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41 Works of Orison Swett Marden

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The Marble Waiteth

Story type: Literature

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THE STATUE The marble waits, immaculate and rude;Beside it stands the sculptor, lost in dreams.With vague, chaotic forms his vision teems.Fair shapes pursue him, only to eludeAnd mock his eager fancy. Lines of graceAnd heavenly beauty vanish, and, behold!Out through the Parian luster, pure and cold,Glares the wild horror of a devil’s face. The clay […]

“The loss of an hour,” says the philosopher, Leibnitz, “is the loss of a part of life.” This is a truth that has been appreciated by most men who have risen to distinction,–who have been world benefactors. The lives of those great moral heroes put to shame the laggard youth of to-day, who so often […]

“Ye crags and peaks, I’m with you once again! I hold to you the hands you first beheld, to show they still are free. Methinks I hear a spirit in your echoes answer me, and bid your tenant welcome to his home again! O sacred forms, how proud you look! how high you lift your […]

THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER “Poetry and music,” says Sir John Lubbock, “unite in song. From the earliest ages song has been the sweet companion of labor. The rude chant of the boatman floats upon the water, the shepherd sings upon the hill, the milkmaid in the dairy, the plowman in the field. Every trade, every occupation, […]

"Westward Ho!"

Story type: Literature

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When the current serves, the unseen monitor that directs our affairs bids us step aboard our craft, and, with hand firmly grasping the helm, steer boldly for the distant goal. Philip D. Armour, the open-handed, large-hearted merchant prince, who has left a standing memorial to his benevolence in the Armour Institute at Chicago, heard the […]

Training For Greatness

Story type: Literature

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GLIMPSES OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S BOYHOOD In pronouncing a eulogy on Henry Clay, Lincoln said: “His example teaches us that one can scarcely be so poor but that, if he will, he can acquire sufficient education to get through the world respectably.” Endowed as he was with all the qualities that make a man truly great, […]

"If I Rest, I Rust"

Story type: Literature

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“The heights by great men reached and keptWere not attained by sudden flight;But they, while their companions slept,Were toiling upward in the night.” The significant inscription found on an old key,–“If I rest, I rust,”–would be an excellent motto for those who are afflicted with the slightest taint of idleness. Even the industrious might adopt […]

In the year 1866 David Livingstone, the great African explorer and missionary, started on his last journey to Africa. Three years passed away during which no word or sign from him had reached his friends. The whole civilized world became alarmed for his safety. It was feared that his interest in the savages in the […]

A Boy Who Knew Not Fear

Story type: Literature

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Richard Wagner, the great composer, weaves into one of his musical dramas a beautiful story about a youth named Siegfried, who did not know what fear was. The story is a sort of fairy tale or myth,–something which has a deep meaning hidden in it, but which is not literally true. We smile at the […]

“I heard that a neighbor three miles off, had borrowed from a still more distant neighbor, a book of great interest. I started off, barefoot, in the snow, to obtain the treasure. There were spots of bare ground, upon which I would stop to warm my feet. And there were also, along the road, occasional […]

Many years ago, in a shabby room in one of the poorest streets of London, a little golden-haired boy sat singing, in his sweet, childish voice, by the bedside of his sick mother. Though faint from hunger and oppressed with loneliness, he manfully forced back the tears that kept welling up into his blue eyes, […]

“No great deed is doneBy falterers who ask for certainty.” “God will give you a reward,” solemnly spoke the grateful mother, as she received from the arms of the brave youth the child he had risked his life to save. As if her lips were touched with the spirit of prophecy, she continued, “He will […]

Nature took the measure of little Tommy Edwards for a round hole, but his parents, teachers, and all with whom his childhood was cast, got it into their heads that Tommy was certainly intended for a square hole. So, with the best intentions in the world,–but oh, such woeful ignorance!–they tortured the poor little fellow […]

Farther back than the memory of the grandfathers and grandmothers of some of my young readers can go, there lived in a historic town in Massachusetts a brave little lad who loved books and study more than toys or games, or play of any kind. The dearest wish of his heart was to be able […]

A Cow His Capital

Story type: Literature

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A cow! Now, of all things in the world; of what use was a cow to an ambitious boy who wanted to go to college? Yet a cow, and nothing more, was the capital, the entire stock in trade, of an aspiring farmer boy who felt within him a call to another kind of life […]

Love Tamed The Lion

Story type: Literature

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I would not enter on my list of friends,(Though graced with polished manners and fine sense,Yet wanting sensibility), the manWho needlessly sets foot upon a worm. COWPER. “Nero!” Crushed, baffled, blinded, and, like Samson, shorn of his strength, prostrate in his cage lay the great tawny monarch of the forest. Heedless of the curious crowds […]

The Hidden Treasure

Story type: Literature

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Long, long ago, in the shadowy past, Ali Hafed dwelt on the shores of the River Indus, in the ancient land of the Hindus. His beautiful cottage, set in the midst of fruit and flower gardens, looked from the mountain side on which it stood over the broad expanse of the noble river. Rich meadows, […]

These words ere uttered many years ago by a youth who had no other means by which to reach the top than work and will. They have since become the watchword of every poor boy whose ambition is backed by energy and a determination to make the most possible of himself. The occasion on which […]

He was only a little, barefooted errand boy, the son of a poor blacksmith. His school life ended in his thirteenth year. The extent of his education then was limited to a knowledge of the three “R’s.” As he trudged on his daily rounds, through the busy streets of London, delivering newspapers and books to […]

Dost thou love life? Then, do not squander time, forthat is the stuff life is made of!–FRANKLIN. Franklin not only understood the value of time, but he put a price upon it that made others appreciate its worth. A customer who came one day to his little bookstore in Philadelphia, not being satisfied with the […]

The Triumph Of Canova

Story type: Literature

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The Villa d’Asola, the country residence of the Signor Falieri, was in a state of unusual excitement. Some of the most distinguished patricians of Venice had been bidden to a great banquet, which was to surpass in magnificence any entertainment ever before given, even by the wealthy and hospitable Signer Falieri. The feast was ready, […]

"I Will Paint Or Die!"

Story type: Literature

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HOW A POOR, UNTAUGHT FARMER’S BOY BECAME AN ARTIST “I will paint or die!” So stoutly resolved a poor, friendless boy, on a far-away Ohio farm, amid surroundings calculated to quench rather than to foster ambition. He knew not how his object was to be accomplished, for genius is never fettered by details. He only […]

“But I am only nineteen years old, Mr. Riggs,” and the speaker looked questioningly into the eyes of his companion, as if he doubted his seriousness in asking him to become a partner in his business. Mr. Riggs was not joking, however, and he met George Peabody’s perplexed gaze smilingly, as he replied: “That is […]

“Jim, you’ve too good a head on you to be a wood chopper or a canal driver,” said the captain of the canal boat for whom young Garfield had engaged to drive horses along the towpath. “Jim” had always loved books from the time when, seated on his father’s knee, he had with his baby […]

A kindly act is a kernel sown,That will grow to a goodly tree,Shedding its fruit when time has flownDown the gulf of Eternity. JOHN BOYLE O’REILLY. In the restless desire for acquisition,–acquisition of money, of power, or of fame,–there is danger of selfishness, self-absorption, closing the doors of our hearts against the demands of brotherly […]

The Might Of Patience

Story type: Literature

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Perhaps some would feel inclined to ridicule rather than applaud the patience of a poor Chinese woman who tried to make a needle from a rod of iron by rubbing it against a stone. It is doubtful whether she succeeded or not, but, so the story runs, the sight of the worker plying her seemingly […]

A Tribune Of The People

Story type: Literature

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Clad in a homespun tow shirt, shrunken, butternut-colored, linsey-woolsey pantaloons, battered straw hat, and much-mended jacket and shoes, with ten dollars in his pocket, and all his other worldly goods packed in the bundle he carried on his back, Horace Greeley, the future founder of the New York Tribune, started to seek his fortune in […]

“Sir, I am a prisoner of war, and demand to be treated as such,” was the spirited reply of Andrew Jackson to a British officer who had commanded him to clean his boots. This was characteristic of the future hero of New Orleans, and president of the United States, whose independent spirit rebelled at the […]

“Try to come home a somebody!” Long after Leon Gambetta had left the old French town of Cahors, where he was born October 30, 1838, long after the gay and brilliant streets of Paris had become familiar to him, did the parting words of his idolized mother ring in his ears, “Try to come home […]

I. THE FIRST TURNING POINT David Farragut was acting as cabin boy to his father, who was on his way to New Orleans with the infant navy of the United States. The boy thought he had the qualities that make a man. “I could swear like an old salt,” he says, “could drink as stiff […]

The teeming life of the streets has vanished; the voices of the children have died away into silence; the artisan has dropped his tools, the artist has laid aside his brush, the sculptor his chisel. Night has spread her wings over the scene. The queen city of Greece is wrapped in slumber. But, in the […]

He was a famous artist whom kings and queens and emperors delighted to honor. The emperor of all the Russias had sent him an affectionate letter, written by his own hand; the empress, a magnificent emerald ring set with diamonds; the king of his own beloved Norway, who had listened reverently, standing with uncovered head, […]

“Without vision the people perish” Without a high ideal an individual never climbs. Keep your eyes on the mountain top, and, though you may stumble and fall many times in the ascent, though great bowlders, dense forests, and roaring torrents may often bar the way, look right on, never losing sight of the light which […]

“Look, Grandfather; see what the letters have done!” exclaimed a delighted boy, as he picked up the piece of parchment in which Grandfather Coster had carried the bark letters cut from the trees in the grove, for the instruction and amusement of his little grandsons. “See what the letters have done!” echoed the old man. […]

The teakettle was singing merrily over the fire; the good aunt was bustling round, on housewifely cares intent, and her little nephew sat dreamily gazing into the glowing blaze on the kitchen hearth. Presently the teakettle ceased singing, and a column of steam came rushing from its pipe. The boy started to his feet, raised […]

A picturesque, as well as pathetic figure, was Henry Clay, the little “Mill Boy of the Slashes,” as he rode along on the old family horse to Mrs. Darricott’s mill. Blue-eyed, rosy-cheeked, and bare-footed, clothed in coarse shirt and trousers, and a time-worn straw hat, he sat erect on the bare back of the horse, […]

The Man With An Idea

Story type: Literature

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It is February, 1492. A poor man, with gray hair, disheartened and dejected, is going out of the gate from the beautiful Alhambra, in Granada, on a mule. Ever since he was a boy, he has been haunted with the idea that the earth is round. He has believed that the pieces of carved wood, […]

Opposite the entrance to the Sevres Museum in the old town of Sevres, in France, stands a handsome bronze statue of Bernard Palissy, the potter. Within the museum are some exquisite pieces of pottery known as “Palissy ware.” They are specimens of the art of Palissy, who spent the best years of his life toiling […]

Invincible determination, and a right nature, are the levers that move the world.–PORTER. Born a slave, with the feelings and possibilities of a man, but with no rights above the beast of the field, Fred Douglass gave the world one of the most notable examples of man’s power over circumstances. He had no knowledge of […]

Although he had only a few months’ regular schooling, at ten Thomas Alva Edison had read and thought more than many youths of twenty. Gibbon’s “Rome,” Hume’s “England,” Sears’s “History of the World,” besides several books on chemistry,–a subject in which he was even then deeply interested,–were familiar friends. Yet he was not, by any […]

"To The First Robin"

Story type: Literature

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The air was keen and biting, and traces of snow still lingered on the ground and sparkled on the tree tops in the morning sun. But the happy, rosy-cheeked children, lately freed from the restraints of city life, who played in the old garden in Concord, Massachusetts, that bright spring morning many years ago, heeded […]