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until the end of the season. Once more I was happy and contented. It was
certainly a pleasure to work.

That fall, or rather winter (1908), I secured a place near San Diego,
where I had shelter and food during the winters and small wages during the
active seasons in return for doing the chores and other work.

I had become possessed with a desire for an orange grove, and refused to
consider how much it would take to develop one. I was finally able to
secure a small tract of unimproved land. But I found that the task of
clearing it would be too great for me because of the great trees, so for
this and other reasons I snatched at a chance to file on a homestead in
the Imperial Valley. This was in May, 1910. Later that summer I was able
to sell my piece of land near San Diego at a profit, so that in September
I went over to get settled on my homestead. I employed a fellow to help me
make a wagon trail for a mile or more and to build my cabin for me. I
moved in the first of November. Early in 1912 I decided it would be
impossible to irrigate enough land there to make a living at that time.
Also the difficulties of living alone so far out in the desert were
greater than I had anticipated. With the help of a friend, I was able to
make final proof in July and pay the government for the 160 acres, instead
of having to continue to live on it. I did stay, however, until the
general election in 1912.


Then I went to Los Angeles to get something to do. The town was full of
people seeking work, as usual, most of whom could present better records
than I could. To be sure, my friends and even my old correspondence school
boss gave me splendid recommendations, but I felt my lack of business
training and feared that 999 out of any 1,000 employers would not take a
chance with me on such a record as I had. Consequently I did not try very
hard. For a while I was with a real estate firm trying to secure
applications for a mortgage. The commission was $25, but, naturally, that
did not go far toward expenses. It was not long before I was in a bad
mental condition again through worrying, self-condemnation, and
uncertainty. It would not have been difficult to prove that I was

Finally an acquaintance of mine, a prominent lawyer, took up my case. He
has a good personal and business friend who is the general manager of a
large oil company with headquarters here in Bakersfield. When first
appealed to, this gentleman refused point blank, because he had a bad
opinion of college graduates in general (I really don't blame him or other
business men); but the lawyer used his influence to the utmost with the
result that I came up here in March, 1913, and was sent up into the oil
fields. I was put under the civil engineer, and for two months I was sort
of 'inspector' and 'force account' man in connection with the building of
a supply railroad, but I gradually worked into the regular surveying crew,
first as substitute rear chainman, and then as the regular one. Before
long I was head chainman. I could have remained a chainman with the same
crew to this time, but I left a little over a year ago, as there once more
seemed a chance to earn a place in the country.


A young fellow, now located near Bakersfield, whom I had known in San
Diego, told me great tales that I was too anxious to believe, and finally
made some fine promises to help me get a piece of what he said was his
land and to bring it to a productive state. But when I reached his place,
in February, he was not ready, willing or able to carry out his promises.
He kept me hanging on, however, and as I had used up my savings in a
month's attendance at the short course of the State agricultural college
and in bringing my goods from Bakersfield, I was compelled to get work
from him as one of his orchard gang. I helped to set out several hundred
trees and berry plants, and later knew what it meant to hoe for ten hours
a day. I left him the latter part of July in order to work out a scheme I
had thought of.

[Illustration: FIG. 25. "Sydney Williams." For analysis see pages 206 to
210. Here is a fine, capable intellect, good sense of humor, optimism,
cheerfulness, great refinement, and excellent critical powers in art and
literature. But there is a deficiency of practicability. Note smallness
and flatness of brows, narrowness of head just above the ears, fineness of
features and height of head in center, above temples.]

[Illustration: FIG. 26. "Sydney Williams." Note flatness of brows;
smallness and fineness of features; fineness of texture; height of
forehead and crown.]

[Illustration: FIG. 27. Prof. Adolf von Menzel, Sociologist. A man of
great intellect, especially interested in theoretical and statistical
studies of people, in the mass, but not greatly interested in practical,
material affairs. Note immense dome of forehead and head, with flatness at

[Illustration: FIG. 28. Edgar Allan Poe, Poet. Impractical, deficient in
financial sense, but keenly alive to a world of fancy, ideals, dreams,
imagery, beauty, mysticism and tragedy. Note high forehead, wide above,
flat at brows and concave at sides; small nose and mouth, deep-set, gloomy
eyes; dark complexion; and lack of symmetry and balance in head and

[Illustration: FIG. 29. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Author. Highly
intellectual, sentimental, impractical, sensitive, emotional. A man of
high ideals and beautiful thoughts, and creative power. Note high,
dome-shaped head; flat, high brows, fine, delicate features; weak mouth,
and general softness of contour and expression.]

[Illustration: _Copyright by Harper & Brothers, N. Y_.
FIG. 30. Thomas De Quincy, Author. A man of fine, discriminating, logical
intellect along purely mental lines, but impractical in material affairs.
Note high, prominent forehead, with flat, poorly-developed brows, weak
nose and mouth and narrow head.]

[Illustration: FIG. 31. O. Henry, at the age of thirty. Impractical,
lacking in desire for money and financial judgment. Creative, humorous, a
lover of human nature, mild, rather easy-going, idealistic, constant. Note
high forehead, flat at brows, full at sides along top, concave nose, full
lips, prominent chin.]

[Illustration: FIG. 32. Edwin Reynolds, of Wisconsin. Of the practical,
matter-of-fact, literal type of intellect. Interested in facts, keenly
observant, quick in thought, alert and positive in his mental activities.
Note high, sloping forehead, very prominent at the brows, large nose, high
in the bridge and well-developed.]

"The first part of September I moved back to Bakersfield. I tried out my
scheme by mail on two of the most prominent men in the country (one of the
times when I had plenty of nerve). It did not work and the time did not
seem auspicious for trying it on a greater number, especially as I did not
have money enough to do it properly.

"While still working for the orchard man, I began to do some work in
getting subscriptions for the Curtis publications. I did get a few. Later,
about the middle of October, I went to Los Angeles, where I had a booth at
an exhibition for three weeks in the interest of a publishing house. But
it did not pay expenses, and I was deeper in debt than ever. I landed in
Bakersfield nearly 'broke.' Thanks to the kindness of the people where I
roomed and boarded, I was able to pull through until I obtained a loan
last week, secured by a mortgage on my homestead.

"I was entirely unable to force myself to do any real canvassing while I
was absolutely in need of each commission, but, now that I once more have
a bank account, I hope to make myself keep at it until I can feel
moderately successful. That is the one job I have fallen down on over and
over (I have not even mentioned many of the attempts), and I believe I
could be a real salesman if I could only get over my fear of approaching
people on any proposition of immediate profit to me."

Here we have in detail the old, old story. How often have you heard of the
man who graduated with high honors at the head of his class and was unable
to make a living afterward? How many men of highest scholarship have you
met who could not make a living for themselves and their families? Not
long ago we were offered the services of a man who had degrees from
several universities in America and Europe, who was master of several
languages, and who was glad to offer to do a little translating at
twenty-five cents an hour.


What handicaps these men? They have good intellects, or they would be
unable to win high honors in colleges and universities. It is fitting that
they should educate themselves highly, since they are so capable of
attainment in scholarship. Surely, they ought to do some intellectual work
of some kind, because they are not fitted for manual labor. Where do they
belong? What is their particular type? What opportunities are there for
their unquestioned talents?

Here is what we wrote to Sydney Williams:

"From photographs and data submitted, I should judge your type of
organization, character and aptitudes to be as follows:

"You have inherited only a fairly good physical constitution. You will
always need to take care of yourself, but there is absolutely no reason
why you should worry in regard to your health.

"Under stress and strain your nervous system may give you trouble, and
there may be some tendency to digestive disturbances, but if you will
practice moderation, live on a well-balanced and sensibly selected diet,
and keep yourself from extremes of every kind you will probably maintain
very fair health and strength for many years.

"Intellectually you have a good, active mind of the theoretical type. Your
mind is quick to grasp theories, ideals, abstractions, and such intangible
and purely mental concepts. Your imagination is active, and is inclined to
run away with plans, schemes, and inventions, with speculations and with
visions of future prospects. However, your plans and inventions are liable
to be purely along mental and intellectual lines, rather than practical.

"You do not observe well. You are a little too careless in regard to your
facts. You therefore have a tendency to go ahead with your theories and
your plans upon insufficient data or upon data which are not accurate
because they have not been properly verified.

"This deficiency in observation also handicaps you, because you do not
see things in their right relation, and your judgment is, therefore,
liable to be erratic and unsound.

"You should compel yourself to get the facts. You should suspend judgment
until you have made sure that all of the premises from which you argue to
your conclusions are sound and accurate. Take nothing for granted. Compel
yourself to stick to the facts. Not only ask yourself the question, 'Will
it work?' but make sure that the affirmative answer is absolutely accurate
before you go ahead.

"Many of your characteristics are those of immaturity, notwithstanding
your years, your education, and your experience. You still retain many
youthful tendencies. You are inclined to be impulsive. You are very
responsive emotionally, and when your emotions are aroused you are prone
to decide important matters without reference to facts, reason, and logic.
Another very youthful characteristic in you is your tendency to be
headstrong, wilful, stubborn, and opinionated. When you have arrived at
one of your swift conclusions you find it very difficult to take advice.
Even when you do listen to what others say, you do not listen well. Your
mind jumps ahead to conclusions that are erroneous and which were never in
the mind of the person giving you the advice.

"As you can readily see, it is this inability to get competent counsel
from others, coupled with your own lack of observation and lack of
deliberation, that leads you into so many situations that turn out to be
undesirable. Here, again, you need to go more slowly, to act more
according to your knowledge and less according to impulse, to make sure
that you understand what other people say, especially when seeking for
advice. As a result of your rather emotional character, you are liable to
go to extremes and do erratic things, to be over-zealous for a short
period; also, at times, to be high tempered, although your temper quickly
evaporates. In all of these things you will see the need for cultivation
of more self-control, more poise, more calmness, more maturity of thought,
speech, and action.

"You are very idealistic. Your standards are high. You naturally expect
much. It is your hope always, when making a change, that you will get into
something which will more nearly approach perfection than the thing you
are leaving.

"But you are also critical. Indeed, you are inclined to be hypercritical,
to find too much fault, to see too many flaws and failures. For this
reason, nothing ever measures up to your ideals - you are always being

"You need to cultivate far more courage. By this I mean the courage which
hangs on, which meets obstacles, which overcomes difficulties, which
persists through disagreeable situations. Your impulsiveness leads you
into plenty of things, but you are so hypercritical, and you become so
easily discouraged when eventualities do not measure up to your ideals,
that you fail to finish that which you start.

"Naturally, of course, if you were to be more deliberate and more careful
in forming your judgments, you would find things more nearly ideal after
you got into them. Then, if you would stick to them, you could make a much
greater success of them.

"Your intention to be honest, is, no doubt, above reproach. However, your
conduct or the results may at times be equivalent to dishonesty, being so
regarded by others. This, of course, is the result of your immaturity,
your impulsiveness, and your tendency not to see things through.

"You are very keenly sensitive. With your great love of beauty and
refinement, anything which is coarse, crude, and ugly in your environment
is very depressing to you. You also find it difficult to associate happily
with those who are coarse and crude by nature. Unquestionably, such people
frequently hurt you cruelly when they have no intention of doing so. It
would be well if you would learn to accept other people for what they are
worth, rather than being so critical of them and so easily hurt. Praise
and blame are usually meant impersonally and should be so received. In
other words, people praise or blame the deed and not the doer.

"Your appreciation of financial and commercial values and methods is
deficient. This is due to many different things, but principally to your
lack of observation, your inability to see things in their right
relations, and your limited sense of values. For these reasons you are not
and cannot become vitally interested in financial and commercial affairs.
If your wants were supplied, and you had something interesting to do,
money would receive practically no consideration from you. For your own
sake, you ought to attach more importance to monetary considerations,
cultivate a greater sense of values, develop more practical commercial
sense. On the other hand, however, you should not attempt any vocation in
which a high development of these qualities is necessary.

"In practical affairs, you show a tendency not to learn by experience.
This is because of deficiency in your observation of facts. You do not
really understand the essential facts of the experiences through which you
pass, and, therefore, they do not impress or teach you.

"In your choice of a vocation you should make up your mind once for all
that, on account of the qualities I have described, you are not commercial
or financial, and, therefore, you do not belong in the industrial or
commercial world. Your talents are educational, dramatic, professional,
literary. You are decidedly of the mental type. Your world is a mental
world, an intellectual world. Ideas, ideals, and theories are the things
with which you can deal most successfully.

"Owing to your distaste for detail, and the difficulty you have in
applying yourself to a task until it is finished, and also on account of
your very keen and sensitive critical faculties, you are probably better
fitted for success as a critic than as a producer.

"A position in a house publishing books and magazines, where your duty
would be to read, analyze, and criticise manuscripts, would offer you far
better opportunities than anything you have yet attempted.

"You could probably do well in a mail-order house as correspondent.

"You also have some dramatic ability which, if developed and trained,
might make you a success, either on the stage or in the pulpit. In this
connection, I merely call your attention, in passing, to the
opportunities in the motion picture drama. Here is where dramatic ability
is everything and the heavier demands upon the actor in the ordinary
drama, especially in the way of physical development, voice, etc., do not

"Another line which might possibly interest you would be that of a
salesman in an art or music store, where customers come to you, or in a
book store. You probably would do better selling to women than to men.

"Whatever you do, you should work under direction, under the direction of
some one whose judgment, wisdom, honesty, and high principles you respect.
Under wise leadership you have your very best opportunities for success.
In attempting to be your own manager and to go your own way, you suffer
from the serious handicaps to which I have already referred.

"In selecting from among the vocations I have enumerated the one that is
best for you, you will, of course, be guided very largely by
opportunities. At this distance I do not know just which is your best
opportunity, and, therefore, cannot counsel you definitely to undertake
any one of these vocations in preference to the others. If the opportunity
is at hand, perhaps the position of literary or dramatic critic with a
publishing house would be most congenial for you and offer you the best
future. If not, then one of the others. You might even undertake a
position as salesman in a book store or an art store while preparing or
waiting for an opening in one of the other lines suggested.

"Whatever you undertake, however, compel yourself, in spite of obstacles,
in spite of your very natural criticisms of the situation, to stick to it
until you make a success of it.

"As you grow older, if you will patiently and conscientiously cultivate
more deliberation, more practical sense, more self-control, and more
poise, you will become more mature in judgment and gradually overcome to a
greater and greater degree the handicaps which have so far interfered with
your progress and the best and highest expression of your personality."


To make a long story short, Sydney Williams and men of his type have
unusual intellectual powers of analysis, criticism, memory, abstraction,
and philosophy. They can master hypotheses, higher mathematics, and Hebrew
irregular verbs, but they are babes in all practical affairs. They have
some such conception of the plain facts of human nature, ordinary
financial values, and efficient methods of commerce as a man with color
blindness has of the art of Corot. Like the children they are, these
people seldom suspect their deficiencies. Oftentimes they are ambitious to
make a success in a commercial way. They try salesmanship, or, if they
have a little capital, they may embark in some ambitious business project
on their own account. They even go into farming or agriculture or poultry
raising, or some kind of fancy fruit producing, with all of the optimism
and cheerfulness and confidence in their ability that Sydney Williams felt
for his orange growing. When they fail, it is more often through their own
incompetence than because some one comes along who is mean enough to take
candy from a baby. They usually dissipate their assets by impracticable
schemes before the unscrupulous can take them. The only hope for such men
is to learn their limitations; to learn that, even though they may be
ambitious for commercial success, they are utterly unqualified for it;
that, although they may wish to do something in the way of production or
selling, they have neither talent, courage, secretiveness, persistence,
nor other qualities necessary for a success in these lines. They are too
credulous. They are too impractical. They are too lacking in fighting
qualities, and, therefore, too easily imposed upon. They are usually lazy
physically and find disagreeable situations hard, so that they are out of
place in the rough-and-tumble, strenuous, hurly-burly of business,
manufacturing, or ordinary professional life.

Perhaps a few stories would indicate what these men can do, do well, and
what they can be happy and satisfied in doing. There is a real need for
them in the world.


George R. came to us late one evening in a little town in Illinois. He was
nervous, weak, and diffident.

"I am now," he said, "a salesman in a dry goods store. But I have only
held the job three months and do not expect that I will be permitted to
remain more than a week or so longer. I have been warned several times by
the floor-walker that my errors will cost me my position. God knows, I do
my best to succeed in the work, but it is like all the other positions
I've held. Somehow or other I don't seem to be able to give satisfaction.
While I am on my guard and as alert as I know how to be against one of the
things I've been told not to do, I am just as sure as sunshine to go and
do some other thing which is against the rules. If I don't do something
against the rules, then I forget to do something I was told to do. If I
don't forget to do something I've been told to do, then I am quite likely
to make some outlandish mistake that no one ever thought of framing a rule
to fit. The result of it all is that in about another week or, at the
most, two, I'll be out of employment again. I have tried driving a
delivery wagon. I've tried grocery stores. I've tried doing collections. I
began once as clerk in a bank. Immediately after leaving college, I
started in as newspaper reporter. I've been a newsboy on railroad trains.
I sold candies and peanuts in a fair ground. I have been night clerk in a
hotel. I've been steward on a steamboat. I've been a shipping clerk in a
publishing house, and I have been fired from every job I have ever had.
True enough, I've hated them all, but, nevertheless; I have tried to do my
best in them. Why I cannot succeed with any of them, I don't know, and yet
I have a feeling that somehow, somewhere, sometime, I will find something
to do that I will love, and that I can do well."

"Music," we said, "unquestionably music."

"Do you think I could?" he said wistfully. "Music has been my passion all
my life long. It has been my one joy, my one solace in all my wanderings
and all my failures. But I have always been afraid I would fail also in
that, and, if I should, it would break my heart sure. But if you think I
have the talent, then I shall give my whole time, my whole thought, my
whole energy to music hereafter."

It was rather late in life for this young man to begin a musical career.
While he had always been fond of music, he had been sent to college for a
classical course by parents to whom a classical course meant everything
that was desirable in an education. He had learned to play the piano, the
violin, the guitar, the mandolin, and some other instruments, without
education, because of his natural musical talent. He played them all as he
had opportunity, for his own amusement, but, because of his ambition for
commercial success, had never thought of music as a career. We wish we
might tell you that this young man was now one of the foremost composers
or conductors of his time. It would make an excellent story. Such,
however, is not the case.

He devoted himself to securing a thorough musical education, supporting
himself and paying his expenses in the mean-while by playing in churches,
musicales, motion picture shows, and other places. He also received a few
dollars nearly every week for playing the violin for dances and other
functions in a semi-professional orchestra. Truly this was not "art for
art's sake." Any critical musician could probably tell you that such use
of his musical talent forever shut off any hopes of his becoming a true
artist. On the other hand, it did fill his stomach and clothe him while he

Online LibraryArthur NewcombAnalyzing Character → online text (page 15 of 34)