“The lyrical dream of
the boy is the kingly truth.
The world is a vapor and only the Vision is real—
Yea, nothing can hold against hell but the Winged Ideal.”
Let the world look to it, then, that the exalted qualities of youth which make it indiscreet, audacious, exhilarant—yes, and spotless, too—be not discouraged, repressed, destroyed; for these qualities are “the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”
Speaking to the world of business and of society, I therefore plead for tolerance of all the fresh, clean, high, and splendid—absurd, if you will—“illusions” of the young man seeking his seat at the table where all men eat, and where all, at the end, must drink the same hemlock cup.
For if these “illusions” are destroyed and replaced with the wisdom of the serpent, Tennyson’s “Locksley Hall” will, sure enough and in sad reality, be replaced by the “Locksley Hall Sixty Years After.” Take the young man, then, by the hand, take him to your heart, and, instead of destroying, catch, if you can, some of the glory, the faith, the freshness, the “illusions” of his youth; remembering that Wordsworth uttered an ultimate note when he said:
“Our birth is but a
sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar.
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory, do we come
From God, who is our home.”
And it is these clouds of glory that still surround the young man when he stands brave and sweet and full of faith, and with his mother’s precious precepts and counsels ringing in his ears, before the great old world, wrinkled by its infinite centuries.
But you, young man, you for whom I am asking the world’s helpful regard—when you read this do not go to pitying yourself. That is fatal. Do not get the notion that the world is not giving you your just due. If you have such an idea, thrust it instantly from you. If you think the world has downed you, up and at it again. If, a second time, it knocks you out, still up and at it again. And keep smiling. Never whine—you deserve defeat if you do that.
Be a “thoroughbred,” as the expression of the hour has it. After “you conquer and prevail,” you will find that the world has a kindly and even a loving heart. All you have to do is to keep in condition and keep fighting. And that ought to be pleasant to any male creature—what more can he want? Just go right ahead with faith in God, believing in all the virtues and keeping up your nerve. But if you get to pitying yourself, you are lost, and ought to be.
Furthermore, do not succumb to the fiction that there are fewer “chances” for young men now than there used to be. Never was there a period when there were so many opportunities as there are this very day—high-grade opportunities. They are for high-grade men—and that is what you are, is it not? If not, why not? The calls for men of fine equipment daily rise from every business, and are never satisfied.