Page images
PDF
EPUB

watchword. Members of this inner and higher circle seek not popular applause, are concerned not with being popular, but with being right. They say with Confucius: "It concerneth me not that I have not high office; what concerns me is to make myself worthy of office." It is not cast down by poverty, neither unduly elated by prosperity. The man belonging to this class simply seeks to do his duty day by day in such manner as may enable him to honor himself, fearing nothing but his own self-reproach.

Standing upon the threshold of life, you have the good, better, best presented to you — the three stages of development, the natural, the spiritual, and celestial, they may fitly be called. One has success in material things for its aim — not without benefit this for the race as a whole, because it lifts the individual from the animal and demands the exercise of many valuable qualities; sobriety, industry, and self-discipline. The second rises still higher; the reward sought for being things more of the spirit—not gross and material, but invisible; and not of the flesh, but of the brain, the spiritual part of man; and this brings into play innumerable virtues which make good and useful men.

The third or celestial class stands upon an entirely different footing from the others in this, that selfish considerations are subordinated in the select brotherhood of the best, the service to be done for others being the first consideration. The reward of either wealth or fame is unsought, for these have learned and know full well that virtue is its own and the only exceeding great reward; and this once enjoyed, all other rewards are not worth seeking. And so wealth and even fame are dethroned; and there stands enthroned the highest standard of all — your own approval flowing from a faithful discharge of duty as you see it, fearing no consequences, seeking no reward.

It does not matter much what branch of effort your tastes or judgment draw you to, the one great point is that you should be drawn to some one branch. Then perform your whole duty in it and a little more — the "little more" being vastly important. We have the words of a great poet for it, that the man who does the best he can, can whiles do more. Maintain your selfrespect as the most precious jewel of all and the only true way to win the respect of others, and then remember what Emerson says, for what he says here is true: "No young man can be cheated out of an honorable career in life unless he cheat himself."

[graphic]

WOMEN IN BUSINESS

By FRED LESLIE HOWARD

OT long ago six or seven occupations covered the whole field of women's work outside the home. To-day she has penetrated almost every kind of business and profession. When we realize that five and one-quarter millions of women are engaged in business pursuits in this country, that of this number more than two hundred and fifty are wholesale merchants, between one and two thousand women are conducting business for themselves in the one state of Massachusetts, it begins to look as if women were in business to stay, and as if they were already a considerable factor in the great business world.

While her work at home included much that has since gone into shops and factories, she was generally content to remain in the retirement of home life, but when she was deprived of that work at home and was still dependent upon her own efforts for support, she was forced to come out into the world and compete with men, or else lead an idle, unprofitable life.

Much to their credit, a great number of women have chosen the former course and no longer await the laggard suitor as their aim in life. In many and rapidly increasing cases she must now be sought, not where she is a dependent, but where she is often in command.

There seems to be as great a variety of opinion in regard to women in business as there is in regard to women out of business, and it is quite true that this most interesting creature does not drop her mystifying characteristics when she enters the business arena.

I know it to be the opinion of some men that women have no business to be in business at all, whether they are otherwise provided for or not. But usually these are the men who believe in taxation without representation, when applied to women; who believe that a woman should receive less remuneration than a man for the same services rendered; who think that women should be held to a stricter moral code than men, and, as far as governmental privileges are concerned, should be classed with lunatics, idiots and paupers. Like the old colored preacher they believe that every woman must be possessed of seven devils because the Scriptures speak of but one woman who ever had them cast out.

I believe that some time the people who take our places will look back upon this period of history in wonder and amazement at the present attitude of the majority of men toward women.

As a rule, one of the most unreliable things in this world is man's opinion of woman. It varies at different stages of his career. Under some circumstances, in his opinion, there is but one woman to be considered; later on there are perhaps two, one whom he loves to recognize, and one whom he is obliged to recognize. At some period, in most men's lives, all women are beautiful, at another all women are false. She is judged more by his own feeling toward her than by what she really is. It seems impossible for man to estimate woman justly. He is quite sure either to over-rate or under-rate her. I believe it was a man who said of the highly intelligent women of our own city, that they are noted for their broad and erroneous ideas and their wide range of misinformation. With such flippancy men pass judgment upon women.

In my own efforts to estimate women in business, I find myself strongly disposed to think first of their foibles and their sometimes amusing and sometimes very surprising peculiarities.

Those who have dealings with women in business know very well that they possess all the elusive qualities attributed to them by the poets, and we know that in business these qualities often become alarmingly dangerous. Although it has been my lot to examine a very large number of women with reference to their credit responsibility, I am looking for a surprise in every new one I meet.

Instinctively I recall the women who assume a defiant or a suspicious air, as they seat themselves to be examined for credit; the women who consider the request for references as a reflection on their honesty, and the suggestion that they give some important particulars as to their financial condition impertinent and "fussy." I recall the women who resent as an insult the extension of time on their overdue accounts, if it is to be given in the form of a note, believing that the request of a promise to pay at a specified date indicates a suspicion of their intention to pay at all, and those women who as perfect strangers coolly propose that we furnish them with capital, in the form of merchandise, and take for them all the chances of a new and untried business, because they do not wish to be under obligations to anyone. I am speaking of very common and not unusual instances.

One woman whom I had examined for credit, as I supposed with the greatest delicacy and consideration, revealed the impression she had received from the interview, by her conversation with another woman, which was overheard and ran as follows: —

"Were you ever in to see that man?" — pointing to me.

« PreviousContinue »