Successful lives of modern times - PDF by Edwin A. Pratt

Successful lives of modern times

Successful lives of modern times
Successful lives of modern times


the author illustrates the lives of successful people in his time.

One of the fundamental beliefs of the late Sir Josiah Mason was that circumstances or conditions do not ultimately affect individual progress. 
These things, he admitted, might delay a man, but they would not permanently, or even for very long, bar his way. Obstacles, he held, are only an incentive to the right sort of man, and the pressure they bring to bear on such a man only nerves and strengthens him. Biography is full of illustrations of the truth of this belief. Lowly birth is a barrier neither to knowledge nor to the leading of a successful or useful life. 
There is no one so poor and so insignificant but that, should he possess the right qualities, he may make his way in the world, and become a master of men by acquiring that power of leading men in which true greatness consists. Neither self-progress nor influence on others has yet become the special prerogative of the well-to-do.

 The wealthy manufacturer of today may have sprung from nothing, and been only the ordinary workman of a few decades ago, whose capital was represented mainly by intelligence, ingenuity, and an indomitable will. Other individuals whose names are associated with movements which, socially, intellectually, or spiritually, have affected the lives of thousands, if not millions, of people, and have taken a permanent place among the great institutions of the age, may have begun on a scale so modest and unassuming that neither they nor anyone else could possibly have imagined that results so great would follow from causes so small. 

Lives such as these are always worth recording as a stimulus to those who may think the opportunities open to them afford no hope of their either achieving success for themselves or of doing good to others. Such records should, indeed, strengthen the hopes of the aspiring ones who find themselves at the outset of life with none of the advantages of birth, means, or connections at their command. From them may be drawn lessons of the value of patience, industry, self-control, organising power, and inventive skill. 

They tell us how good a thing it is to have a fixed purpose in life, to concentrate our efforts rather than to allow them to become too diffusive, to avoid rashness while being ever on the lookout for new openings and fresh opportunities, and to cultivate that quiet indomitable spirit by which most of the difficulties we meet with in life are best surmounted. 

Those who have no claim to genius may still exercise that capacity for taking " infinite pains " in which, Carlyle has said, genius really consists. It may be possible to take only a step at a time, but a succession of steps kept up with steady perseverance, will generally bring one at last to the wished-for destination. 

It is said of the present Archbishop of Canterbury that when he was a boy he was sent by his father to a village a mile away to fetch a bag of nails. 

The shopkeeper produced the bag, which was so heavy that he could hardly carry it himself, and he dropped it at Frederick Temple's feet, ex- claiming, " There, carry it if you can." The lad was determined that he would if he could, and he found that by stretching out his legs and raising the bag with both hands, he could just swing it forward two or three feet at a time. In this way, little by little, he eventually managed to get the bag over the mile of rough ground that lay between the shop and his home. It was exhausting work, but he did it all the same. 

There are many young people among us who have their bag of nails to carry in life, but a brave heart and plodding perseverance will generally enable them to succeed, even though the weight be such that they can go only a step at a time. Patient labours pursued indefatigably have far more to do with solid progress in almost every branch of human activity than dependence on brilliant achievements or so-called strokes of genius, and the youth who develops a " persistent earnestness of purpose " will have already taken the first step on the high road to success. In some " Personal Reminiscences " which he gave in a lecture at Wisbech, in March 1901, his Honour Judge Willis, K.C., gave an interesting account of his own career. 

Before he was twenty-one years of age he said, he had passed six years in business in London, doing every kind of work, and ashamed of none, if it came within his daily calling. In a room in a basement where he could almost touch the ceiling he had entered;^8ooo worth of straw bonnets, hats, feathers, and ribbons in one day, and for nights in succession, he heard the bells of St. Paul's strike twelve as he turned out to walk three miles to his house. 

He loved his master, he did not serve aboard, and he was resolved never to leave until work was done. There were no penny omnibuses in those days to help him halfway over the three miles, neither did any of those dear friends come to him who talked of restricting the hours of labour. He continued his study of Latin and Greek, which he had begun to learn at school, and he resolved to matriculate at London University. He had no one to help him, but he set to work by himself and passed in the first division in 1857. 

Some contents:

The Founder of Mason College (University of
Birmingham) .....
"The Salt King" .....
The Rise of Tangye Brothers.
Mr George Cadbury and Artisans' Dwellings
The Inventor of Bessemer Steel
A Modern Magician...
The Founder of Mechanics' Institutes
Sir George Williams and the Y.M.C.A.
The Rise of the Polytechnic
A Republic of Boys and Girls.
The Revolt of Hodge and the Man who led It
A Pioneer of Travel...
Chambers's Journal and its Story
James Gordon Bennett...
British Workman and Colonial Premier
A Pastoralist Millionaire
Railwaymen who have risen

the book details :
  • Author: Edwin A.  Pratt
  • Publication date 1906
  • Company: Publisher London, A. Melrose

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