I went home and wept tears of bitter mortification.”
This is certainly encouraging for bashful boys. Here was a man who became one of the greatest orators—perhaps the greatest—and yet as a boy he made an ignominious failure in the very department in which he afterwards excelled. It is a lesson for parents also. Don’t too hastily conclude that your boys are dunces, and destined to failure, because they develop late, or are hindered from making a creditable figure by timidity or nervous self-consciousness.
In this connection I am tempted to repeat an anecdote of Sir Walter Scott. It was not till comparatively late that he discovered his poetical ability. It is related of him that when already a young man he was rowing with a friend on a Scotch lake, when they mutually challenged each other to produce a few lines of poetry. Both made the trial, and both failed. Thereupon Scott said good-humoredly to his companion, “It’s clear neither of us was cut out for a poet.” Yet within ten years appeared the first of those Border poems which thrilled the hearts of his countrymen, and have lent a charm to the hills and lakes of Scotland which they will never lose.