for which we pant!'Tis life, whereof our nerves are scant:More life and fuller, that we want."
I do not wish in attempting to paint a man to describe an air-fed, unimpassioned, impossible ghost. My eyes and ears are revolted by any neglect of the physical facts, the limitations of man.—EMERSON.
But nature, with a matchless hand, sends forth her nobly born,And laughs the paltry attributes of wealth and rank to scorn;She moulds with care a spirit rare, half human, half divine,And cries exulting, "Who can make a gentleman like mine?"ELIZA COOK.
"In a thousand cups of life," says Emerson, "only one is the right mixture. The fine adjustment of the existing elements, where the well-mixed man is born with eyes not too dull, nor too good, with fire enough and earth enough, capable of receiving impressions from all things, and not too susceptible, then no gift need be bestowed on him. He brings his fortune with him."
Diogenes sought with a lantern at noontide in ancient Athens for a perfectly honest man, and sought in vain. In the market place he once cried aloud, "Hear me, O men;" and, when a crowd collected around him, he said scornfully: "I called for men, not pygmies."
The world has a standing advertisement over the door of every profession, every occupation, every calling; "Wanted—A Man."
Wanted, a man who will not lose his individuality in a crowd, a man who has the courage of his convictions, who is not afraid to say "No," though all the world say "Yes."
Wanted, a man who, though he is dominated by a mighty purpose, will not permit one great faculty to dwarf, cripple, warp, or mutilate his manhood; who will not allow the over-development of one facility to stunt or paralyze his other faculties.
Wanted, a man who is larger than his calling, who considers it a low estimate of his occupation to value it merely as a means of getting a living. Wanted, a man who sees self-development, education and culture, discipline and drill, character and manhood, in his occupation.
A thousand pulpits vacant in a single religious denomination, a thousand preachers standing idle in the market place, while a thousand church committees scour the land for men to fill those same vacant pulpits, and scour in vain, is a sufficient indication, in one direction at least, of the largeness of the opportunities of the age, and also of the crying need of good men.
Wanted, a man who is well balanced, who is not cursed with some little defect or weakness which cripples his usefulness and neutralizes his powers. Wanted, a man of courage, who is not a coward in any part of his nature.
Wanted, a man who is symmetrical, and not one-sided in his development, who has not sent all the energies of his being into one narrow specialty, and allowed all the other branches of his life to wither and die. Wanted, a man who is broad, who does not take half views of things. Wanted, a man who mixes common sense with his theories, who does not let a college education spoil him for practical, every-day life; a man who prefers substance to show, who regards his good name as a priceless treasure.
Wanted, a man "who, no stunted ascetic, is full of life and fire, but whose passions are trained to heed a strong will, the servant of a tender conscience; who has learned to love all beauty, whether of nature or of art, to hate all vileness, and to respect others as himself."
God calls a man to be upright and pure and generous, but he also calls him to be intelligent and skillful and strong and brave.
The world wants a man who is educated all over; whose nerves are brought to their acutest sensibility, whose brain is cultured, keen, incisive, penetrating, broad, liberal, deep; whose hands are deft; whose eyes are alert, sensitive, microscopic, whose heart is tender, broad, magnanimous, true.
The whole world is looking for such a man. Although there are millions out of employment, yet it is almost impossible to find just the right man in almost any department of life. Every profession and every occupation has a standing advertisement all over the world: "Wanted—A Man."
Rousseau, in his celebrated essay on education, says: "According to the order of nature, men being equal, their common vocation is the profession of humanity; and whoever is well educated to discharge the duty of a man cannot be badly prepared to fill any of those offices that have a relation to him. It matters little to me whether my pupil be designed for the army, the pulpit, or the bar. Nature has destined us to the offices of human life antecedent to our destination concerning society. To live is the profession I would teach him. When I have done with him, it is true he will be neither a soldier, a lawyer, nor a divine.Let him first be a man; Fortune may remove him from one rank to another as she pleases, he will be always found in his place."
A little, short doctor of divinity in a large Baptist convention stood on a step and said he thanked God he was a Baptist. The audience could not hear and called "Louder." "Get up higher," some one said. "I can't," he replied. "To be a Baptist is as high as one can get." But there is something higher than being a Baptist, and that is being aman.
As Emerson says, Talleyrand's question is ever the main one; not, is he rich? is he committed? is he well-meaning? has he this or that faculty? is he of the movement? is he of the establishment? but is he anybody? does he stand for something? He must be good of his kind. That is all that Talleyrand, all that State Street, all that the common sense of mankind asks.
When Garfield was asked as a young boy, "what he meant to be," he answered: "First of all, I must make myself a man, if I do not succeed in that, I can succeed in nothing."
Montaigne says our work is not to train a soul by itself alone, nor a body by itself alone, but to train a man.
One great need of the world to-day is for men and women who are good animals. To endure the strain of our concentrated civilization, the coming man and woman must have an excess of animal spirits. They must have a robustness of health. Mere absence of disease is not health. It is the overflowing fountain, not the one half full, that gives life and beauty to the valley below. Only he is healthy who exults in mere animal existence; whose very life is a luxury; who feels a bounding pulse throughout his body, who feels life in every limb, as dogs do when scouring over the field, or as boys do when gliding over fields of ice.
Pope, the poet, was with Sir Godfrey Kneller, the artist, one day, when the latter's nephew, a Guinea slave-trader, came into the room. "Nephew," said Sir Godfrey, "you have the honor of seeing the two greatest men in the world." "I don't know how great men you may be," said the Guinea man, "but I don't like your looks. I have often bought a much better man than either of you, all muscles and bones, for ten guineas."
Sydney Smith said, "I am convinced that digestion is the great secret of life, and that character, virtue and talents, and qualities are powerfully affected by beef, mutton, pie crust, and rich soups. I have often thought I could feed or starve men into virtues or vices, and affect them more powerfully with my instruments of torture than Timotheus could do formerly with his lyre."
What more glorious than a magnificent manhood, animated with the bounding spirits of overflowing health?
It is a sad sight to see thousands of students graduated every year from our grand institutions, whose object is to make stalwart, independent, self-supporting men, turned out into the world saplings instead of stalwart oaks, "memory-glands" instead of brainy men, helpless instead of self-supporting, sickly instead of robust, weak instead of strong, leaning instead of erect. "So many promising youths, and never a finished man!"
The character sympathizes with and unconsciously takes on the nature of the body. A peevish, snarling, ailing man cannot develop the vigor and strength of character which is possible to a healthy, robust, jolly man. There is an inherent love in the human mind for wholeness, a demand that man shall come up to the highest standard; and there is an inherent protest or contempt for preventable deficiency. Nature too demands that man be ever at the top of his condition. The giant's strength with the imbecile's brain will not be characteristic of the coming man.
Man has been a dwarf of himself, but a higher type of manhood stands at the door of this age knocking for admission.
As we stand upon the seashore while the tide is coming in, one wave reaches up the beach far higher than any previous one, then recedes, and for some time none that follows comes up to its mark, but after a while the whole sea is there and beyond it, so now and then there comes a man head and shoulders above his fellow-men, showing that Nature has not lost her ideal, and after a while even the average man will overtop the highest wave of manhood yet given to the world.
Apelles hunted over Greece for many years, studying the fairest points of beautiful women, getting here an eye, there a forehead and there a nose, here a grace and there a turn of beauty, for his famous portrait of a perfect woman which enchanted the world. So the coming man will be a composite, many in one. He will absorb into himself not the weakness, not the follies, but the strength and the virtues of other types of men. He will be a man raised to the highest power. He will be self-centred, equipoised, and ever master of himself. His sensibility will not be deadened or blunted by violation of nature's laws. His whole character will be impressible, and will respond to the most delicate touches of nature.
What a piece of work—this coming man! "How noble in reason. How infinite in faculties. In form and motion how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god. The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals."
The first requisite of all education and discipline should be man-timber. Tough timber must come from well grown, sturdy trees. Such wood can be turned into a mast, can be fashioned into a piano or an exquisite carving. But it must become timber first. Time and patience develop the sapling into the tree. So through discipline, education, experience, the sapling child is developed into hardy mental, moral, physical timber.
What an aid to character building would be the determination of the young man in starting out in life to consider himself his own bank; that his notes will be accepted as good or bad, and will pass current everywhere or be worthless, according to his individual reputation for honor and veracity; that if he lets a note go to protest, his bank of character will be suspected; if he lets two or three go to protest, public confidence will be seriously shaken; that if they continue to go to protest, his reputation will be lost and confidence in him ruined.
If the youth should start out with the fixed determination that every statement he makes shall be the exact truth; that every promise he makes shall be redeemed to the letter; that every appointment shall be kept with the strictest faithfulness and with full regard for other men's time, if he should hold his reputation as a priceless treasure, feel that the eyes of the world are upon him, that he must not deviate a hair's breadth from the truth and right; if he should take such a stand at the outset, he would, like George Peabody, come to have almost unlimited credit and the confidence of all, and would have developed into noble man-timber.
What are palaces and equipages; what though a man could cover a continent with his title-deeds, or an ocean with his commerce, compared with conscious rectitude, with a face that never turns pale at the accuser's voice, with a bosom that never throbs with the fear of exposure, with a heart that might be turned inside out and disclose no stain of dishonor? To have done no man a wrong; to have put your signature to no paper to which the purest angel in heaven might not have been an attesting witness; to walk and live, unseduced, within arm's length of what is not your own, with nothing between your desire and its gratification but the invisible law of rectitude;—this is to be a man.
"He that of such a height hath built his mind,And reared the dwelling of his thought so strongAs neither fear nor hope can shake the frameOf his resolved powers; nor all the windOf vanity or malice pierce to wrongHis settled peace, or to disturb the same;What a fair seat hath he; from whence he mayThe boundless wastes and wilds of man survey."[Lines found in one of the books of Beecher's Library.]
A man is never so happy as when he istotus in se; as when he suffices to himself, and can walk without crutches or a guide. Said Jean Paul Richter: "I have made as much out of myself as could be made of the stuff, and no man should require more."
Man is the only great thing in the universe. All the ages have been trying to produce a perfect model. Only one complete man has yet been evolved. The best of us are but prophecies of what is to come.
What constitutes a state?Not high-raised battlement or labored mound,Thick wall or moated gate;Not cities proud with spires and turrets crowned;Not bays and broad-armed ports,Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride;Not starred and spangled courts,Where low-browed baseness wafts perfume to pride.No: men, high-minded men,With powers as far above dull brutes enduedIn forest, brake, or den,As beasts excel cold rocks and brambles rude,—Men who their duties know,But know their rights, and knowing, dare maintain,Prevent the long-aimed blow,And crush the tyrant while they rend the chain.WILLIAM JONES.
God give us men. A time like this demandsStrong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands:Men whom the lust of office does not kill;Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;Men who possess opinions and a will;Men who have honor—men who will not lie;Men who can stand before a demagogueAnd scorn his treacherous flatteries without winking;Tall men sun-crowned, who live above the fogIn public duty, and in private thinking.ANON.
Open thy bosom, set thy wishes wide,And let in manhood—let in happiness;Admit the boundless theatre of thoughtFrom nothing up to God… which makes a man!YOUNG.
"The wisest man could ask no more of fateThan to be simple, modest, manly, true."
In speech right gentle, yet so wise; princely of mien,Yet softly mannered; modest, deferent,And tender-hearted, though of fearless blood.EDWIN ARNOLD.
The Spartans did not inquire how many the enemy are, but where they are.—AGIS II.
What's brave, what's noble, let's do it after the high Roman fashion, and make death proud to take us.—SHAKESPEARE.
Better, like Hector, in the field to die,Than, like a perfumed Paris, turn and fly.LONGFELLOW.
Let me die facing the enemy.—BAYARD.
Who conquers me, shall find a stubborn foe.—BYRON.
Courage in danger is half the battle.—PLAUTUS.
No great deed is doneBy falterers who ask for certainty.GEORGE ELIOT.
Fortune befriends the bold.—DRYDEN.
Tender handed stroke a nettle,And it stings you for your pains;Grasp it like a man of mettle,And it soft as silk remains.AARON HILL.
We make way for the man who boldly pushes past us.—BOVÉE.
Man should dare all things that he knows is right,And fear to do nothing save what is wrong.PHEBE CARY.
Soft-heartedness, in times like these,Shows softness in the upper story.LOWELL.
O friend, never strike sail to fear. Come into port grandly, or sail with God the seas.—EMERSON.
To stand with a smile upon your face against a stake from which you cannot get away—that, no doubt, is heroic. But the true glory is resignation to the inevitable. To stand unchained, with perfect liberty to go away, held only by the higher claims of duty, and let the fire creep up to the heart,—this is heroism.—F. W. ROBERTSON.
"Steady, men! Every man must die where he stands!" said Colin Campbell to the Ninety-third Highlanders at Balaklava, as an overwhelming force of Russian cavalry came sweeping down. "Ay, ay, Sir Colin! we'll do that!" was the cordial response from men many of whom had to keep their word by thus obeying.
"We have met the enemy and they are ours."
"He either fears his fate too muchOr his deserts too small,That dares not put it to the touch,To gain or lose it all."
"Bring back the colors," shouted a captain at the battle of the Alma, when an ensign maintained his ground in front, although the men were retreating. "No," cried the ensign, "bring up the men to the colors." "To dare, and again to dare, and without end to dare," was Danton's noble defiance to the enemies of France.
"The Commons of France have resolved to deliberate," said Mirabeau to De Breze, who brought an order from the king for them to disperse, June 23, 1789. "We have heard the intentions that have been attributed to the king; and you, sir, who cannot be recognized as his organ in the National Assembly,—you, who have neither place, voice, nor right to speak,—you are not the person to bring to us a message of his. Go, say to those who sent you that we are here by the power of the people, and that we will not be driven hence, save by the power of the bayonet."
When the assembled senate of Rome begged Regulus not to return to Carthage to fulfill an illegal promise, he calmly replied: "Have you resolved to dishonor me? Torture and death are awaiting me, but what are these to the shame of an infamous act, or the wounds of a guilty mind? Slave as I am to Carthage, I still have the spirit of a Roman. I have sworn to return. It is my duty. Let the gods take care of the rest."
The courage which Cranmer had shown since the accession of Mary gave way the moment his final doom was announced. The moral cowardice which had displayed itself in his miserable compliance with the lust and despotism of Henry displayed itself again in six successive recantations by which he hoped to purchase pardon. But pardon was impossible; and Cranmer's strangely mingled nature found a power in its very weakness when he was brought into the church of St. Mary at Oxford on the 21st of March, to repeat his recantation on the way to the stake. "Now," ended his address to the hushed congregation before him,—"now I come to the great thing that troubleth my conscience more than any other thing that ever I said or did in my life, and that is the setting abroad of writings contrary to the truth; which here I now renounce and refuse as things written by a hand contrary to the truth which I thought in my heart, and written for fear of death to save my life, if it might be. And, forasmuch as my hand offended in writing contrary to my heart, my hand therefore shall be the first punished; for if I come to the fire it shall be the first burned." "This was the hand that wrote it," he again exclaimed at the stake, "therefore it shall suffer first punishment;" and holding it steadily in the flame, "he never stirred nor cried till life was gone."
"Oh, if I were only a man!" exclaimed Rebecca Bates, a girl of fourteen, as she looked from the window of a lighthouse at Scituate, Mass., during the War of 1812, and saw a British warship anchor in the harbor. "What could you do?" asked Sarah Winsor, a young visitor. "See what a lot of them the boats contain, and look at their guns!" and she pointed to five large boats, filled with soldiers in scarlet uniforms, who were coming to burn the vessels in the harbor and destroy the town. "I don't care, I'd fight," said Rebecca. "I'd use father's old shotgun—anything. Think of uncle's new boat and the sloop! And how hard it is to sit here and see it all, and not lift a finger to help. Father and uncle are in the village and will do all they can. How still it is in the town! There is not a man to be seen." "Oh, they are hiding till the soldiers get nearer," said Sarah, "then we'll hear the shots and the drum." "The drum!" exclaimed Rebecca, "how can they use it? It is here. Father brought it home last night to mend. See! the first boat has reached the sloop. Oh! they are going to burn her. Where is that drum? I've a great mind to go down and beat it. We could hide behind the sandhills and bushes." As flames began to rise from the sloop the ardor of the girls increased. They found the drum and an old fife, and, slipping out of doors unnoticed by Mrs. Bates, soon stood behind a row of sandhills. "Rub-a-dub-dub, rub-a-dub-dub," went the drum, and "squeak, squeak, squeak," went the fife. The Americans in the town thought that help had come from Boston, and rushed into boats to attack the redcoats. The British paused in their work of destruction; and, when the fife began to play "Yankee Doodle," they scrambled into their boats and rowed in haste to the warship, which weighed anchor and sailed away as fast as the wind would carry her.
A woman's piercing shriek suddenly startled a party of surveyors at dinner in a forest of northern Virginia on a calm, sunny day in 1750. The cries were repeated in quick succession, and the men sprang through the undergrowth to learn their cause. "Oh, sir," exclaimed the woman as she caught sight of a youth of eighteen, but a man in stature and bearing; "you will surely do something for me! Make these friends release me. My boy,—my poor boy is drowning, and they will not let me go!" "It would be madness; she will jump into the river," said one of the men who was holding her; "and the rapids would dash her to pieces in a moment!" Throwing on his coat, the youth sprang to the edge of the bank, scanned for a moment the rocks and whirling currents, and then, at sight of part of the boy's dress, plunged into the roaring rapids. "Thank God, he will save my child!" cried the mother, and all rushed to the brink of the precipice; "there he is! Oh, my boy, my darling boy! How could I leave you?"
But all eyes were bent upon the youth struggling with strong heart and hope amid the dizzy sweep of the whirling currents far below. Now it seemed as if he would be dashed against a projecting rock, over which the water flew in foam, and anon a whirlpool would drag him in, from whose grasp escape would seem impossible. Twice the boy went out of sight, but he had reappeared the second time, although frightfully near the most dangerous part of the river. The rush of waters here was tremendous, and no one had ever dared to approach it, even in a canoe, lest he should be dashed to pieces. The youth redoubled his exertions. Three times he was about to grasp the child, when some stronger eddy would toss it from him. One final effort he makes; the child is held aloft by his strong right arm, but a cry of horror bursts from the lips of every spectator as boy and man shoot over the falls and vanish in the seething waters below.
"There they are!" shouted the mother a moment later, in a delirium of joy. "See! they are safe! Great God, I thank Thee!" And sure enough they emerged unharmed from the boiling vortex, and in a few minutes reached a low place in the bank and were drawn up by their friends, the boy senseless, but still alive, and the youth almost exhausted. "God will give you a reward," solemnly spoke the grateful woman. "He will do great things for you in return for this day's work, and the blessings of thousands besides mine will attend you."
The youth was George Washington.
"Your Grace has not the organ of animal courage largely developed," said a phrenologist, who was examining Wellington's head. "You are right," replied the Iron Duke, "and but for my sense of duty I should have retreated in my first fight." That first fight, on an Indian field, was one of the most terrible on record.
In the reverses which followed Napoleon, he met the allies at Arcis. A live shell having fallen in front of one of his young battalions, which recoiled and wavered in expectation of an explosion, Napoleon, to reassure them, spurred his charger toward the instrument of destruction, made him smell the burning match, waited unshaken for the explosion, and was blown up. Rolling in the dust with his mutilated steed, and rising without a wound amid the plaudits of his soldiers, he calmly called for another horse, and continued to brave the grape-shot, and to fly into the thickest of the battle.
When General Jackson was a judge and was holding court in a small settlement, a border ruffian, a murderer and desperado, came into the court-room with brutal violence and interrupted the court. The judge ordered him to be arrested. The officer did not dare to approach him. "Call a posse," said the judge, "and arrest him." But they also shrank in fear from the ruffian. "Call me, then," said Jackson; "this court is adjourned for five minutes." He left the bench, walked straight up to the man, and with his eagle eye actually cowed the ruffian, who dropped his weapons, afterwards saying, "There was something in his eye I could not resist."
One of the last official acts of the late President Carnot, of France, was the sending of a medal of the French Legion of Honor to a little American girl, who lives in Indiana. While a train on the Pan Handle Railroad, having on board several distinguished Frenchmen, was bound to Chicago and the World's Fair, Jennie Carey, who was then ten years old, discovered that a trestle was on fire, and that if the train, which was nearly due, entered it a dreadful wreck would take place. Thereupon she ran out upon the track to a place where she could be seen from some little distance. Then she took off her red flannel skirt and, when the train came in view, waved it back and forth across the track. It was seen, and the train stopped. On board of it were seven hundred people, many of whom must have suffered death but for Jennie's courage and presence of mind. When they returned to France, the Frenchmen brought the occurrence to the notice of President Carnot, and the result was the sending of the medal of this famous French society, the purpose of which is the honoring of bravery and merit, wherever they may be found.
After the battle of Fort Donelson, the wounded were hauled down the hill in rough board wagons, and most of them died before they reached St. Louis. One blue-eyed boy of nineteen, with both arms and both legs shattered, had lain a long time and was neglected. He said, "Why, you see they couldn't stop to bother with us because they had to take the fort. When they took it we all forgot our sufferings and shouted for joy, even to the dying."
Louis IX. of France was captured by the Turks at the battle of Mansoora, during the Seventh Crusade, and his wife Marguerite, with a babe at the breast, was in Damietta, many miles away. The Infidels surrounded the city, and pressed the garrison so hard that it was decided to capitulate. The queen summoned the knights, and told them that she at least would die in armor upon the ramparts before the enemy should become masters of Damietta.
"Before her words they thrilled like leavesWhen winds are in the wood;And a deepening murmur told of menRoused to a loftier mood."
Grasping lance and shield, they vowed to defend their queen and the cross to the last. Damietta was saved.
Pyrrhus marched to Sparta to reinstate the deposed Cleonymus, and quietly pitched his tents before Laconia, not anticipating resistance. In consternation, the Spartans in council decided to send their women to Crete for safety. But the women met and asked Queen Archidamia to remonstrate. She went to the council, sword in hand, and told the men that their wives did not care to live after Sparta was destroyed.
"We are brave men's mothers, and brave men's wives;We are ready to do and dare;We are ready to man your walls with our lives,And string your bows with our hair."
They hurried to the walls and worked all night, aiding the men in digging trenches. When Pyrrhus attacked the city next day, his repulse was so emphatic that he withdrew from Laconia.
Charles V. of Spain passed through Thuringia in 1547, on his return to Swabia after the battle of Muehlburg. He wrote to Catherine, Countess Dowager of Schwartzburg, promising that her subjects should not be molested in their persons or property if they would supply the Spanish soldiers with provisions at a reasonable price. On approaching Eudolstadt, General Alva and Prince Henry of Brunswick, with his sons, invited themselves, by a messenger sent forward, to breakfast with the Countess, who had no choice but to ratify so delicate a request from the commander of an army. Just as the guests were seated at a generous repast, the Countess was called from the hall and told that the Spaniards were using violence and driving away the cattle of the peasants.
Quietly arming all her retinue, she bolted and barred all the gates and doors of the castle, and returned to the banquet to complain of the breach of faith. General Alva told her that such was the custom of war, adding that such trifling disorders were not to be heeded. "That we shall presently see," said Catharine; "my poor subjects must have their own again, or, as God lives, prince's blood for oxen's blood!" The doors were opened, and armed men took the places of the waiters behind the chairs of the guests. Henry changed color; then, as the best way out of a bad scrape, laughed loudly, and ended by praising the splendid acting of his hostess, and promising that Alva should order the cattle restored at once. Not until a courier returned, saying that the order had been obeyed, and all damages settled satisfactorily, did the armed waiters leave. The Countess then thanked her guests for the honor they had done her castle, and they retired with protestations of their distinguished consideration.
It was the heroic devotion of an Indian girl that saved the life of Captain John Smith, when the powerful King Powhatan had decreed his death. Ill could the struggling colony spare him at that time.
When the consul shouted that the bridge was tottering, Lartius and Herminius sought safety in flight. But Horatius strode still nearer the foe, the single champion of his country and liberty, and dared the ninety thousand to come on. Dead stillness fell upon the Tuscans, so astonished were they at the audacity of the Roman. He first broke the awful silence, so deep that his clear, strong voice could be heard by thousands in both armies, between which rolled the Tiber, as he denounced the baseness and perfidy of the invaders. Not until his words were drowned by the loud crash of fiercely disrupturing timbers, and the sullen splash of the dark river, did his enemies hurl their showers of arrows and javelins. Then, dexterously warding off the missiles with his shield, he plunged into the Tiber. Although stabbed in the hip by a Tuscan spear which lamed him for life, he swam in safety to Rome.
"It is a bad omen," said Eric the Red, when his horse slipped and fell on the way to his ship, moored on the coast of Greenland, in readiness for a voyage of discovery. "Ill-fortune would be mine should I dare venture now upon the sea." So he returned to his house, but his young son Leif decided to go, and, with a crew of thirty-five men, sailed southward in search of the unknown shore upon which Captain Biarni had been driven by a storm, while sailing in another Viking ship two or three years before. The first land that they saw was probably Labrador, a barren, rugged plain. Leif called this country Heluland, or the land of flat stones. Sailing onward many days, he came to a low, level coast thickly covered with woods, on account of which he called the country Markland, probably the modern Nova Scotia. Sailing onward, they came to an island which they named Vinland on account of the abundance of delicious wild grapes in the woods. This was in the year 1000. Here where the city of Newport, R. I., stands, they spent many months, and then returned to Greenland with their vessel loaded with grapes and strange kinds of wood. The voyage was successful, and no doubt Eric was sorry he had been frightened by the bad omen.
May 10, 1796, Napoleon carried the bridge at Lodi, in the face of the Austrian batteries. Fourteen cannon—some accounts say thirty—were trained upon the French end of the structure. Behind them were six thousand troops. Napoleon massed four thousand grenadiers at the head of the bridge, with a battalion of three hundred carbineers in front. At the tap of the drum the foremost assailants wheeled from the cover of the street wall under a terrible hail of grape and canister, and attempted to pass the gateway to the bridge. The front ranks went down like stalks of grain before a reaper; the column staggered and reeled backward, and the valiant grenadiers were appalled by the task before them. Without a word or a look of reproach, Napoleon placed himself at their head, and his aids and generals rushed to his side. Forward again, this time over heaps of dead that choked the passage, and a quick run, counted by seconds only, carried the column across two hundred yards of clear space, scarcely a shot from the Austrians taking effect beyond the point where the platoons wheeled for the first leap. So sudden and so miraculous was it all that the Austrian artillerists abandoned their guns instantly, and their supports fled in a panic instead of rushing to the front and meeting the French onslaught. This Napoleon had counted on in making the bold attack. The contrast between Napoleon's slight figure and the massive grenadiers suggested the nickname "Little Corporal."
The great secret of the success of Joan of Arc was the boldness of her attacks.
When Stephen of Colonna fell into the hands of base assailants, and they asked him in derision, "Where is now your fortress?" "Here," was his bold reply, placing his hand upon his heart.
It was after the Mexican War when General McClellan was employed as a topographical engineer in surveying the Pacific coast. From his headquarters at Vancouver he had gone south to the Columbia River with two companions, a soldier and a servant. One evening he received word that the chiefs of the Columbia River tribes desired to confer with him. From the messenger's manner he suspected that the Indians meant mischief. He warned his companions that they must be ready to leave camp at a moment's notice. Mounting his horse, he rode boldly into the Indian village. About thirty chiefs were holding council. McClellan was led into the circle, and placed at the right hand of Saltese. He was familiar with the Chinook jargon, and could understand every word spoken in the council. Saltese made known the grievance of the tribes. Two Indians had been captured by a party of white pioneers and hanged for theft. Retaliation for this outrage seemed indispensable. The chiefs pondered long, but had little to say. McClellan had been on friendly terms with them, and was not responsible for the forest executions. Still, he was a white man, and the chiefs had vowed vengeance against the race. The council was prolonged for hours before sentence was passed, and then Saltese, in the name of the head men of the tribes, decreed that McClellan should immediately be put to death in retaliation for the hanging of the two Indian thieves.
McClellan had said nothing. He had known that argument and pleas for justice or mercy would be of no avail. He had sat motionless, apparently indifferent to his fate. By his listlessness he had thrown his captors off their guard. When the sentence was passed he acted like a flash. Flinging his left arm around the neck of Saltese, he whipped out his revolver and held it close to the chief's temple. "Revoke that sentence, or I shall kill you this instant!" he cried, with his fingers clicking the trigger. "I revoke it!" exclaimed Saltese, fairly livid from fear. "I must have your word that I can leave this council in safety." "You have the word of Saltese," was the quick response. McClellan knew how sacred was the pledge which he had received. The revolver was lowered. Saltese was released from the embrace of the strong arm. McClellan strode out of the tent with his revolver in his hand. Not a hand was raised against him. He mounted his horse and rode to his camp, where his two followers were ready to spring into the saddle and to escape from the villages. He owed his life to his quickness of perception, and to his accurate knowledge of Indian character.
In 1866, Rufus Choate spoke to an audience of nearly five thousand in Lowell in favor of the candidacy of James Buchanan for the presidency. The floor of the great hall began to sink, settling more and more as he proceeded with his address, until a sound of cracking timber below would have precipitated a stampede with fatal results but for the coolness of B. F. Butler, who presided. Telling the people to remain quiet, he said that he would see if there were any cause for alarm. He found the supports of the floor in so bad a condition that the slightest applause would be likely to bury the audience in the ruins of the building. Returning rather leisurely to the platform, he whispered to Choate as he passed, "We shall all be in —— in five minutes," then he told the crowd that there was no immediate danger if they would slowly disperse, although he thought it prudent to adjourn to a place where there would be no risk whatever. The post of danger, he added, was on the platform, which was most weakly supported, therefore he and those with him would be the last to leave. No doubt many lives were saved by his coolness.
Many distinguished foreign and American statesmen were present at a fashionable dinner party where wine was freely poured, but Schuyler Colfax, then vice-president of the United States, declined to drink from a proffered cup. "Colfax dares not drink," sneered a Senator who had already taken too much. "You are right," said the Vice-President, "I dare not."
When Grant was in Houston several years ago, he was given a rousing reception. Naturally hospitable, and naturally inclined to like a man of Grant's make-up, the Houstonites determined to go beyond any other Southern city in the way of a banquet and other manifestations of their good-will and hospitality. They made great preparations for the dinner, the committee taking great pains to have the finest wines that could be procured for the table that night. When the time came to serve the wine, the head-waiter went first to Grant. Without a word the general quietly turned down all the glasses at his plate. This movement was a great surprise to the Texans, but they were equal to the occasion. Without a single word being spoken, every man along the line of the long tables turned his glasses down, and there was not a drop of wine taken that night.
A deep sewer at Noyon, France, had been opened for repairs, and carelessly left at night without covering or lights to warn people of danger. Late at night four men stumbled in, and lay some time before their situation was known in the town. No one dared go to the aid of the men, then unconscious from breathing noxious gases, except Catherine Vassen, a servant girl of eighteen. She insisted on being lowered at once. Fastening a rope around two of the men, she aided in raising them and restoring them to consciousness. Descending again, she had just tied a rope around a third man, when she felt her breath failing. Tying another rope to her long, curly hair, she swooned, but was drawn up with the man, to be quickly revived by fresh air and stimulants. The fourth man was dead when his body was pulled up, on account of the delay from the fainting of Catherine.
Two French officers at Waterloo were advancing to charge a greatly superior force. One, observing that the other showed signs of fear, said, "Sir, I believe you are frightened." "Yes, I am," was the reply, "and if you were half as much frightened, you would run away."
"That's a brave man," said Wellington, when he saw a soldier turn pale as he marched against a battery; "he knows his danger, and faces it."
"There are many cardinals and bishops at Worms," said a friend to Luther, "and they will burn your body to ashes as they did that of John Huss." Luther replied: "Although they should make a fire that should reach from Worms to Wittenberg, and that should flame up to heaven, in the Lord's name I would pass through it and appear before them." He said to another: "I would enter Worms though there were as many devils there as there are tiles upon the roofs of the houses." Another said: "Duke George will surely arrest you." He replied: "It is my duty to go, and I will go, though it rain Duke Georges for nine days together."
"Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me," exclaimed Luther at the Diet of Worms, facing his foes.
A Western paper recently invited the surviving Union and Confederate officers to give an account of the bravest act observed by each during the Civil War. Colonel Thomas W. Higginson said that at a dinner at Beaufort, S. C., where wine flowed freely and ribald jests were bandied, Dr. Miner, a slight, boyish fellow who did not drink, was told that he could not go until he had drunk a toast, told a story, or sung a song. He replied: "I cannot sing, but I will give a toast, although I must drink it in water. It is 'Our Mothers.'" The men were so affected and ashamed that some took him by the hand and thanked him for displaying courage greater than that required to walk up to the mouth of a cannon.
It took great courage for the commercial Quaker, John Bright, to espouse a cause which called down upon his head the derision and scorn and hatred of the Parliament. For years he rested under a cloud of obloquy, but Bright was made of stern stuff. It was only his strength of character and masterly eloquence, which saved him from political annihilation. To a man who boasted that his ancestors came over with the Conquerors, he replied, "I never heard that they did anything else." A Tory lordling said, when Bright was ill, that Providence had inflicted upon Bright, for the measure of his talents, disease of the brain. When Bright went back into the Commons he replied: "This may be so, but it will be some consolation to the friends and family of the noble lord to know that that disease is one which even Providence cannot inflict upon him."
"When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the World, and takes him boldly by the beard," says Holmes, "he is often surprised to find it come off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away timid adventurers."
It takes courage for a young man to stand firmly erect while others are bowing and fawning for praise and power. It takes courage to wear threadbare clothes while your comrades dress in broadcloth. It takes courage to remain in honest poverty when others grow rich by fraud. It takes courage to say "No" squarely when those around you say "Yes." It takes courage to do your duty in silence and obscurity while others prosper and grow famous although neglecting sacred obligations. It takes courage to unmask your true self, to show your blemishes to a condemning world, and to pass for what you really are.
It takes courage and pluck to be outvoted, beaten, laughed at, scoffed, ridiculed, derided, misunderstood, misjudged, to stand alone with all the world against you, but
"They are slaves who dare not beIn the right with two or three."
"There is never wanting a dog to bark at you."
"An honest man is not the worse because a dog barks at him."
"Let any man show the world that he feelsAfraid of its bark, and 'twill fly at his heels.Let him fearlessly face it, 't will leave him alone,And 't will fawn at his feet if he fling it a bone."
We live ridiculously for fear of being thought ridiculous.
"'Tis he is the coward who proves false to his vows,To his manhood, his honor, for a laugh or a sneer:'Tis he is the hero who stands firm, though alone,For the truth and the right without flinching or fear."
The youth who starts out by being afraid to speak what he thinks will usually end by being afraid to think what he wishes.
How we shrink from an act of our own. We live as others live. Custom or fashion dictates, or your doctor or minister, and they in turn dare not depart from their schools. Dress, living, servants, carriages, everything must conform, or be ostracized. Who dares conduct his household or business affairs in his own way, and snap his fingers at Dame Grundy?
Many a man has marched up to the cannon's mouth in battle who dared not face public opinion or oppose Mrs. Grundy.
It takes courage for a public man not to bend the knee to popular prejudice. It takes courage to refuse to follow custom when it is injurious to his health and morals. To espouse an unpopular cause in Congress requires more courage than to lead a charge in battle. How much easier for a politician to prevaricate and dodge an issue than to stand squarely on his feet like a man.
As a rule, eccentricity is a badge of power, but how many women would not rather strangle their individuality than be tabooed by Mrs. Grundy? Yet fear is really the only thing to fear.
"Whoever you may be," said Sainte-Beuve, "great genius, distinguished talent, artist honorable or amiable, the qualities for which you deserve to be praised will all be turned against you. Were you a Virgil, the pious and sensible singerpar excellence, there are people who will call you an effeminate poet. Were you a Horace, there are people who will reproach you with the very purity and delicacy of your taste. If you were a Shakespeare, some one will call you a drunken savage. If you were a Goethe, more than one Pharisee will proclaim you the most selfish of egotists."
As the strongest man has a weakness somewhere, so the greatest hero is a coward somewhere. Peter was courageous enough to draw his sword to defend his master, but he could not stand the ridicule and the finger of scorn of the maidens in the high priest's hall, and he actually denied even the acquaintance of the master he had declared he would die for.
"I will take the responsibility," said Andrew Jackson, on a memorable occasion, and his words have become proverbial. Not even Congress dared to oppose the edicts of John Quincy Adams.
If a man would accomplish anything in this world, he must not be afraid of assuming responsibilities. Of course it takes courage to run the risk of failure, to be subjected to criticism for an unpopular cause, to expose one's self to the shafts of everybody's ridicule, but the man who is not true to himself, who cannot carry out the sealed orders placed in his hands at his birth, regardless of the world's yes or no, of its approval or disapproval, the man who has not the courage to trace the pattern of his own destiny, which no other soul knows but his own, can never rise to the true dignity of manhood. All the world loves courage; youth craves it; they want to hear about it, they want to read about it. The fascination of the "blood and thunder" novels and of the cheap story papers for youth are based upon this idea of courage. If the boys cannot get the real article, they will take a counterfeit.
Don't be like Uriah Heep, begging everybody's pardon for taking the liberty of being in the world. There is nothing attractive in timidity, nothing lovable in fear. Both are deformities and are repulsive. Manly courage is dignified and graceful. The worst manners in the world are those of persons conscious "of being beneath their position, and trying to conceal it or make up for it by style."
Bruno, condemned to be burned alive in Rome, said to his judge: "You are more afraid to pronounce my sentence than I am to receive it." Anne Askew, racked until her bones were dislocated, never flinched, but looked her tormentor calmly in the face and refused to abjure her faith.
"We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other." "Half a man's wisdom goes with his courage," said Emerson. Physicians used to teach that courage depends on the circulation of the blood in the arteries, and that during passion, anger, trials of strength, wrestling or fighting, a large amount of blood is collected in the arteries, and does not pass to the veins. A strong pulse is a fortune in itself.
"Rage," said Shaftesbury, "can make a coward forget himself and fight."
"I should have thought fear would have kept you from going so far," said a relative who found the little boy Nelson wandering a long distance from home. "Fear?" said the future admiral, "I don't know him."
"Doubt indulged becomes doubt realized." To determine to do anything is half the battle. "To think a thing is impossible is to make it so."Courage is victory, timidity is defeat.
That simple shepherd-lad, David, fresh from his flocks, marching unattended and unarmed, save with his shepherd's staff and sling, to confront the colossal Goliath with his massive armor, is the sublimest audacity the world has ever seen.
"Dent, I wish you would get down, and see what is the matter with that leg there," said Grant, when he and Colonel Dent were riding through the thickest of a fire that had become so concentrated and murderous that his troops had all been driven back. "I guess looking after your horse's legs can wait," said Dent; "it is simply murder for us to sit here." "All right," said Grant, "if you don't want to see to it, I will." He dismounted, untwisted a piece of telegraph wire which had begun to cut the horse's leg, examined it deliberately, and climbed into his saddle. "Dent," said he, "when you've got a horse that you think a great deal of, you should never take any chances with him. If that wire had been left there for a little time longer he would have gone dead lame, and would perhaps have been ruined for life."
Wellington said that at Waterloo the hottest of the battle raged round a farmhouse, with an orchard surrounded by a thick hedge, which was so important a point in the British position that orders were given to hold it at any hazard or sacrifice. At last the powder and ball ran short and the hedges took fire, surrounding the orchard with a wall of flame. A messenger had been sent for ammunition, and soon two loaded wagons came galloping toward the farmhouse. "The driver of the first wagon, with the reckless daring of an English boy, spurred his struggling and terrified horses through the burning heap; but the flames rose fiercely round, and caught the powder, which exploded in an instant, sending wagon, horses, and rider in fragments into the air. For an instant the driver of the second wagon paused, appalled by his comrade's fate; the next, observing that the flames, beaten back for the moment by the explosion, afforded him one desperate chance, sent his horses at the smouldering breach and, amid the deafening cheers of the garrison, landed his terrible cargo safely within. Behind him the flames closed up, and raged more fiercely than ever."
At the battle of Friedland a cannon-ball came over the heads of the French soldiers, and a young soldier instinctively dodged. Napoleon looked at him and smilingly said: "My friend, if that ball were destined for you, though you were to burrow a hundred feet under ground it would be sure to find you there."
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