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About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (Dec. 1, 1877)
Bk Turn-: to Sew.
The student whose capacity is of about
the average, either in fact or apparently,
will often regard, with a feeling akin to
envy, those who surpass him in this re
spect. He thinks that if he was as profi
cient in mathematics a this one, ho would
become a civil engineer: or if as liucnt in
speech as another, he would he a lawyer.
If he attempts to follow either ideal, he
will very likely find in the one case that
his lack of mathematical aptitude will
prevent him from reaching more tliau me
diocrity, if even that; and in the other,
that his lack of conversational powers
would seriously embarrass his career as a
lawj'er. He is, in either case, wishing to
become what nature does not intend him
to be, and sooner or later will find it out.
The contemplation of a lofty ideal isoften
a source of great mischief. The chief po
sitions in a calling oj any sort are but
comparatively few in number, and of very
responsible and difiicult natures. Few
persons, therefore, arc needed to fill them,
and few are found. Even if self-improvement
would permit one to become what
he will, it would not help the matter.
Suppose half the voters of the country
were qualified to legislate in the National
Congress. As only three hundred and
sixtj'-nine men can be in Congress at the
same time, of what valucWould this priv.
ilegc be to the vast majority ? The fact
that those who fill high and responsible
positions arc but indifiTurcntly qualified
for them, does not disprove the proposi
tion. It simply illustrates the imperfec
tion of human affairs.
Although people differ from each other
in point of ability, and cannot all reach
the 3umo goal, yet this will be found a
wise provision in Ihe economy of the so
cial fabric. It is ncithcr.possihlc nor de
sirable that every man should become a
Daniel Webster, or a Horace Greeley.
This is, we think, evident to all. The ve.
ry wish, even, is no more excusable than
that everyone should content himself with
the occupation of rag picker or organ
grinder. Patient, resolute self-improve
ment will increase the number of Daniel
Websters and Horace Grcelcys, but it
cannot change a law of nature. We are
thus led to repudiate the Latin proverb,
Labor omn in vincit.
Now then if one cannot realize every
exalted ideal that he may contemplate,
need he fold his arms and give a fatal blow
to that inborn ambition which bids him
live for what he is best able to perform?
Human nature is loth to give up the idols
which careful consideration will condemn.
No, even if he cannot be like the one he
would imitate, he can do still belter be
true to himself.
This is a fast age, and the rising gener
ation are ardent and aspiring. They are
entertained with stories of how some of
our most eminent men began the struggle
of life under circumstances of great pov
erty, and, with untlinrhiug perseverance,
educated themselves and rapidly worked
their wa upward. The inference often
drawn is that almost everyone can follow
in their slops if he only have the same res
olution. This is only true in part, for al
though a firm purpose is indispeusible, a
still more essential element must be pres
ent. This is talent, not only native, but
natural also. It is true that some persons
who possess this gilt allow i to lie almost
dormant. Yet it is also true that others of
less capacity cannot rise to much distinc
tion, even if they have perseverance, and
are surrounded by the most favorable cir
cumstances. Talent, then, is the prime
pass-port to success in life. Self-assurance
will do much, but is apl to become a
Now a person comlemplating his ideal
in life needs to take a calm look at the
structure of societj-. As we have already
seen, a few positions exist which require
qualifications that are seldom possessed.
From these there is a gradual transition to
the more bumble employments which oc
cupy the great mass of mei. We also find
these latter to be quite as essential, for the
carpenter is us necessary an element of so
ciety as the statesman. In this fact we
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