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Movies
Firefox : America's ace pilot penetrates Russian security and races against time to steal the Firefox, the world's most devastating aircraft - a futuristic MiG-31 that flies at six times the speed of sound and is armed with weapons triggered by pilot brain waves. A spectacular thousand-mile dogfight climaxes the thriller directed by star Clint Eastwood
[City of Angels]
[The Mask of Zorro]
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The University of Hard Knocks
[Books] > The University of Hard Knocks
**The Project Gutenberg Etext of The University of Hard Knocks**
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The University of Hard Knocks
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The University of Hard Knocks
"Sweet are the uses of adversity;
MORE than a million people have sat in audiences in all parts of
the United States and have listened to "The University of Hard
kinds of audiences. Ralph Parlette is kept busy year after year
of many deliveries.
shake the hand of every person who has sat in my audiences. And I
wish I could tell the lecture committees of America how I
appreciate the vast amount of altruistic work they have done in
bringing the audiences of America together. For lecture audiences
The warm reception given "The University of Hard Knocks" by the
public, has encouraged the publishers to put more of Mr. Parlette's
are now in preparation as this, the third edition of "The
University of Hard Knocks" comes from the press.
The University of Hard Knocks
I. THE BOOKS ARE BUMPS--Every bump a lesson--Why the two kinds of
bumps--Description of University--"Sweet are the uses of
II. THE COLLEGE OF NEEDLESS KNOCKS, the bumps that we bump
into--Getting the coffee-pot--Teaching a wilful child--Bumps make
III. THE COLLEGE OF NEEDFUL KNOCKS, the bumps that bump into
ones shake up and the little ones shake down--The barrel of life
people--A glimpse of Gunsaulus
VI. THE PROBLEM OF "PREPAREDNESS"--Preparing children for
children--The story of "Gussie" and "Bill Whackem"--Schools and
Menace of America not swollen fortunes but shrunken souls--
Helping the turkeys killed them--the happiness of work we love--
Amusement drunkards--Lure of the city--Strong men from the
Must save the home towns--A school of struggle--New School
VII. THE SALVATION OF A "SUCKER"--You can't get something for
experience--Theory and practice--Tuning the strings of life
VIII. LOOKING BACKWARD--Memories of the price we pay--My first
school teaching--Loaning the deacon my money--Calling the roll of
my schoolmates--At the grave of the boy I had envied--Why Ben Hur
but stop--Few go on south--The plague of incompetents--Today our
principle, not praise--Doing duty for the joy of it--Becoming the
"Father of Waters"--Go on south forever!
you some of the multiplication table of life--not mine, not yours
lecture go differently before every audience. The kind of an
audience is just as important as the kind of a lecture. A cold
When I was a boy we had a barrel of sorghum in the woodshed. When
the woodshed to get a bucket of sorghum from that barrel.
I have brought a barrel of sorghum to this audience. The name of
the sorghum is "The University of Hard Knocks." I can only pull the
of this audience. You can have all you want of it, but to get it to
it. How much any one gets out of a lecture depends also upon the
size of the bucket he brings to get it in. A big bucket can get
That often explains why one person says a lecture is great, while
the next person says he got nothing out of it.
Here is a great mass of words and sentences and pictures to express
two or three simple little ideas of life, that our education is our
promote mental digestion like more bulk in the way of pictures and
discussions of these truths. Here is bulk as well as nutriment.
I believe in the Angel of Good inside every block of human marble.
I believe it must be carved out in The University of Hard Knocks.
see more of the Angel in you.
The University of Hard Knocks
THE greatest school is the University of Hard Knocks. Its books are
matter with us, so that we do not learn the lesson of the bump we
Some of us learn to go forward with a few bumps, but most of us are
The tuition in the University of Hard Knocks is not free.
Experience is the dearest teacher in the world. Most of us spend
our lives in the A-B-C's of getting started.
There are two kinds of people--wise people and fools. The fools are
The playground is all of God's universe.
The Need of the Bumps
"Sweet are the uses of adversity;
get preachers to preach sermons, and they build houses out of
happy that I am learning the sweet tho painful lessons of the
University of Adversity. I am happy that I am beginning to listen.
preaching and every running brook the unfolding of a book.
But if you will remember some of these things, they will feel like
two kinds of bumps--bumps that we need and bumps that we do not
We discover, in other words, that The University of Hard Knocks has
two colleges--The College of Needless Knocks and The College of
The College of Needless Knocks
There comes a vivid memory of one of my early Needless Knocks as I
That day they had the little joy and sunshine of the family in his
high-chair throne right up beside the dinner table. The coffee-pot
I became enamored with that coffee-pot. I decided I needed that
coffee-pot in my business. I reached over to get the coffee-pot.
And that day when I wanted the coffee-pot--I did want it. Nobody
how I desired that coffee-pot. "One thing thou lackest," a
coffee-pot--
I stopped it. I got the coffee-pot. I know I got the coffee-pot. I
got it. I got about a gallon of the reddest, hottest coffee a bad
applebutter on me--and coal oil and white-of-an-egg and starch and
anything else the neighbors could think of. They would bring it
over and rub it on the little joy and sunshine of the family, who
pleased. She told me not to get the coffee-pot and then let me get
the most kind and effective way to rear one stubborn boy I know of.
The neighbors and the ladies' aid society often said my mother was
kind of an insect mother was trying to raise. Mother did know. She
"side of the house."
notice upon me, and then let me go ahead and get my coffee-pot.
coffee-pot would spill upon me. I cannot remember when I disobeyed
my mother that a coffee-pot of some kind did not spill upon me, and I
got my blisters. Mother did not inflict them. Mother was not much of an
And thru the bumps we learn that The College of Needless Knocks
runs on the same plan. The Voice of Wisdom says to each of us,
"Child of humanity, do right, walk in the right path. You will be
We get off the right path. We go down forbidden paths. They seem
It wasn't my fault--all my bumps and coffee-pots! I was just
to learn the lesson of the bump and find the right path, so that
The other day I watched a blind man go down the aisle of the car to
get off the train. Did you ever study the walk of a blind man? He
line of least resistance, depend upon it you are going downward.
Look over your community. Note the handful of brave, faithful,
getting in the way of the pushers.
brave minority of thinking, self-sacrificing people that decides
the tomorrow of communities that go upward. Majorities are not
Human life is the story of the Prodigal Son. We look over the fence
of goodness into the mystery of the great unknown world beyond and
Down the great white way of the world go the million prodigals,
They just must get their coffee-pot!
The last thing Mamma Fly said as Johnny went off to the city was,
several minutes. But when he sees all the smart young flies of his
right, of course, but she isn't up-to-date. We young set of modern
You see Johnny fly back and forth and have the time of his
so soft and soothing!"
First he puts one foot down and pulls it out. That is a lot of fun.
flypaper. It is a fine place to stick around. All his young set of
Most of them stay. They just settle down into the stickiness
The tuition in The College of Needless Knocks is very high indeed!
The world loves to write resolutions of respect. How often we
There is a good deal of suicide charged up to Providence.
The College of Needful Knocks
BUT occasionally all of us get bumps that we do not bump into. They
were bumped. Some of you in this audience are just now wondering
are lessons in The College of Needful Knocks. They point upward to
most of these knocks--who have faced the great crises of life and
have been tried in the crucibles of affliction. For I am learning
The Sorrows of the Piano
see you. You are so shiny, beautiful, valuable and full of music,
Did you get the meaning of that, children? I hope you are green.
The Sufferings of the Red Mud
One day I was up the Missabe road about a hundred miles north of
hole--about a half-mile of hole. There were steam-shovels at work
throwing out of that hole what I thought was red mud.
"Kind sir, why are they throwing that red mud out of that hole?" I
of this same red mud. It had been moved over the Great Lakes and
of which being The College of Needful Knocks for Red Mud.
Then they pulled the plug out of the bottom of the college and held
Some of the pig iron went into another department, a big teakettle,
Some of the sophomore steel went up into another grade where it was
roasted yet again and rolled thin into a junior. Some of that went
If a ton of that red mud had become watch-springs or razor-blades,
the price had gone up into thousands of dollars.
a larger life. The diamond and the chunk of soft coal are exactly the
of Needful Knocks more than has her crude sister of the coal-scuttle.
crucibles of affliction. There is no gold that has not been refined
right down to the foot of the platform. The subject was The
University of Hard Knocks. Presently the cripple's face was shining
said. "I have been in pain most of my life. But I have learned all
well-gowned. She lived in one of the finest homes in the city. She
What would you have said? Just on the spur of the moment--I said,
The cripple girl had traveled ahead of her jealous mother. For
Schools of Sympathy
When I see a long row of cots in a hospital or sanitarium, I want
precious lessons of patience, sympathy, love, faith and courage.
more than tables of logarithms. Only those who have suffered can
sympathize. They are to become a precious part of our population.
are truly new chapters of our education if we are willing to learn
We think this is true of the good things that come to us, but we do
not want to think so of the bad things. Yet we grow more in lean
prosperity do not often travel hand-in-hand. When we become
materially very prosperous, so many of us begin to say, "Is not
Think of what might happen to you today. Your home might burn. We
look out! Some of your friends would say, "I am so sorry for you.
for it is not true. The old enemy of humanity wants you to believe
The truth is, another chapter of your real education has been
opened. Will you read the lesson of the Needful Knocks?
Out of the trenches of the Great War come nations chastened by
sacrifice and purged of their dross.
NOW as we learn the lessons of the Needless and the Needful Knocks,
a picture of it.
track was a grocery with a row of barrels of apples in front. There
was one barrel full of big, red, fat apples. I rushed over and got
a sack of the big, red, fat apples. Later as the train was under
All I could figure out was that there was only one layer of the
have reached to the bottom, for he gave me the worst mess of runts
Man of sorrows, you have been slandered. It never occurred to me
need to do it. It does itself. It is the shaking of the barrel that
in the Black Swamp of Ohio we had corduroy roads. Did you ever see
a corduroy road? It was a layer of logs in the mud. Riding over it
was the poetry of motion! The wagon "hit the high spots." And as I
hauled a wagon-bed full of apples to the cider-mill over a corduroy
of my pocket and the little ones would rattle down to the bottom.
big ones and some little things of about the same density in a box
you cannot change the place of one of the objects.
inside of it you see two sizes of objects--a lot of little white
Equality of position demands quality of size. Let the little one
The Shaking Barrel of Life
O, fellow apples! We are all apples in the barrel of life on the
way to the market place of the future. It is a corduroy road and
In other words, all the people of the world are in the great barrel
of life. That barrel is shaking all the time. Every community is
shaking, every place is shaking. The offices, the shops, the
live or work is shaking. Life is a constant survival of the
barrel of life. It is sending small people down and great people
the eternal law of life.
our train of destiny will run off and leave us, and we will have no
Kings and Queens of Destiny
you and I are not helpless victims of blind fate. We are not
creatures of chance. We have it in our hands to decide our destiny
Each person is doing one of three things consciously or
shops, offices or elsewhere, if you want to hold your place you
of people working for me, I would have a jar in my office filled
with various sizes of objects. When an employee would come into the
office and say, "Isn't it about time I was getting a raise?" I
Luck does not depend upon the direction of the bump, but upon the
size of the bump-ee!
to size. Every business concern can tell you stories like that of
the Chicago house where a number of young ladies worked. Some of
girl from the country. It was her first office experience, and she
"Is not she the limit?" they oft spake one to another. She was. She
rules of the union! Without being told, mind you. She had that rare
Within three months every other girl in that office was asking
questions of the little Dutch girl. She had learned more about
the most capable girl in the office.
The barrel did the rest. Today she is giving orders to all of them,
for she is the office superintendent.
Going out of the building, I asked the foreman, "Do you see that
He is one of the kindest-hearted men we ever had in the works, but
So books could be filled with just such stories of how people have
Some of us begin life on the top branches, right in the sunshine of
Some of us begin down in the shade on the bottom branches, and we
do not even get invited. We often become discouraged as we look at
And afterwhile we are all in the barrel of life, shaken and bumped
about. There the real people do not often ask us, "On what branch
of that tree did you grow?" But they often inquire, "Are you big
appear to have about the same round of duties.
routine of life must every day flash a new attractiveness. We must
smaller. The joy and juice go out of our lives. We shrivel and rattle.
The success, joy and glory of life are in learning, growing, going
competitors. The minister must be getting larger visions of the
I shiver as I see the pages of school advertisements in the
We often think the way to get a great place is just to go after it
many of us expect to get ready in "four easy lessons by mail."
rattling. A testimonial so often becomes a crutch.
Many a man writes a testimonial to get rid of somebody. "Well, I
hope it will do him some good. Anyhow, I have gotten him off my
The Menace of the Press-Notice
Now testimonials and press-notices very often serve useful ends. In
lyceum work, in teaching, in very many lines, they are often useful
to introduce a stranger. A letter of introduction is useful. A
kinds of testimonials.
The danger is that the hero of them may get to leaning upon them.
Then they become a mirror for his vanity instead of a monitor
progress by reading my press-notices instead of listening to the
verdict of my audiences. I avoided frank criticism. It would hurt
Alas! How often I have learned that when I did return the hall that
editors of America--God bless them! They are always trying to boost
a home enterprise--not for the sake of the imported attraction but
for the sake of the home folks who import it.
yourself go by"--when you can keep still and see every fibre of you
rejoice, for the kingdom of success is yours.
succeeded by twice as many more. They fail because instead of
The victims of the artificial uplift cannot stay uplifted. They
rattle back, and "the last estate of that man is worse than the
wants you to license him and professionalize him as a beggar.
And so every day that beggar got to be more of a beggar. The public
hopeless cripple. No doubt he belonged after a few days of the
as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise
Artful Dodger of Section Sixteen. When the whistle would blow--O,
the section-house, why I was not president of that bank. I wondered
why I was not sitting upon one of those mahogany seats instead of
rich wasn't getting richer and the poor poorer, I'd be president of a
Did you ever hear that line of conversation? It generally comes
I am so glad now that I did not get to be president of the bank.
wanted them! They would have been coffee-pots. Thank goodness, we
do not get the coffee-pot until we are ready to handle it.
And this blessed old barrel of life is just waiting and anxious to
greatness is merely an incidental reflection of the inside.
in inches, dollars, acres, votes, hurrahs, or by any other of the
Come, let us grow greater. There is a throne for each of us.
the world is in the business of getting--getting great fortunes,
folderol. Afterwhile the poor old world hears the empty rattle of
I weary of the world's pink-sheet extras about "Getting to the Top"
and "Forging to the Front." Too often they are the sordid story of
a few scrambling over the heads of the weaker ones. Sometimes they
are the story of one pig crowding the other pigs out of the trough
The Secret of Greatness
top." Those two sons of Zebedee wanted to have the greatest places
"Are ye able to drink of the cup?" Then he gave the only definition
of greatness that can ever stand: "Whosoever will be great among
This is the Big Business of life--going up, getting educated,
is little business. Much of it mighty little.
Everybody's privilege and duty is to become great. And the joy of
to go off to New York or Chicago or go chasing around the world to
are now upward for an infinite number of steps.
We must take the first step now. Most of us want to take the
spectacular stride of a thousand steps at one leap. That is why we
workshop or our office and take the first step, solve the problem
blessings, we find love, the universal solvent, shining out of our
of earth are born; they rush in from the cold lands to the warm
We find our kitchen or workshop or office becoming a new throne
of power. We find the world around us rising up to call us blessed.
Generally speaking, the smaller our vision of our work, the more we
ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." That great ocean is
have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she
of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had."
Tho the rich men had cast in more, yet it was only a part of their
Master cared little what the footings of the money were in the
fear of want.
advancement of the kingdom of happiness on earth shall find it
upon the percentage of our output to our resources. Upon doing with
The world says some of us have golden gifts and some have copper
gifts. But when we cast them all into the treasury of right
to make a roster of the great people of a community. You will find
service of God is the service of man.
The great people of the community serve and sacrifice for a better
They rarely get thanked, for the community does not often think of
thanking them until it comes time to draft the "resolutions of
I had to go to the mouth of a coal-mine in a little Illinois town,
the tickets and had done all the managing. He was superintendent of
the Sunday school. He was the storm-center of every altruistic
strut and pose in the show places. Few of them are "prominent
A Glimpse of Gunsaulus
he founded by his own preaching. He is the mainspring of so many
think that a vacation means going off somewhere and stretching out
history of each place, and before dinner he knew more about the
place than most of the natives.
were doing nothing. In every town he would discover somebody of
once ask the price of land, nor where there was a good investment
doesn't the doctor take care of himself, instead of taking care of
the by-products. His life of service for others makes him
This Chicago man gives his life into the service of humanity, and
things he does. Let him stop and "take care of himself," and his
If he had begun life by "taking care of himself" and "looking out
the backwoods of Morrow county, Ohio.
Gunsaulus often says, "You are planning and saving and telling
The Problem of "Preparedness"
THE problem of "preparedness" is the problem of preparing children
for life. All other kinds of "preparedness" fade into
insignificance before this. The history of nations shows that their
strength was not in the size of their armies and in the vastness
of their population and wealth, but in the strength and ideals
of the individual citizens.
Then, forgetful of how they became strong, they plan to take away
generally means getting out of his way. Many an orphan can be
will buy any brand they see--buy the home brand of education, or
else send off to New York or Paris or to "Sears Roebuck," and get
a bucketful or a tankful of education. If they are rich enough,
maybe they will have a private pipeline of education laid to their
until they get them full of education. They are going to get them
acquired in a life of struggle." As well expect the athlete to give
them his physical development he has earned in years of exercise.
acquired in years of practice. As well expect the scholar to give
them the ability to think he has developed in years of study. As
in a long life of prayer.
The Story of "Gussie"
great, dirty mill and a lot of little dirty houses around the mill.
The hands lived in the little dirty houses and worked six days of
There was a little, old man who went about that mill, often saying,
"I hain't got no book l'arnin' like the rest of you." He was the
man who owned the mill. He had made it with his own genius out of
The little old man often said, "I'm going to give that boy the best
export, he sent the boy to one of the greatest universities in the
blindness of his love he robbed his boy of his birthright.
The birthright of every child is the opportunity of becoming
great--of going up--of getting educated.
from Texas goes thru Mr. Armour's institute of packnology in
and receives it. There is a row of professors with their sleeves
rolled up who give him the degrees. So as Mr. T. Steer of Panhandle
eternal cold storage, each professor hits him a dab. He rides along
done and the paint was dry. He was a thing of beauty.
crape hanging on the office door. Men and women stood weeping in
a wreck. The monument of a father's lifetime was wrecked in two
had a new kind of boss. If I were to give the new boss a
of the wrecked mill, they simply had to appoint Hon. William Whackem.
fool of Gussie. They said Bill succeeded so well because he never
went to one of "them highbrow schools." I am sorry to say I thought
But now I see that Bill went up in spite of his handicaps. If he
The book and the college suffer at the hands of their friends. They
Gussie was in the position of a man with a very fine equipment of
acquired these elements of greatness in their lives.
That is why they say, "All my life I have been handicapped by lack of
machine from a few bits of junk. But send him to Westinghouse and
just one series of greater commencements.
school of service and write your education in the only book you
ever can know--the book of your experience.
The Tragedy of Unpreparedness
The story of Gussie and Bill Whackem is being written in every
tragedy of our American civilization today.
fine homes and large bank accounts, so often think they can give
A man heard me telling the story of Gussie and Bill Whackem, and he
went out of my audience very indignant. He said he was very glad
has his head bowed in shame over the career of his spoiled son.
I rarely tell of it on a platform that at the close of the lecture
gibbeted in the pulpits as the shocking example of youthful
a man. He seems to have been robbed of his birthright from the
cradle. Yet the father of this boy who has cost America millions in
court and detention expenses was one of the greatest business
generals of the Keystone state. He could plat great coal empires
and command armies of men, but he seems to have been pitifully
ignorant of the fact that the barrel shakes.
the training of their children. Poverty is a better trainer for the rest.
The menace of America lies not in the swollen fortunes, but in the
how few of our strong men get their start with steam heat?
take care of me, and when they are gone I'll inherit everything
earn for yourself, is robbing you of your birthright.
insect struggling inside the cocoon. It was trying to get out of
struggle. For it was this struggle of breaking its own way out of
lie down to sleep, then another day of the same grind, then a year
of it and years following until our machine is worn out and on the
of the whip. Such a worker is the horse we used to have hitched to
But getting a vision of life, and working to grow upward to it,
to crack and the little turkeys began to stick their heads out of
the shells. Some of the little turkeys came out from the shells all
right, but some of them stuck in the shells.
hand." So I picked the shells off. "Little turkeys, you will never
Did I help them? I killed them, or stunted them. Not one of the turkeys
was "right" that I helped. They were runts. One of them was a regular
The cards are against him. He must succeed in spite of his "advantages."
character, for the joy of having a larger life. I am pleading with
you to know the joy of overcoming and having the angels come and
instead of by shaking up.
Happiness is the joy of overcoming. It is the delight of an
expanding consciousness. It is the cry of the eagle mounting
upward. It is the proof that we are progressing.
We find happiness in our work, not outside of our work. If we
me into "taking care" of myself. And I got to taking such good care
of myself and watching for symptoms that I became a physical wreck.
almost every day of the year--maybe two or three times some
day is jam full of play and vacation and good times. The year is
one round of joy, and I ought to pay people for the privilege of
speaking and writing to them instead of them paying me!
If I did not like my work, of course, I would be carrying a
I have never known a case of genuine "overwork." I have never known
of anyone killing himself by working. But I have known of
This is one species of selfishness.
Many Kinds of Drunkards
What a sad, empty lot of rattlers! Look over the bills of the movies,
look over the newsstands and see a picture of the popular mind,
of mental frog-pond and moral slum our boys and girls wade thru!
are a hundred amusement drunkards to one victim of strong drink.
crowd that finds itself back near the caboose, and as the train of
The Lure of the City
Do you ever get lonely in a city? How few men and women there. A
jam of people, most of them imitations--most of them trying to look
like they get more salary. Poor, hungry, doped butterflies of the
will arise and go to his father's house of wisdom. But there is no
over to contracting another set of muscles.
Go to the bank president's office, go to the railroad magnate's
office, go to the great pulpit, to the college chair--go to any
place of great responsibility in a city and ask the one who fills
the place, "Were you born in this city?"
The reply is almost a monotony. "I born in this city? No, I was
born in Poseyville, Indiana, and I came to this city forty years
He glows as he tells you of some log-cabin home, hillside or
that young person comes to the city and shakes in the barrel among
the weaklings of the artificial life, he rises above them like the
eagle soars above a lot of chattering sparrows.
the farms controls the majority. The red blood of redemption flows
these cities would drop off the map.
for lack of leaders.
But so many of the home towns of America are sick. Many are dying.
It is the lure of the city--and the lure-lessness of the country.
the city mail order house. With rural delivery, daily papers,
country or in the small town. They have the city advantages plus
people in this institution and only a score of guards to keep them
insane. No two of them can agree upon how to get together and how
to break out. So a few of us can hold them."
thinking ever since that about three-fourths of the small towns of
A lot of struggling churches compete with each other instead of
out of a hundred of them will jostle with the straphangers all
Ninety-nine out of a hundred of them might have had a larger
spend its years raising crops of young people for the cities. That
is the worst kind of soil impoverishment--all going out and nothing
than all the city mail order houses.
America is to be great, not in the greatness of a few crowded
cities, but in the greatness of innumerable home towns.
A School of Struggle
Dr. Henry Solomon Lehr, founder of the Ohio Northern University at
Ada, Ohio, one of Ohio's greatest educators, used to say with
He encouraged his students to be self-supporting, and most of them
courses elastic to accommodate them. He saw the need of combining
the school of books with the school of struggle. He organized his
for the military department. His school was one surging mass of
of men and women of uniformly greater achievement.
I believe the most useful schools today are schools of struggle
schools offering encouragement and facilities for young people to
academies and colleges, each with its handful of students around a
teacher, as in the old days of the lyceum in Athens, when the
From these schools came the makers and the preservers of the nation.
to sit in the chairs and speak the last word in every department of
O, how the students of the "dark ages" would have rejoiced to see
this day! Many of them never saw a germ!
personal struggle in the cushions of the "frat" house as back on
not be rows of lithographed cans on the shelves of life. I am
hoping they will not be shorn of their individuality, but will have
All this school machinery is only machinery. Back of it must be
spirit of its teachers are its greatest endowment. And sometimes
The Salvation of a "Sucker"
For that sentence utters one of the fundamentals of life that
underlies every field of activity.
string--the little E string. The trouble is so many of these human
them the full complement of strings for their life symphonies.
lot of discord. The violin is to give music.
the violin must go into the great tuning school of life. Here the
vitalized, what you have written in the book of experience.
All of us are Christopher Columbuses, discovering the same new-old
continents of Truth. That is the true happiness of
idea of them. We hear the preacher utter truths and we say with
little feeling, "Yes, that is so." We hear the great truths of life
consciousness. This joy of discovery is the joy of living.
thing. We could read a thousand descriptions of the sun and not
know the sun as in one glimpse of it with our own eyes.
I used to stand in the row of blessed little rascals in the
hands upon hot stoves and coffee-pots, and had to get many kinds of
taking up a collection of sympathy. "Look at my bad luck!" Fool!
drink from a copper kettle. But I have fed him the fingers of this
of oxen and had said the words. But I have!
barrel always shakes all of one size to one place. You notice
that--in a city all of one size get together.
me out of all I had in about five seconds.
I went over to the other side of the fairgrounds and sat down. That
I am putting these cakes of Wonder Soap in my hat. You see I am
hat. Now who will give me five dollars for the privilege of taking
a cake of this wonderful soap from my hat--any cake you want, gentlemen!"
And right on top of the pile was the cake with the ten wrapped
to lock up. You get the pathos of that--the investments nobody
hear of a rubber plantation in Central America? That was mine.
I had in that drawer my "Everglade" farm. Did you ever hear of the
I had also a bale of mining stock. I had stock in gold mines and
my gold and silver mine stock, I often noticed that it was printed
melon! I have heard that all my life and never got a piece of the rind.
was selling it on his reputation. Favorite dodge of the promoter to
dollar and got back a dollar or two of bonds and a dollar or two of
I pitied his lack of vision. Bankers were such "tightwads." They
had no imagination! Nothing interested me that did not offer fifty
savings into the bottom of the sea.
Then I got a confidential letter from a friend of our family I had
was a friend of our family. "You have been selected because you are
"Because of your tremendous influence you have been selected to go
money for Tom, the friend of our family. But I see now I need not
happened in St. Louis. It is none of your business!
dollars to corner the wheat market of the world. That is all I paid
I have always regarded Tom as one of my great school teachers. I
had made up to that time, for I got the most out of it. I do not
floor. I will not grasp it. Come away, it is a coffee-pot!
Today when somebody offers me much more than the legal rate of
interest I know he is no friend of our family.
If he offers me a hundred per cent. I call for the police!
law of compensation is never suspended. You only own what you earn.
have been selected to receive this bunch of blisters because you
The other night in a little town of perhaps a thousand, a banker
took me up into his office after the lecture in which I had related
some of the above experiences. "The audience laughed with you and
pathetic. It was a picture of what is going on in our own little
I wish you could see the thousands of hard-earned dollars that go
out of our community every year into just such wildcat enterprises
as you described. The saddest part of it is that the money nearly
always goes out of the pockets of the people who can least afford
accumulates by sharp practices or by undue profits never owns it.
The owning is in the understanding of values.
I often think if it takes me thirty-four years to begin to learn
one sentence, I see the need of an eternity.
To me that is one of the great arguments for eternal life--how slowly
that life is one infinite succession of commencements and
decorated and the joy of youth is everywhere. There is a row of
geraniums along the front of the stage and a big oleander on the
"We (hands at half-mast and separating) are rowing (business of
propelling aerial boat with two fingers of each hand, head
up over Alps of difficulty and seeing the Italy of promise and
Did you ever hear a young preacher, just captured, just out of a factory?
But I made the mistake I am trying to warn you against. Instead of
of my experience, I went to the books in my father's library. "As
chunk of Shakespeare and nailed it on page five of my sermon. "List
"cry here." This was the spilling-point of the wet climax. I was to
cry on the lefthand side of the page.
I made my mistake. I got a lot of fine gestures. I got an
grandly than ever to a mirror. Every gesture went off the bat
last man out of the church--and I hurried. But they beat me
out--all nine of them. When I went out the door, the old sexton
peal from that part of your audience unrelated to you.
Out of every thousand books published, perhaps nine hundred of them
do not sell enough to pay the cost of printing them. As you study
been lived. Perhaps the books that fail have just as much of truth
vital impulse. They come out of the author's head. The books that
live must come out of his heart. They are his own life. They come
surging and pulsating from the book of his experience.
The best part of our schooling comes not from the books, but from
But the soul of the artist fainted,
and irrigation and gargling of the throat are merely symptoms of
attended to. She sang that afternoon in the tent, "The Last Rose of
the same tent "The Last Rose of Summer." She had never been to
case of Gussie and Bill Whackem.
cannot sing "The Last Rose of Summer" yet, for you do not know very
much about the first rose of summer. And really, I hope you'll
sing that song, for it is the sob of a broken-hearted woman. Learn
Why do singers try to execute songs beyond the horizon of their
The Success of a Song-Writer
The guest of honor at a dinner in a Chicago club was a woman who is
one of the widely known song-writers of this land. As I had the
"How did you get your songs known? How did you know what kind of
resources. I have had years of struggle. I have been sick and
asks for more of them."
"Just a Wearyin' for You," "His Lullaby" and many more of those
simple little songs so full of the pathos and philosophy of life
No. Books of theory and harmony and expression only teach us how to
the life of the song.
the University of Hard Knocks. She here became the song philosopher
popular heart. And while we have a continual inundation of popular
My friends, I am not arguing that you and I must drink the dregs of
around me in the affairs of everyday life, that none of us will
ever know real success in any line of human endeavor until that
success flows from the fullness of our experience just as the songs
came from the life of Carrie Jacobs-Bond.
The world is full of theorists, dreamers, uplifters, reformers, who
or trampling upon their fellow men they dream of helping. Their
the anvil of experience.
Many of the most brilliant theorists have been the greatest
anything you could think of was discussed, and perhaps the page. He
His conversation was largely made up of classical quotations.
But he was one of the most helpless men I have ever seen in
himself. He could quote a page of John Locke, but somehow the page
a misfit on earth. He was liable to put the gravy in his coffee
of the things in his memory. Since I have grown up I always think
of that man as an intellectual cold storage plant.
The greatest book is the textbook of the University of Hard Knocks,
the Book of Human Experience the "sermons in stones" and the "books
Note the sweeping, positive statements of the young person.
Note the cautious, specific statements of the person who has lived
Tuning the Strings of Life
of Human Experience. Each has a different fight to make and a
different burden to carry. Each one of us has more trouble than
I know there are chapters of heroism in the lives of you older
ones. You have cried yourselves to sleep, some of you, and walked
A good many of you were bumped today or yesterday, or maybe years
Maybe some of you are naturally bright!
of you are going to know the keen sorrow of having the one you
You will see all that seems to make life livable lost out of your
These bumps and tragedies and Waterloos draw the strings of the
unworthy go out of our lives and as peace, harmony, happiness, love
Memories of the Price We Pay
That "Last Day of School"
I walked thirteen miles a day, six and a half miles each way, most of
old back-country "last day of school exhibition"? The people that
great baskets of provender and we had a feast. We covered the
school desks with boards, and then covered the boards with piles of
fried chicken, doughnuts and forty kinds of pie.
Then we had a "doings." Everybody did a stunt. We executed a lot of
back of the ears! And into them! So many of them wore collars that
I can see them speaking their "pieces." I can see "The Soldier of
got up before that "last day of school" audience and opened my
mouth, it was a great opening, but nothing came out. It came out of
was "such a good man" and a "pillar of the church." I used to wonder,
"due at corncutting," as a souvenir of my first schoolteaching.
of its own household.
And he has gotten his lecture out of that home town. The heroes and
could live in that hotel was a superior order of being. But the
hotel has a superior order of vitality.
a picture of the school in that town that had been taken twenty-one
I got a truer perspective of life that night. Did you ever sit
alone with a picture of your classmates taken twenty-one years
A class of brilliant and gifted young people went out to take
charge of the world. They were so glad the world had waited so long
on them. They were so willing to take charge of the world. They
not the one you may be thinking of! No, it was Jim Lambert. He had
As commencement day approached, the committee of the class
appointed for that purpose took Jim back of the schoolhouse and
on the stage back of the oleander commencement night.
goddess at the general delivery window and superintendent of the
stamp-licking department of the home postoffice. The boy who was
wife was speaker of the house.
Most of them were doing very well even Jim Lambert. Jim had become
the head of one of the big manufacturing plants of the South, with
a lot of men working for him. The committee that took him out
They hung a picture of Mr. Lambert in the high school at the last
a bit of cheer from the story of Jim?
the barrel, and now as I called the roll on them, most of them that
Out of that fifty-four, one had gone to a pulpit, one had gone to
almost every note on the keyboard of human possibility had been
struck by the one school of fifty-four.
yet most of them seemed already to have decided their destinies.
that the foolish dreams of success faded before the natural
unfolding of talents, which is the real success. I saw better that
work as a man. The boy who went to the bottom of things in school
was going to the bottom of things in manhood. Which had helped him
to go to the top of things!
Jim Lambert had merely followed the call of talents unseen in him
him! Why was it he could always get the better of me? Well, he went
on trading knives and getting the better of people. Now, twenty-one
teacher's model boy. All the mothers of the community used to say
to their own reprobate offspring, "Why can't you be like Harry?
He'll be President of the United States some day, and you'll be in
believe Mr. Webster defines a model as a small imitation of the
I have said little about the girls of the school. Fact was, at that
way. But I naturally thought of Clarice, our social pet of the
her. Most of the girls who shone with less social luster became the
happy homemakers of the community.
But as I looked into the face of Jim Lambert in the picture, my
heart warmed at the sight of another great success--a sweet-faced
her grace and sweetness thru it all, and the influence of her
a loving father, plenty of money, opportunity and a great career
the town proud of him.
I was the janitor of the schoolhouse. Some of my classmates will
the careers of Frank and the rest of them seemed to begin. They
were going off to college and going to do so many wonderful things.
But the week after commencement I had to go into a printing office,
Many a time as I plugged at the "case" I would think of Frank and wonder
Twenty-one years afterward as I got off the train in the home town,
I had the story of a tragedy--the tragedy of modern unpreparedness.
It was the story of the boy who had every opportunity, but who had
all the struggle taken out of his life. He never followed his
It revived the memory of the story of Ben Hur.
trial at the hands of this world. That is why the great Judge has
he pulls on the oar. Day after day he writhes under the sting of
the lash. Years of the cruel injustice pass. Ben Hur is the
helpless victim of a mocking fate.
office, or wherever we work we seem so often like slaves bound to
the oar and pulling under the sting of the lash of necessity. Life
seems one futureless round of drudgery. We wonder why. We often
stronger forearms. They are bands of steel that swell in the
forearms of Ben Hur. They swing those flying Arabians into the
mistakes in the bookkeeping. As we pull on the oar, so often lashed
interest in the bank account of strength. Sooner or later the time
galleys of life by pulling on the oar.
That is why I thanked God as I stood at the grave of my classmate.
I thanked God for parents who believed in the gospel of struggle,
I am not an example of success.
But I am a very grateful pupil in the first reader class of The
University of Hard Knocks.
THERE is a little silvery sheet of water in Minnesota called Lake Itasca.
"Ole!" you will exclaim, "the lake is leaking. What is the name of
So even the Father of Waters has to begin as a creek. We are at the
It wabbles around thru the woods of Minnesota. It doesn't know
to the place where all of us get sooner or later. The place where
Paul came on the road to Damascus. The place of the "heavenly vision."
get out of the county." That is a fact, but he is not trying to get
out of the county. The Mississippi is only trying to go south.
The Mississippi knows nothing about the Gulf of Mexico. He does not
know that he has to go hundreds of miles south. He is only trying
My friends, here is one of the best pictures I can find in nature
of what it seems to me our lives should be. I hear a great many
Value of a Goal in Life." But the direction is vastly more
we flow. All of us can start! And then go on south!
not at the end of the journey, for there is no end. Success is
It is a divine call--the call of our unfolding talents to be used.
direction he would never have been heard of.
That is why I am making it the slogan of my life--GO ON SOUTH AND
education--and religion. And the only business of life.
So many of those young goslings believe that. They quit and get
canned. They think they have gotten to the Gulf of Mexico when they
have not gotten out of the woods of Minnesota. Go on south!
The Plague of Incompetents
But contentment with present achievement is the damnation of the race.
The mass of the human family never go on south far enough to
Nine out of ten stenographers who apply for positions can write a
think that is being a stenographer, when it is merely a symptom of
Nine out of ten workmen cannot be trusted to do what they advertise
efficient. Many a professional man is in the same class.
Half of our life is spent in getting competents to repair the
botchwork of incompetents.
is the opiate that Nature administers to deaden the pains of mediocrity.
Just because our hair gets frosty or begins to rub off in spots, we
A-B-C's. I do not utter that as a bit of sentiment, but as the
great fundamental of our life. I hope the oldest in years sees that
of your gray hair or baldness. If they get on the inside of the head,
to employ gray-headed men? They have found that so many of them
are the most valuable, for they have the vision and wisdom of many
years and the enthusiasm and "pep" and courage of youth.
person in the pulpit, in the schoolroom, in the office, behind the
"Please don't throw it up to me now. I am just as ashamed of it as
the people on the platform who were contented with their offerings,
were not trying to improve them, and were lost in admiration of
From what I can learn of Methuselah, he never grew past copper-toed
The spectacle of Sarah Bernhardt, past seventy, thrilling and
gripping audiences with the fire and brilliancy of youth, is
acting, for she remains the "Divine Sarah" with no crippling of her
work. She looks younger than many women of half her years. "The
ninety-two was working as hard and hopefully as any man of the
the Odd Fellows' Home near Elkins, where he lived. On the porch of
the home was a row of old men inmates. The senator shook hands with
the face of seven thousand failures. Today he brings forth a
even get on the back page of the Egyptian newspapers till he was
If Moses had retired at seventy-nine, we'd never have heard of him.
pitching horseshoes up the alley and talking about "ther winter of
Imagine Moses living today amidst the din of the high school
orations on "The Age of the Young Man" and the Ostler idea that you
time" when he becomes the leader of the Israelite host.
You are liable to drop off any minute. Here is a pair of slippers.
And keep out of the night air. It is so hard on old folks."
what to do. Watch things happen from now on. Children of
Thursday. They get ready the resolutions of respect--
to General Moses' private office. It is his busy day. They have to
man. You are eighty-five years old and full of honors. We are the
to hold that funeral until I get this work pushed off so I can
irreverence. It is joyful reverence. It is the message to all of
All the multitudes of the Children of Israel died in the Wilderness.
They were afraid to go on south. Only two of them went on south--
Joshua and Caleb. They put the giants out of business.
So another crop of Americans came into the limelight. If we modern
They say nobody loves them. Which is often a fact. Nobody loves the
They say, "Only a few more days of trouble, only a few more
child and I'm not happy now. Them was the best days of my life
the horrors of childhood could not be hired to live it over again.
I wish I could forget many of my childhood memories. I remember the
I often wonder how I ever lived thru my childhood. I would not take
nurture and admiration of the Lord. I am not just sure I quoted
Elder Berry always stayed for dinner. He was one of the easiest men
at the last donation. We had one of those stretchable tables,
I would see mother put on the tallest pile of mashed potatoes you
wonder why we never could have a big dinner but what a lot of
The hungriest one of that assemblage would have to go in the next
was only one piece of chicken left. It was the neck. O, Lord, spare
to another piece of the chicken?"
boy?" He would come over to the remains of Brother Parlette's boy.
He would often put his hand in benediction upon my head.
you are seeing the best days of your life right now as a child."
The dear old liar! I was seeing the worst days of my life. If there
and today is the best day of all. Go on south!
days. Of course, you can be happy as a child. A boy can be happy
more like mine like a piece of sandpaper. There are chapters of
happiness undreamed of in his philosophy.
A child can be full of happiness and only hold a pint. But
must hold a barrel! Go on south. Of course, I do not mean
circumference. But every year we go south increases our capacity
And I have to say that to many questions, "I do not know." I often
They have built a great concrete obstacle clear across the path of
you see the struggle of overcoming the obstacle develops light and
the light and power from the struggle. The great city of St. Louis,
We develop our light and power. We are rivers of light and power,
be developed. So many of us do not understand that. We look
Thank God! You are blessed of Providence. They do not waste the
obstacles. The presence of the obstacles means that there is a lot
of light and power in you to be developed. If you see no obstacles,
The fact that we are not buried is no proof that we are alive. Go
storeboxes. There they are blocking traffic at the postoffice and
the guests stand up. There they are--rows of retired farmers who
They block the wheels of progress and get in the way of the people
trying to go on south. They say of the people trying to do things.
because they "take money outa town." They do not take any of their
last glimpse of the book in the running brook.
is the supreme test of character. That is, Why go on south? Not for
The Mississippi does not resign. He does not tell a tale of woe. He
alchemy of Nature, the Mississippi has taken over all the poison
made it a part of himself. And he is greater and farther south!
Day by day the Father of Waters goes on south, taking them over and
purifying them and making them a part of himself. Nothing can
along such a heart full of the injuries that other people have done
us, that sometimes we are bank to bank full of poison and a menace
we ought to forget. We need schools of memory, but we need schools
of forgettery, even more.
you help the most often are the least grateful in return?
teacher, the editor, the man in office, the business man, the
father and mother--every one who tries to carry on the work of the
valley for praise or blame, for appreciation or lack of it. You do
for outside thanks instead of inside thanks. They were trying to
streamlet starting southward thru the forests of Minnesota, there
writing the first chapter of this wonderful book in the running brook.
life. Father of Waters, you have fought a good fight. You are
conquering gloriously. You bear upon your bosom the commerce of
you get in the right channel, saw you learn the lessons of your
And may we read it into our own lives. May we get the vision of
getting the lessons of the bumps, the strength from the struggle
and thus making it a part of ourselves, and thus growing greater.
Where shall we stop going south? At the Gulf of Mexico?
And when he comes to the end of his physical banks, he pushes on
When you and I come to our Gulf of Mexico, we must push right on
into the great Gulf of the Beyond, to go on south unfolding thru eternity.
HOW often we say, "I wish I had a million!" Perhaps it is a
O, the problem is not how to get money, but how to get rid of
If the burden were lifted from most of us we would go to wreck.
When you hear the orator speak and you note the ease and power of
his work, do you think of the years of struggle he spent in
preparing? Do you ever think of the times that orator tried to
When you hear the musician and note the ease and grace of the
performance, do you think of the years of struggle and overcoming
necessary to produce that finish and grace? That is the story of
the actor, the author and every other one of attainment.
I have builded?" says the Belshazzar of material prosperity as he
that some of us will have to go to jail to do our best work.
Do you remember that Saul of Tarsus would have never been
remembered had he lived the life of luxury planned for him? He had
rising from the ashes of defeat?
Then, children, when you stand in the row of graduates on
O UNIVERSITY OF HARD KNOCKS, we learn to love you more with each
that you are saving us from ourselves. But O, how most of us must
I know no better way to close this lecture than to tell you of a
tho twelve years of my life had dropped out of it, and had been
triangular car that hoists them out of the hungry chasm thirty-five
hundred feet up the side of a granite cliff, to the top of Echo Mountain.
Here they find that Echo Mountain is but a shelf on the side of
Every minute a new thrill, and no two thrills alike. Five miles of
lift. There is a wooden shelf nailed to the side of the perpendicular
rockwall where his life depends upon the honesty of the man who drove
He looks over the edge of the shelf downward, and then turns to the other
side to look at the face of the cliff they are hugging, and discovers
at the summit of Mount Lowe is to get a picture so wonderful it
feet, more than a mile, into the orange belt of Southern California.
It spreads out below in one great mosaic of turquoise and amber
field-glass sweeps one panoramic picture of a hundred miles or more.
forty miles is the blue stretch of the Pacific Ocean, on westward
the faint outlines of Catalina Islands. The ocean seems so close
And Mount Lowe is but a shelf on the side of the higher Sierras.
This is one of the workshops of the infinite!
down upon clouds. I thought of the cloud that had covered me in the
over me, and there were millions of miles of sunshine above me. I
the clouds of trouble today, BUT THE SUN IS SHINING!
clearly the plan of a human life. The rocks, the curves and the
struggles fit into a divine engineering plan to soften the
steepness of the ascent. The bumps are lifts. The things that seem
know it was one of the greatest blessings of my life. It closed one
Late that day I was clambering down the side of Mount Lowe. Down in
lower and lower until his red lips kissed the cheek of the Pacific.
The glory of the sunset filled sea and sky with flames of gold and
fountains of rainbows. Such a sunset from the mountain-side is a
promise of heaven.
The shadows of sunset widened over the valley. Presently all the
up to the summit. The beams of the setting sun were yet gilding
Child of humanity, are you in the storm? Go on upward. Are you in
Some day my night will come. It will spread over all this valley of
shall be in the new day of the mountain-top, forever above the night.
I shall find this mountain-top just another shelf on the side of
the Mountain of Infinite Unfolding. I shall have risen perhaps only
the first mile. I shall have millions of miles yet to rise.
entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared
The Big Business of Life
This book proves that the real big business is that of getting our
Dr. J. G. Crabbe, President of the State Teachers College,
"The Big Business of Life is a real joy to read. It is big and
where. It is truly `A Book of Rejoicing'."
"In The Big Business of Life we have the practical philosophy
secret of living to the full. And happiness is to be sought
a smile, and beneath each one is a bit of wisdom it would do us
a world of good to learn. It recalls the saying of the wise man
Many who have read The Big Business of Life
University of Hard Knocks," which, they add, is
The Salvation of a Sucker
chapters in "The University of Hard Knocks."
John C. Carroll, President of the Hyde Park State Bank of Chicago,
bought 1000 copies of the booklet "It's Up to You!" and of it he
friend. I would rather be author of it than president of the bank."
Employers in every line of business are buying quantities of "It's
William Jennings Bryan says of the booklet "Go On South": "It is
one of the great stories of the day."
Charles Grilk of Davenport, says: "My two children and I read the
Instruct us to send one of these booklets to your friends. It will
End of Project Gutenberg etext of "The University of Hard Knocks"

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