The Map of Life, Conduct, and Character

By William Edward Hartpole Lecky | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XV
SUCCESS

ONE of the most important lessons that experience teaches is that on the whole, and in the great majority of cases, success in life depends more on character than on either intellect or fortune. Many brilliant exceptions, no doubt, tend to obscure the rule, and some of the qualities of character that succeed the best may be united with grave vices or defects; but on the whole the law is one that cannot be questioned, and it becomes more and more apparent as civilisation advances. Temperance, industry, integrity, frugality, self-reliance, and self-restraint are the means by which the great masses of men rise from penury to comfort, and it is the nations in which these qualities are most diffused that in the long run are the most prosperous. Chance and circumstance may do much. A happy climate, a fortunate annexation, a favourable vicissitude in the course of commerce, may vastly influence the prosperity of nations; anarchy, agitation, unjust laws, and fraudulent enterprise may offer many opportunities of individual or even of class gains; but ultimately it will be found that the nations in which the solid industrial virtues are most diffused and most respected pass all others in the race. The moral basis of character was the true foundation of the greatness of ancient

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