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Orison Swett Marden.

Pushing to the front; or, Success under difficulties; a book of inspiration and encouragement to all who are struggling for self-elevation along the paths of knowledge and of duty online

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PUSHING TO THE FRONT
BY ORISON SWETT MARDEN



THE MARDEN
INSPIRATIONAL BOOKS



Be Good to Yourself

Choosing a Career

Conquest of Worry

Every Man a King

Exceptional Employee

He Can Who Thinks He Can

How to Get What You Want

Joys of Living

Keeping Fit

Loves Way

Making Friends with Our Nerves

Making Life a Masterpiece

Making Yourself

Masterful Personality

Miracle of Right Thought

Optimistic Life

Peace, Power, and Plenty

Progressive Business Man

Prosperity

Pushing to the Front

Rising in the World

Round Pegs in Square Holes

Secret of Achievement

Self -Investment

Success Fundamentals

Training for Efficiency

Victorious Attitude

Woman and the Home

You Can, But Will You?

SPECIAL BOOKS AND BOOKLETS

An Iron Will Opportunity Self-Discovery
Economy Cheerfulness Hints for Young Writers

Thrift Success Nuggets

I Had a Friend Why Grow Old?

Not the Salary, but the Opportunity

Thoughts About Cheerfulness



The Life Story of Orison Swett Marden

By Margaret Connolly
Send for Publishers' Special Circular of these Great Books



^usiting to tfje Jf ront

OR

SUCCESS UNDER DIFFICULTIES

A BOOK OF INSPIRATION AND ENCOURAGEMENT TO ALL

WHO ARE STRUGGLING FOR SELF-ELEVATION

ALONG THE PATHS OF KNOWLEDGE

AND OF DUTY



BY



ORISON SWETT MARDEN

Author of
' Peace, Power, and Plenty," " Every Man a King," etc.



We live in a new and exceptional age. America
is another name for Opportunity. Our whole
history appears like a last effort of the Divine
Providence in behalf of the human race.

— Emerson.



\ NEW YORK

THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY

PUBLISHERS



Copyright, 1894, 1911-1917
By orison SWETT MARDEN



All rights reserved



(Printed in the United Stales of Atn«rica)







PREFACE TO REVISED EDITION

JFTER the author had worked fof
years on the original manu-
script of " Pushing to the
Front" it was entirely destroyed
by fire; and it was with great
difficulty that he reproduced it,
as all of his notes, which he had
been collecting for many years, were burned also.
As he had never before written anything for pub-
lication, he expected that the rewritten manuscript,
sent to Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin and Company of
Boston, would be declined, but they promptly ac-
cepted it and published twelve editions the first
year. The book has probably gone through more
than one hundred editions since.

The author has received thousands of letters from
people in nearly all parts of the world, telling how
the book has aroused their ambition, changed their
ideals and aims, increased their confidence, and how
it has spurred them to the successful undertaking of
what they before had thought impossible.

Many of these letters have come from youths
telling how it has encouraged them to return to
school or college after having given up in despair ;
to go back to vocations which they had left in a
moment of discouragement; enheartened to take up
other dropped or neglected tasks with new hope
and new ambition ; and how the book has proved
a turning point in their careers; the cause of their
success.

" Pushing to the Front " has been translated into
many foreign languages, and has been very success-

V



vi PREFACE TO REVISED EDITION

ful abroad, especially in Japan, where for m^ny
years it has been used extensively in the govern-
ment schools in a great variety of editions, both iu
Japanese and English.

Distinguished educators in many parts of the
world have recognized the arousing, inspiring qual-
ities of the book, and in numerous instances have
recommended its use in the public schools and other
educational institutions. The state superintendents
of public instruction in a number of states in this
country have put it on the required library lists for
the schools. Alexander Rossi, a noted educator of
the Italian Parliament, wrote a pamphlet in which
he strongly recommended that the reading of
" Pushing to the Front " be made obligatory in the
schools of Italy, because he regarded it as "a
civilization-builder."

Queen Victoria of England wrote and compli-
mented the author on this book, and Mr. Gladstone
was so much interested in it that he was about to
write an introduction to the English edition when
he died.

King Humbert of Italy, President McKinley, mem-
bers of the U. S. Supreme Court, senators and
representatives, distinguished cabinet officers, gov-
ernors of states, members of the British and other
parliaments, noted authors, scholars, and many other
eminent people in all walks of life from nearly every
civilized country have thanked the author for giving

this book to the world.

The Publishers.




JfKJiFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION

^'^HE author's excuse for one
more postponement of the
end " of making many
books " can be briefly given.
He early determined that
if it should ever lie in his
power he would wTite a book to encourage,
inspire, and stimulate boys and girls who long
to be somebody and do something in the
world but feel that they have no chance in
life. Among hundreds of American and Eng-
lish books for the young claiming to give the
" secret of success," he found but few which
satisfy the cravings of youth, hungry for
stories of successful lives, and eager for every
hint and every bit of information which may
help them to make their way in the world.
He believed that the power of an ideal book
for youth should lie in its richness of concrete
examples, as the basis and inspiration of char-
acter-building; in its uplifting, energizing,
suggestive force, rather than in its argu-
ments; that it should be free from material-
ism on the one hand, and from cant on the
other; and that it should abound in stirring
examples of men and women who have



viii PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION

brought things to pass. To the preparation
of such a book he had devoted his spare mo-
ments for ten years, when a fire destroyed all
his manuscript and notes. The memory of
some of the lost illustrations of difficulties
overcome stimulated him to another attempt;
so once more the gleanings of odd bits of
time for years have been arranged in the fol-
lowing pages.

The aim has been to spur the perplexed
youth to act the Columbus to his own undis-
covered possibilities ; to urge him not to brood
over the past, nor dream of the future, but to
get his lesson from the hour; to encourage
him to make every occasion a great occasion,
for he can not tell when his measure may
be taken for a higher place ; to show him that
he must not wait for his opportunity, but make
it; to tell the round boy how he may get out
of the square hole into which he has been
wedged by circumstances or mistakes ; to help
him to find his right place in life; to teach
the hesitating youth that in a land where shoe-
makers and farmers sit in Congress no limit
can be placed to the career of a determined
youth who has once learned the alphabet. The
standard of the book is not measured in gold,
but in growth ; not in position, but in personal
power; not in capital, but in character. It



PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION ix

shows that a great check-book can never
make a great man; that beside the character
of a Washington, the millions of a Crcesus
look contemptible; that a man may be rich
without money, and may succeed though he
does not become President or member of Con-
gress; that he who would grasp the key to
power must be greater than his calling and
resist the vulgar prosperity that retrogrades
toward barbarism ; that there is something
greater than wealth, grander than fame ; that
character is success, and there is no other.

If this volume shall open wider the door of
some narrow life and awaken powers before
unknown, the author will feel amply repaid
for his labor. No special originality is claimed
for the book. It has been prepared in odd mo-
ments snatched from a busy life, and is merely
a new way of telling stories and teaching les-
sons that have been told and taught by many
others from Solomon down. In these well-
worn and trite topics lie " the marrow of the
wisdom of the world."

"Though old the thought, and oft expressed,
'Tis his at last who says it best."

The author wishes to acknowledge valuable
assistance from Mr. Arthur W. Brown, of
West Kingston, R. I.



CONTENTS

PAGE

CHAPTER I

THE MAN AND THE OPPORTUNITY I

Don't wait for your opportunity: make it.

CHAPTER n

BOYS WITH NO CHANCE 2^

Necessity is the priceless spur.

CHAPTER HI

POSSIBILITIES IN SPARE MOMENTS .70

If a genius like Gladstone carries through
life a book in his pocket, les\: an unexpected
spare moment slip from his grasp, what
should we of common abilities not resort
to, to save the precious moments from
oblivion ?

CHAPTER IV

ROUND BOYS IN SQUARE HOLES 85

Man isi doomed to perpetual inferiority and
disappointment if out of his place, and gets
his living by his weakness instead of by his
strength.

CHAPTER V

WHAT CAREER? Id

Your talent is your call "What can you

do ? " is the interrogation of the century.

Better adorn your own than seek another's

place.

xi



xii CONTENTS

PAGB

CHAPTER VI

CONCENTRATED ENERGY 121

One unwavering aim. Don't dally with
your purpose. Not many things indiffer-
ently, but one thing supremely.

CHAPTER VII

ON TIME, OR THE TRIUMPH OF PROMPT-
NESS 138
Don't brood over the past or dream of the
future; but seize the instant, and get your
lesson from the hour.

CHAPTER VIII

A FORTUNE IN GOOD MANNERS I54

The good-mannered can do without riches:
all doors fly open to them', and they enter
everywhere without money and without
price.

CHAPTER IX

THE TRIUMPHS OF ENTHUSIASM 189

" What are hardships, ridicule, persecution,
toil, sickness, to a soul throbbing with an
overmastering enthusiasm?"

CHAPTER X

TACT OR COMMON SENSE 2IO

Talent is no match for tact; we see its
failure everywhere. In the race of life,
common sense has the right of way.



CONTEXTS xiii

PAGE

CHAPTER XI

SELF-RESPECT AND SELF-CONFIDENCE 23O

We Stamp our own value upon ourselves,
and cannot expect to pass for more.

CHAPTER XH

CHARACTER IS POWER 238

Beside the character of a Washington the
millions of many an American look con-
temptible. Character is success, and there
is no other.

CHAPTER Xni

ENAMORED OF ACCURACY 265

Twenty things half done do not make one
thing well done. There is a great differ-
ence between going just right and a little
wrong.

CHAPTER XIV

THE REWARD OF PERSISTENCE 287

"Mere genius darts, flutters, and tires; but
perseverance wears and wins."

CHAPTER XV

BE BRIEF 309

" Brevity is the soul of wit." Boil ill down.



I. THE MAN AND THE OPPORTU-
NITY

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

Things don't turn up in this world until somt-
body turns them up. — Garfield.

Vigilance in watching opportunity; tact and dar-
ing in seizing upon opportunity; force and persist-
ence in crowding opportunity to its utmost of pos-
sible achievement— these are the martial virtues
which must command success.— Austin Phelps.

"I win find a way or make one."

There never was a day that did not bring its own
opportunity for doing good that never could have
been done before, and never can be again. — W. H.
Burleigh.

"Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute;
What you can do, or dream you can, begin it."

|F we succeed, what will the
world say ? " asked Captain
Berry in delight, when Nel-
son had explained his care-
fully formed plan before

the battle of the Nile.

" There is no if in the case," replied Nelson.
" That we shall succeed is certain. Who may
live to tell the tale is a very different ques-
tion." Then, as his captains rose from the




2 PUSHING TO THE FRONT

council to go to their respective ships, he
added : " Before this time to-morrow I shall
have gained a peerage or Westminster
Abbey." His quick eye and daring spirit saw
an opportunity of glorious victory where
others saw only probable defeat.

" Is it POSSIBLE to cross the path ? " asked
Napoleon of the engineers who had been sent
to explore the dreaded pass of St. Bernard.
" Perhaps," was the hesitating reply, " it is
within the limits of possibility." "Forward
then/' said the Little Corporal, without heed-
ing their account of apparently insurmount-
able difficulties. England and Austria laughed
in scorn at the idea of transporting across ihe
Alps, where " no wheel had ever rolled, or
by any possibility could roll," an army of sixty
thousand men, with ponderous artillery, tons
of cannon balls and baggage, and all the
bulky munitions of war. But the besieged
Massena was starving in Genoa, and the vic-
torious Austrians thundered at the gates of
Nice, and Napoleon was not the man to fail
his former comrades in their hour of peril.

When this " impossible " deed was accom-
plished, some saw that it might have been
done long before. Others excused themselves
from encountering such gigantic obstacles by



MAN AND THE OPPORTUNITY 3

calling them insuperable. :Many a comman.
der had possessed the necessary supplies,
tools, and rugged soldiers, but lacked the grit
and resolution of Bonaparte, who did not
shrink from mere difficulties, however great,
but out of his very need made and mastered.
his opportunity.

Grant at New Orleans had just been seri-
ously injured by a fall from his horse, when
he received orders to take command at Chat-
tanooga, so sorely beset by the Confederates
that its surrender seemed only a question of a
few days ; for the hills around were all aglow
by night with the camp-fires of the enemy,
and supplies had been cut oflf. Though in
great pain, he immediately gave directions for
his removal to the new scene of action.

On transports up the Mississippi, the Ohio,
and one of its tributaries ; on a litter borne by
horses for many miles through the wilder-
ness ; and into the city at last on the shoulders
of four men, he was taken to Chattanooga.
Things assumed a different aspect immedi-
ately. A master had arrived who was equal
to the situatiotj. The army felt the grip of
his power. Before he could mount his horse
he ordered an advance, and although the
enemy contested the ground inch by inch, the



4 PUSHING TO THE FRONT

surrounding hills were soon held by Union
soldiers.

Were these things the result of chance, or
were they compelled by the indomitable de-
termination of the injured General?

Did things adjust themselves when Hora-
tius with two companions held ninety thou-
sand Tuscans at bay until the bridge across
the Tiber had been destroyed? — when Leon-
idas at Thermopylae checked the mighty
march of Xerxes? — when Themistocles, oft
the coast of Greece, shattered the Persian's
Armada? — when Caesar, finding his army hard
pressed, seized spear and buckler, fought
while he reorganized his men, and snatched
victory from defeat? — when Winkelried
gathered to his breast a sheaf of Austrian
spears, thus opening a path through which
his comrades pressed to freedom? — when
for years Napoleon did not lose a single
battle in which he was personally en-
gaged? — when Wellington fought in many
climes without ever being conquered? — when
Ney, on a hundred fields, changed apparent
disaster into brilliant triumph? — when Perry
left the disabled La^irence, rowed to the Ni-
agara, and silenced the British guns? — when
Sheridan arrived from Winchester just as the



MAN AND THE OPPORTUNITY 5

Union retreat was becoming- a rout, and
turned the tide by riding along the line? —
when Sherman, though sorely pressed, sig-
naled his men to hold the fort, and they, know-
ing that their leader was coming, held it?

History furnishes thousands of examples
of men who have seized occasions to accom-
plish results deemed impossible by those less
resolute. Prompt decision and whole-souled
action sweep the world before them.

True, there has been but one Napoleon;
but, on the other hand, the Alps that oppose
the progress of the average American youth
are not as high or dangerous as the summits
crossed by the great Corsican.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities.
Seise common occasions and make them great.

On the morning of September 6, 1838, a
young woman in the Longstone Lighthouse,
between England and Scotland, was awakened
by shrieks of agony rising above the roar of
wind and wave. A storm of unvv^onted fury
was raging, and her parents could not hear
the cries ; but a telescope showed nine human
beings clinging to the windlass of a wrecked
vessel whose bow was hanging on the rocks
half a mile away. " We can do nothing." said
William Darling, the light-keeper. " Ah, yes,



6 PUSHING TO THE FRONT

we must go to the rescue," exclaimed his
daughter, pleading tearfully with both father
and mother, until the former replied : " Very
well, Grace, I will let you persuade me,
though it is against my better judgment,"
Like a feather in a whirlwind the little boat
was tossed on the tumultuous sea, but, borne
on the blast that swept the cruel surge, the
shrieks of those shipwrecked sailors seemed
to change her weak sinews into cords of steel.
Strength hitherto unsuspected came from
somewhere, and the heroic girl pulled one
oar in even time with her father. At length
the nine were safely on board. " God bless
you; but ye're a bonny English lass," said
one poor fellow, as he looked wonderingly
upon this marvelous girl, who that day had
done a deed which added more to England's
glory than the exploits of many of her mon-
archs.

" If you will let me try, I think I can make
something that will do," said a boy who had
been employed as a scullion at the mansion of
Signor Faliero, as the story is told by George
Gary Eggleston. A large company had been
invited to a banquet, and just before the
hour the confectioner, who had been making a
large ornament for the table, sent word that



MAN AND THE OPPORTUNITY 7

he had spoiled the piece. " You ! " exclaimed
the head servant, in astonishment ; " and who
are you ? " "I am Antonio Canova, the grand-
son of Pisano, the stone-cutter," replied the
pale-faced little fellow.

" And, pray, what can you do ? " asked the
major-domo. " I can make you something
that will do for the middle of the table, if
you'll let me try." The servant was at his
wits' end, so he told Antonio to go ahead
and see what he could do. Calling for some
butter, the scullion quickly molded a large
crouching lion, which the admiring major-
domo placed upon the table.

Dinner was announced, and many of the
most noted merchants, princes, and noblemen
of Venice were ushered into the dining-room.
Among them were skilled critics of art work.
When their eyes fell upon the butter lion,
they forgot the purpose for which they had
come in their wonder at such a work of
genius. They looked at the lion long and
carefully, and asked Signor Faliero what
great sculptor had been persuaded to waste
his skill upon such a temporary material,
Faliero could not tell ; so he asked the head
servant, who brought Antonio before the
company.



8 PUSHING TO THE FRONT

When the distinguished guests learned
that the lion had been made in a short time
by a scullion, the dinner was turned into a
feast in his honor. The rich host declared
that he would pay the boy's expenses under
the best masters, and he kept his word.
Antonio was not spoiled by his good for-
tune, but remained at heart the same simple,
earnest, faithful boy who had tried so hard
to become a good stone-cutter in the shop of
Pisano. Some may not have heard how the
boy Antonio took advantage of this first
great opportunity ; but all know of Canova,
one of the greatest sculptors of all time.

Weak men ivait for opportunities, strong
men make them.

" The best men," says E. H. Chapin, " are
not those who have waited for chances but
who have taken them ; besieged the chance ;
conquered the chance; and made chance the
servitor."

There may not be one chance in a million
that you will ever receive unusual aid; but
opportunities are often presented which you
can improve to good advantage, if you will
only act.

The lack of opportunity is ever the excuse
of a weak, vacillating mind. Opportunities!



MAN AND THE OPPORTUNITY 9

Every life is full of them. Every lesson in
school or college is an opportunity. Every
examination is a chance in life. Every pa-
tient is an opportunity. Every newspaper
article is an opportunity. Every client is an
opportunity. Every sermon is an opportu-
nity. Every business transaction is an op-
portunity, — an opportunity to be polite, — an
opportunity to be manly, — an opportunity to
be honest, — an opportunity to make friends.
Every proof of confidence in you is a great
opportunity. Every responsibility thrust upon
your strength and your honor is priceless.
Existence is the privilege of effort, and w^hen
that privilege is met like a man, opportunities
to succeed along the line of your aptitude
will come faster than you can use them. If a
slave like Fred Douglass, who did not even
own his body, can elevate himself into an
orator, editor, statesman, what ought the poor-
est white boy to do. who is rich in opportuni-
ties compared with Douglass?

It is the idle man, not the great worker,
who is always complaining that he has no
time or opportunity. Some young men will
make more out of the odds and ends of op-
portunities which many carelessly throw-
away than others will get out of a whole life-



10 PUSHING TO THE FRONT

time. Like bees, they extract honey from
every flower. Every person they meet, every
circumstance of the day, adds something
to their store of useful knowledge or per-
sonal power.

" There is nobody whom Fortune does not
visit once in his life," says a cardinal ; " but
when she finds he is not ready to receive her,
she goes in at the, door and out at the win-
dow."

Cornelius Vanderbilt saw his opportunity
in the steamboat, and determined to identify
himself with steam navigation. To the sur-
prise of all his friends, he abandoned his
prosperous business and took command of one
of the first steamboats launched, at a salary of
one thousand dollars a year. Livingston and
Fulton had acquired the sole right to navi-
gate New York waters by steam, but Van-
derbilt thought the law unconstitutional, and
defied it until it was repealed. He soon be-
came a steamboat owner. When the govern-
ment was paying a large subsidy for carrying
the European mails, he offered to carry them
free and give better service. His offer was
accepted, and in this way he soon built up
an enormous freight and passenger traffic.

Foreseeing the great future of railroads in



MAN AND THE OPPORTUNITY ii

a country like ours, he plunged into railroad
enterprises with all his might, laying the
foundation for the vast Vanderbilt system of
to-day.

Young Philip Armour joined the long
caravan of Forty-Niners, and crossed the
" Great American Desert " v^ith all his pos-
sessions in a prairie schooner drawn by
mules. Hard w^ork and steady gains care-
fully saved in the mines enabled him to
start, six years later, in the grain ana ware-
house business in Milwaukee. In nine years
he made five hundred thousand dollars. But
he saw his great opportunity in Grant's or-
der, " On to Richmond." One morning in
1864 he knocked at the door of Plankinton,
partner in his venture as a pork packer. " I
am going to take the next train to New
York," said he, " to sell pork ' short.' Grant
and Sherman have the rebellion by the throat,
and pork will go down to twelve dollars a
barrel." This was his opportunity. He went
to New York and offered pork in large quan-
tities at forty dollars per barrel. It was
eagerly taken. The shrewd Wall Street
speculators laughed at the young Westerner,
and told him pork would go to sixty dollars,
for the war was not nearly over. Mr. Ap



12 PUSHING TO THE FRONl"

mour, however, kept on selling. Grant con-
tinued to advance. Richmond fell, pork fell
with it to twelve dollars a barrel, and Mr.
Armour cleared two millions of dollars.

John D. Rockefeller saw his opportunity
in petroleum. He could see a large popula-
tion in this country with very poor lights. Pe-
troleum was plentiful, but the refining proc-
ess was so crude that the product was infe-
rior, and not wholly safe. Here was Rockefel-
ler's chance. Taking into partnership Samuel
Andrews, the porter in a machine shop where
both men had worked, he started a single
barrel " still " in 1870, using an improved


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Online LibraryOrison Swett MardenPushing to the front; or, Success under difficulties; a book of inspiration and encouragement to all who are struggling for self-elevation along the paths of knowledge and of duty → online text (page 1 of 16)