Many persons upon whom fortune does not smile, or who wish to be rich very quickly, think that nowadays it is not possible for a simple man to get to the top of the tree, because all occupations are so overstocked, and there are already too many people in the world. That this opinion is a false one, and that the right man can always do something for himself, if he has the real stuff in him, and perseveres, the following true story proves:
In the year 1826 a poor journeyman turner named Muhle, in worn-out shoes through which his bare toes projected, with a knapsack on his weary back, arrived at a little village not far from Colmar, in Alsace. In this village was an engine-factory, in which our workman had come to look for employment. But the poor fellow’s ragged, miserable appearance did not tell in his favor, and the master of the factory at once sent him about his business.
Our journeyman turned away, and sadly and despondently went out at the door; but he had scarcely placed his hat on his head, when from the office within he heard the voice of the master of the factory calling him back. He returned to the factory, and the proprietor asked him:
“What in the name of wonder is that kind of hat which you wear?”
“It is my own, and turned out of wood.”
“What! A wooden hat! I must examine it a little closer. Where did you buy it?”
“I did not buy it; I made it myself.”
“Indeed! How and where, then?”
“On the turning-lathe.”
“But your hat is oval, and on the turning-lathe things are made round. Some one else must have done that for you; you could not have made that hat.”
“Yes, it is as I say,” replied the poor journeyman. “I turned the hat myself.”
“And how have you made it? You must be a wonderfully clever fellow to make an oval hat on a turning-lathe.”
“I moved the central point, and then turned as it suited me. As I have to walk long distances, and cannot afford to buy an umbrella, I made a hat which would serve me instead.”
The manufacturer was struck, for he saw that poor Muhle had by himself discovered a difficult problem in the art of turning, which in the mechanics of the present day has become of such great importance. He recognized the immense value of the discovery, and at once took the poor fellow into his employ. He soon found out that Muhle was not only a very clever workman and turner, but a real genius, too, who only required further instruction and guidance.
And so it turned out, Muhle entered the business; in due time he became a partner, and after the manufacturer’s death he was sole proprietor. At his death he left a fortune of millions. His wooden hat had been the first cause, and his clever head the cause of his success.
Frank Leslie’s Sunday Magazine – May, 1883