There is a type of boy who is oftentimes thrown into the wrong vocation in life, owing to a lack of appreciation of his true abilities on the part of parents or teachers. This boy has a large head and small body, and is intensely interested in machinery. He probably learns to handle tools, after a fashion, at a very early age; spends his spare time in machine shops; is intensely interested in locomotives and steamships, and otherwise manifests a passion for machinery and mechanics. Oftentimes, on account of this, he is very early apprenticed to a mechanic or is given a job in some place where he will have an opportunity to build, operate or repair machinery.
Some years ago we visited in a family in which there was a boy of this type. At that time his chief interest was in locomotives. He had a toy locomotive and took the greatest delight in operating it. Whenever he went near a railroad station he improved every opportunity to examine carefully the parts of a locomotive and, if possible, to induce the engineer to take him up into the cab and show him the levers, valves and other parts to be seen there. As soon as he was old enough, he begged his father to be permitted to go to work in a railroad shop. Fortunately, however, his father was too intelligent and too sensible to be misled by mere surface indications. The boy was encouraged to finish his education. Being a bright, capable youngster, he learned readily and rapidly. By means of proper educational methods, giving him plenty of opportunity for the exercise of his mechanical activities, he was induced to remain in school until he secured an excellent college education. As he grew older his interest in machinery did not wane. He found, however, that it was becoming almost wholly intellectual. He lost all desire to handle, build, operate or repair machinery. When, in later life, he became the owner of an automobile, he was more than willing to leave all of the details of its care to his chauffeur and mechanician.
As he cultivated his mental powers, he became more and more interested in the use of his constructive aptitudes in the formation of ideas. He liked to put ideas together; to work out the mechanics of expression in writing. Instead of building machinery, he loved to build plots. Instead of operating machinery, his abilities turned in the direction of working out the technique of literary expression. Instead of repairing machinery he loved rather to revise and rewrite his stories and plays. In other words, the constructive talent, which he had shown as a child in material mechanics, turned in the direction of mental and intellectual construction as he grew older.
There are many boys who exhibit in their early years a great love of machinery, and it is usually considered a kindness to them to prepare them for either mechanics or engineering. In mechanical lines, they are misfits, because they are frail and insufficient physically. In engineering lines they are more at home, because the engineer works principally with his brains. But very often they would still be more at home in the realms of literature or oratory.