Luck or Destiny?
He is just as good and sweet and lovable and unpretending as a man can be, but he doesn't know enough to come in when it rains. Now that is absolutely true. He is the supremest ass in the universe; and until half an hour ago nobody knew it but himself and me. He has been pursued, day by day and year by year, but a most phenomenal astonishing luckiness. He has been a shining soldier in all our wars for a generation; he has littered his whole military life with blunders, and yet has never committed one that didn't make him a knight or a baronet or a lord or something.
-"Luck" by Mark Twain, pg. 362 in Writing About Literature
Some people are just born lucky. "Consequently, the took his idiotic blunders for inspirations of genius." This story really makes readers think about whether or not the same applies for other military leaders throughout history. Sure, this story is fictional, but there is that what if factor with war. What if Napoleon had marched his troops just a little further, enough to tucker them out, giving the enemy the upper hand? What if American radar had picked up on the Japanese Kamakazie planes. Would all of those lives still be lost at Pearl Harbor decades ago? This piece really makes us think about how much luck plays into military strategy. Sure, Napoleon was a genius, as was Paten, and everybody else we've studied throughout history, but if the luck had shifted even a little bit, would they still have been seen as military geniuses? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.
On the other hand, maybe luck doesn't play into it at all. You could take this piece of writing multiple ways. For example, if the reader believes that everything happens for a reason, luck wouldn't even enter the equation. Scoresby was just a product of time and destiny. Luck had nothing to do with it. Maybe it was just meant to be, or maybe Scoresby really was a genius and the clergyman missed it. I think it was einstein who failed math in high school? (don't quote me on that, because I'm probably wrong), but the point is. Some people may not be text book smart--that doesn't mean their as dull as a burnt out light bulb...