Is it to accomplish some good thing for humanity that you want this “career,” which is to keep you single until you are too old to be interesting? Very well. Just what is it that you expect to do with these self-centered and single years during which you intend so to help the race? If you cannot tell, you are “down and out” on that score.
And, besides, you will find that the enormous majority of men who by their service have uplifted or enriched humanity have been men enough to lead the natural life. They have been men who have founded homes. And how can you better benefit mankind than by founding a home among your fellow men, a pure, normal, sweet, and beautiful home?
That would be getting down to business. That would be doing something definite, something “you can put your finger on.” It would be “getting down to earth,” as the saying is. You would be “benefiting humanity” sure enough and in real earnest by taking care of some actual human being among this great indefinite mass called mankind. The making of a home is the beginning of human usefulness.
The Boers were a splendid type of the human animal. It took all the power of the greatest empire on earth to crush a handful of them; and even then Great Britain was able to subdue them only at astonishing loss of men and money, and irreparable impairment of prestige. They were glorious fighting men, these Boers. The blood that flowed in their veins was unadulterated Dutch—the only unconquered blood in history; for you will remember that even Caesar could not overcome them, and, with the genius of the statesman-soldier that he was, he made terms with them.
But these Boers were a good deal more than mere fighting animals; they were perhaps the most religious people on earth. If they were mighty creatures physically, they were also exalted beings spiritually. They knew how to pray as well as to fight. They made their living, too, and asked no favors. Also they builded them a state. It was a fine thing in the English to acknowledge the high qualities of these African Dutchmen, after the war with them was over.
It is said that there was not an unmarried man above twenty-one years of age among them. Very generally the same thing was true of “The Fathers” who founded this republic. Indeed, all great constructive periods and peoples have lived in harmony with the laws of Nature. It has been the races of marrying men that have made the heroic epochs in human history. The point is that the man who is not enough of a man to make a home, need not be counted. He is a “negligible quantity,” as the scientists put it.
So if your arm is not strong enough to protect a wife, and your shoulders are not broad enough to carry aloft your children in a sort of grand gladness, you are really not worth while. For it will take a man with veins and arteries swollen with masculine blood pumped by a great, big, strong heart, working as easily and joyfully as a Corliss engine; with thews of steel wire and step as light as a tiger’s and masterful as an old-time warrior’s; with brain so fertile and vision so clear that he fears not the future, and knows that what to weaker ones seem dangers are in reality nothing but shadows—it will take this kind of a man to make any “career” that is going to be made.