“It’s a pity,” said one of the group, who was a famous Washington newspaper correspondent, “that that man has never married.”
He was talking of another very strong professional and political man who had reached more than forty years of age and was still a bachelor. “He needs the finer sense and restraining influence of woman in his life.”
The remark of the first speaker instantly recalled an observation made several years ago by another very astute—even great—politician in the minor and narrow sense of that word. He was at that time a candidate for the nomination for President, and, according to all the tricks of the game of politics, should have won it; but he failed, as, it seems, with two exceptions, all mere politicians have failed in securing that most exalted office in the world.
This political candidate actually knew the leading men in each state, and in each part of each state—so careful and thorough had been his purely personal preparation. “How is Mr. ——, of ——, in your state? I hope he is well. He is a keen and persistent man,” was his inquiry of and comment on a certain man. And he asked questions concerning three or four. Among them he said: “And Mr. ——, of your state; how is his health? He is very brilliant, yes, even able, but—he drinks too much.”
Three generalizations may justly be deducted from the above discursive talk. They are practically the ones with which for many years I have been impressed—namely, that that man will be of very little present use, and of no permanent and ultimate value to the world or to himself, who drinks too much, who talks too much, or who thinks he can get along without the ennobling influence of women.
Let us take them one at a time. A young man could hardly do a more fatal thing than to fall into the habit of taking stimulants. This is no temperance lecture. It is merely a summary of suggestions, by observing which the young man may avoid a few of the rocks in his necessarily rugged pathway to success. I emphasized this in two preceding chapters and shall reiterate it again and again; for I am trying to say a helpful word to you; and all your talents will be folly and all your toil the labor of Sisyphus if you companion with the bottle.
The belief sometimes entertained, that it is necessary to drink in order to impress your sociability upon companions who also drink, is utterly erroneous. One day a dinner was given by one of the great lawyers of this country in honor of another lawyer of distinction, and among those present was a young man of promise who at that time was considerably in the public eye.
The dinner began with a cocktail, and the young man was the only one of the brilliant company who did not drink it. He was not ostentatious in his refusal, but merely lifted the glass to his lips and then set it down with the others. Nor did he take any wine throughout the dinner. The incident was noticed by only a few, and those few chanced to meet at a club the next day. The young man was the topic of their conversation.