objects for which we must all struggle. The sooner we realize what
this means, the greater and more worthy will be the life which we
......In putting together the brief life stories and incidents from
great lives which make up the pages of this little volume, the
writer's object has been to show young people that, no matter how
humble their birth or circumstances, they may make lives that will
be held up as examples to future generations, even as these
stories show how boys, handicapped by poverty and the most
discouraging surroundings, yet succeeded so that they are held up
as models to
boys of to-day.
......No boy or girl can learn too early in life the value of time and
the opportunities within reach of the humblest children of the
twentieth century to enable them to make of themselves noble men
......The stories here presented do not claim to be more than mere
outlines of the subjects chosen, enough to show what brave souls
in the past, souls animated by loyalty to God and to their best
selves, were able to accomplish in spite of obstacles of which the
more fortunately born youths of to-day can have no conception.
It should never be forgotten, however, in the strivings of
ambition, that, while every one should endeavor to raise himself
to his highest power and to attain to as exalted and honorable a
position as his abilities entitle him to, his first object should
be to make a
wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Miss Margaret
Connolly in the preparation of this volume.
"THE MILL BOY OF THE SLASHES"
THE GREEK SLAVE WHO WON THE OLIVE CROWN
TURNING POINTS IN THE LIFE OF A HERO:
I. THE FIRST TURNING POINT
II. A BORN LEADER
III. "FARRAGUT IS THE MAN"
HE AIMED HIGH AND HIT THE MARK
THE EVOLUTION OF A VIOLINIST
THE LESSON OF THE TEAKETTLE
HOW THE ART OF PRINTING WAS DISCOVERED
SEA FEVER AND WHAT IT LED TO
GLADSTONE FOUND TIME TO BE KIND
A TRIBUNE OF THE PEOPLE
THE MIGHT OF PATIENCE
THE INSPIRATION OF GAMBETTA
ANDREW JACKSON: THE BOY WHO "NEVER WOULD GIVE UP"
SIR HUMPHRY DAVY'S GREATEST DISCOVERY, MICHAEL FARADAY
THE TRIUMPH OF CANOVA
FRANKLIN'S LESSON ON TIME VALUE
FROM STORE BOY TO MILLIONAIRE
"I WILL PAINT OR DIE!"
THE CALL THAT SPEAKS IN THE BLOOD
WASHINGTON'S YOUTHFUL HEROISM
A COW HIS CAPITAL
THE BOY WHO SAID "I MUST"
THE HIDDEN TREASURE
LOVE TAMED THE LION
"THERE IS ROOM ENOUGH AT THE TOP"
THE UPLIFT OF A SLAVE BOY'S IDEAL
"TO THE FIRST ROBIN"
THE "WIZARD" AS AN EDITOR
HOW GOOD FORTUNE CAME TO PIERRE
"IF I REST, I RUST"
A BOY WHO KNEW NOT FEAR
HOW STANLEY FOUND LIVINGSTONE
THE NESTOR OF AMERICAN JOURNALISTS
THE MAN WITH AN IDEA
"BERNARD OF THE TUILERIES"
HOW THE "LEARNED BLACKSMITH" FOUND TIME
THE LEGEND OF WILLIAM TELL
THREE GREAT AMERICAN SONGS AND THEIR AUTHORS
I. THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER
III. THE BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC
TRAINING FOR GREATNESS
THE MARBLE WAITETH
STORIES FROM LIFE
For the structure that we raise,
Time is with materials filled;
Our to-days and yesterdays
Are the blocks with which we build.
To-day! To-day! It is ours, with all its magic possibilities of
being and doing. Yesterday, with its mistakes, misdeeds, lost
opportunities, and failures, is gone forever. With the morrow we
are not immediately concerned. It is but a promise yet to be
fulfilled. Hidden behind the veil of the future, it may dimly
beckon us, but it is yet a shadowy, unsubstantial vision, one that
we, perhaps, never may realize. But to-day, the Here, the Now,
that dawned upon us with the first hour of the morn, is a reality,
a precious possession upon the right use of which may depend all
our future of happiness and success, or of misery and failure; for
"This day we fashion Destiny, our web of Fate we spin."
Lest he should forget that Time's wings are swift and noiseless,
and so rapidly bear our to-days to the Land of Yesterday, John
Ruskin, philosopher, philanthropist, and tireless worker though he
was, kept constantly before his eyes on his study table a large,
handsome block of chalcedony, on which was graven the single word
"To-day." Every moment of this noble life was enriched by the
right use of each passing moment.
A successful merchant, whose name is well-known throughout our
country, very tersely sums up the means by which true success may
be attained. "It is just this," he says: "Do your best every day,
whatever you have in hand."
This simple rule, if followed in sunshine and in storm, in days of
sadness as well as days of gladness, will rear for the builder a
Palace Beautiful more precious than pearls of great price, more
enduring than time.
"THE MILL BOY OF THE SLASHES"
A picturesque, as well as pathetic figure, was Henry Clay, the
little "Mill Boy of the Slashes," as he rode along on the old
family horse to Mrs. Darricott's mill. Blue-eyed, rosy-cheeked,
and bare-footed, clothed in coarse shirt and trousers, and a
time-worn straw hat, he sat erect on the bare back of the horse,
holding, with firm hand, the rope which did duty as a bridle. In
front of him lay the precious sack, containing the grist which was
to be ground into meal or flour, to feed the hungry mouths of the
seven little boys and girls who, with the widowed mother, made up
the Clay family.
It required a good deal of grist to feed so large a family,
especially when hoecake was the staple food, and it was because of
his frequent trips to the mill, across the swampy region called
the "Slashes," that Henry was dubbed by the neighbors "The Mill
Boy of the Slashes."
The lad was ambitious, however, and, very early in life, made up
his mind that he would win for himself a more imposing title. He
never dreamed of winning world-wide renown as an orator, or of
exchanging his boyish sobriquet for "The Orator of Ashland." But
he who forms high ideals in youth usually far outstrips his first
ambition, and Henry had "hitched
wagon to a star."
This awkward country boy, who was so bashful, and so lacking in
self-confidence that he hardly dared recite before his class in
the log schoolhouse, DETERMINED TO BECOME AN ORATOR.
Henry Clay, the brilliant lawyer and statesman, the American
Demosthenes who could sway multitudes by his matchless oratory,
once said, "In order to succeed a man must have a purpose fixed,
then let his motto be VICTORY OR DEATH." When Henry Clay, the poor
country boy, son of an unknown Baptist minister, made up his mind
to become an orator, he acted on this principle. No discouragement
or obstacle was allowed to swerve him from his purpose. Since the
death of his father, when the boy was but five years old, he had
carried grist to the mill, chopped wood, followed the plow
barefooted, clerked in a country store,--did everything that a
loving son and brother could do to help win a subsistence for the
In the midst of poverty, hard work, and the most pitilessly
unfavorable conditions, the youth clung to his resolve. He learned
what he could at the country schoolhouse, during the time the
duties of the farm permitted him to attend school. He committed
speeches to memory, and recited them aloud, sometimes in the
forest, sometimes while working in the cornfield, and frequently
in a barn with a horse and an ox
In his fifteenth year he left the grocery store where he had been
clerking to take a position in the office of the clerk of the High
Court of Chancery. There he became interested in law, and by
reading and study began at once to supplement the scanty education
of his childhood. To such good purpose did he use his
opportunities that in 1797, when only twenty years old, he was
licensed by the judges of the
appeals to practice law.
When he moved from Richmond to Lexington, Kentucky, the same year
to begin practice for himself, he had no influential friends, no
patrons, and not even the means to pay his board. Referring to
this time years afterward, he said, "I remember how comfortable I
thought I should be if I could make one hundred pounds Virginia
money (less than five hundred dollars) per year; and with what
delight I received the first
Contrary to his expectations, the young lawyer had "immediately
rushed into a lucrative practice." At the age of twenty-seven he
was elected to the Kentucky legislature. Two years later he was
sent to the United States Senate to fill out the remainder of the
term of a senator who had withdrawn. In 1811 he was elected to
Congress, and made Speaker of the national House of
Representatives. He was afterward elected to the United States
Senate in the regular way.
Both in Congress and in the Senate Clay always worked for what he
believed to be the best interests of his country. Ambition, which
so often causes men to turn aside from the paths of truth and
honor, had no power to tempt him to do wrong. He was ambitious to
be president, but would not sacrifice any of his convictions for
the sake of being elected. Although he was nominated by his party
three times, he never became president. It was when warned by a
friend that if he persisted in a certain course of political
conduct he would injure his prospects of being elected, that he
made his famous statement, "I would rather be right than be
Clay has been described by one of his biographers as "a brilliant
orator, an honest man, a charming gentleman, an ardent patriot,
and a leader whose popularity was equaled only by that of Andrew
Although born in a state in which wealth and ancient ancestry were
highly rated, he was never ashamed of his birth or poverty. Once
when taunted by the aristocratic John Randolph with his lowly
origin, he proudly exclaimed, "I was born to no proud paternal
estate. I inherited only infancy, ignorance, and indigence."
He was born in Hanover County, Virginia, on April 12, 1777, and
died in Washington, June 29, 1852. With only the humble
inheritance which he claimed--"infancy, ignorance, and indigence"
--Henry Clay made himself a name that wealth and a long line of
ancestry could never bestow.