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Young Mans Chances
Robert Green Ingersoll
A YOUNG MAN'S CHANCES TO-DAY. A FEW years ago there were many thousand miles of railroads to be built, a great many towns and cities to be located, constructed and filled; vast areas of uncultivated land were waiting for the plow, vast forests the axe, and thousands of mines were longing to be opened. In those days every young man of energy and industry had a future. The professions were not overcrowded; there were more patients than doctors, more litigants than lawyers, more buyers of goods than merchants. The young man of that time who was raised on a farm got a little education, taught school, read law or medicine -- some of the weaker ones read theology -- and there seemed to be plenty of room, plenty of avenues to success and distinction So, too, a few years ago a political life was considered honorable, and so in politics there were many great careers. So, hundreds of towns wanted newspapers, and in each of those towns there was an opening for some energetic young man. At that time the plant cost but little; a few dollars purchased the press -- the young publisher could get the paper stock on credit. Now the railroads have all been built; the canals are finished; the cities have been located; the outside property has been cut into lots, and sold and mortgaged many times over. Now it requires great capital to go into business. The individual is counting for less and less; the corporation, the trust, for more and more. Now a great merchant employs hundreds of clerks; a few years ago most of those now clerks would have been merchants. And so it seems to be in nearly every department of life. Of course, I do not know what inventions may leap from the brains of the future; there may be millions and millions of fortunes yet to be made in that direction, but of that I am not speaking. So, I think that a few years ago the chances were far more numerous and favorable to young men who wished to make a name for themselves, and to succeed in some department of human energy than now. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 22 A YOUNG MAN'S CHANCES TO-DAY. In savage life a living is very easy to get. Most any savage can hunt or fish; consequently there are few failures. But in civilized life competition becomes stronger and sharper; consequently, the percentage of failures increases, and this seems to be the law. The individual is constantly counting for less. It may be that, on the average, people live better than they did formerly, that they have more to eat, drink and wear; but the individual horizon has lessened; it is not so wide and cloudless as formerly. So I say that the chances for great fortunes, for great success, are growing less and less. I think a young man should do that which is easiest for him to do, provided there is an opportunity; if there is none, then he should take the next. The first object of every young man should be to be self-supporting, no matter in what direction -- be independent. He should avoid being a clerk and he should avoid giving his future into the hands of any one person. He should endeavor to get a business in which the community will be his patron, and whether he is to be a lawyer, a doctor or a day- laborer depends on how much he has mixed mind with muscle. If a young man imagines that he has an aptitude for public speaking -- that is, if he has a great desire to make his ideas known to the world -- the probability is that the desire will choose the way, time and place for him to make the effort. If he really has something to say, there will be plenty to listen. If he is so carried away with his subject, is so in earnest that he becomes an instrumentality of his thought -- so that he is forgotten by himself; so that he cares neither for applause nor censure -- simply caring to present his thoughts in the highest and best and most comprehensive way, the probability is that he will be an orator. I think oratory is something that cannot be taught. Undoubtedly a man can learn to be a fair talker. He can by practice learn to present his ideas consecutively, clearly and in what you may call "form," but there is as much difference between this and an oration as there is between a skeleton and a living human being clad in sensitive, throbbing flesh. There are millions of skeleton makers, millions of people who can express what may be called "the bones" of a discourse, but not one in a million who can clothe these bones. You can no more teach a man to be an orator than you can teach him to be an artist or a poet of the first class. When you teach him there is the same difference between the man who is taught, and the man who is what he is by virtue of a natural aptitude, that there is between a pump and a spring -- between a canal and a river -- between April rain and water-works, It is a question of capacity and feeling -- not of education. There are some things that you can tell an orator not to do. For instance, he should never drink water while talking, because the interest is broken and for the moment he loses control of his audience. He should never look at his watch for the same reason. He should never talk about himself. He should never deal in personalities. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 23 A YOUNG MAN'S CHANCES TO-DAY. He should never tell long stories, and if he tells any story he should never say that it is a true story, and that he knew the parties. This makes it a question of veracity instead of a question of art. He should never clog his discourse with details. He should never dwell upon particulars -- he should touch universals, because the great truths are for all time. If he wants to know something, if he wishes to feel something, let him read Shakespeare. Let him listen to the music of Wagner, of Beethoven, or Schubert. If he wishes to express himself in the highest and most perfect form, let him become familiar with the great paintings of the world -- with the great statues -- all these will lend grace, will give movement and passion and rhythm to his words. A great orator puts into his speech the perfume, the feelings, the intensity of all the great and beautiful and marvelous things that he has seen and heard and felt. An orator must be a poet, a metaphysician, a logician -- and above all, must have sympathy with all. **** **** Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. **** **** The Bank of Wisdom Inc. is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended -- The Free Market Place of Ideas. The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old, hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts and information for today. If you have such books please contact us, we need to give them back to America. **** **** Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 24
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Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.
The Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended --
The Free Market-Place of Ideas.
The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old, hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts and information for today. If you have such books please contact us, we need to give them back to America.
Bank of Wisdom,
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