This story, that may of course seem a bit exceptional, was published with the following comment in “Philistine Magazine” in 1899. It has been translated into all written languages. Over forty million copies of “A Message to Garcia” have been printed.
A Message to Garcia
This story, that may of course seem a bit exceptional, was published with the following comment in “Philistine Magazine” in 1899. It has been translated into all written languages. Over forty million copies of “A Message to Garcia” have been printed. “New York Central Railroad” alone distributed 1½ million copies to their employees. During the war between Russia and Japan, every Russian soldier who went to the front was given a copy of the “Message to Garcia.” The Japanese, finding the booklets in possession of the Russian prisoners, concluded that it must be a good thing, and accordingly translated it into Japanese.
Here are the main passages of the author’s message as they were published in the “Philistine Magazine”
As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.—Proverbs xxv: 13
When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the Insurgents. Garcia was somewhere in the mountain fastnesses of Cuba—no one knew where. No mail or telegraph message could reach him. The President must secure his co-operation, and quickly. What to do!
Some one said to the President, “There is a fellow by the name of Rowan will find Garcia for you, if anybody can.”
Rowan was sent for and was given a letter to be delivered to Garcia. How “the fellow by the name of Rowan” took the letter, sealed it up in an oilskin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle, and in three weeks came out on the other side of the Island, having traversed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia—are things I have no special desire now to tell in detail.
The point that I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, “Where is he at?” By the Eternal! there is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing—“Carry a message to Garcia.”
General Garcia is dead now, but there are other Garcias.
No man who has endeavored to carry out an enterprise where many hands were needed, but has been well-nigh appalled at times by the imbecility of the average man—the inability or unwillingness to concentrate on a thing and do it.
You, reader, put this matter to a test: You are sitting now in your office—six clerks are within call. Summon any one and make this request: “Please look in the encyclopedia and make a brief memorandum for me concerning the life of Correggio.”
Will the clerk quietly say, “Yes, sir,” and go do the task?
On your life he will not. He will look at you out of a fishy eye and ask one or more of the following questions:
Who was he? Was I hired for that? Don’t you mean Bismarck? What’s the matter with Charlie doing it? Is he dead? Is there any hurry? What do you want to know for?
And I will lay you ten to one that after you have answered the questions, and explained how to find the information, and why you want it, the clerk will go off and get one of the other clerks to help him try to find Correggio —and then come back and tell you there is no such man. Of course I may lose my bet, but according to the Law of Average I will not.
Now, if you are wise, you will not bother to explain to your “assistant” that Correggio is indexed under the C’s, not in the K’s, but you will smile very sweetly and say, “Never mind,” and go look it up yourself.
Have I put the matter too strongly? Possibly I have. My heart goes out to the man who, when given a letter for Garcia, quietly takes the missive, without asking any idiotic questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into the nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it, never gets “laid off,” nor has to go on a strike for higher wages. Civilization is one long, anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks shall be granted. His kind is so rare that no employer can afford to let him go. He is wanted in every city, town and village—in every office, shop, store and factory.
The world cries out for such: he is needed, and needed badly—the man who can carry a message to Garcia.