Young man, what are you living for?
Have you an object dear to you as life, and without the attainment of which you feel that your life will have been a wide, shoreless waste of shadow, peopled by the specters of dead ambitions? Is it your consuming ambition to paddle quietly but firmly up the stream of time with manly strokes, against the current of public opinion, or to linger along the seductive banks, going in swimming, or, careless of the future, gathering shells and tadpoles along the shore?
Have you a distinct idea of a certain position in life which you wish to attain? Have you decided whether you will be a great man, and die in the poor-house, and have a nice comfortable monument after you are dead, for your destitute family to look at, or will you content yourself to plug along through life as a bank president?
These, young men, are questions of moment. They are questions of two moments. They come home to our hearts to-day with terrible earnestness.
You can take your choice in the great battle of life, whether you will bristle up and win a deathless name, and owe almost everybody, or be satisfied with scads and mediocrity.
Why do you linger and fritter away the heyday of life, when you might skirmish around and win some laurels? Many of those who now stand at the head of the nation as statesmen and logicians, were once unknown, unhonored and unsung. Now they saw the air in the halls of Congress, and their names are plastered on the temple of fame.
They were not born great. Some of them only weighed six pounds to start with. But they have rustled. They have peeled their coats and made rome howl.
You can do the same. You can win some laurels, too, if you will brace up and secure them when they are ripe.
Daniel Webster and President Garfield and Dr. Tanner and George Eliot were all, at one time, poor boys. They had to start at the foot of the ladder and toil upward.
They struggled against poverty and public opinion bravely, till they won a name in the annals of history, and secured to their loved ones palatial homes with lightning rods and mortgages on them.
So may you, if you will make the effort. All these things are within your reach. Live temperately on $9 per month. That’s the way we got our start. Burn the midnight oil if necessary. Get some true, noble-minded young lady of your acquaintance to assist you. Tell her of your troubles and she will tell you what to do. She will gladly advise you.
Then you can marry her, and she will advise you some more. After that she will lay aside her work any time to advise you. You needn’t be out of advice at all unless you want to. She, too, will tell you when you have made a mistake. She will come to you frankly and acknowledge that you have made a jackass of yourself.