( Originally Published 1853 )
I HAVE told my young readers that money is coined at Philadelphia, and a few other places in the United States.
The laws of the country do not allow people to make it in other places. If everybody were permitted to coin money, some would make it of metals not sufficiently pure, and others would make the coins too small ; so that we should never know whether the dollars and other pieces were worth as much as they ought to be, or not.
But if money is made only in those few places, how is it that people all over the country get money and keep it as their own ? I fancy that the little boys who read this book would like to know the best way to get money. In this chapter I shall try to explain it to them.
And first of all I shall say, that the best way to get money is to get it honestly. Some wicked people try to get it by stealing. They will rob a traveler in the night, or break open a house or store. Some are dishonest in their bargains, and cheat their neighbors to get money.
But every boy should remember, that to get money by any such wicked means is worse than not to get it at all.
The Bible tells us that " treasures of wickedness profit nothing." Prov. x, 2.
If you would have your money do you any -good, you must get it honestly; and the way to get it honestly, is to earn it. You should never try to get it without paying for it.
There are a great many methods of getting money honestly. The farmer has one method, the blacksmith has another, the merchant another, the teacher another, the physician another, and there are many other ways still. Let me tell you how my uncle Reu ben obtained his money. He is now a cheerful old man, living very quietly in his comfortable farm-house ; and has money enough to procure for him and his little family, all the comforts and conveniences of life, and some to spare for objects of charity and benevolence.
He is always ready to give young people a little of his own pleasant history, and he never fails to tell them something that will be of real service to them if they are wise enough to Improve it.
He has been a farmer all his life, and is a great friend to farming as an occupation.
When he was twenty-one years of age, he began to look around to see what he had better do for a living.
"Here," said he, "are the young men of the neighborhood, all contriving how they may get rich without labor. And if they know how, they may succeed ; but if they don't, they must fail. confess I can see no plan that looks very sure. Now, I have gained a little knowledge of farming while I have been growing up to manhood ; and if I should now become a mechanic or merchant, or physician or lawyer, I should have to throw aside the knowledge I have acquired, and begin anew. It would be like going back to my infancy again ; and by the time I should grow up to manhood in my new occupation, my lifetime might be half-spent or more.
If I should be a mechanic, my own hands must earn all I get, or I must pay for every day's work that is done for me : but if I am a farmer, I shall have three faithful hands employed in my service, and I shall have to pay them nothing the sun, the clouds, and the earth will all work for me gratis.
I think I'll go to work at the business I already understand."
Not long after this, Reuben and his young wife found themselves in their new home. He had bought a farm that was covered all over with large trees, and had built a small log-cabin in the midst of the forest. It was at first a lonely place to them. The stillness of the night was sometimes broken by the hooting of the owl, sometimes by the howling of the wolf, and sometimes by the scream of the panther. But protected as they were by their rude dwelling, and by a trusty rifle, they felt quite secure, and already began to rejoice in the anticipation of future prosperity.
Reuben immediately began to clear away the bushes, and fell the lofty trees. At the early dawn you might have heard the woods ring with the blows of his ax, and throughout the day he continued to hurl to the ground the tall and smooth beech, the stout maple, and the dark-waving hemlock. Do you see the. squirrels and foxes start with affright, as the towering trees come crashing and thundering down? The solid ground trembles beneath the stroke.
It seems as if the sturdy chopper were using these gigantic trees as rods for chastising the earth, to subdue the wildness of its nature, and cause it to yield him abundant harvests in future years.
Sometimes the crack of Reuben's rifle rang through - the forest, and woe of the bear, the wolf, or the deer that had been the mark of his deadly aim !
God had said, many hundreds of years before, that " the fear of man and the dread of him should be upon every beast of the field." Gen. ix, 2. So it was here ; the dread of this new comer soon spread among all the old inhabitants of the forest, and after a little while it was seldom that Reuben had to lay down his ax, to take up his rifle.
After the trees had been leveled with the ground over the space of a few acres, they were allowed to remain until the leaves and twigs became quite dry.
A fire was then applied to them, which ran rapidly over the whole, consuming all the small and dry substances, and leaving the large logs all scorched and blackened by the flames. These logs were then hauled together by oxen, rolled into piles, and consumed by fire.
Day after day a hundred columns of smoke might be seen rising to the clouds ; and night after night the gleaming fires almost changed the darkness into day.
Thus for many a day did the patient laborer toil on until he had cleared off all the logs and rubbish from the ground; and then with his plow, harrow, and hoe, he mellowed the soil, and prepared it to receive the seed. He next planted his corn or sowed his wheat on the same ground which was lately covered with a majestic forest.
And now those three faithful hands that work without pay, commenced their labors for Reuben's benefit. The bright sun warmed the seed, the refreshing showers moistened it, and the fertile soil nourished the sprouting germ ; and in a few days the tender blade of grain might be seen shooting up from the ground. Reuben knew how much he owed to the sun, the clouds, and the earth. Ile was grateful to God for causing them to contribute so much to his profit. He said it was better for him that the golden rays of light should fall upon his land, than if gold-dust were sprinkled over it : he was more profited by the warm shower of rain than he would be if a shower of shillings had fallen upon his fields ; and the fertility of the soil enriched him more than a gold or silver mine would upon his farm. When he saw his wheat and corn ripening for the harvest, he felt that he was already rewarded for the many days of patient and industrious labor they had cost him.
He gathered the ripened grain into his barn, and when the cold winter came thrashed it out, and carried it to the market, where he sold it, and received the money for it.
He looked at the money with some satisfaction,. for it was the first that his new film had yielded him. " By God's blessing," said he, "I have obtained this money honestly. Every blow of my ax was worth something ; every tree that I cleared from the land made my farm more valuable ; every ray of sunshine and every drop of the refreshing showers, have assisted me in gaining these dollars. A part of this money shall be devoted to the Lord, as a thank-offering for the prosperity with which he has blessed me."
Many years have passed since that time, and Reuben has continued an industrious and prudent man. Every year has added something to his possessions, for he has been a good calculator, and has always turned his earnings to some good account. Sometimes, instead of selling his grain, he has fattened his hogs and cattle with it, and sold them for money. Sometimes he has converted his fields into pastures, in which he has kept a large number of sheep, and every year enriched himself from the sale of their woolly fleeces. Again he has stocked his pastures with cows, and obtained money by carrying the butter and cheese of his dairy to market. Meantime his farm has. been growing more and more valuable every day. In his eyes, labour is no disgrace ; for he knows, and all his neighbors know, that it is by his own honest industry and economy that he has made himself the wealthy, respected, and happy old uncle Reuben that he now is.
It is much better for the farmer to get his money by these methods, than it would be if he were obliged to make it directly from the metals. Gold and silver are found in only a few places, so that only a few could obtain them for making money. And besides this, when the farmer is raising grain, and cattle, and sheep, and making butter and cheese, he is not only earning money for himself, but he is also furnishing food and clothing for many others.
The mechanic also earns money by his labor. Early in the morning you may find him in his shop, and there he continues through the day industriously at work, making plows, or carriages, or chairs, or stoves, or coats, or shoes, or other useful articles, which he sells and receives their worth in money.
Perhaps some who read this book will think that these methods of earning money are too slow, and will try to contrive some way to obtain it faster.
I mush tell you, however, that these slow methods are much the most sure.
Sometimes a young man becomes rich in a short time, and without much labor ; but such instances seldom occur.
Many who think they cannot wait to get their money so slowly, spend many months, and even years, in trying to get it rapidly. They hope that very soon they shall obtain a large sum at once ; but the expected moment never comes. Their hopes, continually ending in disappointment, leave them as poor as they were at first.
Now all this time the patient farmer and mechanic have been toiling away; and though they have earned their money slowly, yet every day they have earned a little ; and a little gained everyday, will amount to a considerable sum at the close of the year ; and, at the end of several years, it will be a handsome little fortune.
Uncle Reuben used often to cheer himself, after the labors of the day, by such thoughts as these : " I have worked hard today, it is true, and am a little fatigued by my toil ; but I have not labored in vain, I have earned something. To be sure, I have not become suddenly rich ; and if I had, very likely it would have puffed me up with sinful pride and vanity. But, by the blessing of God, I have gained a little by my industry ; and if I do the same every day, I shall have enough for the comfort of my family ; and if we are honest and virtuous, we shall be happier than many of the rich. And as for this bodily fatigue which my diligence occasions, I am sure I need not lament it, for it leaves my mind cheerful and happy ; while those who spend their time in idleness, trying to contrive how they may be rich without patient industry, must feel every night that their hopes are disappointed, their minds jaded and weary, their spirits depressed, and their lives spent altogether to no good purpose."
His frugal and affectionate wife also cheered him with her encouraging words ; and thus they kept their hopes bright, and their bright hopes made their lives cheerful and happy.
If we were to go through the most prosperous parts of our country, and call at the neat and comfortable dwellings of the farmers and tradesmen, and inquire how they had obtained their pleasant little homes, so full of peace and plenty, most of them would tell us that they began with nothing but healthy bodies, cheerful minds, and industrious habits; and that it was by patient labor and economy that they had gained all these worldly comforts.
Now will not every boy who reads this book resolve that he will be no idler in the world ; but that he will do something for his own good and for the benefit of others ? Stir about, boys !
Choose your business for life. Don't be afraid of labor ! Go to work ; keep at it. Never despair, never tire. " Time is money," said a great man, who had been very industrious and very useful for many years. " Time is money."
Every day is worth something, a few shillings at least to the diligent man ; and the largest fortunes are accumulated little by little.