( Originally Published 1879 )
There is seldom a line of glory written upon the earth's face but a line of suffering runs parallel with it; and they that read the lustrous syllables of the one, and stop not to decipher the spotted and worn inscription of the other, get the lesser half of the lesson earth has to give.
The hopelessness of any one's accomplishing anything without pluck is illustrated by an old East Indian fable. A mouse that dwelt near the abode of a great magician was kept in such constant distress by its fear of a cat, that the magician, taking pity on it, turned it into a cat itself. Immediately it began to suffer from its fear of a dog, so the magician turned it into a dog. Then it began to suffer from fear of a tiger, and the magician turned it into a tiger. Then it began to suffer from its fear of huntsmen, and the magician, in disgust, said, " Be a mouse again. As you have only the heart of a mouse, it is impossible to help you by giving you the body of a nobler animal." And the poor creature again became a mouse.
It is the same with a mouse-hearted man. He may be clothed with the powers, and placed in the position of brave men, but he will always act like a mouse; and public opinion is usually the great magician that finally says to such a person, "Go back to your obscurity again. You have only the heart of a mouse, and it is useless to try to make a lion of you."
Many depend on luck instead of pluck. The P left off that word makes all the difference. The English say luck is all; "it is better to be born lucky than wise." The Spanish, "The worst pig gets the best acorn." The French, " A good bone never falls to a good dog." The German, "Pitch the lucky man into the Nile, and he will come up with a fish in his mouth."
Fortune, success, fame, position are never gained, but by piously, determinedly, bravely sticking, living to a thing till it is fairly accomplished. In short, you must carry a thing through if you want to be anybody or anything. No matter if it does cost you the pleasure, the society, the thousand pearly gratifications of life. No matter for these. Stick to the thing and carry it through. Believe you were made for the matter, and that no one else can do it. Put forth your whole energies. Be awake, electrify yourself; go forth to the task. Only once learn to carry a thing through in all its completeness and proportion, and you will become a hero. You will think better of yourself; others will think better of you. The world in its very heart admires the stern, determined doer. It sees in him its best sight, its brightest object, its richest treasure. Drive right along, then, in whatever you undertake. Consider yourself amply sufficient for the deed and you will succeed.