“We may all possess wisdom if we are willing to be persuaded that the experience of others is as useful as our own. Why give to old age alone the privilege of wisdom? What would be thought of one who prided himself on possessing bracelets when he had lost his two arms in war?”
—Yoritomo, the Japanese Philosopher.
DR. FRANK CRANE
Being the article “If I Were Twenty-One”
which originally appeared in the American Magazine
Revised by the author
WM. H. WISE & CO.
Copyright, 1918, by
WM. H. WISE & CO.
All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign languages, including the Scandinavian.
Copyright, 1917, by the
Crowell Publishing Company
The following note, by the editor of the American Magazine, appeared in conjunction with the publication of this story in that magazine:
In most of the biggest cities of the United States, from New York and Chicago down, you will find people who, every night of their lives, watch for and read in their evening paper an editorial by Frank Crane. These editorials are syndicated in a chain of thirty-eight newspapers, which reach many millions of readers. The grip which Crane has on these readers is tremendous. The reason is that the man has plenty of sensible ideas, which he presents simply and forcibly so that people get hold of them.
In reality, Crane is a wonderful preacher. Years ago, in fact, he was the pastor of a great church in Chicago. But he left the pulpit and took up writing because he had the ability to interest millions, and could reach them only by means of the printing press.
Doctor Crane lives in New York and does most of his work there.
The voyager entering a new country will listen with attention to the traveller who is just returning from its exploration; and the young warrior buckling on his armour may be benefited by the experiences of the old warrior who is laying his armour off. I have climbed the Hill of Life, and am past the summit, I suppose, and perhaps it may help those just venturing the first incline to know what I think I would do if I had it to do over.
I have lived an average life. I have had the same kind of follies, fears, and fires my twenty-one-year-old reader has. I have failed often and bitterly. I have loved and hated, lost and won, done some good deeds and many bad ones. I have had some measure of success and I have made about every kind of mistake there is to make. In other words, I have lived a full, active, human life, and have got thus far safely along.
I am on the shady side of fifty. As people grow old they accumulate two kinds of spiritual supplies: one, a pile of doubts, questionings, and mysteries; and the other, a much smaller pile of positive conclusions. There is a great temptation to expatiate upon the former subjects, for negative and critical statements have a seductive appearance of depth and much more of a flavour of wisdom than clear and succinct declarations. But I will endeavour to resist this temptation, and will set down, as concisely as I can, some of the positive convictions I have gained.
For the sake of orderly thought, I will make Ten Points. They might of course just as well be six points or forty, but ten seems to be the number most easily remembered, since we have ten fingers, first and “handiest” of counters.
- If I were Twenty-One I would “do the next thing”
- If I were Twenty-One I would adjust myself
- If I were Twenty-One I would take care of my body
- If I were Twenty-One I would train my mind
- If I were Twenty-One I would be happy
- If I were Twenty-One I would get married
- If I were Twenty-One I would save money
- If I were Twenty-One I would study the art of pleasing
- If I were Twenty-One I would determine, even if I could never be anything else in the world, that I would be a thoroughbred
- If I were Twenty-One I would make some permanent, amicable arrangement with my conscience
End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of 21, by Frank Crane
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