« PreviousContinue »
The time-worn adage that “ young men should be seen and not heard,” has closed many a young man's mouth. The sage who made it, forgot to mention the maxim in the succeeding chapter-that “gravity was often a mysterious carriage of the body to conceal the defects of the mind.” “Young men think old men are fools-old men know that young men are,” was rub number two for “ Young America.” If young men are fools, could their fathers have been sages? “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” is another apothegm of sham philosophy. Is not, I ask, in all reason, a little knowledge of the present state of our financial affairs better than none at all ?
During the last generation the young man has had a hard fight in the battle of life, and met with little or no encouragement from the old. If he kept the old track
he was all right, if he struck out a new path for himself he was all wrong. If he asked to be taken into the firm, he was met with a volume of unprofitable good advice. But was he taken into the firm ? Oh, no! Anything but that. He was told to be conservative-to be prudent—to be cautious——to keep cool, and not to get excited—to listen rather than to talk-to speak only when he was spoken to-to observe what was passing, and warned against the audacity of commenting on what he saw; and if, daring to walk more rapidly than the rule, he disobeyed in any of these particulars, he was, in the estimation of the savans of commerce, rushing recklessly and rapidly to ruin! How often has such admonition, good of itself, but having nothing substantial to back it, chilled the heart and cramped the am. bition of the young man, who, without rich friends or rich connections, has striven in vain to make a start in life!
The young man has thus been taught, in the roughest school, that he “must learn to labor and to wait” if he expect to be successful. While laboring hard and waiting long, if he have the temerity to print a letter-he is censured! If he express an opinion-he is sneered at. If he make a speech, he is ridiculed. If he write a book, the chances are that he will be ruined for life, as far as the sage opinions of his elders can suffice to ruin him. His notes don't pass,—that freezing, contemptuous, and
suggestive shrug of the shoulder of the great man on 'change cramps all his energies. Poor fellow, he must not complain ; he forgets that he is young. Let him expect advancement when his hair is grey and his brow is furrowed, let him live in hope even if he die in despair. He may be a junior partner some day, perhaps even before he is sixty!
I am a Bostonian, and know how hard it is to penetrate through the powerful freemasonry of a Boston firm. Returning from abroad after an absence of several years, I find the same clerks on the same wharves, in the same counting houses, with the same thread-bare coats onthe same salaries — living from year to year on promises — promises that cheer them till life is worn away in the service of others, who, when at last an opportunity arrives to advance them, have not the will to do it!
The New-York merchants may take more interest in the young man's welfare than the “solid men of Boston ;" but even in this progressive city I fear that youth is a drug in the market. Pray do not suppose for a moment that I do not respect the counsels of the old ; I have ever sought their society--ever associated with those older than myself-ever listened when they advised—ever striven to profit by their experience; but the moment the young man dares to express an opinion of his own