Benjamin Harrison's Industry
( Originally Published 1902 )
GENERAL HARRISON'S evenly balanced and well-trained mind was driven to usefulness and eminence by the most tireless industry. He was always an enormous worker. His father was poor; he married early, and the fight for bread began at the start and continued to some extent till after the war. He almost killed himself trying to earn and save a home to shelter his family. Sir Walter Scott, whose continuous hours of labor, as well as his genius, made him the most popular writer of his day, was Mr. Harrison's favorite author; when a boy on the farm he read eagerly all of Scott's romances. The great poet wrote to his son at school : " I cannot too much impress upon your mind that labor is the condition which God has imposed on us in every station in life. There is nothing worth having that can be had without it. As for knowledge, it can no more be planted in the human mind without labor than a field of wheat can be produced without the previous use of the plow. In youth our steps are light and our minds are docile, and knowledge is easily laid up ; but if we neglect our spring, our summer will be useless and contemptible, our harvest will be chaff, and the winter of old age unrespected and desolate." These and similar sentiments from this author appealed to the industrious instincts of the boy and acted as an inspiration to the highest achievement. When he retired from the Presidency he had ample means to support him without work, but the habit of industry, his consciousness of physical and mental power and his desire to do his duty, led him back into his old profession and into as hard work as he had ever done in his life. He spent a whole year on one case, examining twenty volumes of evidence and writing a brief which filled two volumes of eight hundred pages, and receiving as a fee the sum of one hundred thousand dollars. Good blood is important, a liberal education is valuable, but it is the genius of hard work that tells, after all.