Read AMBITIONS AND THINGS of Said the Observer, free online book, by Louis John Stellman, on

“Ambition is a good thing,” said the Observer, deftly flicking the ash from his cigar. “It provides one with a certain amount of incentive which may prove useful in developing latent resources, but it ought to be carried about in a glass case and labeled, ‘Handle with care.’

“Cæsar had an ambition, but he overworked it with disastrous effect. Napoleon got good results from his for a while, but it finally gave out on him, and William Jennings Bryan, the latest prominent victim of ambition is in such a bad way that he has to ride on tourist cars, like ‘common people.’ This may be due to a beautiful spirit of consistency on his part, as editor of the ‘Commoner,’ but it is not in line with his ambition. All of which goes to show that ambition is no more subject to a guarantee than a patent-leather shoe it looks very fine when you first get it, but it cracks.

“Then there is the ideal, which is even more perishable, but can fortunately be replaced when it breaks for it does not wear out. Like a Prince Rupert drop, it is just as good as new until something steps on its tail, and then there is nothing left but a noise and a disturbed atmospheric condition.

“After a fellow’s ideal, explodes he generally idles away his time pitying himself and saying sarcastic things about the entire human race, until he achieves a local reputation as a cynic. When in this state of mind there is no use in telling him that he is not the only original possessor of a bona fide broken ideal. He’ll show you a little superficial scratch and say in husky tones, ’see this great wound it has made in my constitution, it will never heal. Happiness is an iridescent dream. Go and leave me to my fate! ’Then he’ll heave a sigh which he thinks comes from a broken heart, but which really emanates from a dyspeptic condition, caused by lack of exercise. After a while he finds that this brand of romance is an overcrowded field and that he doesn’t get sufficient sympathy to make it pay. When he realizes that he is up against the competitive system good and hard, he bids a fond farewell to sentiment and goes to work.

“It is interesting to watch young women, just after they lose an ideal. They generally have more time to indulge the ‘broken heart’ idea and do it so much more scientifically than men. It is very effective to lounge about in a darkened room, wearing a pale, hopeless expression and picturesque negligee. They usually read Faust and Dante’s Inferno and think how sweet it is to suffer.

“When friends come to cheer them up they sigh softly and say, ’Ah, no; it is too late. Once I had aims and aspirations, but Fate has swept them all away. I shall only drift and drift now, until it is all over.’

“Then, the comforters go away with tears in their eyes and send her flowers.

“‘How the poor child has suffered,’ they say. But Providence only has a quiet laugh up her sleeve and says, as she winks the other eye,

“‘What fools these mortals be!’”