Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/389

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IN 1877 a prominent Chicago law firm advertised for an office-messenger. In response, more than six hundred college-bred and academy-taught boys applied for the position. In the same year, in the same city, a man engaged in trade put a very inconspicuous advertisement—with no indication that his was a large and old-established house—into an inconspicuous column of a daily paper, calling for the services of an office-boy and messenger. More than three hundred answers were received—many of them from grown men, some of them coming into the category "educated" as commonly understood. Much later than the above date, the position of book-keeper and confidential clerk to a down-town merchant in New York suddenly became vacant. He advertised; more than two hundred applicants responded. "Which one did you take?" queried the person to whom he was relating the incident. "Not any of them; for the fact was that, on my way to my business, I learned of the sudden death of a man in a business similar to my own. I knew that his affairs would have to be closed up, and I knew that he had just the man I wanted—one who understood the ins and outs of the business to perfection; so I just stopped and told the clerk, who was at the moment closing up and putting crape on the door, that when he was at liberty I wished an interview with him, and I thought it might result to his advantage. In a few days he came, and he suits me to a dot." One of these cities it will be noticed was in the young and growing West, the other was in the older and presumably more crowded East.

No doubt these incidents can be matched in most of the large cities of the country, and what is their moral? What message do they convey to the well-wisher of his country or his race? What was the matter with these so-called "educated" men that they could find no place in one of the busiest spots on earth; and why did the merchant ignore his two hundred replies?

Perhaps we need to revise our ideas of what education consists in, and certainly the merchant demanded trained faculty, and instantly seized upon it because he knew that he was getting it.

College education, simply of itself, no longer gives a man that pre-eminently superior position that it once did; in addition, he must be able to bring his faculties to bear among the practical and pushing men by whom he is surrounded, or he will be relegated to the limbo of learned incapables, whose pathetic stories come to the surface daily in the column "Situations wanted—males."