There are four things the pursuit of which usually exerts the greatest influence upon man. To them he looks for the reward of his toil.
In the first place he desires a happy home-life and, to further this end, he wishes to .earn an income sufficient to make his family and himself comfortable. By most men an affectionate wife and honest, intelligent and obedient children are reckoned among the greatest blessings which Providence can confer upon them.
With some, these are the main interests of life, and all the time that can be spared from business is devoted to the care and training of their family; and they look forward with content to an old age which may not be wealthy or famous, but which will be rendered happy by the loving attentions of affectionate sons and daughters.
Others demand fame; and in pursuit of their object, will cheerfully undergo all manner of hardships, will toil early and late, and, if needs be, will not think exile among strangers too great a price to pay.
It is to these men and to those of a restless and roving disposition, ever bent on adventure, that the English people owed their empire.
From the time of Queen Elizabeth they have wandered over the earth, exploring, and annexing new lands and settling in distant corners of the world.
It is in pursuit of fame that many statesmen have given their services to their country, that many soldiers have fought and conquered or died. For fame, kings have made new nations and destroyed old, poets have sung and scholars laboured.
It is one of the most powerful incentives that human .nature knows and is productive of much good and much evil. The evil arises when the ambitious forget the claims of the cause for which they are struggling, and fight, legislate, rule or write, not for their country or in the sacred interests of truth and purity, but for selfish ends.
Napoleon was greedy of power. Nothing would satisfy him but the conquest of the world. When one nation was subdued, he immediately turned his thoughts to the subjugation of another.
He set no bounds to his ambition, and cared not that he proved the death of thousands, rendered homes desolate, and devastated large tracts of country.
Today there is much talk of the hold money takes upon men’s minds. The desire for wealth is a very natural desire, as it brings within our reach many of good things of life power, position, luxuries, leisure, and the means of doing good.
But, like most ambitions, the pursuit of wealth is noble or ignoble according to the means adopted to obtain it, and the use to which we intend to put it, when obtained. Whatever the objects of our life, we should never sacrifice, in their attainment, a clean, honest and pure life. To live honourably is the noblest of all aims.