Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 129.djvu/646

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other remarkable qualities. Only, being necessarily more ordinary in appearance, they are much less striking. Every really great man of business must have sufficient of the ordinary world in him to know it well, and to know some of its characteristics very much better than other people. A confident mastery of even one or two secrets of the business world, unspoiled by any compensating deficiency anywhere else, may be enough to make such wealth as Mr. Stewart's; but then a confident mastery of such secrets, without any compensating deficiency anywhere else, is very rare. Mr. Stewart's really rarest capacity perhaps consisted in the absence of any compensating deficiency to spoil such capacity as he had. A great many men have a keen grasp of one or two aspects of business which would ensure them wonderful success, but then with this capacity comes, unfortunately, some corresponding deficiency, some lightness of head when success is attained, some childish confidence in trivial indications of the future, some excess of trust in others, which breaks the back of success, or even ends in a great failure. Minds of large capacity are very apt to relieve themselves by some safety-valve of folly, and if the folly is important, it limits or destroys their success. Mr. Stewart himself seems to have had a private superstition, which might have had this result, if he had not had the good sense to know that it was not a thing to act upon except when he could control all the consequences. He had a notion that certain people were unlucky to deal with, and that if you opened a case of goods for an "unlucky" person, you were sure to lose by that case of goods in the end. Fortunately for him, he also knew that it was much better to open a case of goods for an unlucky person, even if he should lose by that case in the end, than to get any reputation for caprice. And thus his private folly did not undermine his capacity for success. But superstitions about luck, if acted upon, in place of sound principles, by a man of very large means, would be very certain to undo him before long. It is said that Mr. Stewart's superstition was so living, however, that he persuaded himself that an old applewoman, who sold apples and begged before his first store, was essential to his success, and that he carried her orange-box with his own hands and placed it before his second and larger store, rather than risk the chance of losing her. That was a perfectly safe outlet for his superstition, one which could not hurt him. He was too wise to consult the applewoman about his trade-ventures, or his success would have been failure. What made him what he was, was the good sense needful to apprize him where his good sense failed. Great business faculty, then, depends on very ordinary qualities possessed in a very unusual degree, together with this most important negative condition that there shall be no other qualities warmed into life by success to blight the former. Mr. Stewart had this great ordinariness of mind, and had it in such a degree, that when the belief in luck—which is one of the most ordinary forms of superstition for successful men—took hold of him, he prescribed to it safe conditions, and did not allow it to affect the ordinary rules on which he acted. And there was the triumph of bis business judgment—in knowing at once that his business judgment was the thing to trust to, and not the fungus growth of the days of his prosperity.

From The New Quarterly Magazine.


The wonderful stillness characteristic of early dawn in the tropics rested over everything. Not a sound reached my ear, save the distant and indistinct murmur of running water, as I stood watching the western sky, uncertain whether a new day had indeed broken, or whether the white ghostly light shed by the moon had deceived me. Twenty yards away could be seen the sharply-defined outline of one of those great tented wagons peculiar to southern Africa, surrounded by its sleeping oxen and native attendants, the dusky forms of several of whom could just be distinguished by the glowing embers of the smouldering camp-fire. Excepting my own wagon, from which I had just risen, and its surroundings, there was nothing to break the complete solitude of the scene. A sea of long grass, the points of which, wet with the heavy dew of these latitudes, shimmered and sparkled where the rays of the moon, now low down in the sky, fell upon them, covered a level plain which stretched away, seemingly without a break, into the far distance where earth and heaven, half-concealed by a veil of haze, seemed to blend together. It was one of those perfect morning scenes, the remembrance of which never quite fades from the recollection; utter solitude, perfect peace and stillness, the