What is opportunity? To the brilliant
mind of Senator Ingalls it is a stupendous piece of
luck. It comes once and once only to every human
being, wise or foolish, good or wicked. If it
be not perceived on the instant, it passes by forever.
No longing for it, no effort, can bring it back.
Notice that this view is fatalistic; it makes opportunity
an external thing one that enriches men
or leaves their lives empty without much regard to
what they deserve.
Master of human destinies am I!
Fame, love, and fortune on my footsteps
Cities and fields I walk; I penetrate
Deserts and seas remote, and passing by
Hovel and mart and palace soon
I knock, unbidden, once at every gate!
If sleeping, wake if feasting,
I turn away. It is the hour of fate,
And they who follow me reach every state
Mortals desire, and conquer every foe
Save death; but those who doubt or hesitate,
Condemned to failure, penury, and woe,
Seek me in vain and uselessly implore.
I answer not, and I return no more!
John James Ingalls.