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Art Of Governing
by [?]

He was saying, when he awoke one morning, “I wish I were governor of a small island, and had nothing to do but to get up and govern.” It was an observation quite worthy of him, and one of general application, for there are many men who find it very difficult to get a living on their own resources, to whom it would be comparatively easy to be a very fair sort of governor. Everybody who has no official position or routine duty on a salary knows that the most trying moment in the twenty-four hours is that in which he emerges from the oblivion of sleep and faces life. Everything perplexing tumbles in upon him, all the possible vexations of the day rise up before him, and he is little less than a hero if he gets up cheerful.

It is not to be wondered at that people crave office, some salaried position, in order to escape the anxieties, the personal responsibilities, of a single-handed struggle with the world. It must be much easier to govern an island than to carry on almost any retail business. When the governor wakes in the morning he thinks first of his salary; he has not the least anxiety about his daily bread or the support of his family. His business is all laid out for him; he has not to create it. Business comes to him; he does not have to drum for it. His day is agreeably, even if sympathetically, occupied with the troubles of other people, and nothing is so easy to bear as the troubles of other people. After he has had his breakfast, and read over the “Constitution,” he has nothing to do but to “govern” for a few hours, that is, to decide about things on general principles, and with little personal application, and perhaps about large concerns which nobody knows anything about, and which are much easier to dispose of than the perplexing details of private life. He has to vote several times a day; for giving a decision is really casting a vote; but that is much easier than to scratch around in all the anxieties of a retail business. Many men who would make very respectable Presidents of the United States could not successfully run a retail grocery store. The anxieties of the grocery would wear them out. For consider the varied ability that the grocery requires-the foresight about the markets, to take advantage of an eighth per cent. off or on here and there; the vigilance required to keep a “full line” and not overstock, to dispose of goods before they spoil or the popular taste changes; the suavity and integrity and duplicity and fairness and adaptability needed to get customers and keep them; the power to bear the daily and hourly worry; the courage to face the ever-present spectre of “failure,” which is said to come upon ninety merchants in a hundred; the tact needed to meet the whims and the complaints of patrons, and the difficulty of getting the patrons who grumble most to pay in order to satisfy the creditors. When the retail grocer wakens in the morning he feels that his business is not going to come to him spontaneously; he thinks of his rivals, of his perilous stock, of his debts and delinquent customers. He has no “Constitution” to go by, nothing but his wits and energy to set against the world that day, and every day the struggle and the anxiety are the same. What a number of details he has to carry in his head (consider, for instance, how many different kinds of cheese there are, and how different people hate and love the same kind), and how keen must be his appreciation of the popular taste. The complexities and annoyances of his business are excessive, and he cannot afford to make many mistakes; if he does he will lose his business, and when a man fails in business (honestly), he loses his nerve, and his career is ended. It is simply amazing, when you consider it, the amount of talent shown in what are called the ordinary businesses of life.