Popular Science Monthly/Volume 60/February 1902/The College-Man as Leader in the World's Work
|THE COLLEGE-MAN AS LEADER IN THE WORLD'S WORK.|
By Professor R. H. THURSTON,
IN the twentieth century the college-man is, more than ever before, the leader of the world. Mind leads the world; mind ultimately is the ruler of the world. That mind leads the world which is not simply developed into maximum intellectual perfection; it is that mind which, perfected and strengthened and given symmetry and vigor, is also made most thoroughly at one with the world. It is not enough that the man shall be a great scholar, or the greatest of scholars; nor is it enough that he shall represent the highest culture and possess the most vigorous brain; nor can learning, even learning united with wisdom and culture, however magnificent the whole, in union give leadership in this world.
A primary requisite of leadership is close and strong connection with the great world to be led. This union being assured the true leader gains and holds his leadership by the exercise, in unrivaled power and with unequaled tact and judgment, of those talents which have been reinforced by the no less indispensable learning and culture and wisdom; these united confer leadership. Ultimately, also, it must be remembered that the greatest mind can never lead if apart from the world and out of touch with those who are to be led. Any man of good sense and rich in humanity, even though unlearned and without extraordinary genius, will sooner acquire leadership than the wisest and greatest man of genius the world at the time possesses, lacking this firm hold upon those who should follow.
He who would lead must have this compound constitution and must acquire the useful forms of learning and the hardly less valuable forms of culture, for such purposes, and he must cultivate that wisdom and tact and those virile qualities which are all-essential to perfect success. He who would lead must be prepared closely to follow leaders preceding him, and the requisites for following leaders in the front ranks are substantially the same, apart from the peculiar genius of the general of the army, as for leadership itself. And each should be well prepared to follow, each in his proper place, and there to be content while most efficient.
The twentieth century man will unite the qualities of sage and worker and organizer and administrator as has no man before him. Uniting better than in earlier centuries the essentials of the perfect man, he is to do a larger and nobler share of that upbuilding of the nation which shall come with the realization of the prayer of the great American poet:
"Our fathers' God! From out whose hand
The centuries fall like grains of sand.
O! Make thou us, through centuries long,
In peace secure, in justice strong!
Around our gift of freedom draw
The safeguards of our righteous law;
And, cast in some diviner mould.
Let the new cycle shame the old!"
A century ago there was but one recognized form and method of education—what is now termed the classical—composed of studies of the ancient languages and literatures, comparatively lean and narrow as they are; the elementary mathematics, to the extent now attained in the secondary schools; a homeopathic dose of physics and chemistry; a little French; and a somewhat larger, if less palatable dose, of 'philosophy.' The century has been one of extension, broadening, elevation, diversification and systematization of education, and of the incorporation into the curriculum of the modern languages and literatures; the modern physical sciences experimentally developed; the arts, fine and useful, so far as capable of scientific treatment; and the principles and practice of the professional schools, including the latest and most strictly taught of the group, the school of engineering and its associate professional schools of every sort. The whole evolution of the century has been consistent in every field and technical, 'practical,' education is simply one of the elements of a complete and perfect evolution of modern life.
The world now acknowledges its need of the college-man and my own letter files are crowded with calls for competent men far in excess of the number available; while the number seeking even improved situations is small, and I know of none out of work, unless ill. At the top, the space is enlarging, though it is always ample for tip-top men. Formerly positions paying five thousand dollars were rare, now the college-bred man is coming forward when ten-thousand-dollar positions are seeking, and failing to find, the men who are competent to fill them satisfactorily. Generals are, comparatively, still more rare than ever, even though training for generalship is going on at an unprecedented rate and the opportunities are multiplying for great men and good men and capable men as never before.
And among the leaders of the world, nobly rivaling every other, stands the 'Captain of Industry,' now rapidly developing into general and field marshal. Note what this sort of man has done for the world!
The inventive mechanic and the engineer, learned or unlearned, have, in the course of the nineteenth century, given to the world the locomotive and our whole system of general continental and transcontinental transportation, the steamship and all our contemporary ocean and river, freight and passenger lines, the automobile and the beginnings of a new and still more widely helpful system of common highway transportation. They have given us the mowing and reaping machines which have reduced the time and cost of harvesting to a tenth and less of its former value; the seeding and the threshing machines which have done as much in their special fields; the sewing and the knitting machines which have given the sewing woman and the housewife multiplied working power with minimized exertion and reduced working hours. They have provided the power-printing press with its almost miraculous speed and accuracy of printing, counting, folding and binding together the sheets of a metropolitan newspaper 100,000 an hour; the type-setting machine and the linotype, making easy and productive in hardly less degree the labor of the type-setter; the whole machinery of modern textile manufacturers with its multiplied efficiency and the iron and steel industry, the fundamental element of civilization.
The electrician and the mechanical engineer have provided us with the electric current in useful and infinitely pliable form, transmitting energy of all mechanical prime motors from the source, or point of surrender of energy by nature, to the point of application, a mile, ten miles or a hundred miles away, with little loss and with vast convenience and economy. The engineer is even furnishing power for use in transmitting messages over the telegraph wire. In our homes, steam-heat, ventilation and sanitary life come largely of the inventions, the constructions and the operative mechanism of the engineer, who provides the steam-boiler, the water supply, the forced ventilation, all unknown to our fathers, luxuries to many still, but which will become the ordinary and commonplace comforts of the great mass of the people in the coming century.
The mechanic and the engineer have provided us with iron ships and naval armaments, the battle-ship and the torpedo-boat, the 'submarine,' and guns that have a range of ten to twenty miles. They are thus doing practically all that is actually being done, at the time—they have done practically all that has been done during the century—toward making an end of war by making weapons too effective to permit their use by nations except in desperation and under extreme provocation. Under such provocation, in the future as in the past, nations will probably make war; but it is the engineer, probably, who will always prove the effective peacemaker, both by his tremendous power of making war costly of life and property and, especially, by his no less tremendous and vastly more admirable power of making the arts of peace the means of attaining a higher civilization, of advancing the interests of the people, of uniting all peoples in common interests and making political boundaries subordinate to the best interests of all.
Thus has the inventor and the mechanic provided the apparatus of production of a new world and converted by its use barbarism into civilization, light into darkness, developing in slave and drudge soul and intellect and humanity. But it is not enough that the apparatus should be provided; it must be placed in hands competent to use it effectively and the whole modern organization of industries constitutes the no less essential apparatus of utilization. Its armies of workers must be directed by officers of every grade, commissioned and non-commissioned, generals, colonels, majors, captains and lieutenants, sergeants and corporals. Without organization the armies of industry degenerate into mobs and threaten life and property and become entirely incompetent to keep in motion the machinery of production. Well organized, every invention finds its use and every people profits by its employment; production proceeds with increasing efficiency and the world grows comfortable and happiness becomes attainable.
These are the sentiments of that powerful, rough, mainly accurate philosopher, as expressed in his 'Latter-Day Pamphlets, about the middle of the nineteenth century. Carlyle, judging the works of men, would, I am sure, declare that the noblest work of all, in our time or in times to come, shall be adjudged that of the captain of industry, who, in his long life of struggle and of strife, leading armies of men to victories over material things and against obstacles set by ignorance, prejudice, opposing interests and envy and malice, finds employment for thousands, gives the people some essential of the people's life at continually reducing costs with continually rising wages, gathers his millions while giving to the nation hundreds of millions, and then, his struggles and strifes at an end, gives his remaining years to distribution of his wealth in the founding of libraries and to the support of the higher education that he himself may lack. Greater than generals leading armies in battle, nobler than the founder of a family based upon wealth, grander than peer or even less self-abnegating royalty, his example is more inspiring than that of any so-called successful man, in any vocation, in any profession, in any station in life, if the exemplar lacks this splendid impulse to production of higher results in expenditure of wealth than in its accumulation. Name and fame and dignity and station all find eclipse in the greater name and fame and dignity and station of him who thus practically illustrates the workings of the soul of Abou ben Adhem. At the last, indeed, that man shall have all these and more; he shall add to them all that better reward, conviction of having earned the approval of conscience and of all good men, of all honest citizens and every patriot, of all men whose esteem is worth having in this world, and the pronouncement in the next: 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant!'
And what more splendid example, eliciting the finest ambitions of the young men coming after him, can there be than that of a man conquering success by overcoming every obstacle that fate can place in the way of the earnest man, gaining all the rewards of this world, and then—giving all back to the world in ways promoting its highest welfare!
I doubt if there can be one; yet I think I can see a modest rival. Not all men can become generals, colonels, captains in the army of industry; but a small fraction can even secure the sergeantcies. Many a man, starting out with high hopes and splendid promise, confident, brave and efficient, loses his hold upon the essentials of success and must settle back into a life comparatively unfruitful, if not absolutely unsuccessful as judged by our usual standard. Yet such a man may be the grander character, the greater hero. His world may be restricted to his little sphere of minor duty or even to his home; but even there opportunities will come to him, and his character may ripen, his influence broaden, his work ennoble him and all those about him. It is the spirit of the man that makes success and makes all opportunities fruitful, whether leading an army or serving as private in the world of finance, of business of whatever sort, or within the walls of a humble home.
The spirit of the Man with the Muck-rake, happily, is not that which inspires the young man of to-day. He is too intelligent and his thoughts rise to too high a level to be misled by the impulses of the miser; for he who pursues wealth alone, and for itself alone, is simply a miser. However brilliant and however fortunate and whatever the altitude of his position in the world of business, struggling simply for fortune and mere wealth for its own sake means a mean and miserly life. He is the man with the muck-rake. However large his pile of glittering dirt, it rises simply as a memorial to his folly and his vulgar aspirations; it has no more value, unused for noble purposes, than any other mineral, than the most common and the dirtiest of dirt.
Struggling for wealth for a great purpose glorifies the otherwise inglorious contest with all the lowest elements of greed and selfish ambitions and meanness in all its protean forms. Williamson, living a life of almost miserly frugality, seeking and saving and piling up wealth from early manhood to old age, living and dying in apparent penury that he might do a great work at the end, becomes a noble figure when seen by the reflected light of his philanthropy and the fine closing act of that long, inglorious life. The founding of the Williamson School for orphan boys where they can find homes and careful training and apprenticeship to useful trades, and later work with selected masters and employers, is a deed which renders immortal the man whose life seemed so unheroic. That act built for him a memorial that shall last as long as human respect and admiration for heroic deeds and love for self-sacrifice, self-immolation in a good cause, shall endure. He gave opportunity to humble and poverty-laden youth aspiring to educate themselves for their work.
Already we are seeing evidence of the change that is coming and of the value of careful training of the gymnastic and the educational improvement of the man through systematic and scientific instruction and drill. The leaders of even the world of business are educated men, as a rule. Morgan, the leader of finance to-day, is a college-man, a graduate of Göttingen; none of this class of men is likely to advocate the endeavor of a people to become a crowd of wealthy boors rather than a nation of gentlemen, scholars and wise men. The great financiers of the country are now usually college-men; the heads of railways are often of that class, even though they have begun at the foot of the ladder; all distinctively learned men are of that class; our greatest men in literature, science and art are practically all educated and cultivated men; the inventors of the telegraph and the telephone were both educated and, in fact, learned men; all the great men in medicine and surgery are college-men; all the great lawyers and every great jurist on the bench is of the same rating. We make our presidents of learned men and usually of college-men; the same is true of the members of their cabinets, of the judges on the Supreme Court bench, of the chiefs of bureau, and practically all men in highly responsible positions. Our foreign ministers and ambassadors where reflecting special credit upon their country, like Lowell and White and Hay and Choate, have been not only college-men but distinguished for their attainments in the highest fields of academic learning.
In engineering no man will in the coming generation have even an average chance of success professionally, without uniting to the essentials characteristic of a 'general of industry' in generations just past the now hardly less essential requisites furnished him by systematic instruction in the sciences underlying his art and the applied sciences and the scientific methods fundamental to his profession. Now and then a man may get on and even possibly attain a high or leading rank; but it will be at enormous sacrifice of strength, energy and physical vigor; and when he reaches his goal, it will prove that he has gathered 'apples of Sodom' for a 'Barmecide Feast' and he will mourn, as have so many before him, the lack of that which makes a life of independence and of liberty in expenditure worth having. He will probably, as have so many before him, if his long life of self-seeking has not poisoned his character and killed all his sympathies, seek the next best thing and try to help other later youth of ambition and energy secure what he so greatly needs.
While it is largely true, as has been asserted by more than one such man, like the fox in the fable seeking to justify his amputated tail, that the prizes of our time and our country are now being often grasped by the uncultivated and unlearned man, the fact is mainly due to the circumstances that these men of to-day are mainly uneducated through the misfortune that they were born too soon and before higher education had come to be general and suitable to the conditions of modern life. In another generation this situation will be modified in the direction of giving these opportunities to educated men in vastly larger proportion. Meantime, every successful man, lacking education, learning and culture, recognizes to-day, either that he has also lacked wisdom if deliberately declining to secure an education when young, or that he has been extremely unfortunate if deprived of that privilege by force of circumstances. Not a man of them but envies his poorest acquaintance who possesses the essentials of content in a life outside the narrowing and engrossing pursuits of a business life. He lacks preparation for precisely what all his energies have been directed toward—making suitable provisions for a profitable and happy life on a higher plane.
Visiting the famous Homestead steel works, some years ago, the gentleman who was taking me through the mills pointed out a strong, good-looking and evidently masterful man standing on the top of a set of heavy roll-housings in the armor-plate mills and remarked, 'That man is paid more than your college president' and, indicating another who was directing work not far away and who evidently belonged to the same class, the most intelligent of mechanics, he said: 'That man is getting pay exceeding that of any one of your professors.' Both men were soiled and grimy, dressed in overalls and, as occasion arose, ready to take a hand in the work, and to the unaccustomed eye of the casual visitor they would seem to be day-workman; but one familiar with such scenes would instantly detect the bearing and manner of the born general, prepared through natural force of character to command. They were men from the ranks, active, ambitious, good workmen, strong, proud, yet pleasant in their intercourse with all about them, and perfectly well prepared for their places by knowledge, experience and natural fitness.
Why were these skilled mechanics paid the salaries of college presidents and of college professors? The answer is simple: They could make themselves so useful and so necessary in the business that the proprietors could make money by employing them, large as was their compensation. Precisely the same principle operates when the presidents of great corporations receive tens of thousands of dollars as salary, or fifty thousand or a hundred thousand. The directors of such enterprises do not give away a hundred thousand dollars simply out of kindness; their enormous interests compel them to seek out the one fittest man in all the country, the man who is sought by perhaps many other great enterprises as a guide and director, to make those interests safe; identifying him, him they must have at his own price. Similarly, the great leaders in the industries take a few millions of the many which they earn for the people; it is quite fair.
The unlearned and uneducated man will always have his place in this world of ours; but yet he will not hereafter have such opportunities, however great his natural abilities, as he has had in the past. It is sometimes—not very often—said by 'successful' men of this class that the boy who grows up without learning, and who gives his boyhood's years to unskilled labor in shops and factories and mills, may hope for a larger success than he who is taught sound learning or given a 'liberal and practical' education. They speak without foresight or forethought. The world of the coming generations is to be a very different world from that of these last, even as the last generation lived in a very different world from that of their fathers. Education is permeating the whole body politic and rapidly becoming distributed to all ranks in life. For one poor man's son in college a generation ago there are many to-day, and for one hundred years ago there are now the many multiplied, and the man who would succeed, in whatever rank of business life, in whatever profession, must hereafter meet in competition men who, in addition to all the native talent which he possesses, and all the energy, vigor and ambition which he may display, will have a brain stored with knowledge and scientifically cultivated and trained, and thus far better equipped than formerly for successful struggles with the world and for seizing the opportunities and meeting the responsibilities of the highest positions for which all may strive.
This is, in fact, admitted, and it is often asserted by the most wise and able and successful of this very class, and Andrew Carnegie is founding libraries, is promoting technical education and is organizing a great technical institution as the noblest contribution of which he can conceive for the benefit of those working men to whom he owes so much and indebtedness to whom he so freely acknowledges. His great pupil, Mr. Schwab, while encouraging the penniless boy to begin bravely at the bottom and to work hopefully toward the top, still more emphatically declares his respect for learning, and his high estimate of the desirability of more general education, by himself organizing a trade-school for Pittsburgh. A very large part of the work of founding schools and colleges and universities and every form of higher, as well as primary, education, outside the common-school system of the United States, has been already done, and is being performed more and more generally and liberally and generously by this very class of men. Rockefeller builds up Chicago University; Ezra Cornell, uneducated and once in poverty, nevertheless gives all his surplus, once secured, to found a university in which 'any man may find instruction in any study' and interests himself most of all in providing for the poor man's son; Hiram Sibley, owing his millions to the same sturdy, manly and vigorous spirit, fighting his way from the bottom to the top, finds his noblest pleasure in organizing a college in which the education of the young mechanic and engineer may be carried up into the realms of applied science and the highest departments of professional work.
Lawrence and Sheffield, Case and Rose and Rensselaer, and the numerous other great philanthropists who have founded schools and colleges, even the most thoroughly educated and most cultured of all amongst them, it must be remembered, had no such educational opportunities as are offered the young men and women of to-day. The coming generation is to be comparatively highly educated people, and the man who is to succeed in dealing with the new, the modern, man must, more than ever before, have something of that culture. Highest success will only come of education and culture combined with a thorough scientific, professional preparation for the most advanced positions in the industrial or professional organization. In the past generations few men were given, or could be given, even the academic education of the time; to-day, almost any man who has the wish and a real determination to succeed may secure a good education of the kind which he may most desire. In the last generation the competition for the high places and grand prizes, outside the then so-called learned professions, occurred between uneducated men, as a rule; in the generations now coming forward that competition will be between men who have not only the brain and the native talent, but also, and superadded to all that the older type of man possessed, that kind of systematic training which makes the intellectual as well as the physical gynmast, that scientific instruction which provides learning that finds its peculiar use in the industrial departments of life, out of which come, directly or indirectly, all great fortunes.
This is already coming into view as the characteristic change of the time in the making of the personality of the notable man of the time. To-day the educated men are taking their place in the world and their chances of success are, and have long been, vastly greater, in most directions, than those of the uneducated. The proportion of educated men taking their places in history is already fifty times as great as of the uneducated; the next generation will see practically all great prizes in their hands. It is a splendid evidence of the progress of the world that he who chooses may enter the ranks of the educated, and he who will may make himself a man of culture.
As for opportunity to gain the prizes of common life, 'what more can the college-man ask than he now receives? 'One man in a hundred to-day obtains a college diploma; these men supply one third the Members of Congress, one half and more of our presidents and vice-presidents, two thirds of our Supreme Court justices, seven eights of the chief justices. In all ranks, in all great places, the names of immortals are in the proportion of fifty to one, favoring the college-man. If, as asserted by some writers of late, as I however think mistakenly, the proportion of college men to population is falling off, then so much the greater will be the opportunities of the wise. If, as presumably is the fact, college-men are more and more pursuing professional studies, that means the elevation of the professions to a higher level and still larger opportunities for the college-man fitted to lead. To-day, the college-man has thirty times as large an opportunity to succeed in public life as the non-graduate, fifty times as large an opportunity to reach the cabinet, the vice-presidency or the president's chair, sixty or seventy times as large a probability of success in striving for the Supreme Court, eighty or ninety times as favorable chances of becoming Chief Justice.
In the great industries there are probably a still larger proportion of positions which, without the scientific learning and systematic training in applied sciences given by the engineering schools, the most ambitious of men and the most talented could not attain or attaining, could not hold. The coming century will see these opportunities more and more the prize of intellect suitably trained, of mind properly strengthened, of talent precisely outfitted for the task of their acquirement. The college-man will come more and more generally to take and to hold one hundred per cent, of the positions assigned the generals in the great army of industry. This is the more probable since, as is asserted by a foreign and unprejudiced observer, 'The engineering profession is to-day, upon the whole, the best educated in America.'
In all the later centuries until the nineteenth, the college-man seeking to unite with learning and culture, with knowledge and wisdom of the sorts approved by the older academicians, that no less noble and still more helpful learning of the sciences and of the arts of industry, joining the academic with the scientific and the professional, has been at a disadvantage among other college-men. The end of this discrimination among learnings is now in sight, and one of the most striking signs of the times in this direction is the recent action of the Emperor of Germany and his government, and of the Emperor of Austria-Hungary and his officials in ranking the scientific and the professional schools beside the universities.
Many years ago, at the instance of your annalist, was initiated the degree of Doctor in Engineering; later, it has come to be the fact that at least one university has established entire equality between its colleges of arts and sciences, those of applied science and engineering and its professional schools, both in requirements for entrance and in those for graduation, as well as in value of its degrees in those departments of learning. Only recently, the Emperor of Germany has announced the same democracy of learning for his country and the Emperor of Austria-Hungary has followed suit, making the doctorates of engineering and of the applied sciences, and the institutions permitted to confer them, co-equal with the doctorates of philosophy and their conferring universities.
I have wondered whether the presence of our distinguished scholar and teacher, Ex-President White, at the court of Germany has not had some influence in this progress; but, however that may be, the American democracy of learning is now accepted in Europe and the complete emancipation of the universities from the old monastic influence will not be long deferred. The making of the head of the great German 'Polytechnicum' a 'Rector Magnificus' has a great and a most encouraging significance for all nations.
The college-man is he, who, in the days which are now come, when practically every one who wills can secure learning if not wisdom, knowledge if not culture, sees opening before him the largest and most attractive opportunities. Whatever any other man may possess, he has that which permits him to aspire to companionship with, if not leadership of, the greatest and noblest in the land and of the time. Given similar physical vigor, equally strong aspirations, similarly clear and strong intellect, no less refined sense of justice, sympathy and manly brotherhood with men, it is the college-man alone who has the advantage of systematic training of faculties, of most efficient teaching, of scientific knowledge and of highest learning through communion with the greatest men and the loftiest minds of the present and of the past, and who may with greatest confidence undertake the leadership of men. It is the college-man who is best equipped for generalship in the industrial army, for farthest exploration of unknown fields of science, and for loftiest rise in the philosophical world and, even with similar elementary experience and training, for greatest success in the lower, but none the less great, world of money-makers. The twentieth century man will be the college-man, in type, and it will be college-men, as a rule, who may be expected to go farthest and rise highest and to do the great deeds of the coming centuries, whether in finance, in the industries, in political life or in the highest realms of science and the loftiest worlds of morals and philanthropy.
Shame be to him if, with all his advantages, he permits another to wrest from him that leadership by greater desert, by more perfect fitness. Glory be to him if he do his duty and splendidly, as he may, accomplish his grand task!
The college-man is evidently ere long to take charge of our public offices and of the industries and professional departments, and college-men are to find their way into prominent positions as never before; but, fortunately, college-men come from all sorts and conditions of people, and it can never be said that this means the organization of a class to dominate other classes, much less the masses. The sons of poor men, as a rule, always have been, and probably always will be, able to secure these positions oftener than the sons of rich men; for they have the discipline in early life that the latter usually lack. The process of promotion of the college-man is to be one, as well, of constant redistribution of power among all classes, very much as common experience shows the wealth of the country to be as constantly in process of redistribution. The democracy of intellect and the democracy of influence will be insured by this process in the most desirable of all possible ways. The way is now opening to the college-man as never before, and especially the departments of applied science and the industries offer him opportunities beside which those of the college-man in the other professions are insignificant.
In another generation the proportion of men, educated and uneducated, who attain success will be vastly changed, and, happily, the number of men who have reached competence or wealth in their vocations and who must still sigh that they cannot give of their millions to gain the education which they lack will be, probably, comparatively small—for the ambitious poor boy will much more commonly than now find his way to his triumph by way of the college or the professional school. The number of wealthy men who will esteem it a privilege to help on the work of education and to take part in other great works will undoubtedly also steadily increase until, as we may perhaps hope, the redistribution of surplus wealth may become the pleasure and the recognized duty of all.
The college-man, leaving college, goes out into life, once more a freshman and with the university of life for his next place of struggle, of aspiration and of achievement. He enters upon a new training by different methods and through radically different experiences. He is trained indeed but by no sympathetic and systematic teachers. He must find his own way to knowledge, and to wisdom which is greater than knowledge, and must struggle onward and upward with not only little assistance, but even with almost every man's hand against him and driven, at times, to raise his hand against every man except the select few whose interests or whose convictions coincide with his own and are opposed by all the world beside. But this is not difficult for the man who knows himself in the right. In all men, it is obvious to the close observer, there exists a fighting instinct which has its use in life and the joy of contest makes easier the struggle for the intended goal.
Honesty, ability, capacity and power, supplemented by precisely the right sort of learning and made available through systematic training, in every case prove winning quantities. The complete development of the man to a maximum of usefulness in the vocation and the life to which he is by nature best fitted, means progress and ultimate success—provided he can keep himself in training. An essential element of the art of success is that of living long enough and in a state of high working efficiency. The fact that this is so generally ignored makes the opportunity of the man who never forgets it all the larger.
It is also the fact that it must be admitted that the incapacity, the lack of integrity, the indifference to duty and the general inefficiency of the average man is one of the elements of the success of the man who does finally succeed. But, sad as is the fact, it may fairly be accepted by the man who is at once gentleman and scholar and expert, as contributing to his opportunity.
And now, at this period of blossoms and nature's most beautiful season of promise and of hope, our young men and our young women are going out from the colleges to meet their opportunities. In these early days of the twentieth century, the college-man is the man of the century as never before, and the college-woman is, as never before, his most efficient helpmeet. All paths open to them and all fields are theirs for cultivation and 'all sorts and conditions of men' look to them for leadership and guidance. Theirs it is to prepare for leadership of every industrial army, for conquest of every unknown kingdom in nature's as yet unexplored realms, for discovery of uncounted secrets of the mysterious workings of physical law, of sources of energy and of new methods of utilizing all forces and all substances. These are they who shall become generals in the industrial armies, expounders of law, presidents, capitalists, benefactors of humanity.
For every one, if he will but seek it, there lies ahead a career as full of accomplishment, of honor, of usefulness to the world as his best aspirations can reach, if he will but use his talents, his physical powers and his moral sense to the full extent of his capacity. His it is to lead in invention, in every art, in manufactures, in commerce, in philosophy, in morals, in accomplishment of the destiny of the century. Not all will lead, but all may follow where they cannot lead, and every one may do a good best and reap a reward proportional to the earnestness, the energy, the ambition and the discretion which he may display in usefully employing the learning and wisdom and the savoir faire which he may have acquired. Not all may become generals, but each may become colonel, major, captain or lieutenant, as his capacity and ability may give opportunity; each will gain quite enough to give satisfaction and ultimate profit. Patience and contentment were the ideals of the earlier times; but to-day the word is ambition and determination to make the most and the best of opportunity; content and patience are now means to an end and the end is accomplishment. To be content with what is gained but ambitious to secure new prizes, to be patient in struggling against obstacles while none the less determined to overcome them, are principles of life for twentieth century men and women.
Success in business and in professional life is simply the means to an end and that end is the power of helping forward the brotherhood of man. A competence is sought by each and all; but it is competence to secure, when the struggle is past, opportunity for greater deeds in the promotion of all good works, as well as in the enjoyment of all the wonderful things that the century shall offer to the cultured, the learned, the wise man. Wealth has its attractions for all honest men; but it is desired by the wise man only that he may emulate the great men who have already shown what good may be accomplished by its powerful enginery.
The twentieth century man is the college-man; and the college-man who is hereafter to lead and who will be remembered as a leader is he who uses his splendid equipment for the advantage of his fellows.
The 'self-made man' commands honor and compels our admiration; but the self-made man is usually a very incomplete piece of work and his kind will less and less hereafter succeed in competition among more perfect men in the life of the coming days. Only the man who has had a systematic education and training can hope to successfully compete with the world's leaders, educated, able, learned and strong as they must be, and possessing, as they must, also, quite as much natural power and constitutional vigor as he. The twentieth century man, the college-bred man, doing his best will do a better best than can the other man without the now essential knowledge and culture.
- A Commencement Address, Case School of Applied Science.