The Art of Money Getting by P. T. BARNUM | Biography & Autobiography | Audiobook in English

THE ART OF MONEY GETTING or GOLDEN RULES FOR MAKING MONEY By P.T. Barnum In the United States, where we have more land
than people, it is not at all difficult for persons in good health
to make money. In this
comparatively new field there are so many avenues of success open, so
many vocations which are not crowded, that any person of either sex who
is willing, at least for the time being, to engage in any respectable
occupation that offers, may find lucrative employment. Those who really desire to attain an independence,
have only to set their minds upon it, and adopt the proper
means, as they do in regard to any other object which they wish to accomplish,
and the thing is easily done. But however easy it may be found to make money,
I have no doubt many of my hearers will agree it is the most
difficult thing in the world to keep it. The road to wealth is, as Dr. Franklin truly
says, “as plain as the road to the mill.” It consists simply in expending less
than we earn; that seems to be a very simple problem. Mr. Micawber,
one of those happy creations of the genial Dickens, puts the case in a
strong light when he says that to have annual income of twenty pounds
per annum, and spend twenty pounds and sixpence, is to be the most
miserable of men; whereas, to have an income of only twenty pounds, and
spend but nineteen pounds and sixpence is to be the happiest of mortals. Many of my readers may say, “we understand
this: this is economy, and we know economy is wealth; we know we can’t eat
our cake and keep it also.” Yet I beg to say that perhaps more cases of
failure arise from mistakes on this point than almost any other. The fact is, many people think they
understand economy when they really do not. True economy is misapprehended, and people
go through life without properly comprehending what that principle
is. One says, “I have an
income of so much, and here is my neighbor who has the same; yet every
year he gets something ahead and I fall short; why is it? I know all
about economy.” He thinks he does, but he does not. There are men who
think that economy consists in saving cheese-parings and candle-ends,
in cutting off two pence from the laundress’ bill and doing all sorts of
little, mean, dirty things. Economy is not meanness. The misfortune is,
also, that this class of persons let their economy apply in only one
direction. They fancy they are so wonderfully economical
in saving a half-penny where they ought to spend twopence,
that they think they can afford to squander in other directions. A few years ago, before kerosene
oil was discovered or thought of, one might stop overnight at almost any
farmer’s house in the agricultural districts and get a very good supper,
but after supper he might attempt to read in the sitting-room, and
would find it impossible with the inefficient light of one candle. The
hostess, seeing his dilemma, would say: “It is rather difficult to read
here evenings; the proverb says ‘you must have a ship at sea in order
to be able to burn two candles at once;’ we never have an extra candle
except on extra occasions.” These extra occasions occur, perhaps, twice
a year. In this way the good woman saves five, six,
or ten dollars in that time: but the information which might
be derived from having the extra light would, of course, far outweigh
a ton of candles. But the trouble does not end here. Feeling that she is so economical
in tallow candies, she thinks she can afford to go frequently to the
village and spend twenty or thirty dollars for ribbons and furbelows,
many of which are not necessary. This false connote may frequently
be seen in men of business, and in those instances it often runs to
writing-paper. You find good businessmen who save all the
old envelopes and scraps, and would not tear a new sheet
of paper, if they could avoid it, for the world. This is all very well; they may in this way
save five or ten dollars a year, but being so economical
(only in note paper), they think they can afford to waste time;
to have expensive parties, and to drive their carriages. This is an illustration of Dr. Franklin’s
“saving at the spigot and wasting at the bung-hole;” “penny wise and
pound foolish.” Punch in speaking of this “one idea” class
of people says “they are like the man who bought a penny
herring for his family’s dinner and then hired a coach and four to
take it home.” I never knew a
man to succeed by practising this kind of economy. True economy consists in always making the
income exceed the out-go. Wear the old clothes a little longer if necessary;
dispense with the new pair of gloves; mend the old dress: live on
plainer food if need be; so that, under all circumstances, unless some
unforeseen accident occurs, there will be a margin in favor of the income. A penny here, and a
dollar there, placed at interest, goes on accumulating, and in this way
the desired result is attained. It requires some training, perhaps, to
accomplish this economy, but when once used to it, you will find there
is more satisfaction in rational saving than in irrational spending. Here is a recipe which I recommend: I have
found it to work an excellent cure for extravagance, and especially for
mistaken economy: When you find that you have no surplus at the end of
the year, and yet have a good income, I advise you to take a few sheets
of paper and form them into a book and mark down every item of expenditure. Post it every day
or week in two columns, one headed “necessaries” or even “comforts”, and
the other headed “luxuries,” and you will find that the latter column
will be double, treble, and frequently ten times greater than the
former. The real comforts of life cost but a small
portion of what most of us can earn. Dr. Franklin says “it is the eyes of others
and not our own eyes which ruin us. If all the world were blind except myself
I should not care for fine clothes or furniture.” It is the fear of what
Mrs. Grundy may say that keeps the noses of many worthy families to the
grindstone. In America many persons like to repeat “we
are all free and equal,” but it is a great mistake in more
senses than one. That we are born “free and equal” is a glorious
truth in one sense, yet we are not all born equally rich, and we never
shall be. One may say;
“there is a man who has an income of fifty thousand dollars per annum,
while I have but one thousand dollars; I knew that fellow when he was
poor like myself; now he is rich and thinks he is better than I am; I
will show him that I am as good as he is; I will go and buy a horse and
buggy; no, I cannot do that, but I will go and hire one and ride this
afternoon on the same road that he does, and thus prove to him that I am
as good as he is.” My friend, you need not take that trouble;
you can easily prove that you are “as good as he is;” you have only to behave
as well as he does; but you cannot make anybody believe that you are
rich as he is. Besides, if
you put on these “airs,” add waste your time and spend your money, your
poor wife will be obliged to scrub her fingers off at home, and buy her
tea two ounces at a time, and everything else in proportion, in order
that you may keep up “appearances,” and, after all, deceive nobody. On
the other hand, Mrs. Smith may say that her next-door neighbor
married Johnson for his money, and “everybody says so.” She has a nice
one-thousand dollar camel’s hair shawl, and she will make Smith get her
an imitation one, and she will sit in a pew right next to her neighbor
in church, in order to prove that she is her equal. My good woman, you will not get ahead in the
world, if your vanity and envy thus take the lead. In this country, where we believe the majority
ought to rule, we ignore that principle in regard to fashion, and let
a handful of people, calling themselves the aristocracy, run up a false
standard of perfection, and in endeavoring to rise to that standard, we
constantly keep ourselves poor; all the time digging away for the sake
of outside appearances. How much wiser to be a “law unto ourselves”
and say, “we will regulate our out-go by our income,
and lay up something for a rainy day.” People ought to be as sensible on the subject
of money-getting as on any other subject. Like causes produces like
effects. You cannot accumulate a fortune by taking
the road that leads to poverty. It needs no prophet to tell us that those
who live fully up to their means, without any thought of a reverse
in this life, can never attain a pecuniary independence. Men and women accustomed to gratify every
whim and caprice, will find it hard, at first, to cut down their various
unnecessary expenses, and will feel it a great self-denial to live in a smaller
house than they have been accustomed to, with less expensive furniture,
less company, less costly clothing, fewer servants, a less number
of balls, parties, theater-goings, carriage-ridings, pleasure
excursions, cigar-smokings, liquor-drinkings, and other extravagances;
but, after all, if they will try the plan of laying by a “nest-egg,” or,
in other words, a small sum of money, at interest or judiciously invested
in land, they will be surprised at the pleasure to be derived from
constantly adding to their little “pile,” as well as from all the economical
habits which are engendered by this course. The old suit of clothes, and the old bonnet
and dress, will answer for another season; the Croton or spring water
taste better than champagne; a cold bath and a brisk walk will prove more
exhilarating than a ride in the finest coach; a social chat, an evening’s
reading in the family circle, or an hour’s play of “hunt the slipper”
and “blind man’s buff” will be far more pleasant than a fifty or
five hundred dollar party, when the reflection on the difference in cost
is indulged in by those who begin to know the pleasures of saving. Thousands of men are kept
poor, and tens of thousands are made so after they have acquired quite
sufficient to support them well through life, in consequence of laying
their plans of living on too broad a platform. Some families expend
twenty thousand dollars per annum, and some much more, and would
scarcely know how to live on less, while others secure more solid
enjoyment frequently on a twentieth part of that amount. Prosperity is
a more severe ordeal than adversity, especially sudden prosperity. “Easy come, easy go,” is an old and true proverb. A spirit of pride and
vanity, when permitted to have full sway, is the undying canker-worm
which gnaws the very vitals of a man’s worldly possessions, let them be
small or great, hundreds, or millions. Many persons, as they begin
to prosper, immediately expand their ideas and commence expending for
luxuries, until in a short time their expenses swallow up their
income, and they become ruined in their ridiculous attempts to keep up
appearances, and make a “sensation.” I know a gentleman of fortune who says, that
when he first began to prosper, his wife would have a new and elegant
sofa. “That sofa,” he
says, “cost me thirty thousand dollars!” When the sofa reached the
house, it was found necessary to get chairs to match; then side-boards,
carpets and tables “to correspond” with them, and so on through the
entire stock of furniture; when at last it was found that the house
itself was quite too small and old-fashioned for the furniture, and a
new one was built to correspond with the new purchases; “thus,” added my
friend, “summing up an outlay of thirty thousand dollars, caused by that
single sofa, and saddling on me, in the shape of servants, equipage, and
the necessary expenses attendant upon keeping up a fine ‘establishment,’
a yearly outlay of eleven thousand dollars, and a tight pinch at that:
whereas, ten years ago, we lived with much more real comfort, because
with much less care, on as many hundreds. The truth is,” he continued,
“that sofa would have brought me to inevitable bankruptcy, had not a
most unexampled title to prosperity kept me above it, and had I not
checked the natural desire to ‘cut a dash’.” The foundation of success in life is good
health: that is the substratum fortune; it is also the basis of happiness. A person cannot accumulate a
fortune very well when he is sick. He has no ambition; no incentive; no
force. Of course, there are those who have bad health
and cannot help it: you cannot expect that such persons can
accumulate wealth, but there are a great many in poor health who need not
be so. If, then, sound health is the foundation of
success and happiness in life, how important it is that we should study
the laws of health, which is but another expression for the laws of
nature! The nearer we keep to
the laws of nature, the nearer we are to good health, and yet how many
persons there are who pay no attention to natural laws, but absolutely
transgress them, even against their own natural inclination. We ought
to know that the “sin of ignorance” is never winked at in regard to the
violation of nature’s laws; their infraction always brings the penalty. A child may thrust its finger into the flames
without knowing it will burn, and so suffers, repentance, even, will
not stop the smart. Many of
our ancestors knew very little about the principle of ventilation. They
did not know much about oxygen, whatever other “gin” they might have
been acquainted with; and consequently they built their houses with
little seven-by-nine feet bedrooms, and these good old pious Puritans
would lock themselves up in one of these cells, say their prayers and
go to bed. In the morning they would devoutly return
thanks for the “preservation of their lives,” during the
night, and nobody had better reason to be thankful. Probably some big crack in the window, or
in the door, let in a little fresh air, and thus
saved them. Many persons knowingly violate the laws of
nature against their better impulses, for the sake of fashion. For instance, there is one thing
that nothing living except a vile worm ever naturally loved, and that
is tobacco; yet how many persons there are who deliberately train an
unnatural appetite, and overcome this implanted aversion for tobacco,
to such a degree that they get to love it. They have got hold of a
poisonous, filthy weed, or rather that takes a firm hold of them. Here
are married men who run about spitting tobacco juice on the carpet and
floors, and sometimes even upon their wives besides. They do not kick
their wives out of doors like drunken men, but their wives, I have
no doubt, often wish they were outside of the house. Another perilous
feature is that this artificial appetite, like jealousy, “grows by what
it feeds on;” when you love that which is unnatural, a stronger appetite
is created for the hurtful thing than the natural desire for what is
harmless. There is an old proverb which says that “habit
is second nature,” but an artificial habit is stronger
than nature. Take for
instance, an old tobacco-chewer; his love for the “quid” is stronger
than his love for any particular kind of food. He can give up roast beef
easier than give up the weed. Young lads regret that they are not men; they
would like to go to bed boys and wake up men; and to accomplish this
they copy the bad habits of their seniors. Little Tommy and Johnny see their fathers
or uncles smoke a pipe, and they say, “If I could only do
that, I would be a man too; uncle John has gone out and left his pipe
of tobacco, let us try it.” They take a match and light it, and then puff
away. “We will learn to
smoke; do you like it Johnny?” That lad dolefully replies: “Not very
much; it tastes bitter;” by and by he grows pale, but he persists and he
soon offers up a sacrifice on the altar of fashion; but the boys stick
to it and persevere until at last they conquer their natural appetites
and become the victims of acquired tastes. I speak “by the book,” for I have noticed
its effects on myself, having gone so far as to smoke ten or fifteen cigars
a day; although I have not used the weed during the last fourteen years,
and never shall again. The more a man smokes, the more he craves
smoking; the last cigar smoked simply excites the desire for another, and
so on incessantly. Take the tobacco-chewer. In the morning, when he gets up, he puts a
quid in his mouth and keeps it there all day, never
taking it out except to exchange it for a fresh one, or when he is
going to eat; oh! yes, at intervals during the day and evening, many
a chewer takes out the quid and holds it in his hand long enough to take
a drink, and then pop it goes back again. This simply proves that the appetite for rum
is even stronger than that for tobacco. When the tobacco-chewer goes to your
country seat and you show him your grapery and fruit house, and the
beauties of your garden, when you offer him some fresh, ripe fruit, and
say, “My friend, I have got here the most delicious apples, and pears,
and peaches, and apricots; I have imported them from Spain, France and
Italy–just see those luscious grapes; there is nothing more delicious
nor more healthy than ripe fruit, so help yourself; I want to see you
delight yourself with these things;” he will roll the dear quid under
his tongue and answer, “No, I thank you, I have got tobacco in my
mouth.” His palate has become narcotized by the noxious
weed, and he has lost, in a great measure, the delicate and
enviable taste for fruits. This shows what expensive, useless and injurious
habits men will get into. I speak from experience. I have smoked until I trembled like an
aspen leaf, the blood rushed to my head, and I had a palpitation of the
heart which I thought was heart disease, till I was almost killed
with fright. When I consulted my physician, he said “break
off tobacco using.” I was not only injuring my health and spending
a great deal of money, but I was setting a bad example. I obeyed his counsel. No young
man in the world ever looked so beautiful, as he thought he did, behind
a fifteen cent cigar or a meerschaum! These remarks apply with tenfold force to
the use of intoxicating drinks. To make money, requires a clear brain. A man has got to see that
two and two make four; he must lay all his plans with reflection and
forethought, and closely examine all the details and the ins and outs
of business. As no man can succeed in business unless he
has a brain to enable him to lay his plans, and reason to
guide him in their execution, so, no matter how bountifully a man may be
blessed with intelligence, if the brain is muddled, and his judgment warped
by intoxicating drinks, it is impossible for him to carry on business
successfully. How many good
opportunities have passed, never to return, while a man was sipping a
“social glass,” with his friend! How many foolish bargains have been
made under the influence of the “nervine,” which temporarily makes its
victim think he is rich. How many important chances have been put off
until to-morrow, and then forever, because the wine cup has thrown the
system into a state of lassitude, neutralizing the energies so
essential to success in business. Verily, “wine is a mocker.” The use of
intoxicating drinks as a beverage, is as much an infatuation, as is the
smoking of opium by the Chinese, and the former is quite as destructive
to the success of the business man as the latter. It is an unmitigated
evil, utterly indefensible in the light of philosophy; religion or good
sense. It is the parent of nearly every other evil
in our country. DON’T MISTAKE YOUR VOCATION The safest plan, and the one most sure of
success for the young man starting in life, is to select the vocation
which is most congenial to his tastes. Parents and guardians are often quite too
negligent in regard to this. It very common for a father to say, for example:
“I have five boys. I will make Billy a clergyman; John a lawyer;
Tom a doctor, and Dick a farmer.” He then goes into town and looks about to
see what he will do with Sammy. He returns home and says “Sammy, I see
watch-making is a nice genteel business; I think I will make you a
goldsmith.” He does this, regardless of Sam’s natural
inclinations, or genius. We are all, no doubt, born for a wise purpose. There is as much
diversity in our brains as in our countenances. Some are born natural
mechanics, while some have great aversion to machinery. Let a dozen boys
of ten years get together, and you will soon observe two or three are
“whittling” out some ingenious device; working with locks or complicated
machinery. When they were but five years old, their father
could find no toy to please them like a puzzle. They are natural mechanics; but
the other eight or nine boys have different aptitudes. I belong to
the latter class; I never had the slightest love for mechanism; on the
contrary, I have a sort of abhorrence for complicated machinery. I never
had ingenuity enough to whittle a cider tap so it would not leak. I never could make a pen that I could write
with, or understand the principle of a steam engine. If a man was to take such a boy as I
was, and attempt to make a watchmaker of him, the boy might, after an
apprenticeship of five or seven years, be able to take apart and put
together a watch; but all through life he would be working up hill and
seizing every excuse for leaving his work and idling away his time. Watchmaking is repulsive to him. Unless a man enters upon the vocation intended
for him by nature, and best suited to his peculiar genius, he cannot
succeed. I am glad to
believe that the majority of persons do find their right vocation. Yet
we see many who have mistaken their calling, from the blacksmith up (or
down) to the clergyman. You will see, for instance, that extraordinary
linguist the “learned blacksmith,” who ought to have been a teacher of
languages; and you may have seen lawyers, doctors and clergymen who were
better fitted by nature for the anvil or the lapstone. SELECT THE RIGHT LOCATION After securing the right vocation, you must
be careful to select the proper location. You may have been cut out for a hotel keeper,
and they say it requires a genius to “know how
to keep a hotel.” You might
conduct a hotel like clock-work, and provide satisfactorily for five
hundred guests every day; yet, if you should locate your house in a
small village where there is no railroad communication or public travel,
the location would be your ruin. It is equally important that you do not
commence business where there are already enough to meet all demands in
the same occupation. I remember a case which illustrates this subject. When I was in London in 1858, I was passing
down Holborn with an English friend and came to the “penny shows.” They had immense cartoons outside,
portraying the wonderful curiosities to be seen “all for a penny.” Being
a little in the “show line” myself, I said “let us go in here.” We
soon found ourselves in the presence of the illustrious showman, and he
proved to be the sharpest man in that line I had ever met. He told
us some extraordinary stories in reference to his bearded ladies, his
Albinos, and his Armadillos, which we could hardly believe, but thought
it “better to believe it than look after the proof’.” He finally begged
to call our attention to some wax statuary, and showed us a lot of the
dirtiest and filthiest wax figures imaginable. They looked as if they
had not seen water since the Deluge. “What is there so wonderful about your statuary?” I asked. “I beg you not to speak so satirically,” he
replied, “Sir, these are not Madam Tussaud’s wax figures, all covered
with gilt and tinsel and imitation diamonds, and copied from engravings
and photographs. Mine,
sir, were taken from life. Whenever you look upon one of those figures,
you may consider that you are looking upon the living individual.” Glancing casually at them, I saw one labeled
“Henry VIII,” and feeling a little curious upon seeing that it looked
like Calvin Edson, the living skeleton, I said: “Do you call that ‘Henry
the Eighth?'” He replied,
“Certainly; sir; it was taken from life at Hampton Court, by special
order of his majesty; on such a day.” He would have given the hour of the day if
I had resisted; I said, “Everybody knows that ‘Henry VIII.’ was a
great stout old king, and that figure is lean and lank; what do you say to
that?” “Why,” he replied, “you would be lean and
lank yourself if you sat there as long as he has.” There was no resisting such arguments. I said to my English friend, “Let
us go out; do not tell him who I am; I show the white feather; he beats
me.” He followed us to the door, and seeing the
rabble in the street, he called out, “ladies and gentlemen, I beg to
draw your attention to the respectable character of my visitors,” pointing
to us as we walked away. I called upon him a couple of days afterwards;
told him who I was, and said: “My friend, you are an excellent showman,
but you have selected a bad location.” He replied, “This is true, sir; I feel that
all my talents are thrown away; but what can I do?” “You can go to America,” I replied. “You can give full play to your
faculties over there; you will find plenty of elbowroom in America; I
will engage you for two years; after that you will be able to go on your
own account.” He accepted my offer and remained two years
in my New York Museum. He
then went to New Orleans and carried on a traveling show business during
the summer. To-day he is worth sixty thousand dollars,
simply because he selected the right vocation and also secured
the proper location. The
old proverb says, “Three removes are as bad as a fire,” but when a man
is in the fire, it matters but little how soon or how often he removes. AVOID DEBT Young men starting in life should avoid running
into debt. There is
scarcely anything that drags a person down like debt. It is a slavish
position to get in, yet we find many a young man, hardly out of his
“teens,” running in debt. He meets a chum and says, “Look at this: I
have got trusted for a new suit of clothes.” He seems to look upon the
clothes as so much given to him; well, it frequently is so, but, if he
succeeds in paying and then gets trusted again, he is adopting a habit
which will keep him in poverty through life. Debt robs a man of his
self-respect, and makes him almost despise himself. Grunting and
groaning and working for what he has eaten up or worn out, and now when
he is called upon to pay up, he has nothing to show for his money;
this is properly termed “working for a dead horse.” I do not speak of
merchants buying and selling on credit, or of those who buy on credit
in order to turn the purchase to a profit. The old Quaker said to his
farmer son, “John, never get trusted; but if thee gets trusted for
anything, let it be for ‘manure,’ because that will help thee pay it
back again.” Mr. Beecher advised young men to get in debt
if they could to a small amount in the purchase of land, in the country
districts. “If a young
man,” he says, “will only get in debt for some land and then get
married, these two things will keep him straight, or nothing will.” This
may be safe to a limited extent, but getting in debt for what you eat
and drink and wear is to be avoided. Some families have a foolish habit
of getting credit at “the stores,” and thus frequently purchase many
things which might have been dispensed with. It is all very well to say; “I have got trusted
for sixty days, and if I don’t have the money the creditor will think
nothing about it.” There
is no class of people in the world, who have such good memories as
creditors. When the sixty days run out, you will have
to pay. If you
do not pay, you will break your promise, and probably resort to a
falsehood. You may make some excuse or get in debt elsewhere
to pay it, but that only involves you the deeper. A good-looking, lazy young fellow, was the
apprentice boy, Horatio. His
employer said, “Horatio, did you ever see a snail?” “I–think–I–have,”
he drawled out. “You must have met him then, for I am sure
you never overtook one,” said the “boss.” Your creditor will meet you or overtake
you and say, “Now, my young friend, you agreed to pay me; you have not
done it, you must give me your note.” You give the note on interest and
it commences working against you; “it is a dead horse.” The creditor
goes to bed at night and wakes up in the morning better off than when he
retired to bed, because his interest has increased during the night, but
you grow poorer while you are sleeping, for the interest is accumulating
against you. Money is in some respects like fire; it is
a very excellent servant but a terrible master. When you have it mastering you; when interest
is constantly piling up against you, it will keep you down in the worst
kind of slavery. But let money work for you, and you have the
most devoted servant in the world. It is no “eye-servant.” There is nothing
animate or inanimate that will work so faithfully as money when placed
at interest, well secured. It works night and day, and in wet or dry
weather. I was born in the blue-law State of Connecticut,
where the old Puritans had laws so rigid that it was said, “they
fined a man for kissing his wife on Sunday.” Yet these rich old Puritans would have thousands
of dollars at interest, and on Saturday night
would be worth a certain amount; on Sunday they would go to church
and perform all the duties of a Christian. On waking up on Monday morning, they would
find themselves considerably richer than the Saturday night
previous, simply because their money placed at interest had worked
faithfully for them all day Sunday, according to law! Do not let it work against you; if you do
there is no chance for success in life so far as money is concerned. John Randolph, the eccentric
Virginian, once exclaimed in Congress, “Mr. Speaker, I have discovered
the philosopher’s stone: pay as you go.” This is, indeed, nearer to the
philosopher’s stone than any alchemist has ever yet arrived. PERSEVERE When a man is in the right path, he must persevere. I speak of this
because there are some persons who are “born tired;” naturally lazy and
possessing no self-reliance and no perseverance. But they can cultivate
these qualities, as Davy Crockett said: “This thing remember, when I am dead: Be sure
you are right, then go ahead.” It is this go-aheaditiveness, this determination
not to let the “horrors” or the “blues” take possession of
you, so as to make you relax your energies in the struggle for independence,
which you must cultivate. How many have almost reached the goal of their
ambition, but, losing faith in themselves, have relaxed their energies,
and the golden prize has been lost forever. It is, no doubt, often true, as Shakespeare
says: “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which,
taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.” If you hesitate, some bolder hand will stretch
out before you and get the prize. Remember the proverb of Solomon: “He becometh
poor that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of
the diligent maketh rich.” Perseverance is sometimes but another word
for self-reliance. Many
persons naturally look on the dark side of life, and borrow trouble. They are born so. Then they ask for advice, and they will be
governed by one wind and blown by another, and cannot
rely upon themselves. Until
you can get so that you can rely upon yourself, you need not expect to
succeed. I have known men, personally, who have met
with pecuniary reverses, and absolutely committed suicide, because
they thought they could never overcome their misfortune. But I have known others who have met more
serious financial difficulties, and have bridged them over by simple
perseverance, aided by a firm belief that they were doing justly, and
that Providence would “overcome evil with good.” You will see this
illustrated in any sphere of life. Take two generals; both understand military
tactics, both educated at West Point, if you please, both equally gifted;
yet one, having this principle of perseverance, and the other lacking
it, the former will succeed in his profession, while the latter
will fail. One may hear the
cry, “the enemy are coming, and they have got cannon.” “Got cannon?” says the hesitating general. “Yes.” “Then halt every man.” He wants time to reflect; his hesitation is
his ruin; the enemy passes unmolested, or overwhelms him; while on the
other hand, the general of pluck, perseverance and self-reliance, goes
into battle with a will, and, amid the clash of arms, the booming of
cannon, the shrieks of the wounded, and the moans of the dying, you will
see this man persevering, going on, cutting and slashing his way through
with unwavering determination, inspiring his soldiers to deeds of fortitude, valor, and
triumph. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO IT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT Work at it, if necessary, early and late,
in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring
for a single hour that which can be done just as well now. The old proverb is full of truth and
meaning, “Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.” Many
a man acquires a fortune by doing his business thoroughly, while his
neighbor remains poor for life, because he only half does it. Ambition,
energy, industry, perseverance, are indispensable requisites for success
in business. Fortune always favors the brave, and never
helps a man who does not help himself. It won’t do to spend your time like Mr. Micawber,
in waiting for something to “turn up.” To such men one of two things usually “turns
up:” the poorhouse or the jail; for idleness breeds bad habits, and
clothes a man in rags. The poor spendthrift vagabond says to a rich
man: “I have discovered there is enough money in
the world for all of us, if it was equally divided; this must be done,
and we shall all be happy together.” “But,” was the response, “if everybody was
like you, it would be spent in two months, and what would you do then?” “Oh! divide again; keep dividing, of course!” I was recently reading in a London paper an
account of a like philosophic pauper who was kicked out of a
cheap boarding-house because he could not pay his bill, but he had a roll
of papers sticking out of his coat pocket, which, upon examination,
proved to be his plan for paying off the national debt of England without
the aid of a penny. People have got to do as Cromwell said: “not
only trust in Providence, but keep the powder dry.” Do your part of the work, or you cannot
succeed. Mahomet, one night, while encamping in the
desert, overheard one of his fatigued followers remark: “I will
loose my camel, and trust it to God!” “No, no, not so,” said the prophet, “tie thy
camel, and trust it to God!” Do all you can for yourselves, and then trust
to Providence, or luck, or whatever you please
to call it, for the rest. DEPEND UPON YOUR OWN PERSONAL EXERTIONS. The eye of the employer is often worth more
than the hands of a dozen employees. In the nature of things, an agent cannot be
so faithful to his employer as to himself. Many who are employers will call to mind
instances where the best employees have overlooked important points
which could not have escaped their own observation as a proprietor. No
man has a right to expect to succeed in life unless he understands his
business, and nobody can understand his business thoroughly unless
he learns it by personal application and experience. A man may be a
manufacturer: he has got to learn the many details of his business
personally; he will learn something every day, and he will find he will
make mistakes nearly every day. And these very mistakes are helps to
him in the way of experiences if he but heeds them. He will be like
the Yankee tin-peddler, who, having been cheated as to quality in
the purchase of his merchandise, said: “All right, there’s a little
information to be gained every day; I will never be cheated in that way
again.” Thus a man buys his experience, and it is
the best kind if not purchased at too dear a rate. I hold that every man should, like Cuvier,
the French naturalist, thoroughly know his business. So proficient was he in the study of
natural history, that you might bring to him the bone, or even a section
of a bone of an animal which he had never seen described, and, reasoning
from analogy, he would be able to draw a picture of the object from
which the bone had been taken. On one occasion his students attempted to
deceive him. They rolled one of their number in a cow skin
and put him under the professor’s table as a new specimen. When the philosopher
came into the room, some of the students asked him what animal it was. Suddenly the animal said “I am the devil and
I am going to eat you.” It
was but natural that Cuvier should desire to classify this creature, and
examining it intently, he said: “Divided hoof; graminivorous! It cannot be done.” He knew that an animal with a split hoof must
live upon grass and grain, or other kind of vegetation, and would not
be inclined to eat flesh, dead or alive, so he considered himself perfectly
safe. The possession
of a perfect knowledge of your business is an absolute necessity in
order to insure success. Among the maxims of the elder Rothschild was
one, all apparent paradox: “Be cautious and bold.” This seems to be a contradiction in terms,
but it is not, and there is great wisdom in the
maxim. It is, in fact, a
condensed statement of what I have already said. It is to say; “you must
exercise your caution in laying your plans, but be bold in carrying
them out.” A man who is all caution, will never dare
to take hold and be successful; and a man who is all boldness,
is merely reckless, and must eventually fail. A man may go on “‘change” and make fifty,
or one hundred thousand dollars in speculating
in stocks, at a single operation. But if he has simple boldness without caution,
it is mere chance, and what he gains to-day he will lose
to-morrow. You must have
both the caution and the boldness, to insure success. The Rothschilds have another maxim: “Never
have anything to do with an unlucky man or place.” That is to say, never have anything to do
with a man or place which never succeeds, because,
although a man may appear to be honest and intelligent, yet if he tries
this or that thing and always fails, it is on account of some fault or infirmity
that you may not be able to discover but nevertheless which must
exist. There is no such thing in the world as luck. There never was a man who
could go out in the morning and find a purse full of gold in the street
to-day, and another to-morrow, and so on, day after day: He may do so
once in his life; but so far as mere luck is concerned, he is as liable
to lose it as to find it. “Like causes produce like effects.” If a man
adopts the proper methods to be successful, “luck” will not prevent him. If he does not succeed, there are reasons
for it, although, perhaps, he may not be able to see them. USE THE BEST TOOLS Men in engaging employees should be careful
to get the best. Understand,
you cannot have too good tools to work with, and there is no tool you
should be so particular about as living tools. If you get a good one,
it is better to keep him, than keep changing. He learns something every
day; and you are benefited by the experience he acquires. He is worth
more to you this year than last, and he is the last man to part with,
provided his habits are good, and he continues faithful. If, as he
gets more valuable, he demands an exorbitant increase of salary; on the
supposition that you can’t do without him, let him go. Whenever I have
such an employee, I always discharge him; first, to convince him that
his place may be supplied, and second, because he is good for nothing if
he thinks he is invaluable and cannot be spared. But I would keep him, if possible, in order
to profit from the result of his experience. An important element in an employee is the
brain. You
can see bills up, “Hands Wanted,” but “hands” are not worth a great deal
without “heads.” Mr. Beecher illustrates this, in this wise: An employee offers his services by saving,
“I have a pair of hands and one of my fingers thinks.” “That is very good,” says the employer. Another man comes along, and says “he has
two fingers that think.” “Ah!
that is better.” But a third calls in and says that “all his
fingers and thumbs think.” That is better still. Finally another steps in and says,
“I have a brain that thinks; I think all over; I am a thinking as
well as a working man!” “You are the man I want,” says the delighted
employer. Those men who have brains and experience are
therefore the most valuable and not to be readily parted with; it is better
for them, as well as yourself, to keep them, at reasonable advances
in their salaries from time to time. DON’T GET ABOVE YOUR BUSINESS Young men after they get through their business
training, or apprenticeship, instead of pursuing their
avocation and rising in their business, will often lie about doing nothing. They say; “I have learned
my business, but I am not going to be a hireling; what is the object of
learning my trade or profession, unless I establish myself?'” “Have you capital to start with?” “No, but I am going to have it.” “How are you going to get it?” “I will tell you confidentially; I have a
wealthy old aunt, and she will die pretty soon; but if she does not, I expect
to find some rich old man who will lend me a few thousands to give me
a start. If I only get the
money to start with I will do well.” There is no greater mistake than when a young
man believes he will succeed with borrowed money. Why? Because every man’s experience
coincides with that of Mr. Astor, who said, “it was more difficult for
him to accumulate his first thousand dollars, than all the succeeding
millions that made up his colossal fortune.” Money is good for nothing
unless you know the value of it by experience. Give a boy twenty
thousand dollars and put him in business, and the chances are that he
will lose every dollar of it before he is a year older. Like buying a
ticket in the lottery; and drawing a prize, it is “easy come, easy go.” He does not know the value of it; nothing
is worth anything, unless it costs effort. Without self-denial and economy; patience
and perseverance, and commencing with capital
which you have not earned, you are not sure to succeed in accumulating. Young men, instead of “waiting
for dead men’s shoes,” should be up and doing, for there is no class of
persons who are so unaccommodating in regard to dying as these rich old
people, and it is fortunate for the expectant heirs that it is so. Nine
out of ten of the rich men of our country to-day, started out in life
as poor boys, with determined wills, industry, perseverance, economy and
good habits. They went on gradually, made their own money
and saved it; and this is the best way to acquire a fortune. Stephen Girard started
life as a poor cabin boy, and died worth nine million dollars. A.T.
Stewart was a poor Irish boy; and he paid taxes on a million and a half
dollars of income, per year. John Jacob Astor was a poor farmer boy,
and died worth twenty millions. Cornelius Vanderbilt began life rowing a
boat from Staten Island to New York; he presented our government with
a steamship worth a million of dollars, and died worth fifty million. “There is no royal road to learning,” says
the proverb, and I may say it is equally true, “there is no royal road to
wealth.” But I think there
is a royal road to both. The road to learning is a royal one; the road
that enables the student to expand his intellect and add every day to
his stock of knowledge, until, in the pleasant process of intellectual
growth, he is able to solve the most profound problems, to count the
stars, to analyze every atom of the globe, and to measure the firmament
this is a regal highway, and it is the only road worth traveling. So in regard to wealth. Go on in confidence, study the rules, and
above all things, study human nature; for “the proper
study of mankind is man,” and you will find that while expanding
the intellect and the muscles, your enlarged experience will
enable you every day to accumulate more and more principal, which
will increase itself by interest and otherwise, until you arrive at
a state of independence. You
will find, as a general thing, that the poor boys get rich and the rich
boys get poor. For instance, a rich man at his decease, leaves
a large estate to his family. His eldest sons, who have helped him earn
his fortune, know by experience the value of money;
and they take their inheritance and add to it. The separate portions of the young children
are placed at interest, and the little fellows are patted on the head,
and told a dozen times a day, “you are rich; you will never have to
work, you can always have whatever you wish, for you were born with a
golden spoon in your mouth.” The young heir soon finds out what that
means; he has the finest dresses and playthings; he is crammed with
sugar candies and almost “killed with kindness,” and he passes from
school to school, petted and flattered. He becomes arrogant and
self-conceited, abuses his teachers, and carries everything with a high
hand. He knows nothing of the real value of money,
having never earned any; but he knows all about the “golden spoon”
business. At college, he
invites his poor fellow-students to his room, where he “wines and dines”
them. He is cajoled and caressed, and called a glorious
good follow, because he is so lavish of his money. He gives his game suppers, drives
his fast horses, invites his chums to fetes and parties, determined
to have lots of “good times.” He spends the night in frolics and
debauchery, and leads off his companions with the familiar song, “we
won’t go home till morning.” He gets them to join him in pulling down
signs, taking gates from their hinges and throwing them into back yards
and horse-ponds. If the police arrest them, he knocks them
down, is taken to the lockup, and joyfully foots the
bills. “Ah! my boys,” he cries, “what is the use
of being rich, if you can’t enjoy yourself?” He might more truly say, “if you can’t make
a fool of yourself;” but he is “fast,” hates slow things, and doesn’t
“see it.” Young men loaded
down with other people’s money are almost sure to lose all they inherit,
and they acquire all sorts of bad habits which, in the majority of
cases, ruin them in health, purse and character. In this country, one
generation follows another, and the poor of to-day are rich in the
next generation, or the third. Their experience leads them on, and they
become rich, and they leave vast riches to their young children. These
children, having been reared in luxury, are inexperienced and get poor;
and after long experience another generation comes on and gathers up
riches again in turn. And thus “history repeats itself,” and happy
is he who by listening to the experience of others
avoids the rocks and shoals on which so many have been wrecked. “In England, the business makes the man.” If a man in that country is
a mechanic or working-man, he is not recognized as a gentleman. On
the occasion of my first appearance before Queen Victoria, the Duke of
Wellington asked me what sphere in life General Tom Thumb’s parents were
in. “His father is a carpenter,” I replied. “Oh! I had heard he was a gentleman,” was the response
of His Grace. In this Republican country, the man makes
the business. No matter
whether he is a blacksmith, a shoemaker, a farmer, banker or lawyer,
so long as his business is legitimate, he may be a gentleman. So any
“legitimate” business is a double blessing it helps the man engaged in
it, and also helps others. The Farmer supports his own family, but he
also benefits the merchant or mechanic who needs the products of his
farm. The tailor not only makes a living by his
trade, but he also benefits the farmer, the clergyman and others
who cannot make their own clothing. But all these classes often may be gentlemen. The great ambition should be to excel all
others engaged in the same occupation. The college-student who was about graduating,
said to an old lawyer: “I have not yet decided which profession I
will follow. Is your
profession full?” “The basement is much crowded, but there is
plenty of room up-stairs,” was the witty and truthful reply. No profession, trade, or calling, is overcrowded
in the upper story. Wherever you find the most honest and intelligent
merchant or banker, or the best lawyer, the best doctor, the best
clergyman, the best shoemaker, carpenter, or anything else, that
man is most sought for, and has always enough to do. As a nation, Americans are too
superficial–they are striving to get rich quickly, and do not generally
do their business as substantially and thoroughly as they should, but
whoever excels all others in his own line, if his habits are good and
his integrity undoubted, cannot fail to secure abundant patronage,
and the wealth that naturally follows. Let your motto then always be
“Excelsior,” for by living up to it there is no such word as fail. LEARN SOMETHING USEFUL Every man should make his son or daughter
learn some useful trade or profession, so that in these days of changing
fortunes of being rich to-day and poor tomorrow they may have something
tangible to fall back upon. This provision might save many persons from
misery, who by some unexpected turn of fortune have lost all their
means. LET HOPE PREDOMINATE, BUT BE NOT TOO VISIONARY Many persons are always kept poor, because
they are too visionary. Every
project looks to them like certain success, and therefore they keep
changing from one business to another, always in hot water, always
“under the harrow.” The plan of “counting the chickens before
they are hatched” is an error of ancient date, but
it does not seem to improve by age. DO NOT SCATTER YOUR POWERS Engage in one kind of business only, and stick
to it faithfully until you succeed, or until your experience shows
that you should abandon it. A constant hammering on one nail will generally
drive it home at last, so that it can be clinched. When a man’s undivided attention is centered
on one object, his mind will constantly be suggesting improvements
of value, which would escape him if his brain was occupied by a dozen
different subjects at once. Many a fortune has slipped through a man’s
fingers because he was engaged in too many occupations at a time. There
is good sense in the old caution against having too many irons in the
fire at once. BE SYSTEMATIC Men should be systematic in their business. A person who does business
by rule, having a time and place for everything, doing his work
promptly, will accomplish twice as much and with half the trouble of him
who does it carelessly and slipshod. By introducing system into all your
transactions, doing one thing at a time, always meeting appointments
with punctuality, you find leisure for pastime and recreation; whereas
the man who only half does one thing, and then turns to something else,
and half does that, will have his business at loose ends, and will never
know when his day’s work is done, for it never will be done. Of course,
there is a limit to all these rules. We must try to preserve the happy
medium, for there is such a thing as being too systematic. There are men
and women, for instance, who put away things so carefully that they can
never find them again. It is too much like the “red tape” formality
at Washington, and Mr. Dickens’ “Circumlocution
Office,”–all theory and no result. When the “Astor House” was first started in
New York city, it was undoubtedly the best hotel in the country. The proprietors had learned
a good deal in Europe regarding hotels, and the landlords were proud
of the rigid system which pervaded every department of their great
establishment. When twelve o’clock at night had arrived,
and there were a number of guests around, one of the proprietors
would say, “Touch that bell, John;” and in two minutes sixty servants,
with a water-bucket in each hand, would present themselves in
the hall. “This,” said the
landlord, addressing his guests, “is our fire-bell; it will show you we
are quite safe here; we do everything systematically.” This was before
the Croton water was introduced into the city. But they sometimes
carried their system too far. On one occasion, when the hotel was
thronged with guests, one of the waiters was suddenly indisposed, and
although there were fifty waiters in the hotel, the landlord thought he
must have his full complement, or his “system” would be interfered with. Just before dinner-time, he rushed down stairs
and said, “There must be another waiter, I am one waiter short, what
can I do?” He happened to
see “Boots,” the Irishman. “Pat,” said he, “wash your hands and face;
take that white apron and come into the dining-room in five minutes.” Presently Pat appeared as required, and the
proprietor said: “Now Pat, you must stand behind these two chairs, and
wait on the gentlemen who will occupy them; did you ever act as a waiter?” “I know all about it, sure, but I never did
it.” Like the Irish pilot, on one occasion when
the captain, thinking he was considerably out of his course, asked, “Are
you certain you understand what you are doing?” Pat replied, “Sure and I knows every rock
in the channel.” That moment, “bang” thumped the vessel against
a rock. “Ah! be-jabers, and that is one of ’em,” continued
the pilot. But
to return to the dining-room. “Pat,” said the landlord, “here we do
everything systematically. You must first give the gentlemen each a
plate of soup, and when they finish that, ask them what they will have
next.” Pat replied, “Ah! an’ I understand parfectly
the vartues of shystem.” Very soon in came the guests. The plates of soup were placed before
them. One of Pat’s two gentlemen ate his soup; the
other did not care for it. He said: “Waiter, take this plate away and
bring me some fish.” Pat looked at the untasted plate of soup,
and remembering the instructions of the landlord in regard to
“system,” replied: “Not till ye have ate yer supe!” Of course that was carrying “system” entirely
too far. READ THE NEWSPAPERS Always take a trustworthy newspaper, and thus
keep thoroughly posted in regard to the transactions of the world. He who is without a newspaper
is cut off from his species. In these days of telegraphs and steam, many
important inventions and improvements in every branch of trade are being
made, and he who don’t consult the newspapers will soon find himself and
his business left out in the cold. BEWARE OF “OUTSIDE OPERATIONS” We sometimes see men who have obtained fortunes,
suddenly become poor. In many cases, this arises from intemperance,
and often from gaming, and other bad habits. Frequently it occurs because a man has been
engaged in “outside operations,” of some sort. When he gets rich in his legitimate
business, he is told of a grand speculation where he can make a score of
thousands. He is constantly flattered by his friends,
who tell him that he is born lucky, that everything he touches
turns into gold. Now if
he forgets that his economical habits, his rectitude of conduct and a
personal attention to a business which he understood, caused his success
in life, he will listen to the siren voices. He says: “I will put in twenty thousand dollars. I have been lucky, and my good
luck will soon bring me back sixty thousand dollars.” A few days elapse and it is discovered he
must put in ten thousand dollars more: soon after he is told “it is
all right,” but certain matters not foreseen, require an advance of
twenty thousand dollars more, which will bring him a rich harvest;
but before the time comes around to realize, the bubble bursts, he loses
all he is possessed of, and then he learns what he ought to have
known at the first, that however successful a man may be in his own
business, if he turns from that and engages ill a business which he don’t
understand, he is like Samson when shorn of his locks his strength
has departed, and he becomes like other men. If a man has plenty of money, he ought to
invest something in everything that appears to promise success, and that
will probably benefit mankind; but let the sums thus invested be moderate
in amount, and never let a man foolishly jeopardize a fortune that he
has earned in a legitimate way, by investing it in things in which he
has had no experience. DON’T INDORSE WITHOUT SECURITY I hold that no man ought ever to indorse a
note or become security, for any man, be it his father or brother, to a
greater extent than he can afford to lose and care nothing about, without
taking good security. Here is a man that is worth twenty thousand
dollars; he is doing a thriving manufacturing or mercantile trade;
you are retired and living on your money; he comes to you and says: “You are aware that I am worth twenty thousand
dollars, and don’t owe a dollar; if I had five thousand dollars in
cash, I could purchase a particular lot of goods and double my money
in a couple of months; will you indorse my note for that amount?” You reflect that he is worth twenty thousand
dollars, and you incur no risk by endorsing his note; you like to accommodate
him, and you lend your name without taking the precaution of
getting security. Shortly
after, he shows you the note with your endorsement canceled, and tells
you, probably truly, “that he made the profit that he expected by
the operation,” you reflect that you have done a good action, and the
thought makes you feel happy. By and by, the same thing occurs again and
you do it again; you have already fixed the impression in your mind that
it is perfectly safe to indorse his notes without security. But the trouble is, this man is getting money
too easily. He has only to
take your note to the bank, get it discounted and take the cash. He
gets money for the time being without effort; without inconvenience to
himself. Now mark the result. He sees a chance for speculation outside
of his business. A temporary investment of only $10,000 is
required. It
is sure to come back before a note at the bank would be due. He places a
note for that amount before you. You sign it almost mechanically. Being
firmly convinced that your friend is responsible and trustworthy; you
indorse his notes as a “matter of course.” Unfortunately the speculation does not come
to a head quite so soon as was expected, and another $10,000 note must
be discounted to take up the last one when due. Before this note matures the speculation has
proved an utter failure and all the money is lost. Does the loser tell his
friend, the endorser, that he has lost half of his fortune? Not at all. He don’t even mention that he has speculated
at all. But he has got
excited; the spirit of speculation has seized him; he sees others making
large sums in this way (we seldom hear of the losers), and, like other
speculators, he “looks for his money where he loses it.” He tries again. endorsing notes has become chronic with you,
and at every loss he gets your signature for whatever amount he wants. Finally you discover
your friend has lost all of his property and all of yours. You are
overwhelmed with astonishment and grief, and you say “it is a hard
thing; my friend here has ruined me,” but, you should add, “I have also
ruined him.” If you had said in the first place, “I will
accommodate you, but I never indorse without taking ample
security,” he could not have gone beyond the length of his tether,
and he would never have been tempted away from his legitimate business. It is a very dangerous
thing, therefore, at any time, to let people get possession of money
too easily; it tempts them to hazardous speculations, if nothing more. Solomon truly said “he that hateth suretiship
is sure.” So with the young man starting in business;
let him understand the value of money by earning it. When he does understand its value, then grease
the wheels a little in helping him to start business, but remember, men
who get money with too great facility cannot usually succeed. You must
get the first dollars by hard knocks, and at some sacrifice, in order to
appreciate the value of those dollars. ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS We all depend, more or less, upon the public
for our support. We
all trade with the public–lawyers, doctors, shoemakers, artists,
blacksmiths, showmen, opera stagers, railroad presidents, and college
professors. Those who deal with the public must be careful
that their goods are valuable; that they are genuine,
and will give satisfaction. When you get an article which you know is
going to please your customers, and that when they have tried it,
they will feel they have got their money’s worth, then let the fact
be known that you have got it. Be careful to advertise it in some shape or
other because it is evident that if a man has ever so good an
article for sale, and nobody knows it, it will bring him no return. In a country like this, where
nearly everybody reads, and where newspapers are issued and circulated
in editions of five thousand to two hundred thousand, it would be very
unwise if this channel was not taken advantage of to reach the public in
advertising. A newspaper goes into the family, and is read
by wife and children, as well as the head of the home;
hence hundreds and thousands of people may read your advertisement, while
you are attending to your routine business. Many, perhaps, read it while you are asleep. The whole
philosophy of life is, first “sow,” then “reap.” That is the way the
farmer does; he plants his potatoes and corn, and sows his grain, and
then goes about something else, and the time comes when he reaps. But
he never reaps first and sows afterwards. This principle applies to all
kinds of business, and to nothing more eminently than to advertising. If
a man has a genuine article, there is no way in which he can reap more
advantageously than by “sowing” to the public in this way. He must,
of course, have a really good article, and one which will please his
customers; anything spurious will not succeed permanently because the
public is wiser than many imagine. Men and women are selfish, and we all
prefer purchasing where we can get the most for our money and we try to
find out where we can most surely do so. You may advertise a spurious article, and
induce many people to call and buy it once, but they will denounce you as
an impostor and swindler, and your business will gradually die out and leave
you poor. This is right. Few people can safely depend upon chance custom. You all need to have
your customers return and purchase again. A man said to me, “I have
tried advertising and did not succeed; yet I have a good article.” I replied, “My friend, there may be exceptions
to a general rule. But
how do you advertise?” “I put it in a weekly newspaper three times,
and paid a dollar and a half for it.” I replied: “Sir, advertising is like learning–‘a
little is a dangerous thing!'” A French writer says that “The reader of a
newspaper does not see the first mention of an ordinary advertisement;
the second insertion he sees, but does not read; the third insertion
he reads; the fourth insertion, he looks at the price; the fifth
insertion, he speaks of it to his wife; the sixth insertion, he is
ready to purchase, and the seventh insertion, he purchases.” Your object in advertising is to make
the public understand what you have got to sell, and if you have not the
pluck to keep advertising, until you have imparted that information, all
the money you have spent is lost. You are like the fellow who told the
gentleman if he would give him ten cents it would save him a dollar. “How can I help you so much with so small
a sum?” asked the gentleman in surprise. “I started out this morning (hiccuped the
fellow) with the full determination to get drunk, and I
have spent my only dollar to accomplish the object, and it has not quite
done it. Ten cents worth
more of whiskey would just do it, and in this manner I should save the
dollar already expended.” So a man who advertises at all must keep it
up until the public know who and what he is, and what his business is,
or else the money invested in advertising is lost. Some men have a peculiar genius for writing
a striking advertisement, one that will arrest the attention of the
reader at first sight. This
fact, of course, gives the advertiser a great advantage. Sometimes a
man makes himself popular by an unique sign or a curious display in his
window, recently I observed a swing sign extending over the sidewalk in
front of a store, on which was the inscription in plain letters, “DON’T READ THE OTHER SIDE” Of course I did, and so did everybody else,
and I learned that the man had made all independence by first attracting
the public to his business in that way and then using his customers well
afterwards. Genin, the hatter, bought the first Jenny
Lind ticket at auction for two hundred and twenty-five dollars, because
he knew it would be a good advertisement for him. “Who is the bidder?” said the auctioneer,
as he knocked down that ticket at Castle Garden. “Genin, the hatter,” was the
response. Here were thousands of people from the Fifth
avenue, and from distant cities in the highest stations in
life. “Who is ‘Genin,’ the
hatter?” they exclaimed. They had never heard of him before. The next
morning the newspapers and telegraph had circulated the facts from Maine
to Texas, and from five to ten millions off people had read that the
tickets sold at auction For Jenny Lind’s first concert amounted to
about twenty thousand dollars, and that a single ticket was sold at two
hundred and twenty-five dollars, to “Genin, the hatter.” Men throughout
the country involuntarily took off their hats to see if they had a
“Genin” hat on their heads. At a town in Iowa it was found that in the
crowd around the post office, there was one man who had a “Genin” hat,
and he showed it in triumph, although it was worn out and not worth two
cents. “Why,” one man exclaimed, “you have a real
‘Genin’ hat; what a lucky fellow you are.” Another man said, “Hang on to that hat, it
will be a valuable heir-loom in your family.” Still another man in the crowd
who seemed to envy the possessor of this good fortune, said, “Come, give
us all a chance; put it up at auction!” He did so, and it was sold as a
keepsake for nine dollars and fifty cents! What was the consequence
to Mr. Genin? He sold ten thousand extra hats per annum,
the first six years. Nine-tenths of the purchasers bought of him,
probably, out of curiosity, and many of them, finding that
he gave them an equivalent for their money, became his regular customers. This novel advertisement
first struck their attention, and then, as he made a good article, they
came again. Now I don’t say that everybody should advertise
as Mr. Genin did. But I
say if a man has got goods for sale, and he don’t advertise them in some
way, the chances are that some day the sheriff will do it for him. Nor
do I say that everybody must advertise in a newspaper, or indeed use
“printers’ ink” at all. On the contrary, although that article is
indispensable in the majority of cases, yet doctors and clergymen, and
sometimes lawyers and some others, can more effectually reach the public
in some other manner. But it is obvious, they must be known in some
way, else how could they be supported? BE POLITE AND KIND TO YOUR CUSTOMERS Politeness and civility are the best capital
ever invested in business. Large stores, gilt signs, flaming advertisements,
will all prove unavailing if you or your employees treat
your patrons abruptly. The
truth is, the more kind and liberal a man is, the more generous will be
the patronage bestowed upon him. “Like begets like.” The man who gives
the greatest amount of goods of a corresponding quality for the least
sum (still reserving for himself a profit) will generally succeed best
in the long run. This brings us to the golden rule, “As ye
would that men should do to you, do ye also to them”
and they will do better by you than if you always treated them as if
you wanted to get the most you could out of them for the least return. Men who drive sharp bargains
with their customers, acting as if they never expected to see them
again, will not be mistaken. They will never see them again as
customers. People don’t like to pay and get kicked also. One of the ushers in my Museum once told me
he intended to whip a man who was in the lecture-room as soon as he
came out. “What for?” I inquired. “Because he said I was no gentleman,” replied
the usher. “Never mind,” I replied, “he pays for that,
and you will not convince him you are a gentleman by whipping him. I cannot afford to lose a
customer. If you whip him, he will never visit the Museum
again, and he will induce friends to go with him to other
places of amusement instead of this, and thus you see, I should be a serious
loser.” “But he insulted me,” muttered the usher. “Exactly,” I replied, “and if he owned the
Museum, and you had paid him for the privilege of visiting it, and he had
then insulted you, there might be some reason in your resenting it,
but in this instance he is the man who pays, while we receive, and you
must, therefore, put up with his bad manners.” My usher laughingly remarked, that this was
undoubtedly the true policy; but he added that he should not object to
an increase of salary if he was expected to be abused in order to promote
my interest. BE CHARITABLE Of course men should be charitable, because
it is a duty and a pleasure. But even as a matter of policy, if you possess
no higher incentive, you will find that the liberal man will command
patronage, while the sordid, uncharitable miser will be avoided. Solomon says: “There is that scattereth and
yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than meet, but it tendeth
to poverty.” Of course
the only true charity is that which is from the heart. The best kind of charity is to help those
who are willing to help themselves. Promiscuous almsgiving, without inquiring
into the worthiness of the applicant, is bad in every
sense. But to search out
and quietly assist those who are struggling for themselves, is the kind
that “scattereth and yet increaseth.” But don’t fall into the idea that
some persons practice, of giving a prayer instead of a potato, and
a benediction instead of bread, to the hungry. It is easier to make
Christians with full stomachs than empty. DON’T BLAB Some men have a foolish habit of telling their
business secrets. If they
make money they like to tell their neighbors how it was done. Nothing
is gained by this, and ofttimes much is lost. Say nothing about your
profits, your hopes, your expectations, your intentions. And this
should apply to letters as well as to conversation. Goethe makes
Mephistophilles say: “Never write a letter nor destroy one.” Business
men must write letters, but they should be careful what they put in
them. If you are losing money, be specially cautious
and not tell of it, or you will lose your reputation. PRESERVE YOUR INTEGRITY It is more precious than diamonds or rubies. The old miser said to
his sons: “Get money; get it honestly if you can, but get money:” This
advice was not only atrociously wicked, but it was the very essence of
stupidity: It was as much as to say, “if you find it difficult to obtain
money honestly, you can easily get it dishonestly. Get it in that way.” Poor fool! Not to know that the most difficult thing
in life is to make money dishonestly! Not to know that our prisons are full of men
who attempted to follow this advice; not to understand
that no man can be dishonest, without soon being found out,
and that when his lack of principle is discovered, nearly every avenue
to success is closed against him forever. The public very properly shun all whose integrity
is doubted. No matter how polite and pleasant and accommodating
a man may be, none of us dare to deal with him if
we suspect “false weights and measures.” Strict honesty, not only lies at the foundation
of all success in life (financially), but in
every other respect. Uncompromising integrity of character is invaluable. It secures to its
possessor a peace and joy which cannot be attained without it–which no
amount of money, or houses and lands can purchase. A man who is known
to be strictly honest, may be ever so poor, but he has the purses of
all the community at his disposal–for all know that if he promises to
return what he borrows, he will never disappoint them. As a mere matter
of selfishness, therefore, if a man had no higher motive for being
honest, all will find that the maxim of Dr. Franklin can never fail to
be true, that “honesty is the best policy.” To get rich, is not always equivalent to being
successful. “There are
many rich poor men,” while there are many others, honest and devout men
and women, who have never possessed so much money as some rich persons
squander in a week, but who are nevertheless really richer and happier
than any man can ever be while he is a transgressor of the higher laws
of his being. The inordinate love of money, no doubt, may
be and is “the root of all evil,” but money itself, when properly used,
is not only a “handy thing to have in the house,” but affords the gratification
of blessing our race by enabling its possessor to enlarge
the scope of human happiness and human influence. The desire for wealth is nearly universal,
and none can say it is not laudable, provided the possessor
of it accepts its responsibilities, and uses it as a friend
to humanity. The history of money-getting, which is commerce,
is a history of civilization, and wherever trade has flourished
most, there, too, have art and science produced the noblest fruits. In fact, as a general
thing, money-getters are the benefactors of our race. To them, in a
great measure, are we indebted for our institutions of learning and of
art, our academies, colleges and churches. It is no argument against the
desire for, or the possession of wealth, to say that there are sometimes
misers who hoard money only for the sake of hoarding and who have no
higher aspiration than to grasp everything which comes within their
reach. As we have sometimes hypocrites in religion,
and demagogues in politics, so there are occasionally misers
among money-getters. These,
however, are only exceptions to the general rule. But when, in this
country, we find such a nuisance and stumbling block as a miser,
we remember with gratitude that in America we have no laws of
primogeniture, and that in the due course of nature the time will come
when the hoarded dust will be scattered for the benefit of mankind. To all men and women, therefore, do I conscientiously
say, make money honestly, and not otherwise, for Shakespeare
has truly said, “He that wants money, means, and content, is without
three good friends.”


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