When I was a boy, there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades
in our village on the west bank of the Mississippi River. That was, to
be a steamboatman. We had transient ambitions of other sorts, but they
were only transient. When a circus came and went, it left us all burning
to become clowns; the first negro minstrel show that came to our section
left us all suffering to try that kind of life; now and then we had a
hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.
These ambitions faded out, each in its turn; but the ambition to be a
steamboatman always remained.
Loie [Fuller], like myself--both red-headed--knew that ambition is a horse
that more than one can ride. I grabbed that idea 'way back in the seventies
when Artemus Ward came down lecturing Virginia way. Art was a success and I
liked the lordly nonchalance with which he spent two or three hundred dollars
on a tear. I helped him spend plenty, I assure you, but when Art and the brown
taste in my mouth had gone, I took stock. 'Sam,' I said to myself, quite familiar-like,
'Sam, your mental adipose is as good as his, and in originality you can beat
him dead.' After these encouraging remarks, I set to work making good.
- quoted in Abroad with Mark Twain and Eugene Field, by Henry W. Fischer (1922).
Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always
do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
- quoted in Morally We Roll Along, by Gay MacLaren (1938).
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