|Caption||Men of the Day. No. 252|
Mr Samuel Smiles, LLD
When Benjamin Franklin passed away the Fates were very much distressed by the difficulty of finding his proper successor. But in 1812 a boy was born at Haddington, and the most critical of the ruling powers at once acknowledged that Franklin's heir had appeared . The boy grew up, went to the University of Edinburgh, and, despite his dislike of destroying life, became a doctor. His opportunities of raising monuments to himself in the neighbouring churchyards were very limited, since the population of Haddington was small and insultingly healthy, so he went into journalism. Whilst editing a Leeds newspaper he became acquainted with Mr. Cobden, and made himself useful to that great man. He also practised as an amateur philanthropist, and tried to persuade working men that getting drunk is not the holiest pleasure in life. By dint of unsparing study and practice he learned to write a fine prose style, and, on becoming secretary to a railway company, he employed his evenings in making books. He did not think it fair that great soldiers should have a monopoly of the laudatory biographies. He remembered that railways as well as battlefields help occasionally to lessen the pressure of population, and he determined that the constructors of junctions, Tay bridges, and other destructive agencies should be rightly estimated. He also wrote "Self-Help," and thus earned himself renown. For many years he has managed railway companies by day, and literature by night. His books have been translated into all languages, and his name is known from China to Peru. Only the laxity of his beloved engineers has prevented his principles from being disseminated among the planets; but this serious omission will be remedied as aeronautical science is developed. He is the cheerist and kindest of men; he represents the finest Scottish type; he has done much to improve himself and the world; and his name is Samuel Smiles. LL.D.