If you have greatness in you, do not be discouraged. “It is up to you.”
Do not be discouraged, either, at failure and rebuke and defeat. If you are going to attempt great things, remember you are starting on a trunk-line. Very well; all continental trunk-lines have tunnels here and there. But these tunnels are black with only temporary gloom.
It is only the short roads that do not run through the mountains. Tunnels—flashes of darkness—are certain to those who travel far. Think of this—you who have troubles, difficulties, discouragements.
But if on finding your limitations, as suggested in the first chapter of this book, you discover neither inclination nor talent for these great ventures in thought or action, do not, as you value happiness, and even life, attempt great things; for your failure has been written before you were born.
Do the thing which is in proportion to yourself; and if that thing is not great, still you have served yourself, your family, your country, and the world, just as much as he who has done a larger thing, and you deserve just as much credit for doing it.
None of us controlled the color of our eyes or the texture of our brain. If we could have done so, perhaps we should have been different from what we are. And we cannot change the nature and relations of things now; for “which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature”?
But be your deeds little or big, one thing you can do and be: You can be a man and do a man’s work, heart gentle, and fearless feet on the earth, but eyes on the stars. And to be a MAN, in our American meaning of that word, is glory enough for this earthly life. Be a man, be you street-sweeper or the Republic’s President, and know that emperor on throne of gold can be no more, and is lucky if he is as much.
At one of the great official receptions at the White House one night some years ago, a group of two or three gentlemen were observing the swirling throng, with its ambitions, its jealousies, its brief flashes of happiness, its numberless and infinitesimal intrigues, its atmosphere of jaded, blase, and defeated expectations.
One of the group was perhaps the greatest master of that mere political craft and that management of men for the ordinary uses of politics, as we employ the word, that the country has yet produced. He was a sage of human nature. It was this quality, combined with many other qualities, and the existence of certain conditions, that made him the power that he was. From a practical point of view, what he said about men was always worth while.
“No, I don’t consider him effective,” said this great politician when asked his opinion of a certain very prominent man in public life, who had just entered, and who was chatting and occasionally laughing with some boisterousness. “Really, he talks too much. Not that he betrays his confidences; not even that he annoys, for what he says is always bright; but—he talks too much; that is all.”