The secret of success;( 1880) by William Adams, PDF book

The secret of success; 

The secret of success;


Or, How to get on in the world, with some remarks upon true and false success, and the art of making the best use of life


It must be admitted at the outset, that in the following pages I have no exclusive, peculiar, or wonderful " Secret " to unfold. If there be a royal road to knowledge, I know of none to success, and I make no pretensions to have discovered a shorter or easier path than before existed. The reader who takes up this book in the hope of learning some new way of Money-making, some fresh exposition of the gospel of Getting- on, may find himself disappointed.

 I do indeed profess to set forth the Secret of Success, but it is a secret which has always been known to the successful. And then, again, the "Suc- cess " to which I seek to direct the reader's attention is no novel form of worldly prosperity, no extraordinary phase of fortune, but rather the acquisition of "a sound mind in a sound body," the complete culture of the physical, moral and intellectual faculties of the individual. It is true that I have not neglected the ordinary meaning which the world gives to " success," nor do I wish to contend that competent means for the wholesome enjoyment of life is not a very reasonable arid proper object for a man's energies. 

But I have endeavoured to realize for the word a wider and higher significance, and to deal with it as representing the development of mind, soul and body — the living, so far as is possible to man, a " perfect life." This is the only " success " that secures happiness. The materialistic "success," — the "success" of the great specu- lator, the millionaire — is too frequently a deplorable failure. "I confess," says Mr Hillard, "that increasing year bring with them an increasing respect for men who do not succeed in life, as these words are commonly used." Men who do not succeed in life, as the Croesuses of society succeed, are the: men who work for the good of their fellows, the men who endow the world with the masterpieces of art and literature, the men who in the happiness of others find their own happiness. 


It is well that the reader, whatever pursuit or calling he may adopt, should do his best in it; that is a matter of duty .and honour which cannot be conscientiously neglected. It is told of a certain merchant-prince of Boston, that, on one occasion, he reprimanded for slovenly work a mechanic •who had known him when in a very humble position. " I tell you what, Billy Gray," exclaimed the man, "I shan't stand: such words from you. Why I can remember when you were nothing but a drummer in a regiment! " " And so I was," retorted the merchant; " so I was a drummer; but didn't I drum well, eh ?— didn't I drum well "

 Now, to my thinking, this " drumming well " is true, the genuine success. I hold that " success in life " is doing one's duty as well as it can be done in whatever may be one's position; not for the sake of the reward that may accompany it, and yet not despising or refusing that reward when it comes. In this kind of success, there is a pure and permanent pleasure, wholly unknown to those for whom Success is synonymous with Mammon. The steadfast striving for this loftier success can never be without a happy issue. As Dr Donne says: — " We are but farmers of ourselves ; yet may, If we can stock ourselves and thrive, play Much, much good treasure for the great rent-day." If virtue is its own best recompense, so is the love of knowledge. The habit of diligent application, the habit of temperate living, the habit of high thinking, ever carries in itself a bless- ing. 


The cultivation of such habits is the Secret of Success, and it is a secret which lies within the reach of all of us if we will but use our opportunities and our means aright. Count Hamilton said of Richelieu, that " this great man commanded little armies, and little armies did great things."' Let not the reader be discouraged if his means be small ; he may accom- plish great things with them if he once lay firm hold upon the Secret of Success. It may be objected to the present volume that it follows in the track of worthy predecessors, such as the evergreen " Pur- suit of Knowledge under Difficulties," by Mr. Craik, and the admirable "Self-Help," by Mr. Smiles. 


To some extent, no doubt, it traverses the same ground. On the other hand, it devotes considerable space to illustrations from the depart- ments of "business" and "commerce" — departments which have hitherto, at least for such purposes, been comparatively overlooked; and it pursues more than one course of inquiry which previous writers have scarcely glanced at. Another and obvious objection is, that it says nothing absolutely new; that it repeats truths that have become the commonplaces of moralists and the stock-in-trade of our social teachers. But truths of so much importance cannot be too frequently enforced. 

Their repetition may impress minds which have not been in^pressed before, and they may be accompanied with fresh examples or presented in newer forms, so as to arrest the atten- tion of the careless or suggest to the thoughtful new lines of reflection. I have done what I could in this direction. While availing myself of the best of the illustrations collected by my predecessors, I have gathered a very large number from addi- tional sources; and accumulated in these pages the results of the reading and observation of many years. So that, to the question which concerns every young man so closely, " How am I to get on in the world? " I, hope I have furnished a tolerably exhaustive and not altogether unsatisfactory reply.

William Henry Davenport Adams (1828–1891), was an English writer and journalist of the 19th century

 
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