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The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, July 12, 1912, Image 11

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1912-07-12/ed-1/seq-11/

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The other day a successful edi
tor remarked that the average
man over 40 was useless in the ad
vancement of the world, too old
to do things, too conservative to
dare. Youth must have its way
and it was the part of wisdom to
trust youth's vigor rather than
maturity's counsel.
There is much to be said on
both sides of the question. One
may remark that Alexander con
quered the world before he was
30, but Napoleon was beaten by a
man past 40, and Jackson was 45
at the battle of New Orleans. The
fortunes of the Southern arms
were entrusted to Robert E. Lee,
aged 54, and certainly no one will
claim that any commander could
have done better, while the North
ern armies failed again and again
until Grant, who had turned 40,
also turned the scale of victories.
Joan of Arc died at 20, having
done her work, but Mrs. Eddy
was a failure at 50 and afterward
founded a world's religion. If
Chatterton died at 20 and Bryant
?rote "Thanatopsis" at 19, and
oe's genius was complete under
40, still Longfellow published
"Hiawatha" at 48, Tennyson pub
lished the "Idylls" at 49, Dante's
"Divine Comedy" appeared at
about his fiftieth year and Mil
ton's ' Paradise Lost" close to his
Lincoln was near 50 at the time
of the debates with- Douglas,
which can almost be said to have
begun his career, and John Brown
was to ransom a race. Peary was
53 when he reached the pole, and
Columbus was 56 when he sight
ed the shores of America. Dar
win at 50 barely got into the.
"Who's Who" of his day, but
then came "The Origin of Spe
cies," and later "The Descent of
Man," and Darwin's became the
great name of the nineteenth cen
tury. Edison was 40 away back in
1887, and it -can hardly be said
that his work has waned since.
Jefferson was only 33 when he
wrote the Declaration, but cer
tainly he cannot be said to have
weakened much after 40, while
Adams was 41, Morris was42 and
Franklin was 60 at the signing" of
the Declaration. Washington was
44 at the time. It was the youth
ful Hamilton who was the con
servative at the making of the
constitution, not the elders of the
But it is claimed that it is the
NEW things which the man of 40
fails to attempt, that, while Shake
speare and Wagner did their big
things both before and after this
imaginary "dead line" they were
not equal to "starting some
thing." This is only a way of say
ing that a man is apt to build up
on the foundation he has laid, but
yet Du Maurier, a lifelong car
toonist, turned author at 60 and
wrote "Trilby," Michelangelo
turned his attention to engineer
ing at 55 in order to fortify Flor
ence, and at 70 took up a new
branch of art successfully.
Tom Johnson, though a phe-
.was 59 when he led the raid which J nomenally successful man at 40,

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