First Be A Man

The great need at this hour is manly men. We want no

goody-goody piety; we have too much of it. We want men who will

do right, though the heavens fall, who believe in God, and who

will confess Him.


All the world cries, Where is the man who will save us? We want

a man! Don't look so far for this man. You have him at hand.

This man--it is
ou, it is I; it is each one of us!... How to

constitute one's self a man? Nothing harder, if one knows not

how to will it; nothing easier, if one wills it.


"I thank God I am a Baptist," said a little, short Doctor of Divinity,

as he mounted a step at a convention. "Louder! louder!" shouted a man in

the audience; "we can't hear." "Get up higher," said another. "I can't,"

replied the doctor, "to be a Baptist is as high as one can get."

But there is something higher than being a Baptist, and that is being a


Rousseau says: "According to the order of nature, men being equal, their

common vocation is the profession of humanity; and whoever is well

educated to discharge the duty of a man cannot be badly prepared to

fill any of those offices that have a relation to him. It matters little

to me whether my pupil be designed for the army, the pulpit, or the bar.

To live is the profession I would teach him. When I have done with him,

it is true he will be neither a soldier, a lawyer, nor a divine. _Let

him first be a man_; Fortune may remove him from one rank to another, as

she pleases, he will be always found in his place."

"First of all," replied the boy James A. Garfield, when asked what he

meant to be, "I must make myself a man; if I do not succeed in that, I

can succeed in nothing."

"Hear me, O men," cried Diogenes, in the market place at Athens; and,

when a crowd collected around him, he said scornfully, "I called for

men, not pigmies."

One great need of the world to-day is for men and women who are good

animals. To endure the strain of our concentrated civilization, the

coming man and woman must have an excess of animal spirits. They must

have a robustness of health. Mere absence of disease is not health. It

is the overflowing fountain, not the one half full, that gives life and

beauty to the valley below. Only he is healthy who exults in mere animal

existence; whose very life is a luxury; who feels a bounding pulse

throughout his body; who feels life in every limb, as dogs do when

scouring over the field, or as boys do when gliding over fields of ice.

Dispense with the doctor by being temperate; the lawyer by keeping out

of debt; the demagogue, by voting for honest men; and poverty, by being


"Nephew," said Sir Godfrey Kneller, the artist, to a Guinea slave

trader, who entered the room where his uncle was talking with Alexander

Pope, "you have the honor of seeing the two greatest men in the world."

"I don't know how great men you may be," said the Guinea man, as he

looked contemptuously upon their diminutive physical proportions, "but I

don't like your looks; I have often bought a much better man than either

of you, all muscles and bones, for ten guineas."

A man is never so happy as when he suffices to himself, and can walk

without crutches or a guide. Said Jean Paul Richter: "I have made as

much out of myself as could be made of the stuff, and no man should

require more."

"The body of an athlete and the soul of a sage," wrote Voltaire to

Helvetius; "these are what we require to be happy."

Although millions are out of employment in the United States, how

difficult it is to find a thorough, reliable, self-dependent,

industrious man or woman, young or old, for any position, whether as a

domestic servant, an office boy, a teacher, a brakeman, a conductor, an

engineer, a clerk, a bookkeeper, or whatever we may want. It is almost

impossible to find a really _competent_ person in any department, and

oftentimes we have to make many trials before we can get a position

fairly well filled.

It is a superficial age; very few prepare for their work. Of thousands

of young women trying to get a living at typewriting, many are so

ignorant, so deficient in the common rudiments even, that they spell

badly, use bad grammar, and know scarcely anything of punctuation. In

fact, they murder the English language. They can copy, "parrot like,"

and that is about all.

The same superficiality is found in nearly all kinds of business. It is

next to impossible to get a first-class mechanic; he has not learned his

trade; he has picked it up, and botches everything he touches, spoiling

good material and wasting valuable time.

In the professions, it is true, we find greater skill and faithfulness,

but usually they have been developed at the expense of mental and moral


The merely professional man is narrow; worse than that, he is in a sense

an artificial man, a creature of technicalities and specialties, removed

alike from the broad truth of nature and from the healthy influence of

human converse. In society, the most accomplished man of mere

professional skill is often a nullity; he has sunk his personality in

his dexterity.

"The aim of every man," said Humboldt, "should be to secure the highest

and most harmonious development of his powers to a complete and

consistent whole."

Some men impress us as immense possibilities. They seem to have a sweep

of intellect that is grand; a penetrative power that is phenomenal; they

seem to know everything, to have read everything, to have seen

everything. Nothing seems to escape the keenness of their vision. But

somehow they are forever disappointing our expectations. They raise

great hopes only to dash them. They are men of great promise, but they

never pay. There is some indefinable want in their make-up.

What the world needs is a clergyman who is broader than his pulpit, who

does not look upon humanity with a white neckcloth ideal, and who would

give the lie to the saying that the human race is divided into three

classes: men, women and ministers. Wanted, a clergyman who does not look

upon his congregation from the standpoint of old theological books, and

dusty, cobweb creeds, but who sees the merchant as in his store, the

clerk as making sales, the lawyer pleading before the jury, the

physician standing over the sick bed; in other words, who looks upon the

great throbbing, stirring, pulsing, competing, scheming, ambitious,

impulsive, tempted, mass of humanity as one of their number, who can

live with them, see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and

experience their sensations.

The world has a standing advertisement over the door of every

profession, every occupation, every calling: "Wanted--A Man."

Wanted, a lawyer, who has not become the victim of his specialty, a mere

walking bundle of precedents.

Wanted, a shopkeeper who does not discuss markets wherever he goes. A

man should be so much larger than his calling, so broad and symmetrical

in his culture, that he would not talk shop in society, that no one

would suspect how he gets his living.

Nothing is more apparent in this age of specialties than the dwarfing,

crippling, mutilating influence of occupations or professions.

Specialties facilitate commerce, and promote efficiency in the

professions, but are often narrowing to individuals. The spirit of the

age tends to doom the lawyer to a narrow life of practice, the business

man to a mere money-making career.

Think of a man, the grandest of God's creations, spending his life-time

standing beside a machine for making screws. There is nothing to call

out his individuality, his ingenuity, his powers of balancing, judging,


He stands there year after year, until he seems but a piece of

mechanism. His powers, from lack of use, dwindle to mediocrity, to

inferiority, until finally he becomes a mere part of the machine he


Wanted, a man who will not lose his individuality in a crowd, a man who

has the courage of his convictions, who is not afraid to say "No,"

though all the world say "Yes."

Wanted, a man who, though he is dominated by a mighty purpose, will not

permit one great faculty to dwarf, cripple, warp, or mutilate his

manhood; who will not allow the over-development of one faculty to stunt

or paralyze his other faculties.

Wanted, a man who is larger than his calling, who considers it a low

estimate of his occupation to value it merely as a means of getting a

living. Wanted, a man who sees self-development, education and culture,

discipline and drill, character and manhood, in his occupation.

As Nature tries every way to induce us to obey her laws by rewarding

their observance with health, pleasure and happiness, and punishes their

violation by pain and disease, so she resorts to every means to induce

us to expand and develop the great possibilities she has implanted

within us. She nerves us to the struggle, beneath which all great

blessings are buried, and beguiles the tedious marches by holding up

before us glittering prizes, which we may almost touch, but never quite

possess. She covers up her ends of discipline by trial, of character

building through suffering by throwing a splendor and glamour over the

future; lest the hard, dry facts of the present dishearten us, and she

fail in her great purpose. How else could Nature call the youth away

from all the charms that hang around young life, but by presenting to

his imagination pictures of future bliss and greatness which will haunt

his dreams until he resolves to make them real. As a mother teaches her

babe to walk, by holding up a toy at a distance, not that the child may

reach the toy, but that it may develop its muscles and strength,

compared with which the toys are mere baubles; so Nature goes before us

through life, tempting us with higher and higher toys, but ever with one

object in view--the development of the man.

In every great painting of the masters there is one idea or figure which

stands out boldly beyond everything else. Every other idea or figure on

the canvas is subordinate to this idea or figure, and finds its real

significance not in itself, but, pointing to the central idea, finds its

true expression there. So in the vast universe of God, every object of

creation is but a guide-board with an index finger pointing to the

central figure of the created universe--Man. Nature writes this thought

upon every leaf; she thunders it in every creation; it exhales from

every flower; it twinkles in every star.

Open thy bosom, set thy wishes wide,

And let in manhood--let in happiness;

Admit the boundless theatre of thought

From nothing up to God ... which makes a man!