450 IDEAL HOME LIFE
The Value of Staying Power
This ability to endure, where others break down on the way, marks the difference between the winner and the loser in nearly every important work in life. It accounts for the success of country-bred boys like Commodore Vanderbilt, Daniel Drew, Peter Cooper, and Russell Sage, in the excessive strain of managing large interests in the city life, where city-bred boys had not the constitution to stand the pace. It is absolutely essential to vast undertakings. "For performance of great mark," says Emerson, "it requires extraordinary health." In the Civil War, general after general had to give up the lead. Though they had countless wealth and vast armies ready at hand, somehow they failed. But an Ohio country boy, trained at West Point Military Academy—its best jumper on horseback, by the way—started with victory, and followed with victory upon victory, often against obstacles that others called insurmountable, until he won, proving himself one of the greatest captains of modern times; till it was well said of him, "I know no such unquestionable badge and ensign of a sovereign mind as that tenacity of purpose which, through all changes of companions, or parties, or fortunes, changes never, abates no jot of heart or hope, but wearies out opposition, and arrives at its port."
A strong man learns to take defeat lightly, to know that most victories have only come after more than one defeat which would have crushed a feebler will. He learns to laugh at defeat, to get right up, Washington-like, and fight on; and that each obstacle is, to a sturdy nature, but a rung in the ladder which leads to the top. To live in our land, at least in its cities or towns, we need this health and stamina.
Thackeray on American Air
Thackeray said that our very air is more exciting than that of England; that "There is some electric influence in air and sun here which we don't experience on our side of the globe; people can't sit still; can't ruminate over their dinners; dawdle