Orison Swett Marden.

Little visits with great Americans; or, Success ideals and how to attain them online

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"Experience," says the proverb, "is a dear school,
and none but fools learn therein." The inference is
that to be wise one must suffer himself to be taught by
the experience of others. This volume contains the life
stories, told by themselves, of many successful men and
women, with emphasis on those experiences which to
them appear to have been the turning points in their

It is not likely that there is anywhere in existence a
siinilar collection of heart-to-heart talks with distin-
guished people of equal value to this. The idea of re-
questing the leaders in invention, manufacture, trans-
portation, commerce, finance, in political and public
life, and in the professions of the ministry, the law,
literature and art, to bequeath in their own words the
stories of their lives, their ideals, and the lessons of
their experience, to the American public, originated
with Orison Swett Marden, and contributed in no
small degree to the immediate and remarkable popu-
larity of Success, in which many of these interviews
first appeared. The early files of the magazine are
long since exhausted, but the interest in, and demand
for, these articles is sufficient assurance that they are
of enduring merit, and deserve to be collected in per-
manent form.


We regard them as a trust. We do not feel that we
have a right to withhold them from the public. We
have accordingly fulfilled our obligation by presenting
them in attractive form, and we are well assured that
young and old alike who are striving to attain their
ideals in life will recognize the fact that the highest
form of self-interest will lead them to read and absorb
the practical helpfulness contained in these pages.
Many and varied careers have been selected, so that
each one may find his ideal of success fulfilled in real
life, and be aroused to a lofty aspiration and resolute
determination to achieve like eminence. With Emer-
son we say, "Hitch your wagon to a star," and, with
Lowell, "Not failure, but low aim, is crime."

While for the most part the experiences portrayed in
this book occurred upon American soil, in several in-
stances persons born or now living abroad, but promi-
nently identified with American life, have been in-

We acknowledge our indebtedness to the pubHsh-
ers of the "Literary Digest," of "Collier's Weekly,"
of the "American Review of Reviews," and others
who kindly loaned valuable photographs for repro-
duction, and also to members of the Success
editorial staff for valuable assistance in the prepara-
tion of this volume.

The Publishers.



I. Hard Work, the Secret of a Great Inventor's

Genius — Thomas Alva Edison 17

II. A " Down-East " Yankee Who Dictates Peace

to the Nations — Hiram Stevens Maxim .... 35


III. A Poor Boy Who Once Borrowed Books

Now Gives Away Libraries — Andrew Car-
negie 51

IV. A Good Shoemaker Becomes Detroit's Best

Mayor and Michigan's Greatest Governor —
Hazen S. Pingree 71


V. Determination Not to Remain Poor Made a
Farmer Boy Merchant Prince — Marshall

Field 80

VI. Honesty the Foundation of a Great Mer-
chant's Career — John Wanamaker 92

VII. A British Boy Wins Fortune and Title by
American Business Methods — Sir Thomas
Lipton 108


VIII. A Self-made Man Who Strives to Give Others

a Chance — Darius Ogden Mills 117

IX. Thrift, the Secret of a Fortune Built in a

Single Lifetime — Russell Sage 125

X. Cut Out for a Banker, He Rose from Errand
Boy to Secretary of the United States

Treasury — Lyman Judson Gage 131

XL A Young Millionaire Not Afraid to Work in

Overalls — Cornelius Vanderbilt 138



XII. A Messenger Boy's Zeal Lifts Him to the
Head of the World's Greatest Telegraph

System — Robert C. dowry 144

XIII. Enthusiasm for Railroading Makes a Section
Hand Head of the Metropolitan System —
Herbert H. Vreeland 152

XIV. A Factory Boy's Purpose to Improve Labor
Makes Him a Great Leader — Samuel
Gompers 164


XV. A Puny Boy, by Physical Culture, Becomes
the Most Vigorous of American Presidents

— Theodore Roosevelt 173

XVI. A Brave Volunteer Fights His Way to the
Head of the American Army — Nelson A.

Miles 188

XVII. Making the Most of His Opportunities Wins

a Coveted Embassy — Joseph H. Choate. . 196
XVIII. A Village Boy's Gift of Oratory Earns Him

Wealth and Fame — Chauncey M. Depew. . . 207
XIX. A Chance-Found Book the Turning Point in
a United States Senator's Career — Jona-
than P. Dolliver 219

XX. Varied Business Training the Foundation of

a Long Political Career — Thomas C. Piatt. 225
XXI. A Magnate, the Courage of His Convictions

Makes Him a Reformer — Tom L. Johnson. 234


XXII. A Backwoods Boy Works His Way Through
College and Becomes University President
— Jacob Gould Schurman 243

XXIIL A "Jack of All Trades" Masters One and
Becomes the Poet of the People — James
Whitcomb Riley 252



XXIV. A Farm Boy Who Devoured Books Writes
One of the Greatest Poems of the Century

— Edwin Markham 263

XXV. A Famous Authoress Tells Literary Aspirants
the Story of Her Struggle for Recogni-
tion — Ella Wheeler Wilcox 272

XXVI. A Printer's Boy, Self-Taught, Becomes the
Dean of American Letters — William Dean

Howells 283

XXVII. A Famous Novelist Atones for Wasted School
Days by Self-Culture — General Lew Wal-
lace 296

XXVIII. A Social Leader, Having "Eyes That See,"
Earns Literary Laurels — Mrs. Burton
Harrison 305


XXIX. Painstaking the Secret of a Celebrated Paint-
er's Success — Edwin Austin Abbey 311

XXX. A School Girl, Not Afraid of Drudgery, Be-
comes America's Foremost Woman Illus-
trator — Alice Barber Stephens 321

XXXI. A Schoolboy's Sketches Reveal the Bent of a

Talented Illustrator — Frederic Remington. . 327
XXXII. Rebuffs and Disappointments Fail to Repress
a Great Cartoonist's Genius — Homer Dav-
enport 334

XXXIII. Being Himself in Style and Subjects the Se-

crets of an Artist's Wonderful Popularity

— Charles Dana Gibson 342

XXXIV. A "Printer's Devil" Whose Perseverance

Wins Him Well-Earned Reputation as a

Fun-Maker — Frederick Burr Op per 353

XXXV. "A Square Man in a Round Hole" Rejects
$5,000 a Year and Becomes a Sculptor —

F. Wellington Ruckstuhl 358

XXXVI. During Leisure Hours he " Found Himself "
and Abandoned Law for Art — Henry Mer-
win Shrady 366




XXXVII. Deformed in Body, His Cheerful Spirit Makes
Him the Entertainer of Princes — Marshall
P. Wilder 37i

XXXVIII. Energy and Earnestness Win an Actor Fame

— Richard Mansfield 379

XXXIX. A Father's Common-Sense Gives America a

Great Bandmaster — John Philip Sousa 384


XL. Blind, Deaf and Dumb, Patient Effort Wins
Her Culture and Rare Womanhood — Helen

Keller 391

XLI. Jay Gould's Chum Chooses " High Thinking,
Not Money-Making," and Wins Success

Without Riches — John Burroughs 402

XLII. A Millionaire's Daughter Makes Inherited
Wealth a Blessing to Thousands—Helen

Miller Gould 413

XLIII. A Self-Made Merchant Solves the Problem of .
Practical Philanthropy — Nathan Strauss... 420


XLIV. A Varied Career Develops the Resourceful
Head of a Great Institutional Church and
College — Russell H. Conwell 426

XLV. An Inspiring Personality Wins a Noted

Preacher Fame — Frank W. Gunsaulus 432

XL VI. From the Forge to the Pulpit, a Life of Devo-
tion and Application — Robert Collyer 441


XLVII. Canada's Leading Conservative Extols "the
Country of the Twentieth Century" —

Robert Laird Borden 447

XLVIII. An Eminent Scholar Advocates the Union of
Canada and the United States — Goldwin
Smith 4S4



XLIX. After Failure as a Grocer, He Becomes the
Ablest Administrator Quebec Has Ever

Had— 5". N. Parent 460

L. Canada's Leading Economist Tells Her Sons
to Seek Fortune in Her Own Domain —

Andrew G. Blair 470

LI. A Distinguished Educator Has Found Con-
tentment in the Simple Life — James Loudon 479
LH. Beginning as Telegraph Operator He Built
the Canadian Pacific — Sir William C. Van
Home 485

LHL An Immigrant Boy Becomes a National Fig-
ure in Reform — Samuel Jones , 498

LIV. A " Forty-niner " who Seized Opportunities

Others Failed to See — Philip D. Armour. . 511
LV. The Blind Yacht Designer Attributes His
Conquests to His Mother's Early Care —
John B. Herreshoff 528

LVI. A Great Vocalist Shows that Only Years of
Labor Can Win the Heights of Song — Lil-
lian Nordica S41


Apelles, the great artist, traveled all over Greece for
years, studying the fairest points of beautiful women,
getting here an eye, there a forehead, and there a nose,
here a grace and there a turn of beauty, for his famous
portrait of a perfect woman which enchanted the world.
It was not a portrait, not an imaginary ideal head, but
a composite, a combination from the most perfect fea-
tures he could find. By combining the perfect points,
the graceful curves, the lines of beauty of many individ-
uals, he made his wonderful painting.

The great artist knew that all elements of beauty
and perfection of physical form could not be found in
one person. He knew, too, that some of the most per-
fect features and beautiful curves would be found in
women who were on the whole anything but beautiful —
perhaps repulsive.

The editors of this volume have been for many years
in quest of the elements of a grand, healthy, symmetri-
cal, successful man — ^the ideal man. They knew at the
beginning that it would be impossible to find any one
man who would illustrate all these points of perfection,
who would combine in perfect degree all the success
qualities, but they have found in scores of men who
have achieved something worth while qualities which,
put together, would make a composite ideal man, a man



who, in the evolution of civilization, will, perhaps,
sometime be possible. Usually, in men who have risen
to eminence, some one quality or virtue shines con-
spicuous, often accompanied with defects, perhaps great
weakness, which, to gain the lesson, we must ignore.

The editors have found here a man illustrative of
perseverance, here one marked by undaunted ambition,
there a life where grit overcame all obstacles, and an-
other where the quick grasping of opportunities led to
noble achievement.

They have interviewed successful men and women
in the various vocations, trying to get at the secret of
their success, the reasons for their advancement. These
varied life stories will give the reader the material
for constructing the composite character — the ideal
man or woman — one that shall combine all the best
virtues and qualities, whose imitation will help to insure
a useful, profitable and honored life. This composite
man will not be a one-sided specialist. He will not be
a man cursed with any great weakness. He will be a
man raised to the highest power, symmetrical, self-
centered, equipoised, ever master of himself.

It does not follow that every man whose name ap-
pears in this book is a model in every respect. Napo-
leon was not a model character, and yet he exemplifies
some success qualities in his career in an almost ideal

What question, arising from individual experience,
from family life, or from daily observation within the


community, is of more poignant human interest than
the query: "Why do some men succeed, while others
fail ?" and the allied question : "What constitutes suc-
cess in life, and how may it be attained ?"

An analysis of the ideals and achievements of these
leaders in invention, commerce and finance, in public
affairs, and in literature, the arts, and the professions,
as set forth by themselves, seems to reveal certain
salient life lessons well worthy of most careful con-
sideration. First, it would appear that without excep-
tion every successful man or woman at some period of
his or her life, whether early or late, has formed a life
purpose, and has registered a solemn vow to achieve
something more than ordinary in the world. An ex-
ception to this rule appears to obtain in the cases of
men or women possessed of a strong natural bent or
talent, the exercise of which is an instinctive craving
that will not be denied. This determination to be or
to achieve, or this instinctive bent of thought and
action, appears to be the first indication of greatness,
and the turning point in great careers.

The next most obvious^ lesson to be drawn from a
careful study of these interviews seems to be, that once
a determination to succeed is made, and the first steps,
however humble, have been entered upon in the new
career, the subject commences to take an interest
amounting to positive pleasure in the tasks and duties
incident to his chosen life work.

The far-away goal of success, vn'th its reward of



fame, wealth, and all that money can procure, appears
to fade from the worker's sight as he advances toward
it, and the incitement to labor for material reward is
lost in the joy of congenial labor for its own sake.
The player loses sight of the hope of victory in the
mere zest of the game. This note appears again and
again in the life stories of great workers as revealed by
themselves, and accounts for the spectacle, so puzzling
to many, of the master of millions apparently grasping
for more millions in his declining years. There can be
no content with present achievement, however great,
because all who have achieved great things have dis-
covered that the ends sought are lost in the value of the
faculties developed by the search, and they hence seek,
not additional reward of toil, but rather the pleas-
urable exercise of the chase. The joy of labor will not
permit men to lay down the harness and relinquish
effort this side the grave.

A determination to succeed once formed, and a con-
genial career once chosen and entered upon, there com-
mences a process of character-building by the forma-
tion of life habits. These solidify into personal char-
acteristics, the varying assortment of which in the
individual constitutes what we call his personality,
wherein one man differs from another. Character, it
has been wisely said, is the resultant of choices. It
appears again and again in the reminiscences of those
who have succeeded, that from time to time they have
deliberately chosen a course of action which by force



of habit has become a personal characteristic, and has
earned them national, if not world-wide, reputation.
The name of "Honest" John Wanamaker stands for a
/ reputation having a commercial value of hundreds of
thousands of dollars. The acorn from which grew
this mighty oak was a young man's choice of honesty
as the foundation of his career.

Books and essays by the score and hundred have been
written by theorists upon the principles of success in
life. Worthy as are many of the writers, their lives
often illustrate the adage of the poet, "It were easier
to tell twenty what were good to be done than to be
one of the twenty to follow mine own teachings."
Boldly contrasted with such writings are the flesh and
blood maxims herein contained, stamped with the mint
marks of great personalities, towering mountainous
among their fellows, each coined from the life habits
\/hich have hardened into enduring character, and have
left their impress upon the history of our times.

In a drawing-room or public assemblage he would
indeed be unambitious and mean-spirited, who would
not choose the company and conversation of the great-
est and the best. Carlyle says, "Great men taken up
in any way are profitable company." What privilege
could promise equal pleasure and profit with a series
of visits at the homes of the most notable personages
our land contains, to consult with each on the great
questions of success or failure, of what constitutes ideal
success, and of how it may be attained ?



Such is the privilege contemplated by this volume
and freely offered to all who choose to avail themselves
of it. Compared with the inspiration, the examples
and the wise counsel contained within its covers, the
cost of such a volume sinks into insignificance. Benja-
min Franklin said that the reading of one good book
made him what he was. Henry Clay testified, "to the
fact that in the midst of her early poverty my mother
provided her home with a few choice books, do I owe
my success in life." Senator Dolliver, in the present
volume, regards a chance-found book as the turning
point of his career, and like testimony is all but uni-
versal. Let the young and the guardians of youth
weigh well the thought that there are sins of omission,
as well as of commission, and that it may be hardly a
less criminal negligence to refuse fit books for the
growing mind than food for the growing body.

Quite aside from considerations of profit and duty
are the considerations of pleasure offered by a volume
of this character. It is a truism that truth is stranger
than fiction. The romance of reality is the most thrill-
ing of all romances, and there is a peculiar fascination
associated with those glimpses of the inner man which
are revealed by a speaker who sets forth his own life
story, and places his own interpretation upon it. From
this view point, "Little Visits" possesses a wealth of
suggestion and of information, alike valuable and inter-
esting to readers of all ages and of every walk in life.



The dominant note of this booI<, is inspiration; its
keynote, helpfulness.

We have tried to drive home every precept and les-
son with stirring and inspiring stories of great lives
which show that men and women are the architects of
their own fortunes, and which will explode the excuses
of those who think they have no chance in life. It
shows that necessity has ever been the priceless spur
that has urged man to struggle with his destiny and
develop his greatest strength.

We think the reader will find in these pages the com-
posite character, the all-round success. We have tried
to show that there is something better than making a
living, and that is making a life — that a man may make
millions and be a failure still.

We have shown that a man to succeed must be
greater than his calling, that he must overtop his voca-
tion. We have tried to teach that the really successful
man must be greater than the book he writes, than the
patient he treats, than the goods he sells, than the cause
he pleads in the courts — that manhood is above all
titles, greater than any career.

The Editor.





Success Maxims

The tissue of the life to be

We weave with colors all our own.

And in the field of destiny

We reap as we have sown.

— Whittier.

No man is born into this world whose work is not born
with him. — Lowell.

If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon,
or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, though he build
his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to
his door. — Emerson.

Character is power — is influence; it makes friends, cre-
ates funds, draws patronage and support, and opens a sure and
easy way to wealth, honor and happiness. — J. Hawes.

To be thrown upon one's own resources is to be cast into
the very lap of fortune. — Franklin.

There is no road to success but through a clear, strong
purpose. A purpose underlies character, culture, position, at-
tainment of whatever sort. — T. T. Hunger.

Heaven never helps the man who will not act. — Sophocles.

The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you
can do well, and doing well whatever you do, without a
thought of fame. — Longfellow.

The longer I live, the more deeply am I convinced that
that which makes the difference between one man and another
—between the weak and powerful, the great and insignificant,
is energy — invincible determination — a purpose once formed,
and then death or victory. — Fowell Buxton.

In the measure in which thou seekest to do thy duty shalt
thou know what is in thee. But what is thy duty? The de-
mand of the hour. — Goethe.

A strong, defiant purpose is many-handed, and lays hold
of whatever is near that can serve it ; it has a magnetic power
that draws to itself whatever is kindred. — ^T. T. Hunger.



Hard Work : the Secret of a Great
Inventor's Genius.

To discover the opinion of Thomas A. Edison
concerning what makes and constitutes success
in Hfe is an easy matter, if one can only dis-
cover Mr. Edison. I camped three weeks in
the vicinity of Orange, N. J., awaiting the opportunity
to come upon the great inventor and voice my ques-
tions. It seemed a rather hopeless and discouraging
affair until he was really before me; but, truth to say,
he is one of the most accessible of men, and only reluc-
tantly allows himself to be hedged in by the pressure of
endless affairs. "Mr. Edison is always glad to see any
visitor," said a gentleman who is constantly with him,
"except when he is hot on the trail of something he has
been working for, and then it is as much as a man's
head is worth to come in on him." He certainly was
not hot on the trail of anything on the morning when,
for seemingly the tenth time, I rang at the gate in the
fence which surrounds the laboratory on Valley Road,
Orange. A young man appeared, who conducted me
up the walk to the elegant office and library of the
great laboratory. It is a place, this library, not to be
passed through without thought, for with a further


Thomas Alva Edison

store of volumes in his home, it contains one of the
most costly and well-equipped scientific libraries in the
world; the collection of writings on patent laws and
patents, for instance, is absolutely exhaustive. It gives,
at a glance, an idea of the breadth of the thought and
sympathy of this man who grew up with scarcely a
common school education.

On the second floor, in one of the ofifices of the
machine-shop, I was asked to wait, while a grimy
youth disappeared with my card, which he said he
would "slip under the door of Mr. Edison's office."
"Curious," I thought; "what a lord this man must be
if they dare not even knock at his door !"

Thinking of this and gazing out of the window, I
waited until a working man, who had entered softly,
came up beside me. He looked with a sort of "Well,
what is it ?" in his eyes, and quickly it began to come to
me that the man in the sooty, oil-stained clothes was
Edison himself. The working garb seemed rather in-
congruous, but there was no mistaking the broad fore-
head, with its shock of blackish hair streaked with gray.
The gray eyes, too, were revelations in the way of alert

"Oh !" was all I could get out at the time.

"Want to see me?" he said, smiling in the most
youthful and genial way.

"Why,— yes, certainly, to be sure," I stammered.

He looked at me blankly.

"You'll have to talk louder," said an assistant who


The "Wizard of Electricity"

worked in another portion of the room ; "he don't hear


This fact was new to me, but I raised my voice with
celerity and piped thereafter in an exceedingly shrill
key. After the usual humdrum opening remarks, in
which he acknowledged with extreme good nature his
age as fifty-five years, and that he was born in Erie
county, O., of Dutch parentage, the family having emi-
grated to America in 1730, the particulars began to
grow more interesting. His great-grandfather, I learn-

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Online LibraryOrison Swett MardenLittle visits with great Americans; or, Success ideals and how to attain them → online text (page 1 of 20)