The Project Gutenberg eBook of How to Succeed

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Title: How to Succeed

Author: Rosetta Dunigan

Release date: August 30, 2019 [eBook #60200]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by hekula03, David Wilson and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by the Library of Congress)




Miss Rosetta Dunigan


[Decoration: šŸ™¦šŸ™¦]

Price 25c.

Neilson Printing Co., 405Ā Beale Ave., Memphis, Tenn.

[1] [Illustration: Portrait of Rosetta Dunigan]


Those acts which go to form a personā€™s influence are little things, but they are potential for good or bad in the lives of others. Though they are as fleeting as the breath which gave them, their influence is as enduring as they reach. But may we strive to scatter loving, cheering, encouraging words, to soothe the weary, and awaken the nobler feelings of those with whom we daily come in contact.

The cause of great joys, like those of sorrow, are few and far between, but every day brings us much good if we will but gather it. All successful men are remarkable, not only for general vigor, but for their attention. It is often that in view of these facts men will often neglect. He who waits to do a great deal of good at once will never do anything. In the complicated and marvelous machinery of circumstances it is absolutely impossible to decide what would have happened to some event if the smallest deviation had taken place in the march of those who preceded them. The little things in youth accumulate into character in age and destiny in eternity. Little sins make up the grand total of life. Each day is brightened or clouded. Great things come but seldom, and are often unrecognized until passed. If a man conceives the idea of becoming eminent in learning, and cannot toil through the many drudgeries necessary to carry him on, his learning will soon be told. Or if he undertakes to become rich, but despises the small and gradual advances by which wealth is acquired, his expectations will be the sum of his riches. The successful business man at home, surrounded by articles of luxury, is a spectacle calculated to spur on the toiler.

But the merchant at his office has had to work, yes to toil over columns of figures to post his ledger; and while you were carelessly spending a dollar, he has ransacked his books to discover what has become of a stray shilling. Words may seem to us but little things, but they possess a power beyond calculation. They swiftly fly from us to others, and we scarcely give them a passing thought.

Failure a Stepping Stone to Success. [3]

It is a mistake to suppose that men succeed through success; they much oftener succeed through failure. There were hours of despondency when Shakespeare thought himself no poet and Raphael no painter, when the greatest wits doubted the excellence of their happiest efforts.

Many have to make up their need to encounter failure again and again before they finally succeed, but if they have pluck the failure will only serve to arouse their energies, and stimulate them to renewed efforts. No one can tell how many of the worldā€™s most brilliant geniuses have succeed because of their first failures. Precept, study, advice and example could never have taught them so well as failure has done and this latter is often of more importance than the former.

We have read of our late B.Ā T. Washington, we can realize the fact that from boyhood even till his death, he sought an opportunity, though the opportunity sometime seemed to be very small. Dr.Ā B.Ā T. felt the need of an education yes, he felt there was something he could do someday for the betterment of his race, so he accepted the small opportunities and after became a man of fame, integrity, and honor, he did not have the opportunity that most of the boys and girls have today, but because of his determination he was able to live and die a man of fame and honor.

Young Ladies and Gentlemen; a great deal has been done to help improve to the race, but do you know there is still more to be done, and there is something that we can do. There is more expected of us today than it was expected of men years ago; so we must begin work more earlier in life. Young Ladies and Gentlemen; let us put our whole heart mind and brains to work to help improve our race; though we may fail but from this failure we can organize future success.

We may wish ourselves great but unless we do something we shall forever be a wisher.

We must realize that our ways in this world is like a wall under a row of trees, checked with light and shade, and because we cannot all walk along in the sunshine, we therefore, fix upon the darker passages and so lose all the comfort of the cheering ones. There is no royal road to success, the road that leads to success lies through fields of hard, earnest and patient labor, it calls on the young man and woman put forth all energy, and bids him build well his foundation, go to success since it will not come to you, and [4] remember even as steel is tempered by heat, and through much hammering and changing original form, is at last wrought into useful articles, so in the history of many men do we find that they were attempered in the furnace of trials and afflictions.

Let us then strive against despondency, even when the way before us is both dark and dreary it still is worse than useless to give away to despondency. Energy and proper afflictions may recover what you have lost; take heart; pluck up courage; give not over to despondency; by confronting the evils of life they will lose their force.

We are able to know today that intelligence has awakened and spreaded out her hands, and from time immemorial intellectual endowment have been crowned with bays of honor, men have worshiped at the sign of intellect with almost an eastern idolatry, the world at large has crowned education with its richest honors, its pathway has been strewn with flowers, its brow has won the loftiest plume, and now we own schools, we must prepare ourselves to meet the demand of the world, rouse ourselves, and do not allow our best years to slip past because we have not succeeded as we thought we would. Why; because the man who never failed is a myth. If we fail now and then do not be discouraged. It is indeed a happy providence that given to mankind the bright shining sun of hope to dispel the gloom of despondency. We have all seen the sunburst from behind the clouds and light up a storm swept landscape.

The trouble is, that many of us when we are under any affliction, are troubled with certain malicious melancholy, never take notice of the most benighting ones.

We must bear in mind that it is only the past and experience of every successful man. The most successful men oftener have the most failures. These failures which to the feeble are mere stumbling blocks, to the strong serve to remove the scales from their eyes so that they now see clearer, and go on their way with a firmer tread and more determined mien, and compel life to yield to them its most enduring trophies.

The world is not coming to an end, nor society going to destruction, because our petty plans have miscarried. The present failure should only teach us to be more wary in the future and this will gather a rich harvest as the final outcome of our efforts. The most successful men oftener has the most failures. So if success were to crown our efforts now, where would be the great success of our future.


Conditions are by no means what they should be unless there is opportunity for the full development of manners and politeness.

There is a great difference between manners and politeness. Manners is one thing and politeness is another. A person possessed of these qualities, though he had never seen a court, is truly agreeable; and if without them would continue a clown, though he had been all his life a gentleman usher. A traveler of taste at once perceives that the educated men are polite all the world over, but that ignorant men are polite only at home. Good manners are well-nigh an essential part of lifeā€™s education, and their importance cannot be too largely magnified when we consider that they are the outward expression of an inward virtue. Social courtesies should emanate from the heart, for remember always that the worth of manners consists in being the sincere expression of feelings. Like the dial of a watch, they should indicate that the works within are good and true. True civility needs no false lights to show its points. It is the embodiment of truth, the mere opening out of the inner self.

The truest politeness comes of sincerity. It must be the outcome of the heart or it will make no lasting impression, for no amount of polish will dispense with truthfulness. To acquire that ease and grace of manners which distinguishes and is possessed by every well-bred person one must think of others rather than of oneā€™s self, and study to please them even at oneā€™s own convenience. The golden rule of life is also the law of politeness, and such politeness implies self-sacrifice, many struggles and conflicts. It is an art and tact rather than an instinct and inspiration.

Many a man who now stands ranked as a gentleman because his smile is ready and his bow exquisite, is in reality unworthy of an honor, since he cares more for the least incident pertaining to his own comfort than he does for the greatest occasion of discomfort to others. A man of politeness and manners does not hint by words that he deems himself better, wiser or richer than any one about him. He is ā€œnever stuck up,ā€ nor looks down upon others because they have no titles, honors or social position equal to his own. He never boasts of his achievements by affecting to underrate what he has done. He prefers to act rather than to talk, to be busy rather than to seem, above all things is distinguished by his deep insight and sympathy, his quick perception of an attention to those little and [6] apparently insignificant things that may cause pleasure or pain to others. In giving his opinions he does not dogmatize. He listens patiently and respectfully to all other men, and, if compelled to dissent from their opinions, acknowledges his fallibility and asserts his own views in such a manner as to command the respect of all who hear him. Frankness and cordiality mark all his intercourse with his fellows and, however high his station, the humblest man feels instantly at ease in his presence. The success or failure of oneā€™s plans have often turned upon the address and manner of the man. If we wish to be successful men and women, we must first be in possession of both politeness and manners.


The majority of the men of note in this country are not the sons of those fathers who could give them all they want, and much more than they should have, but are those who were brought up in cottages and cabins cutting their way through difficulties on every side to their present commanding position.

It is not prosperity so much as advertising, not wealth so much as poverty, that stimulates the perseverance of strong and healthy natures, rouses their energies and develops their character. Indeed, misfortune and poverty have frequently converted an indolent votary of society into a useful member of the community and made him a moving power in the great workshop of the world, teaching men and developing the powers which Nature has bestowed on them.

It canā€™t be too often repeated that it is not the blessings of life, its sunshine and calms, that make men, but its rugged experiences, its storms and trials. Thousands of men are bemoaning present indigence who might have won riches and honor had they only been compelled by early poverty to develop their manhood. Poverty does more, perhaps, than anything else to develop the energetic, self-reliant trait of character, without which the highest ability makes but sorry work of lifeā€™s battles.

Of all poverty that of the mind is the most deplorable, and is at the same time without excuse. Every one who wills it can lay in a rich store of mental wealth. The poor manā€™s purse may be empty, but he has as much gold in the sunset, and as much silver in the moon, as anybody. Wealth of heart is not dependent upon wealth of purse.

Thus the evils of poverty are much exaggerated, and the evils, if evils they be, are often all for our own ultimate good. [7] Poverty is the great test of civility and touch-stone of friendship. It is one of the mysteries of our life that genius, the noblest gift of God to man, is nourished by poverty.


The selfish person lives as if the world were made altogether for him, and not he for the world, to take in everything and part with nothing. Unselfish and noble acts are the most radiant epochs in the history of souls, when wrought in earliest youth, they lie in the memory of age.

Selfishness contracts and narrows our benevolence and causes us, like serpents, to infold ourselves within ourselves, and to turn out our stings to all the world besides. As frost to the bud and blight to the blossom, even such is self-interest to friendship, for confidence cannot dwell where selfishness is porter at the gate.

Selfishness is the bone of all life and dwarfs all the better nature of man. It takes from him that feeling of kindly sympathy for othersā€™ good, which is one of the most pleasing traits of manhood, and in itself sets up self as the one whose good is to be chiefly sought. These withering effects are to be seen not only in the high road and public places of life, but in the nooks and bylanes as well. Not alone among conquerors and kings, but among the humble and obscure in the unsanctified lust of wealth.

As heat changes the hitherto brittle metal into the elastic yielding, yet deadly Damascus blade, so when the demon of avarice finds lodgment in the heart of men, it changes all his better nature.

It may find him delighted to good and relieving the wants of others; it leaves him one whose whole energy and power are turned to advancement of self alone.


Heaven in its mercy has placed the fountain of wisdom in the hidden and concealed depths of the soul, that the children of misfortune might seek and find in its healthful waters the antidote and cordial of their cares. Knowledge and sorrow are blended together, just as ignorance and folly.

Man is like a sword in a shop window. Men that look upon the perfect blade do not dream of the process by which it was completed. Man is a sword; daily life is the workshop and God is the artificer, and the trials and sorrows of life the very [8] things that fashion the man. When borne down by trials they are sent only for instructions.

In youth we look forward, the future appears calm as we approach manhood and womanhood life changes its appearance and becomes tempestuous and rough, as the ocean changes before the storm. In the changes of life real joy and grief are never far apart.

Trials come in a thousand different forms and many avenues are open to their approach. They come with the warm throbbing of our youthful lives, keep pace with the measured tread of manhoodā€™s noon, and depart not from the descending footsteps of decrepitude age. We may not hope to be entirely free from either disciplinary trials or the fiery darts of the enemy until we are through with lifeā€™s burdens. Men may be so old that ambition has no chain, but they are never too old to experience trials. Misfortune gathers around great men as storms do around great mountains, but, like them, they break the storms and purify the air. Those who have had misfortune are like those who know many languages. They have learned to understand and be understood by all. Time is the rider that breaks youth. To the young how bright the world looksā€”how full of novelty and enjoyment. But as years pass on they are found to abound in sorrowful scenes as well as those pleasant scenes of toil, suffering, difficulty and perhaps misfortune and failure. Happy are they who can pass through misfortune with a firm mind and a pure heart, encountering trials with cheerfulness and standing erect beneath even the heaviest burdens.

Misfortune is a crown of thorns, but it becomes a wreath of light on the brow which it has lacerated. Oh, it is a cross on which the spirit groans. Let us learn to be able to bear our misfortune, because every Calvary has an Olivet. To every place of crucifixion there is likewise a place of ascension. So to be successful in this life we must be able to bear misfortunes.


At a superficial view it appears that adversity happens to all alike, without regard to rank or condition. People are continually rising and falling in all degrees of association. We often see men of high expectations cut down and left to struggle with despair and ruin. Much of the most useful work done by men and women has been amidst afflictionsā€”sometimes as a relief from it, sometimes as a sense of duty overwhelming their personal sorrows.

[9] There beats not a heart but that has felt the force of adversity. There is not an eye but has witnessed many scenes of sorrow. How can we exercise the grace of contentment if all things succeed well, or that of forgiveness if we have no enemies! Sad accidents and a state of adversity are the school of virtue. It reduces our spirits to soberness and our counsels to moderation. God, who governs the world in mercy and wisdom, never would have suffered the virtuous ones to endure so many afflictions did He not intend that they should be the seminary of comfort, the nursery of virtue, the exercise of wisdom and the trial of patience, venturing for a crown and the gate of glory. Adversity sent by Providence must be submitted to in a humble spirit, or they will not conduce to lasting good. As the musician straineth at his strings, and yet breaketh none of them, but maketh thereby a sweet melody and better concord. Adversity is the medicine of the mind. If it is not pleasing it is wholesome. No soul is so obscure that God does not take thought for its schooling. The sun is the central light of the solar system; but it has a mission to the ripening corn and the purpling cluster on the vine, as well as the ponderous planet. The sunshine that comes fluttering through the morning mists with healing on its wings, and charging all the birds to singing, should have also a message from God to sad hearts. No soul is so grief-laden that it may not be lifted to sources of heavenly comfort by recognizing the divine love in the recurrence of earthly blessings. In a great adversity there is no light either in the mind or in the sun, for when the inward light is fed with fragrant oil there can be no darkness, though clouds should cover the sun. But when, like a sacred lamp in the temple, the inward light is quenched, there is no light outwardly, though a thousand suns should preside in the heavens.


True dignity of mind is always modest in expression. The grace of an action is gone as soon as we are convinced that it was done only that persons might applaud the act. But he who is truly great, and does good because it is his duty, is not at all anxious that others should witness his acts. His aim is to do good because it is right.

It is impossible to conceive of a truly great character and not think of one with the spirit of kindness. True dignity of spirit will not dwell with the haughty in manner. True dignity delights to take up its abode with the generous and those who seek to relieve the misery of others as they would their own. As long as human nature is a mass of contradictions this is [10] not to be wondered at. But the influence of such men is ever working, and will sooner or later show itself. Men such as these are the true life-blood of the community to which they belong. True dignity of character is within the reach of all. It is the result of patient endeavors after a life of goodness and, when acquired, cannot be swept unless by the consent of its possessor. Wealth may be lost by no fault of its possessor, but greatness of soul is an abiding quality.

One may fail in his other aims; the many accidents of life may bring to naught his most patient endeavors after worldly fame or success; but he who strives for dignity of character will not fail of reward if he but diligently seek the same by earnest resolve and patient labor.

Is there not in this a lesson of patience for many who are almost weary of striving for better things? If success does not crown their ambitious efforts, will they not be sustained by the smile of an approving conscience? Strong in this, they can wait with patience till, in the fullness of time, their reward cometh.


Young ladies and gentlemen, an appeal to you.

The desire to be thought well of, to desire to be great in goodness, is in itself a noble quality of the mind, and is often termed ambition. If it is our ambition to gain distinction, we will rob the weak and flatter the strong, and become the fawning slave of those who are able to foist us above our betters and deck us with the titles and honors of the great without any regard to our own merit of respectability. But if we are ambitious to do good, without any regard for the fame we may win or the praise we may command, our course will be honorable and our acts and deeds most worthy and good. When we have done with the world the prints of our worthy ambition we will still remain in the minds of those who come after us to enjoy and reap the benefits, for which they will revive our memory and retain our names in the lists of those whose labors have aided in enlightening the world and exalting the general interest of mankind.

Much of the advancement of the world can be traced of the efforts of those who were moved by ambition to become famous. Ambition is like fire. It is an excellent servant, but a poor master. As long as it is held strictly to integrity and honor, and to conform to the requirements of justice, there is but little danger of a manā€™s having too much of it.

[11] Ambition is an excessive quality and, as such, is apt to lead us to the most extraordinary results. But if our ambition leads us to excel or seek to excel in that which is good, the currents it may induce us to support will be of great good. But if it is stimulated by pride, envy or vanity, we will confine our support principally to the counter currents of life, and thus leave behind us misery and destruction.

The happiness promised by ambition dissolves in sorrow just as we are about to grasp it. It makes the same mistake concerning wealth. She begins by accumulating power as a means of happiness, but she finishes by continuing to accumulate it as an end.


It is generally known that he who expects much will be often disappointed; yet disappointment seldom cures us of expectations. But one of the saddest thoughts that come to us in life is the thought that in this bright, beautiful and joy-giving world of ours there are many shadowed lives. There is but one way in which we can succeed, when we admit that happiness is but a state of the mind, and that success is the faithful performance of known duties, then shall we acquire both. Though we may wander the wide world over and gather wealth and fame, they will be found impotent to confer happiness, and life to us will seem full of disappointments; but it is because we failed to seek for life in that spirit of quiet content which conducts it. It never happened to any man since the making of this world nor ever will, to have all things according to his desires. If you risk nothing, of course you lose nothing. Let him who is enlisted for the war expect to meet the foe. It is with lifeā€™s troubles as with the risks of the battlefieldā€”there is always less danger to the party who stands firm than to the one who gives way. To give way to disappointments is to invite defeat. To bravely cast about for means to resist them is to put them to flight, and out of temporary misfortune by the foundation of a more glorious success, by sending disappointments to the winds; taking life as it is and with a strong will, make life as near what it should be as possible.

The most pure lives sometimes are those who are met with the most disappointments. With some it is the wreck of a great ambition. Yes, he has built his ship and launched it on the sea of life loaded with the richest jewels of his strength and manhood. And behold, it comes back to him beaten and battered by the fury gale. We may add some rays of sunshine [12] to our path if we earnestly try to dispel the clouds of discontent that may arise in our bosom, and by doing so enjoy fully the bountiful blessings that God our creator has given to his humblest creatures.


Memory is the cord binding all the natural gifts and excellences together, and though it is not wisdom in itself, still it is the primary fundamental power without which there could be no other intellectual operations. The memory of good actions is the starlight of the soul. Yes, it tempers prosperity by recalling past distress, by bringing up the thoughts of past joys. It controls youth and delights old age. Without memory life would be a blank. The mind must be made to think as to remember and to remember principles and outlines. We think of faces, and they return to us as plainly as when their presence gladdened our eyes. When sorrow and trial, care and temptation surrounded us how often do we gain courage and renewed strength by thinking of the past. The course of none has been along so beaten a road that they remember not fondly some resting places in their journeyā€”some turns in their path in which lovely prospects broke in upon them. How much is spoken which deserves no remembrance, and which does not serve as a simple link in oneā€™s existence not calling forth one result for othersā€™ need or thrilling one chord with nobler impulses. The gift of memory is diversified to different people, some having a taste of history, some for literature and others delight in politics, and so on through all the different phases of existence. Memory has been compared to a storehouse. How much important then that we renew the mind to healthful actions instead of feeding it on poisons until it will produce nothing but poisonous thoughts.

Transcriberā€™s Note

Inconsistent hyphenation (touch-stone/touch stone) has been left as printed in the original. A few obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

The sentence printed in the original as

Happy are they who can pass through Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā Ā h a firm mind and a pure heart, encountering trials with cheerfulness and standing erect beneath even the heaviest burdens.

has been reconstructed as

Happy are they who can pass through misfortune with a firm mind and a pure heart, encountering trials with cheerfulness and standing erect beneath even the heaviest burdens.