Part 2 out of 8
takes penny after penny to school and he never has anything to show for it
You know such boys--and grown people, too. Every individual has some such
aptitudes--either latent or developed, either mediocre or marked--and his
aptitudes fit him better for some one vocation than for any other.
The sixth point to be considered is experience. One might be fitted for a
vocation with all of the five points that we have enumerated, and yet not
have either the education or the training for it. What shall he do?
Theoretically and ideally, every individual should be carefully and
thoroughly trained, from his earliest childhood, for the vocation for
which he is physically, mentally, and morally fitted. But this seldom
happens--and can happen but seldom so long as parents and teachers remain
ignorant of human nature and of work. A hard problem, then, confronts the
young man or young woman past school days and not trained for the right
calling. He or she must decide whether to compromise upon work as nearly
right as possible or to make the necessary sacrifices to obtain education,
training, and experience. There is much evidence in favor of choosing
either horn of the dilemma. A most successful manufacturer called upon us
recently. We told him that, with proper training, he would have been even
more successful and far better satisfied in the legal profession. "I know
you are right," he said. "I have always regretted that circumstances
prevented my taking a law course as a young man. However, I have an
extensive law library, do practically all the legal work for my firm, and
am often consulted on obscure legal points relative to the manufacturing
business by lawyers of some renown."
Abraham Lincoln, the farmhand and flatboatman, began the study of grammar
at twenty-two and of law still later. Elihu Burritt, "The Learned
Blacksmith," who lectured in both England and America, taught himself
languages and sciences while working eleven hours a day at the forge.
We enjoy the acquaintance of a woman physician of considerable prominence
who did not enter medical college until she was more than fifty years of
age. Henry George was a printer who studied economics after he was
twenty-seven years old. Frederick Douglass was a slave until he was
twenty-one, yet secured a liberal education, so that he became a noted
speaker and writer. The following from "Up from Slavery," by the late
Booker T. Washington, shows what can be done by even a poor black boy,
without money or influence, to win an education:
[Footnote 3: Doubleday, Page & Company, Garden City, New York.]
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON'S STORY
I determined when quite a small child that, if I accomplished nothing else
in life, I would in some way get enough education to enable me to read
common books and newspapers. Soon after we got settled in some manner in
our new cabin in West Virginia, I induced my mother to get hold of a book
for me. How or where she got it I do not know, but in some way she
procured an old copy of 'Webster's Blue-back Spelling-book,' which
contained the alphabet, followed by such meaningless words as 'ab,' 'ba,'
'ca,' and 'da.' I began at once to devour this book, and I think that it
was the first one I ever had in my hands. I had learned from somebody that
the way to begin to read was to learn the alphabet, so I tried in all the
ways I could think of to learn it--all, of course, without a teacher, for
I could find no one to teach me. At that time there was not a single
member of my race anywhere near us who could read, and I was too timid to
approach any of the white people. In some way, within a few weeks, I
mastered the greater portion of the alphabet. In all my efforts to learn
to read my mother shared fully my ambition and sympathized with me and
aided me in every way that she could. Though she was totally ignorant so
far as mere book knowledge was concerned, she had high ambitions for her
children, and a large fund of good hard common sense, which seemed to
enable her to meet and master every situation. If I have done anything in
life worth attention, I feel sure that I inherited the disposition from my
The opening of the school in the Kanawha Valley brought to me one of the
keenest disappointments that I ever experienced. I had been working in a
salt-furnace for several months, and my stepfather had discovered that I
had a financial value, and so, when the school opened, he decided that he
could not spare me from my work. This decision seemed to cloud my every
ambition. The disappointment was made all the more severe by reason of the
fact that my place of work was where I could see the happy children
passing to and from school morning and afternoon. Despite this
disappointment, however, I determined that I would learn something anyway.
I applied myself with greater earnestness than ever to the mastering of
what was in the blue-back speller.
My mother sympathized with me in my disappointment and sought to comfort
me in all the ways she could and to help me find a way to learn. After a
while I succeeded in making arrangements with the teacher to give me some
lessons at night, after the day's work was done. These night lessons were
so welcome that I think I learned more at night than the other children
did during the day. My own experiences in the night-school gave me faith
in the night-school idea, with which, in after years, I had to do both at
Hampton and Tuskegee. But my boyish heart was still set upon going to
day-school and I let no opportunity slip to push my case. Finally I won,
and was permitted to go to the school in the day for a few months, with
the understanding that I was to rise early in the morning and work in the
furnace till nine o'clock, and return immediately after school closed in
the afternoon for at least two hours more of work.
The schoolhouse was some distance from the furnace, and as I had to work
till nine o'clock, and the school opened at nine, I found myself in a
difficulty. School would always be begun before I reached it, and
sometimes my class had recited. To get around this difficulty I yielded to
a temptation for which most people, I suppose, will condemn me; but since
it is a fact, I might as well state it. I have great faith in the power
and influence of facts. It is seldom that anything is permanently gained
by holding back a fact. There was a large clock in a little office in the
furnace. This clock, of course, all the hundred or more workmen depended
upon to regulate their hours of beginning and ending the day's work. I got
the idea that the way for me to reach school on time was to move the hands
from half-past eight up to the nine o'clock mark. This I found myself
doing morning after morning, till the furnace 'boss' discovered that
something was wrong, and locked the clock in a case. I did not mean to
inconvenience anybody. I simply meant to reach that schoolhouse on time.
When, however, I found myself at the school for the first time, I also
found myself confronted with two other difficulties. In the first place, I
found that all of the other children wore hats or caps on their heads, and
I had neither hat nor cap. In fact, I do not remember that, up to the time
of going to school, I had ever worn any kind of covering upon my head, nor
do I recall that either I or anybody else had even thought anything about
the need of covering for my head. But, of course, when I saw how all the
other boys were dressed, I began to feel quite uncomfortable. As usual, I
put the case before my mother, and she explained to me that she had no
money with which to buy a 'store hat,' which was a rather new institution
at that time among the members of my race and was considered quite the
thing for young and old to own, but that she would find a way to help me
out of the difficulty. She accordingly got two pieces of 'homespun'
(jeans) and sewed them together, and I was soon the proud possessor of my
My second difficulty was with regard to my name, or rather, a name. From
the time when I could remember anything I had been called simply 'Booker.'
Before going to school it had never occurred to me that it was needful or
appropriate to have an additional name. When I heard the school roll
called, I noticed that all of the children had at least two names, and
some of them indulged in what seemed to me the extravagance of having
three. I was in deep perplexity, because I knew the teacher would demand
of me at least two names, and I had only one. By the time the occasion
came for the enrolling of my name, an idea occurred to me which I thought
would make me equal to the situation; and so, when the teacher asked me
what my full name was, I calmly told him 'Booker Washington,' as if I had
been called by that name all my life; and by that name I have since been
known. Later in my life I found that my mother had given me the name of
'Booker Taliaferro' soon after I was born, but in some way that part of my
name seemed to disappear and for a long while was forgotten, but as soon
as I found out about it I revived it, and made my full name, 'Booker
Taliaferro Washington.' I think there are not many men in our country who
have had the privilege of naming themselves in the way that I have.
The time that I was permitted to attend school during the day was short,
and my attendance was irregular. It was not long before I had to stop
attending day-school altogether, and devote all of my time again to work.
I resorted to the night-school again. In fact, the greater part of the
education I secured in my boyhood was gathered through the night-school
after my day's work was done. I had difficulty often in securing a
satisfactory teacher. Sometimes, after I had secured someone to teach me
at night, I would find, much to my disappointment, that the teacher knew
but little more than I did. Often I would have to walk several miles at
night in order to recite my night-school lessons. There was never a time
in my youth, no matter how dark and discouraging the days might be, when
one resolve did not continually remain with me, and that was a
determination to secure an education at any cost....
After I had worked in the salt-furnace for some time, work was secured for
me in a coal mine, which was operated mainly for the purpose of securing
fuel for the salt-furnace.
In those days, and later, as a young man, I used to try to picture in my
imagination the feelings and ambitions of a white boy with absolutely no
limit placed upon his aspirations and activities. I used to envy the white
boy who had no obstacle placed in the way of his becoming a Congressman,
Governor, Bishop, or President by reason of the accident of his birth or
race. I used to picture the way that I would act under such circumstances;
how I would begin at the bottom and keep rising until I reached the
highest round of success.
One day, while at work in the coal mine, I happened to overhear two miners
talking about a great school for colored people somewhere in Virginia.
This was the first time that I had ever heard anything about any kind of
school or college that was more pretentious than the little colored school
in our town.
In the darkness of the mine I noiselessly crept as close as I could to the
two men talking. I heard one tell the other that not only was the school
established for the members of my race, but that opportunities were
provided by which poor but worthy students could work out all or a part of
the cost of board, and at the same time be taught some trade or industry.
As they went on describing the school, it seemed to me that it must be
the greatest place on earth, and not even Heaven presented more
attractions for me at that time than did the Hampton Normal and
Agricultural Institute of Virginia, about which these men were talking. I
resolved at once to go to that school, although I had no idea where it
was, or how many miles away, or how I was going to reach it; I remembered
only that I was on fire constantly with one ambition, and that was to go
to Hampton. This thought was with me day and night.
In the fall of 1872, I determined to make an effort to get there,
although, as I have stated, I had no definite idea of the direction in
which Hampton was, or of what it would cost to go there. I do not think
that anyone thoroughly sympathized with me in my ambition to go to
Hampton, unless it was my mother, and she was troubled with a grave fear
that I was starting out on a wild-goose chase. At any rate, I got only a
half-hearted consent from her that I might start. The small amount of
money that I had earned had been consumed by my step-father and the
remainder of the family, with the exception of a very few dollars, and so
I had very little with which to buy clothes and pay my traveling expenses.
Finally, the great day came and I started for Hampton. I had only a small,
cheap satchel that contained what few articles of clothing I could get. My
mother, at the time, was rather weak and broken in health. I hardly
expected to see her again, and thus our parting was all the more sad. She,
however, was very brave through it all. At that time there were no through
trains connecting that part of West Virginia with eastern Virginia. Trains
ran only a portion of the way, and the remainder of the distance was
traveled by stage-coaches.
The distance from Malden to Hampton is about five hundred miles. I had not
been away from home many hours before it began to grow painfully evident
that I did not have enough money to pay my fare to Hampton.
By walking, begging rides, both in wagons and in the cars, in some way,
after a number of days, I reached the city of Richmond, Virginia, about
eighty-two miles from Hampton. When I reached there, tired, hungry, and
dirty, it was late in the night. I had never been in a large city before,
and this rather added to my misery. When I reached Richmond I was
completely out of money. I had not a single acquaintance in the place,
and, being unused to city ways, I did not know where to go. I applied at
several places for lodging, but they all wanted money, and that was what I
did not have. Knowing nothing else better to do, I walked the streets. In
doing this I passed by many food-stands, where fried chicken and half-moon
apple pies were piled high and made to present a most tempting appearance.
At that time it seemed to me that I would have promised all that I
expected to possess in the future to have gotten hold of one of those
chicken legs or one of those pies. But I could not get either of these,
nor anything else to eat.
I must have walked the streets till after midnight. At last I became so
exhausted that I could walk no longer. I was tired; I was hungry; I was
everything but discouraged. Just about the time when I reached extreme
physical exhaustion, I came upon a portion of a street where the board
sidewalk was considerably elevated. I waited for a few minutes, till I was
sure that no passers-by could see me, and then crept under the sidewalk
and lay for the night upon the ground, with my satchel of clothing for a
pillow. Nearly all night I could hear the tramp of feet above my head. The
next morning I found myself somewhat refreshed, but I was extremely
hungry, because it had been a long time since I had had sufficient food.
As soon as it became light enough for me to see my surroundings I noticed
that I was near a large ship, and that this ship seemed to be unloading a
cargo of pig iron. I went at once to the vessel and asked the captain to
permit me to help unload the vessel in order to get money for food. The
captain, a white man, who seemed to be kind-hearted, consented. I worked
long enough to earn money for my breakfast, and it seems to me, as I
remember it now, to have been about the best breakfast that I have ever
"My work pleased the captain so well that he told me if I desired, I
could continue working for a small amount per day. This I was very glad to
do. I continued working on this vessel for a number of days. After buying
food with the small wages I received there was not much left to add to the
amount I must get to pay my way to Hampton. In order to economize in every
way possible, so as to be sure to reach Hampton in a reasonable time, I
continued to sleep under the same sidewalk that gave me shelter the first
night I was in Richmond.
"When I had saved what I considered enough money with which to reach
Hampton, I thanked the captain of the vessel for his kindness and started
again. Without any unusual occurrence I reached Hampton, with a surplus of
exactly fifty cents with which to begin my education. To me it had been a
long, eventful journey, but the first sight of the large, three-story,
brick school building seemed to have rewarded me for all that I had
undergone in order to reach the place.
"It seemed to me to be the largest and most beautiful building I had ever
seen. The sight of it seemed to give me new life. I felt that a new kind
of existence had now begun--that life would now have a new meaning. I felt
that I had reached the promised land, and I resolved to let no obstacle
prevent me from putting forth the highest effort to fit myself to
accomplish the most good in the world.
"As soon as possible after reaching the grounds of the Hampton Institute,
I presented myself before the head teacher for assignment to a class.
Having been so long without proper food, a bath, and change of clothing, I
did not, of course, make a very favorable impression upon her, and I could
see at once that there were doubts in her mind about the wisdom of
admitting me as a student. I felt that I could hardly blame her if she got
the idea that I was a worthless loafer or tramp. For some time she did not
refuse to admit me; neither did she decide in my favor, and I continued to
linger about her, and to impress her in all the ways I could with my
worthiness. In the meantime, I saw her admitting other students, and that
added greatly to my discomfort, for I felt, deep down in my heart, that I
could do as well as they, if I could only get a chance to show her what
was in me.
"After some hours had passed, the head teacher said to me: 'The adjoining
recitation room needs sweeping. Take the broom and sweep it,'
"It occurred to me at once that here was my chance. Never did I receive an
order with more delight. I knew that I could sweep, for Mrs. Ruffner had
thoroughly taught me how to do that when I lived with her.
"_I_ swept the recitation room three times. Then I got a dusting cloth and
I dusted it four times. All the woodwork around the walls, every bench,
table, and desk, I went over four times with my dusting cloth. Besides,
every piece of furniture had been moved and every closet and corner of the
room had been thoroughly cleaned. I had the feeling that, in a large
measure, my future depended upon the impression I made upon the teacher in
the cleaning of that room. When I was through, I reported to the head
teacher. She was a Yankee woman, who knew just where to look for dirt. She
went into the room and inspected the floor and closets; then she took her
handkerchief and rubbed it on the woodwork, about the walls, and over the
table and benches. When she was unable to find one bit of dirt on the
floor, or a particle of dust on any of the furniture, she quietly
remarked: 'I guess you will do to enter this institution.'
"I was one of the happiest souls on earth. The sweeping of that room was
my college examination, and never did any youth pass an examination for
entrance into Harvard or Yale that gave him more genuine satisfaction. I
have passed several examinations since then, but I have always felt that
this was the best one I ever passed."
If Lincoln, Burritt, Booker T. Washington, and thousands of others, with
all their handicaps, could secure needed education for their life work,
why should any man remain in an uncongenial calling? There is danger that
we may give our boys and girls too much help; that life be made too easy
for them; that their moral backbones may grow flabby by reason of too
much support. Normal young people do not need aid and support. They need
guidance and direction--and the majority of them, either the sharp spur of
necessity or the relentless urge of an ambition which will not be denied.
Almost without exception we have found that the only difference between
genius or millionaire and dunce or tramp is a willingness to pay the
THE PRICE OF SUCCESS
From an unknown author comes the all-important question to every seeker
"You want success. Are you willing to pay the price for it?
"How much discouragement can you stand?
"How much bruising can you take?
"How long can you hang on in the face of obstacles?
"Have you the grit to try to do what others have failed to do?
"Have you the nerve to attempt things that the average man would never
dream of tackling?
"Have you the persistence to keep on trying after repeated failures?
"Can you cut out luxuries? Can you do without things that others consider
"Can you go up against skepticism, ridicule, friendly advice to quit,
"Can you keep your mind steadily on the single object you are pursuing,
resisting all temptations to divide your attention?
"Have you the patience to plan all the work you attempt; the energy to
wade through masses of detail; the accuracy to overlook no point, however
small, in planning or executing?
"Are you strong on the finish as well as quick at the start?
"Success is sold in the open market. You can buy it--I can buy it--any man
can buy it who is willing to pay the price for it."
CLASSES OF MISFITS
To the casual observer, humanity seems to be divided into countless
different kinds of people. In fact, it is often said that of all the
millions of people on the earth, no two are just alike. Some writers on
vocational guidance, indeed, express discouragement. They see humanity in
such infinite variety that it is impossible ever to classify types.
Therefore, they mourn, the vocational expert cannot judge of aptitudes
except by trial in various kinds of work until, finally, real native
talents appear in actual accomplishment. The anthropologist, however,
easily divides mankind by means of several broad classifications, A few
distinct variations, easily recognizable by the anthropological expert,
put every one of the billion and one-half people on the face of the earth
in his particular class.
In the same way, to the casual observer, it no doubt seems that the number
and kind of misfits is so great that any attempt to analyze them and
classify them must meet with failure. Those, however, who have studied the
problem and have met and talked with thousands of those struggling against
the handicap of unloved and difficult work, find a few classes which
include nearly all of them. Just as there are two fundamental reasons why
men and women select wrong vocations, and a few common variations upon
these two reasons, so there are just a few general ways in which people
select the wrong vocations. An examination of some of these will be
illuminating to the reader.
THE PHYSICALLY FRAIL
In the beginning of the life of the race all men hunted, fished, fought,
danced, sang, and loafed. These were the only manly vocations. There were
no clerks, no doctors, and, perhaps, no priests. In some races and under
some conditions to-day, all of the men are hunters and fishers, or
shepherds and stock-raisers, or all the men till the field. Some years
ago, in our country, practically all the male population worked at the
trade of agriculture, there being only a few preachers, doctors, lawyers,
merchants, and clerks.
In the nations of Europe to-day people are born to certain professions or
born to a certain narrow circle of vocations; some people are born to
manual labor, and, having once performed manual labor, are thereby firmly
fixed in the class of those who earn their living by their hands; others
are born in a class above that, and will suffer almost any privation
rather than earn their living by manual labor. In the United States this
same feeling is becoming more and more prevalent. Our physical work is
nearly all of it done by those who came to us from across the sea, and
native-born Americans seek vocations in some other sphere.
The common school is everywhere, and education is compulsory. The high
school is also to be found in all parts of the country. There are also
business colleges, technical schools, academies, universities, colleges,
professional schools, correspondence schools, and other educational
institutions of every possible kind. These are patronized by the
native-born population as well as by many of those who come to us from
foreign lands. The result is that, of the first great class which we shall
treat, there are comparatively few in relation to the whole population.
Even though this is true, there are all too many.
The first class of misfits is composed of those who are too frail for
physical labor and who are not well enough educated to take their places
amongst clerical or professional workers. These unfortunates do not like
hard, manual work; they cannot do it well; they are outclassed in it. They
do not hold any position long; they are frequently unemployed; and they
are often compelled to live by their wits. As a general rule, those in
this class are well equipped intellectually by nature, and would have
responded splendidly to educative efforts if they had been given an
opportunity. People of this class lack physical courage. They shrink from
hardship and will do almost anything to escape physical suffering. It is
this lack of courage, as well as their inability to make a decent living
out of their hands and muscles, that leads them, in so many cases, to
As a general rule, people of this type have considerable natural
refinement, and refinement is always expensive. They are the kind of
people of whom it is often said that they have "champagne tastes and beer
incomes." It is difficult for them to finance themselves, with any degree
of frugality or economy, upon the small and precarious income they earn at
manual labor. This is the class of people who sometimes become
counterfeiters, sneak thieves, pickpockets, forgers, gamblers, stool
pigeons, second-story workers, and petty criminals along other lines which
do not require physical courage, strength, and force. Of course, the great
majority of these misfits do not enter upon a life of crime. They are,
however, poor, often in need, sometimes pauperized, and, as a general
rule, their lives are short and miserable. There are those, also, whose
cases are not so extreme. Unfitness for manual labor results merely in
bare living, a life of comparative poverty, and general lack of success.
THE FAT MAN
Another class of those who are physically unfit for hard, manual labor are
those who are too stout. The fat man is, by nature, fitted to sit in a
large, luxurious chair and direct the work of others. He is too heavy on
his feet for physical work, as a general rule, and is also too much
disinclined to physical effort. It is a well-known fact that, almost
without exception, fat men are physically lazy. The natural work,
therefore, of the stout man is executive work, banking, finance,
merchandising, handling of food products, and the arbitration of
differences between his fellow men. Fat men are natural bankers,
financiers, lawyers, judges, politicians, managers, bakers, butchers,
grocers, restaurant owners, preachers, and orators. If, however, the man
of this type does not secure sufficient education and training to enable
him to undertake one of these professions, but grows up with no other ways
to satisfy his wants than by the exercise of his muscles, he is greatly
handicapped in the race for success. It is not usual, however, to find a
man of this type amongst the ranks of the poor. Most of them are fairly
well supplied with means, and usually have plenty to eat, plenty to wear,
and a good place to sleep.
In order to obtain the things he desires, the man who has no aptitude for
physical labor on account of his great bulk sometimes turns his attention
to crime. This type of man may be a gambler, a grafting politician, a
confidence man, a promoter of wild-cat stocks or bonds, the man who sits
behind the scenes and directs a band of criminals or, perhaps, a whole
community of them, or in some other way preys upon the gullibility of the
Naturally, there are fat men, also, who are honest and high-principled in
their intentions and who still have not fitted themselves for their true
vocation in life. Such men, like those who are physically frail and
honest, drag through a miserable existence, never fully realizing their
possibilities, or expressing themselves; never finding an outlet for their
real talents; never making the success of life which they might have made
with sufficient training and in their true vocations.
THE MAN OF BONE AND MUSCLE
Just as there were, doubtless, thousands of men too frail or too corpulent
for physical work who were compelled to do it in the days when practically
all men were either farmers or carpenters and builders, so to-day there
are thousands of men far too active for clerical work who are compelled to
do it because certain circles in society have a prejudice against manual
labor. There is a type of man whose bony and muscular system predominates
in his organization. This type of man loves the out-of-doors; freedom is
to him a physical and moral necessity. He hates, and even grows irritable
under, restraint. He demands physical activity; his muscles call for
exercise; his whole physical being is keen for life in the open, with
plenty of activity. Yet this type of man, by thousands, is sentenced to
spend his life behind the counter or chained to a desk. He is as unhappy
there, and almost as badly placed, as if he were, indeed, in prison. Look
around the parks, the roads, the athletic fields, the lakes and streams,
the woods, and all out-of-door places in this country and you will find
this man taking a brief rest from his prison cell, engaged in strenuous
forms of muscular activity--tennis, golf, baseball, football, lacrosse,
cross-country running, boating, swimming, yachting, motoring, horseback
riding, hunting, fishing, exploring, mountain climbing, ranching--in many
ways seeking to find an outlet for his stored-up physical energy.
WORK FOR THE ACTIVE MAN
There is plenty of room for the mental capacity, the executive ability,
and the splendid organizing genius of this type of man in outdoor work.
Our great forests and fields are not producing twenty-five per cent of the
amount of wealth that they should produce, under even such scientific
methods as are known at present. But these are only the beginning. There
is an opportunity for those with both mental and physical aptitudes to
undertake the solution of the problem. The resources of the universe are
infinite. There is no parsimony in Nature. There is plenty and to spare
Recently there has been a great deal said about the fact that all of the
land on the surface of the earth has now been occupied by mankind; that
hereafter, food products will become higher and higher in price; that each
of us will have to be satisfied with a little less wealth than formerly;
that rents will be higher; that the price of land will steadily
increase--that, already, there is not enough of the bare necessities of
life to go around. This is cited as the cause of pauperism and given as an
excuse for war. May not this attitude be mistaken? We have not yet
scratched the surface of the possibilities. These out-of-door men are
fitted by nature to take the scientific truths discovered by those better
fitted to sit indoors, and make practical application of them to the
problems of increasing the wealth of the race. If a boy in Alabama can
grow 232 bushels of corn on one acre of ground, then farmers all over the
country can grow at least 100 bushels of corn on an acre which now yields
an average of 25 to 30 bushels. By scientific methods, Eugene Grubb has
grown a thousand bushels of potatoes upon an acre of Wyoming land. A
considerable addition will be made to the wealth of the race when a
thousand other Eugene Grubbs arise and increase the productivity of
thousands of other acres of potatoes.
THE BORN LEADER OF MEN
In his excellent little book, "The Art of Handling Men," Mr. James H.
Broadly speaking, the personal equation is that Something in a man that
makes him effective in managing other men.
It is the difference between the fellow who lets a political club, a
military company or a factory force go all to pieces, and some other
fellow who can put the pieces together again, or rather, draw them
together instantly. For the man who reorganizes without this Something is
like the chap who cleans his own clock--he usually has a few pieces of the
organization left over because they wouldn't fit in anywhere. The personal
equation is magnetic. It comes along and acts, and every part falls into
place, and the organization is capable of performing a lot of new
Not one person in five hundred possesses the faculty. Those who don't,
like to comfort themselves with the assurance that it is a gift which
Providence forgot to hand out to them. Innumerable stories grow up around
the man who does possess it. One glance from his eagle eye, people say,
and he reads you through. One word, and he enforces instant obedience.
Thus the personal equation is glorified and mystified. But men who really
have this valuable Something seldom make much mystery about it. They
insist it is largely a matter of common sense, which everyone ought to
have at their disposal.
[Footnote 4: Henry Altemus Company, Philadelphia.]
The personal equation has an interesting way of raising moral issues.
One morning in August, 1863, a young clergyman was called out of bed in a
hotel at Lawrence, Kansas. The man who called him was one of Quantrell's
guerrillas, and he wanted him to hurry downstairs, and be shot. All over
the border town that morning people were being murdered. A band of raiders
had ridden in early to perpetrate the Lawrence massacre.
The guerrilla who called the clergyman was impatient. The latter, when
fully awake, was horrified by what he saw going on through his window. As
he came downstairs the guerrilla demanded his watch and money, and then
wanted to know if he was an abolitionist. The clergyman was trembling. But
he decided that if he was to die then and there, it would not be with a
lie on his lips. So he said, yes, he was, and followed up the admission
with a remark that immediately turned the whole affair into another
He and the guerrilla sat down on the porch, while people were being killed
through the town, and had a long talk. It lasted until the raiders were
ready to leave. When the clergyman's guerrilla mounted to join his
confederates he was strictly on the defensive. He handed back the New
Englander's valuables and apologized for disturbing him, and asked to be
thought well of.
That clergyman lived many years after the Lawrence massacre. What did he
say to the guerrilla? What was there in his personality that led the
latter to sit down and talk? What did they talk about?
'Are you a Yankee abolitionist?' the guerrilla had asked.
'Yes--I am,' was the reply, 'and you know very well that you ought to be
ashamed of what you're doing.'
This drew the matter directly to a moral issue. It brought the guerrilla
up roundly. The clergyman was only a stripling beside this seasoned border
ruffian. But he threw a burden of moral proof on to the raider, and in a
moment the latter was trying to demonstrate that he might be a better
fellow than circumstances would seem to indicate.
After waking this New Englander to kill him on account of his politics, he
spent twenty minutes on the witness stand trying to prove an alibi. He
went into his personal history at length. He explained matters from the
time when he had been a tough little kid who wouldn't say his prayers, and
became quite sentimental in recalling how one thing had led to another,
and that to something worse, and so on, until--well, here he was, and a
mighty bad business to be in, pardner. His last request, in riding away,
was: 'Now, pardner, don't think too hard of me, will you?'
The personal equation is eternally throwing the burden of proof on the
people it controls, and forever raising moral issues. The man who has it
may operate by no definite plan, just as this clergyman had none for
saving his own life. But he will be a confidence man of the most subtle
character. His capacity for expecting things of those under him will be
tremendous. Subordinates may never have demanded much of themselves. But
for him they will accomplish wonders, just because he expects them to.
Three men were placed at the foreman's desk of a growing factory. Each had
technical knowledge enough to run a plant three times the size. But all
failed. The first was an autocrat, who tried to boss from a pedestal, and
the men didn't like him. The next was a politician, whom the men liked
thoroughly--which was his shortcoming, for he tried to run the place as
they thought it should be run. As for the third, he tried to run it on
nerves, to do everything himself, to be everywhere at once. He didn't
fail, really--he snapped like a fiddle-string. By that time working
tension was relaxed and production wabbling on the down-peak. Nobody knew
who was in charge, or what would happen.
Then along came a fourth candidate, with an abnormally developed bump of
expectation. He knew how to approve and encourage. Sometimes he said
pleasantly: 'I knew you could do that, Bill,' Again, he put it
ironically: 'I didn't think you had it in you.' But his strong point was
expectation. With apparent recklessness he gave out work two sizes too
large for everybody. If a subordinate was a No. 7 man he handed him a No.
9 job as a matter of course, and usually the latter grew up to it. The
politician had tried this same scheme, but introduced it backward. Taking
a No. 7 man into a corner, he told him impressively that he was a No. 9
and promoted him on the spot, and warned him to say nothing about it to
anybody else. Then the man tried to swell to fit the office instead of
growing to fit the work. But this fourth candidate made everybody see that
doing No. 9 was more creditable than just being it. So everybody became
interested in the work, and nothing else.
There was another suggestive point. Taking charge after three foremen had
failed, the factory was naturally full of nasty cliques, each with its
unhealthy private interest. The new man broke up these cliques by
introducing a new interest so big that it swallowed all the little
interests, like Aaron's rod. That interest was to turn out work of such
quality and in such quantities that the factory could get contracts in
competition with an older rival, and provide steady employment.
That this faculty for putting people under obligation is more the man than
a method, however, is shown in one of Daudet's delightful little sketches,
the story of a head clerk in a French Government bureau who, on getting a
fine promotion, wrote home to his father describing his new chief's homely
appearance with light-hearted raillery. Next morning on his desk lay his
own letter, initialed by his chief. It had been intercepted by the secret
service. The chief allowed him to suffer in apprehension one day, and then
told him that his indiscretion should rest between themselves. 'Try to
make me forget it,' he said, and the incident hung like a dagger over the
Some time after, the latter caught one of his own subordinates stealing
from the cash box, and repeated his superior's tactics, even to the
formula, 'Try to make me forget it.' With tears in his eyes the
subordinate thanked him for his clemency--and a few days later, rifled the
safe and fled! The moral of which seems to be that, if the clerk had been
enough of a judge of men to use his chief's method effectively, he would
never have fallen into the asininity of writing such a letter.
"Those who complain that it is impossible to win the confidence of
subordinates might observe the extremely simple fashion in which the man
with this Something does the trick--by giving people his own confidence
"He has the knack, not only of interesting others, but of keeping up his
own interest; in fact, he is often so absorbed in his existence, his work,
and the people around him that he is not aware that there is such a malady
as lack of interest.
"He has a heartiness and vitality and geniality quite characteristic, or a
misanthropy that is hearty, vital, and optimistic--geniality inside out.
The milk of human kindness sometimes comes in a dry form."
THE MAN OF SUPREME ABILITY
In his valuable treatise on "The Twelve Principles of Efficiency," Mr.
Harrington Emerson says:
Industrial plants remind me of automobiles. The plants themselves may be
more or less good, but on what kind of roads are they running? The
philosophy of efficiency is for an industrial plant--for any enterprise,
activity, or undertaking--what a network of good roads is for automobiles.
Undoubtedly, even on poor roads, automobiles may make some progress, but
the worse the road, the more elementary must be the means of locomotion.
[Footnote 5: The Engineering Magazine Company, New York.]
Railroads, high-roads, by-roads, bridle-paths, footpaths, mountain climbs!
The unlettered mountaineer of all countries is the best man for the last,
and it takes the best kind of trained climbing expert to emulate him; but
as the road is improved shoes are exchanged for horses, horses for
bicycles, a change from one kind of muscular effort to another; bicycles
for automobiles, automobiles for railroad trains, both these latter using
incarnate energy instead of muscular or incarnate energy. The all-round
skill of the mountaineer becomes the subdivided, specialized skill of many
different men, who are supplemented with increasingly complex equipment.
The philosophy of efficiency is to be used to build roads along which any
organization can travel with the least friction and the greatest
advantage, and the more ramified and involved the business, the more is
the philosophy needed.
However, no highly complex automobile, even with the best network of
roads, can make any great progress unless in the hands of a skilled
directing intelligence; no highly complex human enterprise, though it uses
all the principles of efficiency, can make any great progress unless
guided by a skilled intelligence.
On personality, on the wisdom of the individual, whether locomotive
engineer or von Moltke, whether the manager of a plant employing ten men
or Judge Gary, chairman of the board of the gigantic Steel Corporation,
will depend the ultimate value of all that creative physical or
philosophical ability has brought together.
Recently there was submitted to me in the office of one of Chicago's
greatest businesses the draft of its organization. No man can pass on the
merits of the details of a complicated organization without long and
intimate acquaintance with its workings. Seeing the plan of the Chicago
plant, pressed for a suggestion, I said: 'Your chart is upside down; the
president belongs at the bottom, sustaining and carrying, through his
organization, all the operations of the plant. Because he is in supreme
authority he has the responsibility of making available for everyone, down
to the tool, all the wisdom in the universe in order that each may fulfil
perfectly its special duty and task.'
Whether on the grounds of Long Branch, on the desert trail, in a section,
department, division, or plant of a great manufacturing concern or
railroad; whether on the deck of a battleship or on a battlefield, what is
wanted is a leader who can swing and manage what has been entrusted to
It has become the fashion in history to decry the strong-man theory, to
turn for understanding to evolution, to explain the strong man as the
inevitable accident of the moment. There is evolution; there comes, at
last, opportunity, but only rarely does the strong man arise; hence we
have England, not Norway or Sweden or Holland; hence we have Prussia, not
Saxony; Germany, not Russia; Italy, not Portugal; France, not Spain;
Japan, not Siam or Korea.
In 1536 was born in Japan an undersized, monkey-faced boy of good but poor
parentage, who, at the age of thirteen, resolved to make himself the chief
power in the distracted kingdom. For 200 years the militant barons had
warred against each other, each trying to grab, annex, and hold what he
The boy, Hideyoshi, deliberately visited the different courts, picked out
the baron he thought most endowed with suitable character, succeeded with
great difficulty in entering his service in the humblest position, and
then steadily and inevitably rose, firstly because he could read human
character and always knew almost as soon as they did themselves what his
and his lord's enemies were plotting, and secondly, because he was always
prepared in advance for any undertaking and skilled in carrying out. Thus,
when scarcely more than a child, he reduced the cost of firewood used in
the palace to less than one-half; a little later he rebuilt the castle
walls in three days, a task estimated as requiring sixty days; again,
single-handed, he secured provinces that armies had failed to conquer.
By gifts of tact, of insight, of diligence, of readiness, that each one of
us thinks he possesses, that any one of Nippon's 30,000,000 inhabitants
might have possessed and exercised, Hideyoshi rose, step by step, until he
directed and guided the whole country, his general, Iyeyasu, becoming the
first of the Tokugawa dynasty, which lasted from 1603 to 1867, with
headquarters at Yeddo (Tokyo).
Temuchin, Jenghis Khan, born in a tent in 1162, son of a petty Mongolian
chieftain, succeeded his father when only thirteen years old. Many of the
tribes immediately rebelled, but Temuchin held his own in battle and in
counsel against open enemies and insidious traitors, until his empire
extended from the China Sea to the frontier of Poland--an empire larger
than modern Russia, the largest the world has ever seen.
The man of supreme ability is the one who has supernal ideals, who
recognizes and uses those underlying principles without which human effort
is futile, its results ephemeral. The man of supreme ability is the one
who can create and control an organization founded on and using principles
to attain and maintain ideals, who then is able to assemble for the use of
his organization the incidentals of land, of men and money (Labor and
Capital), of buildings and equipment, of methods and devices. All these
incidentals make for volume, for quantity, for man's work instead of
woman's work, but they do not make for the spirit, nor for the quality,
nor for the excellence of work.
THE ELEMENTS OF EXECUTIVE ABILITY
We have quoted thus at length from Mr. Collins and Mr. Emerson to show the
inbornness, so to speak, of real executive ability. The art of handling
men depends upon certain inherent aptitudes plus a certain amount of the
right kind of training. A very large class of executives lacks the
aptitude; a still larger class lacks the right kind of training. It is
possible, of course, to give training to those who have the aptitude. It
is impossible to give training which will make efficient executives of
those who are deficient in the natural aptitudes. The result of all this
is that we have a very large class of misfits; men who, for some reason or
other, have been promoted into executive positions and who do not have the
proper qualifications. These men suffer; those under them suffer; those
who employ them suffer.
Some men are too active themselves ever to be good directors of the
activities of other men. They cannot sit back quietly and direct others.
They demand expression in action. They are, therefore, always thrusting
aside their subordinates and doing the thing themselves, because they lack
the ability to teach others to do the work and to do it correctly. When
such men are compelled to wait for others to accomplish things, they grow
irritable, impatient, and lose control of themselves and, therefore, of
the situation. They are not ideal executives and do not, as a general
rule, rise to very high executive positions. They ought not to attempt to
do executive work.
There are others who are too easy-going to command men. They permit their
men to get too close to them, and they feel too sympathetic toward them.
They are likely, also, to be partial, not to demand or exact enough, and,
therefore, their departments are always behind, never quite coming up to
TWO TYPES OF EXECUTIVES
There are two distinct types of executives. There is the impatient,
driving, quick, keen, positive, irritable type. This man can get good
results from a certain type of worker, but he only irritates, frightens,
and drives to sullen resistance other types. The other is the mild,
kindly, persuasive, patient, enduring, persistent, determined type of
executive, who wins his success by attracting to himself the intense
loyalty and devotion of his men. Both types are successful, but they are
successful with different kinds of men. The employer who selects
executives, therefore, needs to bear this in mind, and to select the right
type of men to work under his various lieutenants. On the other hand, men
who take executive positions should see that they secure for themselves
the type of workers from whom they can secure results. This will not be
easy, because, as a general rule, an executive tends to surround himself
with men of his own type, which is usually a mistake. Men, in selecting
positions, should also bear this truth in mind. They should know the kind
of executive under whom they can do their best work, and, if at all
possible, work under this kind of superior officer.
SLAVES TO MACHINERY
In an earlier chapter of this book we referred to the type of boy or girl
who is too restless to study, to continue in school; who is eager to
begin his life work; who therefore leaves school at an early age and takes
up some work for which he is then fitted, but which, in after life, he
finds to be uncongenial and unprofitable. As a general rule, such
individuals are ambitious--oftentimes exceedingly ambitious. They find, as
they grow older, however, that they have not sufficient education and
training to enable them to realize their ambitions. Thousands upon
thousands of these condemn themselves to mere unskilled manual labor.
It is not to be wondered at that these boys and girls leave school,
because in school they are compelled to sit quietly and to try to learn
things in which they are not interested out of dry, unprofitable books.
Such pupils need to spend a great part of their time out-of-doors. They
can be thus taught far more easily, will take a greater interest in their
studies, and can gain both knowledge and skill which will be more valuable
to them in the world of work. They also need to be taught indoors manual
training, domestic science, printing, laundry work, scientific
horticulture, scientific agriculture, dairying, and many other such
branches. The recently projected vocational schools, continuation schools,
half-time schools, and other such contrivances for giving the boy or the
girl an opportunity to learn a useful trade while he is mastering the
three R's, are a very important and valuable step in the right direction;
With an opportunity thus to find expression for his mechanical ability and
his great activity, the boy will be encouraged to remain longer in school.
Those who have left school at an early age on account of restlessness
should take very seriously to heart the fates of tens of thousands of men
and women before them who have done the same thing and who have made a
failure of their lives, because they did not have sufficient education and
training with which to realize their aspirations.
It has been frequently remarked that this is a commercial age. Our great
captains of industry, our multi-millionaires, have, most of them, made
their fortunes in commerce. This is an age, perhaps--especially in the
United States--which rather makes a hero of the business man. For this
reason there are many who are ambitious for commercial success. Every year
thousands upon thousands of young men and women leave school in order to
enter business. By a very natural psychological paradox, there seems to be
a fascination about commerce and finance for many young people who have
little aptitude for these vocations. Many people, feeling their
deficiencies, yearn to convince themselves and others that they are not
deficient. It is only another phase of the fatality with which a Venus
longs to be a Diana and a Minerva a Psyche. Thousands enter business who
have no commercial or financial ability. They cannot know the
requirements; they cannot understand the fundamental principles of
business. Commercially they are babes in the woods. Therefore they go down
to bankruptcy and insolvency, to their great detriment and to the injury
of many thousands of others.
These young people are too impractical for business. They may have a
theoretical understanding of it, and an intellectual desire to succeed.
But, as a result of their impractical type of mind, they neglect details,
they overlook important precautions, they are, oftentimes, too credulous,
too easily influenced. They usually make poor financiers; they do not make
collections well; they are incautious in extending credit and in
maintaining their own credit; often they are inefficient and wasteful in
management; they do not take proper account of all the costs in fixing
prices; they enter into foolish contracts; make promises which they are
unable to keep, and oftentimes, as a result of too great optimism,
undertake far more than is commercially feasible.
HUNGRY FOR FAME
The same strange quirk in human nature which takes the impractical into
the marts, takes many ambitious but inherently unfit into art and
literature. The stage-struck girl who has not one scintilla of dramatic
ability is so common as to be a joke--to all but herself and her friends.
Every editor is wearied with his never-ending task of extinguishing lights
which glow brightly with ambition but have no gleam of the divine fire.
Teachers of art and music, both in this country and abroad, are threatened
with insanity because of the hordes of young men and women who come to
them with money in their hands, demanding to be made into famous artists
and musicians, not having been born with genius. Some of these
unfortunates spend years of time and thousands of dollars in money
attempting to fit themselves for careers, only to end in utter failure.
Some, even after they have made a comparative failure of their education,
eke out a tortured existence, hoping against hope for the golden crown of
fame and fortune.
In sober truth the fatal lack in most of these disappointed seekers is not
that they have no talent, but that they are too lazy mentally to make a
real success of the natural aptitudes they have. They lack "the infinite
capacity for taking pains." They are deluded by the idea that success
depends upon inspiration--that there is no perspiration. Yet every great
writer, every great musician, every great actor, every great author, knows
that there is no fame, there is no possibility of success, except through
the most prolonged and painstaking drudgery.
"LIFE IS BRIEF--ART IS LONG"
Perhaps no actor of modern times had greater dramatic talents inborn than
Richard Mansfield, yet here is the story of how Richard Mansfield
worked, toiled, starved and suffered in achieving success in his art:
His friends crowded St. George's Hall for his first appearance. It was
observed, as he uttered the few lines of the Beadle, that he was
excessively nervous. When, later in the evening, he sat down at the piano
and struck a preliminary chord, he fainted dead away.
[Footnote 6: From "Richard Mansfield," by Paul Wilstach. Charles
Scribner's Sons, New York.]
Mr. Reed relieved him of his position at once. In discharging him, he
said: 'You are the most nervous man I have ever seen,' It was not all
nervousness, however. Mansfield had not eaten for three days. He had
fainted from hunger.
"Mansfield was now on evil days, indeed. He moved into obscure quarters
and fought the hard fight. It was years before he would speak of these
experiences. In fact, he rarely ruminated on the past in the confidences
of either conversation or correspondence. Memory troubled him little and
by the universal quotation it withheld its pleasures. He dwelt in the
present, with his eyes and hopes on the future. It was always the future
with him. No pleasure or attainment brought complete satisfaction. He
looked to the past only in relation to the future; for experience, for
example, for what to avoid.
"Once, when at the meridian of his fame, he was asked to lecture before
the faculty and students of the University of Chicago. For his subject he
chose, 'On Going on the Stage.' That he might exploit to those before him
the reality of the actor's struggle, he lifted for the first time a corner
of that veil of mystery which hung between his public and his past, and
told of these early London days:
"For years I went home to my little room, if, fortunately, I had one,' he
said, 'and perhaps a tallow dip was stuck in the neck of a bottle, and I
was fortunate if I had something to cook for myself over a fire, if I had
a fire. That was my life. When night came I wandered about the streets of
London, and if I had a penny I invested it in a baked potato from the
baked-potato man on the corner. I would put these hot potatoes in my
pockets, and after I had warmed my hands, I would swallow the potato. That
is the truth.'
"At length, his wardrobe became so reduced that attendance at any but the
most informal entertainments became out of the question, and finally he
had to give up these. Soon he was inking the seams of his coat, and
wandered about shunning friends, for fear they would learn to what a
condition he was reduced.
"'Often,' he admitted, 'I stayed in bed and slept because when I was
awake I was hungry. Footsore, I would gaze into the windows of
restaurants, bakeries, and fruit shops, thinking the food displayed in
them the most tempting and beautiful sight in the world. There were times
when I literally dined on sights and smells,'
"He did every species of dramatic and musical hack work in drawing rooms,
in clubs, and in special performances in theatres. Sometimes he got into
an obscure provincial company, but he said that his very cleverness was a
kind of curse, since the harder he worked and the better the audiences
liked him, the quicker he was discharged. The established favorites of
these little companies always struck when a newcomer made a hit.
"Richard Barker was the stage manager and Mansfield could never please
him. After trying again and again, he once cried: 'Please, Barker, do let
me alone. I shall be all right. I have acted the part.' 'Not you,'
declared Barker. 'Act? You act, man? You will never act as long as you
"The recollection of the rebuffs, poverty, starvation, inability to find
sympathy, because, possibly, of the pride which repelled it, the
ill-fortune which snatched the extended opportunity just as he was about
to grasp it, the jealousy of established favorites of the encroaching
popularity of newcomers, the hardships of provincial travel and life in a
part of the country and at a time when the play-actor was still regarded
as a kind of vagabond and was paid as such, the severity of the discipline
he encountered from the despots over him--all painted pictures on his
memory and fed a fire under the furnace of his nature which tempered the
steel in his composition to inflexibility. The stern rod of discipline was
held over him every moment and often fell with unforgetable severity. He
was trained by autocrats in a school of experience more autocratic than
anything known to the younger actors of this generation.
"When the part of Chevrial was given to him, Mansfield was fascinated with
his opportunity, but he kept his counsel. He applied every resource of his
ability to the composition of his performance of the decrepit old rake.
He sought specialists on the infirmities of roues; he studied specimens in
clubs, on the avenue, and in hospitals; and in the privacy of his own room
he practiced make-ups for the part every spare moment. The rehearsals
themselves were sufficiently uneventful. He gave evidence of a careful,
workmanlike performance, but promise of nothing more.
"While he was working out the part Mansfield scarcely ate or slept. He had
a habit of dining with a group of young Bohemians at a table d'hote in
Sixth Avenue. The means of none of them made regularity at these
forty-cent banquets possible, so his absence was meaningless. One evening,
however, he dropped into his accustomed chair, but tasted nothing.
"'What's the matter, Mansfield?' asked one of the others.
"To-morrow night I shall be famous,' he said. 'Come and see the play,'
"His friends were accustomed to lofty talk from him. His prophecy was
answered with a light laugh and it had passed out of their memories as
they drifted into the night. This was one of those intuitions to which he
often confessed, and it told him that the years of apprenticeship were
behind him and the artist in him was on the eve of acknowledgment.
"On the night of January 11, 1883, the theatre was radiant with an
expectant audience--half convinced in advance by the record of the Union
Square's past, but by the same token exacting to a merciless degree--to
see their old friends in the first performance in America of 'A Parisian
"Mansfield made his entrance as the Baron Chevrial within a few moments
after the rise of the curtain. It was effected in an unconcerned silence
on the part of the audience.
"There were, on the other hand, the deserved receptions of old favorites
by old friends, as Miss Jewett, Miss Vernon, Miss Carey, Mr. DeBelleville,
Mr. Parselle and Mr. Whiting came upon the scene.
"When Chevrial, finding himself alone with Tirandel and Laubaniere,
exposed his amusingly cynical views of life and society, some attention
was paid to a remarkable portrait of a polished, but coarse, gay, though
aging, voluptuary. The scene was short and he was soon off, though not
without a little impudent touch, in passing the maid in the doorway, that
did not slip unnoticed. The dramatic disclosures which followed brought
the act to a close with applause that augured well. Henri, Marcelle, and
Mme. De Targy were called forward enthusiastically.
"The second act revealed the Baron's chambers. With the exception of two
minutes, he was on the stage until the curtain fell. The Baron's effort,
so precisely detailed, to reach and raise the dumb-bells from the floor;
the inveterate libertine's interview with shrewd Rosa, the danseuse, who
took the tips he expected would impoverish her and thus put her in his
power, for the purpose of playing them the other way: the biting
deliberation of his interview with his good Baroness and Henri, who comes
to ruin himself to save his family's honor--all held the audience with a
new sensation. As he pushed his palsied arms into his coat and pulled
himself fairly off his feeble feet in his effort to button it, turned up
to his door humming like a preying bumble-bee, faced slowly about again,
his piercing little pink eyes darting with anticipation, and off the
trembling old lips droned the telling speech: 'I wonder how his pretty
little wife will bear poverty. H'm! We shall see'--the curtain fell to
applause which was for the newcomer alone. He had interested the audience
and was talked about between the acts.
"Mr. Palmer rushed back to his dressing-room and found him studiously
adding new touches to his make-up for the next act. 'Young man,' exclaimed
the manager, 'do you know you're making a hit?' 'That's what I'm paid
for,' replied Mansfield, without lowering the rabbit's foot.
"The third act was largely Marcelle's. The Baron was on for an episodic
interval, but succeeded, in that he did not destroy the impression already
"The fourth act revealed a magnificent banquet hall with a huge table
laden with crystal, silver, snowy linens, flowers, and lights. At the top
of a short stairway at the back was a gallery and an arched window through
which one looked up the green aisle of the Champs-Elysee to the Arc de
Triomphe, dimly visible in the moonlight. The Baron entered for one last
glance over the preparations for his _petit souper_ for Rosa and her
sister of the ballet at the Opera.
"The effectiveness of his entrance was helped by his appearance behind a
colonnade, and there he stood, only half revealed, swaying unsteadily
while his palsied hand adjusted his monocle to survey the scene. There was
a flutter of applause from the audience but, appreciatively, it quickly
hushed itself. He dragged himself forward. The cosmetic could not hide the
growing pallor of the parchment drawn over the old reprobate's skull. He
crept around the table and, with a marvellous piece of 'business' by which
he held his wobbly legs while he slowly swung a chair under him,
collapsed. The picture was terrible, but fascinating. People who would,
could not turn their heads. His valet was quick with water and held the
glass in place on the salver while he directed it to the groping arm. The
crystal clinked on Chevrial's teeth as he sucked the water.
"Presently he found his legs again and tottered up to the staircase. The
picture of the black, shrivelled little man dragging his lifeless legs up
to the gallery step by step was never forgotten by anyone who saw it. At
the top he turned and said in ominous tones: 'I do not wish to be
disturbed in the morning. I shall need a long sleep'; and dragged himself
out of sight. He had been on the stage five minutes and had said scarcely
fifty words. The picture and the effect were unmistakable. The audience
capitulated. There was a roar of applause which lasted several minutes.
"The whispered discussion of this scene was such that scarcely any
attention was paid to the stage until the Baron returned. Almost
immediately afterward the ballet girls pirouetted into the hall in a
flutter of gauze, and the places at the tables were filled. No one
listened to the lines; all eyes in the house were focussed on the
withered, shrunken, flaccid little old Baron, who sat at Rosa's right,
ignored by everyone about him as they gorged on his food and drank his
"Soon he drew himself up on his feet and, raising his glass, said: 'Here's
to the god from whom our pleasures come. Here's to Plutus and a million!"
"The gay throng about the table echoed the toast: To Plutus and a
million!' and Chevrial continued:
"'While I am up I will give a second toast: 'Here's to Rosa! The most
splendid incarnation that I know!'
"Placing the glass to her lips for a first sip, the lecherous old pagan's
own lips sought the spot, sipped, and he sank back into his chair.
"What else went on till he rose again no one knew or minded. No eye in the
house could wander from the haggard, evil, smiling, but sinister, old
face. Presently he was up once more and, with his raised goblet brimming
with champagne, he offered a third toast:
"'Here's to material Nature, the prolific mother of all we know, see, or
hear. Here's to the matter that sparkles in our glasses, and runs through
our veins as a river of youth; here's to the matter that our eyes caress
as they dwell on the bloom of those young cheeks. Here's to the matter
that--here's to--here's--the matter--the matter that--here's--'
"The attack had seized him. Terrible and unforgetable was the picture of
the dissolution. The lips twitched, the eyes rolled white, the raised hand
trembled, the wine sputtered like the broken syllables which the shattered
memory would not send and the swollen tongue suddenly could not utter. For
one moment of writhing agony he held the trembling glass aloft; then his
arm dropped with a swiftness that shattered the crystal. Instinctively he
groped up to the stairs for light and air. He reeled as if every step
would be his last. Rosa helped him up to the window, but recoiled from him
with a shriek. Again his hand flew up, but there was neither glass, wine,
nor words. He rolled helplessly and fell to the floor, dead. The curtain
"It was probably the most realistically detailed figure of refined moral
and physical depravity, searched to its inevitable end, the stage has ever
seen. For a moment after the curtain fell there was a hush of awe and
surprise. Then the audience found itself and called Mansfield to the
footlights a dozen times. But neither then nor thereafter would he appear
until he had removed the wig and make-up of the dead Baron. There was no
occasion to change his clothes; he wore the conventional evening suit. The
effect of shrivelled undersizedness was purely a muscular effect of the
actor. The contrast between the figure that fell at the head of the stairs
and the athletic young gentleman who acknowledged the applause was no
"Mansfield had come into his own. The superb art of his performance had
dwarfed all about it; the play was killed, but he was from that moment a
figure to be reckoned with in the history of the theatre."
It is said that when Paderewsky played before Queen Victoria, she said to
him: "Mr. Paderewsky, you are a genius." "Ah, your Majesty," he replied,
"perhaps. But before I was a genius, I was a drudge." And this is true. It
is said that Paderewsky spent hours every day, even after achieving his
fame, practising the scale, improving his technique, and keeping himself
in prime condition.
Study the life and achievement of any great man of genius. His genius has
consisted principally in his wonderful capacity to labor for perfection in
the most minute detail. And yet most ambitious misfits are unwilling to
work hard. Their products always show lack of finish due to slipshod
methods, unwillingness to spend time, to take pains to bring what they do
up to a standard of beautiful perfection, so far as perfection is humanly
possible. Those who are mentally lazy do not belong in an artistic
vocation. There are probably many things that they can do and do well in
some less spectacular lines, some calling that does not require such
MISFITS IN THE PROFESSIONS
In the traditional educational system the common school is not
particularly adapted to prepare its pupils for life, but rather to prepare
them for either a high school or a preparatory school. Passing on to the
high school, the same condition prevails. The whole question in every high
school and every preparatory school is whether the training will accredit
one to certain colleges and universities. So the traditional high school
graduate is not prepared for life; he is prepared for college or the
university. He goes on to the university. There he finds that he is being
prepared chiefly for four or five learned professions--the law, the
ministry, medicine, engineering, and teaching. In the beginning, the
university was supposed to train a man, not for work, but for leisure. The
very word scholar means a man of leisure. People were trained, therefore,
not for usefulness, but for show; not to earn their living in the world,
but rather, their living having been provided for them by a thoughtful
government or a kind-hearted parent, to present evidences of the fact. One
of the chief of such evidences was the ability to go to a college or
university and to take the time to learn a great deal of useless knowledge
about dead languages, philosophies, and dry-as-dust sciences. While this
is not true to so great an extent to-day, there is still much of the old
tradition clinging about colleges and universities, and we are training
men and women, not for commercial or industrial or agricultural lines, but
rather, for the learned professions.
THE "WHITE COLLAR MAN"
In England and other European countries no man is held to be a gentleman
who has ever earned his living by the work of his hands. No one is
accredited with standing as an amateur athlete who has ever "lost caste"
in this way. While this caste feeling is not so strong in America as it is
abroad, it still has a considerable influence upon parents and their
children in the selection of a vocation. While one does not lose caste by
doing manual labor, temporarily or as a makeshift, he suffers socially, in
certain circles, who chooses deliberately a vocation which requires him to
wear soiled clothing, to carry a plebeian dinner-pail, and to work hard
with his hands. Because of this, many bricklayers, carpenters,
blacksmiths, shoemakers, plasterers, plumbers, and other workers,
ambitious socially for their sons, instead of teaching them trades in
which they might excel and in which there might be an unrestricted future
for them, train them for clerical and office work. Having felt the social
handicap themselves, these men and their wives determine that their
children shall belong to the class which wears good clothes, has soft,
white hands, and eats luncheon at a cafeteria--or from a paper parcel
which can be respectably hidden in an inside coat pocket. And so there are
armies of "white collar men" who would be healthier, wealthier, more
useful, and happier if they wore overalls and jumpers.
The "typical" bank clerk is a good illustration. Pallid from long hours
indoors, stooped from his concentration upon interminable columns of
figures, dissatisfied, discontented, moving along painfully in a narrow
groove, out of which there seems to be no way, underpaid, he is one of the
tragedies of our commercial and financial age. While the section-hand may
become a section boss, a roadmaster, a division superintendent, a general
superintendent, a general manager, and, finally, the president of a
railroad; while the stock boy becomes, eventually, a salesman, then a
sales manager, and, finally, the head of the corporation; while
apprentices to carpenters, bricklayers, and plumbers may become
journeymen, and then contractors, and, finally, owners of big buildings;
while the farmhand may become a farm owner, then a landlord, and, finally,
perhaps, the president of a bank; while a workman in a factory handling a
wheelbarrow may afterward become the president of the greatest corporation
in the world, the clerk, toiling over his papers and his books, is almost
inevitably sentenced to a lifetime of similar toil, with small
opportunities for advancement before him.
There are men fitted by inheritance and training for clerical work and
what lies beyond and above it. They are so constituted that they have the
ability to take advantage of opportunities, to forge to the front from
such a beginning, and to rise to commanding positions. But this is not
true of the men who have aptitudes which would make them successful in
active work with their hands, and afterward with hand and brain. These men
of inherent activity and skill of hand, men whose bones and muscles were
made for work, whose whole nature calls for the out-of-doors, are doomed
to stagnate, grow discontented, and finally lose hope, if compelled by
pride or bad judgment to undertake the "white collar man's" job.
SOCIAL VALUE OF THE "WHITE COLLAR MAN"
Regarding the social deficiency of this class of worker Martha Brensley
Bruere and Robert W. Bruere, in their excellent book, "Increasing Home
Efficiency," have the following to say:
"The output of their domestic factory so far is two sons able to earn
living salaries, who are useful to the community undoubtedly, but as easy
to replace if damaged as any other standard products that come a dozen to
the box. They themselves didn't like the upper reaches of the artisan
class where they had spent their lives, so they boosted their sons till
they could make a living by the sweat of their brains instead of the sweat
of their brows. Society can use the Shaw boys, but is it profitable to
produce them at the price? The money that made these boys into a clerk and
a stenographer cost twenty years of their parents' brain and muscle. Mrs.
Shaw has bred the habit of saving into her own bones till now, when she
might shift the flatiron, the cook stove and the sewing machine from her
shoulders, she can't let go the $10 a month her 'help' eats and wastes
long enough to straighten up her spine. These two boys and a daughter
still in the making have cost their father and mother twenty years, which
Mr. Shaw sums up by saying:
"'So, you see, the final result of making up your mind to do a thing,
including the great trouble of bringing up a family, is just getting down
to the ground and grinding.'
"Isn't it just possible that society has lost as much in the parents as it
has gained in the children? Couldn't we have got the same product some
cheaper way? Or a better product by more efficient home management?"
Perhaps the saddest of all the misfits are to be found amongst women, or
it may be that their cases seem to us to be saddest because there are so
many of them. Under the old-time regime there was but one vocation open to
women--that of wife and mother. Regardless of aptitudes, physical strength
or weakness, personal likes or dislikes, all women were expected to marry
and bear children, and to qualify successfully for a vocation which
combined the duties of nursemaid, waitress, laundress, seamstress, baker,
cook, governess, purchasing agent, dietitian, accountant, and
confectioner. In the early days of this country, in addition to these
duties, women were also called upon to be butchers, sausage-makers,
tailors, spinners, weavers, shoemakers, candle-makers, cheese-makers,
soap-makers, dyers, gardeners, florists, shepherds, bee-keepers,
poultry-keepers, brewers, picklers, bottlers, butter-makers, mil-liners,
dressmakers, hatters, and first-aid physicians, surgeons and nurses. In
more modern times, women have entered nearly all vocations. But even yet
there is much prejudice against the woman who "descends" out of her
traditional "sphere." The woman who is not a wife, mother, and
house-keeper--or a domestic parasite, housekeeping by proxy--loses caste
among the patricians. Many men and, on their behalf, their mothers and
sisters, shudder at the sordid thought of marrying a girl who has been so
base as to "work for her living." And so stenographers, clerks,
accountants, saleswomen, factory workers, telephone operators, and all
other women in the business world are about 99 per cent temporary workers.
Even in executive positions and in the professions, most women look upon
wages and salaries as favoring breezes, necessary until they drop anchor
in the haven of matrimony. And even those who most sincerely proclaim
themselves wedded to their careers, in many instances, exercise their
ancient privilege, change their minds, and give up all else for husband
Every normal woman was intended by nature to marry. It is right that she
should marry. She does not truly and fully live unless she does marry. She
misses deep and true joy who is not happily married--and usually feels
cheated. But the same may be said of every normal man. The difference is
that, according to tradition, marriage is woman's career, while man may
choose a life work according to his aptitudes. Because of prejudice,
however, it is rarely that the happily married woman makes a business or
professional career. Husbands, except those who do so through necessity or
those who are unafraid of convention, do not permit their wives to work
outside of the home. Because of false pride, many men say: "I am the
bread-winner. If I cannot support my wife as she should be supported, then
I do not wish to marry." And so thousands of women sigh away their lives
at work they hate while a hungry, sad world suffers for what they would
love to do.
The waste of these misfits is threefold: First, the women lose the
opportunity for service, profit, and enjoyment which should be theirs.
Second, the world loses the excellent services which they might render.
Third, oftentimes these women are very poor housekeepers. They simply have
not the aptitudes. Their husbands and their families suffer.
WOMEN WITHOUT HOMES
Another very large class of misfits, and, perhaps, even more to be pitied
than any other, is composed of the women who are compelled to earn a
living in the business world, in the professional world, or elsewhere,
whose true place is in the home. Many of these are unmarried, either
because the right man has not presented himself, or because there are not
enough really desirable men in the community to go around. Others are
widows. Still others are women who have been deserted by their mates. Some
of them are compelled to support their parents, brothers, and sisters, or
even their husbands.
If traditional methods and courses of education miss the needs of many of
our young men, what shall we say of conventional education for girls?
Well, to tell the truth, we do not know what to say. Educational experts,
reformers, philosophers, investigators, and editors have spoken and
written volumes on the subject. Women upon whom the different kinds of
educational formulae have been tried have also written about it. Some of
them have told tragic stories. There has been, and is, much controversy.
Some say one thing--some another--but what shall common sense say? After
all, education is rather a simple problem--in its essentials. It means
development--development of inborn talents. And education ought especially
to develop the natural aptitude of most of our girls for efficiency in
home-making and child-rearing. Most young women enter upon the vocation of
wifehood and motherhood practically without any training for these duties.
It is as unscientific to expect all women to be successful wives and
mothers as it would be to expect all men to be successful farmers. It is
as tragic to expect an untrained girl to be a successful wife and mother
as it would be to expect an untrained boy to be a successful physician and
EXECUTIVES AND DETAIL WORKERS
A very broad division of misfits is into those who are fitted to do detail
work, trying to do executive work, and those who are natural-born
executives compelled to do detail work. This is a very common cause of
Some men love detail and can do it well. They naturally see the little
things. Their minds are readily occupied with accuracy in what seem to
others to be trifles, but which, taken together, make perfection. They are
careful; they are dependable; they can be relied upon. Such people,
however, do not have a ready grasp for large affairs. They cannot see
things in their broader aspect. They are not qualified by nature to
outline plans in general for other people to work out in detail. They are
the men upon whom the world must depend for the careful working out of the
little things so essential if the larger plans are to go through
On the other hand, there are some people who have no patience with
details. They do not like them. They cannot attend to them. If depended
upon for exactitude and accuracy, they are broken reeds. They forget
There are many executives holding important positions and making a sad
failure of them because they are, by natural aptitudes, excellent detail
men but poor planners and executives. The following story illustrates,
perhaps, as well as anything we could present, the qualities of these
overworked, busy, busy executives who have no right to be executives, but
ought to be carrying out the plans of someone else:
HOW SOCRATIC HELPED BRAINERD BUILD BUSINESS
People sometimes bring their business troubles to a friend whom we shall
call Socratic. And Socratic helps them out for a consideration. His time
is valuable and he bought his wisdom at a high price.
Some months ago a pompous fellow dropped in. We recognized him as
Brainerd, one of the leading business men of a small city. His story was
this: He had built up a big enterprise during the pioneer boom days of
easy money and negligible competition. Now, when margins were closer, the
pace hotter, and a half dozen keen fellows were scrambling for their
shares of a trade he had formerly controlled jointly with one other
conservative house, he found sales falling off and his profits dwindling
to a minus quantity.
Socratic heard him through; then said: "I'll look your business over, tell
you the troubles, and show you how to remedy them for one hundred
"Oh, I couldn't afford to pay that much, the way business is now,"
"How much, then, do you figure it would be worth to you to have your sales
and profits climb back to high-water mark?"
"Oh, that would be worth thousands of dollars, of course. But can you
guarantee me any such results?"
KEEPING THE APPOINTMENT
"Well, if you carefully study over what I tell you, and faithfully follow
my advice, and the results are not satisfactory, you need pay me nothing.
Is that agreeable?"
"Sure! If you can show me how to bring my profits back to normal, I'll
gladly pay you two hundred."
"It's a go!" said Socratic. "Have the contract drawn up ready to sign when
I call to begin my examination. When shall that be?"
"Well, let's see. I'm so all-fired busy it's hard to find time for
anything. Say early next week sometime."
"All right. What day?"
"Oh, Tuesday or Wednesday."
"Tuesday will be satisfactory. What hour?"
"Well, some time in the forenoon, I guess."
"Ten o'clock be all right?"
"Yes, ten o'clock will do."
"Very well, I'll be there at ten sharp."
Tuesday morning, at ten sharp, Socratic stood by Brainerd's desk. Brainerd
was working away like a busy little high-pressure hoisting-engine. He
looked up with a bright smile.
"Oh, it's you, is it? Sorry, but I can't do anything for you to-day. I'm
awfully up against it for time. Can't you drop in a little later in the
"What day?" Socratic asked.
"Oh, Thursday or Friday," a little impatiently.
"Thursday is all right. What hour? Ten o'clock do?"
"Yes, yes, that will do," sighed the busy, busy business man, his nose
deep in his work.
Socratic turned on his heel and walked out.
THE HEAD CLERK'S SALARY
Thursday morning he was again beside Brainerd's desk. It was easy to see
that this little buzz-fly was a mile up in the air. Hi$ coat was off, his
cuffs turned back, his collar unbuttoned, his hair mussed, and he had a
streak of soot across his nose. He hardly looked up. Just kept chugging
away like a motor-cycle going up-grade at fifty miles an hour.
Oh, but he was the busy man!
"Sorry to disappoint you again, Socratic," he jerked out, "but I haven't
got time to breathe. You'll have to come in again."
"Making stacks of money with all this strenuous activity, I suppose?"
"Oh, no! It keeps me on the jump like a toad under a harrow to pay
"Call that a profitable way to spend time and nervous energy so
"It may not be--I suppose it isn't, but I can't help it."
"Your head clerk draws pretty good pay, doesn't he?" asked Socratic.
"Why, yes," answered Brainerd, staring.
"Probably has a bigger income to handle, personally, than you have?"
"Oh, I guess so" You'll have to excuse me, Socratic. I'm too busy to talk
"Queer, but your head clerk and cashier seem to have plenty of time for
conversation. They have been scrapping for fifteen minutes about chances
of the Pirates and the Cubs. You feel happy to pay people big salaries for
"No; of course not; but how can I help it? A man can't hire reliable help
for love or money in this town, and I haven't got time to watch all of
"How would it do to have the bookkeeper check up those sales-slips you are
tearing your hair over, instead of manicuring her pretty paddies and
tucking in her scolding locks?"
"Well, she was doing something else when I began. Excuse me a minute."
SOME FOOL EXCUSES
And Brainerd dashed away to the front of the store to wait on a nicely
dressed lady who had just come in. When he returned he said: "I'll tell
you, Mr. Socratic, I've been thinking over the matter of our contract, and
I don't believe I'm prepared to go into that thing at present. Times are
so hard and I am so rushed for time, and you would probably recommend a
lot of things I couldn't afford, and likely couldn't work in with my
present system. I guess I'll have to let it go for the present. It would
be a good thing, no doubt, but I guess I'll have to do the best I can
without it. Some time later, perhaps, I'll take it up with you. Why, I
don't even get time to read the papers, and I certainly wouldn't have time
to go into that examination with you."
"I've completed my examination," remarked Socratic.
"Why, how's that?" gasped Brainerd. "When did you do it?"
"The day you were in my office. What I have seen and heard on my two
visits here only confirms the diagnosis of your case I made then. But the
real purpose of the two calls was to endeavor to make you see your
troubles as I see them."
"I don't know what you mean, sir," said Brainerd, piqued by the
unmistakable trend of Socratic's remarks.
"I rather think you do, but I'll take no chances. Your business is
desperately ill, isn't it?"
"Yes, I guess it is," reluctantly.
"Then it needs a heroic remedy, doesn't it?"
"And that remedy must be applied to the source of the trouble. Not so?"
And that source is none other than Mr. James H. Brainerd. No, don't blow
up with a loud report. Listen to me. You are really too good a business
man to go to the wall for the want of a little teachableness. You have
foresight, initiative, energy, and perseverance. These are
success-qualities of a high order. But you have fallen into some very
costly bad habits.
Let me give you the names of six old-fashioned virtues that you are going
to start right in to cultivate. When you have developed them, your profits
will take care of themselves.
The first is Order. You waste seventy-five per cent of your time and
nervous energy because you let your work push you instead of planning your
work and then pushing your plan.
The second is Punctuality. You lose time, money, friends, temper, and
will-power because you are vague and careless about making appointments
and slipshod about keeping them.
The third is Courtesy. This has its source in consideration for others
and is closely allied to tact. When you ask me to come and help you, and
then tell me you are sorry you can do nothing for me, or sorry to
disappoint me, that's patronizing. When you ignore a caller and go to
reading papers on your desk, that's rudeness. And you can't afford them in
The fourth is Economy. Your time is worth more to this business than that
of all the help put together. And when you spend it doing what a
ten-dollar-a-week girl could do just as well, it is sinful extravagance.
It wastes not only your time, but hers. Worst of all, it undermines your
self-respect and her respect for you.
The fifth is Honesty. When you rush away to wait on some customer
yourself because that customer has connived with you for some special cut
rates, you may not intend it, but you are dishonest. Business must be done
at a profit and all those who share in the privileges of buying from this
store should share proportionately in paying you your profit. If anyone
doesn't pay his share, the others have to make up for it Give everybody a
square, equal deal. That will build confidence and increase trade. And
then you can leave your salespeople to wait on all customers, giving you
more time for real management--generalship.
The sixth is Courage. It's easy enough to see obstacles, to make excuses,
to procrastinate. When a hard task has to be done, you will find it no
help to begin to catalog the difficulties. Just fear not, and do it.
Now, you are going to cultivate these virtues, Brainerd, because you see
that I am right and because, after all, you are a man of good judgment and
"Never mind the contract. When you think my advice has proved its value,
send me what you think it is worth."
And he walked out, leaving Brainerd purple in the face with a number of
varied emotions, chief among which were outraged dignity and warm
While you and we know many Brainerds, there are men capable of handling
large affairs who, through lack of training, lack of opportunity, or a
choice of a wrong vocation, are sentenced to sit, year after year, working
away in an inefficient, fumbling manner, with a mass of details which they
hate and which they are not fitted to take care of properly. Such people
are often conscientious; they have a great desire to do their work
thoroughly and well, and the fact that they so frequently neglect little
details, forget things that they ought to do, overlook necessary
precautions, and otherwise fail to perform their duties, is a matter not
only of supreme regret and humiliation to them, but of great distress to
those who depend upon them.
CAREFULNESS AND RECKLESSNESS
Carefulness and prudence are natural aptitudes. The careless man is not
wilfully careless. He is careless because he has not the aptitudes which
make a man careful. The imprudent man is not wilfully imprudent, but
because he does not have the inherent qualifications for prudence, the
taking of precautions, the wise and careful scrutinizing of all the
elements entering into success. For some work men are required who have
the natural aptitudes of carefulness and prudence. The great tragedy is
that this kind of work is often entrusted to men who are so constituted
that it is very easy for them to take chances. The person who is naturally
optimistic and hopeful and always looks on the bright side cheerfully
expects whatever he does to "come out all right," as he expresses it. He
therefore neglects to take sufficient precautions; he does not exercise
care as he should; he takes unnecessary and unwise risks. The result is
that oftentimes his optimism turns out to be very poorly justified. When
things do go wrong on account of their carelessness, such people may feel
distressed about it for a time, but they soon recover. They hope for
"better luck next time." They expect, by their ingenuity and
resourcefulness, to more than make up for the troubles which have come as
the result of their carelessness. On the other hand, those who are
naturally careful and dependable do not have much hope of things coming
out right without eternal vigilance and foresight. They are inherently
somewhat apprehensive. They take precautions, are on their guard, and
leave no stone unturned whose turning may insure success.
But there are certain classes of work which require a willingness to take
chances. Such enterprises are speculative. In order to be happy in them,
one must have a certain amount of optimism and hopefulness. He must accept
temporary failure without discouragement. The heart to look on the bright
side of every cloud must be born in one. He must believe always that the
future will bring more desirable results. The careless person delights in
this kind of work. The element of chance in it appeals to his sporting
blood. The danger gives him needed excitement and thrill. The anxious,
apprehensive person has no place in such enterprises. Their uncertainties
are a drain upon his nervous system. He worries. He makes himself ill with
his anxieties and apprehensions. He is unhappy. When disaster does happen,
he takes it seriously, feels discouraged, thinks his efforts have been of
no avail, can see nothing in the future but black ruin, and otherwise
destroys not only his joy in his work, but his efficiency and usefulness
In actual practice we find both prudent and reckless misfits. Such people
are unhappy, inefficient, and usually unsuccessful. It is strange that men
do not understand, before undertaking a vocation, so elemental and
fundamental a thing as the question of carelessness and carefulness. Yet,
somehow or other, they do not. We find thousands of men worrying, anxious,
distrait, because of the uncertainties of their businesses and the chances
they have to take. We find other thousands of men blundering, careless,
optimistic, always hopeful for better things in the future, and yet
attempting to succeed in a business which requires care, infinite pains
and precautions. Thoughtless, impulsive, frivolous people are always
trying to do work requiring careful, plodding, painstaking, methodical
ways; while thoughtful, philosophic, and deliberate people oftentimes find
themselves distressed, bewildered, and inefficient in the hurly-burly of
some swift-moving vocation.
SOME OTHER MISFITS
Mild, easy-going, timid, self-conscious men we frequently find in
vocations which require aggressiveness, courage, fighting ability,
self-confidence, and a considerable amount of hard-headed brutality. On
the other hand, we sometimes find the fighting man in a profession which
is considered to be quiet and peaceable.
Similarly, we have often seen lawyers, whose profession requires of them a
good deal of combativeness, shrewdness, a certain degree of skepticism,
and a large amount of hard-headed determination to win, no matter what the
cost, handicapped by extreme sensitiveness, sympathy, generosity,
non-resistance, credulity, humility, and self-consciousness. Physically,
they were wonderfully capable of success as lawyers. Intellectually, they,
perhaps, were even better fitted for the profession than many of their
brothers in the legal fraternity. But, emotionally, they were absolutely
unfit for the competition, the contest, the necessity for combat and
severity in the practice of law.
Contrawise, we have often seen hard-headed, shrewd, skeptical, grasping,
unprincipled, aggressive, fighting men in professions where they did not
belong; in professions requiring sympathy, credulity, kindness, tact,
generosity, unselfishness, and other such qualities. We have not, in this
chapter, outlined all of the different classes of misfits. That would be
impossible. We have, however, referred to the most common of them.
Probably nine-tenths of all the misfits which have come under our
observation could be classified under one or more of the heads we have
outlined in the foregoing chapter.
THE PHYSICALLY FRAIL
Some years ago there came into our offices in Boston a young man
twenty-six years of age. He was about medium height, with keen,
intelligent face, fine skin, fine hair, delicately modeled features,
refined looking hands, and small, well-shaped feet.
He was inexpensively, but neatly, dressed, and, while somewhat diffident,
was courteous, affable, and respectful in demeanor. After a little
conversation with him, we asked him if he would be willing to appear
before one of our classes and permit the students to try to analyze him,
decide what his aptitudes were, and for what profession he was best
fitted. An evening or two later he appeared and we placed him before the
class. After some little examination of his appearance, this is the
judgment passed upon him by those present:
"Fairly observant; capable of learning well through his powers of
observation; good intellect, of the thoughtful, meditative type; a fair
degree of constructive ability; in disposition, optimistic, cheerful;
inclined to take chances; sympathetic, generous, sensitive, kindly, well
disposed, and agreeable; rather lacking in self-confidence and, therefore,
somewhat diffident, but courteous and friendly in contact with others;
responsive and, therefore, easily influenced by his associates, and
affected by his environment. Lacking in sense of justice and property
sense. A man of natural refinement and refined tastes; fond of beauty,
elegance and luxury. Energetic and alert mentally, but rather disinclined
to physical effort. Somewhat deficient in aggressiveness, but endowed with
an excellent constructive imagination, and so great mental energy that he
would be able to take the initiative in an intellectual way, especially in
the formation of plans and in the devising of means and ways. Fond of
change, variety; loves excitement; likes social life, and somewhat
deficient in constancy, conservatism, prudence, and responsibility. Keen,
alert, somewhat impatient and restless. Well fitted by nature for
intellectual work of any kind; with training would have done well as
teacher, writer, private secretary or high-class clerical worker, but
expression indicates that, through lack of training, he has failed in
physical work and has fallen into evil ways."
After this analysis had been carefully made, we excused the young man and
explained that thirteen of his twenty-six years had been spent in jail. He
had been left an orphan early in life and secured so little education that
he was almost entirely illiterate.
THE EASY DESCENT TO CRIME
As soon as he was old enough, he was set to work at the only thing he
could do, namely, manual labor. He was small and slight for his age, and
the services he was able to render were not worth much. He, therefore,
received very small pay. Because of his physical disabilities, he was
behind the other boys in his gang and suffered frequently from the
tongue-lashings of an unsympathetic foreman. His pay was not commensurate
with his tastes. He constantly felt the desire for finer, better, cleaner
things than he was able to earn. The work was hard for him; he suffered
much from the punishment inflicted upon his tender hands, from muscular
soreness and from weariness. As the days rolled on, he grew weaker, rather
than stronger, and became weary earlier in the day. Finally, the time came
when he felt that he could endure the taunts of his foreman no longer, and
he was about to give up when the foreman, exasperated with his
inefficiency, his clumsiness, and his weakness, discharged him.
Having been discharged, it was difficult for him to find another place to
work. At this critical stage, being out of money, and having fallen in
with idlers--and worse--he was influenced to use his keen intellect and
ability in plans and schemes, to commit a small crime, which yielded him
$10 or $15. Being a novice in crime, not naturally a criminal, he did not
protect himself from discovery and punishment, and, as a result, was sent
to a reformatory. After a short term in the reformatory, his behavior was
so good that he was released. After his release, a kind-hearted person,
who had observed him and liked his appearance, secured another position
for him. This also was at manual labor. At first he entered upon his new
work with a determination to succeed, to live down the stain upon his
character caused by his previous speculation, and, therefore, to live an
honorable and successful life.
STRUGGLING AGAINST ODDS
He worked hard and did his best, but the best he could do was not good
enough. He possessed no manual skill, he had no strength, and little by
little he again became physically tired out, mentally discouraged and
sore, and, having once committed a crime, found it easy to seek his former
associates and drop again into the old ways. An opportunity presented
itself to rob a companion's pocket of a few dollars, and he did so. Again
he was sent to the reformatory, this time for a longer term. Then, until
he came to our office, his career was a repetition of what has already
been related. A few months or a year or two in a reformatory, a jail, or a
penitentiary, a month or two trying to rehabilitate himself in some form
of manual labor, and, then, inefficiency, incompetency, lack of skill,
lack of strength, and discharge, to be followed by another attempt to add
to his resources by some petty crime.
For several years following this first interview with Mr. L. we followed
him, and did our best to assist him to enter upon some vocation for which
he was better fitted. Again and again we and other friends of his helped
him to secure work, but always it was the old story. His mind was so
active, so intelligent, so eager for expression, that the drudgery, the
monotony, the routine, the small pay, and the consequent lack of the many
elegances and luxuries he so strongly desired were too much for him. His
crimes were never serious, and never those requiring great courage. He
never stole any very large sums. For this reason much of his time was
spent in the work house or in jail, rather than in the penitentiary. In
addition to petty thieving, he had acquired some little ability as a
confidence man, and was capable of ensnaring small sums from credulous or
sympathetic people on various pretexts. The last time we heard of him he
had called upon a friend of ours, professed his complete and permanent
reform, wept over his former failures, and promised faithfully--and with
the greatest possible fervency and apparent sincerity--to do better in the
future. He said that he had an opportunity to make a trip on a whaling
vessel and he thought this opportunity would be the best thing in the world
for him, as it would take him away from his old, evil associates and give
him an opportunity to save money and make good in a new life. He wished
our friend to give him $4 to buy a ticket to New Bedford. Our friend gave
him the money and also a postal card, on which he had written his own
address. "Now, L.," he said, "I believe you, and I want you to show me
that you are playing square with me. When you get your new position and
are about to sail, I want you to write me about it on this postal card,
and mail it to me so that I will know that you are carrying out your
THE OLD, OLD STORY
L. promised faithfully, and said, "I want to write a letter to my mother,
and tell her where I am going. I wish you would let me have an envelope
and a stamp." Our friend obliged him with the necessaries, and L. left the
office beaming with gratitude and profuse in his promises to return the
loan as soon as he came back from his trip on the whaling vessel. A few
days later my friend received a postal card, dated at New Bedford,
Massachusetts. In one corner of the postal card was the notation,
"Received at the post office at New Bedford in an envelope, with a letter,
requesting that it be mailed here. (Signed) Postmaster."
Here was a man so well-intentioned by nature, of such a kindly,
sympathetic, generous disposition, so intelligent, so naturally capable
mentally that, with proper training and properly placed in a vocation in
which he could have used his talents, he would doubtless have become an
excellent asset to society.
This case is typical of many others. They have natural aptitudes which fit
them to become useful, but their talents have never been trained, their
aptitudes have never been given an opportunity to develop. They have no
inherent tendencies toward crime. In fact, there is no "criminal" type.
Most--but not all--criminals fall into their evil ways simply because they
have never been taught how to direct their mental and physical energies in
a way which will give them pleasure, as well as profit.
DESCRIPTION OF THIS TYPE
The physically frail individual of this type is frail because the brain
and nervous system are so highly developed that they require a great deal
of his vitality and endurance to nourish them and to sustain their
activities. The result is that mental powers grow and thrive at the
expense of physical.
Such people have large heads in proportion to their bodies. Their heads
also are inclined to be very much larger above the ears and in the
neighborhood of the forehead and temples than at the jaw and at the nape
of the neck. This gives their heads a rather top-heavy effect--like a pear
with the small end down--and their faces a triangular shape. Their jaws
are usually fine and slender, and their chins not particularly broad and
Such people have very fine hair and fine skin. Their nerves are sensitive
and close to the surface. Their entire build of body is delicate and
slender. Their hands and feet also are usually delicately and slenderly
fashioned; their shoulders are narrow and oftentimes sloping. It is folly
to talk of building up rugged, muscular and bony systems by means of
strenuous exercise in people thus endowed. Much, of course, can be done
to strengthen and harden the muscles, but they are frail physically, by
nature, and can never be anything else.
VOCATIONS FOR THE PHYSICALLY FRAIL
People with this type of organization are not inclined to be skillful with
their fingers. They do not care for physical work of any kind; they do not
take an interest in it and, therefore, cannot do it well. Properly
trained, men and women of this type take their place in the professions.
They are teachers, preachers, lawyers, educators, reformers, inventors,
authors, and artists. Among those of mediocre abilities we find clerks,
secretaries, accountants, salesmen, window trimmers, decorators,
advertisers, and others working along similar mental lines. When such
people are not trained and educated, they are misfits always, because they
do not have opportunities to use to their fullest extent the natural
intellectual talents with which they have been endowed.
THE MENTALLY MECHANICAL
There is a type of boy who is oftentimes thrown into the wrong vocation in
life, owing to a lack of appreciation of his true abilities on the part of
parents or teachers. This boy has a large head and small body, and is
intensely interested in machinery. He probably learns to handle tools,
after a fashion, at a very early age; spends his spare time in machine
shops; is intensely interested in locomotives and steamships, and
otherwise manifests a passion for machinery and mechanics. Oftentimes, on
account of this, he is very early apprenticed to a mechanic or is given a
job in some place where he will have an opportunity to build, operate or
Some years ago we visited in a family in which there was a boy of this
type. At that time his chief interest was in locomotives. He had a toy
locomotive and took the greatest delight in operating it. Whenever he went
near a railroad station he improved every opportunity to examine carefully
the parts of a locomotive and, if possible, to induce the engineer to
take him up into the cab and show him the levers, valves and other parts
to be seen there. As soon as he was old enough, he begged his father to be
permitted to go to work in a railroad shop. Fortunately, however, his
father was too intelligent and too sensible to be misled by mere surface
indications. The boy was encouraged to finish his education. Being a
bright, capable youngster, he learned readily and rapidly. By means of
proper educational methods, giving him plenty of opportunity for the
exercise of his mechanical activities, he was induced to remain in school
until he secured an excellent college education. As he grew older his
interest in machinery did not wane. He found, however, that it was
becoming almost wholly intellectual. He lost all desire to handle, build,
operate or repair machinery. When, in later life, he became the owner of
an automobile, he was more than willing to leave all of the details of its
care to his chauffeur and mechanician.
As he cultivated his mental powers, he became more and more interested in
the use of his constructive aptitudes in the formation of ideas. He liked
to put ideas together; to work out the mechanics of expression in writing.
Instead of building machinery, he loved to build plots. Instead of