Speculation As A Fine Art is written by Dickson G. Watts and can be consider as one of the first book on speculations. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator the book about Jesse Livermore written by Edwin Lefèvre constantly references Speculation As A Fine Art
All business is more or less speculation. The term speculation, however, is commonly restricted to business of exceptional uncertainty. The uninitiated believe that chance is so large a part of speculation that it is subject to no rules, is governed by no laws.
There is no royal road to success in speculation. We do not undertake, and it would be worse than folly to undertake, to show how money can be made. Those who make for themselves or others an infallible plan delude themselves and others. Our effort will be to set for the great underlying principles of the “art” the application of which must depend on circumstances, the time and the man.
Let us first consider the qualities essential to the equipment of the speculator. We name them: Self-reliance, Judgment, Courage, Prudence, Pliability.
Qualities essential to the equipment of the speculator
- Self-Reliance. A man must think for himself, must follow his own convictions. George MacDonald says: “A man cannot have another man’s ideas any more than he can another man’s soul or another man’s body.” Self-trust is the foundation of successful effort.
- Judgment. That equipoise, that nice adjustment of the faculties one to the other, which is called good judgment, is an essential to the speculator.
- Courage. That is, confidence to act on the decisions of the mind. In speculation there is value in Mirabeau’s dictum: “Be bold, still be bold; always be bold.”
- Prudence. The power of measuring the danger, together with a certain alertness and watchfulness, is very important. There should be a balance of these two, Prudence and Courage; Prudence in contemplation, Courage in execution. Lord Bacon says: “In meditation all dangers should be seen; in execution one, unless very formidable.” Connected with these qualities, properly an outgrowth of them, is a third, viz: promptness. The mind convinced, the act should follow. In the words of Macbeth; “Henceforth the very firstlings of my heart shall be the firstlings of my hand.” Think, act, promptly.
- Pliability the ability to change an opinion, the power of revision. “He who observes,” says Emerson, “and observes again, is always formidable.”