From My Commonplace Book - 37

from The Business Guide: On Safe Methods of Business

by J. L. Nichols, A. M.

(1904 edition; originally published 1886)

Genius, Capital, Skill, Labor

Here is a comparative table of genius, capital, skill, labor, on the mutual basis of the almighty dollar.

Genius. The power that enabled Tennyson to take a piece of paper and make it worth sixty-five thousand dollars by writing a poem on it.

Capital. The ability to write a few words on paper and make it worth five million dollars as Vanderbilt can do.

Skill. The ability to take twenty-five cents' worth of steel and make it into watch springs as a mechanic can do.

Labor. The act of working ten hours a day shovelling three or four tons of earth for $1.50 a day as the ditcher does.

. . .

Boards of Trade and Stock Exchanges

Gambling. Unfortunately, however, the business of nearly all stock exchanges is not confined to the legitimate; instead of blessing and benefiting mankind they have become gigantic engines of robbery and oppression. The confidence of the public has been shaken, and they are generally looked upon as gambling institutions.

. . .

Banks and Banking

Banks that Never Fail. The Chinese may be a trifle slow in their boasted intention of wiping the Mikado's kingdom off the face of the map, but there are some features of their banking system which our boasted Western civilization might adopt with profit. . . . Chinese bank notes are always redeemed because the law in China provides that, when a bank fails, every man connected with it, including the manager and clerks, shall have his head cut off, and they are all thrown in a heap, together with the books of the firm. The law has had such a salutary effect that not a single Chinese bank has failed in five hundred years.

. . .

J. L. Nichols (German-born American, 1851-1895) emigrated to the US at age 6 and by age 8 was an orphan. He then travelled around the countryside looking for work as a farm laborer. Self-taught in his early years, J. L. Nichols by age 19 had earned a teaching certificate and eventually became a professor at North Central College, Naperville, Illinois. He enjoyed great success with books he wrote on business and founded his own publishing company. In his will he left money to the town of Naperville to build a library.

Anyone contemplating writing a response to this blog entry would be well-advised to take into consideration Professor Nichols' advice below:

Helpful Hints to Correspondents

Don't. Don't write illegibly. Don't write crooked. Don't use any other than black ink. Don't write a letter on foolscap paper. Don't grumble on paper. Don't flourish in a business letter. Don't use slang. Don't address an envelope wrong side up. Don't write & for and. Don't write a letter with a lead pencil. Don't write like Horace Greeley. . . .


Interesting ideas from 1886 about stock exchanges, not much has changed, I see. And the Chinese law about banks (shudder): I am sure it would have been an effective negative motivator but I really hope it has been repealed since then...

I shall never use "&" instead of "and" again, luckily I don't write letters on foolscap paper (I wonder what J. L. Nichols would say about the etiquette of emails or letters printed from the computer?) but I may be guilty of inadvertedly addressing an envelope wrong side up...

Thank you for sharing this, Merry.
Thank you Merry for these fun/serious helpful hints. Much enjoyed reading. "Safe Methods" particularly amuses at this time (of by implication threatening MEers in the UK Press) - cup of tea anyone ? I'm sure Prof Nichols could have been very witty here too.

(Hope the heat is more bearable now.)
Oh, Purple! Do use "&" & whenever you like write on foolscap. You so deserve to do as you please.

I don't know if I have ever written on foolscap paper (I must remember to google), but because J. L. says Don't I want to & now!

& of course anyone with ME has every right -- a duty really -- solidarity! -- to address all envelopes wrong side up.

Let's flourish!
Hi, Enid.

Yes, a cup of tea, please. Thank you. What has gone on in the UK press recently is disheartening. Mind-boggling.

I took J. L. Nichols to be serious about what he wrote. The book was a laugh, though. The man was definitely wacky. Besides advising others on business matters, he also, I'm sorry to say, co-authored books on eugenics. :(
Oh dear ! - but Wagner did have awful ideas and his music so much enjoyed. I heard a conductor (we are into the annual Albert Hall Proms broadcasts over two months) say he is hoping to try to take to Israel. Not too sure my husband would have approved though.
You are very welcome to a cup of tea Merry.

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