In the moral world there is nothing impossible if we can bring

a thorough will to do it.


It is firmness that makes the gods on our side.


Stand firm, don't flutter.


People do not lack strength they lack will.


Perpetual pushing an
assurance put a difficulty out of

countenance and make a seeming difficulty give way.


When a firm, decisive spirit is recognized, it is curious to

see how the space clears around a man and leaves him room and



"Do you know," asked Balzac's father, "that in literature a man must be

either a king or a beggar?" "Very well," replied his son, "_I will be a

king._" After ten years of struggle with hardship and poverty, he won

success as an author.

"Why do you repair that magistrate's bench with such great care?" asked

a bystander of a carpenter who was taking unusual pains. "Because I wish

to make it easy against the time when I come to sit on it myself,"

replied the other. He did sit on that bench as a magistrate a few years


"_I will be marshal of France and a great general_," exclaimed a young

French officer as he paced his room with hands tightly clenched. He

became a successful general and a marshal of France.

"There is so much power in faith," says Bulwer, "even when faith is

applied but to things human and earthly, that let a man but be firmly

persuaded that he is born to do some day, what at the moment seems

impossible, and it is fifty to one but what he does it before he dies."

There is about as much chance of idleness and incapacity winning real

success, or a high position in life, as there would be in producing a

Paradise Lost by shaking up promiscuously the separate words of

Webster's Dictionary, and letting them fall at random on the floor.

Fortune smiles upon those who roll up their sleeves and put their

shoulders to the wheel; upon men who are not afraid of dreary, dry,

irksome drudgery, men of nerve and grit who do not turn aside for dirt

and detail.

"Is there one whom difficulties dishearten?" asked John Hunter. "He will

do little. Is there one who will conquer? That kind of a man never


"Circumstances," says Milton, "have rarely favored famous men. They have

fought their way to triumph through all sorts of opposing obstacles."

"We have a half belief," said Emerson, "that the person is possible who

can counterpoise all other persons. We believe that there may be a man

_who is a match for events_,--one who never found his match,--against

whom other men being dashed are broken,--one who can give you any odds

and beat you."

The simple truth is that a will strong enough to keep a man continually

striving for things not wholly beyond his powers will carry him in time

very far toward his chosen goal.

At nineteen Bayard Taylor walked to Philadelphia, thirty miles, to find

a publisher for fifteen of his poems. He wanted to see them printed in a

book; but no publisher would undertake it. He returned to his home

whistling, however, showing that his courage and resolution had not


In Europe he was often forced to live on twenty cents a day for weeks on

account of his poverty. He returned to London with only thirty cents

left. He tried to sell a poem of twelve hundred lines, which he had in

his knapsack, but no publisher wanted it. Of that time he wrote: "My

situation was about as hopeless as it is possible to conceive." But his

will defied circumstances and he rose above them. For two years he lived

on two hundred and fifty dollars a year in London, earning every dollar

of it with his pen.

His untimely death in 1879, at fifty-four, when Minister to Berlin, was

lamented by the learned and great of all countries.

We are told of a young New York inventor who about twenty years ago

spent every dollar he was worth in an experiment, which, if successful,

would introduce his invention to public notice and insure his fortune,

and, what he valued more, his usefulness. The next morning the daily

papers heaped unsparing ridicule upon him. Hope for the future seemed

vain. He looked around the shabby room where his wife, a delicate little

woman, was preparing breakfast. He was without a penny. He seemed like a

fool in his own eyes; all these years of hard work were wasted. He went

into his chamber, sat down, and buried his face in his hands.

At length, with a fiery heat flashing through his body, he stood erect.

"It _shall_ succeed!" he said, shutting his teeth. His wife was crying

over the papers when he went back. "They are very cruel," she said.

"They don't understand." "I'll make them understand," he replied

cheerfully. "It was a fight for six years," he said afterward. "Poverty,

sickness and contempt followed me. I had nothing left but the _dogged

determination_ that it should succeed." It did succeed. The invention

was a great and useful one. The inventor is now a prosperous and happy


Napoleon was a terrible example of what the power of will can

accomplish. He always threw his whole force of body and mind direct upon

his work. Imbecile rulers and the nations they governed went down before

him in succession. He was told that the Alps stood in the way of his

armies,--"There shall be no Alps," he said, and the road across the

Simplon was constructed, through a district formerly almost

inaccessible. "Impossible," said he, "is a word only to be found in the

dictionary of fools." He was a man who toiled terribly; sometimes

employing and exhausting four secretaries at a time. He spared no one,

not even himself. His influence inspired other men, and put a new life

into them. "I made my generals out of mud," he said.

To think we are able is almost to be so--to determine upon attainment,

is frequently attainment itself. Thus, earnest resolution has often

seemed to have about it almost a savor of omnipotence. The strength of

Suwarrow's character lay in his power of willing, and, like most

resolute persons, he preached it up as a system.

Before Pizarro, D'Almagro and De Luque obtained any associates or arms

or soldiers, and with a very imperfect knowledge of the country or the

powers they were to encounter, they celebrated a solemn mass in one of

the great churches, dedicating themselves to the conquest of Peru. The

people expressed their contempt at such a monstrous project, and were

shocked at such sacrilege. But these decided men continued the service

and afterward retired for their great preparation with an entire

insensibility to the expressions of contempt. Their firmness was

absolutely invincible. The world has deplored the results of this

expedition, but there is a great lesson for us in the firmness of

decision of its leaders. Such firmness would keep to its course and

retain its purpose unshaken amidst the ruins of the world.

At the battle of Marengo the French army was supposed to be defeated;

but, while Bonaparte and his staff were considering their next move,

Dessaix suggested that there was yet time to retrieve their disaster, as

it was only about the middle of the afternoon. Napoleon rallied his men,

renewed the fight, and won a great victory over the Austrians, though

the unfortunate Dessaix lost his own life on that field.

What has chance ever done in the world? Has it built any cities? Has it

invented any telephones, any telegraphs? Has it built any steamships,

established any universities, any asylums, any hospitals? Was there any

chance in Caesar's crossing the Rubicon? What had chance to do with

Napoleon's career, with Wellington's, or Grant's, or Von Moltke's? Every

battle was won before it was begun. What had luck to do with Thermopylae,

Trafalgar, Gettysburg? Our successes we ascribe to ourselves; our

failures to destiny.

A vacillating man, no matter what his abilities, is invariably pushed to

the wall in the race of life by a determined will. It is he who resolves

to succeed, and who at every fresh rebuff begins resolutely again, that

reaches the goal. The shores of fortune are covered with the stranded

wrecks of men of brilliant ability, but who have wanted courage, faith

and decision, and have therefore perished in sight of more resolute but

less capable adventurers, who succeeded in making port. Hundreds of men

go to their graves in obscurity, who have been obscure only because they

lacked the pluck to make a first effort, and who, could they only have

resolved to begin, would have astonished the world by their achievements

and successes. The fact is, as Sydney Smith has well said, that in order

to do anything in this world that is worth doing, we must not stand

shivering on the bank, and thinking of the cold and the danger, but jump

in and scramble through as well as we can.

Is not this a grand privilege of man, immortal man, that though he may

not be able to stir a finger; that though a moth may crush him; that

merely by a righteous will, he is raised above the stars; that by it he

originates a good in the universe, which the universe could not

annihilate; a good which can defy extinction, though all created

energies of intelligence or matter were combined against it?

A man whose moral nature is ascendant is not the subject, but the

superior of circumstances. He is free; nay, more, he is a king; and

though this sovereignty may have been won by many desperate battles,

once on the throne, and holding the sceptre with a firm grasp, he has a

royalty of which neither time nor accident can strip him.

What can you do with a man who has an invincible purpose in him; who

never knows when he is beaten; and who, when his legs are shot off, will

fight on the stumps? Difficulties and opposition do not daunt him. He

thrives upon persecution; it only stimulates him to more determined

endeavor. Give a man the alphabet and an iron will, and who shall place

bounds to his achievements! Imprison a Galileo for his discoveries in

science, and he will experiment with the straw in his cell. Deprive

Euler of his eyesight, and he but studies harder upon mental problems,

thus developing marvelous powers of mathematical calculation. Lock up

the poor Bedford tinker in jail, and he will write the finest allegory

in the world, or will leave his imperishable thoughts upon the walls of

his cell. Burn the body of Wycliffe and throw the ashes into the Severn;

but they will be swept to the ocean, which will carry them, permeated

with his principles, to all lands. _The world always listens to a man

with a will in him._ You might as well snub the sun as such men as

Bismarck and Grant.

Hope would storm the castle of despair; it gives courage when

despondency would give up the battle of life. He is the best doctor

who can implant _hope_ and courage in the human soul. So he is the

greatest man who can inspire us to the grandest achievements.

"Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,

Which we ascribe to heaven; the fated sky

Gives us free scope; and only backward pulls

Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull."

"How much I could do if I only tried."