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who gain successes can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all commanders. I much fear that the spirit you have aided to infuse into the army, of criticising their commander and withholding confidence from him, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far as I can to put it down. Neither you nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army while such a spirit prevails in it. And now beware of rashness, but with sleepless vigilance go forward and give us victories.
Yours very truly,
A. LINCOLN. One point in this letter is especially worth our consideration, for it suggests a condition that springs up like deadly nightshade from a poisonous soil. I refer to the habit of carping, sneering, grumbling and criticising those who are above us. The man who is anybody and who does anything is certainly going to be criticised, vilified and misunderstood. This is a part of the penalty for greatness, and every great man understands it; and understands, too, that it is no proof of greatness. The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure contumely without resentment. Lincoln did not resent criticism; he knew that every life
was its own excuse for being, but look how
these advantages or not. If you are a student in college, seize upon the good that is there. You receive good by giving it. You gain by giving-so give sympathy and cheerful loyalty to the institution. Be proud of it. Stand by your teachers—they are doing the best they can. If the place is faulty, make it a better place by an example of cheerfully doing your work every day the best you can. Mind your own business. If the concern where you are employed is all wrong, and the Old Man is a curmudgeon, it may be well for you to go to the Old Man and confidentially, quietly and kindly tell him that his policy is absurd and preposterous. Then show him how to reform his ways, and you might offer to take charge of the concern and cleanse it of its secret faults. Do this, or if for any reason you should prefer not, then take your choice of these: Get Out, or Get in Line. You have got to do one or the othernow make your choice. If you work for a man, in heaven's name work for him. If he pays you wages that supply you your bread and butter, work for him—speak well of him, think well of him, stand by him and
stand by the institution that he represents.
spirit of fault-finding they got themselves swung around so they blocked the channel, and had to be dynamited. They were out of harmony with the place, and no longer being a help they had to be removed. Every employer is constantly looking for people who can help him; naturally he is on the lookout among his employees for those who do not help, and everything and everybody that is a hindrance has to go. This is the law of trade
do not find fault with it; it is founded on nature. The reward is only for the man who helps, and in order to help you must have sympathy. You cannot help the Old Man so long as you are explaining in an undertone and whisper, by gesture and suggestion, by thought and mental attitude that he is a curmudgeon and that his system is dead wrong. You are not necessarily menacing him by stirring up this cauldron of discontent and warming envy into strife, but you are doing this: you are getting yourself on a well-greased chute that will give you a quick ride down and out. When you say to other employees that the Old Man is a curmudgeon, you reveal the fact that you are one; and when you tell them that the policy