Where a few words, quick, sharp, and decisive, aren’t enough for a man, a cussing out is too much. It proves that he’s unfit for his work, and it unfits you for yours. The world is full of fellows who could take the energy which they put into useless cussing of their men, and double their business with it.
Your affectionate father,
From John Graham, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago, to his son, Pierrepont, care of Graham & Company, Denver. The young man has been offered a large interest in a big thing at a small price, and he has written asking the old man to lend him the price.
CHICAGO, June 4, 1900.
Dear Pierrepont: Judging from what you say about the Highfaluting Lulu, it must be a wonder, and the owner’s reason for selling—that his lungs are getting too strong to stand the climate—sounds perfectly good. You can have the money at 5 per cent, as soon as you’ve finally made up your mind that you want it, but before you plant it in the mine for keeps, I think you should tie a wet towel around your head, while you consider for a few minutes the bare possibility of having to pay me back out of your salary, instead of the profits from the mine. You can’t throw a stone anywhere in this world without hitting a man, with a spade over his shoulder, who’s just said the last sad good-byes to his bank account and is starting out for the cemetery where defunct flyers are buried.
While you’ve only asked me for money, and not for advice, I may say that, should you put a question on some general topic like, “What are the wild waves saying, father?” I should answer, “Keep out of watered stocks, my son, and wade into your own business a little deeper.” Though, when you come to think of it, these continuous-performance companies, that let you in for ten, twenty, and thirty cents a share, ought to be a mighty good thing for investors after they’ve developed their oil and gold properties, because a lot of them can afford to pay 10 per cent. before they’ve developed anything but suckers.
So long as gold-mining with a pen and a little fancy paper continues to be such a profitable industry, a lot of fellows who write a pretty fair hand won’t see any good reason for swinging a pick. They’ll simply pass the pick over to the fellow who invests, and start a new prospectus. While the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, they’re something after all; but the walls along the short cuts to Fortune are papered with only the prospectuses of good intentions—intentions to do the other fellow good and plenty.
I don’t want to question your ability or the purity of your friends’ intentions, but are you sure you know their business as well as they do? Denver is a lovely city, with a surplus of climate and scenery, and a lot of people there go home from work every night pushing a wheelbarrow full of gold in front of them, but at the same time there is no surplus of that commodity, and most of the fellows who find it have cut their wisdom teeth on quartz. It isn’t reasonable to expect that you’re going to buy gold at fifty cents on the dollar, just because it hasn’t been run through the mint yet.