Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, which we ascribe to Heaven.


Be sure, my son, and remember that the best men always make themselves.

--Patrick Henry.

God gives every bird its food, but he does not throw it into the nest.

--J. G. Holland

very person has two educations, one which he receives from others, and

one, more important, which he gives himself.--Gibbon

In battle or business, whatever the game,

In law, or in love it is ever the same:

In the struggle for power, or the scramble for pelf,

Let this be your motto, "Rely on yourself."--J. G. Saxe

History and biography unite in teaching that circumstances have rarely

favored great men. They have fought their way to triumph over the road

of difficulty and through all sorts of opposition. Boys of lowly origin

have made many of the greatest discoveries, are presidents of our banks,

of our colleges, of our universities. Our poor boys and girls have

written many of our greatest books, and have filled the highest places

as teachers and journalists. Ask almost any great man in our large

cities where he was born, and he will tell you it was on a farm or in a

small country village. Nearly all the great capitalists of the city came

from the country.

Frederick Douglass, America's most representative colored man, was born

a slave, reared in bondage, liberated by his own exertions, educated and

advanced by sheer pluck and perseverance, to distinguished positions in

the service of his country, and to a high place in the respect and

esteem of the whole world.

Chauncey Jerome, the inventor of machine-made clocks, started with

twoothers on a tour through New Jersey, they to sell the clocks, and he

to make cases for them. On his way to New York he went through New

Haven, Connecticut, in a lumber wagon, eating bread and cheese. He

afterward lived in a fine mansion in that city, and stood very high

among its people.

Men who have been bolstered up all their lives are seldom good for

anything in a crisis. When misfortune comes, they look around for

somebody to lean upon. If the prop is not there down they go. Once

down, they are helpless as capsized turtles. Many a boy has succeeded

beyond all his expectations simply because all props were knocked out

from under him and he was obliged to stand upon his own feet. "Poverty

is uncomfortable, as I can testify," said James A. Garfield; "but nine

times out of ten the best thing that can happen to a young man is to be

tossed overboard and compelled to sink or swim for himself. In all my

acquaintance I have never known a man to be drowned who was worth the


What is put into the first of life is put into the whole of life. The

great London preacher, Mr. Spurgeon, once said "Out of a church of

twenty-seven hundred members, I have never had to exclude a single one

who was received while a child;" and in other respects it is equally

true that our earliest impressions and habits most powerfully influence

our later life.

Washington, at thirteen, copied into his commonplace book one hundred

and ten maxims of civility and good behavior, and was most careful in

the formation of all his habits. Franklin, too, devised a plan of

self-improvement and character-building. No doubt the noble characters

of these two men, almost superhuman in their excellence, are the natural

result of their early care and earnest striving toward perfection.

But the opposite truth needs to be quite as fully considered. "Many men

of genius have written worse scrawls than I do," said a boy at Eugby,

when his teacher remonstrated with him for his bad penmanship; "it is

not worth while to worry about so trivial a fault." Ten years later,

when he had become an officer in the Crimea, his illegible copy of an

order caused the loss of many brave men.

The insidious growth of the power of habit is well illustrated by the

old fable which says that one of the Fates spun filaments so fine that

they were invisible, and then became a victim of her own cunning; for

she was bound to the spot by these very threads.

There is also a story of a Grecian flute-player who charged double fees

for pupils who had been taught by inferior masters, on the ground that

it was much harder to undo bad habits than to form good ones.

"Conduct," says Matthew Arnold, "is three fourths of life;" but conduct

has its source in character. Right conduct in life is to be secured by

the formation of right character in youth. The prime element in

character, as related to conduct, is the power of self-directions and

hence the supreme aim of school discipline is to prepare the young to

be self-governing men and women.

An easy and luxurious existence does not train men to effort or

encounter with difficulty; nor does it awaken that consciousness of

power which is so necessary for energetic and effective action in life.

Indeed, so far from poverty being a misfortune, it may, by vigorous

self-help, be converted into a blessing.

A young man stood listlessly watching some anglers on a bridge. He was

poor and dejected. At length, approaching a basket filled with fish, he

sighed, "If now I had these I would be happy. I could sell them and buy

food and lodging." "I will give you just as many and just as good," said

the owner, who chanced to overhear his words, "if you will do me a

trifling favor." "And what is that?" asked the other. "Only to tend this

line till I come back; I wish to go on a short errand." The proposal was

gladly accepted. The old man was gone so long that the young man began

to get impatient. Meanwhile the fish snapped greedily at the hook, and

he lost all his depression in the excitement of pulling them in. When

the owner returned he had caught a large number. Counting out from them

as many as were in the basket, and presenting them to the youth, the old

fisherman said, "I fulfill my promise from the fish you have caught, to

teach you whenever you see others earning what you need, to waste no

time in foolish wishing, but cast a line for yourself."

After a stained-glass window had been constructed for a great European

cathedral, an artist picked up the discarded fragments and made one of

the most exquisite windows in Europe for another cathedral. So one boy

will pick up a splendid education out of the odds and ends of time

which others carelessly throw away, or he will gain a fortune by saving

what others waste.

There is an English fable that is worthy of special attention. The story

is as follows:

Some larks had a nest in a field of grain. One evening the old larks

coming home found the young ones in great terror. "We must leave our

nest at once," they cried. Then they related how they had heard the

farmer say that he must get his neighbors to come the next day and help

him reap his field. "Oh!" cried the old birds, "if that is all, we may

rest quietly in our nest." The next evening the young birds were found

again in a state of terror. The farmer, it seems, was very angry because

his neighbors had not come, and had said that he should get his

relatives to come the next day and help him. The old birds took the news

easily, and said there was nothing to fear yet. The next evening the

young birds were quite cheerful. "Have you heard nothing to-day?" asked

the old ones. "Nothing important," answered the young. "It is only that

the farmer was angry because his relatives also failed him, and he said

to his sons, 'Since neither our neighbors nor our relations will help

us, we must take hold to-morrow and do it ourselves!'" The old birds

were excited this time. They said, "We must leave our nest to-night.

When a man decides to do a thing for himself, and to do

it at once, you may be pretty sure that it will be done."

If you have anything to do, do it yourself; for that is both the surest

and the safest way to permanent success.


We present by way of special illustration, a few incidents from

thecareer of Stephen Girard.

A sloop was seen one morning off the mouth of Delaware Bay, floating the

flag of France and a signal of distress. Girard, then quite a young man,

was captain of this sloop, and was on his way to a Canadian port with

freight from New Orleans. An American skipper, seeing his distress, went

to his aid, but told him the American war had broken out, and that the

British cruisers were all along the American coast, and would seize his

vessel. He told him his only chance was to make a push for Philadelphia.

Girard did not know the way, and was short of money. The skipper loaned

him five dollars to get the service of a pilot who demanded his money

in advance; and his sloop passed into the Delaware just in time to

avoid capture by a British war vessel. He sold the sloop and cargo in

Philadelphia, and began business on the capital. Being a foreigner,

unable to speak English, with a repulsive face, and blind in one eye,

it was hard for him to get a start. But he was not the man to give up.

There seemed to be nothing he would not do for money. He bought and sold

anything, from groceries to old junk. Everything he touched prospered.

In 1780, he resumed the New Orleans and San Domingo trade, in which he

had been engaged at the breaking out of the War of the Revolution, and

in one year cleared nearly fifty thousand dollars.

Everybody, especially his jealous brother merchants, attributed his

great success to his luck. While, undoubtedly, he was fortunate in

happening to be at the right place at the right time, yet he was

precision, method, accuracy, energy itself. He left nothing to chance.

His plans and schemes were worked out with mathematical care. His

letters, written to his captains in foreign ports, laying out their

routes and giving detailed instruction from which they were never

allowed to deviate under any circumstances, are models of foresight and

systematic planning.

Girard never lost a ship; and many times, what brought financial ruin to

many others, as the War of 1812, only increased his wealth. What seemed

luck with him was only good judgment and promptness in seizing

opportunities, and the greatest care and zeal in personal attention to

all the details of his business and the management of his own affairs.

[Footnote: See Simpson's "Life of Stephen Girard" (Phila. 1832), and H.

W. Arey's "Girard College and its Founder" (1860).]