Every noble work is at first impossible.--Carlyle

Victory belongs to the most persevering.--Napoleon

Our greatest glory is, not in never falling, but in rising every time we


Success in most things depends on knowing how long it takes to succeed.


erance is failing nineteen times and succeeding the twentieth.

--Dr J. Anderson

Perseverance depends on three things,--purpose, will, enthusiasm. He

who has a purpose is always concentrating his forces. By the will,

constantly educated, the hope and plan are prevented from evaporating

into dreams, and a little gain is all the time being added. Enthusiasm

keeps the interest up, and makes the obstacles seem small. Young people

often call perseverance plodding, and look with impatience on careful,

steady efforts of any kind. It is plodding in a certain sense, but by it

the mountain is scaled; whereas the impetuous nature soon tires, or is

injured, and the climb is over, half-finished. The founders of New

England did not believe in "chances." They did believe in work. The

young man who thinks to get on by mere smartness and by idling, meets

failure at last.

But there is a higher outlook. Life is in a sense a battle; certainly

there is an unending struggle within ourselves to make the better part

rule the worse. Perseverance is the master impulse of the firmest souls,

and holds the key to those treasure-houses of knowledge from which the

world has drawn its wealth both of wisdom and of moral worth.

Great men never wait for opportunities; they make them. Nor do they wait

for facilities or favoring circumstances; they seize upon whatever is at

hand, work out their problem, and master the situation. A young man

determined and willing, will find a way or make one. Great men have

found no royal road to their triumph. It is always the old route, by way

of industry and perseverance.

Bunyan wrote his "Pilgrim's Progress" on the untwisted papers used to

cork the bottles of milk brought for his meals. Gifford wrote his first

copy of a mathematical work, when a cobbler's apprentice, on small

scraps of leather; and Rittenhouse, the astronomer, first calculated

eclipses on his plow handle.

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

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

greatest thing a man can do in this world is to make the most possible

out of the stuff that has been given to him. This is success, and there

is no other."

Paris was in the hands of a mob; the authorities were panic-stricken,

for they did not dare to trust their underlings. In came a man who said,

"I know a young officer who has the courage and ability to quell this

mob." "Send for him; send for him," said they. Napoleon was sent for,

came, subjugated the mob, subjugated the authorities, ruled France, then

conquered Europe.

One of the first lessons of life is to learn how to get victory out of

defeat. It takes courage and stamina, when mortified and embarrassed by

humiliating disaster, to seek in the wreck or ruins the elements of

future conquest. Yet this measures the difference between those who

succeed and those who fail. You cannot measure a man by his failures.

You must know what use he makes of them.

Always watch with great interest a young man's first failure. It is the

index of his life, the measure of his success-power. The mere fact of

his failure has interest; but how did he take his defeat? What did he do

next? Was he discouraged? Did he slink out of sight? Did he conclude

that he had made a mistake in his calling, and dabble in something else?

Or was he up and at it again with a determination that knows no defeat?

There is something grand and inspiring in a young man who fails

squarely after doing his level best, and then enters the contest again

and again with undaunted courage and redoubled energy. Have no fears for

the youth who is not disheartened at failure.

Raleigh failed, but he left a name ever to be linked with brave effort

and noble character. Kossuth did not succeed, but his lofty career, his

burning words, and his ideal fidelity will move men for good as long as

time shall last. O'Connell did not win his cause, but he did achieve

enduring fame as an orator, patriot, and apostle of liberty.

President Lincoln was asked, "How does Grant impress you as a leading

general?" "The greatest thing about him is his persistency of purpose,"

he replied. "He is not easily excited, and he has the grip of a bulldog.

When he once gets his teeth in nothing can shake him off."

Chauncey Jerome's education was limited to three months in the district

school each year until he was ten, when his father took him into his

blacksmith shop at Plymouth, Connecticut, to make nails. Money was a

scarce article with young Chauncey. His father died when he was eleven,

and his mother was forced to send him out to earn a living on a farm. At

fourteen he was apprenticed for seven years to a carpenter, who gave him

only board and clothes. One day he heard people talking of Eli Terry, of

Plymouth, who had undertaken to make two hundred clocks in one lot.

"He'll never live long enough to finish them," said one. "If he

should," said another, "he could not possibly sell so many. The very

idea is ridiculous."

Chauncey pondered long over this rumor, for it had long been his dream

to become a great clock-maker. He tried his hand at the first

opportunity, and soon learned to make a wooden clock. When he got an

order to make twelve at twelve dollars apiece he thought his fortune

was made.

One night he happened to think that a cheap clock could be made of

brass as well as of wood, and would not shrink, swell, or warp

appreciably in any climate. He acted on the idea, and became the first

great manufacturer of brass clocks. He made millions at the rate of six

hundred a day, exporting them to all parts of the globe.

A constant struggle, a ceaseless battle to bring success from hard

surroundings, is the price of all great achievements. The man who has

not fought his way upward, and does not bear the scar of desperate

conflict, does not know the highest meaning of success.

Columbus was dismissed as a fool from court after court, but he pushed

his suit against an unbelieving and ridiculing world. Rebuffed by kings,

scorned by queens, he did not swerve a hair's breadth from the

overmastering purpose which dominated his soul. The words "New World"

were graven upon his heart; and reputation, ease, pleasure, position,

life itself, if need be, must be sacrificed. Neither threats, ridicule,

storms, leaky vessels, nor mutiny of sailors, could shake his mighty


Lucky for the boy who can say, "In the bright lexicon of youth there is

no such word as _fail_." We do not care for the men who change with

every wind! Give us men like mountains, who change the winds. You cannot

at one dash rise into eminence. You must hammer it out by steady and

rugged blows.

A man can get what he wants if he pays the price--persistent, plodding

perseverance. Never doubt the result; victory will be yours. There may

be ways to fortune shorter than the old, dusty highway; but the staunch

men in the community all go on this road. If you want to do anything,

don't stand back waiting for a better chance to arise, but rush in and

seize it; and then cling to it with all the power you possess until you

have made it serve the purpose for which you desired it, or yield the

good which you believe it to contain.

The lack of perseverance is the cause of many a failure. We do not stand

by our plans faithfully. Fashion, or criticism, or temporary weariness,

or fickleness of taste, leads us off; and we have to begin our work all

over. Look at the history of every noted invention; read the lives of

musicians who were born with genius, but wrought out triumph by

perseverance; and you will find abundant proof that without perseverance

nothing valuable can be accomplished.


George Stephenson's struggle for the adoption of his locomotive is

another noteworthy case in point. People said "he is crazy"; "his

roaring steam engine will set the houses on fire with its sparks"; "the

smoke will pollute the air"; "the carriage makers and coachmen will

starve for want of work." So intense was the opposition, that for three

whole days the matter was debated in the House of Commons; and on that

occasion a government inspector said that if a locomotive ever went ten

miles an hour, he would undertake to eat a stewed engine for breakfast.

"What can be more palpably absurd and ridiculous than the prospect held

out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as horses?" asked a writer

in the English _Quarterly Review_ for March, 1825. "We trust that

Parliament will, in all the railways it may grant, _limit the speed

to eight or nine miles an hour_, which we entirely agree, with Mr.

Sylvester, is as great as can be ventured upon."

This article referred to Stephenson's proposition to use his newly

invented locomotive instead of horses on the Liverpool and Manchester

Railway, then in process of construction. The company referred the

matter to two leading English engineers, who reported that steam would

be desirable only when used in stationary engines one and a half miles

apart, drawing the cars by means of ropes and pulleys.

But Stephenson persuaded them to test his idea by offering a prize of

about twenty-five hundred dollars for the best locomotive produced at a

trial to take place October 6, 1829. On the eventful day, long waited

for, thousands of spectators assembled to watch the competition of four

engines, the "Novelty," the "Rocket," the "Perseverance," and the

"Sanspareil." The "Perseverance" could make but six miles an hour, and

so was ruled out, as the conditions called for at least ten. The

"Sanspareil" made an average of fourteen miles an hour, but as it burst

a water-pipe it lost its chance. The "Novelty" did splendidly, but also

burst a pipe, and was crowded out, leaving the "Rocket" to carry off

the honors with an average speed of fifteen miles an hour, the highest

rate attained being twenty-nine. This was Stephenson's locomotive, and

so fully vindicated his theory that the idea of stationary engines on

a railroad was completely exploded. He had picked up the fixed engines

which the genius of Watt had devised, and set them on wheels to draw

men and merchandise, against the most direful predictions of the

foremost engineers of his day.

[Footnote: See Smiles' "Life of George Stephenson" (new ed., 1874);

Jeaffreson and Pole's "Life of Robert Stephenson" (1864), and article

in Johnson's Cyclopedia, Vol. VII., p. 740.]