( Originally Published 1879 )
OUR success in life generally bears a direct proportion to the exertions we make, and if we aim at nothing we shall certainly achieve nothing. By the remission of labor and energy, it often happens that poverty and contempt, disaster and defeat, steal a march upon prosperity and honor, and overwhelm us with reverses and shame.
A very important principle in the business of money-getting, is industry—persevering, indefatigable attention to business. Persevering diligence is the philosopher's stone, which turns everything to gold. Constant, regular, habitual, and systematic application to business, must, in time, if properly directed, produce great results. It must lead to wealth, with the same certainty that poverty follows in the train of idleness and inattention.
It has been said that the best cure for hard times is to cheat the doctor by being temperate; the lawyer, by keeping out of debt; the demagogue, by voting for honest men; and poverty, by being industrious.
To industry, guided by reasonable intelligence and economy, every people can look with certainty as an unfailing source of temporal prosperity. Whatever is useful or beautiful in art, science, or other human attainment, has come from industry. In the humblest pursuits, industry may be accompanied by the noblest intelligence, so that respect, place and power are open to its humblest honest practicer. Let no man spurn industry as his temporal shield; it is the safest and surest he can buckle to his arm, and with it he may defy the want and poverty which, more than everything else, destroy the independence of man.
Honorable industry always travels the same road with enjoyment and duty; and progress is altogether impossible without it. The idle pass through life leaving as little trace of their existence as foam upon the water, or smoke upon the air; whereas the industrious stamp their character upon their age, and influence not only their own but all succeeding generations. Labor is the best test of the energies of men, and furnishes an admirable training for practical wisdom.
Practical industry, wisely and vigorously applied, never fails of success. It carries a man onward and upward, brings out his individual character, and power-fully stimulates the action of others. All may not rise equally, yet each, on the whole, very much according to his deserts. "Though all cannot live on the piazza," as the Tuscan proverb has it, "every one may feel the sun."
Industry is the heir of fortune; the companion of honesty and honor; the beauteous sister of temperance, health and ease—one of the noble virtues which links with perfection.
Industry has a physical blessing; limbs strengthened by exercise, and sinews braced by exertion ; every organ performing its legitimate duty, and kept in its appointed office ; the blood circulated by motion, and the joints pliant from use ; disease repelled by internal vigor ; appetite created by the calls of increasing strength ; rest rendered welcome by previous labor; sleep become acceptable after busy working. The habit, free from the petty ailments entailed by sluggishness, no longer falls a prey to peevishness and irritation, and time employed, not wasted in murmurs and discontent. The temper, less tried by bodily infirmity and secret upbraidings, acquires equanimity. The spirits, unharrassed by petty pains and plagues, rise to cheer-fulness. The faculties, unimpaired by disease, unblunted by disuse, more vigorously expand. The whole man, active, useful, and happy, is enabled to resist the approaches of infirmity, sickness, and sorrow; to enjoy a vigorous old age, and to drop after a brief struggle his mortal frame, to soar with improved powers into a state of improved being. While in idleness, the disordered frame, gradually sickening, oppresses the vital powers. The mind, weakened and stuepfied, imbibes wild or gloomy ideas; the better faculties are crushed and curbed, and the whole man at last sinks beneath the undermining mischiefs of insidious sloth.
Is this a wretched picture? Whilst we feel that though it is so, it is also a true one, let us gratefully remember, that such a state is not inevitable, but that it is one incurred from choice, and produced by voluntary permission. Reverse the picture, extirpate sloth, and in its place introduce activity, and how mighty is the difference? The wand of Harlequin could never produce a more striking change.
In vain has nature thrown obstacles and impediments in the way of man. He surmounts every difficulty interposed between his energy and his enterprise. Over seas and mountains his course is unchecked; he directs the lightning's Wings, and almost annihilates space and time. Oceans, rivers, and deserts are explored; hills are leveled, and the rugged places made smooth. " On the hardest adamant some footprint of us is stamped in." The soil teems with fertility, and under the cunning and diligent hand of his taste and skill, the whole earth is beautified and improved.
The stimulus of a painful necessity urges man to accomplish more than his necessities require, and the world is filled with monuments and memorials of his industry, his zeal, his patient labor, his masterly spirit, and his indomitable perseverance.
"All is the gift of industry: whate'er