« EelmineJätka »
ELEMENTS OF SUCCESS:
A BOOK FOR YOUNG MEN.
THE BEGINNING AND END.
MORE than fifty years ago, a youth thirteen years of age, entered a store in the town of Groton, Massachusetts, to serve as clerk.
He had previously had a little experience in shopkeeping in another place, so that he was not altogether unacquainted with the business.
No doubt it was a happy day to him when he began his new life in the shop. For boys are apt to overrate the happiness of the merchant's calling. They imagine it is an easy, pleasant way of living, much more so than manual labour. Some, too, regard such business as more honourable than tilling the soil. They forget that character makes the man, and not his profession. If a person is intelligent, honest, and good, he ought to be respected, whether he tills the earth, or trades in merchandise ; and all wise and good men do respect him. Washington was called from the plough and the field to
the service of his country. And many of the best and greatest men who ever lived, followed no higher pursuit.
Whether the youth, of whom we are writing, preferred the life of a merchant for such reasons as have been named, we cannot say. His subsequent life, however, proved that he had correct views of this pursuit. Still, it must have been an eventful day to him when he entered upon his new business. It is an important step for a lad to take, and has more or less to do with his future career. Fifty years ago, shopkeeping was not what it is
Shops were few in number, comparatively, and many people had to go several miles in the country to find one.
On this account, merchants usually kept every kind of article needed for family use. The shop which this youth entered was a large one for that day, and it was patronised by the people for miles around. There were no railroads then, so that buyers could not step into the train, ride to the city for purchases, and return in a few hours. Here was another reason for the extensive business of the shop in Groton.
In another respect those times differed from the present period. Then, intoxicating drinks were sold at nearly every shop. It was thought to be almost as necessary to keep rum, gin, and brandy for sale, as sugar, tea, and molasses; for every body drank then. The evil of intemperance was not then appreciated; and no temperance societies were in existence. Total abstinence pledges were unknown, and few, if any, thought that the use of strong drink was sinful.
Of course, intoxicating drinks were sold at the store in Groton, and sold in large quantities. The clerks, too, were permitted to have one or more drams a day, gratis, and they generally improved the opportunity. It was rather expected that they would drink. It would have been singular to refuse.
A part of the work of our young clerk was to dole out these liquors to customers, so that his employment exposed him to great temptations. Few fathers are now willing that their sons should engage in such business. It is generally expected, at the present day, that the youth employed in this kind of traffic will become drunkards, and go down to dishonoured graves. We have reason to expect this. The following brief confession of one who was sent to the House of Correction for intemperance, is a fair illustration of the end of thousands.
“At the age of fourteen,” said he, “I went into a grocery shop where they sold spirituous liquours. It was my lot to wait upon the numerous customers who called for these. Day after day, and week after week, I filled decanters and jugs. I never dreamed that there was any danger in tasting of the different kinds. But after tasting, I drank; and soon I had a hankering appetite for it. It was not long before I could drink as much, and as often, as any one in the shop. I could not live without it. Even then I saw no danger. It was not until I had really become a drunkard that I thought of danger. Then it was too late to mend my ways, even if I had so desired. But I cared not to control my appetite; and so I drank on, until I am where you now see me-ruined for ever.”
This fact is cited to shew that the lad who is the subject of this volume, was exposed to great temptations. If his after life proves that he triumphed over them, his character is more deserving of study.
Having seen the boy commence his new business, and looked into the shop, with its pleasures and temptations, we will leave this part of the scene for a while.
Fifty years pass.
On the fourth day of January, 1853, a multitude of people were seen in the streets of Boston, flocking to Brattle-street church. It was soon filled to overflowing. Nearly all professions were represented in that large assembly. Clergymen, lawyers, students, merchants, labourers, old and young, rich and poor came together to pay the last tribute of respect to the lifeless remains of a good man. Many wept as their eyes rested upon the coffin of one so beloved. Even the little children appeared to feel that they had lost a friend. At the close of the services they surrounded the remains, and sung a hymn, and then covered the coffin with beautiful flowers. It was a touching scene. It told that a good man had gone. When bad men die, no children come to scatter flowers upon their biers.
wonder that people of all classes and conditions were there, the learned and unlearned, rich and poor, old and young. Few men who die are lamented by all these classes. But this man had endeared himself to all these ranks by his stong sympathies, his great benevolence, and his exalted worth. He had poured out his money like water to multiply and improve schools and colleges, and to send the gospel to the perishing. He had remembered the poor and needy, and given largely to aid them in their poverty. The little children,