Thursday, May 16, 2019

Never Accept Unkind Fortune; Struggle To Do The Best

Comstock miners in the 1880s. Public domain. Wiki.

This excerpted post from C.C. Goodwin's "The Comstock Club" found Mr. Brewster speaking to Mr. Miller regarding the latter's talk the night before. In it, Mr. Brewster waxes philosophic about the challenges, successes, anxieties and failures in life as applied to a person's character:

"It was shabby of us not to give more heed to your story last night, but the truth with me was, I was very tired. We were cutting out a station on the 2,300 level of the mine, yesterday; the work was hard, the ventilation bad, and it was hot and prostrating work.
{It} is man's duty never to accept any rebuff of unkind fortune as a reason for ceasing to try; but rather he should struggle on and do the best he can; if needs be dying with the harness on his back.

Moreover, as a rule, it is the easier way. It is in harmony with nature's first great law, and man seldom errs when he follows the laws that were framed before the world's foundations were laid. When man was given his two feet to stand upon; his arms to cleave out for himself a path and a career, and his brain to be his guide; then with the rich earth for a field, in the opinion of the Infinite Goodness, he has all the capital that he required. The opportunities of this land, especially this free West, with a capacity to plan and work, are enough for any man. The trouble is, men falter too soon. On that last night of anxiety, before the New World rose out of the sea to greet the eyes of Columbus; when his sullen and fear-stricken crews were on the point of mutiny, suddenly there came to the senses of the great commander, the perfume of earthly flowers. Soon after the veil of the ocean was rent asunder, and upon his thrilled eyes there burst a light. Columbus was not the only man who ever discovered a new world. They are being found daily. I meet men often on the street and know by something in their faces, that, at that very moment, the perfume of the flowers of some glory to come is upon them, and that the first rays of the dawn of a divine light are commencing to fill with splendor their eyes.

"When the idea of the Alexandrian, after having been transmitted from mortal to mortal, for more than fifty generations, at last materialized, and the care worn man who was watching, heard the first sob of artificial life come from a steam engine, to him was the perfume and the light.

"When, after generations of turmoil and war, in the deadly double struggle to assimilate various peoples, and at the same time out of barbarism to construct a stable and enlightened government; when the stern old English barons caught the right inspiration, and gathering around their sovereign, asked him to recognize the rights of the men on whose valor his throne leaned for safety and to sign Magna Charta; to them came the perfume and the light.

"When the desire of the colonies, voiceless before, at length through the pen of Jefferson, found expression in the words: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident — that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creater with certain unalienable rights;' then to a whole nation, yes to the world, came the perfume and the light.

"In public life these emotions are marked, and the world applauds. In humble life they are generally unnoticed, but they are frequent, and the enchantment of the perfume becomes like incense, and it is a softer light that dawns. When the poor man, who lays aside daily but a pittance from his earnings, finds at last, after months and years, that the sum has increased until it is certain that he can build a little home for his wife — a home which is to be all his own— and that he can educate his children; then the perfume and lights of a new world entrance him, and in his sphere he is as great as was the dark-eyed Italian.

"In the Bible we read that all the prophets were given to fasting and to labor, in order to bring the body under subjection to the soul. This is but typical of what a great soul must submit to, if it would catch the perfume and the light.

"The world's wealth rests on labor. Whether a man tills a garden or writes a book, the harvest will be worth gathering just in proportion to the soil, and to the energy and intelligence of the work performed.

"Columbus could never have discovered a new world by standing on the sea shore and straining his eyes to the West. The tempests had to be met; the raging seas outrode; the mutinous crew controlled. There are tempests, waves and mutineers in every man's path, and it is only over and beyond them that there comes the perfume and the light. The lesson taught at Eden's gate is the one that must still be learned. All that man can gain is by labor, and the sword that guards the gate flames just as fiercely as of old. ...

"To the Argonauts was given a duty. They were appointed to redeem a wild and create a sovereign state. I believe they were a brave, true race. The proof is, that without the restraint of pure women and without law, they enforced order. Their energy, also, was something tremendous. After building up California, they, in great part, made a nucleus for civilization to gather to in each of half-a-dozen neighboring Territories. But they had advantages which the men who settled the Eastern States — the region beyond the Mississippi River, I mean — never possessed. They had better food to eat, a better climate to live in. If they did not have capital, they knew a living, at least, could be had from the nearest gravel bank or ravine, and if they lacked the encircling love of wife and children, they were spared the sorrow of seeing dear women wear out lives of hardship and poverty, as has been seen on all other frontiers in America.

"If some fell by the wayside, it was natural, for human nature is weak and Death is everywhere; if some in the pitiless struggle failed, they had no right to cease to try, for when men do that the hope that to them will come the perfume or that upon their eyes will ever shine the light, is forever closed."

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