The Project Gutenberg eBook of Stop! A Handy Monitor, Pocket Conscience and Portable Guardian against the World, the Flesh and the Devil

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Title: Stop! A Handy Monitor, Pocket Conscience and Portable Guardian against the World, the Flesh and the Devil

Author: Nathan Dane Urner

Release date: November 3, 2016 [eBook #53443]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Anita Hammond, Wayne Hammond and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)


A Handy Monitor and
Pocket Conscience.

By Author of NEVER and ALWAYS.

Over a MILLION Sold
Queenie Hetherton
For Sale Everywhere
Price, $1.50.

A Handy Monitor, Pocket Conscience
and Portable Guardian
against the World,
the Flesh and the

“Stop! To pause, knock off, let up, cheese it, switch off, give it a rest, cut short, stand like a rock, kick against, shut down, bring up with a round turn, hold hard,” etc.—Thesaurus.

“What would you, sir? I pray you stop, nor yield a hair to vicious promptings!”—Moliere.


G. W. Carleton & Co., Publishers.


Stereotyped by
Samuel Stodder,
42 Dey Street, N. Y.



The pining need of a work of this kind—an instructive sharpener in book-form, as it were, of the moral faculty—has long been so seriously felt that the author eagerly hastens to supply it.

InNeverandAlways,” his appeal was rather to the externalities of life. InStop,” his aim is to regulate the very springs of impulse, deliberation and resolve. In other 4 words, there is not a temptation that he would not strip of its disguise, not an unworthy motive that he would not pulverize as with a corrective club, not a misleading conceit that he would not skewer to its squirming source.

Although the pearls of thought and monitory gems herewith presented are intended mainly for young men just entering upon the great work of life, there is neither man nor maid, stripling nor patriarch, saphead nor sage who may not scramble for them with avidity, and glory in their possession.

Young man, are you hesitating in the choice of a vocation? A reference to the admonitions under this head inStopmay be the means of your becoming a Millionaire, a Police Magistrate 5 or an ornament to society. Are you in love, or willing to be? A consultation of the advice at your command may place you in such hobnobbing, soul-wedded relations with the rosy god as shall cause you to charm, to captivate, and finally to wrest the rapt, responsive throb from Beauty’s battlemented heart. Are you a driveling idiot in money matters? Imbibe, and be wise. And so on, through all the departments of existence.

Thus, panoplied, as it were, against the World, the Flesh and the Devil, you might eventually, in an agony of gratitude and wonderment, eulogize the author in the significant words of Hamlet, slightly altered, to the following effect:

“’Sblood! he plays on me easier than on a pipe! He would seem to know my Stops; he 6 would pluck out the heart of my mystery; he would sound me from my lowest notes to the top of my compass; there is so much music, excellent voice and incomparable counsel in this little book!”



In Choosing a Vocation 9
In General Deportment 19
In Love Affairs 27
In Money Matters 39
In Guarding Against Bad Habits 48
In Judging Others 55
In Recreations 64
In the Domestic Relations 73
In Business Life 84
In Thought, Word and Deed 91




In Choosing a Vocation.

Stop, first, and reflect what you are fit for. To rush recklessly into an occupation of which you are as ignorant as a horse is of music, is not to be thought of.

Stop, next, and consider if what you have in view is respectable. Or, if too much of an ass to distinguish between banking and bunco, for instance, read up carefully on horse-sense. 10

Stop, again, and be sure that your choice is in keeping with your capacity. To essay one of the learned professions if wholly uneducated, speculative pursuits if a natural born fool, or hod-carrying if lily-handed, spindle-propped and wasp-waisted, is hardly a proof of intellectuality.

Stop, your career being chosen, to master its rudiments before essaying its higher walks. Rome was not built in a day, nor is any vocation a spring-board to waft you into the empyrean at the primary bounce.

Stop long enough to master the rule of “addition, division and silence,” if seeking political preferrment, or employment as a confidential clerk.

Stop long enough in one vocation to give 11 it a fair trial. Jacks-of-all-trades—men who are studying law in the morning, counter-hopping after dinner, peddling soap to-day, starting a bank to-morrow—are seldom successful.

Stop, and ponder deeply, before becoming that pitiable object, a professional office-seeker. Rather sink your independence of thought and action at once by marrying for money, or toadying upon a rich relative.

Stop, if a lawyer’s office-boy, before intruding your legal views upon your employer’s graver consultations. Think! Should you excite his professional envy at the outset?

Stop, if beginning as a dry-goods clerk, before imagining yourself a silent partner in the concern, with your four dollars 12 a week as its chief investment. Self-respect is one thing, unmitigated, idiotic asininity another.

Stop, if at the tape-and-shoestrings counter, before aspiring to the glittering generalities of the ribbons and laces, or the grave responsibilities of the white-goods department. The cares of these high functions may surpass your conception, and we must creep before we climb.

Stop before entering the ministry, if without religious convictions, a sacrilegious scoffer, and morally depraved.

Stop on the ragged edge of the fallacy that your place, or any man’s cannot be filled by another. When men die, as they all must, are their places not always filled? 13

Stop on the brink of blatant, unaccredited, irresponsible quackery in anything, but especially if desirous of becoming a disciple of Hippocrates.

Stop, if contemplating a banking career, and inquire if you have a mathematical mind and attainments. A vague acquaintance with the rule of three, together with a mouth-watering desire for colossal wealth, cannot alone enable you to rival the wizards of finance.

Stop before setting up on your own account, unless thoroughly in earnest. Even a peanut-stand may be dignified by business energy and perseverance.

Stop short, bring up with a round turn, at any inducement, however dazzling, that is not strictly honest. You can better afford to be mediocre than obnoxious. 14

Stop, and consider well, before taking up a patent lightning-rod. Agents are already numerous, and farmers’ dogs on the alert.

Stop, before joining the army of commercial drummers, and be sure that you possess three qualifications in a superlative degree, i.e.: cheek, pertinacity and the gift of gab.

Stop, should you become a drummer, at the nineteenth lie in support of one line of goods. Mendacity hath its limits, and even the credulity of a yokel may be gorged.

Stop on the giddy verge of over-estimate in any business. “Hope,” says Lacon, “is a prodigal young heir, and experience is his banker; but his drafts are seldom honored, because he draws 15 largely on a small capital, is not yet in possession, and if he were, would die.”

Stop, indignantly repel, all inducements on the part of advertising sharks. Their name is legion, and they seek but to devour.

Stop, howsoever tempted, at the allurements of roguery, embezzlement, rascality, and satanic suggestions of every description. If you must be a cutpurse let it be on the broad highway, pistol in hand, dime-novel at heart, and the gallows in sight.

Stop, if contemplating a political career, and distinctly settle this question in your mind: Am I to boss the party, or is the party to boss me? There is nothing like avoiding a confusion of ideas. 16

Stop, next, and be certain that your ambition is not o’erleaping its aim. Pluck bright honor from the pale-faced moon, if possible, but to make a dead set for the Presidency and bring up as a police-court janitor, or coroner’s assistant, is apt to prove discouraging.

Stop, even if rich, before entering upon pleasure as a business. Few constitutions can long stand the racket, ennui is the result, and premature death its bourne.

Stop before entering the literary profession, if devoid of imagination, a proverbial fool, and with but a lazy comprehension of orthography, grammar and syntax.

Stop, next, and ask yourself, what great author, dead or living, shall I emulate? 17 Then, be your model Shakespeare or Bartley Campbell, Thackeray or Tupper, Byron or the Burlington Hawkeye, stick to your ideal, revel in ink and starve for glory.

Stop, if of a dramatic turn, before absolutely forcing a manager to produce your play. There are, unfortunately, legal safeguards for even this species of credulous, unsophisticated, professionals.

Stop, and reflect profoundly, before adopting pugilism as a vocation, if constitutionally weak in the back, color-blind, short-winded, and timid to pusillanimity.

Stop before deciding upon a histrionic career, until satisfied that you are not 18 better fitted for an auction-room or a junk-shop.

Stop, in any calling, long enough to become familiar with the foot of the ladder before clawing ineffectually at the top-round. Beginning at the top, to come down with a rush, is reserved for millionaires’ sons, holders of winning lottery-tickets and cat’s-paws of nominating conventions.


In General Deportment.

Stop at the assumption of a supercilious, ducal air, especially if small of stature, monkey-brained and impecunious. This is solely the privilege of floor-walkers, brained midgets and actresses’ husbands.

Stop, on the other hand, if tall and commanding, before cultivating a creeping, crushed demeanor, unless you are a colporteur or dog-stealer.

Stop on the brink of wholly disregarding the prevailing fashions. Knee-breeches, shoe-buckles, a powdered wig, and a swallow-tailed coat, with the waist-buttons between the shoulder-blades, would 20 stamp you as an eccentric at the present day.

Stop before despising the requirements of the seasons. A straw-hat in a snow-storm, for instance, would excite remark.

Stop when vanity counsels an excess of ornament. To exhibit a jewel or two with judgment is one thing, to groan under a clanking avoirdupois of gauds and trinkets another.

Stop at the claims of both a cadaverous gravity and a causeless facetiousness of demeanor. Neither the belfry owl nor the proverbial basket of chips should be your model in this regard.

Stop on the verge of unnecessary violence in word and deed. Resent, if you must, without preliminary roaring. The deadly 21 submarine torpedo is terrible in its explosion, but less noisy than the harmless bursting of an inflated paper-bag.

Stop before criticising what you do not understand. The bore indulging in this species of idiocy is deserving of an enforced association with numerous mothers-in-law in a whisper-gallery.

Stop, indeed, snap your jaws to like a spring-trap, at the very suggestion of an oath or low expression. “Profanity,” says Lacon, “never yet dignified wrath nor emphasized a great purpose.”

Stop before indulging in covert sneers. Indeed, “a good, mouth-filling oath” is preferable, because less hypocritical, but an ungarnished assertion is better than either.

Stop before meanly insinuating what 22 should be plainly spoken. Even if a man owes you money, which you think he ought to pay, tell him so, or ask for an explanation, instead of conveying your meaning through an allusion to his current expense or new clothes. This is the course of a sneak and a coward.

Stop, rather, and bewail the abolition of imprisonment for debt, or tell him that he ought to live cheaply and go in rags until he liquidates.

Stop before assuming a rasping, file-edged, whip-in-hand demeanor toward your dependents or inferiors. Apart from its villainously bad taste, the whirligig of time may bring about a transposition of relations, and then where are you?

Stop, on the other hand, ere adopting a 23 groveling, sycophantic, ultra-ingratiating manner with your superiors. “The flavor that can only be won by fawning servility is seldom of great worth.”

Stop before persisting in a style of laugh that can betray your motives to your disadvantage. The “He, he, he!” of hypocrisy is as patent as the “Haw, haw, haw!” of the windbag.

Stop at an unwarranted ostentation of speech and bearing. The dung-hill bird is distinguished quite as much by his strut as by his vociferousness.

Stop, in addressing a woman, and consider the privilege of her sex, even if she may have aggrieved you.

Stop, on the other hand, before over-whelming her with an excess of courtesy. 24 Over-attentiveness to women always inspires a suspicion as to its motive.

Stop before retailing a scandal, even if convinced of its truth. This is the province of the incorrigible gossip and the newspaper reporter, with neither of whom you can hope to cope.

Stop on the threshold of a temptation to distort the truth. Plausibility in lying is an art in which but few can earn distinction.

Stop before disputing a fact, however distasteful, that can be proved by statistical evidence. Figures are not apt to lie, save on gas-metres.

Stop before adhering to an error through a mistaken sense of shame. “Who acknowledgeth his error showeth an increase of wisdom; who stubbornly adhereth 25 to what hath been disproved confesseth himself a fool.”

Stop short of the conceit that irresistibility with the fair sex depends on good-looks alone. The manners make the man.

Stop before aping the characteristics of another, however exalted. The gesticulations of the Frenchman would be unseemly in the staid Hidalgo, and that which would be a pleasing originality in one might be a preposterous parody in the imitator.

Stop short of the notion that wiseacre looks and frigidity of manner will always be indicative of reserved force and intellectual acumen. The owl is the solemnest and likewise the stupidest of birds. 26

Stop, whenever in moral doubt or distress, and consult the masterly advice and sage promptings of this jewel of a book. It shall be unto you “as rivers of water in a dry place, or the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”


In Love Affairs.

Stop!—That burning thought—that delirium in thy heart—as to the lovely being whose image is before thee night and day—is it such as her modesty and virtue, her seraphic guilelessness should inspire? if not, away with it—blot it out!

Stop! Was she rather plain than peerless, and is it the thought of her father’s bonds and shekels that now summons the enamored hectic to thy virile cheek? Away with it, likewise, and for shame! Shall blood with boodle blend—emotion cringe at Mammon’s beck—and Love be unavenged? 28

Stop! Stay yet again thy headlong plunge! Was she yet lovely, an houri of a dream, but still beneath thee in family, station, fortune, and didst therefore smile but to deceive? If so, hold hard, hug this sweet volume to thy heart of hearts, and sin no more!

Stop, and meditate upon the three foregoing paragraphs, for in them are embodied the cardinal principles in making love: Purity of purpose, Disinterestedness and Truth.

Stop for some encouragement before rendering your attentions universally conspicuous. A glance of the eye, a tremor of the lip, the merest shadow of a blush upon the seashell-tinted cheek, will suffice.

Stop, if such subtle signs are wanting or 29 withheld, and plan some deep-laid scheme to unveil heart’s predilection, indifference, or dislike. Oysters and ice-cream are still available in their respective seasons.

Stop before mistaking a passing fancy for a wild, consuming maddening, over-mastering, star-jostling passion. This mistake has evoked more paternal walking-sticks and breach-of-promise suits than would keep a French novelist in subject-matter for a twelvemonth.

Stop, after falling head over ears in love, to collect your senses and formulate your plans. An inconsiderate, maniacal rush into a declaration is often repented at leisure.

Stop, if not certain of your ground, before wholly unmasking your batteries. 30 Delicate attentions, even worshiping, awe-struck glances from afar, are time-old preliminaries, but none the less effective.

Stop, however, on the threshold of feverish demonstration at the outset. Furnace-like sighs, dazed, dumb-founded looks, like those of an expiring calf, and frenzied bodily contortions may be brought to bear in their own good time.

Stop short of opposing her tastes and convictions. To gently chime with them, whether you have any of your own or not, while preserving a vigorous masculinity in favor of quail-gorging, head-punching and kindred noble sports, is in the main commendable.

Stop before vaunting a wild, atheistical 31 or Ingersollian contempt for all things sacred, if she should be of a deeply religious turn. However, this is not to prescribe a regular biblical course, a very little of which goes a great way in the wooing o’t.

Stop before disclaiming all love for music, or suggesting the banjo or bagpipe as your favorite instrument, should she dote on the opera, sing divinely and be a piano-pounder of no mean ability in her own person.

Stop before depreciating anything the dear creature does, or tries to do. Eagerly demand another song, even if the screech of her first has ruined your tympanum, call her verses divine, if they are no better than Tennyson’s latest senility, swear that her favorite 32 scent is yours, even if ’tis musk or garlic, and build, build as with a wand, the shining edifice of love!

Stop right off at the idea that there may be anything hypocritical or insincere advised in the foregoing paragraph. If really in love, you will religiously believe everything you tell her, and more too.

Stop, first, however, and study the character of your enchantress. All women are no more to be wooed alike than are all fish to be tempted with the same kind of bait.

Stop before addressing a brainy, well-read penetrative divinity as you would a laughing elf, a careless, careless fay, a butterfly of mirth and joy. An Hypatia is not a Hebe, and reflect! Would 33 you tempt an eagle with a moth-light, or a striped-bass with an eel-bob?

Stop, if she be intellectual, and study up to an equality with her tastes, should you be her inferior. Then scientific discussions, with poetry as a side-dish, may gradually lead up to the delicious desideratum of two hearts that beat as one.

Stop, however, at the error of preferring her intellectual to her physical charms. She is a lovely liar if she pretends to a desire for such preference, and your sin will be unpardonable, should you take her at her word.

Stop, in any case, before praising another woman’s good-looks in the adored one’s presence. In fact, you can afford her no pleasanter flattery than by a systematic 34 depreciation of a prettier woman’s charms.

Stop, if she be a Hebe, we will say, and plunge recklessly amid her paucity of ideas. Flounder in folly, palpitate with persiflage, at her giggling beck; and here is ample opportunity for the silent eloquence of the nosegay, the oyster, or the iced refreshment, not less than for the princely prodigality of the opera, the midnight coupe and the church fair lottery.

Stop short of any display of fear in her presence, even if you are timorous to the core. Let her do the shrieking at the onset of a mouse, but stand you as the rugged rock, the beaten anvil, or the rooted oak! You might even trample out a croton-bug occasionally, with 35 a cold, feelingless laugh. Imperturbability in peril was never yet a masculine fault in gentle woman’s eyes.

Stop before incurring the dislike of the fair one’s little brothers or sisters. The malapert maliciousness of l’enfant terrible may occasion mortifications without number.

Stop before losing your temper with a rival in your charmer’s presence. If you must come to blows, let it be in a retired spot, but it were far better to sit him out, beat him on bouquets, gum drops and theatre-tickets, or otherwise defeat him in the rosy lists.

Stop at the one thousandth kiss, after receiving the coveted “Yes” from the adored one’s lips. Byron, it is true, in one of his callow effusions, counsels a 36 million, but, as a conscientious Mentor, we prefer to draw the line somewhere even in such an emotional proceeding.

Stop, discontinue the siege altogether, in case of a downright rejection, howsoever reluctant, howsoever tearful. Don’t put up with the sisterly substitute, either; but just float out grandly on the ebb-tide of broken hopes, until brighter eyes a welcome shine to solace and to cheer.

Stop before imagining, if accepted, that your ordeal is now nearly at an end. Why, gentle sir, it hath just begun. You are now owned.

Stop short at the idea that even your former devotion is still in order. If it was a bouquet or two per week before, it is now a cart-load per day; your male 37 familiars must sigh for you in vain—your off-nights are things of the past; you are on exhibition, not only to your fiancée’s family, but to the world at large; you are an engaged man!

Stop on the verge of suicidal despair as a result of your first lovers’ quarrel. This is but the pepper-sauce of passion, the curry of courtship, the horse-radish of happiness, without which that crowning reflection, the kiss-gilt, teardrop-rainbowed making-up were banished forever from Love’s golden feast!

Stop, in a general way, before making love for the fun of the thing. There is no meaner, more reptilian creature in society than the professional male flirt.

Stop before yielding an iota to the allurements 38 of a notorious coquette. Heartlessness is her dower, emotional misery her delight, falseness her stock in trade, and the ashen Dead Sea fruit the only reward in her power, even if she love at last.

Stop before permitting your admiration of an actress, or ballet dancer, to glide into a master passion. Disenchantment, if desired, is mostly within easy reach, and you can console yourself with the reflection that there is far more beauty off the stage than on it.

Stop short of making love at all, if you are not of an affectionate disposition; or, when too late—that is, when married, love will be likely to stop short of you. 39

In Money Matters.

Stop, first, and understand the value of money—the importance of never being without some money, even if a very little.

Stop, next, and understand that money is nothing in itself alone, but valuable and powerful only in what it will purchase and can purchase. A pure love of it for itself, and not for what it represents, develops a loathsome disease—the disease of miserliness.

Stop short of envying the rich, even if penniless yourself. A philosophical reflection as to the causes of your bad 40 fortune, together with a resolve to mend it by a more enlightened course, is your only remedy.

Stop, however, yet shorter of the vulgar, pigheaded notion that money, even by the ton-weight, can be everything without moral or intellectual backing. If this were so, wealth would be more glorious than wisdom, which happily, it is not.

Stop before parting with money, even to an insignificant amount, without some sort of equivalent. This rule need not render you either parsimonious or uncharitable, since even alms-giving brings a return in the consciousness of having yielded to a kindly impulse.

Stop before cultivating a hoarding spirit, and remember that, logically, as between 41 the miser and the spendthrift, the latter has the best of the bargain. For, while the spendthrift has the selfish satisfaction of squandering his fortune in his own person, the miser is the dupe of his own self-denial, for the benefit of others who come after him.

Stop, however, before emulating the spendthrift any more than the miser. If there is never any love for the scheming parsimony of the one, neither is there ever any gratitude for the thoughtless largesse of the other.

Stop, and reflect well, before borrowing money under any circumstances. To an honest man, indebtedness is ever a double torture—self-torture in the haunting possibility of not being able to keep his word, and the torture of 42 imagining what, in that case, will be thought of him.

Stop, dead, before borrowing money that you are not sure of being able to repay. As for the man who borrows without the intention to repay, he is even worse than a professional thief, and as fully deserving of social ostracism.

Stop before becoming that unmitigated bore, a chronic borrower. He is at best a pitiful creature, shunned even when commiserated, and the strongest ties of friendship cannot long withstand the wrench of his proximity.

Stop, even before lending money to a friend, and reflect that non-liquidation must cost you your money, and may cost you—your friend.

Stop, however, if you mean to grant a 43 request for a loan, and grant it freely. To produce it as if extracting a wisdom-tooth, or accompany it with a stereotyped moral lecture on the hardness of the times, etc., is much like placing his request on a level with mendicancy.

Stop short—indeed, as abruptly as you please—of lending money to a known profligate or spendthrift. The proverbial blood from a turnip may be sooner expected than genuine thankfulness for an accommodation from such a source, and the probability is that he will secretly laugh at you for a fool.

Stop, however, and reflect well before adopting a general and irrevocable rule of never lending money under any circumstances. Many eminent men, the reverse of hard-hearted, have conscientiously 44 adopted this rule, but whether it is the best, as the world goes, is a question.

Stop before compromising with such a rule by offering as a gift that which is entreated as a loan. This is the course usually pursued by the eminent men alluded to above; but such a proffer is always humiliating, and often insulting.

Stop before running in debt, even for groceries or beer, for that for which you can pay on the spot. It is a pernicious habit that must steadily engender looser and looser notions about money matters.

Stop before adopting honesty as your standard merely on the immorally aphoristic grounds of its being the best policy. True integrity should stand on its merits, win or lose; whereas any 45 shrewd rascal would be honest on occasion, if satisfied that he would make by it.

Stop, rather, and fortify your uprightness on the broad grounds, “that honesty is not only the deepest policy, but the highest wisdom; since however difficult it may be for integrity to get on, it is a thousand times more difficult for knavery to get off.”

Stop before cultivating an inordinate desire to get rich in haste. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred it will develop into a species of frenzy that must over-reach and defeat its aims.

Stop, rather, and understand that in speculation, the prizes of the few are only rendered possible by the ruin of the many. 46

Stop before setting up financial comets—that is suddenly-rich men—as your exemplars. The exceptional boldness, or unscrupulousness which constituted their open sesame to dazzling fortune, may but fling wide, for the mediocre imitator, the doors of poverty or of the state prison.

Stop when you have achieved a comfortable competence, and devote yourself to the rational enjoyment thereof. To be stacking up dollars and securities to the last gasp is worse than making a hell on earth; since it is a perversity so obtuse as to imagine that as heaven which is in truth a hell.

Stop, and remember, that the accumulation of wealth, as a sole pursuit, is a diseased passion, just as much as is the 47 craving for strong drink, or for the excitement of gambling.

Stop, therefore, in the headlong race for money, and so intersperse that pursuit with knowledge and unselfish deeds, with moral and intellectual recreations, as shall render it the chief means, rather than the chief end, of a useful existence.


In Guarding Against Bad Habits.

Stop before cultivating an inordinate self-conceit, and remember that real worth is mostly modest, while those persons are the vainest who have the least to be vain of.

Stop before contracting a habit of exaggeration. This is the stock-in-trade of the cheap penny-a-liner, while the strength of the true historian lies in conscientious statement.

Stop short of fancying that such exaggeration can impress others with your imaginative 49 powers. Were this true, the grimaces of a baboon might be ascribed to emotional fine frenzy.

Stop before contracting the habit of lying, even in a harmless way. But this fault is as naturally the outgrowth of extravagance or looseness of statement, as is the noxious weed of the miscellaneous muck that stimulates it into useless being.

Stop short of listlessness in word, look and deed. A perfunctory person is never in demand, and Rip Van Winkle only indemnified society in sleeping out his twenty years.

Stop, and do nothing, rather than procrastinate indefinitely. Untrustworthiness is the final result of procrastination, and a reputation for that is tantamount 50 to elimination from the world’s employment.

Stop far short of any indulgence that can affect your general reputation. “The two most precious things this side the grave,” says Lacon, “are our reputation and our life; the most contemptible whisper may deprive us of the one, the weakest weapon of the other.”

Stop the use of tobacco, if addicted to it, but especially in the form of chewing, the vileness of this practice is in no wise mitigated by its prevalence.

Stop smoking, also, at its first threatened inroad upon the general health. To persist in it thereafter is a confession of both moral and mental weakness.

Stop on the threshold of gambling of every description, and, if already in the 51 toils, shut down on the practice with all the ponderosity at your command.

Stop, moreover, and understand that gambling—the worship of chance—is death to the soul, to faith in human nature, to man’s nobler attributes. In this regard, it is more literally demoralizing than alcoholic drunkenness; and there is yet to be found the veteran professional gambler who is not a materialistic atheist.

Stop, once more, and remember that every man who will play cards for money, will in time, cheat. He may set out honestly enough, but it is only a question of time before he will take an unfair advantage in self-defense. What, then, can be thought of a practice that almost necessitates dishonesty? 52

Stop—hold! That “D—n!” upon thy lips! Would not “Confound it!” “The deuce take it!” or simply “Bless me!” emphasize resentment or annoyance equally well? Or, still better, is there any need for emphasis at all?

Stop, above all, before falling into the profane habit, upon no provocation. A passionless, half-conscious interlarding of speech with oaths and epithets is as idiotic as it is disgusting.

Stop on the verge of becoming anecdotal to excess. Second only to the confirmed scandal-bearer is the friend whose encounter one must dodge for fear of being made the repository of some long-winded anecdote, or pointless pun.

Stop short of narrating indecent stories. Unfortunately, nearly all stories of much 53 point that are interchanged among men are of this description; ergo, eschew the retailing of them, on your own part, altogether.

Stop before becoming the slave of any depraved appetite. To take the appetite for strong drink as an illustration, it is a terrible enchantress—siren, bacchante, or task-mistress, at will. One can seldom coquette with but he marries her at last; when, like the Lamia of the legend, she turns to a serpent in the embrace, and her dalliance is despair and death.

Stop before contracting a habit of belittling or sneering at what you do not understand. This is but the pasteboard buckler with which the fool would shield his self-love. 54

Stop before habitually ascribing mean or sordid motives to others upon mere conjecture.

Stop short of any habit that can fruitlessly waste one’s time or substance, since the one is more than money, because, once dissipated, it can never be replaced, and the other is the very means of life.


In Judging Others.

Stop before gauging a person’s capacity solely by his physiognomy. Lafayette’s forehead suggested idiocy, Keats, the poet, had the jaws of a prize-fighter, and warriors of the Salvation Army have been mistaken (before opening their mouths) for men of intelligence.

Stop, however, before judging people altogether on antithetic grounds. To invariably accept a monkey-jawed, rat-eyed, ear-shadowed countenance as a criterion for mental profundity, for instance, or crime-sodden, sin-exhaling 56 bulldog traits as suggestive of ethical culture or religious zeal, is hardly to be recommended.

Stop before judging others, especially men, wholly by their dress and manners. A millionaire may be “shabby-genteel” and retiring to excess, whereas professional scoundrels are often notorious for a fashionable exterior and distinction of bearing “as to the manner born.”

Stop on the verge of taking dress and ornament as a sure indication of a woman’s character or station. You might regret mistaking a quietly-attired unadorned heiress for a shirt-maker in distress; or a fourth-class pawnbroker’s wife, beringed and bediamonded from bang to belt, for a sorceress of fashion. 57

Stop before judging people disparagingly by their eccentricities. A poet, for instance, may indulge in long hair, without necessarily being an æsthete or a cowboy; the habit of talking to one’s-self is no proof of a guilty conscience; and absent-mindedness in many forms has accompanied the possession of exceptional capacity.

Stop, however, before accepting such betrayals as positive indications of either genius, talent or brains. To do this would be to libel the ordinarily well-behaved people who have some respect for the amenities of existence.

Stop, for instance, ere ascribing pure benevolence to the absent-mindedness that mistakes your silk umbrella for a mislaid gingham one, shaky in the 58 ribs, feruled with long service, and filtery at the seams.

Stop and draw a line likewise, at the abstraction that finds its hand in your pocket, or creeps in at your bedroom window, or is blandly oblivious as to whether it owes you money, or vice versa.

Stop, and turn the question over in your mind: True enough, there is a chance of such eccentricities being the concomitants of a certain sort of talent, but is it exactly the sort that ought to be encouraged?

Stop, if naturally dishonest or vicious yourself, and inquire if you can fairly judge others according to your own corrupt standard. This may prevent your giving yourself away, besides leavening 59 your collective baseness with a grain or two of charity.

Stop, however, if honest and well-meaning—and, indeed, it is mainly for such that this symposium of golden precepts is prepared—and remember, as a stimulant to careful discrimination in these things, that your own superficialities may be constantly and cruelly misjudged.

Stop short of supposing that you have no superficialities, or but few, to be judged by. The visibility of existence is largely made up of them; it is, perhaps even well that the heart is not often worn upon the sleeve; and equally well that our externals are but deceptive indices of the springs of action, the blots 60 and foibles they disguise, else were the wisest of us each other’s sport.

Stop before taking mildness and retirement of manner for a want of resolution or courage. True greatness in anything is seldom self-celebrating, and it is as true as proverbial that “still waters run deep.”

Stop, on the other hand, before setting down a strutting self-importance as invariably betokening a wind-bag or a nincompoop. Modesty is, unfortunately, not always the hand-maid of merit.

Stop before mistaking ostentation for generosity, or calm acceptance for ingratitude. “As the mean have a calculating avarice that sometimes inclines them to give, so the magnanimous have 61 a condescending generosity that sometimes inclines them to receive.”

Stop before despising in another the demonstrativeness that you would despise in yourself. The babble of the brook is as natural as the stillness of the pool and temperamental differences are always to be considered.

Stop before regarding extreme particularity in dress as an invariable evidence of intellectual insignificance. It often is so, but nine-tenths of the shabbily-attired men of brains would dress better if they could afford to.

Stop on the dizzy verge of mistaking an excessive and painstaking courtesy for a genuine and heartfelt interest. It should rather put you on your guard.

Stop short of the old-time cynicism of regarding 62 every man as a rascal until he shall have afforded proofs to the contrary. Such a wholesale distrust of human nature is creditable to neither the head nor the heart.

Stop before sweepingly condemning a discreditable action the temptations to which are outside your own experience. Even to “put yourself in his place” is not always available for the formation of intelligent criticism in such cases.

Stop before lightly assigning reasons for another’s domestic troubles. The closet-skeleton is a strictly local spectre that is not the less terrible by reason of the narrowness of its haunting powers.

Stop short of disparaging the charity that methodizes and calculates its smallest alms. There is an enlightened self-interest 63 that relieves more real distress than all the off-handed gratuities that are bestowed.

Stop before impugning self-seeking motives to a good deed that redounds to the doer’s advantage. Even if partly premeditated to this end, the result, if humanitarian in its general influence, is not the less useful and noble.

Stop before judging a man solely by his errors or misfortunes. The former may have been circumstantially unavoidable, as the latter may have been undeserved.

Stop before adopting the stereotyped, canting “I-might-have-told-you-so” criticism in the case of a friend who has fallen. The helping hand is then in order, if ever at all; and he is doubtless aware of the cause of his disgrace, without your telling him. 64

In Recreation.

Stop before making a regular business of any form of diversion, which then ceases to be either recreative or relaxing, and but adds to the tissue-waste that should be restored.

Stop, next, and consider that recreation, in its literal and best sense, is something more than relaxation. More than to merely loosen, slacken and remit, to recreate is to revive, reanimate, recuperate and build up afresh.

Stop, therefore, before playing billiards or pool every night for five or six hours at a stretch, under the mistaken notion 65 that you are combining recreation with amusement.

Stop, rather, and consider if the nervous tension produced by an unremitting desire to win, and thus saddle your adversary with the cost of the game, may not be greater than the wear and tear of the routine business from which you are seeking relief.

Stop short of the error that billiards in public is a wholly innocent diversion, when candid reflection must convince you to the contrary. The associations are mostly the reverse of refined, the gambling principle is necessarily involved, and say what you will, non-success is ever attended by a sense of exasperation.

Stop wondering why you don’t feel freshened 66 up for business after a ten hours’ siege of whisky-poker, uninterrupted cigars, and consequent loss of sleep.

Stop before fancying chess-playing as any sort of relaxation whatever from mental exertion. The game, being a constant mental exercise, in itself should form a diversion from physical, rather than from intellectual, over-work.

Stop short of daily conviviality after business hours. The idea that regular rum or beer-guzzling, even with the merriest of companions, can be sooner or latter anything but injurious is either hypocritical or ridiculous.

Stop, likewise, short of spreeing as a relief from business cares. Indeed, as between the hebdomadal hurrah and the diurnal hoist, the distinction is so 67 thoroughly relative to the confessedly evil effects in both cases as not to be worthy of consideration.

Stop before seeking recreation in low resorts. Give them all a wide berth—concert-saloons, dives, dens, hells, houses of ill-repute, bucket-shops, slums, cribs, joints—all! and remember that what is essentially debasing can never reanimate exhaustion or repair fatigue.

Stop before patronizing a low performance of any description. Dog-fights, rat-baitings, cocking-mains, et al., are happily surreptitious now, but there are equally immoral exhibitions still in vogue to tempt the thoughtless and unwary.

Stop before seeking recreation in sensuous performances or spectacles. True, 68 the ballet is often fascinating, but—Well, let the line be drawn sharply just after the ballet, at all events.

Stop before attempting either skating, bicycling, or horse-back exercise in public, as a gentle and graceful relaxation, when wholly inexperienced, if you would both corruscate and career.

Stop before making a specialty of any kind of recreation that is beyond your means. Otherwise, you may not infrequently exclaim, with Hamlet, “For O, for O, the hobby-horse is forgot!”

Stop at the yawning abyss of resorting to opium, or any similar drug, as a relief from care. As the alcoholic habit has been likened to an enchantress, a circean witch, so the opium habit is a dream-woman, the sorceress of a phantom 69 realm, elysian at first, but changing at last into a horror-haunted sphere that appals the spirit while it tortures and consumes the frame.

Stop before applying yourself to excessive gymnastics as a relaxation, if a horse-car conductor or a letter-carrier. Variety is the spice of life.

Stop, if engaged in wholly intellectual pursuits, before reading dry and statistical books, such as Patent Reports, as a pleasing and hilarious change.

Stop before joining a club with whose objects you are unfamiliar. To find yourself unawares, for instance, in the bosom of a hoodlum coterie when in search of Christian refinement, or unexpectedly affiliated with a Bible society when thirsting for roaring and convivial 70 companionship, would be alike uncongenial.

Stop before seeking recreation in travel, if without money. True, commercial drummers and tramps have attained some success in this field, but neither the talents of the one class nor the methods of the other are to be cordially recommended.

Stop before indulging in the rougher athletic sports for which you are physically unqualified. Study your capacities well—take in the entire athletic range, from jackstraws to Indian clubs, from the bean-bag to foot-ball—and discriminate for all you are worth.

Stop before instituting any home-amusement that shall bind you to the house of evenings forever thereafter. You 71 might really want to go out and “see a man,” but the excuse would avail you little with the charming home-game awaiting your patronage.

Stop before frequenting any lounging place, be it beer-saloon or cigar-shop, so much as to become a figure-head of the premises. Not to loaf at all is an excellent general rule.

Stop before attempting recreation “on the road” in an ultra-economical way. A livery-stable plug, hobbling ambitiously before a battered sleigh or antediluvian buggy, in the midst of swell turn-outs and speeding teams, would doubtless cause something of a sensation, but would it be of the most enviable kind?

Stop short of seeking mental repose by attending “excursions” in which bibulous 72 feats and glee-club improvisations bid fair to make up the chief fund of amusement.

Stop short of practical jokes as a relief for the work-oppressed brain. As between joker and jokee, the entertainment is mostly altogether with the former, and one-sided or top-heavy diversions are both selfish and untimely.

Stop, and be sure that you have a work-oppressed brain, before rushing wildly into any recreation whatever. The former is often imaginary, or a hypocritical excuse for demanding a pastime, which is then, as a consequence, apt to prove much harder work than play. 73

In The Domestic Relations.

Stop short of thinking that marriage and settlement in life can acquit you of the tenderness and reverence due your parents, even if they are well-to-do. It is a moral obligation which, contracted at your birth, should cease not even with their death, but live on and on, an evergreen of the memory, an amaranth of the heart.

Stop before reserving for the bosom of your own family the fits of ill-temper that you would be ashamed of if public. This is putting your own household 74 on a level with a private bear-garden, whose limited spectators cannot be over-grateful for the privilege accorded.

Stop short of supposing that your wife is anything less than an equal partner in the hymeneal firm. Even if she came to you penniless, the idea that she is thenceforth indebted to you for home, position or freedom from care, is a barbarism fortunately obsolete in this country.

Stop, likewise, short of the imported notion, also obsolete, that she belongs to you other than by the free heart-gift that inspired her marriage vows, or that she is in any sense your property. The cherishing of such a sentiment is degrading alike to husband and wife.

Stop before denying to your wife the 75 right to have little secrets of her own, if you claim the same privilege for yourself. A loving and trusted wife will have no important secrets apart from her husband.

Stop short of altogether distrusting her in money matters. Even if she have but little common sense in such things, her wifehood is a responsibility for which you are responsible, and which cannot be wholly nullified without humiliating her.

Stop short of denying her the possession of some pocket-money of her own, if but very little. “During my married life,” said a prominent lecturer on woman’s rights, “I never had a cent of pocket-money that I was not forced to steal from my husband.” And this 76 statement will evoke more reflection than censure in the thoughtful mind.

Stop before grumblingly supplying the household demands. This practice of growling over a domestic expenditure, which is but a tithe of what your next “good time with the boys” will cost you, is more prevalent than sensible.

Stop before placing any one over your wife’s head in her own house. Be it mother-in-law, sister-in-law, or any one else, the course is alike risky and unwise.

Stop before cultivating a dislike or niggardliness for your wife’s passion for dress, if it is accompanied by a refined taste and an earnest desire to be within what you can afford. Fine feathers may not always make fine birds, but a 77 naturally attractive woman is undeniably more lovable and attractive when tastefully attired than otherwise.

Stop long before relinquishing, after marriage, the delicate little attentions and sacrifices that were so acceptable during your courtship. A lover-husband will make a sweetheart-wife, and for such the honey-moon need have no wane.

Stop, however, dead short of uxoriousness to a degree that shall excite a smile or comment. The former is apt to be exasperating, and the latter of a nature the reverse of soothing to your amour propre.

Stop before developing a womanish desire to interfere with domestic arrangements outside of your province. In other words, never be what your wife might 78 call a “cock-biddy,” and your cook “an intermiddling mon.”

Stop before developing a fault-finding disposition with the cooking or other accommodations, or first be sure that you are not more responsible for the faults than your wife.

Stop short of concealing the fact from your wife, if she is falling unconsciously into slovenly and unkempt personal habits when only in your presence. Let her but comprehend that this is a wifely neglect that has driven many a husband into neater but unscrupulous feminine society, and speedy amendment must follow.

Stop before holding your wife accountable for every little smile or frankness accorded to her antenuptial admirers. 79 ’Tis the watched fire that languishes; and, should she meditate treason, she would not hint it by so much as a rush-light.

Stop before letting her know it, if you find out that your marriage has been a mistake. Doubtless this will make itself felt, despite your utmost precautions, and her sufferings in making the sad discovery will then challenge your compunction, your pity and your redoubled devotion, if you are a true man.

Stop before laughing at piety in your wife, even if an infidel yourself. “Wise men like to have pious wives,” says Emerson, “and it is well for all concerned that it should be so.”

Stop before betraying your weaknesses to 80 your children. Even a hypocritical assumption of a morality that you do not always practice is preferable to self-exposure in this regard.

Stop before correcting them in the presence of outsiders. The self-respect of a little child, once wounded to the quick, is long in healing; and some consideration is due, moreover, to the outsiders.

Stop before punishing a child when influenced by anger. The punishment then ceases to be corrective, and is only resentful; whereas the helplessness of the child should of itself evoke but magnanimity.

Stop, when thus impelled by anger, and reflect if you would as readily seek to gratify it, were no such disparity existent—that 81 is, where the child as big and powerful as yourself.

Stop before threatening a chastisement that you don’t intend to inflict. Or, if you must persist in this course, don’t ascribe the continued disobedience, which is its inevitable outgrowth, to anything but your own weakness.

Stop short of deception or untruth in your dealings with your children, if you would impress them with the opposite sentiments.

Stop, in this regard, and reflect that, if the childish mind is wax to early impressions, it is of a kind that hardens with the imprint, and that from the hardening process spring the imitation and the emulation, which must gradually corrupt or ennoble, as the case may be. 82

Stop before assuming a bullying tone or attitude toward your family or your domestics. Vaporings of this description are always in wretched taste, and a home-circle that must needs be terrorized is little to be envied.

Stop before living beyond, or even quite up to your means, and be not ambitious to make an outside show at the expense of internal comfort.

Stop short of lessening the significance of old-time festivities, such as Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, New Year’s and birth-day observances, simply because you have yourself outgrown their zest.

Stop before repressing any innocent propensity to gush on the part of your wife or children. It is a chill home-fountain that will not occasionally overflow. 83

Stop, if possible, before ever disturbing your family peace with even so much as an unkind or hasty word. The pretty lines,

“We have greeting words for the stranger,
And smiles for the sometime guest,
But oft for Our Own the bitter tone.
Though we love Our Own the best,”

should never be pertinent in a wise man’s household.

Stop before assuming an oracular or infallible attitude—in other words, setting yourself up as a small god—before your own family. Ten to one, it is an assumption that you cannot maintain with any degree of consistency, and one which may entail a humiliating back-down when least expected. 84

In Business Life.

Stop short of attempting a business enterprise wholly beyond your mental and financial equipment. To attempt the rôle of a railroad magnate, for instance, when you have the soul of a licensed fish-vender, or the manipulation of a government loan with hardly enough capital for a fruit-stand, would be more ambitious than wise.

Stop before adopting rigorous and unbending methods that, under a change of fortune, can be quoted against you to your disadvantage. Thus, to never lend money, on principle, when prosperous, but be perfectly willing to borrow 85 it when broke, might subject you to unpleasant comment.

Stop before assuming a domineering, Jovian tone toward those with less money than you, even if you have a corner on the market. Men are often like rats in this, that they fight when they are cornered.

Stop when already so deep into a hopeless speculation that you can’t beg or borrow another cent, when certain ruin stares you in the face, and even your pawn-tickets are at a discount. Forlorn hopes are only practicable in serial stories and war.

Stop, even at the height of prosperity, and make sure of the future by settling upon your family a competence that shall thenceforth forever be secured to 86 them, come what may. This prudent course, feasible and honorable during prosperity, would be just the reverse if deferred until after business disaster may have come.

Stop short of imagining that there is any more luck in a legitimate business than in games of chance—in other words, that there is any at all. Or, if there is any, it consists of superior energy, foresight, shrewdness and application, wherein, of course, the stronger wins while the weaker goes to the wall.

Stop, and reflect well, before venturing outside of a legitimate, fairly-paying business upon the sea of speculation, which is in reality but gambling under another name. 87

Stop before cultivating a reputation for either over-credulity or relentless hard bargaining in business life. The one will be abused, while the other will foster enmities through the abuse it practices.

Stop short of uncompromising martinetism toward your employees. Our clerks, for instance, can no longer be treated as apprentices; many of them are rich men in embryo; and with what satisfaction and gratitude do powerful millionaires often recall slight kindnesses and encouragements received from their employers when they were nothing but obscure clerks or office-boys!

Stop before choosing business quarters of a magnitude and pretension wholly out 88 of keeping with your trade and custom. There is a laughable case in point, in the upper part of New York, where a diminutive, tumble-down junk-shop displays a flaring sign with the preposterous legend: “Great American Mammoth Junk Emporium.”

Stop before advertising your commodities for something better than they really are. This is to cheat yourself in the long run, for the average of public buyers rarely allow themselves to be deliberately swindled twice by the same liar.

Stop short of supposing that the hackneyed phrase, “Business is business,” can ever excuse a downright dishonest transaction in the opinion of all your business acquaintances. 89

Stop, therefore, before setting the majority of them down as secretly unprincipled, and vaunting their uprightness as a mask. Money-loving as they are, the majority of those whose good opinion is worth having are personally honest at the core.

Stop short of being dazzled by mere business success, irrespective of questionable or dangerous methods by which it may have been achieved. Unless the means shall have justified the result, there can be no praiseworthy success.

Stop short of supposing that spasmodic cleverness can ever take the place of solid method, organized effort and settled application in any respectable calling.

Stop, and go easy before provoking a 90 powerful business hostility, if possible, but never to the sacrifice of a true principle; and, war being fully declared (i.e., competition, ruthless and uncompromising), let it be to the knife, to the bitter end, till the last pecuniary sinew snaps!


In Thought, Word and Deed.

Stop before even thinking unworthily. Not to entertain in the mind what you would blush to speak or put in writing is an excellent general rule of ethics.

Stop before nourishing a pride of nationality. This is even more unreasonable than the pride of ancestry, for the greatness of the latter may be in some degree inherited, while for the mere accident of birth-place a man is as irresponsible as he is unentitled to plume himself 92 upon historical greatness in the abstract.

Stop, also, before cherishing even a pride of race. This is wholly distinct from the virtue of Patriotism, in its best sense; is opposed to the enlightened spirit of the age; and is one of the narrowest of prejudices.

Stop short of despising public spirit in others, or eliminating it from your own calculations. The most insignificant pot-house politician is of more worldly use than the most gifted misanthrope. No amount of selfish seclusion or isolation can absolve one from his duty of fellowship.

Stop before making butts of others, especially by reason of personal peculiarities for which they are in no wise 93 responsible. The old aphorism about stone-throwing in relation to glass domiciles is always in order; and even a natural-born fool is more to be pitied than ridiculed.

Stop putting in words that which you would not do, or putting in writing that which you would not sign.

Stop, and remember that an ill-considered angry word may, on the breath of hearsay, become a winged seed, from which shall spring a poisonous upas growth, whose deadly influence could not have been dreamed of at its inception.

Stop before falling into apathy, before becoming a do-nothing, through discouragements. “A great mind,” says Lacon, “may change its objects, but it cannot relinquish them; it must have something 94 to pursue. Variety is its relaxation, and amusement its repose.”

Stop short of being painstaking to excess in what you would pass off as improvised. Over-elaboration in this regard may be likened to the dishabille in which a coquette would wish you to think you have surprised her, after spending hours at her toilet.

Stop short of supposing that rascality can be as uniformly logical as honesty. Villains are usually the worst casuists, and rush into greater crimes to avoid less.

Stop, in combating the World, and reflect that by resisting its temptations you master the secret of ultimately possessing its noblest prizes, the respect of your fellows, and the proudest self-respect 95 in having successfully withstood not in order to achieve, but from a sense of moral duty.

Stop, in resisting the allurements of the Flesh, and consider that by subjecting them to the yoke of reason, your capacity for rational fleshly enjoyment is both intensified and prolonged.

Stop, in fighting the Devil (i.e., moral perverseness,) and remember that your victory will be evidence of moral balance on your own part, rather than of faint-heartedness on His Inky Majesty’s. And you may likewise recall with complacency Emerson’s indictment, where he says, “It stands to reason that the Devil is an ass.”

Stop, after having fairly floored the Machiavellian triumvirate, the World, the 96 Flesh and the Devil, and candidly confess that you might have fared worse but for the precepts and injunctions laid down in this little book.



A Naughty Girl’s Diary
“A Bad Boy’s Diary.”
Price 50 cents.