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The mirror. (Stillwater, Minn.) 1894-1925, March 24, 1898, Image 1

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn90060762/1898-03-24/ed-1/seq-1/

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Vol. XL—No. 85
Written for The Prison Mirror.
JV|y Jteligiorv
[By J. F. L.]
I hain’t got no religion what’ll make you jump
and scream;
I don’t go much on shoutin' nor have visions in
a dream.
Wife thinks I am too scrumptious ’cause I can’t
lead out in prayer,
But when it comes to earnest work I try to do
my share.
I am a strong believer in the good old golden
rule,
’Tis a lesson I remembered since a child at
Sunday school.
“Do unto others as you would that they’d do
unto you”
Is a rudder that you’ll always find ’ll steer you
safely through.
When stranded on the shoals of life a neigh
bor is distressed,
I don’t pull round the other side and shout
“The Lord be blessed.”
I know the Lord ’ll like it better if I give a
helpin’ hand
To aid my fallen brother man to reach the
firmer laud.
When a man is full of mis’ry an’ his stomach’s
full of need,
You can never stop his hunger with a dish of
wordy creed.
When Christ was here on earth he gave the
loaves and fishes first
An’ I know that his example will not lead us
to the worst.
Written for The Prison Mirror
WHAT WE LIVE FOR.
What will make a man contented
with his lot upon this earth or give
him peace of mind V When the glam
our of youth is past and melancholy
old age is fast closing, what is life
worth to one who lives it without an
abiding moral purpose?
For many, life on this earth means
a continual struggle against adversity;
a fight to keep alive. If they do not
cherish the hope for better things, here
or hereafter, if they know not the
blessedness of social, benevolent or re
ligious affections, the desolateness of
their daily life will inevitably lead
them toward despair. What sustains
those whose hearts are chilled by social
isolation, or who suffer from hunger
or cold? What else, but hope of a
hereafter, can fill that void of the soul
which will be felt when an inspiring,
uplifting aim or purpose is lacking?
What for them is pleasure but an oc
casional diversion of their minds from
the misery or vacuity of life? The
greater their intelligence and fancied
knowledge of the meaning and pur
pose of things about them, the less
they know of real happiness. The
more they think they know, the more
despondent they become and the less
content with their lot. Faith of some
kind that promises a hereafter of com
pensation is a necessity for all who
suffer and think.
Without the consolation of a faith
in a future life as a basis of hope for
better things, would the mere physical
instinct of self-preservation be suffi
cient to save men from self-destruc
tion? For the mere animal, the pres
ent life appears to be well worth pre
serving. Despite his instinctive love
of living, it is not always so with man;
yet an inexorable provision of nature
makes the common normal and human
mind when once enlightened, slow to
. give up this expectation of perpetuity
in some shape, be it through Christian
resurrection, pagan metempsychosis or
the Buddhistic doctrine.
Christian morality is the one com
plete answer to this quandary in all its
phases. “There is a vacuum in the
soul of man which nothing can fill but
faith in God.” Everything in this
world hinges on confidence or faith.
It is the confidence that we have in
our fellow men which is the founda
tion of the satisfaction that they find
in us or we in them. Our knowledge
of others can not be exhaustive. What
we know about them simply furnishes
a basis for our confidence as to their
characters which time may or may not
verify. If a man does not believe in
us, distrusts our motives and miscon
strues our actions, it is impossible for
us to take satisfaction in him. The
very condition of fellowship is want
ing. We may go farther: the man who
is not willing to make large and gener
ous inferences from what he knows
about us, and demands that before he
places any faith in us we shall rigor
ously demonstrate that he is running
no risk, can hardly be called a friend.
That may be business, but it is not
friendship. It is our faith in God sup
plemented by our faith in one another,
—not justified, perhaps, by legal evi
dence, but by the high and fine intui
tions of the soul —out of which happi
ness and the sweetest joy and charm
of life are woven. G. J. W.
Written for The Prison Mirror.
USING ODD MOMENTS.
It is safe to make the assertion that
the average person wastes enough use
ful hours in yawning and trying to
“kill time” to make a smart man of
himself and by the same token kill
time more effectually without suffering
ennui.
I
Stephenson, the inventor of the loco
motive, taught himself arithmetic while
working in an engine room on night
shift. In his day, it must be remem
bered, there were no books gotten up
especially for self-instruction. Learn
ing from a school arithmetic without
the assistance of a teacher was very
hard work, but by showing an indom
itable spirit what at first was severer
labor than firing his boilers became
a pleasant task and was the means
to his great end in making possible lo
comotion by steam.
Elihu Burritt, the Yankee black
smith, became one of the world’s great
est linguists by the utilization of his
spare moments while earning a living
by hard manual labor at the forge.
Burritt became master of eighteen an
cient and modern languages and
twenty-two European dialects. He
was an extremely modest man and
hated to be alluded to as a genius for
he knew that, to use an expression
given later by President Garfield,
“Things don’t turn up in the world un
til somebody turns them up.” Y'ou
never hear of an unsuccessful genius;
only the man who courageously persists
until success is assured is called a
genius and this latter word he knows
only as a synonym for earnestly applied
energy.
.Numerous instances might be related
to show that the honest economy of
time and the use of odd moments have
been the entering wedge of success in
the lives of many prominent men. Our
own John Quincy Adams once said:
“Time is too short for me rather than
too long. If the day were forty-eight
hours long, instead of twenty-four, I
could employ them all, if I had but
eyes and hands to read and write.” It
is true that if Mr. Adams had been in
a prison at the time he would not have
had such a zealous desire for the
lengthening of the day. But it must
also be said that it is men of this
stamp who are able to make the time
pass rapidly, and without any idle
“killing” at that. J. L.
“IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND.”
STILLWATER, MINNESOTA, THURSDAY, MARCH 24, 1898.
Written for The Prison Mirror.
QUESTION OF WEIGHT.
“Say, you’re just the man I want a
few words with,” said one of the in
mates to the writer on our last holiday.
“Can you explain to me what sort of a
machine the scale of justice is? Here’s
a paper that says about a man being
tried and after they got through talk
ing, the case went to the jury and that
his life now hangs in the balance.
Now I don’t profess to know every
thing. I was raised on a farm in Kan
sas, and the people down there seem to
act more sociable and generous than
they do up in these parts. Down there
when we meet a man we hit him a
slap on the shoulder and it’s a hello,
stranger, accompanied with a hearty
shake of the hand. Up here everybody
goes around with their heads erect,
hands in their pockets and act about
as friendly as a telegraph pole and as
chilly as an iceberg. Their ways of
life don’t agree with me.”
“This is rather strange,” I remarked.
“Y ou have been raised in Kansas and
never heard about the scale of justice.
Did you ever here of Mary Yellen
Lease?”
“No joshing, now. This is a serious
thing with me. I never heard of such
a thing as the scale of justice. They
didn’t weigh me when I was arrested.
Not until I got over here, and then the
fellow that done the weighing said
something to another who put it down
in a big book. That’s all there was to
it.”
“What! Do you mean to tell me that
precedent was ignored in your case?”
I asked.
“That’s what they done. The judge
appeared to have things all his own
way, too. But he never said a word
about the weighing business; every
thing was about society. I should
think he might have said something if
the blamed thing was broken. I was
out of work and had lots of time and
might just as well have waited until
the thing was fixed. But, no; the gen
tleman whom the judge appointed to
look after me, advised me to plead
guilty. I did so, supposing that would
finish the business.”
“Say, stranger, just keep this thing
quiet. There is a technicality in your
case that looks rather suspicious. I
will look into the matter and see if
anything can be done.” Jasper.
Written for The Prison Mirror
CHOOSING A VOCATION.
What occupation, what profession,
by what vocation can I gain most hap
piness and success —make a livelihood
for myself and render valuable service
to fellow men ? are some of the con
siderations that constitute one of the
most important duties a young man
ever has to perform. It not only af
fects him personally, but it most
gravely affects those who may become
dependent upon him for support or
education.
The difficulties in making a wise
choice are greatly multiplied by the
fact that it must be made at a period
of life when neither the person him
self nor those best acquainted with his
mental and moral organization can
possibly discover the latent germs
within him, or discern the hidden de
ficiencies that slumber in his unde
veloped and untried constitution; or
who had entered on a choice, in which
he failed or become the victim of ill
guidance and disgrace; thus also carry
ing a blemished reputation. A wise
choice in the matter is itself a fortune;
an error in it can hardly ever be re
called, and nearly always involves
losses and pain for which no good-for
tune afterward can make amend. The
chief obstacle is the lack of self-knowl-
edge, the great mass of mankind
being strangely indifferent to the study
and apprehension of their own per
sonal endowments. Many of them ac
quire stores of knowledge of the world
about them, but remain ignorant of
their own physical and intellectual
powers. “There are some who would
do great acts; but because they wait
for great opportunities life passes, and
the acts of life are not done at all.”
Again some will only seek for genteel
employment, utterly blind to their
qualifications and best interest.
As the aspirant himself and those
best qualified to judge of his fitness
for a particular calling, are unable to
make his choice with unerring exact
ness, there is in every case the possi
bility that a man could have done
better work and accomplished more in
some other vocation than the one he
actually selected. A man may be far
from sure what business or occupation
he ought to adopt, yet really have a
pronounced aptitude in some special
direction. In such instance, if he will
fully appreciate his own great endow
ments, and follow the promptings of
his higher nature, no apparent hin
drance can prevent him from attaining
a happy and useful life. True, “There
is always room at the top;” but the
average young man is not going to get
to the top, the majority being only of
average ability. The workingman who
has become a capitalist and raised
himself above his early condition rarely
has become so through miracle or acci
dent, but through superior intelligence
and thrift; through braving hardships
and infelicities.
Quite remarkable becomes the judg
ment of acquaintances in some in
stances, as where a candidate inclines
to a profession through some whim
and not from any rational considera
tion: pious lad as preacher etc., be
guiled by doting parents. While it
is a fact that but few solve without
counsel, consciously or otherwise, more
often too much credence is placed on
such advice, which is often given with
out due consideration. Frequently
wise ones tell us that this man ought
never to enter that profession, or that
occupation—that we are “spoiling a
good carpenter to make a poor lawyer,”
etc. Is it for one man to say what
another shall do ? Does another know
more of a man’s aptitude and inclina
tions than he himself? Who knows
the latent capabilities of the young?
Those who appear timid and obtuse
now, may, under pressure of competi
tion and opposition, develop or disclose
traits insuring the highest degree of
success. Others, fluent of speech,
quick to acquire, ready to recall and
apply, may wholly fail through lack of
some trait absolutely essential to suc
cess, though he, or his friends never
suspected he was lacking till actual
conflict disclosed the fact. Suppose he
be lacking in courage, fortitude or per
sistency, which traits only appear un
der adverse and trying circumstances.
Again these wise ones tell us that such
a trade is overcrowded; that such and
such profession is so crowded that
many adopt other vocations therewith
in order to make an existence. Is the
evidence substantially any different in
other vocations? Is there a single sec
ular occupation that is not distressed
with competition? Looking over the
broad field of human action in the
effort to see where your services are
most needed can you see any portion
uncultivated or unoccupied? On
farms, in commercial houses, manu
factories, railroad plants, machine
shops, offices, retail stores, at cigar
makers’ trade, stonemasons, or even
street laborers, do you find any of these
employments crying in vain for labor
ers ? Do you find any trade, profession
or employment that is not occupied ?
If so, name it. Competition is the law
of life. We are not responsible for
Terms- j SLOO per year. In advanc
Six Months 50cents.
being born into a crowded world. If
those who point at certain occupations
as crowded to suffocation would only
point us to other occupations where
the competition is less, and a comfort
able livelihood more certain there
would be force to their argument, but
until they can do that their advice to
shun is hardly worthy of consideration.
The fact that keen competition con
fronts one should not deter us from
entering, for competition in all trades
is intense. The fittest will survive no
less in one occupation than in another.
Nature has enacted that law for all
alike, no matter where they toil or
what they do. It is no worse to fail in
one than in another. Because one man
has failed in a certain undertaking is
no valid reason why another should
not try to succeed in it. Because one
is overpowered by competition that is
no reason why another should decline
to compete. If we hope to escape the
universal law of struggle for an exist
ence we must withdraw from this
world.
In conclusion, therefore, the thought
ful young man should consult his own
tastes, his aptitude for the work he is
to undertake so far as he can discover
it, and choose that occupation or pro
fession where, in his judgment and
under his circumstances, he can ac
complish most, irrespective of this
question of relative competition. Lux
ury and ease are not promised—the
best man wins. Rudolph.
Written for The Prison Mirror.
THE SOCIAL INSTINCT.
All creatures have the social instinct
to a considerable degree. Lordly man
is not by any means the only admirer
of brotherly (or sisterly) fellowship.
It is unreasoning folly to claim that
isolation or segregation is good for
man or beast. As a temporary pun
ishment isolation is very effective
upon occasion. But, like other cor
rective medicine, it must be given in
proper doses. Any woman knows that
a favorite spring medicine is good for
the children when given in teaspoon
ful lots, while the same medicine given
wholesale would have a disastrous ef
fect. You may take a dog and punish
him in a way that he will remember by
chaining him in the woodshed for a
day. If you keep the same dog locked
up continuously you will make a savage
brute of the erstwhile pet, for even the
dog has intelligence enough to discern
that his continued isolation is wrong
ful punishment and his nature must
revert to its original wild state.
The first of the human species may
have come into the world with a com
plete assortment of the social graces;
it so it is positive that at some time
his kind had a family disruption and
some repaired to other pastures with
regal, rustling swish of figleaf drap
eries. That the wild state was at some
time the condition of our ancestors
can not be gainsayed, and it is further
proven by the ease with which some
still return to that wild state, most
forms of which are now honored with
jaw-breaking names provided by lun
acy commissioners.
When the larger part of the human
family was again brought under sub
jection and made sociable by the refin
ing influences of time it was found
convenient to make laws by which to
punish the derelict. The punishment
then provided and which continues to
the present day was that isolation
which our far-removed ancestors
dreaded much on account of its re
semblance to the wild state of their
progenitors, and which when given in
overdoses was known then, as it is
today, to have the same unhallowed
effects on any creature possessing a
naturally acquired social instinct.
I L. J,

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