They call this place a villa, though it’s really a villainy; and what I pay for it rent, though it’s actually a robbery. But they can have the last bill in the roll if they’ll leave me your ma, and my appetite, and that tired feeling at night. It’s the bulliest time we’ve had since the spring we moved into our first little cottage back in Missouri, and raised climbing-roses and our pet pig, Toby. It’s good to have money and the things that money will buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven’t lost the things that money won’t buy. When a fellow’s got what he set out for in this world, he should go off into the woods for a few weeks now and then to make sure that he’s still a man, and not a plug-hat and a frock-coat and a wad of bills.
You can’t do the biggest things in this world unless you can handle men; and you can’t handle men if you’re not in sympathy with them; and sympathy begins in humility. I don’t mean the humility that crawls for a nickel in the street and cringes for a thousand in the office; but the humility that a man finds when he goes gunning in the woods for the truth about himself. It’s the sort of humility that makes a fellow proud of a chance to work in the world, and want to be a square merchant, or a good doctor, or an honest lawyer, before he’s a rich one. It makes him understand that while life is full of opportunities for him, it’s full of responsibilities toward the other fellow, too.
That doesn’t mean that you ought to coddle idleness, or to be slack with viciousness, or even to carry on the pay-roll well-meaning incompetence. For a fellow who mixes business and charity soon finds that he can’t make any money to give to charity; and in the end, instead of having helped others, he’s only added himself to the burden of others. The kind of sympathy I mean holds up men to the bull-ring without forgetting in its own success the hardships and struggles and temptations of the fellow who hasn’t got there yet, but is honestly trying to. There’s more practical philanthropy in keeping close to these men and speaking the word that they need, or giving them the shove that they deserve, than in building an eighteen-hole golf course around the Stock Yards for them. Your force can always find plenty of reasons for striking, without your furnishing an extra one in the poor quality of the golf-balls that you give them. So I make it a rule that everything I hand out to my men shall come in the course of business, and be given on a business basis. When profits are large, they get a large bonus and a short explanation of the business reasons in the office and the country that have helped them to earn it; when profits are small, the bonus shrinks and the explanation expands. I sell the men their meats and give them their meals in the house restaurant at cost, but nothing changes hands between us except in exchange for work or cash.