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Title: Self Help; with Illustrations of Conduct and Perseverance
Author: Smiles, Samuel
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1897 John Murray edition by David Price, email

                   [Picture: Cover (somewhat battered)]

                                SELF HELP
                          WITH ILLUSTRATIONS OF
                        CONDUCT AND PERSEVERANCE.

                                * * * * *

                         BY SAMUEL SMILES, LL.D.,

                                * * * * *

    “This above all,—To thine own self be true;
    And it must follow, as the night the day,
    Then canst not then be false to any man.”


    “Might I give counsel to any young man, I would say to him, try
    to frequent the company of your betters.  In books and in life,
    that is the most wholesome society; learn to admire rightly; the
    great pleasure of life is that. Note what great men admired;
    they admired great things; narrow spirits admire basely and
    worship meanly.”—W. M. THACKERAY.

                                * * * * *

                             POPULAR EDITION.

                                * * * * *

                      JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.


THIS is a revised edition of a book which has already been received with
considerable favour at home and abroad.  It has been reprinted in various
forms in America; translations have appeared in Dutch and French, and
others are about to appear in German and Danish.  The book has,
doubtless, proved attractive to readers in different countries by reason
of the variety of anecdotal illustrations of life and character which it
contains, and the interest which all more or less feel in the labours,
the trials, the struggles, and the achievements of others.  No one can be
better aware than the author, of its fragmentary character, arising from
the manner in which it was for the most part originally composed,—having
been put together principally from jottings made during many
years,—intended as readings for young men, and without any view to
publication.  The appearance of this edition has furnished an opportunity
for pruning the volume of some superfluous matter, and introducing
various new illustrations, which will probably be found of general

In one respect the title of the book, which it is now too late to alter,
has proved unfortunate, as it has led some, who have judged it merely by
the title, to suppose that it consists of a eulogy of selfishness: the
very opposite of what it really is,—or at least of what the author
intended it to be.  Although its chief object unquestionably is to
stimulate youths to apply themselves diligently to right
pursuits,—sparing neither labour, pains, nor self-denial in prosecuting
them,—and to rely upon their own efforts in life, rather than depend upon
the help or patronage of others, it will also be found, from the examples
given of literary and scientific men, artists, inventors, educators,
philanthropists, missionaries, and martyrs, that the duty of helping
one’s self in the highest sense involves the helping of one’s neighbours.

It has also been objected to the book that too much notice is taken in it
of men who have succeeded in life by helping themselves, and too little
of the multitude of men who have failed.  “Why should not Failure,” it
has been asked, “have its Plutarch as well as Success?”  There is,
indeed, no reason why Failure should not have its Plutarch, except that a
record of mere failure would probably be found excessively depressing as
well as uninstructive reading.  It is, however, shown in the following
pages that Failure is the best discipline of the true worker, by
stimulating him to renewed efforts, evoking his best powers, and carrying
him onward in self-culture, self-control, and growth in knowledge and
wisdom.  Viewed in this light, Failure, conquered by Perseverance, is
always full of interest and instruction, and this we have endeavoured to
illustrate by many examples.

As for Failure _per se_, although it may be well to find consolations for
it at the close of life, there is reason to doubt whether it is an object
that ought to be set before youth at the beginning of it.  Indeed, “how
_not_ to do it” is of all things the easiest learnt: it needs neither
teaching, effort, self-denial, industry, patience, perseverance, nor
judgment.  Besides, readers do not care to know about the general who
lost his battles, the engineer whose engines blew up, the architect who
designed only deformities, the painter who never got beyond daubs, the
schemer who did not invent his machine, the merchant who could not keep
out of the Gazette.  It is true, the best of men may fail, in the best of
causes.  But even these best of men did not try to fail, or regard their
failure as meritorious; on the contrary, they tried to succeed, and
looked upon failure as misfortune.  Failure in any good cause is,
however, honourable, whilst success in any bad cause is merely infamous.
At the same time success in the good cause is unquestionably better than
failure.  But it is not the result in any case that is to be regarded so
much as the aim and the effort, the patience, the courage, and the
endeavour with which desirable and worthy objects are pursued;—

    “’Tis not in mortals to command success;
    We will do more—deserve it.”

The object of the book briefly is, to re-inculcate these old-fashioned
but wholesome lessons—which perhaps cannot be too often urged,—that youth
must work in order to enjoy,—that nothing creditable can be accomplished
without application and diligence,—that the student must not be daunted
by difficulties, but conquer them by patience and perseverance,—and that,
above all, he must seek elevation of character, without which capacity is
worthless and worldly success is naught.  If the author has not succeeded
in illustrating these lessons, he can only say that he has failed in his

Among the new passages introduced in the present edition, may be
mentioned the following:—Illustrious Foreigners of humble origin (pp.
10–12), French Generals and Marshals risen from the ranks (14), De
Tocqueville and Mutual Help (24), William Lee, M.A., and the
Stocking-loom (42), John Heathcoat, M.P., and the Bobbin-net machine
(47), Jacquard and his Loom (55), Vaucanson (58), Joshua Heilmann and the
Combing-machine (62), Bernard Palissy and his struggles (69), Böttgher,
discoverer of Hard Porcelain (80), Count de Buffon as Student (104),
Cuvier (128), Ambrose Paré (134), Claud Lorraine (160), Jacques Callot
(162), Benvenuto Cellini (164), Nicholas Poussin (168), Ary Scheffer
(171), the Strutts of Belper (214), Francis Xavier (238), Napoleon as a
man of business (276), Intrepidity of Deal Boatmen (400), besides
numerous other passages which it is unnecessary to specify.

_London_, _May_, 1866.


THE origin of this book may be briefly told.

Some fifteen years since, the author was requested to deliver an address
before the members of some evening classes, which had been formed in a
northern town for mutual improvement, under the following circumstances:—

Two or three young men of the humblest rank resolved to meet in the
winter evenings, for the purpose of improving themselves by exchanging
knowledge with each other.  Their first meetings were held in the room of
a cottage in which one of the members lived; and, as others shortly
joined them, the place soon became inconveniently filled.  When summer
set in, they adjourned to the cottage garden outside; and the classes
were then held in the open air, round a little boarded hut used as a
garden-house, in which those who officiated as teachers set the sums, and
gave forth the lessons of the evening.  When the weather was fine, the
youths might be seen, until a late hour, hanging round the door of the
hut like a cluster of bees; but sometimes a sudden shower of rain would
dash the sums from their slates, and disperse them for the evening

Winter, with its cold nights, was drawing near, and what were they to do
for shelter?  Their numbers had by this time so increased, that no room
of an ordinary cottage could accommodate them.  Though they were for the
most part young men earning comparatively small weekly wages, they
resolved to incur the risk of hiring a room; and, on making inquiry, they
found a large dingy apartment to let, which had been used as a temporary
Cholera Hospital.  No tenant could be found for the place, which was
avoided as if the plague still clung to it.  But the mutual improvement
youths, nothing daunted, hired the cholera room at so much a week, lit it
up, placed a few benches and a deal table in it, and began their winter
classes.  The place soon presented a busy and cheerful appearance in the
evenings.  The teaching may have been, as no doubt it was, of a very rude
and imperfect sort; but it was done with a will.  Those who knew a little
taught those who knew less—improving themselves while they improved the
others; and, at all events, setting before them a good working example.
Thus these youths—and there were also grown men amongst them—proceeded to
teach themselves and each other, reading and writing, arithmetic and
geography; and even mathematics, chemistry, and some of the modern

About a hundred young men had thus come together, when, growing
ambitious, they desired to have lectures delivered to them; and then it
was that the author became acquainted with their proceedings.  A party of
them waited on him, for the purpose of inviting him to deliver an
introductory address, or, as they expressed it, “to talk to them a bit;”
prefacing the request by a modest statement of what they had done and
what they were doing.  He could not fail to be touched by the admirable
self-helping spirit which they had displayed; and, though entertaining
but slight faith in popular lecturing, he felt that a few words of
encouragement, honestly and sincerely uttered, might not be without some
good effect.  And in this spirit he addressed them on more than one
occasion, citing examples of what other men had done, as illustrations of
what each might, in a greater or less degree, do for himself; and
pointing out that their happiness and well-being as individuals in after
life, must necessarily depend mainly upon themselves—upon their own
diligent self-culture, self-discipline, and self-control—and, above all,
on that honest and upright performance of individual duty, which is the
glory of manly character.

There was nothing in the slightest degree new or original in this
counsel, which was as old as the Proverbs of Solomon, and possibly quite
as familiar.  But old-fashioned though the advice may have been, it was
welcomed.  The youths went forward in their course; worked on with energy
and resolution; and, reaching manhood, they went forth in various
directions into the world, where many of them now occupy positions of
trust and usefulness.  Several years after the incidents referred to, the
subject was unexpectedly recalled to the author’s recollection by an
evening visit from a young man—apparently fresh from the work of a
foundry—who explained that he was now an employer of labour and a
thriving man; and he was pleased to remember with gratitude the words
spoken in all honesty to him and to his fellow-pupils years before, and
even to attribute some measure of his success in life to the endeavours
which he had made to work up to their spirit.

The author’s personal interest having in this way been attracted to the
subject of Self-Help, he was accustomed to add to the memoranda from
which he had addressed these young men; and to note down occasionally in
his leisure evening moments, after the hours of business, the results of
such reading, observation, and experience of life, as he conceived to
bear upon it.  One of the most prominent illustrations cited in his
earlier addresses, was that of George Stephenson, the engineer; and the
original interest of the subject, as well as the special facilities and
opportunities which the author possessed for illustrating Mr.
Stephenson’s life and career, induced him to prosecute it at his leisure,
and eventually to publish his biography.  The present volume is written
in a similar spirit, as it has been similar in its origin.  The
illustrative sketches of character introduced, are, however, necessarily
less elaborately treated—being busts rather than full-length portraits,
and, in many of the cases, only some striking feature has been noted; the
lives of individuals, as indeed of nations, often concentrating their
lustre and interest in a few passages.  Such as the book is, the author
now leaves it in the hands of the reader; in the hope that the lessons of
industry, perseverance, and self-culture, which it contains, will be
found useful and instructive, as well as generally interesting.

_London_, _September_, 1859.


                              CHAPTER I.

Spirit of Self-Help—Institutions and men—Government a             Page
reflex of the individualism of a nation—Cæsarism and              1–26
Self-Help—William Dargan on Independence—Patient
labourers in all ranks—Self-Help a feature in the
English character—Power of example and of work in
practical education—Value of biographies—Great men
belong to no exclusive class or rank—Illustrious men
sprung from the ranks—Shakespeare—Various humble
origin of many eminent men—Distinguished
astronomers—Eminent sons of clergymen—Of
attorneys—Illustrious foreigners of humble
origin—Vauquelin, the chemist—Promotions from the
ranks in the French army—Instances of persevering
application and energy—Joseph Brotherton—W. J. Fox—W.
S. Lindsay—William Jackson—Richard Cobden—Diligence
indispensable to usefulness and distinction—The
wealthier ranks not all idlers—Examples—Military
men—Philosophers—Men of science—Politicians—Literary
men—Sir Robert Peel—Lord
Brougham—Lytton—Disraeli—Wordsworth on
self-reliance—De Tocqueville: his industry and
recognition of the help of others—Men their own best
                             CHAPTER II.

Industry of the English people—Work the best                     27–66
educator—Hugh Miller—Poverty and toil not
insurmountable obstacles—Working men as
inventors—Invention of the steam-engine—James Watt:
his industry and habit of attention—Matthew
Boulton—Applications of the steam-engine—The Cotton
manufacture—The early inventors—Paul and
Highs—Arkwright: his early life—Barber, inventor and
manufacturer—His influence and character—The Peels of
South Lancashire—The founder of the family—The first
Sir Robert Peel, cotton-printer—Lady Peel—Rev. William
Lee, inventor of the stocking-frame—Dies abroad in
misery—James Lee—The Nottingham lace manufacture—John
Heathcoat, inventor of the bobbin-net machine—His
early life, his ingenuity, and plodding
perseverance—Invention of his machine—Anecdote of Lord
Lyndhurst—Progress of the lace-trade—Heathcoat’s
machines destroyed by the Luddites—His
character—Jacquard: his inventions and
adventures—Vaucanson: his mechanical genius,
improvements in silk manufacture—Jacquard improves
Vaucanson’s machine—The Jacquard loom adopted—Joshua
Heilmann, inventor of the combing-machine—History of
the invention—Its value
                             CHAPTER III.

Ancient pottery—Etruscan ware—Luca della Robbia, the             67–93
Florentine sculptor: re-discovers the art of
enamelling—Bernard Pallissy: sketch of his life and
labours—Inflamed by the sight of an Italian cup—His
search after the secret of the enamel—His experiments
during years of unproductive toil—His personal and
family privations—Indomitable perseverance, burns his
furniture to heat the furnace, and success at
last—Reduced to destitution—Condemned to death, and
release—His writings—Dies in the Bastille—John
Frederick Böttgher, the Berlin ‘gold cook’—His trick
in alchemy and consequent troubles—Flight into
Saxony—His detention at Dresden—Discovers how to make
red and white porcelain—The manufacture taken up by
the Saxon Government—Böttgher treated as a prisoner
and a slave—His unhappy end—The Sèvres porcelain
manufactory—Josiah Wedgwood, the English potter—Early
state of English earthenware manufacture—Wedgwood’s
indefatigable industry, skill, and perseverance—His
success—The Barberini vase—Wedgwood a national
benefactor—Industrial heroes
                             CHAPTER IV.

Great results attained by simple means—Fortune favours          94–117
the industrious—“Genius is patience”—Newton and
Kepler—Industry of eminent men—Power acquired by
repeated effort—Anecdote of Sir Robert Peel’s
cultivation of memory—Facility comes by
practice—Importance of patience—Cheerfulness—Sydney
Smith—Dr. Hook—Hope an important element in
character—Carey the missionary—Anecdote of Dr.
Young—Anecdote of Audubon the ornithologist—Anecdote
of Mr. Carlyle and his MS. of the ‘French
Revolution’—Perseverance of Watt and
Stephenson—Perseverance displayed in the discovery of
the Nineveh marbles by Rawlinson and Layard—Comte de
Buffon as student—His continuous and unremitting
labours—Sir Walter Scott’s perseverance—John
Britton—Loudon—Samuel Drew—Joseph Hume
                              CHAPTER V.

No great result achieved by accident—Newton’s                  118–153
discoveries—Dr. Young—Habit of observing with
intelligence—Galileo—Inventions of Brown, Watt, and
Brunel, accidentally suggested—Philosophy in little
things—Apollonius Pergæus and conic sections—Franklin
and Galvani—Discovery of steam power—Opportunities
seized or made—Simple and rude tools of great
workers—Lee and Stone’s opportunities for learning—Sir
Walter Scott’s—Dr. Priestly—Sir Humphry
Davy—Faraday—Davy and Coleridge—Cuvier—Dalton’s
industry—Examples of improvement of time—Daguesseau
and Bentham—Melancthon and Baxter—Writing down
observations—Great note-makers—Dr. Pye Smith—John
Hunter: his patient study of little things—His great
labours—Ambrose Paré the French
surgeon—Harvey—Jenner—Sir Charles Bell—Dr. Marshall
Hall—Sir William Herschel—William Smith the geologist:
his discoveries, his geological map—Hugh Miller: his
observant faculties—John Brown and Robert Dick,
geologists—Sir Roderick Murchison, his industry and
                             CHAPTER VI.

                           WORKERS IN ART.
Sir Joshua Reynolds on the power of industry in                154–201
art—Humble origin of eminent artists—Acquisition of
wealth not the ruling motive with artists—Michael
Angelo on riches—Patient labours of Michael Angelo and
Titian—West’s early success a disadvantage—Richard
Wilson and Zuccarelli—Sir Joshua Reynolds, Blake,
Bird, Gainsborough, and Hogarth, as boy
artists—Hogarth a keen observer—Banks and
Mulready—Claude Lorraine and Turner: their
indefatigable industry—Perrier and Jacques Callot and
their visits to Rome—Callot and the gipsies—Benvenuto
Cellini, goldsmith and musician: his ambition to
excel—Casting of his statue of Perseus—Nicolas
Poussin, a sedulous student and
worker—Duquesnoi—Poussin’s fame—Ary Scheffer: his
hindrances and success—John Flaxman: his genius and
perseverance—His brave wife—Their visit to
Rome—Francis Chantrey: his industry and energy—David
Wilkie and William Etty, unflagging workers—Privations
endured by artists—Martin—Pugin—George Kemp, architect
of the Scott monument—John Gibson, Robert Thorburn,
Noel Paton—James Sharples the blacksmith artist: his
autobiography—Industry of musicians—Handel, Haydn,
Beethoven, Bach, Meyerbeer—Dr. Arne—William Jackson
the self-taught composer
                             CHAPTER VII.

                      INDUSTRY AND THE PEERAGE.
The peerage fed from the industrial ranks—Fall of old          202–222
families: Bohuns, Mortimers, and Plantagenets—The
peerage comparatively modern—Peerages originating with
traders and merchants—Richard Foley, nailmaker,
founder of the Foley peerage—Adventurous career of
William Phipps, founder of the Normanby peerage: his
recovery of sunken treasure—Sir William Petty, founder
of the Lansdowne peerage—Jedediah Strutt, founder of
the Belper peerage—William and Edward Strutt—Naval and
Military peers—Peerages founded by lawyers—Lords
Tenterden and Campbell—Lord Eldon: his early struggles
and eventual success—Baron Langdale—Rewards of
                            CHAPTER VIII.

                         ENERGY AND COURAGE.
Energy characteristic of the Teutonic race—The                 223–262
foundations of strength of character—Force of
purpose—Concentration—Courageous working—Words of Hugh
Miller and Fowell Buxton—Power and freedom of
will—Words of Lamennais—Suwarrow—Napoleon and
“glory”—Wellington and “duty”—Promptitude in
action—Energy displayed by the British in India—Warren
Hastings—Sir Charles Napier: his adventure with the
Indian swordsman—The rebellion in India—The
Lawrences—Nicholson—The siege of Delhi—Captain
Hodson—Missionary labourers—Francis Xavier’s missions
in the East—John Williams—Dr. Livingstone—John
Howard—Jonas Hanway: his career—The philanthropic
labours of Granville Sharp—Position of slaves in
England—Result of Sharp’s efforts—Clarkson’s
labours—Fowell Buxton: his resolute purpose and
energy—Abolition of slavery
                             CHAPTER IX.

                           MEN OF BUSINESS.
Hazlitt’s definition of the man of business—The chief          263–289
requisite qualities—Men of genius men of
business—Shakespeare, Chaucer, Spenser, Milton,
Newton, Cowper, Wordsworth, Scott, Ricardo, Grote, J.
S. Mill—Labour and application necessary to
success—Lord Melbourne’s advice—The school of
difficulty a good school—Conditions of success in
Law—The industrious architect—The salutary influence
of work—Consequences of contempt for arithmetic—Dr.
Johnson on the alleged injustice of “the
world”—Washington Irving’s views—Practical qualities
necessary in business—Importance of accuracy—Charles
James Fox—Method—Richard Cecil and De Witt: their
despatch of business—Value of time—Sir Walter Scott’s
advice—Promptitude—Economy of
time—Punctuality—Firmness—Tact—Napoleon and Wellington
as men of business—Napoleon’s attention to details—The
‘Napoleon Correspondence’—Wellington’s business
faculty—Wellington in the Peninsula—“Honesty the best
policy”—Trade tries character—Dishonest gains—David
Barclay a model man of business
                              CHAPTER X.

                       MONEY—ITS USE AND ABUSE.
The right use of money a test of wisdom—The virtue of          290–313
self-denial—Self-imposed taxes—Economy necessary to
independence—Helplessness of the improvident—Frugality
an important public question—Counsels of Richard
Cobden and John Bright—The bondage of the
improvident—Independence attainable by working
men—Francis Horner’s advice from his father—Robert
Burns—Living within the means—Bacon’s
maxim—Wasters—Running into debt—Haydon’s
debts—Fichte—Dr. Johnson on debt—John Locke—The Duke
of Wellington on debt—Washington—Earl St. Vincent: his
protested bill—Joseph Hume on living too high—Ambition
after gentility—Napier’s order to his officers in
India—Resistance to temptation—Hugh Miller’s case—High
standard of life necessary—Proverbs on money-making
and thrift—Thomas Wright and the reclamation of
criminals—Mere money-making—John Foster—Riches no
proof of worth—All honest industry honourable—The
power of money over-estimated—Joseph Brotherton—True
Respectability—Lord Collingwood
                             CHAPTER XI.

Sir W. Scott and Sir B. Brodie on self-culture—Dr.             314–359
Arnold’s spirit—Active employment salutary—Malthus’s
advice to his son—Importance of physical
health—Hodson, of “Hodson’s Horse”—Dr. Channing—Early
labour—Training in use of tools—Healthiness of great
men—Sir Walter Scott’s athletic sports—Barrow, Fuller,
Clarke—Labour conquers all things—Words of Chatterton,
Ferguson, Stone, Drew—Well-directed labour—Opinions of
Sir Joshua Reynolds, Fowell Buxton, Dr. Ross, F.
Horner, Loyola, and Lord St. Leonards—Thoroughness,
accuracy, decision, and promptitude—The virtue of
patient labour—The mischievous effects of “cramming”
in labour-saving processes and multifarious
reading—The right use of knowledge—Books may impart
learning, but well-applied knowledge and experience
only exhibit wisdom—The Magna Charta men—Brindley,
Stephenson, Hunter, and others, not book-learned yet
great—Self-respect—Jean Paul Richter—Knowledge as a
means of rising—Base views of the value of
knowledge—Ideas of Bacon and Southey—Douglas Jerrold
on comic literature—Danger of immoderate love of
pleasure—Benjamin Constant: his high thinking and low
living—Thierry: his noble character—Coleridge and
Southey—Robert Nicoll on Coleridge—Charles James Fox
on perseverance—The wisdom and strength acquired
through failure—Hunter, Rossini, Davy, Mendelssohn—The
uses of difficulty and adversity—Lyndhurst,
D’Alembert, Carissimi, Reynolds, and Henry Clay on
persistency—Curran on honest poverty—Struggles with
difficulties: Alexander Murray, William Chambers,
Cobbet—The French stonemason turned Professor—Sir
Samuel Romilly as a self-cultivator—John Leyden’s
perseverance—Professor Lee: his perseverance and his
attainments as a linguist—Late learners: Spelman,
Franklin, Dryden, Scott, Boccaccio, Arnold, and
others—Illustrious dunces: Generals Grant, Stonewall
Jackson, John Howard, Davy, and others—Story of a
dunce—Success depends on perseverance
                             CHAPTER XII.

Example a potent instructor—Influence of                       360–381
conduct—Parental example—All acts have their train of
consequences—Disraeli on Cobden—Words of Babbage—Human
responsibility—Every person owes a good example to
others—Doing, not saying—Mrs. Chisholm—Dr. Guthrie and
John Pounds—Good models of conduct—The company of our
betters—Francis Horner’s views on personal
intercourse—The Marquis of Lansdowne and
Malesherbes—Fowell Buxton and the Gurney
family—Personal influence of John Sterling—Influence
of artistic genius upon others—Example of the brave an
inspiration to the timid—Biography valuable as forming
high models of character—Lives influenced by
biography—Romilly, Franklin, Drew, Alfieri, Loyola,
Wolff, Horner, Reynolds—Examples of cheerfulness—Dr.
Arnold’s influence over others—Career of Sir John
                            CHAPTER XIII.

Character a man’s best possession—Character of Francis         382–408
Horner—Franklin—Character is power—The higher
qualities of character—Lord Erskine’s rules of
conduct—A high standard of life
necessary—Truthfulness—Wellington’s character of
Peel—Be what you seem—Integrity and honesty of
action—Importance of habits—Habits constitute
character—Growth of habit in youth—Words of Robertson
of Brighton—Manners and morals—Civility and
kindness—Anecdote of Abernethy—True
politeness—Great-hearted men of no exclusive rank or
class—William and Charles Grant, the “Brothers
Cheeryble”—The true gentleman—Lord Edward
Fitzgerald—Honour, probity, rectitude—The gentleman
will not be bribed—Anecdotes of Hanway, Wellington,
Wellesley, and Sir C. Napier—The poor in purse may be
rich in spirit—A noble peasant—Intrepidity of Deal
boatmen—Anecdotes of the Emperor of Austria and of two
English navvies—Truth makes the success of the
gentleman—Courage and gentleness—Gentlemen in
India—Outram, Henry Lawrence—Lord Clyde—The private
soldiers at Agra—The wreck of the _Birkenhead_—Use of
power, the test of the Gentleman—Sir Ralph
Abercrombie—Fuller’s character of Sir Francis Drake


    “The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the
    individuals composing it.”—_J. S. Mill_.

    “We put too much faith in systems, and look too little to men.”—_B.

“HEAVEN helps those who help themselves” is a well-tried maxim, embodying
in a small compass the results of vast human experience.  The spirit of
self-help is the root of all genuine growth in the individual; and,
exhibited in the lives of many, it constitutes the true source of
national vigour and strength.  Help from without is often enfeebling in
its effects, but help from within invariably invigorates.  Whatever is
done _for_ men or classes, to a certain extent takes away the stimulus
and necessity of doing for themselves; and where men are subjected to
over-guidance and over-government, the inevitable tendency is to render
them comparatively helpless.

Even the best institutions can give a man no active help.  Perhaps the
most they can do is, to leave him free to develop himself and improve his
individual condition.  But in all times men have been prone to believe
that their happiness and well-being were to be secured by means of
institutions rather than by their own conduct.  Hence the value of
legislation as an agent in human advancement has usually been much
over-estimated.  To constitute the millionth part of a Legislature, by
voting for one or two men once in three or five years, however
conscientiously this duty may be performed, can exercise but little
active influence upon any man’s life and character.  Moreover, it is
every day becoming more clearly understood, that the function of
Government is negative and restrictive, rather than positive and active;
being resolvable principally into protection—protection of life, liberty,
and property.  Laws, wisely administered, will secure men in the
enjoyment of the fruits of their labour, whether of mind or body, at a
comparatively small personal sacrifice; but no laws, however stringent,
can make the idle industrious, the thriftless provident, or the drunken
sober.  Such reforms can only be effected by means of individual action,
economy, and self-denial; by better habits, rather than by greater

The Government of a nation itself is usually found to be but the reflex
of the individuals composing it.  The Government that is ahead of the
people will inevitably be dragged down to their level, as the Government
that is behind them will in the long run be dragged up.  In the order of
nature, the collective character of a nation will as surely find its
befitting results in its law and government, as water finds its own
level.  The noble people will be nobly ruled, and the ignorant and
corrupt ignobly.  Indeed all experience serves to prove that the worth
and strength of a State depend far less upon the form of its institutions
than upon the character of its men.  For the nation is only an aggregate
of individual conditions, and civilization itself is but a question of
the personal improvement of the men, women, and children of whom society
is composed.

National progress is the sum of individual industry, energy, and
uprightness, as national decay is of individual idleness, selfishness,
and vice.  What we are accustomed to decry as great social evils, will,
for the most part, be found to be but the outgrowth of man’s own
perverted life; and though we may endeavour to cut them down and
extirpate them by means of Law, they will only spring up again with fresh
luxuriance in some other form, unless the conditions of personal life and
character are radically improved.  If this view be correct, then it
follows that the highest patriotism and philanthropy consist, not so much
in altering laws and modifying institutions, as in helping and
stimulating men to elevate and improve themselves by their own free and
independent individual action.

It may be of comparatively little consequence how a man is governed from
without, whilst everything depends upon how he governs himself from
within.  The greatest slave is not he who is ruled by a despot, great
though that evil be, but he who is the thrall of his own moral ignorance,
selfishness, and vice.  Nations who are thus enslaved at heart cannot be
freed by any mere changes of masters or of institutions; and so long as
the fatal delusion prevails, that liberty solely depends upon and
consists in government, so long will such changes, no matter at what cost
they may be effected, have as little practical and lasting result as the
shifting of the figures in a phantasmagoria.  The solid foundations of
liberty must rest upon individual character; which is also the only sure
guarantee for social security and national progress.  John Stuart Mill
truly observes that “even despotism does not produce its worst effects so
long as individuality exists under it; and whatever crushes individuality
_is_ despotism, by whatever name it be called.”

Old fallacies as to human progress are constantly turning up.  Some call
for Cæsars, others for Nationalities, and others for Acts of Parliament.
We are to wait for Cæsars, and when they are found, “happy the people who
recognise and follow them.” {4}  This doctrine shortly means, everything
_for_ the people, nothing _by_ them,—a doctrine which, if taken as a
guide, must, by destroying the free conscience of a community, speedily
prepare the way for any form of despotism.  Cæsarism is human idolatry in
its worst form—a worship of mere power, as degrading in its effects as
the worship of mere wealth would be.  A far healthier doctrine to
inculcate among the nations would be that of Self-Help; and so soon as it
is thoroughly understood and carried into action, Cæsarism will be no
more.  The two principles are directly antagonistic; and what Victor Hugo
said of the Pen and the Sword alike applies to them, “Ceci tuera cela.”
[This will kill that.]

The power of Nationalities and Acts of Parliament is also a prevalent
superstition.  What William Dargan, one of Ireland’s truest patriots,
said at the closing of the first Dublin Industrial Exhibition, may well
be quoted now.  “To tell the truth,” he said, “I never heard the word
independence mentioned that my own country and my own fellow townsmen did
not occur to my mind.  I have heard a great deal about the independence
that we were to get from this, that, and the other place, and of the
great expectations we were to have from persons from other countries
coming amongst us.  Whilst I value as much as any man the great
advantages that must result to us from that intercourse, I have always
been deeply impressed with the feeling that our industrial independence
is dependent upon ourselves.  I believe that with simple industry and
careful exactness in the utilization of our energies, we never had a
fairer chance nor a brighter prospect than the present.  We have made a
step, but perseverance is the great agent of success; and if we but go on
zealously, I believe in my conscience that in a short period we shall
arrive at a position of equal comfort, of equal happiness, and of equal
independence, with that of any other people.”

All nations have been made what they are by the thinking and the working
of many generations of men.  Patient and persevering labourers in all
ranks and conditions of life, cultivators of the soil and explorers of
the mine, inventors and discoverers, manufacturers, mechanics and
artisans, poets, philosophers, and politicians, all have contributed
towards the grand result, one generation building upon another’s labours,
and carrying them forward to still higher stages.  This constant
succession of noble workers—the artisans of civilisation—has served to
create order out of chaos in industry, science, and art; and the living
race has thus, in the course of nature, become the inheritor of the rich
estate provided by the skill and industry of our forefathers, which is
placed in our hands to cultivate, and to hand down, not only unimpaired
but improved, to our successors.

The spirit of self-help, as exhibited in the energetic action of
individuals, has in all times been a marked feature in the English
character, and furnishes the true measure of our power as a nation.
Rising above the heads of the mass, there were always to be found a
series of individuals distinguished beyond others, who commanded the
public homage.  But our progress has also been owing to multitudes of
smaller and less known men.  Though only the generals’ names may be
remembered in the history of any great campaign, it has been in a great
measure through the individual valour and heroism of the privates that
victories have been won.  And life, too, is “a soldiers’ battle,”—men in
the ranks having in all times been amongst the greatest of workers.  Many
are the lives of men unwritten, which have nevertheless as powerfully
influenced civilisation and progress as the more fortunate Great whose
names are recorded in biography.  Even the humblest person, who sets
before his fellows an example of industry, sobriety, and upright honesty
of purpose in life, has a present as well as a future influence upon the
well-being of his country; for his life and character pass unconsciously
into the lives of others, and propagate good example for all time to

Daily experience shows that it is energetic individualism which produces
the most powerful effects upon the life and action of others, and really
constitutes the best practical education.  Schools, academies, and
colleges, give but the merest beginnings of culture in comparison with
it.  Far more influential is the life-education daily given in our homes,
in the streets, behind counters, in workshops, at the loom and the
plough, in counting-houses and manufactories, and in the busy haunts of
men.  This is that finishing instruction as members of society, which
Schiller designated “the education of the human race,” consisting in
action, conduct, self-culture, self-control,—all that tends to discipline
a man truly, and fit him for the proper performance of the duties and
business of life,—a kind of education not to be learnt from books, or
acquired by any amount of mere literary training.  With his usual weight
of words Bacon observes, that “Studies teach not their own use; but that
is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation;” a remark
that holds true of actual life, as well as of the cultivation of the
intellect itself.  For all experience serves to illustrate and enforce
the lesson, that a man perfects himself by work more than by
reading,—that it is life rather than literature, action rather than
study, and character rather than biography, which tend perpetually to
renovate mankind.

Biographies of great, but especially of good men, are nevertheless most
instructive and useful, as helps, guides, and incentives to others.  Some
of the best are almost equivalent to gospels—teaching high living, high
thinking, and energetic action for their own and the world’s good.  The
valuable examples which they furnish of the power of self-help, of
patient purpose, resolute working, and steadfast integrity, issuing in
the formation of truly noble and manly character, exhibit in language not
to be misunderstood, what it is in the power of each to accomplish for
himself; and eloquently illustrate the efficacy of self-respect and
self-reliance in enabling men of even the humblest rank to work out for
themselves an honourable competency and a solid reputation.

Great men of science, literature, and art—apostles of great thoughts and
lords of the great heart—have belonged to no exclusive class nor rank in
life.  They have come alike from colleges, workshops, and
farmhouses,—from the huts of poor men and the mansions of the rich.  Some
of God’s greatest apostles have come from “the ranks.”  The poorest have
sometimes taken the highest places; nor have difficulties apparently the
most insuperable proved obstacles in their way.  Those very difficulties,
in many instances, would ever seem to have been their best helpers, by
evoking their powers of labour and endurance, and stimulating into life
faculties which might otherwise have lain dormant.  The instances of
obstacles thus surmounted, and of triumphs thus achieved, are indeed so
numerous, as almost to justify the proverb that “with Will one can do
anything.”  Take, for instance, the remarkable fact, that from the
barber’s shop came Jeremy Taylor, the most poetical of divines; Sir
Richard Arkwright, the inventor of the spinning-jenny and founder of the
cotton manufacture; Lord Tenterden, one of the most distinguished of Lord
Chief Justices; and Turner, the greatest among landscape painters.

No one knows to a certainty what Shakespeare was; but it is
unquestionable that he sprang from a humble rank.  His father was a
butcher and grazier; and Shakespeare himself is supposed to have been in
early life a woolcomber; whilst others aver that he was an usher in a
school and afterwards a scrivener’s clerk.  He truly seems to have been
“not one, but all mankind’s epitome.”  For such is the accuracy of his
sea phrases that a naval writer alleges that he must have been a sailor;
whilst a clergyman infers, from internal evidence in his writings, that
he was probably a parson’s clerk; and a distinguished judge of
horse-flesh insists that he must have been a horse-dealer.  Shakespeare
was certainly an actor, and in the course of his life “played many
parts,” gathering his wonderful stores of knowledge from a wide field of
experience and observation.  In any event, he must have been a close
student and a hard worker; and to this day his writings continue to
exercise a powerful influence on the formation of English character.

The common class of day labourers has given us Brindley the engineer,
Cook the navigator, and Burns the poet.  Masons and bricklayers can boast
of Ben Jonson, who worked at the building of Lincoln’s Inn, with a trowel
in his hand and a book in his pocket, Edwards and Telford the engineers,
Hugh Miller the geologist, and Allan Cunningham the writer and sculptor;
whilst among distinguished carpenters we find the names of Inigo Jones
the architect, Harrison the chronometer-maker, John Hunter the
physiologist, Romney and Opie the painters, Professor Lee the
Orientalist, and John Gibson the sculptor.

From the weaver class have sprung Simson the mathematician, Bacon the
sculptor, the two Milners, Adam Walker, John Foster, Wilson the
ornithologist, Dr. Livingstone the missionary traveller, and Tannahill
the poet.  Shoemakers have given us Sir Cloudesley Shovel the great
Admiral, Sturgeon the electrician, Samuel Drew the essayist, Gifford the
editor of the ‘Quarterly Review,’ Bloomfield the poet, and William Carey
the missionary; whilst Morrison, another laborious missionary, was a
maker of shoe-lasts.  Within the last few years, a profound naturalist
has been discovered in the person of a shoemaker at Banff, named Thomas
Edwards, who, while maintaining himself by his trade, has devoted his
leisure to the study of natural science in all its branches, his
researches in connexion with the smaller crustaceæ having been rewarded
by the discovery of a new species, to which the name of “Praniza
Edwardsii” has been given by naturalists.

Nor have tailors been undistinguished.  John Stow, the historian, worked
at the trade during some part of his life.  Jackson, the painter, made
clothes until he reached manhood.  The brave Sir John Hawkswood, who so
greatly distinguished himself at Poictiers, and was knighted by Edward
III. for his valour, was in early life apprenticed to a London tailor.
Admiral Hobson, who broke the boom at Vigo in 1702, belonged to the same
calling.  He was working as a tailor’s apprentice near Bonchurch, in the
Isle of Wight, when the news flew through the village that a squadron of
men-of-war was sailing off the island.  He sprang from the shopboard, and
ran down with his comrades to the beach, to gaze upon the glorious sight.
The boy was suddenly inflamed with the ambition to be a sailor; and
springing into a boat, he rowed off to the squadron, gained the admiral’s
ship, and was accepted as a volunteer.  Years after, he returned to his
native village full of honours, and dined off bacon and eggs in the
cottage where he had worked as an apprentice.  But the greatest tailor of
all is unquestionably Andrew Johnson, the present President of the United
States—a man of extraordinary force of character and vigour of intellect.
In his great speech at Washington, when describing himself as having
begun his political career as an alderman, and run through all the
branches of the legislature, a voice in the crowd cried, “From a tailor
up.”  It was characteristic of Johnson to take the intended sarcasm in
good part, and even to turn it to account.  “Some gentleman says I have
been a tailor.  That does not disconcert me in the least; for when I was
a tailor I had the reputation of being a good one, and making close fits;
I was always punctual with my customers, and always did good work.”

Cardinal Wolsey, De Foe, Akenside, and Kirke White were the sons of
butchers; Bunyan was a tinker, and Joseph Lancaster a basket-maker.
Among the great names identified with the invention of the steam-engine
are those of Newcomen, Watt, and Stephenson; the first a blacksmith, the
second a maker of mathematical instruments, and the third an
engine-fireman.  Huntingdon the preacher was originally a coalheaver, and
Bewick, the father of wood-engraving, a coalminer.  Dodsley was a
footman, and Holcroft a groom.  Baffin the navigator began his seafaring
career as a man before the mast, and Sir Cloudesley Shovel as a
cabin-boy.  Herschel played the oboe in a military band.  Chantrey was a
journeyman carver, Etty a journeyman printer, and Sir Thomas Lawrence the
son of a tavern-keeper.  Michael Faraday, the son of a blacksmith, was in
early life apprenticed to a bookbinder, and worked at that trade until he
reached his twenty-second year: he now occupies the very first rank as a
philosopher, excelling even his master, Sir Humphry Davy, in the art of
lucidly expounding the most difficult and abstruse points in natural

Among those who have given the greatest impulse to the sublime science of
astronomy, we find Copernicus, the son of a Polish baker; Kepler, the son
of a German public-house keeper, and himself the “garçon de cabaret;”
d’Alembert, a foundling picked up one winter’s night on the steps of the
church of St. Jean le Rond at Paris, and brought up by the wife of a
glazier; and Newton and Laplace, the one the son of a small freeholder
near Grantham, the other the son of a poor peasant of Beaumont-en-Auge,
near Honfleur.  Notwithstanding their comparatively adverse circumstances
in early life, these distinguished men achieved a solid and enduring
reputation by the exercise of their genius, which all the wealth in the
world could not have purchased.  The very possession of wealth might
indeed have proved an obstacle greater even than the humble means to
which they were born.  The father of Lagrange, the astronomer and
mathematician, held the office of Treasurer of War at Turin; but having
ruined himself by speculations, his family were reduced to comparative
poverty.  To this circumstance Lagrange was in after life accustomed
partly to attribute his own fame and happiness.  “Had I been rich,” said
he, “I should probably not have become a mathematician.”

The sons of clergymen and ministers of religion generally, have
particularly distinguished themselves in our country’s history.  Amongst
them we find the names of Drake and Nelson, celebrated in naval heroism;
of Wollaston, Young, Playfair, and Bell, in science; of Wren, Reynolds,
Wilson, and Wilkie, in art; of Thurlow and Campbell, in law; and of
Addison, Thomson, Goldsmith, Coleridge, and Tennyson, in literature.
Lord Hardinge, Colonel Edwardes, and Major Hodson, so honourably known in
Indian warfare, were also the sons of clergymen.  Indeed, the empire of
England in India was won and held chiefly by men of the middle class—such
as Clive, Warren Hastings, and their successors—men for the most part
bred in factories and trained to habits of business.

Among the sons of attorneys we find Edmund Burke, Smeaton the engineer,
Scott and Wordsworth, and Lords Somers, Hardwick, and Dunning.  Sir
William Blackstone was the posthumous son of a silk-mercer.  Lord
Gifford’s father was a grocer at Dover; Lord Denman’s a physician; judge
Talfourd’s a country brewer; and Lord Chief Baron Pollock’s a celebrated
saddler at Charing Cross.  Layard, the discoverer of the monuments of
Nineveh, was an articled clerk in a London solicitor’s office; and Sir
William Armstrong, the inventor of hydraulic machinery and of the
Armstrong ordnance, was also trained to the law and practised for some
time as an attorney.  Milton was the son of a London scrivener, and Pope
and Southey were the sons of linendrapers.  Professor Wilson was the son
of a Paisley manufacturer, and Lord Macaulay of an African merchant.
Keats was a druggist, and Sir Humphry Davy a country apothecary’s
apprentice.  Speaking of himself, Davy once said, “What I am I have made
myself: I say this without vanity, and in pure simplicity of heart.”
Richard Owen, the Newton of Natural History, began life as a midshipman,
and did not enter upon the line of scientific research in which he has
since become so distinguished, until comparatively late in life.  He laid
the foundations of his great knowledge while occupied in cataloguing the
magnificent museum accumulated by the industry of John Hunter, a work
which occupied him at the College of Surgeons during a period of about
ten years.

Foreign not less than English biography abounds in illustrations of men
who have glorified the lot of poverty by their labours and their genius.
In Art we find Claude, the son of a pastrycook; Geefs, of a baker;
Leopold Robert, of a watchmaker; and Haydn, of a wheelwright; whilst
Daguerre was a scene-painter at the Opera.  The father of Gregory VII.
was a carpenter; of Sextus V., a shepherd; and of Adrian VI., a poor
bargeman.  When a boy, Adrian, unable to pay for a light by which to
study, was accustomed to prepare his lessons by the light of the lamps in
the streets and the church porches, exhibiting a degree of patience and
industry which were the certain forerunners of his future distinction.
Of like humble origin were Hauy, the mineralogist, who was the son of a
weaver of Saint-Just; Hautefeuille, the mechanician, of a baker at
Orleans; Joseph Fourier, the mathematician, of a tailor at Auxerre;
Durand, the architect, of a Paris shoemaker; and Gesner, the naturalist,
of a skinner or worker in hides, at Zurich.  This last began his career
under all the disadvantages attendant on poverty, sickness, and domestic
calamity; none of which, however, were sufficient to damp his courage or
hinder his progress.  His life was indeed an eminent illustration of the
truth of the saying, that those who have most to do and are willing to
work, will find the most time.  Pierre Ramus was another man of like
character.  He was the son of poor parents in Picardy, and when a boy was
employed to tend sheep.  But not liking the occupation he ran away to
Paris.  After encountering much misery, he succeeded in entering the
College of Navarre as a servant.  The situation, however, opened for him
the road to learning, and he shortly became one of the most distinguished
men of his time.

The chemist Vauquelin was the son of a peasant of Saint-André-d’Herbetot,
in the Calvados.  When a boy at school, though poorly clad, he was full
of bright intelligence; and the master, who taught him to read and write,
when praising him for his diligence, used to say, “Go on, my boy; work,
study, Colin, and one day you will go as well dressed as the parish
churchwarden!”  A country apothecary who visited the school, admired the
robust boy’s arms, and offered to take him into his laboratory to pound
his drugs, to which Vauquelin assented, in the hope of being able to
continue his lessons.  But the apothecary would not permit him to spend
any part of his time in learning; and on ascertaining this, the youth
immediately determined to quit his service.  He therefore left
Saint-André and took the road for Paris with his havresac on his back.
Arrived there, he searched for a place as apothecary’s boy, but could not
find one.  Worn out by fatigue and destitution, Vauquelin fell ill, and
in that state was taken to the hospital, where he thought he should die.
But better things were in store for the poor boy.  He recovered, and
again proceeded in his search of employment, which he at length found
with an apothecary.  Shortly after, he became known to Fourcroy the
eminent chemist, who was so pleased with the youth that he made him his
private secretary; and many years after, on the death of that great
philosopher, Vauquelin succeeded him as Professor of Chemistry.  Finally,
in 1829, the electors of the district of Calvados appointed him their
representative in the Chamber of Deputies, and he re-entered in triumph
the village which he had left so many years before, so poor and so

England has no parallel instances to show, of promotions from the ranks
of the army to the highest military offices; which have been so common in
France since the first Revolution.  “La carrière ouverte aux talents” has
there received many striking illustrations, which would doubtless be
matched among ourselves were the road to promotion as open.  Hoche,
Humbert, and Pichegru, began their respective careers as private
soldiers.  Hoche, while in the King’s army, was accustomed to embroider
waistcoats to enable him to earn money wherewith to purchase books on
military science.  Humbert was a scapegrace when a youth; at sixteen he
ran away from home, and was by turns servant to a tradesman at Nancy, a
workman at Lyons, and a hawker of rabbit skins.  In 1792, he enlisted as
a volunteer; and in a year he was general of brigade.  Kleber, Lefèvre,
Suchet, Victor, Lannes, Soult, Massena, St. Cyr, D’Erlon, Murat,
Augereau, Bessières, and Ney, all rose from the ranks.  In some cases
promotion was rapid, in others it was slow.  Saint Cyr, the son of a
tanner of Toul, began life as an actor, after which he enlisted in the
Chasseurs, and was promoted to a captaincy within a year.  Victor, Duc de
Belluno, enlisted in the Artillery in 1781: during the events preceding
the Revolution he was discharged; but immediately on the outbreak of war
he re-enlisted, and in the course of a few months his intrepidity and
ability secured his promotion as Adjutant-Major and chief of battalion.
Murat, “le beau sabreur,” was the son of a village innkeeper in Perigord,
where he looked after the horses.  He first enlisted in a regiment of
Chasseurs, from which he was dismissed for insubordination: but again
enlisting, he shortly rose to the rank of Colonel.  Ney enlisted at
eighteen in a hussar regiment, and gradually advanced step by step:
Kleber soon discovered his merits, surnaming him “The Indefatigable,” and
promoted him to be Adjutant-General when only twenty-five.  On the other
hand, Soult {15} was six years from the date of his enlistment before he
reached the rank of sergeant.  But Soult’s advancement was rapid compared
with that of Massena, who served for fourteen years before he was made
sergeant; and though he afterwards rose successively, step by step, to
the grades of Colonel, General of Division, and Marshal, he declared that
the post of sergeant was the step which of all others had cost him the
most labour to win.  Similar promotions from the ranks, in the French
army, have continued down to our own day.  Changarnier entered the King’s
bodyguard as a private in 1815.  Marshal Bugeaud served four years in the
ranks, after which he was made an officer.  Marshal Randon, the present
French Minister of War, began his military career as a drummer boy; and
in the portrait of him in the gallery at Versailles, his hand rests upon
a drum-head, the picture being thus painted at his own request.
Instances such as these inspire French soldiers with enthusiasm for their
service, as each private feels that he may possibly carry the baton of a
marshal in his knapsack.

The instances of men, in this and other countries, who, by dint of
persevering application and energy, have raised themselves from the
humblest ranks of industry to eminent positions of usefulness and
influence in society, are indeed so numerous that they have long ceased
to be regarded as exceptional.  Looking at some of the more remarkable,
it might almost be said that early encounter with difficulty and adverse
circumstances was the necessary and indispensable condition of success.
The British House of Commons has always contained a considerable number
of such self-raised men—fitting representatives of the industrial
character of the people; and it is to the credit of our Legislature that
they have been welcomed and honoured there.  When the late Joseph
Brotherton, member for Salford, in the course of the discussion on the
Ten Hours Bill, detailed with true pathos the hardships and fatigues to
which he had been subjected when working as a factory boy in a cotton
mill, and described the resolution which he had then formed, that if ever
it was in his power he would endeavour to ameliorate the condition of
that class, Sir James Graham rose immediately after him, and declared,
amidst the cheers of the House, that he did not before know that Mr.
Brotherton’s origin had been so humble, but that it rendered him more
proud than he had ever before been of the House of Commons, to think that
a person risen from that condition should be able to sit side by side, on
equal terms, with the hereditary gentry of the land.

The late Mr. Fox, member for Oldham, was accustomed to introduce his
recollections of past times with the words, “when I was working as a
weaver boy at Norwich;” and there are other members of parliament, still
living, whose origin has been equally humble.  Mr. Lindsay, the
well-known ship owner, until recently member for Sunderland, once told
the simple story of his life to the electors of Weymouth, in answer to an
attack made upon him by his political opponents.  He had been left an
orphan at fourteen, and when he left Glasgow for Liverpool to push his
way in the world, not being able to pay the usual fare, the captain of
the steamer agreed to take his labour in exchange, and the boy worked his
passage by trimming the coals in the coal hole.  At Liverpool he remained
for seven weeks before he could obtain employment, during which time he
lived in sheds and fared hardly; until at last he found shelter on board
a West Indiaman.  He entered as a boy, and before he was nineteen, by
steady good conduct he had risen to the command of a ship.  At
twenty-three he retired from the sea, and settled on shore, after which
his progress was rapid “he had prospered,” he said, “by steady industry,
by constant work, and by ever keeping in view the great principle of
doing to others as you would be done by.”

The career of Mr. William Jackson, of Birkenhead, the present member for
North Derbyshire, bears considerable resemblance to that of Mr. Lindsay.
His father, a surgeon at Lancaster, died, leaving a family of eleven
children, of whom William Jackson was the seventh son.  The elder boys
had been well educated while the father lived, but at his death the
younger members had to shift for themselves.  William, when under twelve
years old, was taken from school, and put to hard work at a ship’s side
from six in the morning till nine at night.  His master falling ill, the
boy was taken into the counting-house, where he had more leisure.  This
gave him an opportunity of reading, and having obtained access to a set
of the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica,’ he read the volumes through from A to
Z, partly by day, but chiefly at night.  He afterwards put himself to a
trade, was diligent, and succeeded in it.  Now he has ships sailing on
almost every sea, and holds commercial relations with nearly every
country on the globe.

Among like men of the same class may be ranked the late Richard Cobden,
whose start in life was equally humble.  The son of a small farmer at
Midhurst in Sussex, he was sent at an early age to London and employed as
a boy in a warehouse in the City.  He was diligent, well conducted, and
eager for information.  His master, a man of the old school, warned him
against too much reading; but the boy went on in his own course, storing
his mind with the wealth found in books.  He was promoted from one
position of trust to another—became a traveller for his house—secured a
large connection, and eventually started in business as a calico printer
at Manchester.  Taking an interest in public questions, more especially
in popular education, his attention was gradually drawn to the subject of
the Corn Laws, to the repeal of which he may be said to have devoted his
fortune and his life.  It may be mentioned as a curious fact that the
first speech he delivered in public was a total failure.  But he had
great perseverance, application, and energy; and with persistency and
practice, he became at length one of the most persuasive and effective of
public speakers, extorting the disinterested eulogy of even Sir Robert
Peel himself.  M. Drouyn de Lhuys, the French Ambassador, has eloquently
said of Mr. Cobden, that he was “a living proof of what merit,
perseverance, and labour can accomplish; one of the most complete
examples of those men who, sprung from the humblest ranks of society,
raise themselves to the highest rank in public estimation by the effect
of their own worth and of their personal services; finally, one of the
rarest examples of the solid qualities inherent in the English

In all these cases, strenuous individual application was the price paid
for distinction; excellence of any sort being invariably placed beyond
the reach of indolence.  It is the diligent hand and head alone that
maketh rich—in self-culture, growth in wisdom, and in business.  Even
when men are born to wealth and high social position, any solid
reputation which they may individually achieve can only be attained by
energetic application; for though an inheritance of acres may be
bequeathed, an inheritance of knowledge and wisdom cannot.  The wealthy
man may pay others for doing his work for him, but it is impossible to
get his thinking done for him by another, or to purchase any kind of
self-culture.  Indeed, the doctrine that excellence in any pursuit is
only to be achieved by laborious application, holds as true in the case
of the man of wealth as in that of Drew and Gifford, whose only school
was a cobbler’s stall, or Hugh Miller, whose only college was a Cromarty
stone quarry.

Riches and ease, it is perfectly clear, are not necessary for man’s
highest culture, else had not the world been so largely indebted in all
times to those who have sprung from the humbler ranks.  An easy and
luxurious existence does not train men to effort or encounter with
difficulty; nor does it awaken that consciousness of power which is so
necessary for energetic and effective action in life.  Indeed, so far
from poverty being a misfortune, it may, by vigorous self-help, be
converted even into a blessing; rousing a man to that struggle with the
world in which, though some may purchase ease by degradation, the
right-minded and true-hearted find strength, confidence, and triumph.
Bacon says, “Men seem neither to understand their riches nor their
strength: of the former they believe greater things than they should; of
the latter much less.  Self-reliance and self-denial will teach a man to
drink out of his own cistern, and eat his own sweet bread, and to learn
and labour truly to get his living, and carefully to expend the good
things committed to his trust.”

Riches are so great a temptation to ease and self-indulgence, to which
men are by nature prone, that the glory is all the greater of those who,
born to ample fortunes, nevertheless take an active part in the work of
their generation—who “scorn delights and live laborious days.”  It is to
the honour of the wealthier ranks in this country that they are not
idlers; for they do their fair share of the work of the state, and
usually take more than their fair share of its dangers.  It was a fine
thing said of a subaltern officer in the Peninsular campaigns, observed
trudging alone through mud and mire by the side of his regiment, “There
goes 15,000_l._ a year!” and in our own day, the bleak slopes of
Sebastopol and the burning soil of India have borne witness to the like
noble self-denial and devotion on the part of our gentler classes; many a
gallant and noble fellow, of rank and estate, having risked his life, or
lost it, in one or other of those fields of action, in the service of his

Nor have the wealthier classes been undistinguished in the more peaceful
pursuits of philosophy and science.  Take, for instance, the great names
of Bacon, the father of modern philosophy, and of Worcester, Boyle,
Cavendish, Talbot, and Rosse, in science.  The last named may be regarded
as the great mechanic of the peerage; a man who, if he had not been born
a peer, would probably have taken the highest rank as an inventor.  So
thorough is his knowledge of smith-work that he is said to have been
pressed on one occasion to accept the foremanship of a large workshop, by
a manufacturer to whom his rank was unknown.  The great Rosse telescope,
of his own fabrication, is certainly the most extraordinary instrument of
the kind that has yet been constructed.

But it is principally in the departments of politics and literature that
we find the most energetic labourers amongst our higher classes.  Success
in these lines of action, as in all others, can only be achieved through
industry, practice, and study; and the great Minister, or parliamentary
leader, must necessarily be amongst the very hardest of workers.  Such
was Palmerston; and such are Derby and Russell, Disraeli and Gladstone.
These men have had the benefit of no Ten Hours Bill, but have often,
during the busy season of Parliament, worked “double shift,” almost day
and night.  One of the most illustrious of such workers in modern times
was unquestionably the late Sir Robert Peel.  He possessed in an
extraordinary degree the power of continuous intellectual labour, nor did
he spare himself.  His career, indeed, presented a remarkable example of
how much a man of comparatively moderate powers can accomplish by means
of assiduous application and indefatigable industry.  During the forty
years that he held a seat in Parliament, his labours were prodigious.  He
was a most conscientious man, and whatever he undertook to do, he did
thoroughly.  All his speeches bear evidence of his careful study of
everything that had been spoken or written on the subject under
consideration.  He was elaborate almost to excess; and spared no pains to
adapt himself to the various capacities of his audience.  Withal, he
possessed much practical sagacity, great strength of purpose, and power
to direct the issues of action with steady hand and eye.  In one respect
he surpassed most men: his principles broadened and enlarged with time;
and age, instead of contracting, only served to mellow and ripen his
nature.  To the last he continued open to the reception of new views,
and, though many thought him cautious to excess, he did not allow himself
to fall into that indiscriminating admiration of the past, which is the
palsy of many minds similarly educated, and renders the old age of many
nothing but a pity.

The indefatigable industry of Lord Brougham has become almost proverbial.
His public labours have extended over a period of upwards of sixty years,
during which he has ranged over many fields—of law, literature, politics,
and science,—and achieved distinction in them all.  How he contrived it,
has been to many a mystery.  Once, when Sir Samuel Romilly was requested
to undertake some new work, he excused himself by saying that he had no
time; “but,” he added, “go with it to that fellow Brougham, he seems to
have time for everything.”  The secret of it was, that he never left a
minute unemployed; withal he possessed a constitution of iron.  When
arrived at an age at which most men would have retired from the world to
enjoy their hard-earned leisure, perhaps to doze away their time in an
easy chair, Lord Brougham commenced and prosecuted a series of elaborate
investigations as to the laws of Light, and he submitted the results to
the most scientific audiences that Paris and London could muster.  About
the same time, he was passing through the press his admirable sketches of
the ‘Men of Science and Literature of the Reign of George III.,’ and
taking his full share of the law business and the political discussions
in the House of Lords.  Sydney Smith once recommended him to confine
himself to only the transaction of so much business as three strong men
could get through.  But such was Brougham’s love of work—long become a
habit—that no amount of application seems to have been too great for him;
and such was his love of excellence, that it has been said of him that if
his station in life had been only that of a shoe-black, he would never
have rested satisfied until he had become the best shoe-black in England.

Another hard-working man of the same class is Sir E. Bulwer Lytton.  Few
writers have done more, or achieved higher distinction in various
walks—as a novelist, poet, dramatist, historian, essayist, orator, and
politician.  He has worked his way step by step, disdainful of ease, and
animated throughout by the ardent desire to excel.  On the score of mere
industry, there are few living English writers who have written so much,
and none that have produced so much of high quality.  The industry of
Bulwer is entitled to all the greater praise that it has been entirely
self-imposed.  To hunt, and shoot, and live at ease,—to frequent the
clubs and enjoy the opera, with the variety of London visiting and
sight-seeing during the “season,” and then off to the country mansion,
with its well-stocked preserves, and its thousand delightful out-door
pleasures,—to travel abroad, to Paris, Vienna, or Rome,—all this is
excessively attractive to a lover of pleasure and a man of fortune, and
by no means calculated to make him voluntarily undertake continuous
labour of any kind.  Yet these pleasures, all within his reach, Bulwer
must, as compared with men born to similar estate, have denied himself in
assuming the position and pursuing the career of a literary man.  Like
Byron, his first effort was poetical (‘Weeds and Wild Flowers’), and a
failure.  His second was a novel (‘Falkland’), and it proved a failure
too.  A man of weaker nerve would have dropped authorship; but Bulwer had
pluck and perseverance; and he worked on, determined to succeed.  He was
incessantly industrious, read extensively, and from failure went
courageously onwards to success.  ‘Pelham’ followed ‘Falkland’ within a
year, and the remainder of Bulwer’s literary life, now extending over a
period of thirty years, has been a succession of triumphs.

Mr. Disraeli affords a similar instance of the power of industry and
application in working out an eminent public career.  His first
achievements were, like Bulwer’s, in literature; and he reached success
only through a succession of failures.  His ‘Wondrous Tale of Alroy’ and
‘Revolutionary Epic’ were laughed at, and regarded as indications of
literary lunacy.  But he worked on in other directions, and his
‘Coningsby,’ ‘Sybil,’ and ‘Tancred,’ proved the sterling stuff of which
he was made.  As an orator too, his first appearance in the House of
Commons was a failure.  It was spoken of as “more screaming than an
Adelphi farce.”  Though composed in a grand and ambitious strain, every
sentence was hailed with “loud laughter.”  ‘Hamlet’ played as a comedy
were nothing to it.  But he concluded with a sentence which embodied a
prophecy.  Writhing under the laughter with which his studied eloquence
had been received, he exclaimed, “I have begun several times many things,
and have succeeded in them at last.  I shall sit down now, but the time
will come when you will hear me.”  The time did come; and how Disraeli
succeeded in at length commanding the attention of the first assembly of
gentlemen in the world, affords a striking illustration of what energy
and determination will do; for Disraeli earned his position by dint of
patient industry.  He did not, as many young men do, having once failed,
retire dejected, to mope and whine in a corner, but diligently set
himself to work.  He carefully unlearnt his faults, studied the character
of his audience, practised sedulously the art of speech, and
industriously filled his mind with the elements of parliamentary
knowledge.  He worked patiently for success; and it came, but slowly:
then the House laughed with him, instead of at him.  The recollection of
his early failure was effaced, and by general consent he was at length
admitted to be one of the most finished and effective of parliamentary

Although much may be accomplished by means of individual industry and
energy, as these and other instances set forth in the following pages
serve to illustrate, it must at the same time be acknowledged that the
help which we derive from others in the journey of life is of very great
importance.  The poet Wordsworth has well said that “these two things,
contradictory though they may seem, must go together—manly dependence and
manly independence, manly reliance and manly self-reliance.”  From
infancy to old age, all are more or less indebted to others for nurture
and culture; and the best and strongest are usually found the readiest to
acknowledge such help.  Take, for example, the career of the late Alexis
de Tocqueville, a man doubly well-born, for his father was a
distinguished peer of France, and his mother a grand-daughter of
Malesherbes.  Through powerful family influence, he was appointed Judge
Auditor at Versailles when only twenty-one; but probably feeling that he
had not fairly won the position by merit, he determined to give it up and
owe his future advancement in life to himself alone.  “A foolish
resolution,” some will say; but De Tocqueville bravely acted it out.  He
resigned his appointment, and made arrangements to leave France for the
purpose of travelling through the United States, the results of which
were published in his great book on ‘Democracy in America.’  His friend
and travelling companion, Gustave de Beaumont, has described his
indefatigable industry during this journey.  “His nature,” he says, “was
wholly averse to idleness, and whether he was travelling or resting, his
mind was always at work. . . . With Alexis, the most agreeable
conversation was that which was the most useful.  The worst day was the
lost day, or the day ill spent; the least loss of time annoyed him.”
Tocqueville himself wrote to a friend—“There is no time of life at which
one can wholly cease from action, for effort without one’s self, and
still more effort within, is equally necessary, if not more so, when we
grow old, as it is in youth.  I compare man in this world to a traveller
journeying without ceasing towards a colder and colder region; the higher
he goes, the faster he ought to walk.  The great malady of the soul is
cold.  And in resisting this formidable evil, one needs not only to be
sustained by the action of a mind employed, but also by contact with
one’s fellows in the business of life.” {25}

Notwithstanding de Tocqueville’s decided views as to the necessity of
exercising individual energy and self-dependence, no one could be more
ready than he was to recognise the value of that help and support for
which all men are indebted to others in a greater or less degree.  Thus,
he often acknowledged, with gratitude, his obligations to his friends De
Kergorlay and Stofells,—to the former for intellectual assistance, and to
the latter for moral support and sympathy.  To De Kergorlay he
wrote—“Thine is the only soul in which I have confidence, and whose
influence exercises a genuine effect upon my own.  Many others have
influence upon the details of my actions, but no one has so much
influence as thou on the origination of fundamental ideas, and of those
principles which are the rule of conduct.”  De Tocqueville was not less
ready to confess the great obligations which he owed to his wife, Marie,
for the preservation of that temper and frame of mind which enabled him
to prosecute his studies with success.  He believed that a noble-minded
woman insensibly elevated the character of her husband, while one of a
grovelling nature as certainly tended to degrade it. {26}

In fine, human character is moulded by a thousand subtle influences; by
example and precept; by life and literature; by friends and neighbours;
by the world we live in as well as by the spirits of our forefathers,
whose legacy of good words and deeds we inherit.  But great,
unquestionably, though these influences are acknowledged to be, it is
nevertheless equally clear that men must necessarily be the active agents
of their own well-being and well-doing; and that, however much the wise
and the good may owe to others, they themselves must in the very nature
of things be their own best helpers.


    “Le travail et la Science sont désormais les maîtres du monde.”—_De

    “Deduct all that men of the humbler classes have done for England in
    the way of inventions only, and see where she would have been but for
    them.”—_Arthur Helps_.

ONE of the most strongly-marked features of the English people is their
spirit of industry, standing out prominent and distinct in their past
history, and as strikingly characteristic of them now as at any former
period.  It is this spirit, displayed by the commons of England, which
has laid the foundations and built up the industrial greatness of the
empire.  This vigorous growth of the nation has been mainly the result of
the free energy of individuals, and it has been contingent upon the
number of hands and minds from time to time actively employed within it,
whether as cultivators of the soil, producers of articles of utility,
contrivers of tools and machines, writers of books, or creators of works
of art.  And while this spirit of active industry has been the vital
principle of the nation, it has also been its saving and remedial one,
counteracting from time to time the effects of errors in our laws and
imperfections in our constitution.

The career of industry which the nation has pursued, has also proved its
best education.  As steady application to work is the healthiest training
for every individual, so is it the best discipline of a state.
Honourable industry travels the same road with duty; and Providence has
closely linked both with happiness.  The gods, says the poet, have placed
labour and toil on the way leading to the Elysian fields.  Certain it is
that no bread eaten by man is so sweet as that earned by his own labour,
whether bodily or mental.  By labour the earth has been subdued, and man
redeemed from barbarism; nor has a single step in civilization been made
without it.  Labour is not only a necessity and a duty, but a blessing:
only the idler feels it to be a curse.  The duty of work is written on
the thews and muscles of the limbs, the mechanism of the hand, the nerves
and lobes of the brain—the sum of whose healthy action is satisfaction
and enjoyment.  In the school of labour is taught the best practical
wisdom; nor is a life of manual employment, as we shall hereafter find,
incompatible with high mental culture.

Hugh Miller, than whom none knew better the strength and the weakness
belonging to the lot of labour, stated the result of his experience to
be, that Work, even the hardest, is full of pleasure and materials for
self-improvement.  He held honest labour to be the best of teachers, and
that the school of toil is the noblest of schools—save only the Christian
one,—that it is a school in which the ability of being useful is
imparted, the spirit of independence learnt, and the habit of persevering
effort acquired.  He was even of opinion that the training of the
mechanic,—by the exercise which it gives to his observant faculties, from
his daily dealing with things actual and practical, and the close
experience of life which he acquires,—better fits him for picking his way
along the journey of life, and is more favourable to his growth as a Man,
emphatically speaking, than the training afforded by any other condition.

The array of great names which we have already cursorily cited, of men
springing from the ranks of the industrial classes, who have achieved
distinction in various walks of life—in science, commerce, literature,
and art—shows that at all events the difficulties interposed by poverty
and labour are not insurmountable.  As respects the great contrivances
and inventions which have conferred so much power and wealth upon the
nation, it is unquestionable that for the greater part of them we have
been indebted to men of the humblest rank.  Deduct what they have done in
this particular line of action, and it will be found that very little
indeed remains for other men to have accomplished.

Inventors have set in motion some of the greatest industries of the
world.  To them society owes many of its chief necessaries, comforts, and
luxuries; and by their genius and labour daily life has been rendered in
all respects more easy as well as enjoyable.  Our food, our clothing, the
furniture of our homes, the glass which admits the light to our dwellings
at the same time that it excludes the cold, the gas which illuminates our
streets, our means of locomotion by land and by sea, the tools by which
our various articles of necessity and luxury are fabricated, have been
the result of the labour and ingenuity of many men and many minds.
Mankind at large are all the happier for such inventions, and are every
day reaping the benefit of them in an increase of individual well-being
as well as of public enjoyment.

Though the invention of the working steam-engine—the king of
machines—belongs, comparatively speaking, to our own epoch, the idea of
it was born many centuries ago.  Like other contrivances and discoveries,
it was effected step by step—one man transmitting the result of his
labours, at the time apparently useless, to his successors, who took it
up and carried it forward another stage,—the prosecution of the inquiry
extending over many generations.  Thus the idea promulgated by Hero of
Alexandria was never altogether lost; but, like the grain of wheat hid in
the hand of the Egyptian mummy, it sprouted and again grew vigorously
when brought into the full light of modern science.  The steam-engine was
nothing, however, until it emerged from the state of theory, and was
taken in hand by practical mechanics; and what a noble story of patient,
laborious investigation, of difficulties encountered and overcome by
heroic industry, does not that marvellous machine tell of!  It is indeed,
in itself, a monument of the power of self-help in man.  Grouped around
it we find Savary, the military engineer; Newcomen, the Dartmouth
blacksmith; Cawley, the glazier; Potter, the engine-boy; Smeaton, the
civil engineer; and, towering above all, the laborious, patient,
never-tiring James Watt, the mathematical-instrument maker.

Watt was one of the most industrious of men; and the story of his life
proves, what all experience confirms, that it is not the man of the
greatest natural vigour and capacity who achieves the highest results,
but he who employs his powers with the greatest industry and the most
carefully disciplined skill—the skill that comes by labour, application,
and experience.  Many men in his time knew far more than Watt, but none
laboured so assiduously as he did to turn all that he did know to useful
practical purposes.  He was, above all things, most persevering in the
pursuit of facts.  He cultivated carefully that habit of active attention
on which all the higher working qualities of the mind mainly depend.
Indeed, Mr. Edgeworth entertained the opinion, that the difference of
intellect in men depends more upon the early cultivation of this _habit
of attention_, than upon any great disparity between the powers of one
individual and another.

Even when a boy, Watt found science in his toys.  The quadrants lying
about his father’s carpenter’s shop led him to the study of optics and
astronomy; his ill health induced him to pry into the secrets of
physiology; and his solitary walks through the country attracted him to
the study of botany and history.  While carrying on the business of a
mathematical-instrument maker, he received an order to build an organ;
and, though without an ear for music, he undertook the study of
harmonics, and successfully constructed the instrument.  And, in like
manner, when the little model of Newcomen’s steam-engine, belonging to
the University of Glasgow, was placed in his hands to repair, he
forthwith set himself to learn all that was then known about heat,
evaporation, and condensation,—at the same time plodding his way in
mechanics and the science of construction,—the results of which he at
length embodied in his condensing steam-engine.

For ten years he went on contriving and inventing—with little hope to
cheer him, and with few friends to encourage him.  He went on, meanwhile,
earning bread for his family by making and selling quadrants, making and
mending fiddles, flutes, and musical instruments; measuring mason-work,
surveying roads, superintending the construction of canals, or doing
anything that turned up, and offered a prospect of honest gain.  At
length, Watt found a fit partner in another eminent leader of
industry—Matthew Boulton, of Birmingham; a skilful, energetic, and
far-seeing man, who vigorously undertook the enterprise of introducing
the condensing-engine into general use as a working power; and the
success of both is now matter of history. {31}

Many skilful inventors have from time to time added new power to the
steam-engine; and, by numerous modifications, rendered it capable of
being applied to nearly all the purposes of manufacture—driving
machinery, impelling ships, grinding corn, printing books, stamping
money, hammering, planing, and turning iron; in short, of performing
every description of mechanical labour where power is required.  One of
the most useful modifications in the engine was that devised by
Trevithick, and eventually perfected by George Stephenson and his son, in
the form of the railway locomotive, by which social changes of immense
importance have been brought about, of even greater consequence,
considered in their results on human progress and civilization, than the
condensing-engine of Watt.

One of the first grand results of Watt’s invention,—which placed an
almost unlimited power at the command of the producing classes,—was the
establishment of the cotton-manufacture.  The person most closely
identified with the foundation of this great branch of industry was
unquestionably Sir Richard Arkwright, whose practical energy and sagacity
were perhaps even more remarkable than his mechanical inventiveness.  His
originality as an inventor has indeed been called in question, like that
of Watt and Stephenson.  Arkwright probably stood in the same relation to
the spinning-machine that Watt did to the steam-engine and Stephenson to
the locomotive.  He gathered together the scattered threads of ingenuity
which already existed, and wove them, after his own design, into a new
and original fabric.  Though Lewis Paul, of Birmingham, patented the
invention of spinning by rollers thirty years before Arkwright, the
machines constructed by him were so imperfect in their details, that they
could not be profitably worked, and the invention was practically a
failure.  Another obscure mechanic, a reed-maker of Leigh, named Thomas
Highs, is also said to have invented the water-frame and spinning-jenny;
but they, too, proved unsuccessful.

When the demands of industry are found to press upon the resources of
inventors, the same idea is usually found floating about in many
minds;—such has been the case with the steam-engine, the safety-lamp, the
electric telegraph, and other inventions.  Many ingenious minds are found
labouring in the throes of invention, until at length the master mind,
the strong practical man, steps forward, and straightway delivers them of
their idea, applies the principle successfully, and the thing is done.
Then there is a loud outcry among all the smaller contrivers, who see
themselves distanced in the race; and hence men such as Watt, Stephenson,
and Arkwright, have usually to defend their reputation and their rights
as practical and successful inventors.

Richard Arkwright, like most of our great mechanicians, sprang from the
ranks.  He was born in Preston in 1732.  His parents were very poor, and
he was the youngest of thirteen children.  He was never at school: the
only education he received he gave to himself; and to the last he was
only able to write with difficulty.  When a boy, he was apprenticed to a
barber, and after learning the business, he set up for himself in Bolton,
where he occupied an underground cellar, over which he put up the sign,
“Come to the subterraneous barber—he shaves for a penny.”  The other
barbers found their customers leaving them, and reduced their prices to
his standard, when Arkwright, determined to push his trade, announced his
determination to give “A clean shave for a halfpenny.”  After a few years
he quitted his cellar, and became an itinerant dealer in hair.  At that
time wigs were worn, and wig-making formed an important branch of the
barbering business.  Arkwright went about buying hair for the wigs.  He
was accustomed to attend the hiring fairs throughout Lancashire resorted
to by young women, for the purpose of securing their long tresses; and it
is said that in negotiations of this sort he was very successful.  He
also dealt in a chemical hair dye, which he used adroitly, and thereby
secured a considerable trade.  But he does not seem, notwithstanding his
pushing character, to have done more than earn a bare living.

The fashion of wig-wearing having undergone a change, distress fell upon
the wig-makers; and Arkwright, being of a mechanical turn, was
consequently induced to turn machine inventor or “conjurer,” as the
pursuit was then popularly termed.  Many attempts were made about that
time to invent a spinning-machine, and our barber determined to launch
his little bark on the sea of invention with the rest.  Like other
self-taught men of the same bias, he had already been devoting his spare
time to the invention of a perpetual-motion machine; and from that the
transition to a spinning-machine was easy.  He followed his experiments
so assiduously that he neglected his business, lost the little money he
had saved, and was reduced to great poverty.  His wife—for he had by this
time married—was impatient at what she conceived to be a wanton waste of
time and money, and in a moment of sudden wrath she seized upon and
destroyed his models, hoping thus to remove the cause of the family
privations.  Arkwright was a stubborn and enthusiastic man, and he was
provoked beyond measure by this conduct of his wife, from whom he
immediately separated.

In travelling about the country, Arkwright had become acquainted with a
person named Kay, a clockmaker at Warrington, who assisted him in
constructing some of the parts of his perpetual-motion machinery.  It is
supposed that he was informed by Kay of the principle of spinning by
rollers; but it is also said that the idea was first suggested to him by
accidentally observing a red-hot piece of iron become elongated by
passing between iron rollers.  However this may be, the idea at once took
firm possession of his mind, and he proceeded to devise the process by
which it was to be accomplished, Kay being able to tell him nothing on
this point.  Arkwright now abandoned his business of hair collecting, and
devoted himself to the perfecting of his machine, a model of which,
constructed by Kay under his directions, he set up in the parlour of the
Free Grammar School at Preston.  Being a burgess of the town, he voted at
the contested election at which General Burgoyne was returned; but such
was his poverty, and such the tattered state of his dress, that a number
of persons subscribed a sum sufficient to have him put in a state fit to
appear in the poll-room.  The exhibition of his machine in a town where
so many workpeople lived by the exercise of manual labour proved a
dangerous experiment; ominous growlings were heard outside the
school-room from time to time, and Arkwright,—remembering the fate of
Kay, who was mobbed and compelled to fly from Lancashire because of his
invention of the fly-shuttle, and of poor Hargreaves, whose
spinning-jenny had been pulled to pieces only a short time before by a
Blackburn mob,—wisely determined on packing up his model and removing to
a less dangerous locality.  He went accordingly to Nottingham, where he
applied to some of the local bankers for pecuniary assistance; and the
Messrs. Wright consented to advance him a sum of money on condition of
sharing in the profits of the invention.  The machine, however, not being
perfected so soon as they had anticipated, the bankers recommended
Arkwright to apply to Messrs. Strutt and Need, the former of whom was the
ingenious inventor and patentee of the stocking-frame.  Mr. Strutt at
once appreciated the merits of the invention, and a partnership was
entered into with Arkwright, whose road to fortune was now clear.  The
patent was secured in the name of “Richard Arkwright, of Nottingham,
clockmaker,” and it is a circumstance worthy of note, that it was taken
out in 1769, the same year in which Watt secured the patent for his
steam-engine.  A cotton-mill was first erected at Nottingham, driven by
horses; and another was shortly after built, on a much larger scale, at
Cromford, in Derbyshire, turned by a water-wheel, from which circumstance
the spinning-machine came to be called the water-frame.

Arkwright’s labours, however, were, comparatively speaking, only begun.
He had still to perfect all the working details of his machine.  It was
in his hands the subject of constant modification and improvement, until
eventually it was rendered practicable and profitable in an eminent
degree.  But success was only secured by long and patient labour: for
some years, indeed, the speculation was disheartening and unprofitable,
swallowing up a very large amount of capital without any result.  When
success began to appear more certain, then the Lancashire manufacturers
fell upon Arkwright’s patent to pull it in pieces, as the Cornish miners
fell upon Boulton and Watt to rob them of the profits of their
steam-engine.  Arkwright was even denounced as the enemy of the working
people; and a mill which he built near Chorley was destroyed by a mob in
the presence of a strong force of police and military.  The Lancashire
men refused to buy his materials, though they were confessedly the best
in the market.  Then they refused to pay patent-right for the use of his
machines, and combined to crush him in the courts of law.  To the disgust
of right-minded people, Arkwright’s patent was upset.  After the trial,
when passing the hotel at which his opponents were staying, one of them
said, loud enough to be heard by him, “Well, we’ve done the old shaver at
last;” to which he coolly replied, “Never mind, I’ve a razor left that
will shave you all.”  He established new mills in Lancashire, Derbyshire,
and at New Lanark, in Scotland.  The mills at Cromford also came into his
hands at the expiry of his partnership with Strutt, and the amount and
the excellence of his products were such, that in a short time he
obtained so complete a control of the trade, that the prices were fixed
by him, and he governed the main operations of the other cotton-spinners.

Arkwright was a man of great force of character, indomitable courage,
much worldly shrewdness, with a business faculty almost amounting to
genius.  At one period his time was engrossed by severe and continuous
labour, occasioned by the organising and conducting of his numerous
manufactories, sometimes from four in the morning till nine at night.  At
fifty years of age he set to work to learn English grammar, and improve
himself in writing and orthography.  After overcoming every obstacle, he
had the satisfaction of reaping the reward of his enterprise.  Eighteen
years after he had constructed his first machine, he rose to such
estimation in Derbyshire that he was appointed High Sheriff of the
county, and shortly after George III. conferred upon him the honour of
knighthood.  He died in 1792.  Be it for good or for evil, Arkwright was
the founder in England of the modern factory system, a branch of industry
which has unquestionably proved a source of immense wealth to individuals
and to the nation.

All the other great branches of industry in Britain furnish like examples
of energetic men of business, the source of much benefit to the
neighbourhoods in which they have laboured, and of increased power and
wealth to the community at large.  Amongst such might be cited the
Strutts of Belper; the Tennants of Glasgow; the Marshalls and Gotts of
Leeds; the Peels, Ashworths, Birleys, Fieldens, Ashtons, Heywoods, and
Ainsworths of South Lancashire, some of whose descendants have since
become distinguished in connection with the political history of England.
Such pre-eminently were the Peels of South Lancashire.

The founder of the Peel family, about the middle of last century, was a
small yeoman, occupying the Hole House Farm, near Blackburn, from which
he afterwards removed to a house situated in Fish Lane in that town.
Robert Peel, as he advanced in life, saw a large family of sons and
daughters growing up about him; but the land about Blackburn being
somewhat barren, it did not appear to him that agricultural pursuits
offered a very encouraging prospect for their industry.  The place had,
however, long been the seat of a domestic manufacture—the fabric called
“Blackburn greys,” consisting of linen weft and cotton warp, being
chiefly made in that town and its neighbourhood.  It was then
customary—previous to the introduction of the factory system—for
industrious yeomen with families to employ the time not occupied in the
fields in weaving at home; and Robert Peel accordingly began the domestic
trade of calico-making.  He was honest, and made an honest article;
thrifty and hardworking, and his trade prospered.  He was also
enterprising, and was one of the first to adopt the carding cylinder,
then recently invented.

But Robert Peel’s attention was principally directed to the _printing_ of
calico—then a comparatively unknown art—and for some time he carried on a
series of experiments with the object of printing by machinery.  The
experiments were secretly conducted in his own house, the cloth being
ironed for the purpose by one of the women of the family.  It was then
customary, in such houses as the Peels, to use pewter plates at dinner.
Having sketched a figure or pattern on one of the plates, the thought
struck him that an impression might be got from it in reverse, and
printed on calico with colour.  In a cottage at the end of the farm-house
lived a woman who kept a calendering machine, and going into her cottage,
he put the plate with colour rubbed into the figured part and some calico
over it, through the machine, when it was found to leave a satisfactory
impression.  Such is said to have been the origin of roller printing on
calico.  Robert Peel shortly perfected his process, and the first pattern
he brought out was a parsley leaf; hence he is spoken of in the
neighbourhood of Blackburn to this day as “Parsley Peel.”  The process of
calico printing by what is called the mule machine—that is, by means of a
wooden cylinder in relief, with an engraved copper cylinder—was
afterwards brought to perfection by one of his sons, the head of the firm
of Messrs. Peel and Co., of Church.  Stimulated by his success, Robert
Peel shortly gave up farming, and removing to Brookside, a village about
two miles from Blackburn, he devoted himself exclusively to the printing
business.  There, with the aid of his sons, who were as energetic as
himself, he successfully carried on the trade for several years; and as
the young men grew up towards manhood, the concern branched out into
various firms of Peels, each of which became a centre of industrial
activity and a source of remunerative employment to large numbers of

From what can now be learnt of the character of the original and untitled
Robert Peel, he must have been a remarkable man—shrewd, sagacious, and
far-seeing.  But little is known of him excepting from traditions and the
sons of those who knew him are fast passing away.  His son, Sir Robert,
thus modestly spoke of him:—“My father may be truly said to have been the
founder of our family; and he so accurately appreciated the importance of
commercial wealth in a national point of view, that he was often heard to
say that the gains to individuals were small compared with the national
gains arising from trade.”

Sir Robert Peel, the first baronet and the second manufacturer of the
name, inherited all his father’s enterprise, ability, and industry.  His
position, at starting in life, was little above that of an ordinary
working man; for his father, though laying the foundations of future
prosperity, was still struggling with the difficulties arising from
insufficient capital.  When Robert was only twenty years of age, he
determined to begin the business of cotton-printing, which he had by this
time learnt from his father, on his own account.  His uncle, James
Haworth, and William Yates of Blackburn, joined him in his enterprise;
the whole capital which they could raise amongst them amounting to only
about 500_l._, the principal part of which was supplied by William Yates.
The father of the latter was a householder in Blackburn, where he was
well known and much respected; and having saved money by his business, he
was willing to advance sufficient to give his son a start in the
lucrative trade of cotton-printing, then in its infancy.  Robert Peel,
though comparatively a mere youth, supplied the practical knowledge of
the business; but it was said of him, and proved true, that he “carried
an old head on young shoulders.”  A ruined corn-mill, with its adjoining
fields, was purchased for a comparatively small sum, near the then
insignificant town of Bury, where the works long after continued to be
known as “The Ground;” and a few wooden sheds having been run up, the
firm commenced their cotton-printing business in a very humble way in the
year 1770, adding to it that of cotton-spinning a few years later.  The
frugal style in which the partners lived may be inferred from the
following incident in their early career.  William Yates, being a married
man with a family, commenced housekeeping on a small scale, and, to
oblige Peel, who was single, he agreed to take him as a lodger.  The sum
which the latter first paid for board and lodging was only 8_s._ a week;
but Yates, considering this too little, insisted on the weekly payment
being increased a shilling, to which Peel at first demurred, and a
difference between the partners took place, which was eventually
compromised by the lodger paying an advance of sixpence a week.  William
Yates’s eldest child was a girl named Ellen, and she very soon became an
especial favourite with the young lodger.  On returning from his hard
day’s work at “The Ground,” he would take the little girl upon his knee,
and say to her, “Nelly, thou bonny little dear, wilt be my wife?” to
which the child would readily answer “Yes,” as any child would do.  “Then
I’ll wait for thee, Nelly; I’ll wed thee, and none else.”  And Robert
Peel did wait.  As the girl grew in beauty towards womanhood, his
determination to wait for her was strengthened; and after the lapse of
ten years—years of close application to business and rapidly increasing
prosperity—Robert Peel married Ellen Yates when she had completed her
seventeenth year; and the pretty child, whom her mother’s lodger and
father’s partner had nursed upon his knee, became Mrs. Peel, and
eventually Lady Peel, the mother of the future Prime Minister of England.
Lady Peel was a noble and beautiful woman, fitted to grace any station in
life.  She possessed rare powers of mind, and was, on every emergency,
the high-souled and faithful counsellor of her husband.  For many years
after their marriage, she acted as his amanuensis, conducting the
principal part of his business correspondence, for Mr. Peel himself was
an indifferent and almost unintelligible writer.  She died in 1803, only
three years after the Baronetcy had been conferred upon her husband.  It
is said that London fashionable life—so unlike what she had been
accustomed to at home—proved injurious to her health; and old Mr. Yates
afterwards used to say, “if Robert hadn’t made our Nelly a ‘Lady,’ she
might ha’ been living yet.”

The career of Yates, Peel, & Co., was throughout one of great and
uninterrupted prosperity.  Sir Robert Peel himself was the soul of the
firm; to great energy and application uniting much practical sagacity,
and first-rate mercantile abilities—qualities in which many of the early
cotton-spinners were exceedingly deficient.  He was a man of iron mind
and frame, and toiled unceasingly.  In short, he was to cotton printing
what Arkwright was to cotton-spinning, and his success was equally great.
The excellence of the articles produced by the firm secured the command
of the market, and the character of the firm stood pre-eminent in
Lancashire.  Besides greatly benefiting Bury, the partnership planted
similar extensive works in the neighbourhood, on the Irwell and the Roch;
and it was cited to their honour, that, while they sought to raise to the
highest perfection the quality of their manufactures, they also
endeavoured, in all ways, to promote the well-being and comfort of their
workpeople; for whom they contrived to provide remunerative employment
even in the least prosperous times.

Sir Robert Peel readily appreciated the value of all new processes and
inventions; in illustration of which we may allude to his adoption of the
process for producing what is called _resist work_ in calico printing.
This is accomplished by the use of a paste, or resist, on such parts of
the cloth as were intended to remain white.  The person who discovered
the paste was a traveller for a London house, who sold it to Mr. Peel for
an inconsiderable sum.  It required the experience of a year or two to
perfect the system and make it practically useful; but the beauty of its
effect, and the extreme precision of outline in the pattern produced, at
once placed the Bury establishment at the head of all the factories for
calico printing in the country.  Other firms, conducted with like spirit,
were established by members of the same family at Burnley, Foxhill bank,
and Altham, in Lancashire; Salley Abbey, in Yorkshire; and afterwards at
Burton-on-Trent, in Staffordshire; these various establishments, whilst
they brought wealth to their proprietors, setting an example to the whole
cotton trade, and training up many of the most successful printers and
manufacturers in Lancashire.

Among other distinguished founders of industry, the Rev. William Lee,
inventor of the Stocking Frame, and John Heathcoat, inventor of the
Bobbin-net Machine, are worthy of notice, as men of great mechanical
skill and perseverance, through whose labours a vast amount of
remunerative employment has been provided for the labouring population of
Nottingham and the adjacent districts.  The accounts which have been
preserved of the circumstances connected with the invention of the
Stocking Frame are very confused, and in many respects contradictory,
though there is no doubt as to the name of the inventor.  This was
William Lee, born at Woodborough, a village some seven miles from
Nottingham, about the year 1563.  According to some accounts, he was the
heir to a small freehold, while according to others he was a poor
scholar, {43a} and had to struggle with poverty from his earliest years.
He entered as a sizar at Christ College, Cambridge, in May, 1579, and
subsequently removed to St. John’s, taking his degree of B.A. in 1582–3.
It is believed that he commenced M.A. in 1586; but on this point there
appears to be some confusion in the records of the University.  The
statement usually made that he was expelled for marrying contrary to the
statutes, is incorrect, as he was never a Fellow of the University, and
therefore could not be prejudiced by taking such a step.

At the time when Lee invented the Stocking Frame he was officiating as
curate of Calverton, near Nottingham; and it is alleged by some writers
that the invention had its origin in disappointed affection.  The curate
is said to have fallen deeply in love with a young lady of the village,
who failed to reciprocate his affections; and when he visited her, she
was accustomed to pay much more attention to the process of knitting
stockings and instructing her pupils in the art, than to the addresses of
her admirer.  This slight is said to have created in his mind such an
aversion to knitting by hand, that he formed the determination to invent
a machine that should supersede it and render it a gainless employment.
For three years he devoted himself to the prosecution of the invention,
sacrificing everything to his new idea.  At the prospect of success
opened before him, he abandoned his curacy, and devoted himself to the
art of stocking making by machinery.  This is the version of the story
given by Henson {43b} on the authority of an old stocking-maker, who died
in Collins’s Hospital, Nottingham, aged ninety-two, and was apprenticed
in the town during the reign of Queen Anne.  It is also given by Deering
and Blackner as the traditional account in the neighbourhood, and it is
in some measure borne out by the arms of the London Company of Frame-Work
Knitters, which consists of a stocking frame without the wood-work, with
a clergyman on one side and a woman on the other as supporters. {44}

Whatever may have been the actual facts as to the origin of the invention
of the Stocking Loom, there can be no doubt as to the extraordinary
mechanical genius displayed by its inventor.  That a clergyman living in
a remote village, whose life had for the most part been spent with books,
should contrive a machine of such delicate and complicated movements, and
at once advance the art of knitting from the tedious process of linking
threads in a chain of loops by three skewers in the fingers of a woman,
to the beautiful and rapid process of weaving by the stocking frame, was
indeed an astonishing achievement, which may be pronounced almost
unequalled in the history of mechanical invention.  Lee’s merit was all
the greater, as the handicraft arts were then in their infancy, and
little attention had as yet been given to the contrivance of machinery
for the purposes of manufacture.  He was under the necessity of
extemporising the parts of his machine as he best could, and adopting
various expedients to overcome difficulties as they arose.  His tools
were imperfect, and his materials imperfect; and he had no skilled
workmen to assist him.  According to tradition, the first frame he made
was a twelve gauge, without lead sinkers, and it was almost wholly of
wood; the needles being also stuck in bits of wood.  One of Lee’s
principal difficulties consisted in the formation of the stitch, for want
of needle eyes; but this he eventually overcame by forming eyes to the
needles with a three-square file. {45}  At length, one difficulty after
another was successfully overcome, and after three years’ labour the
machine was sufficiently complete to be fit for use.  The quondam curate,
full of enthusiasm for his art, now began stocking weaving in the village
of Calverton, and he continued to work there for several years,
instructing his brother James and several of his relations in the
practice of the art.

Having brought his frame to a considerable degree of perfection, and
being desirous of securing the patronage of Queen Elizabeth, whose
partiality for knitted silk stockings was well known, Lee proceeded to
London to exhibit the loom before her Majesty.  He first showed it to
several members of the court, among others to Sir William (afterwards
Lord) Hunsdon, whom he taught to work it with success; and Lee was,
through their instrumentality, at length admitted to an interview with
the Queen, and worked the machine in her presence.  Elizabeth, however,
did not give him the encouragement that he had expected; and she is said
to have opposed the invention on the ground that it was calculated to
deprive a large number of poor people of their employment of hand
knitting.  Lee was no more successful in finding other patrons, and
considering himself and his invention treated with contempt, he embraced
the offer made to him by Sully, the sagacious minister of Henry IV., to
proceed to Rouen and instruct the operatives of that town—then one of the
most important manufacturing centres of France—in the construction and
use of the stocking-frame.  Lee accordingly transferred himself and his
machines to France, in 1605, taking with him his brother and seven
workmen.  He met with a cordial reception at Rouen, and was proceeding
with the manufacture of stockings on a large scale—having nine of his
frames in full work,—when unhappily ill fortune again overtook him.
Henry IV., his protector, on whom he had relied for the rewards, honours,
and promised grant of privileges, which had induced Lee to settle in
France, was murdered by the fanatic Ravaillac; and the encouragement and
protection which had heretofore been extended to him were at once
withdrawn.  To press his claims at court, Lee proceeded to Paris; but
being a protestant as well as a foreigner, his representations were
treated with neglect; and worn out with vexation and grief, this
distinguished inventor shortly after died at Paris, in a state of extreme
poverty and distress.

Lee’s brother, with seven of the workmen, succeeded in escaping from
France with their frames, leaving two behind.  On James Lee’s return to
Nottinghamshire, he was joined by one Ashton, a miller of Thoroton, who
had been instructed in the art of frame-work knitting by the inventor
himself before he left England.  These two, with the workmen and their
frames, began the stocking manufacture at Thoroton, and carried it on
with considerable success.  The place was favourably situated for the
purpose, as the sheep pastured in the neighbouring district of Sherwood
yielded a kind of wool of the longest staple.  Ashton is said to have
introduced the method of making the frames with lead sinkers, which was a
great improvement.  The number of looms employed in different parts of
England gradually increased; and the machine manufacture of stockings
eventually became an important branch of the national industry.

One of the most important modifications in the Stocking-Frame was that
which enabled it to be applied to the manufacture of lace on a large
scale.  In 1777, two workmen, Frost and Holmes, were both engaged in
making point-net by means of the modifications they had introduced in the
stocking-frame; and in the course of about thirty years, so rapid was the
growth of this branch of production that 1500 point-net frames were at
work, giving employment to upwards of 15,000 people.  Owing, however, to
the war, to change of fashion, and to other circumstances, the Nottingham
lace manufacture rapidly fell off; and it continued in a decaying state
until the invention of the Bobbin-net Machine by John Heathcoat, late
M.P. for Tiverton, which had the effect of at once re-establishing the
manufacture on solid foundations.

John Heathcoat was the youngest son of a respectable small farmer at
Duffield, Derbyshire, where he was born in 1783.  When at school he made
steady and rapid progress, but was early removed from it to be
apprenticed to a frame-smith near Loughborough.  The boy soon learnt to
handle tools with dexterity, and he acquired a minute knowledge of the
parts of which the stocking-frame was composed, as well as of the more
intricate warp-machine.  At his leisure he studied how to introduce
improvements in them, and his friend, Mr. Bazley, M.P., states that as
early as the age of sixteen, he conceived the idea of inventing a machine
by which lace might be made similar to Buckingham or French lace, then
all made by hand.  The first practical improvement he succeeded in
introducing was in the warp-frame, when, by means of an ingenious
apparatus, he succeeded in producing “mitts” of a lacy appearance, and it
was this success which determined him to pursue the study of mechanical
lace-making.  The stocking-frame had already, in a modified form, been
applied to the manufacture of point-net lace, in which the mesh was
_looped_ as in a stocking, but the work was slight and frail, and
therefore unsatisfactory.  Many ingenious Nottingham mechanics had,
during a long succession of years, been labouring at the problem of
inventing a machine by which the mesh of threads should be _twisted_
round each other on the formation of the net.  Some of these men died in
poverty, some were driven insane, and all alike failed in the object of
their search.  The old warp-machine held its ground.

When a little over twenty-one years of age, Heathcoat went to Nottingham,
where he readily found employment, for which he soon received the highest
remuneration, as a setter-up of hosiery and warp-frames, and was much
respected for his talent for invention, general intelligence, and the
sound and sober principles that governed his conduct.  He also continued
to pursue the subject on which his mind had before been occupied, and
laboured to compass the contrivance of a twist traverse-net machine.  He
first studied the art of making the Buckingham or pillow-lace by hand,
with the object of effecting the same motions by mechanical means.  It
was a long and laborious task, requiring the exercise of great
perseverance and ingenuity.  His master, Elliot, described him at that
time as inventive, patient, self-denying, and taciturn, undaunted by
failures and mistakes, full of resources and expedients, and entertaining
the most perfect confidence that his application of mechanical principles
would eventually be crowned with success.

It is difficult to describe in words an invention so complicated as the
bobbin-net machine.  It was, indeed, a mechanical pillow for making lace,
imitating in an ingenious manner the motions of the lace-maker’s fingers
in intersecting or tying the meshes of the lace upon her pillow.  On
analysing the component parts of a piece of hand-made lace, Heathcoat was
enabled to classify the threads into longitudinal and diagonal.  He began
his experiments by fixing common pack-threads lengthwise on a sort of
frame for the warp, and then passing the weft threads between them by
common plyers, delivering them to other plyers on the opposite side;
then, after giving them a sideways motion and twist, the threads were
repassed back between the next adjoining cords, the meshes being thus
tied in the same way as upon pillows by hand.  He had then to contrive a
mechanism that should accomplish all these nice and delicate movements,
and to do this cost him no small amount of mental toil.  Long after he
said, “The single difficulty of getting the diagonal threads to twist in
the allotted space was so great that if it had now to be done, I should
probably not attempt its accomplishment.”  His next step was to provide
thin metallic discs, to be used as bobbins for conducting the threads
backwards and forwards through the warp.  These discs, being arranged in
carrier-frames placed on each side of the warp, were moved by suitable
machinery so as to conduct the threads from side to side in forming the
lace.  He eventually succeeded in working out his principle with
extraordinary skill and success; and, at the age of twenty-four, he was
enabled to secure his invention by a patent.

During this time his wife was kept in almost as great anxiety as himself,
for she well knew of his trials and difficulties while he was striving to
perfect his invention.  Many years after they had been successfully
overcome, the conversation which took place one eventful evening was
vividly remembered.  “Well,” said the anxious wife, “will it work?”
“No,” was the sad answer; “I have had to take it all to pieces again.”
Though he could still speak hopefully and cheerfully, his poor wife could
restrain her feelings no longer, but sat down and cried bitterly.  She
had, however, only a few more weeks to wait, for success long laboured
for and richly deserved, came at last, and a proud and happy man was John
Heathcoat when he brought home the first narrow strip of bobbin-net made
by his machine, and placed it in the hands of his wife.

As in the case of nearly all inventions which have proved productive,
Heathcoat’s rights as a patentee were disputed, and his claims as an
inventor called in question.  On the supposed invalidity of the patent,
the lace-makers boldly adopted the bobbin-net machine, and set the
inventor at defiance.  But other patents were taken out for alleged
improvements and adaptations; and it was only when these new patentees
fell out and went to law with each other that Heathcoat’s rights became
established.  One lace-manufacturer having brought an action against
another for an alleged infringement of his patent, the jury brought in a
verdict for the defendant, in which the judge concurred, on the ground
that _both_ the machines in question were infringements of Heathcoat’s
patent.  It was on the occasion of this trial, “Boville v. Moore,” that
Sir John Copley (afterwards Lord Lyndhurst), who was retained for the
defence in the interest of Mr. Heathcoat, learnt to work the bobbin-net
machine in order that he might master the details of the invention.  On
reading over his brief, he confessed that he did not quite understand the
merits of the case; but as it seemed to him to be one of great
importance, he offered to go down into the country forthwith and study
the machine until he understood it; “and then,” said he, “I will defend
you to the best of my ability.”  He accordingly put himself into that
night’s mail, and went down to Nottingham to get up his case as perhaps
counsel never got it up before.  Next morning the learned sergeant placed
himself in a lace-loom, and he did not leave it until he could deftly
make a piece of bobbin-net with his own hands, and thoroughly understood
the principle as well as the details of the machine.  When the case came
on for trial, the learned sergeant was enabled to work the model on the
table with such case and skill, and to explain the precise nature of the
invention with such felicitous clearness, as to astonish alike judge,
jury, and spectators; and the thorough conscientiousness and mastery with
which he handled the case had no doubt its influence upon the decision of
the court.

After the trial was over, Mr. Heathcoat, on inquiry, found about six
hundred machines at work after his patent, and he proceeded to levy
royalty upon the owners of them, which amounted to a large sum.  But the
profits realised by the manufacturers of lace were very great, and the
use of the machines rapidly extended; while the price of the article was
reduced from five pounds the square yard to about five pence in the
course of twenty-five years.  During the same period the average annual
returns of the lace-trade have been at least four millions sterling, and
it gives remunerative employment to about 150,000 workpeople.

To return to the personal history of Mr. Heathcoat.  In 1809 we find him
established as a lace-manufacturer at Loughborough, in Leicestershire.
There he carried on a prosperous business for several years, giving
employment to a large number of operatives, at wages varying from 5_l._
to 10_l._ a week.  Notwithstanding the great increase in the number of
hands employed in lace-making through the introduction of the new
machines, it began to be whispered about among the workpeople that they
were superseding labour, and an extensive conspiracy was formed for the
purpose of destroying them wherever found.  As early as the year 1811
disputes arose between the masters and men engaged in the stocking and
lace trades in the south-western parts of Nottinghamshire and the
adjacent parts of Derbyshire and Leicestershire, the result of which was
the assembly of a mob at Sutton, in Ashfield, who proceeded in open day
to break the stocking and lace-frames of the manufacturers.  Some of the
ringleaders having been seized and punished, the disaffected learnt
caution; but the destruction of the machines was nevertheless carried on
secretly wherever a safe opportunity presented itself.  As the machines
were of so delicate a construction that a single blow of a hammer
rendered them useless, and as the manufacture was carried on for the most
part in detached buildings, often in private dwellings remote from towns,
the opportunities of destroying them were unusually easy.  In the
neighbourhood of Nottingham, which was the focus of turbulence, the
machine-breakers organized themselves in regular bodies, and held
nocturnal meetings at which their plans were arranged.  Probably with the
view of inspiring confidence, they gave out that they were under the
command of a leader named Ned Ludd, or General Ludd, and hence their
designation of Luddites.  Under this organization machine-breaking was
carried on with great vigour during the winter of 1811, occasioning great
distress, and throwing large numbers of workpeople out of employment.
Meanwhile, the owners of the frames proceeded to remove them from the
villages and lone dwellings in the country, and brought them into
warehouses in the towns for their better protection.

The Luddites seem to have been encouraged by the lenity of the sentences
pronounced on such of their confederates as had been apprehended and
tried; and, shortly after, the mania broke out afresh, and rapidly
extended over the northern and midland manufacturing districts.  The
organization became more secret; an oath was administered to the members
binding them to obedience to the orders issued by the heads of the
confederacy; and the betrayal of their designs was decreed to be death.
All machines were doomed by them to destruction, whether employed in the
manufacture of cloth, calico, or lace; and a reign of terror began which
lasted for years.  In Yorkshire and Lancashire mills were boldly attacked
by armed rioters, and in many cases they were wrecked or burnt; so that
it became necessary to guard them by soldiers and yeomanry.  The masters
themselves were doomed to death; many of them were assaulted, and some
were murdered.  At length the law was vigorously set in motion; numbers
of the misguided Luddites were apprehended; some were executed; and after
several years’ violent commotion from this cause, the machine-breaking
riots were at length quelled.

Among the numerous manufacturers whose works were attacked by the
Luddites, was the inventor of the bobbin-net machine himself.  One bright
sunny day, in the summer of 1816, a body of rioters entered his factory
at Loughborough with torches, and set fire to it, destroying thirty-seven
lace-machines, and above 10,000_l._ worth of property.  Ten of the men
were apprehended for the felony, and eight of them were executed.  Mr.
Heathcoat made a claim upon the county for compensation, and it was
resisted; but the Court of Queen’s Bench decided in his favour, and
decreed that the county must make good his loss of 10,000_l._  The
magistrates sought to couple with the payment of the damage the condition
that Mr. Heathcoat should expend the money in the county of Leicester;
but to this he would not assent, having already resolved on removing his
manufacture elsewhere.  At Tiverton, in Devonshire, he found a large
building which had been formerly used as a woollen manufactory; but the
Tiverton cloth trade having fallen into decay, the building remained
unoccupied, and the town itself was generally in a very poverty-stricken
condition.  Mr. Heathcoat bought the old mill, renovated and enlarged it,
and there recommenced the manufacture of lace upon a larger scale than
before; keeping in full work as many as three hundred machines, and
employing a large number of artisans at good wages.  Not only did he
carry on the manufacture of lace, but the various branches of business
connected with it—yarn-doubling, silk-spinning, net-making, and
finishing.  He also established at Tiverton an iron-foundry and works for
the manufacture of agricultural implements, which proved of great
convenience to the district.  It was a favourite idea of his that steam
power was capable of being applied to perform all the heavy drudgery of
life, and he laboured for a long time at the invention of a steam-plough.
In 1832 he so far completed his invention as to be enabled to take out a
patent for it; and Heathcoat’s steam-plough, though it has since been
superseded by Fowler’s, was considered the best machine of the kind that
had up to that time been invented.

Mr. Heathcoat was a man of great natural gifts.  He possessed a sound
understanding, quick perception, and a genius for business of the highest
order.  With these he combined uprightness, honesty, and
integrity—qualities which are the true glory of human character.  Himself
a diligent self-educator, he gave ready encouragement to deserving youths
in his employment, stimulating their talents and fostering their
energies.  During his own busy life, he contrived to save time to master
French and Italian, of which he acquired an accurate and grammatical
knowledge.  His mind was largely stored with the results of a careful
study of the best literature, and there were few subjects on which he had
not formed for himself shrewd and accurate views.  The two thousand
workpeople in his employment regarded him almost as a father, and he
carefully provided for their comfort and improvement.  Prosperity did not
spoil him, as it does so many; nor close his heart against the claims of
the poor and struggling, who were always sure of his sympathy and help.
To provide for the education of the children of his workpeople, he built
schools for them at a cost of about 6000_l._  He was also a man of
singularly cheerful and buoyant disposition, a favourite with men of all
classes and most admired and beloved by those who knew him best.

In 1831 the electors of Tiverton, of which town Mr. Heathcoat had proved
himself so genuine a benefactor, returned him to represent them in
Parliament, and he continued their member for nearly thirty years.
During a great part of that time he had Lord Palmerston for his
colleague, and the noble lord, on more than one public occasion,
expressed the high regard which he entertained for his venerable friend.
On retiring from the representation in 1859, owing to advancing age and
increasing infirmities, thirteen hundred of his workmen presented him
with a silver inkstand and gold pen, in token of their esteem.  He
enjoyed his leisure for only two more years, dying in January, 1861, at
the age of seventy-seven, and leaving behind him a character for probity,
virtue, manliness, and mechanical genius, of which his descendants may
well be proud.

We next turn to a career of a very different kind, that of the
illustrious but unfortunate Jacquard, whose life also illustrates in a
remarkable manner the influence which ingenious men, even of the humblest
rank, may exercise upon the industry of a nation.  Jacquard was the son
of a hard-working couple of Lyons, his father being a weaver, and his
mother a pattern reader.  They were too poor to give him any but the most
meagre education.  When he was of age to learn a trade, his father placed
him with a book-binder.  An old clerk, who made up the master’s accounts,
gave Jacquard some lessons in mathematics.  He very shortly began to
display a remarkable turn for mechanics, and some of his contrivances
quite astonished the old clerk, who advised Jacquard’s father to put him
to some other trade, in which his peculiar abilities might have better
scope than in bookbinding.  He was accordingly put apprentice to a
cutler; but was so badly treated by his master, that he shortly
afterwards left his employment, on which he was placed with a

His parents dying, Jacquard found himself in a measure compelled to take
to his father’s two looms, and carry on the trade of a weaver.  He
immediately proceeded to improve the looms, and became so engrossed with
his inventions that he forgot his work, and very soon found himself at
the end of his means.  He then sold the looms to pay his debts, at the
same time that he took upon himself the burden of supporting a wife.  He
became still poorer, and to satisfy his creditors, he next sold his
cottage.  He tried to find employment, but in vain, people believing him
to be an idler, occupied with mere dreams about his inventions.  At
length he obtained employment with a line-maker of Bresse, whither he
went, his wife remaining at Lyons, earning a precarious living by making
straw bonnets.

We hear nothing further of Jacquard for some years, but in the interval
he seems to have prosecuted his improvement in the drawloom for the
better manufacture of figured fabrics; for, in 1790, he brought out his
contrivance for selecting the warp threads, which, when added to the
loom, superseded the services of a draw-boy.  The adoption of this
machine was slow but steady, and in ten years after its introduction,
4000 of them were found at work in Lyons.  Jacquard’s pursuits were
rudely interrupted by the Revolution, and, in 1792, we find him fighting
in the ranks of the Lyonnaise Volunteers against the Army of the
Convention under the command of Dubois Crancé.  The city was taken;
Jacquard fled and joined the Army of the Rhine, where he rose to the rank
of sergeant.  He might have remained a soldier, but that, his only son
having been shot dead at his side, he deserted and returned to Lyons to
recover his wife.  He found her in a garret still employed at her old
trade of straw-bonnet making.  While living in concealment with her, his
mind reverted to the inventions over which he had so long brooded in
former years; but he had no means wherewith to prosecute them.  Jacquard
found it necessary, however, to emerge from his hiding-place and try to
find some employment.  He succeeded in obtaining it with an intelligent
manufacturer, and while working by day he went on inventing by night.  It
had occurred to him that great improvements might still be introduced in
looms for figured goods, and he incidentally mentioned the subject one
day to his master, regretting at the same time that his limited means
prevented him from carrying out his ideas.  Happily his master
appreciated the value of the suggestions, and with laudable generosity
placed a sum of money at his disposal, that he might prosecute the
proposed improvements at his leisure.

In three months Jacquard had invented a loom to substitute mechanical
action for the irksome and toilsome labour of the workman.  The loom was
exhibited at the Exposition of National Industry at Paris in 1801, and
obtained a bronze medal.  Jacquard was further honoured by a visit at
Lyons from the Minister Carnot, who desired to congratulate him in person
on the success of his invention.  In the following year the Society of
Arts in London offered a prize for the invention of a machine for
manufacturing fishing-nets and boarding-netting for ships.  Jacquard
heard of this, and while walking one day in the fields according to his
custom, he turned the subject over in his mind, and contrived the plan of
a machine for the purpose.  His friend, the manufacturer, again furnished
him with the means of carrying out his idea, and in three weeks Jacquard
had completed his invention.

Jacquard’s achievement having come to the knowledge of the Prefect of the
Department, he was summoned before that functionary, and, on his
explanation of the working of the machine, a report on the subject was
forwarded to the Emperor.  The inventor was forthwith summoned to Paris
with his machine, and brought into the presence of the Emperor, who
received him with the consideration due to his genius.  The interview
lasted two hours, during which Jacquard, placed at his ease by the
Emperor’s affability, explained to him the improvements which he proposed
to make in the looms for weaving figured goods.  The result was, that he
was provided with apartments in the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers,
where he had the use of the workshop during his stay, and was provided
with a suitable allowance for his maintenance.

Installed in the Conservatoire, Jacquard proceeded to complete the
details of his improved loom.  He had the advantage of minutely
inspecting the various exquisite pieces of mechanism contained in that
great treasury of human ingenuity.  Among the machines which more
particularly attracted his attention, and eventually set him upon the
track of his discovery, was a loom for weaving flowered silk, made by
Vaucanson the celebrated automaton-maker.

Vaucanson was a man of the highest order of constructive genius.  The
inventive faculty was so strong in him that it may almost be said to have
amounted to a passion, and could not be restrained.  The saying that the
poet is born, not made, applies with equal force to the inventor, who,
though indebted, like the other, to culture and improved opportunities,
nevertheless contrives and constructs new combinations of machinery
mainly to gratify his own instinct.  This was peculiarly the case with
Vaucanson; for his most elaborate works were not so much distinguished
for their utility as for the curious ingenuity which they displayed.
While a mere boy attending Sunday conversations with his mother, he
amused himself by watching, through the chinks of a partition wall, part
of the movements of a clock in the adjoining apartment.  He endeavoured
to understand them, and by brooding over the subject, after several
months he discovered the principle of the escapement.

From that time the subject of mechanical invention took complete
possession of him.  With some rude tools which he contrived, he made a
wooden clock that marked the hours with remarkable exactness; while he
made for a miniature chapel the figures of some angels which waved their
wings, and some priests that made several ecclesiastical movements.  With
the view of executing some other automata he had designed, he proceeded
to study anatomy, music, and mechanics, which occupied him for several
years.  The sight of the Flute-player in the Gardens of the Tuileries
inspired him with the resolution to invent a similar figure that should
_play_; and after several years’ study and labour, though struggling with
illness, he succeeded in accomplishing his object.  He next produced a
Flageolet-player, which was succeeded by a Duck—the most ingenious of his
contrivances,—which swam, dabbled, drank, and quacked like a real duck.
He next invented an asp, employed in the tragedy of ‘Cléopâtre,’ which
hissed and darted at the bosom of the actress.

Vaucanson, however, did not confine himself merely to the making of
automata.  By reason of his ingenuity, Cardinal de Fleury appointed him
inspector of the silk manufactories of France; and he was no sooner in
office, than with his usual irrepressible instinct to invent, he
proceeded to introduce improvements in silk machinery.  One of these was
his mill for thrown silk, which so excited the anger of the Lyons
operatives, who feared the loss of employment through its means, that
they pelted him with stones and had nearly killed him.  He nevertheless
went on inventing, and next produced a machine for weaving flowered
silks, with a contrivance for giving a dressing to the thread, so as to
render that of each bobbin or skein of an equal thickness.

When Vaucanson died in 1782, after a long illness, he bequeathed his
collection of machines to the Queen, who seems to have set but small
value on them, and they were shortly after dispersed.  But his machine
for weaving flowered silks was happily preserved in the Conservatoire des
Arts et Métiers, and there Jacquard found it among the many curious and
interesting articles in the collection.  It proved of the utmost value to
him, for it immediately set him on the track of the principal
modification which he introduced in his improved loom.

One of the chief features of Vaucanson’s machine was a pierced cylinder
which, according to the holes it presented when revolved, regulated the
movement of certain needles, and caused the threads of the warp to
deviate in such a manner as to produce a given design, though only of a
simple character.  Jacquard seized upon the suggestion with avidity, and,
with the genius of the true inventor, at once proceeded to improve upon
it.  At the end of a month his weaving-machine was completed.  To the
cylinder of Vancanson, he added an endless piece of pasteboard pierced
with a number of holes, through which the threads of the warp were
presented to the weaver; while another piece of mechanism indicated to
the workman the colour of the shuttle which he ought to throw.  Thus the
drawboy and the reader of designs were both at once superseded.  The
first use Jacquard made of his new loom was to weave with it several
yards of rich stuff which he presented to the Empress Josephine.
Napoleon was highly gratified with the result of the inventor’s labours,
and ordered a number of the looms to be constructed by the best workmen,
after Jacquard’s model, and presented to him; after which he returned to

There he experienced the frequent fate of inventors.  He was regarded by
his townsmen as an enemy, and treated by them as Kay, Hargreaves, and
Arkwright had been in Lancashire.  The workmen looked upon the new loom
as fatal to their trade, and feared lest it should at once take the bread
from their mouths.  A tumultuous meeting was held on the Place des
Terreaux, when it was determined to destroy the machines.  This was
however prevented by the military.  But Jacquard was denounced and hanged
in effigy.  The ‘Conseil des prud’hommes’ in vain endeavoured to allay
the excitement, and they were themselves denounced.  At length, carried
away by the popular impulse, the prud’hommes, most of whom had been
workmen and sympathized with the class, had one of Jacquard’s looms
carried off and publicly broken in pieces.  Riots followed, in one of
which Jacquard was dragged along the quay by an infuriated mob intending
to drown him, but he was rescued.

The great value of the Jacquard loom, however, could not be denied, and
its success was only a question of time.  Jacquard was urged by some
English silk manufacturers to pass over into England and settle there.
But notwithstanding the harsh and cruel treatment he had received at the
hands of his townspeople, his patriotism was too strong to permit him to
accept their offer.  The English manufacturers, however, adopted his
loom.  Then it was, and only then, that Lyons, threatened to be beaten
out of the field, adopted it with eagerness; and before long the Jacquard
machine was employed in nearly all kinds of weaving.  The result proved
that the fears of the workpeople had been entirely unfounded.  Instead of
diminishing employment, the Jacquard loom increased it at least tenfold.
The number of persons occupied in the manufacture of figured goods in
Lyons, was stated by M. Leon Faucher to have been 60,000 in 1833; and
that number has since been considerably increased.

As for Jacquard himself, the rest of his life passed peacefully,
excepting that the workpeople who dragged him along the quay to drown him
were shortly after found eager to bear him in triumph along the same
route in celebration of his birthday.  But his modesty would not permit
him to take part in such a demonstration.  The Municipal Council of Lyons
proposed to him that he should devote himself to improving his machine
for the benefit of the local industry, to which Jacquard agreed in
consideration of a moderate pension, the amount of which was fixed by
himself.  After perfecting his invention accordingly, he retired at sixty
to end his days at Oullins, his father’s native place.  It was there that
he received, in 1820, the decoration of the Legion of Honour; and it was
there that he died and was buried in 1834.  A statue was erected to his
memory, but his relatives remained in poverty; and twenty years after his
death, his two nieces were under the necessity of selling for a few
hundred francs the gold medal bestowed upon their uncle by Louis XVIII.
“Such,” says a French writer, “was the gratitude of the manufacturing
interests of Lyons to the man to whom it owes so large a portion of its

It would be easy to extend the martyrology of inventors, and to cite the
names of other equally distinguished men who have, without any
corresponding advantage to themselves, contributed to the industrial
progress of the age,—for it has too often happened that genius has
planted the tree, of which patient dulness has gathered the fruit; but we
will confine ourselves for the present to a brief account of an inventor
of comparatively recent date, by way of illustration of the difficulties
and privations which it is so frequently the lot of mechanical genius to
surmount.  We allude to Joshua Heilmann, the inventor of the Combing

Heilmann was born in 1796 at Mulhouse, the principal seat of the Alsace
cotton manufacture.  His father was engaged in that business; and Joshua
entered his office at fifteen.  He remained there for two years,
employing his spare time in mechanical drawing.  He afterwards spent two
years in his uncle’s banking-house in Paris, prosecuting the study of
mathematics in the evenings.  Some of his relatives having established a
small cotton-spinning factory at Mulhouse, young Heilmann was placed with
Messrs. Tissot and Rey, at Paris, to learn the practice of that firm.  At
the same time he became a student at the Conservatoire des Arts et
Métiers, where he attended the lectures, and studied the machines in the
museum.  He also took practical lessons in turning from a toymaker.
After some time, thus diligently occupied, he returned to Alsace, to
superintend the construction of the machinery for the new factory at
Vieux-Thann, which was shortly finished and set to work.  The operations
of the manufactory were, however, seriously affected by a commercial
crisis which occurred, and it passed into other hands, on which Heilmann
returned to his family at Mulhouse.

He had in the mean time been occupying much of his leisure with
inventions, more particularly in connection with the weaving of cotton
and the preparation of the staple for spinning.  One of his earliest
contrivances was an embroidering-machine, in which twenty needles were
employed, working simultaneously; and he succeeded in accomplishing his
object after about six months’ labour.  For this invention, which he
exhibited at the Exposition of 1834, he received a gold medal, and was
decorated with the Legion of Honour.  Other inventions quickly
followed—an improved loom, a machine for measuring and folding fabrics,
an improvement of the “bobbin and fly frames” of the English spinners,
and a weft winding-machine, with various improvements in the machinery
for preparing, spinning, and weaving silk and cotton.  One of his most
ingenious contrivances was his loom for weaving simultaneously two pieces
of velvet or other piled fabric, united by the pile common to both, with
a knife and traversing apparatus for separating the two fabrics when
woven.  But by far the most beautiful and ingenious of his inventions was
the combing-machine, the history of which we now proceed shortly to

Heilmann had for some years been diligently studying the contrivance of a
machine for combing long-stapled cotton, the ordinary carding-machine
being found ineffective in preparing the raw material for spinning,
especially the finer sorts of yarn, besides causing considerable waste.
To avoid these imperfections, the cotton-spinners of Alsace offered a
prize of 5000 francs for an improved combing-machine, and Heilmann
immediately proceeded to compete for the reward.  He was not stimulated
by the desire of gain, for he was comparatively rich, having acquired a
considerable fortune by his wife.  It was a saying of his that “one will
never accomplish great things who is constantly asking himself, how much
gain will this bring me?”  What mainly impelled him was the irrepressible
instinct of the inventor, who no sooner has a mechanical problem set
before him than he feels impelled to undertake its solution.  The problem
in this case was, however, much more difficult than he had anticipated.
The close study of the subject occupied him for several years, and the
expenses in which he became involved in connection with it were so great,
that his wife’s fortune was shortly swallowed up, and he was reduced to
poverty, without being able to bring his machine to perfection.  From
that time he was under the necessity of relying mainly on the help of his
friends to enable him to prosecute the invention.

While still struggling with poverty and difficulties, Heilmann’s wife
died, believing her husband ruined; and shortly after he proceeded to
England and settled for a time at Manchester, still labouring at his
machine.  He had a model made for him by the eminent machine-makers,
Sharpe, Roberts, and Company; but still he could not make it work
satisfactorily, and he was at length brought almost to the verge of
despair.  He returned to France to visit his family, still pursuing his
idea, which had obtained complete possession of his mind.  While sitting
by his hearth one evening, meditating upon the hard fate of inventors and
the misfortunes in which their families so often become involved, he
found himself almost unconsciously watching his daughters coming their
long hair and drawing it out at full length between their fingers.  The
thought suddenly struck him that if he could successfully imitate in a
machine the process of combing out the longest hair and forcing back the
short by reversing the action of the comb, it might serve to extricate
him from his difficulty.  It may be remembered that this incident in the
life of Heilmann has been made the subject of a beautiful picture by Mr.
Elmore, R.A., which was exhibited at the Royal Academy Exhibition of

Upon this idea he proceeded, introduced the apparently simple but really
most intricate process of machine-combing, and after great labour he
succeeded in perfecting the invention.  The singular beauty of the
process can only be appreciated by those who have witnessed the machine
at work, when the similarity of its movements to that of combing the
hair, which suggested the invention, is at once apparent.  The machine
has been described as “acting with almost the delicacy of touch of the
human fingers.”  It combs the lock of cotton _at both ends_, places the
fibres exactly parallel with each other, separates the long from the
short, and unites the long fibres in one sliver and the short ones in
another.  In fine, the machine not only acts with the delicate accuracy
of the human fingers, but apparently with the delicate intelligence of
the human mind.

The chief commercial value of the invention consisted in its rendering
the commoner sorts of cotton available for fine spinning.  The
manufacturers were thereby enabled to select the most suitable fibres for
high-priced fabrics, and to produce the finer sorts of yarn in much
larger quantities.  It became possible by its means to make thread so
fine that a length of 334 miles might be spun from a single pound weight
of the prepared cotton, and, worked up into the finer sorts of lace, the
original shilling’s worth of cotton-wool, before it passed into the hands
of the consumer, might thus be increased to the value of between 300_l._
and 400_l._ sterling.

The beauty and utility of Heilmann’s invention were at once appreciated
by the English cotton-spinners.  Six Lancashire firms united and
purchased the patent for cotton-spinning for England for the sum of
30,000_l._; the wool-spinners paid the same sum for the privilege of
applying the process to wool; and the Messrs. Marshall, of Leeds,
20,000_l._ for the privilege of applying it to flax.  Thus wealth
suddenly flowed in upon poor Heilmann at last.  But he did not live to
enjoy it.  Scarcely had his long labours been crowned by success than he
died, and his son, who had shared in his privations, shortly followed

It is at the price of lives such as these that the wonders of
civilisation are achieved.


    “Patience is the finest and worthiest part of fortitude, and the
    rarest too . . . Patience lies at the root of all pleasures, as well
    as of all powers.  Hope herself ceases to be happiness when
    Impatience companions her.”—_John Ruskin_.

    “Il y a vingt et cinq ans passez qu’il ne me fut monstré une coupe de
    terre, tournée et esmaillée d’une telle beauté que . . . dèslors,
    sans avoir esgard que je n’avois nulle connoissance des terres
    argileuses, je me mis a chercher les émaux, comme un homme qui taste
    en ténèbres.”—_Bernard Palissy_.

IT so happens that the history of Pottery furnishes some of the most
remarkable instances of patient perseverance to be found in the whole
range of biography.  Of these we select three of the most striking, as
exhibited in the lives of Bernard Palissy, the Frenchman; Johann
Friedrich Böttgher, the German; and Josiah Wedgwood, the Englishman.

Though the art of making common vessels of clay was known to most of the
ancient nations, that of manufacturing enamelled earthenware was much
less common.  It was, however, practised by the ancient Etruscans,
specimens of whose ware are still to be found in antiquarian collections.
But it became a lost art, and was only recovered at a comparatively
recent date.  The Etruscan ware was very valuable in ancient times, a
vase being worth its weight in gold in the time of Augustus.  The Moors
seem to have preserved amongst them a knowledge of the art, which they
were found practising in the island of Majorca when it was taken by the
Pisans in 1115. Among the spoil carried away were many plates of Moorish
earthenware, which, in token of triumph, were embedded in the walls of
several of the ancient churches of Pisa, where they are to be seen to
this day.  About two centuries later the Italians began to make an
imitation enamelled ware, which they named Majolica, after the Moorish
place of manufacture.

The reviver or re-discoverer of the art of enamelling in Italy was Luca
della Robbia, a Florentine sculptor.  Vasari describes him as a man of
indefatigable perseverance, working with his chisel all day and
practising drawing during the greater part of the night.  He pursued the
latter art with so much assiduity, that when working late, to prevent his
feet from freezing with the cold, he was accustomed to provide himself
with a basket of shavings, in which he placed them to keep himself warm
and enable him to proceed with his drawings.  “Nor,” says Vasari, “am I
in the least astonished at this, since no man ever becomes distinguished
in any art whatsoever who does not early begin to acquire the power of
supporting heat, cold, hunger, thirst, and other discomforts; whereas
those persons deceive themselves altogether who suppose that when taking
their ease and surrounded by all the enjoyments of the world they may
still attain to honourable distinction,—for it is not by sleeping, but by
waking, watching, and labouring continually, that proficiency is attained
and reputation acquired.”

But Luca, notwithstanding all his application and industry, did not
succeed in earning enough money by sculpture to enable him to live by the
art, and the idea occurred to him that he might nevertheless be able to
pursue his modelling in some material more facile and less dear than
marble.  Hence it was that he began to make his models in clay, and to
endeavour by experiment so to coat and bake the clay as to render those
models durable.  After many trials he at length discovered a method of
covering the clay with a material, which, when exposed to the intense
heat of a furnace, became converted into an almost imperishable enamel.
He afterwards made the further discovery of a method of imparting colour
to the enamel, thus greatly adding to its beauty.

The fame of Luca’s work extended throughout Europe, and specimens of his
art became widely diffused.  Many of them were sent into France and
Spain, where they were greatly prized.  At that time coarse brown jars
and pipkins were almost the only articles of earthenware produced in
France; and this continued to be the case, with comparatively small
improvement, until the time of Palissy—a man who toiled and fought
against stupendous difficulties with a heroism that sheds a glow almost
of romance over the events of his chequered life.

Bernard Palissy is supposed to have been born in the south of France, in
the diocese of Agen, about the year 1510.  His father was probably a
worker in glass, to which trade Bernard was brought up.  His parents were
poor people—too poor to give him the benefit of any school education.  “I
had no other books,” said he afterwards, “than heaven and earth, which
are open to all.”  He learnt, however, the art of glass-painting, to
which he added that of drawing, and afterwards reading and writing.

When about eighteen years old, the glass trade becoming decayed, Palissy
left his father’s house, with his wallet on his back, and went out into
the world to search whether there was any place in it for him.  He first
travelled towards Gascony, working at his trade where he could find
employment, and occasionally occupying part of his time in
land-measuring.  Then he travelled northwards, sojourning for various
periods at different places in France, Flanders, and Lower Germany.

Thus Palissy occupied about ten more years of his life, after which he
married, and ceased from his wanderings, settling down to practise
glass-painting and land-measuring at the small town of Saintes, in the
Lower Charente.  There children were born to him; and not only his
responsibilities but his expenses increased, while, do what he could, his
earnings remained too small for his needs.  It was therefore necessary
for him to bestir himself.  Probably he felt capable of better things
than drudging in an employment so precarious as glass-painting; and hence
he was induced to turn his attention to the kindred art of painting and
enamelling earthenware.  Yet on this subject he was wholly ignorant; for
he had never seen earth baked before he began his operations.  He had
therefore everything to learn by himself, without any helper.  But he was
full of hope, eager to learn, of unbounded perseverance and inexhaustible

It was the sight of an elegant cup of Italian manufacture—most probably
one of Luca della Robbia’s make—which first set Palissy a-thinking about
the new art.  A circumstance so apparently insignificant would have
produced no effect upon an ordinary mind, or even upon Palissy himself at
an ordinary time; but occurring as it did when he was meditating a change
of calling, he at once became inflamed with the desire of imitating it.
The sight of this cup disturbed his whole existence; and the
determination to discover the enamel with which it was glazed
thenceforward possessed him like a passion.  Had he been a single man he
might have travelled into Italy in search of the secret; but he was bound
to his wife and his children, and could not leave them; so he remained by
their side groping in the dark in the hope of finding out the process of
making and enamelling earthenware.

At first he could merely guess the materials of which the enamel was
composed; and he proceeded to try all manner of experiments to ascertain
what they really were.  He pounded all the substances which he supposed
were likely to produce it.  Then he bought common earthen pots, broke
them into pieces, and, spreading his compounds over them, subjected them
to the heat of a furnace which he erected for the purpose of baking them.
His experiments failed; and the results were broken pots and a waste of
fuel, drugs, time, and labour.  Women do not readily sympathise with
experiments whose only tangible effect is to dissipate the means of
buying clothes and food for their children; and Palissy’s wife, however
dutiful in other respects, could not be reconciled to the purchase of
more earthen pots, which seemed to her to be bought only to be broken.
Yet she must needs submit; for Palissy had become thoroughly possessed by
the determination to master the secret of the enamel, and would not leave
it alone.

For many successive months and years Palissy pursued his experiments.
The first furnace having proved a failure, he proceeded to erect another
out of doors.  There he burnt more wood, spoiled more drugs and pots, and
lost more time, until poverty stared him and his family in the face.
“Thus,” said he, “I fooled away several years, with sorrow and sighs,
because I could not at all arrive at my intention.”  In the intervals of
his experiments he occasionally worked at his former callings, painting
on glass, drawing portraits, and measuring land; but his earnings from
these sources were very small.  At length he was no longer able to carry
on his experiments in his own furnace because of the heavy cost of fuel;
but he bought more potsherds, broke them up as before into three or four
hundred pieces, and, covering them with chemicals, carried them to a
tile-work a league and a half distant from Saintes, there to be baked in
an ordinary furnace.  After the operation he went to see the pieces taken
out; and, to his dismay, the whole of the experiments were failures.  But
though disappointed, he was not yet defeated; for he determined on the
very spot to “begin afresh.”

His business as a land-measurer called him away for a brief season from
the pursuit of his experiments.  In conformity with an edict of the
State, it became necessary to survey the salt-marshes in the
neighbourhood of Saintes for the purpose of levying the land-tax.
Palissy was employed to make this survey, and prepare the requisite map.
The work occupied him some time, and he was doubtless well paid for it;
but no sooner was it completed than he proceeded, with redoubled zeal, to
follow up his old investigations “in the track of the enamels.”  He began
by breaking three dozen new earthen pots, the pieces of which he covered
with different materials which he had compounded, and then took them to a
neighbouring glass-furnace to be baked.  The results gave him a glimmer
of hope.  The greater heat of the glass-furnace had melted some of the
compounds; but though Palissy searched diligently for the white enamel he
could find none.

For two more years he went on experimenting without any satisfactory
result, until the proceeds of his survey of the salt-marshes having
become nearly spent, he was reduced to poverty again.  But he resolved to
make a last great effort; and he began by breaking more pots than ever.
More than three hundred pieces of pottery covered with his compounds were
sent to the glass-furnace; and thither he himself went to watch the
results of the baking.  Four hours passed, during which he watched; and
then the furnace was opened.  The material on _one_ only of the three
hundred pieces of potsherd had melted, and it was taken out to cool.  As
it hardened, it grew white-white and polished!  The piece of potsherd was
covered with white enamel, described by Palissy as “singularly
beautiful!”  And beautiful it must no doubt have been in his eyes after
all his weary waiting.  He ran home with it to his wife, feeling himself,
as he expressed it, quite a new creature.  But the prize was not yet
won—far from it.  The partial success of this intended last effort merely
had the effect of luring him on to a succession of further experiments
and failures.

In order that he might complete the invention, which he now believed to
be at hand, he resolved to build for himself a glass-furnace near his
dwelling, where he might carry on his operations in secret.  He proceeded
to build the furnace with his own hands, carrying the bricks from the
brick-field upon his back.  He was bricklayer, labourer, and all.  From
seven to eight more months passed.  At last the furnace was built and
ready for use.  Palissy had in the mean time fashioned a number of
vessels of clay in readiness for the laying on of the enamel.  After
being subjected to a preliminary process of baking, they were covered
with the enamel compound, and again placed in the furnace for the grand
crucial experiment.  Although his means were nearly exhausted, Palissy
had been for some time accumulating a great store of fuel for the final
effort; and he thought it was enough.  At last the fire was lit, and the
operation proceeded.  All day he sat by the furnace, feeding it with
fuel.  He sat there watching and feeding all through the long night.  But
the enamel did not melt.  The sun rose upon his labours.  His wife
brought him a portion of the scanty morning meal,—for he would not stir
from the furnace, into which he continued from time to time to heave more
fuel.  The second day passed, and still the enamel did not melt.  The sun
set, and another night passed.  The pale, haggard, unshorn, baffled yet
not beaten Palissy sat by his furnace eagerly looking for the melting of
the enamel.  A third day and night passed—a fourth, a fifth, and even a
sixth,—yes, for six long days and nights did the unconquerable Palissy
watch and toil, fighting against hope; and still the enamel would not

It then occurred to him that there might be some defect in the materials
for the enamel—perhaps something wanting in the flux; so he set to work
to pound and compound fresh materials for a new experiment.  Thus two or
three more weeks passed.  But how to buy more pots?—for those which he
had made with his own hands for the purposes of the first experiment were
by long baking irretrievably spoilt for the purposes of a second.  His
money was now all spent; but he could borrow.  His character was still
good, though his wife and the neighbours thought him foolishly wasting
his means in futile experiments.  Nevertheless he succeeded.  He borrowed
sufficient from a friend to enable him to buy more fuel and more pots,
and he was again ready for a further experiment.  The pots were covered
with the new compound, placed in the furnace, and the fire was again lit.

It was the last and most desperate experiment of the whole.  The fire
blazed up; the heat became intense; but still the enamel did not melt.
The fuel began to run short!  How to keep up the fire?  There were the
garden palings: these would burn.  They must be sacrificed rather than
that the great experiment should fail.  The garden palings were pulled up
and cast into the furnace.  They were burnt in vain!  The enamel had not
yet melted.  Ten minutes more heat might do it.  Fuel must be had at
whatever cost.  There remained the household furniture and shelving.  A
crashing noise was heard in the house; and amidst the screams of his wife
and children, who now feared Palissy’s reason was giving way, the tables
were seized, broken up, and heaved into the furnace.  The enamel had not
melted yet!  There remained the shelving.  Another noise of the wrenching
of timber was heard within the house; and the shelves were torn down and
hurled after the furniture into the fire.  Wife and children then rushed
from the house, and went frantically through the town, calling out that
poor Palissy had gone mad, and was breaking up his very furniture for
firewood! {74}

For an entire month his shirt had not been off his back, and he was
utterly worn out—wasted with toil, anxiety, watching, and want of food.
He was in debt, and seemed on the verge of ruin.  But he had at length
mastered the secret; for the last great burst of heat had melted the
enamel.  The common brown household jars, when taken out of the furnace
after it had become cool, were found covered with a white glaze!  For
this he could endure reproach, contumely, and scorn, and wait patiently
for the opportunity of putting his discovery into practice as better days
came round.

Palissy next hired a potter to make some earthen vessels after designs
which he furnished; while he himself proceeded to model some medallions
in clay for the purpose of enamelling them.  But how to maintain himself
and his family until the wares were made and ready for sale?  Fortunately
there remained one man in Saintes who still believed in the integrity, if
not in the judgment, of Palissy—an inn-keeper, who agreed to feed and
lodge him for six months, while he went on with his manufacture.  As for
the working potter whom he had hired, Palissy soon found that he could
not pay him the stipulated wages.  Having already stripped his dwelling,
he could but strip himself; and he accordingly parted with some of his
clothes to the potter, in part payment of the wages which he owed him.

Palissy next erected an improved furnace, but he was so unfortunate as to
build part of the inside with flints.  When it was heated, these flints
cracked and burst, and the spiculæ were scattered over the pieces of
pottery, sticking to them.  Though the enamel came out right, the work
was irretrievably spoilt, and thus six more months’ labour was lost.
Persons were found willing to buy the articles at a low price,
notwithstanding the injury they had sustained; but Palissy would not sell
them, considering that to have done so would be to “decry and abate his
honour;” and so he broke in pieces the entire batch.  “Nevertheless,”
says he, “hope continued to inspire me, and I held on manfully;
sometimes, when visitors called, I entertained them with pleasantry,
while I was really sad at heart. . . . Worst of all the sufferings I had
to endure, were the mockeries and persecutions of those of my own
household, who were so unreasonable as to expect me to execute work
without the means of doing so.  For years my furnaces were without any
covering or protection, and while attending them I have been for nights
at the mercy of the wind and the rain, without help or consolation, save
it might be the wailing of cats on the one side and the howling of dogs
on the other.  Sometimes the tempest would beat so furiously against the
furnaces that I was compelled to leave them and seek shelter within
doors.  Drenched by rain, and in no better plight than if I had been
dragged through mire, I have gone to lie down at midnight or at daybreak,
stumbling into the house without a light, and reeling from one side to
another as if I had been drunken, but really weary with watching and
filled with sorrow at the loss of my labour after such long toiling.  But
alas! my home proved no refuge; for, drenched and besmeared as I was, I
found in my chamber a second persecution worse than the first, which
makes me even now marvel that I was not utterly consumed by my many

At this stage of his affairs, Palissy became melancholy and almost
hopeless, and seems to have all but broken down.  He wandered gloomily
about the fields near Saintes, his clothes hanging in tatters, and
himself worn to a skeleton.  In a curious passage in his writings he
describes how that the calves of his legs had disappeared and were no
longer able with the help of garters to hold up his stockings, which fell
about his heels when he walked. {77}  The family continued to reproach
him for his recklessness, and his neighbours cried shame upon him for his
obstinate folly.  So he returned for a time to his former calling; and
after about a year’s diligent labour, during which he earned bread for
his household and somewhat recovered his character among his neighbours,
he again resumed his darling enterprise.  But though he had already spent
about ten years in the search for the enamel, it cost him nearly eight
more years of experimental plodding before he perfected his invention.
He gradually learnt dexterity and certainty of result by experience,
gathering practical knowledge out of many failures.  Every mishap was a
fresh lesson to him, teaching him something new about the nature of
enamels, the qualities of argillaceous earths, the tempering of clays,
and the construction and management of furnaces.

At last, after about sixteen years’ labour, Palissy took heart and called
himself Potter.  These sixteen years had been his term of apprenticeship
to the art; during which he had wholly to teach himself, beginning at the
very beginning.  He was now able to sell his wares and thereby maintain
his family in comfort.  But he never rested satisfied with what he had
accomplished.  He proceeded from one step of improvement to another;
always aiming at the greatest perfection possible.  He studied natural
objects for patterns, and with such success that the great Buffon spoke
of him as “so great a naturalist as Nature only can produce.”  His
ornamental pieces are now regarded as rare gems in the cabinets of
virtuosi, and sell at almost fabulous prices. {78}  The ornaments on them
are for the most part accurate models from life, of wild animals,
lizards, and plants, found in the fields about Saintes, and tastefully
combined as ornaments into the texture of a plate or vase.  When Palissy
had reached the height of his art he styled himself “Ouvrier de Terre et
Inventeur des Rustics Figulines.”

We have not, however, come to an end of the sufferings of Palissy,
respecting which a few words remain to be said.  Being a Protestant, at a
time when religious persecution waxed hot in the south of France, and
expressing his views without fear, he was regarded as a dangerous
heretic.  His enemies having informed against him, his house at Saintes
was entered by the officers of “justice,” and his workshop was thrown
open to the rabble, who entered and smashed his pottery, while he himself
was hurried off by night and cast into a dungeon at Bordeaux, to wait his
turn at the stake or the scaffold.  He was condemned to be burnt; but a
powerful noble, the Constable de Montmorency, interposed to save his
life—not because he had any special regard for Palissy or his religion,
but because no other artist could be found capable of executing the
enamelled pavement for his magnificent château then in course of erection
at Ecouen, about four leagues from Paris.  By his influence an edict was
issued appointing Palissy Inventor of Rustic Figulines to the King and to
the Constable, which had the effect of immediately removing him from the
jurisdiction of Bourdeaux.  He was accordingly liberated, and returned to
his home at Saintes only to find it devastated and broken up. His
workshop was open to the sky, and his works lay in ruins.  Shaking the
dust of Saintes from his feet he left the place never to return to it,
and removed to Paris to carry on the works ordered of him by the
Constable and the Queen Mother, being lodged in the Tuileries {79} while
so occupied.

Besides carrying on the manufacture of pottery, with the aid of his two
sons, Palissy, during the latter part of his life, wrote and published
several books on the potter’s art, with a view to the instruction of his
countrymen, and in order that they might avoid the many mistakes which he
himself had made.  He also wrote on agriculture, on fortification, and
natural history, on which latter subject he even delivered lectures to a
limited number of persons.  He waged war against astrology, alchemy,
witchcraft, and like impostures.  This stirred up against him many
enemies, who pointed the finger at him as a heretic, and he was again
arrested for his religion and imprisoned in the Bastille.  He was now an
old man of seventy-eight, trembling on the verge of the grave, but his
spirit was as brave as ever.  He was threatened with death unless he
recanted; but he was as obstinate in holding to his religion as he had
been in hunting out the secret of the enamel.  The king, Henry III., even
went to see him in prison to induce him to abjure his faith.  “My good
man,” said the King, “you have now served my mother and myself for
forty-five years.  We have put up with your adhering to your religion
amidst fires and massacres: now I am so pressed by the Guise party as
well as by my own people, that I am constrained to leave you in the hands
of your enemies, and to-morrow you will be burnt unless you become
converted.”  “Sire,” answered the unconquerable old man, “I am ready to
give my life for the glory of God.  You have said many times that you
have pity on me; and now I have pity on you, who have pronounced the
words _I am constrained_!  It is not spoken like a king, sire; it is what
you, and those who constrain you, the Guisards and all your people, can
never effect upon me, for I know how to die.” {80a}  Palissy did indeed
die shortly after, a martyr, though not at the stake.  He died in the
Bastille, after enduring about a year’s imprisonment,—there peacefully
terminating a life distinguished for heroic labour, extraordinary
endurance, inflexible rectitude, and the exhibition of many rare and
noble virtues. {80b}

The life of John Frederick Böttgher, the inventor of hard porcelain,
presents a remarkable contrast to that of Palissy; though it also
contains many points of singular and almost romantic interest.  Böttgher
was born at Schleiz, in the Voightland, in 1685, and at twelve years of
age was placed apprentice with an apothecary at Berlin.  He seems to have
been early fascinated by chemistry, and occupied most of his leisure in
making experiments.  These for the most part tended in one direction—the
art of converting common on metals into gold.  At the end of several
years, Böttgher pretended to have discovered the universal solvent of the
alchemists, and professed that he had made gold by its means.  He
exhibited its powers before his master, the apothecary Zörn, and by some
trick or other succeeded in making him and several other witnesses
believe that he had actually converted copper into gold.

The news spread abroad that the apothecary’s apprentice had discovered
the grand secret, and crowds collected about the shop to get a sight of
the wonderful young “gold-cook.”  The king himself expressed a wish to
see and converse with him, and when Frederick I. was presented with a
piece of the gold pretended to have been converted from copper, he was so
dazzled with the prospect of securing an infinite quantity of it—Prussia
being then in great straits for money—that he determined to secure
Böttgher and employ him to make gold for him within the strong fortress
of Spandau.  But the young apothecary, suspecting the king’s intention,
and probably fearing detection, at once resolved on flight, and he
succeeded in getting across the frontier into Saxony.

A reward of a thousand thalers was offered for Böttgher’s apprehension,
but in vain.  He arrived at Wittenberg, and appealed for protection to
the Elector of Saxony, Frederick Augustus I. (King of Poland), surnamed
“the Strong.”  Frederick was himself very much in want of money at the
time, and he was overjoyed at the prospect of obtaining gold in any
quantity by the aid of the young alchemist.  Böttgher was accordingly
conveyed in secret to Dresden, accompanied by a royal escort.  He had
scarcely left Wittenberg when a battalion of Prussian grenadiers appeared
before the gates demanding the gold-maker’s extradition.  But it was too
late: Böttgher had already arrived in Dresden, where he was lodged in the
Golden House, and treated with every consideration, though strictly
watched and kept under guard.

The Elector, however, must needs leave him there for a time, having to
depart forthwith to Poland, then almost in a state of anarchy.  But,
impatient for gold, he wrote Böttgher from Warsaw, urging him to
communicate the secret, so that he himself might practise the art of
commutation.  The young “gold-cook,” thus pressed, forwarded to Frederick
a small phial containing “a reddish fluid,” which, it was asserted,
changed all metals, when in a molten state, into gold.  This important
phial was taken in charge by the Prince Fürst von Fürstenburg, who,
accompanied by a regiment of Guards, hurried with it to Warsaw.  Arrived
there, it was determined to make immediate trial of the process.  The
King and the Prince locked themselves up in a secret chamber of the
palace, girt themselves about with leather aprons, and like true
“gold-cooks” set to work melting copper in a crucible and afterwards
applying to it the red fluid of Böttgher.  But the result was
unsatisfactory; for notwithstanding all that they could do, the copper
obstinately remained copper.  On referring to the alchemist’s
instructions, however, the King found that, to succeed with the process,
it was necessary that the fluid should be used “in great purity of
heart;” and as his Majesty was conscious of having spent the evening in
very bad company he attributed the failure of the experiment to that
cause.  A second trial was followed by no better results, and then the
King became furious; for he had confessed and received absolution before
beginning the second experiment.

Frederick Augustus now resolved on forcing Böttgher to disclose the
golden secret, as the only means of relief from his urgent pecuniary
difficulties.  The alchemist, hearing of the royal intention, again
determined to fly.  He succeeded in escaping his guard, and, after three
days’ travel, arrived at Ens in Austria, where he thought himself safe.
The agents of the Elector were, however, at his heels; they had tracked
him to the “Golden Stag,” which they surrounded, and seizing him in his
bed, notwithstanding his resistance and appeals to the Austrian
authorities for help, they carried him by force to Dresden.  From this
time he was more strictly watched than ever, and he was shortly after
transferred to the strong fortress of Köningstein.  It was communicated
to him that the royal exchequer was completely empty, and that ten
regiments of Poles in arrears of pay were waiting for his gold.  The King
himself visited him, and told him in a severe tone that if he did not at
once proceed to make gold, he would be hung!  (“_Thu mir zurecht_,
_Böttgher_, _sonst lass ich dich hangen_”).

Years passed, and still Böttgher made no gold; but he was not hung.  It
was reserved for him to make a far more important discovery than the
conversion of copper into gold, namely, the conversion of clay into
porcelain.  Some rare specimens of this ware had been brought by the
Portuguese from China, which were sold for more than their weight in
gold.  Böttgher was first induced to turn his attention to the subject by
Walter von Tschirnhaus, a maker of optical instruments, also an
alchemist.  Tschirnhaus was a man of education and distinction, and was
held in much esteem by Prince Fürstenburg as well as by the Elector.  He
very sensibly said to Böttgher, still in fear of the gallows—“If you
can’t make gold, try and do something else; make porcelain.”

The alchemist acted on the hint, and began his experiments, working night
and day.  He prosecuted his investigations for a long time with great
assiduity, but without success.  At length some red clay, brought to him
for the purpose of making his crucibles, set him on the right track.  He
found that this clay, when submitted to a high temperature, became
vitrified and retained its shape; and that its texture resembled that of
porcelain, excepting in colour and opacity.  He had in fact accidentally
discovered red porcelain, and he proceeded to manufacture it and sell it
as porcelain.

Böttgher was, however, well aware that the white colour was an essential
property of true porcelain; and he therefore prosecuted his experiments
in the hope of discovering the secret.  Several years thus passed, but
without success; until again accident stood his friend, and helped him to
a knowledge of the art of making white porcelain.  One day, in the year
1707, he found his perruque unusually heavy, and asked of his valet the
reason.  The answer was, that it was owing to the powder with which the
wig was dressed, which consisted of a kind of earth then much used for
hair powder.  Böttgher’s quick imagination immediately seized upon the
idea.  This white earthy powder might possibly be the very earth of which
he was in search—at all events the opportunity must not be let slip of
ascertaining what it really was.  He was rewarded for his painstaking
care and watchfulness; for he found, on experiment, that the principal
ingredient of the hair-powder consisted of _kaolin_, the want of which
had so long formed an insuperable difficulty in the way of his inquiries.

The discovery, in Böttgher’s intelligent hands, led to great results, and
proved of far greater importance than the discovery of the philosopher’s
stone would have been.  In October, 1707, he presented his first piece of
porcelain to the Elector, who was greatly pleased with it; and it was
resolved that Böttgher should be furnished with the means necessary for
perfecting his invention.  Having obtained a skilled workman from Delft,
he began to _turn_ porcelain with great success.  He now entirely
abandoned alchemy for pottery, and inscribed over the door of his
workshop this distich:—

    “_Es machte Gott_, _der grosse Schöpfer_,
    _Aus einem Goldmacher einen Töpfer_.” {84}

Böttgher, however, was still under strict surveillance, for fear lest he
should communicate his secret to others or escape the Elector’s control.
The new workshops and furnaces which were erected for him, were guarded
by troops night and day, and six superior officers were made responsible
for the personal security of the potter.

Böttgher’s further experiments with his new furnaces proving very
successful, and the porcelain which he manufactured being found to fetch
large prices, it was next determined to establish a Royal Manufactory of
porcelain.  The manufacture of delft ware was known to have greatly
enriched Holland.  Why should not the manufacture of porcelain equally
enrich the Elector?  Accordingly, a decree went forth, dated the 23rd of
January, 1710, for the establishment of “a large manufactory of
porcelain” at the Albrechtsburg in Meissen.  In this decree, which was
translated into Latin, French, and Dutch, and distributed by the
Ambassadors of the Elector at all the European Courts, Frederick Augustus
set forth that to promote the welfare of Saxony, which had suffered much
through the Swedish invasion, he had “directed his attention to the
subterranean treasures (_unterirdischen Schätze_)” of the country, and
having employed some able persons in the investigation, they had
succeeded in manufacturing “a sort of red vessels (_eine Art rother
Gefässe_) far superior to the Indian terra sigillata;” {85} as also
“coloured ware and plates (_buntes Geschirr und Tafeln_) which may be
cut, ground, and polished, and are quite equal to Indian vessels,” and
finally that “specimens of white porcelain (_Proben von weissem
Porzellan_)” had already been obtained, and it was hoped that this
quality, too, would soon be manufactured in considerable quantities.  The
royal decree concluded by inviting “foreign artists and handicraftmen” to
come to Saxony and engage as assistants in the new factory, at high
wages, and under the patronage of the King.  This royal edict probably
gives the best account of the actual state of Böttgher’s invention at the

It has been stated in German publications that Böttgher, for the great
services rendered by him to the Elector and to Saxony, was made Manager
of the Royal Porcelain Works, and further promoted to the dignity of
Baron.  Doubtless he deserved these honours; but his treatment was of an
altogether different character, for it was shabby, cruel, and inhuman.
Two royal officials, named Matthieu and Nehmitz, were put over his head
as directors of the factory, while he himself only held the position of
foreman of potters, and at the same time was detained the King’s
prisoner.  During the erection of the factory at Meissen, while his
assistance was still indispensable, he was conducted by soldiers to and
from Dresden; and even after the works were finished, he was locked up
nightly in his room.  All this preyed upon his mind, and in repeated
letters to the King he sought to obtain mitigation of his fate.  Some of
these letters are very touching.  “I will devote my whole soul to the art
of making porcelain,” he writes on one occasion, “I will do more than any
inventor ever did before; only give me liberty, liberty!”

To these appeals, the King turned a deaf ear.  He was ready to spend
money and grant favours; but liberty he would not give.  He regarded
Böttgher as his slave.  In this position, the persecuted man kept on
working for some time, till, at the end of a year or two, he grew
negligent.  Disgusted with the world and with himself, he took to
drinking.  Such is the force of example, that it no sooner became known
that Böttgher had betaken himself to this vice, than the greater number
of the workmen at the Meissen factory became drunkards too.  Quarrels and
fightings without end were the consequence, so that the troops were
frequently called upon to interfere and keep peace among the
“Porzellanern,” as they were nicknamed.  After a while, the whole of
them, more than three hundred, were shut up in the Albrechtsburg, and
treated as prisoners of state.

Böttgher at last fell seriously ill, and in May, 1713, his dissolution
was hourly expected.  The King, alarmed at losing so valuable a slave,
now gave him permission to take carriage exercise under a guard; and,
having somewhat recovered, he was allowed occasionally to go to Dresden.
In a letter written by the King in April, 1714, Böttgher was promised his
full liberty; but the offer came too late.  Broken in body and mind,
alternately working and drinking, though with occasional gleams of nobler
intention, and suffering under constant ill-health, the result of his
enforced confinement, Böttgher lingered on for a few years more, until
death freed him from his sufferings on the 13th March, 1719, in the
thirty-fifth year of his age.  He was buried _at night_—as if he had been
a dog—in the Johannis Cemetery of Meissen.  Such was the treatment and
such the unhappy end, of one of Saxony’s greatest benefactors.

The porcelain manufacture immediately opened up an important source of
public revenue, and it became so productive to the Elector of Saxony,
that his example was shortly after followed by most European monarchs.
Although soft porcelain had been made at St. Cloud fourteen years before
Böttgher’s discovery, the superiority of the hard porcelain soon became
generally recognised.  Its manufacture was begun at Sèvres in 1770, and
it has since almost entirely superseded the softer material.  This is now
one of the most thriving branches of French industry, of which the high
quality of the articles produced is certainly indisputable.

The career of Josiah Wedgwood, the English potter, was less chequered and
more prosperous than that of either Palissy or Böttgher, and his lot was
cast in happier times.  Down to the middle of last century England was
behind most other nations of the first order in Europe in respect of
skilled industry.  Although there were many potters in Staffordshire—and
Wedgwood himself belonged to a numerous clan of potters of the same
name—their productions were of the rudest kind, for the most part only
plain brown ware, with the patterns scratched in while the clay was wet.
The principal supply of the better articles of earthenware came from
Delft in Holland, and of drinking stone pots from Cologne.  Two foreign
potters, the brothers Elers from Nuremberg, settled for a time in
Staffordshire, and introduced an improved manufacture, but they shortly
after removed to Chelsea, where they confined themselves to the
manufacture of ornamental pieces.  No porcelain capable of resisting a
scratch with a hard point had yet been made in England; and for a long
time the “white ware” made in Staffordshire was not white, but of a dirty
cream colour.  Such, in a few words, was the condition of the pottery
manufacture when Josiah Wedgwood was born at Burslem in 1730.  By the
time that he died, sixty-four years later, it had become completely
changed.  By his energy, skill, and genius, he established the trade upon
a new and solid foundation; and, in the words of his epitaph, “converted
a rude and inconsiderable manufacture into an elegant art and an
important branch of national commerce.”

Josiah Wedgwood was one of those indefatigable men who from time to time
spring from the ranks of the common people, and by their energetic
character not only practically educate the working population in habits
of industry, but by the example of diligence and perseverance which they
set before them, largely influence the public activity in all directions,
and contribute in a great degree to form the national character.  He was,
like Arkwright, the youngest of a family of thirteen children.  His
grandfather and granduncle were both potters, as was also his father who
died when he was a mere boy, leaving him a patrimony of twenty pounds.
He had learned to read and write at the village school; but on the death
of his father he was taken from it and set to work as a “thrower” in a
small pottery carried on by his elder brother.  There he began life, his
working life, to use his own words, “at the lowest round of the ladder,”
when only eleven years old.  He was shortly after seized by an attack of
virulent smallpox, from the effects of which he suffered during the rest
of his life, for it was followed by a disease in the right knee, which
recurred at frequent intervals, and was only got rid of by the amputation
of the limb many years later.  Mr. Gladstone, in his eloquent Éloge on
Wedgwood recently delivered at Burslem, well observed that the disease
from which he suffered was not improbably the occasion of his subsequent
excellence.  “It prevented him from growing up to be the active, vigorous
English workman, possessed of all his limbs, and knowing right well the
use of them; but it put him upon considering whether, as he could not be
that, he might not be something else, and something greater.  It sent his
mind inwards; it drove him to meditate upon the laws and secrets of his
art.  The result was, that he arrived at a perception and a grasp of them
which might, perhaps, have been envied, certainly have been owned, by an
Athenian potter.” {89}

When he had completed his apprenticeship with his brother, Josiah joined
partnership with another workman, and carried on a small business in
making knife-hafts, boxes, and sundry articles for domestic use.  Another
partnership followed, when he proceeded to make melon table plates, green
pickle leaves, candlesticks, snuffboxes, and such like articles; but he
made comparatively little progress until he began business on his own
account at Burslem in the year 1759.  There he diligently pursued his
calling, introducing new articles to the trade, and gradually extending
his business.  What he chiefly aimed at was to manufacture cream-coloured
ware of a better quality than was then produced in Staffordshire as
regarded shape, colour, glaze, and durability.  To understand the subject
thoroughly, he devoted his leisure to the study of chemistry; and he made
numerous experiments on fluxes, glazes, and various sorts of clay.  Being
a close inquirer and accurate observer, he noticed that a certain earth
containing silica, which was black before calcination, became white after
exposure to the heat of a furnace.  This fact, observed and pondered on,
led to the idea of mixing silica with the red powder of the potteries,
and to the discovery that the mixture becomes white when calcined.  He
had but to cover this material with a vitrification of transparent glaze,
to obtain one of the most important products of fictile art—that which,
under the name of English earthenware, was to attain the greatest
commercial value and become of the most extensive utility.

Wedgwood was for some time much troubled by his furnaces, though nothing
like to the same extent that Palissy was; and he overcame his
difficulties in the same way—by repeated experiments and unfaltering
perseverance.  His first attempts at making porcelain for table use was a
succession of disastrous failures,—the labours of months being often
destroyed in a day.  It was only after a long series of trials, in the
course of which he lost time, money, and labour, that he arrived at the
proper sort of glaze to be used; but he would not be denied, and at last
he conquered success through patience.  The improvement of pottery became
his passion, and was never lost sight of for a moment.  Even when he had
mastered his difficulties, and become a prosperous man—manufacturing
white stone ware and cream-coloured ware in large quantities for home and
foreign use—he went forward perfecting his manufactures, until, his
example extending in all directions, the action of the entire district
was stimulated, and a great branch of British industry was eventually
established on firm foundations.  He aimed throughout at the highest
excellence, declaring his determination “to give over manufacturing any
article, whatsoever it might be, rather than to degrade it.”

Wedgwood was cordially helped by many persons of rank and influence; for,
working in the truest spirit, he readily commanded the help and
encouragement of other true workers.  He made for Queen Charlotte the
first royal table-service of English manufacture, of the kind afterwards
called “Queen’s-ware,” and was appointed Royal Potter; a title which he
prized more than if he had been made a baron.  Valuable sets of porcelain
were entrusted to him for imitation, in which he succeeded to admiration.
Sir William Hamilton lent him specimens of ancient art from Herculaneum,
of which he produced accurate and beautiful copies.  The Duchess of
Portland outbid him for the Barberini Vase when that article was offered
for sale.  He bid as high as seventeen hundred guineas for it: her grace
secured it for eighteen hundred; but when she learnt Wedgwood’s object
she at once generously lent him the vase to copy.  He produced fifty
copies at a cost of about 2500_l._, and his expenses were not covered by
their sale; but he gained his object, which was to show that whatever had
been done, that English skill and energy could and would accomplish.

Wedgwood called to his aid the crucible of the chemist, the knowledge of
the antiquary, and the skill of the artist.  He found out Flaxman when a
youth, and while he liberally nurtured his genius drew from him a large
number of beautiful designs for his pottery and porcelain; converting
them by his manufacture into objects of taste and excellence, and thus
making them instrumental in the diffusion of classical art amongst the
people.  By careful experiment and study he was even enabled to
rediscover the art of painting on porcelain or earthenware vases and
similar articles—an art practised by the ancient Etruscans, but which had
been lost since the time of Pliny.  He distinguished himself by his own
contributions to science, and his name is still identified with the
Pyrometer which he invented.  He was an indefatigable supporter of all
measures of public utility; and the construction of the Trent and Mersey
Canal, which completed the navigable communication between the eastern
and western sides of the island, was mainly due to his public-spirited
exertions, allied to the engineering skill of Brindley.  The road
accommodation of the district being of an execrable character, he planned
and executed a turnpike-road through the Potteries, ten miles in length.
The reputation he achieved was such that his works at Burslem, and
subsequently those at Etruria, which he founded and built, became a point
of attraction to distinguished visitors from all parts of Europe.

The result of Wedgwood’s labours was, that the manufacture of pottery,
which he found in the very lowest condition, became one of the staples of
England; and instead of importing what we needed for home use from
abroad, we became large exporters to other countries, supplying them with
earthenware even in the face of enormous prohibitory duties on articles
of British produce.  Wedgwood gave evidence as to his manufactures before
Parliament in 1785, only some thirty years after he had begun his
operations; from which it appeared, that instead of providing only casual
employment to a small number of inefficient and badly remunerated
workmen, about 20,000 persons then derived their bread directly from the
manufacture of earthenware, without taking into account the increased
numbers to which it gave employment in coal-mines, and in the carrying
trade by land and sea, and the stimulus which it gave to employment in
many ways in various parts of the country.  Yet, important as had been
the advances made in his time, Mr. Wedgwood was of opinion that the
manufacture was but in its infancy, and that the improvements which he
had effected were of but small amount compared with those to which the
art was capable of attaining, through the continued industry and growing
intelligence of the manufacturers, and the natural facilities and
political advantages enjoyed by Great Britain; an opinion which has been
fully borne out by the progress which has since been effected in this
important branch of industry.  In 1852 not fewer than 84,000,000 pieces
of pottery were exported from England to other countries, besides what
were made for home use.  But it is not merely the quantity and value of
the produce that is entitled to consideration, but the improvement of the
condition of the population by whom this great branch of industry is
conducted.  When Wedgwood began his labours, the Staffordshire district
was only in a half-civilized state.  The people were poor, uncultivated,
and few in number.  When Wedgwood’s manufacture was firmly established,
there was found ample employment at good wages for three times the number
of population; while their moral advancement had kept pace with their
material improvement.

Men such as these are fairly entitled to take rank as the Industrial
Heroes of the civilized world.  Their patient self-reliance amidst trials
and difficulties, their courage and perseverance in the pursuit of worthy
objects, are not less heroic of their kind than the bravery and devotion
of the soldier and the sailor, whose duty and pride it is heroically to
defend what these valiant leaders of industry have so heroically


    “Rich are the diligent, who can command
    Time, nature’s stock! and could his hour-glass fall,
    Would, as for seed of stars, stoop for the sand,
    And, by incessant labour, gather all.”—_D’Avenant_.

    “Allez en avant, et la foi vous viendra!”—_D’Alembert_.

THE greatest results in life are usually attained by simple means, and
the exercise of ordinary qualities.  The common life of every day, with
its cares, necessities, and duties, affords ample opportunity for
acquiring experience of the best kind; and its most beaten paths provide
the true worker with abundant scope for effort and room for
self-improvement.  The road of human welfare lies along the old highway
of steadfast well-doing; and they who are the most persistent, and work
in the truest spirit, will usually be the most successful.

Fortune has often been blamed for her blindness; but fortune is not so
blind as men are.  Those who look into practical life will find that
fortune is usually on the side of the industrious, as the winds and waves
are on the side of the best navigators.  In the pursuit of even the
highest branches of human inquiry, the commoner qualities are found the
most useful—such as common sense, attention, application, and
perseverance.  Genius may not be necessary, though even genius of the
highest sort does not disdain the use of these ordinary qualities.  The
very greatest men have been among the least believers in the power of
genius, and as worldly wise and persevering as successful men of the
commoner sort.  Some have even defined genius to be only common sense
intensified.  A distinguished teacher and president of a college spoke of
it as the power of making efforts.  John Foster held it to be the power
of lighting one’s own fire.  Buffon said of genius “it is patience.”

Newton’s was unquestionably a mind of the very highest order, and yet,
when asked by what means he had worked out his extraordinary discoveries,
he modestly answered, “By always thinking unto them.”  At another time he
thus expressed his method of study: “I keep the subject continually
before me, and wait till the first dawnings open slowly by little and
little into a full and clear light.”  It was in Newton’s case, as in
every other, only by diligent application and perseverance that his great
reputation was achieved.  Even his recreation consisted in change of
study, laying down one subject to take up another.  To Dr. Bentley he
said: “If I have done the public any service, it is due to nothing but
industry and patient thought.”  So Kepler, another great philosopher,
speaking of his studies and his progress, said: “As in Virgil, ‘Fama
mobilitate viget, vires acquirit eundo,’ so it was with me, that the
diligent thought on these things was the occasion of still further
thinking; until at last I brooded with the whole energy of my mind upon
the subject.”

The extraordinary results effected by dint of sheer industry and
perseverance, have led many distinguished men to doubt whether the gift
of genius be so exceptional an endowment as it is usually supposed to be.
Thus Voltaire held that it is only a very slight line of separation that
divides the man of genius from the man of ordinary mould.  Beccaria was
even of opinion that all men might be poets and orators, and Reynolds
that they might be painters and sculptors.  If this were really so, that
stolid Englishman might not have been so very far wrong after all, who,
on Canova’s death, inquired of his brother whether it was “his intention
to carry on the business!”  Locke, Helvetius, and Diderot believed that
all men have an equal aptitude for genius, and that what some are able to
effect, under the laws which regulate the operations of the intellect,
must also be within the reach of others who, under like circumstances,
apply themselves to like pursuits.  But while admitting to the fullest
extent the wonderful achievements of labour, and recognising the fact
that men of the most distinguished genius have invariably been found the
most indefatigable workers, it must nevertheless be sufficiently obvious
that, without the original endowment of heart and brain, no amount of
labour, however well applied, could have produced a Shakespeare, a
Newton, a Beethoven, or a Michael Angelo.

Dalton, the chemist, repudiated the notion of his being “a genius,”
attributing everything which he had accomplished to simple industry and
accumulation.  John Hunter said of himself, “My mind is like a beehive;
but full as it is of buzz and apparent confusion, it is yet full of order
and regularity, and food collected with incessant industry from the
choicest stores of nature.”  We have, indeed, but to glance at the
biographies of great men to find that the most distinguished inventors,
artists, thinkers, and workers of all kinds, owe their success, in a
great measure, to their indefatigable industry and application.  They
were men who turned all things to gold—even time itself.  Disraeli the
elder held that the secret of success consisted in being master of your
subject, such mastery being attainable only through continuous
application and study.  Hence it happens that the men who have most moved
the world, have not been so much men of genius, strictly so called, as
men of intense mediocre abilities, and untiring perseverance; not so
often the gifted, of naturally bright and shining qualities, as those who
have applied themselves diligently to their work, in whatsoever line that
might lie.  “Alas!” said a widow, speaking of her brilliant but careless
son, “he has not the gift of continuance.”  Wanting in perseverance, such
volatile natures are outstripped in the race of life by the diligent and
even the dull.  “Che va piano, va longano, e va lontano,” says the
Italian proverb: Who goes slowly, goes long, and goes far.

Hence, a great point to be aimed at is to get the working quality well
trained.  When that is done, the race will be found comparatively easy.
We must repeat and again repeat; facility will come with labour.  Not
even the simplest art can be accomplished without it; and what
difficulties it is found capable of achieving!  It was by early
discipline and repetition that the late Sir Robert Peel cultivated those
remarkable, though still mediocre powers, which rendered him so
illustrious an ornament of the British Senate.  When a boy at Drayton
Manor, his father was accustomed to set him up at table to practise
speaking extempore; and he early accustomed him to repeat as much of the
Sunday’s sermon as he could remember.  Little progress was made at first,
but by steady perseverance the habit of attention became powerful, and
the sermon was at length repeated almost verbatim.  When afterwards
replying in succession to the arguments of his parliamentary opponents—an
art in which he was perhaps unrivalled—it was little surmised that the
extraordinary power of accurate remembrance which he displayed on such
occasions had been originally trained under the discipline of his father
in the parish church of Drayton.

It is indeed marvellous what continuous application will effect in the
commonest of things.  It may seem a simple affair to play upon a violin;
yet what a long and laborious practice it requires!  Giardini said to a
youth who asked him how long it would take to learn it, “Twelve hours a
day for twenty years together.”  Industry, it is said, _fait l’ours
danser_.  The poor figurante must devote years of incessant toil to her
profitless task before she can shine in it.  When Taglioni was preparing
herself for her evening exhibition, she would, after a severe two hours’
lesson from her father, fall down exhausted, and had to be undressed,
sponged, and resuscitated totally unconscious.  The agility and bounds of
the evening were insured only at a price like this.

Progress, however, of the best kind, is comparatively slow.  Great
results cannot be achieved at once; and we must be satisfied to advance
in life as we walk, step by step.  De Maistre says that “to know _how to
wait_ is the great secret of success.”  We must sow before we can reap,
and often have to wait long, content meanwhile to look patiently forward
in hope; the fruit best worth waiting for often ripening the slowest.
But “time and patience,” says the Eastern proverb, “change the mulberry
leaf to satin.”

To wait patiently, however, men must work cheerfully.  Cheerfulness is an
excellent working quality, imparting great elasticity to the character.
As a bishop has said, “Temper is nine-tenths of Christianity;” so are
cheerfulness and diligence nine-tenths of practical wisdom.  They are the
life and soul of success, as well as of happiness; perhaps the very
highest pleasure in life consisting in clear, brisk, conscious working;
energy, confidence, and every other good quality mainly depending upon
it.  Sydney Smith, when labouring as a parish priest at Foston-le-Clay,
in Yorkshire,—though he did not feel himself to be in his proper
element,—went cheerfully to work in the firm determination to do his
best.  “I am resolved,” he said, “to like it, and reconcile myself to it,
which is more manly than to feign myself above it, and to send up
complaints by the post of being thrown away, and being desolate, and such
like trash.”  So Dr. Hook, when leaving Leeds for a new sphere of labour
said, “Wherever I may be, I shall, by God’s blessing, do with my might
what my hand findeth to do; and if I do not find work, I shall make it.”

Labourers for the public good especially, have to work long and
patiently, often uncheered by the prospect of immediate recompense or
result.  The seeds they sow sometimes lie hidden under the winter’s snow,
and before the spring comes the husbandman may have gone to his rest.  It
is not every public worker who, like Rowland Hill, sees his great idea
bring forth fruit in his life-time.  Adam Smith sowed the seeds of a
great social amelioration in that dingy old University of Glasgow where
he so long laboured, and laid the foundations of his ‘Wealth of Nations;’
but seventy years passed before his work bore substantial fruits, nor
indeed are they all gathered in yet.

Nothing can compensate for the loss of hope in a man: it entirely changes
the character.  “How can I work—how can I be happy,” said a great but
miserable thinker, “when I have lost all hope?”  One of the most cheerful
and courageous, because one of the most hopeful of workers, was Carey,
the missionary.  When in India, it was no uncommon thing for him to weary
out three pundits, who officiated as his clerks, in one day, he himself
taking rest only in change of employment.  Carey, the son of a
shoe-maker, was supported in his labours by Ward, the son of a carpenter,
and Marsham, the son of a weaver.  By their labours, a magnificent
college was erected at Serampore; sixteen flourishing stations were
established; the Bible was translated into sixteen languages, and the
seeds were sown of a beneficent moral revolution in British India.  Carey
was never ashamed of the humbleness of his origin.  On one occasion, when
at the Governor-General’s table he over-heard an officer opposite him
asking another, loud enough to be heard, whether Carey had not once been
a shoemaker: “No, sir,” exclaimed Carey immediately; “only a cobbler.”
An eminently characteristic anecdote has been told of his perseverance as
a boy.  When climbing a tree one day, his foot slipped, and he fell to
the ground, breaking his leg by the fall.  He was confined to his bed for
weeks, but when he recovered and was able to walk without support, the
very first thing he did was to go and climb that tree.  Carey had need of
this sort of dauntless courage for the great missionary work of his life,
and nobly and resolutely he did it.

It was a maxim of Dr. Young, the philosopher, that “Any man can do what
any other man has done;” and it is unquestionable that he himself never
recoiled from any trials to which he determined to subject himself.  It
is related of him, that the first time he mounted a horse, he was in
company with the grandson of Mr. Barclay of Ury, the well-known
sportsman; when the horseman who preceded them leapt a high fence.  Young
wished to imitate him, but fell off his horse in the attempt.  Without
saying a word, he remounted, made a second effort, and was again
unsuccessful, but this time he was not thrown further than on to the
horse’s neck, to which he clung.  At the third trial, he succeeded, and
cleared the fence.

The story of Timour the Tartar learning a lesson of perseverance under
adversity from the spider is well known.  Not less interesting is the
anecdote of Audubon, the American ornithologist, as related by himself:
“An accident,” he says, “which happened to two hundred of my original
drawings, nearly put a stop to my researches in ornithology.  I shall
relate it, merely to show how far enthusiasm—for by no other name can I
call my perseverance—may enable the preserver of nature to surmount the
most disheartening difficulties.  I left the village of Henderson, in
Kentucky, situated on the banks of the Ohio, where I resided for several
years, to proceed to Philadelphia on business.  I looked to my drawings
before my departure, placed them carefully in a wooden box, and gave them
in charge of a relative, with injunctions to see that no injury should
happen to them.  My absence was of several months; and when I returned,
after having enjoyed the pleasures of home for a few days, I inquired
after my box, and what I was pleased to call my treasure.  The box was
produced and opened; but reader, feel for me—a pair of Norway rats had
taken possession of the whole, and reared a young family among the gnawed
bits of paper, which, but a month previous, represented nearly a thousand
inhabitants of air!  The burning beat which instantly rushed through my
brain was too great to be endured without affecting my whole nervous
system.  I slept for several nights, and the days passed like days of
oblivion—until the animal powers being recalled into action through the
strength of my constitution, I took up my gun, my notebook, and my
pencils, and went forth to the woods as gaily as if nothing had happened.
I felt pleased that I might now make better drawings than before; and,
ere a period not exceeding three years had elapsed, my portfolio was
again filled.”

The accidental destruction of Sir Isaac Newton’s papers, by his little
dog ‘Diamond’ upsetting a lighted taper upon his desk, by which the
elaborate calculations of many years were in a moment destroyed, is a
well-known anecdote, and need not be repeated: it is said that the loss
caused the philosopher such profound grief that it seriously injured his
health, and impaired his understanding.  An accident of a somewhat
similar kind happened to the MS. of Mr. Carlyle’s first volume of his
‘French Revolution.’  He had lent the MS. to a literary neighbour to
peruse.  By some mischance, it had been left lying on the parlour floor,
and become forgotten.  Weeks ran on, and the historian sent for his work,
the printers being loud for “copy.”  Inquiries were made, and it was
found that the maid-of-all-work, finding what she conceived to be a
bundle of waste paper on the floor, had used it to light the kitchen and
parlour fires with!  Such was the answer returned to Mr. Carlyle; and his
feelings may be imagined.  There was, however, no help for him but to set
resolutely to work to re-write the book; and he turned to and did it.  He
had no draft, and was compelled to rake up from his memory facts, ideas,
and expressions, which had been long since dismissed.  The composition of
the book in the first instance had been a work of pleasure; the
re-writing of it a second time was one of pain and anguish almost beyond
belief.  That he persevered and finished the volume under such
circumstances, affords an instance of determination of purpose which has
seldom been surpassed.

The lives of eminent inventors are eminently illustrative of the same
quality of perseverance.  George Stephenson, when addressing young men,
was accustomed to sum up his best advice to them, in the words, “Do as I
have done—persevere.”  He had worked at the improvement of his locomotive
for some fifteen years before achieving his decisive victory at Rainhill;
and Watt was engaged for some thirty years upon the condensing-engine
before he brought it to perfection.  But there are equally striking
illustrations of perseverance to be found in every other branch of
science, art, and industry.  Perhaps one of the most interesting is that
connected with the disentombment of the Nineveh marbles, and the
discovery of the long-lost cuneiform or arrow-headed character in which
the inscriptions on them are written—a kind of writing which had been
lost to the world since the period of the Macedonian conquest of Persia.

An intelligent cadet of the East India Company, stationed at Kermanshah,
in Persia, had observed the curious cuneiform inscriptions on the old
monuments in the neighbourhood—so old that all historical traces of them
had been lost,—and amongst the inscriptions which he copied was that on
the celebrated rock of Behistun—a perpendicular rock rising abruptly some
1700 feet from the plain, the lower part bearing inscriptions for the
space of about 300 feet in three languages—Persian, Scythian, and
Assyrian.  Comparison of the known with the unknown, of the language
which survived with the language that had been lost, enabled this cadet
to acquire some knowledge of the cuneiform character, and even to form an
alphabet.  Mr. (afterwards Sir Henry) Rawlinson sent his tracings home
for examination.  No professors in colleges as yet knew anything of the
cuneiform character; but there was a ci-devant clerk of the East India
House—a modest unknown man of the name of Norris—who had made this
little-understood subject his study, to whom the tracings were submitted;
and so accurate was his knowledge, that, though he had never seen the
Behistun rock, he pronounced that the cadet had not copied the puzzling
inscription with proper exactness.  Rawlinson, who was still in the
neighbourhood of the rock, compared his copy with the original, and found
that Norris was right; and by further comparison and careful study the
knowledge of the cuneiform writing was thus greatly advanced.

But to make the learning of these two self-taught men of avail, a third
labourer was necessary in order to supply them with material for the
exercise of their skill.  Such a labourer presented himself in the person
of Austen Layard, originally an articled clerk in the office of a London
solicitor.  One would scarcely have expected to find in these three men,
a cadet, an India-House clerk, and a lawyer’s clerk, the discoverers of a
forgotten language, and of the buried history of Babylon; yet it was so.
Layard was a youth of only twenty-two, travelling in the East, when he
was possessed with a desire to penetrate the regions beyond the
Euphrates.  Accompanied by a single companion, trusting to his arms for
protection, and, what was better, to his cheerfulness, politeness, and
chivalrous bearing, he passed safely amidst tribes at deadly war with
each other; and, after the lapse of many years, with comparatively
slender means at his command, but aided by application and perseverance,
resolute will and purpose, and almost sublime patience,—borne up
throughout by his passionate enthusiasm for discovery and research,—he
succeeded in laying bare and digging up an amount of historical
treasures, the like of which has probably never before been collected by
the industry of any one man.  Not less than two miles of bas-reliefs were
thus brought to light by Mr. Layard.  The selection of these valuable
antiquities, now placed in the British Museum, was found so curiously
corroborative of the scriptural records of events which occurred some
three thousand years ago, that they burst upon the world almost like a
new revelation.  And the story of the disentombment of these remarkable
works, as told by Mr. Layard himself in his ‘Monuments of Nineveh,’ will
always be regarded as one of the most charming and unaffected records
which we possess of individual enterprise, industry, and energy.

The career of the Comte de Buffon presents another remarkable
illustration of the power of patient industry as well as of his own
saying, that “Genius is patience.”  Notwithstanding the great results
achieved by him in natural history, Buffon, when a youth, was regarded as
of mediocre talents.  His mind was slow in forming itself, and slow in
reproducing what it had acquired.  He was also constitutionally indolent;
and being born to good estate, it might be supposed that he would indulge
his liking for ease and luxury.  Instead of which, he early formed the
resolution of denying himself pleasure, and devoting himself to study and
self-culture.  Regarding time as a treasure that was limited, and finding
that he was losing many hours by lying a-bed in the mornings, he
determined to break himself of the habit.  He struggled hard against it
for some time, but failed in being able to rise at the hour he had fixed.
He then called his servant, Joseph, to his help, and promised him the
reward of a crown every time that he succeeded in getting him up before
six.  At first, when called, Buffon declined to rise—pleaded that he was
ill, or pretended anger at being disturbed; and on the Count at length
getting up, Joseph found that he had earned nothing but reproaches for
having permitted his master to lie a-bed contrary to his express orders.
At length the valet determined to earn his crown; and again and again he
forced Buffon to rise, notwithstanding his entreaties, expostulations,
and threats of immediate discharge from his service.  One morning Buffon
was unusually obstinate, and Joseph found it necessary to resort to the
extreme measure of dashing a basin of ice-cold water under the
bed-clothes, the effect of which was instantaneous.  By the persistent
use of such means, Buffon at length conquered his habit; and he was
accustomed to say that he owed to Joseph three or four volumes of his
Natural History.

For forty years of his life, Buffon worked every morning at his desk from
nine till two, and again in the evening from five till nine.  His
diligence was so continuous and so regular that it became habitual.  His
biographer has said of him, “Work was his necessity; his studies were the
charm of his life; and towards the last term of his glorious career he
frequently said that he still hoped to be able to consecrate to them a
few more years.”  He was a most conscientious worker, always studying to
give the reader his best thoughts, expressed in the very best manner.  He
was never wearied with touching and retouching his compositions, so that
his style may be pronounced almost perfect.  He wrote the ‘Epoques de la
Nature’ not fewer than eleven times before he was satisfied with it;
although he had thought over the work about fifty years.  He was a
thorough man of business, most orderly in everything; and he was
accustomed to say that genius without order lost three-fourths of its
power.  His great success as a writer was the result mainly of his
painstaking labour and diligent application.  “Buffon,” observed Madame
Necker, “strongly persuaded that genius is the result of a profound
attention directed to a particular subject, said that he was thoroughly
wearied out when composing his first writings, but compelled himself to
return to them and go over them carefully again, even when he thought he
had already brought them to a certain degree of perfection; and that at
length he found pleasure instead of weariness in this long and elaborate
correction.”  It ought also to be added that Buffon wrote and published
all his great works while afflicted by one of the most painful diseases
to which the human frame is subject.

Literary life affords abundant illustrations of the same power of
perseverance; and perhaps no career is more instructive, viewed in this
light, than that of Sir Walter Scott.  His admirable working qualities
were trained in a lawyer’s office, where he pursued for many years a sort
of drudgery scarcely above that of a copying clerk.  His daily dull
routine made his evenings, which were his own, all the more sweet; and he
generally devoted them to reading and study.  He himself attributed to
his prosaic office discipline that habit of steady, sober diligence, in
which mere literary men are so often found wanting.  As a copying clerk
he was allowed 3_d._ for every page containing a certain number of words;
and he sometimes, by extra work, was able to copy as many as 120 pages in
twenty-four hours, thus earning some 30_s._; out of which he would
occasionally purchase an odd volume, otherwise beyond his means.

During his after-life Scott was wont to pride himself upon being a man of
business, and he averred, in contradiction to what he called the cant of
sonneteers, that there was no necessary connection between genius and an
aversion or contempt for the common duties of life.  On the contrary, he
was of opinion that to spend some fair portion of every day in any
matter-of-fact occupation was good for the higher faculties themselves in
the upshot.  While afterwards acting as clerk to the Court of Session in
Edinburgh, he performed his literary work chiefly before breakfast,
attending the court during the day, where he authenticated registered
deeds and writings of various kinds.  On the whole, says Lockhart, “it
forms one of the most remarkable features in his history, that throughout
the most active period of his literary career, he must have devoted a
large proportion of his hours, during half at least of every year, to the
conscientious discharge of professional duties.”  It was a principle of
action which he laid down for himself, that he must earn his living by
business, and not by literature.  On one occasion he said, “I determined
that literature should be my staff, not my crutch, and that the profits
of my literary labour, however convenient otherwise, should not, if I
could help it, become necessary to my ordinary expenses.”

His punctuality was one of the most carefully cultivated of his habits,
otherwise it had not been possible for him to get through so enormous an
amount of literary labour.  He made it a rule to answer every letter
received by him on the same day, except where inquiry and deliberation
were requisite.  Nothing else could have enabled him to keep abreast with
the flood of communications that poured in upon him and sometimes put his
good nature to the severest test.  It was his practice to rise by five
o’clock, and light his own fire.  He shaved and dressed with
deliberation, and was seated at his desk by six o’clock, with his papers
arranged before him in the most accurate order, his works of reference
marshalled round him on the floor, while at least one favourite dog lay
watching his eye, outside the line of books.  Thus by the time the family
assembled for breakfast, between nine and ten, he had done enough—to use
his own words—to break the neck of the day’s work.  But with all his
diligent and indefatigable industry, and his immense knowledge, the
result of many years’ patient labour, Scott always spoke with the
greatest diffidence of his own powers.  On one occasion he said,
“Throughout every part of my career I have felt pinched and hampered by
my own ignorance.”

Such is true wisdom and humility; for the more a man really knows, the
less conceited he will be.  The student at Trinity College who went up to
his professor to take leave of him because he had “finished his
education,” was wisely rebuked by the professor’s reply, “Indeed!  I am
only beginning mine.”  The superficial person who has obtained a
smattering of many things, but knows nothing well, may pride himself upon
his gifts; but the sage humbly confesses that “all he knows is, that he
knows nothing,” or like Newton, that he has been only engaged in picking
shells by the sea shore, while the great ocean of truth lies all
unexplored before him.

The lives of second-rate literary men furnish equally remarkable
illustrations of the power of perseverance.  The late John Britton,
author of ‘The Beauties of England and Wales,’ and of many valuable
architectural works, was born in a miserable cot in Kingston, Wiltshire.
His father had been a baker and maltster, but was ruined in trade and
became insane while Britton was yet a child.  The boy received very
little schooling, but a great deal of bad example, which happily did not
corrupt him.  He was early in life set to labour with an uncle, a
tavern-keeper in Clerkenwell, under whom he bottled, corked, and binned
wine for more than five years.  His health failing him, his uncle turned
him adrift in the world, with only two guineas, the fruits of his five
years’ service, in his pocket.  During the next seven years of his life
he endured many vicissitudes and hardships.  Yet he says, in his
autobiography, “in my poor and obscure lodgings, at eighteenpence a week,
I indulged in study, and often read in bed during the winter evenings,
because I could not afford a fire.”  Travelling on foot to Bath, he there
obtained an engagement as a cellarman, but shortly after we find him back
in the metropolis again almost penniless, shoeless, and shirtless.  He
succeeded, however, in obtaining employment as a cellarman at the London
Tavern, where it was his duty to be in the cellar from seven in the
morning until eleven at night.  His health broke down under this
confinement in the dark, added to the heavy work; and he then engaged
himself, at fifteen shillings a week, to an attorney,—for he had been
diligently cultivating the art of writing during the few spare minutes
that he could call his own.  While in this employment, he devoted his
leisure principally to perambulating the bookstalls, where he read books
by snatches which he could not buy, and thus picked up a good deal of odd
knowledge.  Then he shifted to another office, at the advanced wages of
twenty shillings a week, still reading and studying.  At twenty-eight he
was able to write a book, which he published under the title of ‘The
Enterprising Adventures of Pizarro;’ and from that time until his death,
during a period of about fifty-five years, Britton was occupied in
laborious literary occupation.  The number of his published works is not
fewer than eighty-seven; the most important being ‘The Cathedral
Antiquities of England,’ in fourteen volumes, a truly magnificent work;
itself the best monument of John Britton’s indefatigable industry.

London, the landscape gardener, was a man of somewhat similar character,
possessed of an extraordinary working power.  The son of a farmer near
Edinburgh, he was early inured to work.  His skill in drawing plans and
making sketches of scenery induced his father to train him for a
landscape gardener.  During his apprenticeship he sat up two whole nights
every week to study; yet he worked harder during the day than any
labourer.  In the course of his night studies he learnt French, and
before he was eighteen he translated a life of Abelard for an
Encyclopædia.  He was so eager to make progress in life, that when only
twenty, while working as a gardener in England, he wrote down in his
note-book, “I am now twenty years of age, and perhaps a third part of my
life has passed away, and yet what have I done to benefit my fellow men?”
an unusual reflection for a youth of only twenty.  From French he
proceeded to learn German, and rapidly mastered that language.  Having
taken a large farm, for the purpose of introducing Scotch improvements in
the art of agriculture, he shortly succeeded in realising a considerable
income.  The continent being thrown open at the end of the war, he
travelled abroad for the purpose of inquiring into the system of
gardening and agriculture in other countries.  He twice repeated his
journeys, and the results were published in his Encyclopædias, which are
among the most remarkable works of their kind,—distinguished for the
immense mass of useful matter which they contain, collected by an amount
of industry and labour which has rarely been equalled.

The career of Samuel Drew is not less remarkable than any of those which
we have cited.  His father was a hard-working labourer of the parish of
St. Austell, in Cornwall.  Though poor, he contrived to send his two sons
to a penny-a-week school in the neighbourhood.  Jabez, the elder, took
delight in learning, and made great progress in his lessons; but Samuel,
the younger, was a dunce, notoriously given to mischief and playing
truant.  When about eight years old he was put to manual labour, earning
three-halfpence a day as a buddle-boy at a tin mine.  At ten he was
apprenticed to a shoemaker, and while in this employment he endured much
hardship,—living, as he used to say, “like a toad under a harrow.”  He
often thought of running away and becoming a pirate, or something of the
sort, and he seems to have grown in recklessness as he grew in years.  In
robbing orchards he was usually a leader; and, as he grew older, he
delighted to take part in any poaching or smuggling adventure.  When
about seventeen, before his apprenticeship was out, he ran away,
intending to enter on board a man-of-war; but, sleeping in a hay-field at
night cooled him a little, and he returned to his trade.

Drew next removed to the neighbourhood of Plymouth to work at his
shoemaking business, and while at Cawsand he won a prize for
cudgel-playing, in which he seems to have been an adept.  While living
there, he had nearly lost his life in a smuggling exploit which he had
joined, partly induced by the love of adventure, and partly by the love
of gain, for his regular wages were not more than eight shillings a-week.
One night, notice was given throughout Crafthole, that a smuggler was off
the coast, ready to land her cargo; on which the male population of the
place—nearly all smugglers—made for the shore.  One party remained on the
rocks to make signals and dispose of the goods as they were landed; and
another manned the boats, Drew being of the latter party.  The night was
intensely dark, and very little of the cargo had been landed, when the
wind rose, with a heavy sea.  The men in the boats, however, determined
to persevere, and several trips were made between the smuggler, now
standing farther out to sea, and the shore.  One of the men in the boat
in which Drew was, had his hat blown off by the wind, and in attempting
to recover it, the boat was upset.  Three of the men were immediately
drowned; the others clung to the boat for a time, but finding it drifting
out to sea, they took to swimming.  They were two miles from land, and
the night was intensely dark.  After being about three hours in the
water, Drew reached a rock near the shore, with one or two others, where
he remained benumbed with cold till morning, when he and his companions
were discovered and taken off, more dead than alive.  A keg of brandy
from the cargo just landed was brought, the head knocked in with a
hatchet, and a bowlfull of the liquid presented to the survivors; and,
shortly after, Drew was able to walk two miles through deep snow, to his

This was a very unpromising beginning of a life; and yet this same Drew,
scapegrace, orchard-robber, shoemaker, cudgel-player, and smuggler,
outlived the recklessness of his youth and became distinguished as a
minister of the Gospel and a writer of good books.  Happily, before it
was too late, the energy which characterised him was turned into a more
healthy direction, and rendered him as eminent in usefulness as he had
before been in wickedness.  His father again took him back to St.
Austell, and found employment for him as a journeyman shoemaker.  Perhaps
his recent escape from death had tended to make the young man serious, as
we shortly find him attracted by the forcible preaching of Dr. Adam
Clarke, a minister of the Wesleyan Methodists.  His brother having died
about the same time, the impression of seriousness was deepened; and
thenceforward he was an altered man.  He began anew the work of
education, for he had almost forgotten how to read and write; and even
after several years’ practice, a friend compared his writing to the
traces of a spider dipped in ink set to crawl upon paper.  Speaking of
himself, about that time, Drew afterwards said, “The more I read, the
more I felt my own ignorance; and the more I felt my ignorance, the more
invincible became my energy to surmount it.  Every leisure moment was now
employed in reading one thing or another.  Having to support myself by
manual labour, my time for reading was but little, and to overcome this
disadvantage, my usual method was to place a book before me while at
meat, and at every repast I read five or six pages.”  The perusal of
Locke’s ‘Essay on the Understanding’ gave the first metaphysical turn to
his mind.  “It awakened me from my stupor,” said he, “and induced me to
form a resolution to abandon the grovelling views which I had been
accustomed to entertain.”

Drew began business on his own account, with a capital of a few
shillings; but his character for steadiness was such that a neighbouring
miller offered him a loan, which was accepted, and, success attending his
industry, the debt was repaid at the end of a year.  He started with a
determination to “owe no man anything,” and he held to it in the midst of
many privations.  Often he went to bed supperless, to avoid rising in
debt.  His ambition was to achieve independence by industry and economy,
and in this he gradually succeeded.  In the midst of incessant labour, he
sedulously strove to improve his mind, studying astronomy, history, and
metaphysics.  He was induced to pursue the latter study chiefly because
it required fewer books to consult than either of the others.  “It
appeared to be a thorny path,” he said, “but I determined, nevertheless,
to enter, and accordingly began to tread it.”

Added to his labours in shoemaking and metaphysics, Drew became a local
preacher and a class leader.  He took an eager interest in politics, and
his shop became a favourite resort with the village politicians.  And
when they did not come to him, he went to them to talk over public
affairs.  This so encroached upon his time that he found it necessary
sometimes to work until midnight to make up for the hours lost during the
day.  His political fervour become the talk of the village.  While busy
one night hammering away at a shoe-sole, a little boy, seeing a light in
the shop, put his mouth to the keyhole of the door, and called out in a
shrill pipe, “Shoemaker! shoe-maker! work by night and run about by day!”
A friend, to whom Drew afterwards told the story, asked, “And did not you
run after the boy, and strap him?”  “No, no,” was the reply; “had a
pistol been fired off at my ear, I could not have been more dismayed or
confounded.  I dropped my work, and said to myself, ‘True, true! but you
shall never have that to say of me again.’  To me that cry was as the
voice of God, and it has been a word in season throughout my life.  I
learnt from it not to leave till to-morrow the work of to-day, or to idle
when I ought to be working.”

From that moment Drew dropped politics, and stuck to his work, reading
and studying in his spare hours: but he never allowed the latter pursuit
to interfere with his business, though it frequently broke in upon his
rest.  He married, and thought of emigrating to America; but he remained
working on.  His literary taste first took the direction of poetical
composition; and from some of the fragments which have been preserved, it
appears that his speculations as to the immateriality and immortality of
the soul had their origin in these poetical musings.  His study was the
kitchen, where his wife’s bellows served him for a desk; and he wrote
amidst the cries and cradlings of his children.  Paine’s ‘Age of Reason’
having appeared about this time and excited much interest, he composed a
pamphlet in refutation of its arguments, which was published.  He used
afterwards to say that it was the ‘Age of Reason’ that made him an
author.  Various pamphlets from his pen shortly appeared in rapid
succession, and a few years later, while still working at shoemaking, he
wrote and published his admirable ‘Essay on the Immateriality and
Immortality of the Human Soul,’ which he sold for twenty pounds, a great
sum in his estimation at the time.  The book went through many editions,
and is still prized.

Drew was in no wise puffed up by his success, as many young authors are,
but, long after he had become celebrated as a writer, used to be seen
sweeping the street before his door, or helping his apprentices to carry
in the winter’s coals.  Nor could he, for some time, bring himself to
regard literature as a profession to live by.  His first care was, to
secure an honest livelihood by his business, and to put into the “lottery
of literary success,” as he termed it, only the surplus of his time.  At
length, however, he devoted himself wholly to literature, more
particularly in connection with the Wesleyan body; editing one of their
magazines, and superintending the publication of several of their
denominational works.  He also wrote in the ‘Eclectic Review,’ and
compiled and published a valuable history of his native county, Cornwall,
with numerous other works.  Towards the close of his career, he said of
himself,—“Raised from one of the lowest stations in society, I have
endeavoured through life to bring my family into a state of
respectability, by honest industry, frugality, and a high regard for my
moral character.  Divine providence has smiled on my exertions, and
crowned my wishes with success.”

The late Joseph Hume pursued a very different career, but worked in an
equally persevering spirit.  He was a man of moderate parts, but of great
industry and unimpeachable honesty of purpose.  The motto of his life was
“Perseverance,” and well, he acted up to it.  His father dying while he
was a mere child, his mother opened a small shop in Montrose, and toiled
hard to maintain her family and bring them up respectably.  Joseph she
put apprentice to a surgeon, and educated for the medical profession.
Having got his diploma, he made several voyages to India as ship’s
surgeon, {115} and afterwards obtained a cadetship in the Company’s
service.  None worked harder, or lived more temperately, than he did,
and, securing the confidence of his superiors, who found him a capable
man in the performance of his duty, they gradually promoted him to higher
offices.  In 1803 he was with the division of the army under General
Powell, in the Mahratta war; and the interpreter having died, Hume, who
had meanwhile studied and mastered the native languages, was appointed in
his stead.  He was next made chief of the medical staff.  But as if this
were not enough to occupy his full working power, he undertook in
addition the offices of paymaster and post-master, and filled them
satisfactorily.  He also contracted to supply the commissariat, which he
did with advantage to the army and profit to himself.  After about ten
years’ unremitting labour, he returned to England with a competency; and
one of his first acts was to make provision for the poorer members of his

But Joseph Hume was not a man to enjoy the fruits of his industry in
idleness.  Work and occupation had become necessary for his comfort and
happiness.  To make himself fully acquainted with the actual state of his
own country, and the condition of the people, he visited every town in
the kingdom which then enjoyed any degree of manufacturing celebrity.  He
afterwards travelled abroad for the purpose of obtaining a knowledge of
foreign states. Returned to England, he entered Parliament in 1812, and
continued a member of that assembly, with a short interruption, for a
period of about thirty-four years.  His first recorded speech was on the
subject of public education, and throughout his long and honourable
career he took an active and earnest interest in that and all other
questions calculated to elevate and improve the condition of the
people—criminal reform, savings-banks, free trade, economy and
retrenchment, extended representation, and such like measures, all of
which he indefatigably promoted.  Whatever subject he undertook, he
worked at with all his might.  He was not a good speaker, but what he
said was believed to proceed from the lips of an honest, single-minded,
accurate man.  If ridicule, as Shaftesbury says, be the test of truth,
Joseph Hume stood the test well.  No man was more laughed at, but there
he stood perpetually, and literally, “at his post.”  He was usually
beaten on a division, but the influence which he exercised was
nevertheless felt, and many important financial improvements were
effected by him even with the vote directly against him.  The amount of
hard work which he contrived to get through was something extraordinary.
He rose at six, wrote letters and arranged his papers for parliament;
then, after breakfast, he received persons on business, sometimes as many
as twenty in a morning.  The House rarely assembled without him, and
though the debate might be prolonged to two or three o’clock in the
morning, his name was seldom found absent from the division.  In short,
to perform the work which he did, extending over so long a period, in the
face of so many Administrations, week after week, year after year,—to be
outvoted, beaten, laughed at, standing on many occasions almost alone,—to
persevere in the face of every discouragement, preserving his temper
unruffled, never relaxing in his energy or his hope, and living to see
the greater number of his measures adopted with acclamation, must be
regarded as one of the most remarkable illustrations of the power of
human perseverance that biography can exhibit.


    “Neither the naked hand, nor the understanding, left to itself, can
    do much; the work is accomplished by instruments and helps, of which
    the need is not less for the understanding than the hand.”—_Bacon_.

    “Opportunity has hair in front, behind she is bald; if you seize her
    by the forelock you may hold her, but, if suffered to escape, not
    Jupiter himself can catch her again.”—_From the Latin_.

ACCIDENT does very little towards the production of any great result in
life.  Though sometimes what is called “a happy hit” may be made by a
bold venture, the common highway of steady industry and application is
the only safe road to travel.  It is said of the landscape painter
Wilson, that when he had nearly finished a picture in a tame, correct
manner, he would step back from it, his pencil fixed at the end of a long
stick, and after gazing earnestly on the work, he would suddenly walk up
and by a few bold touches give a brilliant finish to the painting.  But
it will not do for every one who would produce an effect, to throw his
brush at the canvas in the hope of producing a picture.  The capability
of putting in these last vital touches is acquired only by the labour of
a life; and the probability is, that the artist who has not carefully
trained himself beforehand, in attempting to produce a brilliant effect
at a dash, will only produce a blotch.

Sedulous attention and painstaking industry always mark the true worker.
The greatest men are not those who “despise the day of small things,” but
those who improve them the most carefully.  Michael Angelo was one day
explaining to a visitor at his studio, what he had been doing at a statue
since his previous visit.  “I have retouched this part—polished
that—softened this feature—brought out that muscle—given some expression
to this lip, and more energy to that limb.”  “But these are trifles,”
remarked the visitor.  “It may be so,” replied the sculptor, “but
recollect that trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.”  So
it was said of Nicholas Poussin, the painter, that the rule of his
conduct was, that “whatever was worth doing at all was worth doing well;”
and when asked, late in life, by his friend Vigneul de Marville, by what
means he had gained so high a reputation among the painters of Italy,
Poussin emphatically answered, “Because I have neglected nothing.”

Although there are discoveries which are said to have been made by
accident, if carefully inquired into, it will be found that there has
really been very little that was accidental about them.  For the most
part, these so-called accidents have only been opportunities, carefully
improved by genius.  The fall of the apple at Newton’s feet has often
been quoted in proof of the accidental character of some discoveries.
But Newton’s whole mind had already been devoted for years to the
laborious and patient investigation of the subject of gravitation; and
the circumstance of the apple falling before his eyes was suddenly
apprehended only as genius could apprehend it, and served to flash upon
him the brilliant discovery then opening to his sight.  In like manner,
the brilliantly-coloured soap-bubbles blown from a common tobacco
pipe—though “trifles light as air” in most eyes—suggested to Dr. Young
his beautiful theory of “interferences,” and led to his discovery
relating to the diffraction of light.  Although great men are popularly
supposed only to deal with great things, men such as Newton and Young
were ready to detect the significance of the most familiar and simple
facts; their greatness consisting mainly in their wise interpretation of

The difference between men consists, in a great measure, in the
intelligence of their observation.  The Russian proverb says of the
non-observant man, “He goes through the forest and sees no firewood.”
“The wise man’s eyes are in his head,” says Solomon, “but the fool
walketh in darkness.”  “Sir,” said Johnson, on one occasion, to a fine
gentleman just returned from Italy, “some men will learn more in the
Hampstead stage than others in the tour of Europe.”  It is the mind that
sees as well as the eye.  Where unthinking gazers observe nothing, men of
intelligent vision penetrate into the very fibre of the phenomena
presented to them, attentively noting differences, making comparisons,
and recognizing their underlying idea.  Many before Galileo had seen a
suspended weight swing before their eyes with a measured beat; but he was
the first to detect the value of the fact.  One of the vergers in the
cathedral at Pisa, after replenishing with oil a lamp which hung from the
roof, left it swinging to and fro; and Galileo, then a youth of only
eighteen, noting it attentively, conceived the idea of applying it to the
measurement of time.  Fifty years of study and labour, however, elapsed,
before he completed the invention of his Pendulum,—the importance of
which, in the measurement of time and in astronomical calculations, can
scarcely be overrated.  In like manner, Galileo, having casually heard
that one Lippershey, a Dutch spectacle-maker, had presented to Count
Maurice of Nassau an instrument by means of which distant objects
appeared nearer to the beholder, addressed himself to the cause of such a
phenomenon, which led to the invention of the telescope, and proved the
beginning of the modern science of astronomy.  Discoveries such as these
could never have been made by a negligent observer, or by a mere passive

While Captain (afterwards Sir Samuel) Brown was occupied in studying the
construction of bridges, with the view of contriving one of a cheap
description to be thrown across the Tweed, near which he lived, he was
walking in his garden one dewy autumn morning, when he saw a tiny
spider’s net suspended across his path.  The idea immediately occurred to
him, that a bridge of iron ropes or chains might be constructed in like
manner, and the result was the invention of his Suspension Bridge.  So
James Watt, when consulted about the mode of carrying water by pipes
under the Clyde, along the unequal bed of the river, turned his attention
one day to the shell of a lobster presented at table; and from that model
he invented an iron tube, which, when laid down, was found effectually to
answer the purpose.  Sir Isambert Brunel took his first lessons in
forming the Thames Tunnel from the tiny shipworm: he saw how the little
creature perforated the wood with its well-armed head, first in one
direction and then in another, till the archway was complete, and then
daubed over the roof and sides with a kind of varnish; and by copying
this work exactly on a large scale, Brunel was at length enabled to
construct his shield and accomplish his great engineering work.

It is the intelligent eye of the careful observer which gives these
apparently trivial phenomena their value.  So trifling a matter as the
sight of seaweed floating past his ship, enabled Columbus to quell the
mutiny which arose amongst his sailors at not discovering land, and to
assure them that the eagerly sought New World was not far off.  There is
nothing so small that it should remain forgotten; and no fact, however
trivial, but may prove useful in some way or other if carefully
interpreted.  Who could have imagined that the famous “chalk cliffs of
Albion” had been built up by tiny insects—detected only by the help of
the microscope—of the same order of creatures that have gemmed the sea
with islands of coral!  And who that contemplates such extraordinary
results, arising from infinitely minute operations, will venture to
question the power of little things?

It is the close observation of little things which is the secret of
success in business, in art, in science, and in every pursuit in life.
Human knowledge is but an accumulation of small facts, made by successive
generations of men, the little bits of knowledge and experience carefully
treasured up by them growing at length into a mighty pyramid.  Though
many of these facts and observations seemed in the first instance to have
but slight significance, they are all found to have their eventual uses,
and to fit into their proper places.  Even many speculations seemingly
remote, turn out to be the basis of results the most obviously practical.
In the case of the conic sections discovered by Apollonius Pergæus,
twenty centuries elapsed before they were made the basis of astronomy—a
science which enables the modern navigator to steer his way through
unknown seas and traces for him in the heavens an unerring path to his
appointed haven.  And had not mathematicians toiled for so long, and, to
uninstructed observers, apparently so fruitlessly, over the abstract
relations of lines and surfaces, it is probable that but few of our
mechanical inventions would have seen the light.

When Franklin made his discovery of the identity of lightning and
electricity, it was sneered at, and people asked, “Of what use is it?”
To which his reply was, “What is the use of a child?  It may become a
man!”  When Galvani discovered that a frog’s leg twitched when placed in
contact with different metals, it could scarcely have been imagined that
so apparently insignificant a fact could have led to important results.
Yet therein lay the germ of the Electric Telegraph, which binds the
intelligence of continents together, and, probably before many years have
elapsed, will “put a girdle round the globe.”  So too, little bits of
stone and fossil, dug out of the earth, intelligently interpreted, have
issued in the science of geology and the practical operations of mining,
in which large capitals are invested and vast numbers of persons
profitably employed.

The gigantic machinery employed in pumping our mines, working our mills
and manufactures, and driving our steam-ships and locomotives, in like
manner depends for its supply of power upon so slight an agency as little
drops of water expanded by heat,—that familiar agency called steam, which
we see issuing from that common tea-kettle spout, but which, when put up
within an ingeniously contrived mechanism, displays a force equal to that
of millions of horses, and contains a power to rebuke the waves and set
even the hurricane at defiance.  The same power at work within the bowels
of the earth has been the cause of those volcanoes and earthquakes which
have played so mighty a part in the history of the globe.

It is said that the Marquis of Worcester’s attention was first
accidentally directed to the subject of steam power, by the tight cover
of a vessel containing hot water having been blown off before his eyes,
when confined a prisoner in the Tower.  He published the result of his
observations in his ‘Century of Inventions,’ which formed a sort of
text-book for inquirers into the powers of steam for a time, until
Savary, Newcomen, and others, applying it to practical purposes, brought
the steam-engine to the state in which Watt found it when called upon to
repair a model of Newcomen’s engine, which belonged to the University of
Glasgow.  This accidental circumstance was an opportunity for Watt, which
he was not slow to improve; and it was the labour of his life to bring
the steam-engine to perfection.

This art of seizing opportunities and turning even accidents to account,
bending them to some purpose is a great secret of success.  Dr. Johnson
has defined genius to be “a mind of large general powers accidentally
determined in some particular direction.”  Men who are resolved to find a
way for themselves, will always find opportunities enough; and if they do
not lie ready to their hand, they will make them.  It is not those who
have enjoyed the advantages of colleges, museums, and public galleries,
that have accomplished the most for science and art; nor have the
greatest mechanics and inventors been trained in mechanics’ institutes.
Necessity, oftener than facility, has been the mother of invention; and
the most prolific school of all has been the school of difficulty.  Some
of the very best workmen have had the most indifferent tools to work
with.  But it is not tools that make the workman, but the trained skill
and perseverance of the man himself.  Indeed it is proverbial that the
bad workman never yet had a good tool.  Some one asked Opie by what
wonderful process he mixed his colours.  “I mix them with my brains,
sir,” was his reply.  It is the same with every workman who would excel.
Ferguson made marvellous things—such as his wooden clock, that accurately
measured the hours—by means of a common penknife, a tool in everybody’s
hand; but then everybody is not a Ferguson.  A pan of water and two
thermometers were the tools by which Dr. Black discovered latent heat;
and a prism, a lens, and a sheet of pasteboard enabled Newton to unfold
the composition of light and the origin of colours.  An eminent foreign
_savant_ once called upon Dr. Wollaston, and requested to be shown over
his laboratories in which science had been enriched by so many important
discoveries, when the doctor took him into a little study, and, pointing
to an old tea-tray on the table, containing a few watch-glasses, test
papers, a small balance, and a blowpipe, said, “There is all the
laboratory that I have!”

Stothard learnt the art of combining colours by closely studying
butterflies’ wings: he would often say that no one knew what he owed to
these tiny insects.  A burnt stick and a barn door served Wilkie in lieu
of pencil and canvas.  Bewick first practised drawing on the cottage
walls of his native village, which he covered with his sketches in chalk;
and Benjamin West made his first brushes out of the cat’s tail.  Ferguson
laid himself down in the fields at night in a blanket, and made a map of
the heavenly bodies by means of a thread with small beads on it stretched
between his eye and the stars.  Franklin first robbed the thundercloud of
its lightning by means of a kite made with two cross sticks and a silk
handkerchief.  Watt made his first model of the condensing steam-engine
out of an old anatomist’s syringe, used to inject the arteries previous
to dissection.  Gifford worked his first problems in mathematics, when a
cobbler’s apprentice, upon small scraps of leather, which he beat smooth
for the purpose; whilst Rittenhouse, the astronomer, first calculated
eclipses on his plough handle.

The most ordinary occasions will furnish a man with opportunities or
suggestions for improvement, if he be but prompt to take advantage of
them.  Professor Lee was attracted to the study of Hebrew by finding a
Bible in that tongue in a synagogue, while working as a common carpenter
at the repairs of the benches.  He became possessed with a desire to read
the book in the original, and, buying a cheap second-hand copy of a
Hebrew grammar, he set to work and learnt the language for himself.  As
Edmund Stone said to the Duke of Argyle, in answer to his grace’s inquiry
how he, a poor gardener’s boy, had contrived to be able to read Newton’s
Principia in Latin, “One needs only to know the twenty-four letters of
the alphabet in order to learn everything else that one wishes.”
Application and perseverance, and the diligent improvement of
opportunities, will do the rest.

Sir Walter Scott found opportunities for self-improvement in every
pursuit, and turned even accidents to account.  Thus it was in the
discharge of his functions as a writer’s apprentice that he first visited
the Highlands, and formed those friendships among the surviving heroes of
1745 which served to lay the foundation of a large class of his works.
Later in life, when employed as quartermaster of the Edinburgh Light
Cavalry, he was accidentally disabled by the kick of a horse, and
confined for some time to his house; but Scott was a sworn enemy to
idleness, and he forthwith set his mind to work.  In three days he had
composed the first canto of ‘The Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ which he
shortly after finished,—his first great original work.

The attention of Dr. Priestley, the discoverer of so many gases, was
accidentally drawn to the subject of chemistry through his living in the
neighbourhood of a brewery.  When visiting the place one day, he noted
the peculiar appearances attending the extinction of lighted chips in the
gas floating over the fermented liquor.  He was forty years old at the
time, and knew nothing of chemistry.  He consulted books to ascertain the
cause, but they told him little, for as yet nothing was known on the
subject.  Then he began to experiment, with some rude apparatus of his
own contrivance.  The curious results of his first experiments led to
others, which in his hands shortly became the science of pneumatic
chemistry.  About the same time, Scheele was obscurely working in the
same direction in a remote Swedish village; and he discovered several new
gases, with no more effective apparatus at his command than a few
apothecaries’ phials and pigs’ bladders.

Sir Humphry Davy, when an apothecary’s apprentice, performed his first
experiments with instruments of the rudest description.  He extemporised
the greater part of them himself, out of the motley materials which
chance threw in his way,—the pots and pans of the kitchen, and the phials
and vessels of his master’s surgery.  It happened that a French ship was
wrecked off the Land’s End, and the surgeon escaped, bearing with him his
case of instruments, amongst which was an old-fashioned glyster
apparatus; this article he presented to Davy, with whom he had become
acquainted.  The apothecary’s apprentice received it with great
exultation, and forthwith employed it as a part of a pneumatic apparatus
which he contrived, afterwards using it to perform the duties of an
air-pump in one of his experiments on the nature and sources of heat.

In like manner Professor Faraday, Sir Humphry Davy’s scientific
successor, made his first experiments in electricity by means of an old
bottle, white he was still a working bookbinder.  And it is a curious
fact that Faraday was first attracted to the study of chemistry by
hearing one of Sir Humphry Davy’s lectures on the subject at the Royal
Institution.  A gentleman, who was a member, calling one day at the shop
where Faraday was employed in binding books, found him poring over the
article “Electricity” in an Encyclopædia placed in his hands to bind.
The gentleman, having made inquiries, found that the young bookbinder was
curious about such subjects, and gave him an order of admission to the
Royal Institution, where he attended a course of four lectures delivered
by Sir Humphry.  He took notes of them, which he showed to the lecturer,
who acknowledged their scientific accuracy, and was surprised when
informed of the humble position of the reporter.  Faraday then expressed
his desire to devote himself to the prosecution of chemical studies, from
which Sir Humphry at first endeavoured to dissuade him: but the young man
persisting, he was at length taken into the Royal Institution as an
assistant; and eventually the mantle of the brilliant apothecary’s boy
fell upon the worthy shoulders of the equally brilliant bookbinder’s

The words which Davy entered in his note-book, when about twenty years of
age, working in Dr. Beddoes’ laboratory at Bristol, were eminently
characteristic of him: “I have neither riches, nor power, nor birth to
recommend me; yet if I live, I trust I shall not be of less service to
mankind and my friends, than if I had been born with all these
advantages.”  Davy possessed the capability, as Faraday does, of devoting
the whole power of his mind to the practical and experimental
investigation of a subject in all its bearings; and such a mind will
rarely fail, by dint of mere industry and patient thinking, in producing
results of the highest order.  Coleridge said of Davy, “There is an
energy and elasticity in his mind, which enables him to seize on and
analyze all questions, pushing them to their legitimate consequences.
Every subject in Davy’s mind has the principle of vitality.  Living
thoughts spring up like turf under his feet.”  Davy, on his part, said of
Coleridge, whose abilities he greatly admired, “With the most exalted
genius, enlarged views, sensitive heart, and enlightened mind, he will be
the victim of a want of order, precision, and regularity.”

The great Cuvier was a singularly accurate, careful, and industrious
observer.  When a boy, he was attracted to the subject of natural history
by the sight of a volume of Buffon which accidentally fell in his way.
He at once proceeded to copy the drawings, and to colour them after the
descriptions given in the text.  While still at school, one of his
teachers made him a present of ‘Linnæus’s System of Nature;’ and for more
than ten years this constituted his library of natural history.  At
eighteen he was offered the situation of tutor in a family residing near
Fécamp, in Normandy.  Living close to the sea-shore, he was brought face
to face with the wonders of marine life.  Strolling along the sands one
day, he observed a stranded cuttlefish.  He was attracted by the curious
object, took it home to dissect, and thus began the study of the
molluscæ, in the pursuit of which he achieved so distinguished a
reputation.  He had no books to refer to, excepting only the great book
of Nature which lay open before him.  The study of the novel and
interesting objects which it daily presented to his eyes made a much
deeper impression on his mind than any written or engraved descriptions
could possibly have done.  Three years thus passed, during which he
compared the living species of marine animals with the fossil remains
found in the neighbourhood, dissected the specimens of marine life that
came under his notice, and, by careful observation, prepared the way for
a complete reform in the classification of the animal kingdom.  About
this time Cuvier became known to the learned Abbé Teissier, who wrote to
Jussieu and other friends in Paris on the subject of the young
naturalist’s inquiries, in terms of such high commendation, that Cuvier
was requested to send some of his papers to the Society of Natural
History; and he was shortly after appointed assistant-superintendent at
the Jardin des Plantes.  In the letter written by Teissier to Jussieu,
introducing the young naturalist to his notice, he said, “You remember
that it was I who gave Delambre to the Academy in another branch of
science: this also will be a Delambre.”  We need scarcely add that the
prediction of Teissier was more than fulfilled.

It is not accident, then, that helps a man in the world so much as
purpose and persistent industry.  To the feeble, the sluggish and
purposeless, the happiest accidents avail nothing,—they pass them by,
seeing no meaning in them.  But it is astonishing how much can be
accomplished if we are prompt to seize and improve the opportunities for
action and effort which are constantly presenting themselves.  Watt
taught himself chemistry and mechanics while working at his trade of a
mathematical-instrument maker, at the same time that he was learning
German from a Swiss dyer.  Stephenson taught himself arithmetic and
mensuration while working as an engineman during the night shifts; and
when he could snatch a few moments in the intervals allowed for meals
during the day, he worked his sums with a bit of chalk upon the sides of
the colliery waggons.  Dalton’s industry was the habit of his life.  He
began from his boyhood, for he taught a little village-school when he was
only about twelve years old,—keeping the school in winter, and working
upon his father’s farm in summer.  He would sometimes urge himself and
companions to study by the stimulus of a bet, though bred a Quaker; and
on one occasion, by his satisfactory solution of a problem, he won as
much as enabled him to buy a winter’s store of candles.  He continued his
meteorological observations until a day or two before he died,—having
made and recorded upwards of 200,000 in the course of his life.

With perseverance, the very odds and ends of time may be worked up into
results of the greatest value.  An hour in every day withdrawn from
frivolous pursuits would, if profitably employed, enable a person of
ordinary capacity to go far towards mastering a science.  It would make
an ignorant man a well-informed one in less than ten years.  Time should
not be allowed to pass without yielding fruits, in the form of something
learnt worthy of being known, some good principle cultivated, or some
good habit strengthened.  Dr. Mason Good translated Lucretius while
riding in his carriage in the streets of London, going the round of his
patients.  Dr. Darwin composed nearly all his works in the same way while
driving about in his “sulky” from house to house in the country,—writing
down his thoughts on little scraps of paper, which he carried about with
him for the purpose.  Hale wrote his ‘Contemplations’ while travelling on
circuit.  Dr. Burney learnt French and Italian while travelling on
horseback from one musical pupil to another in the course of his
profession.  Kirke White learnt Greek while walking to and from a
lawyer’s office; and we personally know a man of eminent position who
learnt Latin and French while going messages as an errand-boy in the
streets of Manchester.

Daguesseau, one of the great Chancellors of France, by carefully working
up his odd bits of time, wrote a bulky and able volume in the successive
intervals of waiting for dinner, and Madame de Genlis composed several of
her charming volumes while waiting for the princess to whom she gave her
daily lessons.  Elihu Burritt attributed his first success in
self-improvement, not to genius, which he disclaimed, but simply to the
careful employment of those invaluable fragments of time, called “odd
moments.”  While working and earning his living as a blacksmith, he
mastered some eighteen ancient and modern languages, and twenty-two
European dialects.

What a solemn and striking admonition to youth is that inscribed on the
dial at All Souls, Oxford—“Pereunt et imputantur”—the hours perish, and
are laid to our charge.  Time is the only little fragment of Eternity
that belongs to man; and, like life, it can never be recalled.  “In the
dissipation of worldly treasure,” says Jackson of Exeter, “the frugality
of the future may balance the extravagance of the past; but who can say,
‘I will take from minutes to-morrow to compensate for those I have lost
to-day’?”  Melancthon noted down the time lost by him, that he might
thereby reanimate his industry, and not lose an hour.  An Italian scholar
put over his door an inscription intimating that whosoever remained there
should join in his labours.  “We are afraid,” said some visitors to
Baxter, “that we break in upon your time.”  “To be sure you do,” replied
the disturbed and blunt divine.  Time was the estate out of which these
great workers, and all other workers, formed that rich treasury of
thoughts and deeds which they have left to their successors.

The mere drudgery undergone by some men in carrying on their undertakings
has been something extraordinary, but the drudgery they regarded as the
price of success.  Addison amassed as much as three folios of manuscript
materials before he began his ‘Spectator.’  Newton wrote his ‘Chronology’
fifteen times over before he was satisfied with it; and Gibbon wrote out
his ‘Memoir’ nine times.  Hale studied for many years at the rate of
sixteen hours a day, and when wearied with the study of the law, he would
recreate himself with philosophy and the study of the mathematics.  Hume
wrote thirteen hours a day while preparing his ‘History of England.’
Montesquieu, speaking of one part of his writings, said to a friend, “You
will read it in a few hours; but I assure you it has cost me so much
labour that it has whitened my hair.”

The practice of writing down thoughts and facts for the purpose of
holding them fast and preventing their escape into the dim region of
forgetfulness, has been much resorted to by thoughtful and studious men.
Lord Bacon left behind him many manuscripts entitled “Sudden thoughts set
down for use.”  Erskine made great extracts from Burke; and Eldon copied
Coke upon Littleton twice over with his own hand, so that the book
became, as it were, part of his own mind.  The late Dr. Pye Smith, when
apprenticed to his father as a bookbinder, was accustomed to make copious
memoranda of all the books he read, with extracts and criticisms.  This
indomitable industry in collecting materials distinguished him through
life, his biographer describing him as “always at work, always in
advance, always accumulating.”  These note-books afterwards proved, like
Richter’s “quarries,” the great storehouse from which he drew his

The same practice characterized the eminent John Hunter, who adopted it
for the purpose of supplying the defects of memory; and he was accustomed
thus to illustrate the advantages which one derives from putting one’s
thoughts in writing: “It resembles,” he said, “a tradesman taking stock,
without which he never knows either what he possesses or in what he is
deficient.”  John Hunter—whose observation was so keen that Abernethy was
accustomed to speak of him as “the Argus-eyed”—furnished an illustrious
example of the power of patient industry.  He received little or no
education till he was about twenty years of age, and it was with
difficulty that he acquired the arts of reading and writing.  He worked
for some years as a common carpenter at Glasgow, after which he joined
his brother William, who had settled in London as a lecturer and
anatomical demonstrator.  John entered his dissecting-room as an
assistant, but soon shot ahead of his brother, partly by virtue of his
great natural ability, but mainly by reason of his patient application
and indefatigable industry.  He was one of the first in this country to
devote himself assiduously to the study of comparative anatomy, and the
objects he dissected and collected took the eminent Professor Owen no
less than ten years to arrange.  The collection contains some twenty
thousand specimens, and is the most precious treasure of the kind that
has ever been accumulated by the industry of one man.  Hunter used to
spend every morning from sunrise until eight o’clock in his museum; and
throughout the day he carried on his extensive private practice,
performed his laborious duties as surgeon to St. George’s Hospital and
deputy surgeon-general to the army; delivered lectures to students, and
superintended a school of practical anatomy at his own house; finding
leisure, amidst all, for elaborate experiments on the animal economy, and
the composition of various works of great scientific importance.  To find
time for this gigantic amount of work, he allowed himself only four hours
of sleep at night, and an hour after dinner.  When once asked what method
he had adopted to insure success in his undertakings, he replied, “My
rule is, deliberately to consider, before I commence, whether the thing
be practicable.  If it be not practicable, I do not attempt it.  If it be
practicable, I can accomplish it if I give sufficient pains to it; and
having begun, I never stop till the thing is done.  To this rule I owe
all my success.”

Hunter occupied a great deal of his time in collecting definite facts
respecting matters which, before his day, were regarded as exceedingly
trivial.  Thus it was supposed by many of his contemporaries that he was
only wasting his time and thought in studying so carefully as he did the
growth of a deer’s horn.  But Hunter was impressed with the conviction
that no accurate knowledge of scientific facts is without its value.  By
the study referred to, he learnt how arteries accommodate themselves to
circumstances, and enlarge as occasion requires; and the knowledge thus
acquired emboldened him, in a case of aneurism in a branch artery, to tie
the main trunk where no surgeon before him had dared to tie it, and the
life of his patient was saved.  Like many original men, he worked for a
long time as it were underground, digging and laying foundations.  He was
a solitary and self-reliant genius, holding on his course without the
solace of sympathy or approbation,—for but few of his contemporaries
perceived the ultimate object of his pursuits.  But like all true
workers, he did not fail in securing his best reward—that which depends
less upon others than upon one’s self—the approval of conscience, which
in a right-minded man invariably follows the honest and energetic
performance of duty.

Ambrose Paré, the great French surgeon, was another illustrious instance
of close observation, patient application, and indefatigable
perseverance.  He was the son of a barber at Laval, in Maine, where he
was born in 1509.  His parents were too poor to send him to school, but
they placed him as foot-boy with the curé of the village, hoping that
under that learned man he might pick up an education for himself.  But
the curé kept him so busily employed in grooming his mule and in other
menial offices that the boy found no time for learning.  While in his
service, it happened that the celebrated lithotomist, Cotot, came to
Laval to operate on one of the curé’s ecclesiastical brethren.  Paré was
present at the operation, and was so much interested by it that he is
said to have from that time formed the determination of devoting himself
to the art of surgery.

Leaving the curé’s household service, Paré apprenticed himself to a
barber-surgeon named Vialot, under whom he learnt to let blood, draw
teeth, and perform the minor operations.  After four years’ experience of
this kind, he went to Paris to study at the school of anatomy and
surgery, meanwhile maintaining himself by his trade of a barber.  He
afterwards succeeded in obtaining an appointment as assistant at the
Hôtel Dieu, where his conduct was so exemplary, and his progress so
marked, that the chief surgeon, Goupil, entrusted him with the charge of
the patients whom he could not himself attend to.  After the usual course
of instruction, Paré was admitted a master barber-surgeon, and shortly
after was appointed to a charge with the French army under Montmorenci in
Piedmont.  Paré was not a man to follow in the ordinary ruts of his
profession, but brought the resources of an ardent and original mind to
bear upon his daily work, diligently thinking out for himself the
_rationale_ of diseases and their befitting remedies.  Before his time
the wounded suffered much more at the hands of their surgeons than they
did at those of their enemies.  To stop bleeding from gunshot wounds, the
barbarous expedient was resorted to of dressing them with boiling oil.
Hæmorrhage was also stopped by searing the wounds with a red-hot iron;
and when amputation was necessary, it was performed with a red-hot knife.
At first Paré treated wounds according to the approved methods; but,
fortunately, on one occasion, running short of boiling oil, he
substituted a mild and emollient application.  He was in great fear all
night lest he should have done wrong in adopting this treatment; but was
greatly relieved next morning on finding his patients comparatively
comfortable, while those whose wounds had been treated in the usual way
were writhing in torment.  Such was the casual origin of one of Paré’s
greatest improvements in the treatment of gun-shot wounds; and he
proceeded to adopt the emollient treatment in all future cases.  Another
still more important improvement was his employment of the ligature in
tying arteries to stop hæmorrhage, instead of the actual cautery.  Paré,
however, met with the usual fate of innovators and reformers.  His
practice was denounced by his surgical brethren as dangerous,
unprofessional, and empirical; and the older surgeons banded themselves
together to resist its adoption.  They reproached him for his want of
education, more especially for his ignorance of Latin and Greek; and they
assailed him with quotations from ancient writers, which he was unable
either to verify or refute.  But the best answer to his assailants was
the success of his practice.  The wounded soldiers called out everywhere
for Paré, and he was always at their service: he tended them carefully
and affectionately; and he usually took leave of them with the words, “I
have dressed you; may God cure you.”

After three years’ active service as army-surgeon, Paré returned to Paris
with such a reputation that he was at once appointed surgeon in ordinary
to the King.  When Metz was besieged by the Spanish army, under Charles
V., the garrison suffered heavy loss, and the number of wounded was very
great.  The surgeons were few and incompetent, and probably slew more by
their bad treatment than the Spaniards did by the sword.  The Duke of
Guise, who commanded the garrison, wrote to the King imploring him to
send Paré to his help.  The courageous surgeon at once set out, and,
after braving many dangers (to use his own words, “d’estre pendu,
estranglé ou mis en pièces”), he succeeded in passing the enemy’s lines,
and entered Metz in safety.  The Duke, the generals, and the captains
gave him an affectionate welcome; while the soldiers, when they heard of
his arrival, cried, “We no longer fear dying of our wounds; our friend is
among us.”  In the following year Paré was in like manner with the
besieged in the town of Hesdin, which shortly fell before the Duke of
Savoy, and he was taken prisoner.  But having succeeded in curing one of
the enemy’s chief officers of a serious wound, he was discharged without
ransom, and returned in safety to Paris.

The rest of his life was occupied in study, in self-improvement, in
piety, and in good deeds.  Urged by some of the most learned among his
contemporaries, he placed on record the results of his surgical
experience, in twenty-eight books, which were published by him at
different times.  His writings are valuable and remarkable chiefly on
account of the great number of facts and cases contained in them, and the
care with which he avoids giving any directions resting merely upon
theory unsupported by observation.  Paré continued, though a Protestant,
to hold the office of surgeon in ordinary to the King; and during the
Massacre of St. Bartholomew he owed his life to the personal friendship
of Charles IX., whom he had on one occasion saved from the dangerous
effects of a wound inflicted by a clumsy surgeon in performing the
operation of venesection.  Brantôme, in his ‘Mémoires,’ thus speaks of
the King’s rescue of Paré on the night of Saint Bartholomew—“He sent to
fetch him, and to remain during the night in his chamber and
wardrobe-room, commanding him not to stir, and saying that it was not
reasonable that a man who had preserved the lives of so many people
should himself be massacred.”  Thus Paré escaped the horrors of that
fearful night, which he survived for many years, and was permitted to die
in peace, full of age and honours.

Harvey was as indefatigable a labourer as any we have named.  He spent
not less than eight long years of investigation and research before he
published his views of the circulation of the blood.  He repeated and
verified his experiments again and again, probably anticipating the
opposition he would have to encounter from the profession on making known
his discovery.  The tract in which he at length announced his views, was
a most modest one,—but simple, perspicuous, and conclusive.  It was
nevertheless received with ridicule, as the utterance of a crack-brained
impostor.  For some time, he did not make a single convert, and gained
nothing but contumely and abuse.  He had called in question the revered
authority of the ancients; and it was even averred that his views were
calculated to subvert the authority of the Scriptures and undermine the
very foundations of morality and religion.  His little practice fell
away, and he was left almost without a friend.  This lasted for some
years, until the great truth, held fast by Harvey amidst all his
adversity, and which had dropped into many thoughtful minds, gradually
ripened by further observation, and after a period of about twenty-five
years, it became generally recognised as an established scientific truth.

The difficulties encountered by Dr. Jenner in promulgating and
establishing his discovery of vaccination as a preventive of small-pox,
were even greater than those of Harvey.  Many, before him, had witnessed
the cow-pox, and had heard of the report current among the milkmaids in
Gloucestershire, that whoever had taken that disease was secure against
small-pox.  It was a trifling, vulgar rumour, supposed to have no
significance whatever; and no one had thought it worthy of investigation,
until it was accidentally brought under the notice of Jenner.  He was a
youth, pursuing his studies at Sodbury, when his attention was arrested
by the casual observation made by a country girl who came to his master’s
shop for advice.  The small-pox was mentioned, when the girl said, “I
can’t take that disease, for I have had cow-pox.”  The observation
immediately riveted Jenner’s attention, and he forthwith set about
inquiring and making observations on the subject.  His professional
friends, to whom he mentioned his views as to the prophylactic virtues of
cow-pox, laughed at him, and even threatened to expel him from their
society, if he persisted in harassing them with the subject.  In London
he was so fortunate as to study under John Hunter, to whom he
communicated his views.  The advice of the great anatomist was thoroughly
characteristic: “Don’t think, but _try_; be patient, be accurate.”
Jenner’s courage was supported by the advice, which conveyed to him the
true art of philosophical investigation.  He went back to the country to
practise his profession and make observations and experiments, which he
continued to pursue for a period of twenty years.  His faith in his
discovery was so implicit that he vaccinated his own son on three several
occasions.  At length he published his views in a quarto of about seventy
pages, in which he gave the details of twenty-three cases of successful
vaccination of individuals, to whom it was found afterwards impossible to
communicate the small-pox either by contagion or inoculation.  It was in
1798 that this treatise was published; though he had been working out his
ideas since the year 1775, when they had begun to assume a definite form.

How was the discovery received?  First with indifference, then with
active hostility.  Jenner proceeded to London to exhibit to the
profession the process of vaccination and its results; but not a single
medical man could be induced to make trial of it, and after fruitlessly
waiting for nearly three months, he returned to his native village.  He
was even caricatured and abused for his attempt to “bestialize” his
species by the introduction into their systems of diseased matter from
the cow’s udder.  Vaccination was denounced from the pulpit as
“diabolical.”  It was averred that vaccinated children became “ox-faced,”
that abscesses broke out to “indicate sprouting horns,” and that the
countenance was gradually “transmuted into the visage of a cow, the voice
into the bellowing of bulls.”  Vaccination, however, was a truth, and
notwithstanding the violence of the opposition, belief in it spread
slowly.  In one village, where a gentleman tried to introduce the
practice, the first persons who permitted themselves to be vaccinated
were absolutely pelted and driven into their houses if they appeared out
of doors.  Two ladies of title—Lady Ducie and the Countess of Berkeley—to
their honour be it remembered—had the courage to vaccinate their
children; and the prejudices of the day were at once broken through.  The
medical profession gradually came round, and there were several who even
sought to rob Dr. Jenner of the merit of the discovery, when its
importance came to be recognised.  Jenner’s cause at last triumphed, and
he was publicly honoured and rewarded.  In his prosperity he was as
modest as he had been in his obscurity.  He was invited to settle in
London, and told that he might command a practice of 10,000_l._ a year.
But his answer was, “No!  In the morning of my days I have sought the
sequestered and lowly paths of life—the valley, and not the mountain,—and
now, in the evening of my days, it is not meet for me to hold myself up
as an object for fortune and for fame.”  During Jenner’s own life-time
the practice of vaccination became adopted all over the civilized world;
and when he died, his title as a Benefactor of his kind was recognised
far and wide.  Cuvier has said, “If vaccine were the only discovery of
the epoch, it would serve to render it illustrious for ever; yet it
knocked twenty times in vain at the doors of the Academies.”

Not less patient, resolute, and persevering was Sir Charles Bell in the
prosecution of his discoveries relating to the nervous system.  Previous
to his time, the most confused notions prevailed as to the functions of
the nerves, and this branch of study was little more advanced than it had
been in the times of Democritus and Anaxagoras three thousand years
before.  Sir Charles Bell, in the valuable series of papers the
publication of which was commenced in 1821, took an entirely original
view of the subject, based upon a long series of careful, accurate, and
oft-repeated experiments.  Elaborately tracing the development of the
nervous system up from the lowest order of animated being, to man—the
lord of the animal kingdom,—he displayed it, to use his own words, “as
plainly as if it were written in our mother-tongue.”  His discovery
consisted in the fact, that the spinal nerves are double in their
function, and arise by double roots from the spinal marrow,—volition
being conveyed by that part of the nerves springing from the one root,
and sensation by the other.  The subject occupied the mind of Sir Charles
Bell for a period of forty years, when, in 1840, he laid his last paper
before the Royal Society.  As in the cases of Harvey and Jenner, when he
had lived down the ridicule and opposition with which his views were
first received, and their truth came to be recognised, numerous claims
for priority in making the discovery were set up at home and abroad.
Like them, too, he lost practice by the publication of his papers; and he
left it on record that, after every step in his discovery, he was obliged
to work harder than ever to preserve his reputation as a practitioner.
The great merits of Sir Charles Bell were, however, at length fully
recognised; and Cuvier himself, when on his death-bed, finding his face
distorted and drawn to one side, pointed out the symptom to his
attendants as a proof of the correctness of Sir Charles Bell’s theory.

An equally devoted pursuer of the same branch of science was the late Dr.
Marshall Hall, whose name posterity will rank with those of Harvey,
Hunter, Jenner, and Bell.  During the whole course of his long and useful
life he was a most careful and minute observer; and no fact, however
apparently insignificant, escaped his attention.  His important discovery
of the diastaltic nervous system, by which his name will long be known
amongst scientific men, originated in an exceedingly simple circumstance.
When investigating the pneumonic circulation in the Triton, the
decapitated object lay upon the table; and on separating the tail and
accidentally pricking the external integument, he observed that it moved
with energy, and became contorted into various forms.  He had not touched
a muscle or a muscular nerve; what then was the nature of these
movements?  The same phenomena had probably been often observed before,
but Dr. Hall was the first to apply himself perseveringly to the
investigation of their causes; and he exclaimed on the occasion, “I will
never rest satisfied until I have found all this out, and made it clear.”
His attention to the subject was almost incessant; and it is estimated
that in the course of his life he devoted not less than 25,000 hours to
its experimental and chemical investigation.  He was at the same time
carrying on an extensive private practice, and officiating as lecturer at
St. Thomas’s Hospital and other Medical Schools.  It will scarcely be
credited that the paper in which he embodied his discovery was rejected
by the Royal Society, and was only accepted after the lapse of seventeen
years, when the truth of his views had become acknowledged by scientific
men both at home and abroad.

The life of Sir William Herschel affords another remarkable illustration
of the force of perseverance in another branch of science.  His father
was a poor German musician, who brought up his four sons to the same
calling.  William came over to England to seek his fortune, and he joined
the band of the Durham Militia, in which he played the oboe.  The
regiment was lying at Doncaster, where Dr. Miller first became acquainted
with Herschel, having heard him perform a solo on the violin in a
surprising manner.  The Doctor entered into conversation with the youth,
and was so pleased with him, that he urged him to leave the militia and
take up his residence at his house for a time.  Herschel did so, and
while at Doncaster was principally occupied in violin-playing at
concerts, availing himself of the advantages of Dr. Miller’s library to
study at his leisure hours.  A new organ having been built for the parish
church of Halifax, an organist was advertised for, on which Herschel
applied for the office, and was selected.  Leading the wandering life of
an artist, he was next attracted to Bath, where he played in the
Pump-room band, and also officiated as organist in the Octagon chapel.
Some recent discoveries in astronomy having arrested his mind, and
awakened in him a powerful spirit of curiosity, he sought and obtained
from a friend the loan of a two-foot Gregorian telescope.  So fascinated
was the poor musician by the science, that he even thought of purchasing
a telescope, but the price asked by the London optician was so alarming,
that he determined to make one.  Those who know what a reflecting
telescope is, and the skill which is required to prepare the concave
metallic speculum which forms the most important part of the apparatus,
will be able to form some idea of the difficulty of this undertaking.
Nevertheless, Herschel succeeded, after long and painful labour, in
completing a five-foot reflector, with which he had the gratification of
observing the ring and satellites of Saturn.  Not satisfied with his
triumph, he proceeded to make other instruments in succession, of seven,
ten, and even twenty feet.  In constructing the seven-foot reflector, he
finished no fewer than two hundred specula before he produced one that
would bear any power that was applied to it,—a striking instance of the
persevering laboriousness of the man.  While gauging the heavens with his
instruments, he continued patiently to earn his bread by piping to the
fashionable frequenters of the Pump-room.  So eager was he in his
astronomical observations, that he would steal away from the room during
an interval of the performance, give a little turn at his telescope, and
contentedly return to his oboe.  Thus working away, Herschel discovered
the Georgium Sidus, the orbit and rate of motion of which he carefully
calculated, and sent the result to the Royal Society; when the humble
oboe player found himself at once elevated from obscurity to fame.  He
was shortly after appointed Astronomer Royal, and by the kindness of
George III. was placed in a position of honourable competency for life.
He bore his honours with the same meekness and humility which had
distinguished him in the days of his obscurity.  So gentle and patient,
and withal so distinguished and successful a follower of science under
difficulties, perhaps cannot be found in the entire history of biography.

The career of William Smith, the father of English geology, though
perhaps less known, is not less interesting and instructive as an example
of patient and laborious effort, and the diligent cultivation of
opportunities.  He was born in 1769, the son of a yeoman farmer at
Churchill, in Oxfordshire.  His father dying when he was but a child, he
received a very sparing education at the village school, and even that
was to a considerable extent interfered with by his wandering and
somewhat idle habits as a boy.  His mother having married a second time,
he was taken in charge by an uncle, also a farmer, by whom he was brought
up.  Though the uncle was by no means pleased with the boy’s love of
wandering about, collecting “poundstones,” “pundips,” and other stony
curiosities which lay scattered about the adjoining land, he yet enabled
him to purchase a few of the necessary books wherewith to instruct
himself in the rudiments of geometry and surveying; for the boy was
already destined for the business of a land-surveyor.  One of his marked
characteristics, even as a youth, was the accuracy and keenness of his
observation; and what he once clearly saw he never forgot.  He began to
draw, attempted to colour, and practised the arts of mensuration and
surveying, all without regular instruction; and by his efforts in
self-culture, he shortly became so proficient, that he was taken on as
assistant to a local surveyor of ability in the neighbourhood.  In
carrying on his business he was constantly under the necessity of
traversing Oxfordshire and the adjoining counties.  One of the first
things he seriously pondered over, was the position of the various soils
and strata that came under his notice on the lands which he surveyed or
travelled over; more especially the position of the red earth in regard
to the lias and superincumbent rocks.  The surveys of numerous collieries
which he was called upon to make, gave him further experience; and
already, when only twenty-three years of age, he contemplated making a
model of the strata of the earth.

While engaged in levelling for a proposed canal in Gloucestershire, the
idea of a general law occurred to him relating to the strata of that
district.  He conceived that the strata lying above the coal were not
laid horizontally, but inclined, and in one direction, towards the east;
resembling, on a large scale, “the ordinary appearance of superposed
slices of bread and butter.”  The correctness of this theory he shortly
after confirmed by observations of the strata in two parallel valleys,
the “red ground,” “lias,” and “freestone” or “oolite,” being found to
come down in an eastern direction, and to sink below the level, yielding
place to the next in succession.  He was shortly enabled to verify the
truth of his views on a larger scale, having been appointed to examine
personally into the management of canals in England and Wales.  During
his journeys, which extended from Bath to Newcastle-on-Tyne, returning by
Shropshire and Wales, his keen eyes were never idle for a moment.  He
rapidly noted the aspect and structure of the country through which he
passed with his companions, treasuring up his observations for future
use.  His geologic vision was so acute, that though the road along which
he passed from York to Newcastle in the post chaise was from five to
fifteen miles distant from the hills of chalk and oolite on the east, he
was satisfied as to their nature, by their contours and relative
position, and their ranges on the surface in relation to the lias and
“red ground” occasionally seen on the road.

The general results of his observation seem to have been these.  He noted
that the rocky masses of country in the western parts of England
generally inclined to the east and south-east; that the red sandstones
and marls above the coal measures passed beneath the lias, clay, and
limestone, that these again passed beneath the sands, yellow limestones
and clays, forming the table-land of the Cotswold Hills, while these in
turn passed beneath the great chalk deposits occupying the eastern parts
of England.  He further observed, that each layer of clay, sand, and
limestone held its own peculiar classes of fossils; and pondering much on
these things, he at length came to the then unheard-of conclusion, that
each distinct deposit of marine animals, in these several strata,
indicated a distinct sea-bottom, and that each layer of clay, sand,
chalk, and stone, marked a distinct epoch of time in the history of the

This idea took firm possession of his mind, and he could talk and think
of nothing else.  At canal boards, at sheep-shearings, at county
meetings, and at agricultural associations, ‘Strata Smith,’ as he came to
be called, was always running over with the subject that possessed him.
He had indeed made a great discovery, though he was as yet a man utterly
unknown in the scientific world.  He proceeded to project a map of the
stratification of England; but was for some time deterred from proceeding
with it, being fully occupied in carrying out the works of the
Somersetshire coal canal, which engaged him for a period of about six
years.  He continued, nevertheless, to be unremitting in his observation
of facts; and he became so expert in apprehending the internal structure
of a district and detecting the lie of the strata from its external
configuration, that he was often consulted respecting the drainage of
extensive tracts of land, in which, guided by his geological knowledge,
he proved remarkably successful, and acquired an extensive reputation.

One day, when looking over the cabinet collection of fossils belonging to
the Rev. Samuel Richardson, at Bath, Smith astonished his friend by
suddenly disarranging his classification, and re-arranging the fossils in
their stratigraphical order, saying—“These came from the blue lias, these
from the over-lying sand and freestone, these from the fuller’s earth,
and these from the Bath building stone.”  A new light flashed upon Mr.
Richardson’s mind, and he shortly became a convert to and believer in
William Smith’s doctrine.  The geologists of the day were not, however,
so easily convinced; and it was scarcely to be tolerated that an unknown
land-surveyor should pretend to teach them the science of geology.  But
William Smith had an eye and mind to penetrate deep beneath the skin of
the earth; he saw its very fibre and skeleton, and, as it were, divined
its organization.  His knowledge of the strata in the neighbourhood of
Bath was so accurate, that one evening, when dining at the house of the
Rev. Joseph Townsend, he dictated to Mr. Richardson the different strata
according to their order of succession in descending order, twenty-three
in number, commencing with the chalk and descending in continuous series
down to the coal, below which the strata were not then sufficiently
determined.  To this was added a list of the more remarkable fossils
which had been gathered in the several layers of rock.  This was printed
and extensively circulated in 1801.

He next determined to trace out the strata through districts as remote
from Bath as his means would enable him to reach.  For years he journeyed
to and fro, sometimes on foot, sometimes on horseback, riding on the tops
of stage coaches, often making up by night-travelling the time he had
lost by day, so as not to fail in his ordinary business engagements.
When he was professionally called away to any distance from home—as, for
instance, when travelling from Bath to Holkham, in Norfolk, to direct the
irrigation and drainage of Mr. Coke’s land in that county—he rode on
horseback, making frequent detours from the road to note the geological
features of the country which he traversed.

For several years he was thus engaged in his journeys to distant quarters
in England and Ireland, to the extent of upwards of ten thousand miles
yearly; and it was amidst this incessant and laborious travelling, that
he contrived to commit to paper his fast-growing generalizations on what
he rightly regarded as a new science.  No observation, howsoever trivial
it might appear, was neglected, and no opportunity of collecting fresh
facts was overlooked.  Whenever he could, he possessed himself of records
of borings, natural and artificial sections, drew them to a constant
scale of eight yards to the inch, and coloured them up.  Of his keenness
of observation take the following illustration.  When making one of his
geological excursions about the country near Woburn, as he was drawing
near to the foot of the Dunstable chalk hills, he observed to his
companion, “If there be any broken ground about the foot of these hills,
we may find _shark’s teeth_;” and they had not proceeded far, before they
picked up six from the white bank of a new fence-ditch.  As he afterwards
said of himself, “The habit of observation crept on me, gained a
settlement in my mind, became a constant associate of my life, and
started up in activity at the first thought of a journey; so that I
generally went off well prepared with maps, and sometimes with
contemplations on its objects, or on those on the road, reduced to
writing before it commenced.  My mind was, therefore, like the canvas of
a painter, well prepared for the first and best impressions.”

Notwithstanding his courageous and indefatigable industry, many
circumstances contributed to prevent the promised publication of William
Smith’s ‘Map of the Strata of England and Wales,’ and it was not until
1814 that he was enabled, by the assistance of some friends, to give to
the world the fruits of his twenty years’ incessant labour.  To prosecute
his inquiries, and collect the extensive series of facts and observations
requisite for his purpose, he had to expend the whole of the profits of
his professional labours during that period; and he even sold off his
small property to provide the means of visiting remoter parts of the
island.  Meanwhile he had entered on a quarrying speculation near Bath,
which proved unsuccessful, and he was under the necessity of selling his
geological collection (which was purchased by the British Museum), his
furniture and library, reserving only his papers, maps, and sections,
which were useless save to himself.  He bore his losses and misfortunes
with exemplary fortitude; and amidst all, he went on working with
cheerful courage and untiring patience.  He died at Northampton, in
August, 1839, while on his way to attend the meeting of the British
Association at Birmingham.

It is difficult to speak in terms of too high praise of the first
geological map of England, which we owe to the industry of this
courageous man of science.  An accomplished writer says of it, “It was a
work so masterly in conception and so correct in general outline, that in
principle it served as a basis not only for the production of later maps
of the British Islands, but for geological maps of all other parts of the
world, wherever they have been undertaken.  In the apartments of the
Geological Society Smith’s map may yet be seen—a great historical
document, old and worn, calling for renewal of its faded tints.  Let any
one conversant with the subject compare it with later works on a similar
scale, and he will find that in all essential features it will not suffer
by the comparison—the intricate anatomy of the Silurian rocks of Wales
and the north of England by Murchison and Sedgwick being the chief
additions made to his great generalizations.” {149}  The genius of the
Oxfordshire surveyor did not fail to be duly recognised and honoured by
men of science during his lifetime.  In 1831 the Geological Society of
London awarded to him the Wollaston medal, “in consideration of his being
a great original discoverer in English geology, and especially for his
being the first in this country to discover and to teach the
identification of strata, and to determine their succession by means of
their imbedded fossils.”  William Smith, in his simple, earnest way,
gained for himself a name as lasting as the science he loved so well.  To
use the words of the writer above quoted, “Till the manner as well as the
fact of the first appearance of successive forms of life shall be solved,
it is not easy to surmise how any discovery can be made in geology equal
in value to that which we owe to the genius of William Smith.”

Hugh Miller was a man of like observant faculties, who studied literature
as well as science with zeal and success.  The book in which he has told
the story of his life, (‘My Schools and Schoolmasters’), is extremely
interesting, and calculated to be eminently useful.  It is the history of
the formation of a truly noble character in the humblest condition of
life; and inculcates most powerfully the lessons of self-help,
self-respect, and self-dependence.  While Hugh was but a child, his
father, who was a sailor, was drowned at sea, and he was brought up by
his widowed mother.  He had a school training after a sort, but his best
teachers were the boys with whom he played, the men amongst whom he
worked, the friends and relatives with whom he lived.  He read much and
miscellaneously, and picked up odd sorts of knowledge from many
quarters,—from workmen, carpenters, fishermen and sailors, and above all,
from the old boulders strewed along the shores of the Cromarty Frith.
With a big hammer which had belonged to his great-grandfather, an old
buccaneer, the boy went about chipping the stones, and accumulating
specimens of mica, porphyry, garnet, and such like.  Sometimes he had a
day in the woods, and there, too, the boy’s attention was excited by the
peculiar geological curiosities which came in his way.  While searching
among the rocks on the beach, he was sometimes asked, in irony, by the
farm servants who came to load their carts with sea-weed, whether he “was
gettin’ siller in the stanes,” but was so unlucky as never to be able to
answer in the affirmative.  When of a suitable age he was apprenticed to
the trade of his choice—that of a working stonemason; and he began his
labouring career in a quarry looking out upon the Cromarty Frith.  This
quarry proved one of his best schools.  The remarkable geological
formations which it displayed awakened his curiosity.  The bar of
deep-red stone beneath, and the bar of pale-red clay above, were noted by
the young quarryman, who even in such unpromising subjects found matter
for observation and reflection.  Where other men saw nothing, he detected
analogies, differences, and peculiarities, which set him a-thinking.  He
simply kept his eyes and his mind open; was sober, diligent, and
persevering; and this was the secret of his intellectual growth.

His curiosity was excited and kept alive by the curious organic remains,
principally of old and extinct species of fishes, ferns, and ammonites,
which were revealed along the coast by the washings of the waves, or were
exposed by the stroke of his mason’s hammer.  He never lost sight of the
subject; but went on accumulating observations and comparing formations,
until at length, many years afterwards, when no longer a working mason,
he gave to the world his highly interesting work on the Old Red
Sandstone, which at once established his reputation as a scientific
geologist.  But this work was the fruit of long years of patient
observation and research.  As he modestly states in his autobiography,
“the only merit to which I lay claim in the case is that of patient
research—a merit in which whoever wills may rival or surpass me; and this
humble faculty of patience, when rightly developed, may lead to more
extraordinary developments of idea than even genius itself.”

The late John Brown, the eminent English geologist, was, like Miller, a
stonemason in his early life, serving an apprenticeship to the trade at
Colchester, and afterwards working as a journeyman mason at Norwich.  He
began business as a builder on his own account at Colchester, where by
frugality and industry he secured a competency.  It was while working at
his trade that his attention was first drawn to the study of fossils and
shells; and he proceeded to make a collection of them, which afterwards
grew into one of the finest in England.  His researches along the coasts
of Essex, Kent, and Sussex brought to light some magnificent remains of
the elephant and rhinoceros, the most valuable of which were presented by
him to the British Museum.  During the last few years of his life he
devoted considerable attention to the study of the Foraminifera in chalk,
respecting which he made several interesting discoveries.  His life was
useful, happy, and honoured; and he died at Stanway, in Essex, in
November 1859, at the ripe age of eighty years.

Not long ago, Sir Roderick Murchison discovered at Thurso, in the far
north of Scotland, a profound geologist, in the person of a baker there,
named Robert Dick.  When Sir Roderick called upon him at the bakehouse in
which he baked and earned his bread, Robert Dick delineated to him, by
means of flour upon the board, the geographical features and geological
phenomena of his native county, pointing out the imperfections in the
existing maps, which he had ascertained by travelling over the country in
his leisure hours.  On further inquiry, Sir Roderick ascertained that the
humble individual before him was not only a capital baker and geologist,
but a first-rate botanist.  “I found,” said the President of the
Geographical Society, “to my great humiliation that the baker knew
infinitely more of botanical science, ay, ten times more, than I did; and
that there were only some twenty or thirty specimens of flowers which he
had not collected.  Some he had obtained as presents, some he had
purchased, but the greater portion had been accumulated by his industry,
in his native county of Caithness; and the specimens were all arranged in
the most beautiful order, with their scientific names affixed.”

Sir Roderick Murchison himself is an illustrious follower of these and
kindred branches of science.  A writer in the ‘Quarterly Review’ cites
him as a “singular instance of a man who, having passed the early part of
his life as a soldier, never having had the advantage, or disadvantage as
the case might have been, of a scientific training, instead of remaining
a fox-hunting country gentleman, has succeeded by his own native vigour
and sagacity, untiring industry and zeal, in making for himself a
scientific reputation that is as wide as it is likely to be lasting.  He
took first of all an unexplored and difficult district at home, and, by
the labour of many years, examined its rock-formations, classed them in
natural groups, assigned to each its characteristic assemblage of
fossils, and was the first to decipher two great chapters in the world’s
geological history, which must always henceforth carry his name on their
title-page.  Not only so, but he applied the knowledge thus acquired to
the dissection of large districts, both at home and abroad, so as to
become the geological discoverer of great countries which had formerly
been ‘terræ incognitæ.’”  But Sir Roderick Murchison is not merely a
geologist.  His indefatigable labours in many branches of knowledge have
contributed to render him among the most accomplished and complete of
scientific men.


    “If what shone afar so grand,
    Turn to nothing in thy hand,
    On again; the virtue lies
    In struggle, not the prize.”—_R. M. Milnes_.

    “Excelle, et tu vivras.”—_Joubert_.

EXCELLENCE in art, as in everything else, can only be achieved by dint of
painstaking labour.

There is nothing less accidental than the painting of a fine picture or
the chiselling of a noble statue.  Every skilled touch of the artist’s
brush or chisel, though guided by genius, is the product of unremitting

Sir Joshua Reynolds was such a believer in the force of industry, that he
held that artistic excellence, “however expressed by genius, taste, or
the gift of heaven, may be acquired.”  Writing to Barry he said, “Whoever
is resolved to excel in painting, or indeed any other art, must bring all
his mind to bear upon that one object from the moment that he rises till
he goes to bed.”  And on another occasion he said, “Those who are
resolved to excel must go to their work, willing or unwilling, morning,
noon, and night: they will find it no play, but very hard labour.”  But
although diligent application is no doubt absolutely necessary for the
achievement of the highest distinction in art, it is equally true that
without the inborn genius, no amount of mere industry, however well
applied, will make an artist.  The gift comes by nature, but is perfected
by self-culture, which is of more avail than all the imparted education
of the schools.

Some of the greatest artists have had to force their way upward in the
face of poverty and manifold obstructions.  Illustrious instances will at
once flash upon the reader’s mind.  Claude Lorraine, the pastrycook;
Tintoretto, the dyer; the two Caravaggios, the one a colour-grinder, the
other a mortar-carrier at the Vatican; Salvator Rosa, the associate of
bandits; Giotto, the peasant boy; Zingaro, the gipsy; Cavedone, turned
out of doors to beg by his father; Canova, the stone-cutter; these, and
many other well-known artists, succeeded in achieving distinction by
severe study and labour, under circumstances the most adverse.

Nor have the most distinguished artists of our own country been born in a
position of life more than ordinarily favourable to the culture of
artistic genius.  Gainsborough and Bacon were the sons of cloth-workers;
Barry was an Irish sailor boy, and Maclise a banker’s apprentice at Cork;
Opie and Romney, like Inigo Jones, were carpenters; West was the son of a
small Quaker farmer in Pennsylvania; Northcote was a watchmaker, Jackson
a tailor, and Etty a printer; Reynolds, Wilson, and Wilkie, were the sons
of clergymen; Lawrence was the son of a publican, and Turner of a barber.
Several of our painters, it is true, originally had some connection with
art, though in a very humble way,—such as Flaxman, whose father sold
plaster casts; Bird, who ornamented tea-trays; Martin, who was a
coach-painter; Wright and Gilpin, who were ship-painters; Chantrey, who
was a carver and gilder; and David Cox, Stanfield, and Roberts, who were

It was not by luck or accident that these men achieved distinction, but
by sheer industry and hard work.  Though some achieved wealth, yet this
was rarely, if ever, the ruling motive.  Indeed, no mere love of money
could sustain the efforts of the artist in his early career of
self-denial and application.  The pleasure of the pursuit has always been
its best reward; the wealth which followed but an accident.  Many
noble-minded artists have preferred following the bent of their genius,
to chaffering with the public for terms.  Spagnoletto verified in his
life the beautiful fiction of Xenophon, and after he had acquired the
means of luxury, preferred withdrawing himself from their influence, and
voluntarily returned to poverty and labour.  When Michael Angelo was
asked his opinion respecting a work which a painter had taken great pains
to exhibit for profit, he said, “I think that he will be a poor fellow so
long as he shows such an extreme eagerness to become rich.”

Like Sir Joshua Reynolds, Michael Angelo was a great believer in the
force of labour; and he held that there was nothing which the imagination
conceived, that could not be embodied in marble, if the hand were made
vigorously to obey the mind.  He was himself one of the most
indefatigable of workers; and he attributed his power of studying for a
greater number of hours than most of his contemporaries, to his spare
habits of living.  A little bread and wine was all he required for the
chief part of the day when employed at his work; and very frequently he
rose in the middle of the night to resume his labours.  On these
occasions, it was his practice to fix the candle, by the light of which
he chiselled, on the summit of a paste-board cap which he wore.
Sometimes he was too wearied to undress, and he slept in his clothes,
ready to spring to his work so soon as refreshed by sleep.  He had a
favourite device of an old man in a go-cart, with an hour-glass upon it
bearing the inscription, _Ancora imparo_!  Still I am learning.

Titian, also, was an indefatigable worker.  His celebrated “Pietro
Martire” was eight years in hand, and his “Last Supper” seven.  In his
letter to Charles V. he said, “I send your Majesty the ‘Last Supper’
after working at it almost daily for seven years—_dopo sette anni
lavorandovi quasi continuamente_.”  Few think of the patient labour and
long training involved in the greatest works of the artist.  They seem
easy and quickly accomplished, yet with how great difficulty has this
ease been acquired.  “You charge me fifty sequins,” said the Venetian
nobleman to the sculptor, “for a bust that cost you only ten days’
labour.”  “You forget,” said the artist, “that I have been thirty years
learning to make that bust in ten days.”  Once when Domenichino was
blamed for his slowness in finishing a picture which was bespoken, he
made answer, “I am continually painting it within myself.”  It was
eminently characteristic of the industry of the late Sir Augustus
Callcott, that he made not fewer than forty separate sketches in the
composition of his famous picture of “Rochester.”  This constant
repetition is one of the main conditions of success in art, as in life

No matter how generous nature has been in bestowing the gift of genius,
the pursuit of art is nevertheless a long and continuous labour.  Many
artists have been precocious, but without diligence their precocity would
have come to nothing.  The anecdote related of West is well known.  When
only seven years old, struck with the beauty of the sleeping infant of
his eldest sister whilst watching by its cradle, he ran to seek some
paper and forthwith drew its portrait in red and black ink.  The little
incident revealed the artist in him, and it was found impossible to draw
him from his bent.  West might have been a greater painter, had he not
been injured by too early success: his fame, though great, was not
purchased by study, trials, and difficulties, and it has not been

Richard Wilson, when a mere child, indulged himself with tracing figures
of men and animals on the walls of his father’s house, with a burnt
stick.  He first directed his attention to portrait painting; but when in
Italy, calling one day at the house of Zucarelli, and growing weary with
waiting, he began painting the scene on which his friend’s chamber window
looked.  When Zucarelli arrived, he was so charmed with the picture, that
he asked if Wilson had not studied landscape, to which he replied that he
had not.  “Then, I advise you,” said the other, “to try; for you are sure
of great success.”  Wilson adopted the advice, studied and worked hard,
and became our first great English landscape painter.

Sir Joshua Reynolds, when a boy, forgot his lessons, and took pleasure
only in drawing, for which his father was accustomed to rebuke him.  The
boy was destined for the profession of physic, but his strong instinct
for art could not be repressed, and he became a painter.  Gainsborough
went sketching, when a schoolboy, in the woods of Sudbury; and at twelve
he was a confirmed artist: he was a keen observer and a hard worker,—no
picturesque feature of any scene he had once looked upon, escaping his
diligent pencil.  William Blake, a hosier’s son, employed himself in
drawing designs on the backs of his father’s shop-bills, and making
sketches on the counter.  Edward Bird, when a child only three or four
years old, would mount a chair and draw figures on the walls, which he
called French and English soldiers.  A box of colours was purchased for
him, and his father, desirous of turning his love of art to account, put
him apprentice to a maker of tea-trays!  Out of this trade he gradually
raised himself, by study and labour, to the rank of a Royal Academician.

Hogarth, though a very dull boy at his lessons, took pleasure in making
drawings of the letters of the alphabet, and his school exercises were
more remarkable for the ornaments with which he embellished them, than
for the matter of the exercises themselves.  In the latter respect he was
beaten by all the blockheads of the school, but in his adornments he
stood alone.  His father put him apprentice to a silversmith, where he
learnt to draw, and also to engrave spoons and forks with crests and
ciphers.  From silver-chasing, he went on to teach himself engraving on
copper, principally griffins and monsters of heraldry, in the course of
which practice he became ambitious to delineate the varieties of human
character.  The singular excellence which he reached in this art, was
mainly the result of careful observation and study.  He had the gift,
which he sedulously cultivated, of committing to memory the precise
features of any remarkable face, and afterwards reproducing them on
paper; but if any singularly fantastic form or _outré_ face came in his
way, he would make a sketch of it on the spot, upon his thumb-nail, and
carry it home to expand at his leisure.  Everything fantastical and
original had a powerful attraction for him, and he wandered into many
out-of-the-way places for the purpose of meeting with character.  By this
careful storing of his mind, he was afterwards enabled to crowd an
immense amount of thought and treasured observation into his works.
Hence it is that Hogarth’s pictures are so truthful a memorial of the
character, the manners, and even the very thoughts of the times in which
he lived.  True painting, he himself observed, can only be learnt in one
school, and that is kept by Nature.  But he was not a highly cultivated
man, except in his own walk.  His school education had been of the
slenderest kind, scarcely even perfecting him in the art of spelling; his
self-culture did the rest.  For a long time he was in very straitened
circumstances, but nevertheless worked on with a cheerful heart.  Poor
though he was, he contrived to live within his small means, and he
boasted, with becoming pride, that he was “a punctual paymaster.”  When
he had conquered all his difficulties and become a famous and thriving
man, he loved to dwell upon his early labours and privations, and to
fight over again the battle which ended so honourably to him as a man and
so gloriously as an artist.  “I remember the time,” said he on one
occasion, “when I have gone moping into the city with scarce a shilling,
but as soon as I have received ten guineas there for a plate, I have
returned home, put on my sword, and sallied out with all the confidence
of a man who had thousands in his pockets.”

“Industry and perseverance” was the motto of the sculptor Banks, which he
acted on himself, and strongly recommended to others.  His well-known
kindness induced many aspiring youths to call upon him and ask for his
advice and assistance; and it is related that one day a boy called at his
door to see him with this object, but the servant, angry at the loud
knock he had given, scolded him, and was about sending him away, when
Banks overhearing her, himself went out.  The little boy stood at the
door with some drawings in his hand.  “What do you want with me?” asked
the sculptor.  “I want, sir, if you please, to be admitted to draw at the
Academy.”  Banks explained that he himself could not procure his
admission, but he asked to look at the boy’s drawings.  Examining them,
he said, “Time enough for the Academy, my little man! go home—mind your
schooling—try to make a better drawing of the Apollo—and in a month come
again and let me see it.”  The boy went home—sketched and worked with
redoubled diligence—and, at the end of the month, called again on the
sculptor.  The drawing was better; but again Banks sent him back, with
good advice, to work and study.  In a week the boy was again at his door,
his drawing much improved; and Banks bid him be of good cheer, for if
spared he would distinguish himself.  The boy was Mulready; and the
sculptor’s augury was amply fulfilled.

The fame of Claude Lorraine is partly explained by his indefatigable
industry.  Born at Champagne, in Lorraine, of poor parents, he was first
apprenticed to a pastrycook.  His brother, who was a wood-carver,
afterwards took him into his shop to learn that trade.  Having there
shown indications of artistic skill, a travelling dealer persuaded the
brother to allow Claude to accompany him to Italy.  He assented, and the
young man reached Rome, where he was shortly after engaged by Agostino
Tassi, the landscape painter, as his house-servant.  In that capacity
Claude first learnt landscape painting, and in course of time he began to
produce pictures.  We next find him making the tour of Italy, France, and
Germany, occasionally resting by the way to paint landscapes, and thereby
replenish his purse.  On returning to Rome he found an increasing demand
for his works, and his reputation at length became European.  He was
unwearied in the study of nature in her various aspects.  It was his
practice to spend a great part of his time in closely copying buildings,
bits of ground, trees, leaves, and such like, which he finished in
detail, keeping the drawings by him in store for the purpose of
introducing them in his studied landscapes.  He also gave close attention
to the sky, watching it for whole days from morning till night, and
noting the various changes occasioned by the passing clouds and the
increasing and waning light.  By this constant practice he acquired,
although it is said very slowly, such a mastery of hand and eye as
eventually secured for him the first rank among landscape painters.

Turner, who has been styled “the English Claude,” pursued a career of
like laborious industry.  He was destined by his father for his own trade
of a barber, which he carried on in London, until one day the sketch
which the boy had made of a coat of arms on a silver salver having
attracted the notice of a customer whom his father was shaving, the
latter was urged to allow his son to follow his bias, and he was
eventually permitted to follow art as a profession.  Like all young
artists, Turner had many difficulties to encounter, and they were all the
greater that his circumstances were so straitened.  But he was always
willing to work, and to take pains with his work, no matter how humble it
might be.  He was glad to hire himself out at half-a-crown a night to
wash in skies in Indian ink upon other people’s drawings, getting his
supper into the bargain.  Thus he earned money and acquired expertness.
Then he took to illustrating guide-books, almanacs, and any sort of books
that wanted cheap frontispieces.  “What could I have done better?” said
he afterwards; “it was first-rate practice.”  He did everything carefully
and conscientiously, never slurring over his work because he was
ill-remunerated for it.  He aimed at learning as well as living; always
doing his best, and never leaving a drawing without having made a step in
advance upon his previous work.  A man who thus laboured was sure to do
much; and his growth in power and grasp of thought was, to use Ruskin’s
words, “as steady as the increasing light of sunrise.”  But Turner’s
genius needs no panegyric; his best monument is the noble gallery of
pictures bequeathed by him to the nation, which will ever be the most
lasting memorial of his fame.

To reach Rome, the capital of the fine arts, is usually the highest
ambition of the art student.  But the journey to Rome is costly, and the
student is often poor.  With a will resolute to overcome difficulties,
Rome may however at last be reached.  Thus François Perrier, an early
French painter, in his eager desire to visit the Eternal City, consented
to act as guide to a blind vagrant.  After long wanderings he reached the
Vatican, studied and became famous.  Not less enthusiasm was displayed by
Jacques Callot in his determination to visit Rome.  Though opposed by his
father in his wish to be an artist, the boy would not be baulked, but
fled from home to make his way to Italy.  Having set out without means,
he was soon reduced to great straits; but falling in with a band of
gipsies, he joined their company, and wandered about with them from one
fair to another, sharing in their numerous adventures.  During this
remarkable journey Callot picked up much of that extraordinary knowledge
of figure, feature, and character which he afterwards reproduced,
sometimes in such exaggerated forms, in his wonderful engravings.

When Callot at length reached Florence, a gentleman, pleased with his
ingenious ardour, placed him with an artist to study; but he was not
satisfied to stop short of Rome, and we find him shortly on his way
thither.  At Rome he made the acquaintance of Porigi and Thomassin, who,
on seeing his crayon sketches, predicted for him a brilliant career as an
artist.  But a friend of Callot’s family having accidentally encountered
him, took steps to compel the fugitive to return home.  By this time he
had acquired such a love of wandering that he could not rest; so he ran
away a second time, and a second time he was brought back by his elder
brother, who caught him at Turin.  At last the father, seeing resistance
was in vain, gave his reluctant consent to Callot’s prosecuting his
studies at Rome.  Thither he went accordingly; and this time he remained,
diligently studying design and engraving for several years, under
competent masters.  On his way back to France, he was encouraged by Cosmo
II. to remain at Florence, where he studied and worked for several years
more.  On the death of his patron he returned to his family at Nancy,
where, by the use of his burin and needle, he shortly acquired both
wealth and fame.  When Nancy was taken by siege during the civil wars,
Callot was requested by Richelieu to make a design and engraving of the
event, but the artist would not commemorate the disaster which had
befallen his native place, and he refused point-blank.  Richelieu could
not shake his resolution, and threw him into prison.  There Callot met
with some of his old friends the gipsies, who had relieved his wants on
his first journey to Rome.  When Louis XIII. heard of his imprisonment,
he not only released him, but offered to grant him any favour he might
ask.  Callot immediately requested that his old companions, the gipsies,
might be set free and permitted to beg in Paris without molestation.
This odd request was granted on condition that Callot should engrave
their portraits, and hence his curious book of engravings entitled “The
Beggars.”  Louis is said to have offered Callot a pension of 3000 livres
provided he would not leave Paris; but the artist was now too much of a
Bohemian, and prized his liberty too highly to permit him to accept it;
and he returned to Nancy, where he worked till his death.  His industry
may be inferred from the number of his engravings and etchings, of which
he left not fewer than 1600.  He was especially fond of grotesque
subjects, which he treated with great skill; his free etchings, touched
with the graver, being executed with especial delicacy and wonderful

Still more romantic and adventurous was the career of Benvenuto Cellini,
the marvellous gold worker, painter, sculptor, engraver, engineer, and
author.  His life, as told by himself, is one of the most extraordinary
autobiographies ever written.  Giovanni Cellini, his father, was one of
the Court musicians to Lorenzo de Medici at Florence; and his highest
ambition concerning his son Benvenuto was that he should become an expert
player on the flute.  But Giovanni having lost his appointment, found it
necessary to send his son to learn some trade, and he was apprenticed to
a goldsmith.  The boy had already displayed a love of drawing and of art;
and, applying himself to his business, he soon became a dexterous
workman.  Having got mixed up in a quarrel with some of the townspeople,
he was banished for six months, during which period he worked with a
goldsmith at Sienna, gaining further experience in jewellery and

His father still insisting on his becoming a flute-player, Benvenuto
continued to practise on the instrument, though he detested it.  His
chief pleasure was in art, which he pursued with enthusiasm.  Returning
to Florence, he carefully studied the designs of Leonardo da Vinci and
Michael Angelo; and, still further to improve himself in gold-working, he
went on foot to Rome, where he met with a variety of adventures.  He
returned to Florence with the reputation of being a most expert worker in
the precious metals, and his skill was soon in great request.  But being
of an irascible temper, he was constantly getting into scrapes, and was
frequently under the necessity of flying for his life.  Thus he fled from
Florence in the disguise of a friar, again taking refuge at Sienna, and
afterwards at Rome.

During his second residence in Rome, Cellini met with extensive
patronage, and he was taken into the Pope’s service in the double
capacity of goldsmith and musician.  He was constantly studying and
improving himself by acquaintance with the works of the best masters.  He
mounted jewels, finished enamels, engraved seals, and designed and
executed works in gold, silver, and bronze, in such a style as to excel
all other artists.  Whenever he heard of a goldsmith who was famous in
any particular branch, he immediately determined to surpass him.  Thus it
was that he rivalled the medals of one, the enamels of another, and the
jewellery of a third; in fact, there was not a branch of his business
that he did not feel impelled to excel in.

Working in this spirit, it is not so wonderful that Cellini should have
been able to accomplish so much.  He was a man of indefatigable activity,
and was constantly on the move.  At one time we find him at Florence, at
another at Rome; then he is at Mantua, at Rome, at Naples, and back to
Florence again; then at Venice, and in Paris, making all his long
journeys on horseback.  He could not carry much luggage with him; so,
wherever he went, he usually began by making his own tools.  He not only
designed his works, but executed them himself,—hammered and carved, and
cast and shaped them with his own hands.  Indeed, his works have the
impress of genius so clearly stamped upon them, that they could never
have been designed by one person, and executed by another.  The humblest
article—a buckle for a lady’s girdle, a seal, a locket, a brooch, a ring,
or a button—became in his hands a beautiful work of art.

Cellini was remarkable for his readiness and dexterity in handicraft.
One day a surgeon entered the shop of Raffaello del Moro, the goldsmith,
to perform an operation on his daughter’s hand.  On looking at the
surgeon’s instruments, Cellini, who was present, found them rude and
clumsy, as they usually were in those days, and he asked the surgeon to
proceed no further with the operation for a quarter of an hour.  He then
ran to his shop, and taking a piece of the finest steel, wrought out of
it a beautifully finished knife, with which the operation was
successfully performed.

Among the statues executed by Cellini, the most important are the silver
figure of Jupiter, executed at Paris for Francis I., and the Perseus,
executed in bronze for the Grand Duke Cosmo of Florence.  He also
executed statues in marble of Apollo, Hyacinthus, Narcissus, and Neptune.
The extraordinary incidents connected with the casting of the Perseus
were peculiarly illustrative of the remarkable character of the man.

The Grand Duke having expressed a decided opinion that the model, when
shown to him in wax, could not possibly be cast in bronze, Cellini was
immediately stimulated by the predicted impossibility, not only to
attempt, but to do it.  He first made the clay model, baked it, and
covered it with wax, which he shaped into the perfect form of a statue.
Then coating the wax with a sort of earth, he baked the second covering,
during which the wax dissolved and escaped, leaving the space between the
two layers for the reception of the metal.  To avoid disturbance, the
latter process was conducted in a pit dug immediately under the furnace,
from which the liquid metal was to be introduced by pipes and apertures
into the mould prepared for it.

Cellini had purchased and laid in several loads of pine-wood, in
anticipation of the process of casting, which now began.  The furnace was
filled with pieces of brass and bronze, and the fire was lit.  The
resinous pine-wood was soon in such a furious blaze, that the shop took
fire, and part of the roof was burnt; while at the same time the wind
blowing and the rain filling on the furnace, kept down the heat, and
prevented the metals from melting.  For hours Cellini struggled to keep
up the heat, continually throwing in more wood, until at length he became
so exhausted and ill, that he feared he should die before the statue
could be cast.  He was forced to leave to his assistants the pouring in
of the metal when melted, and betook himself to his bed.  While those
about him were condoling with him in his distress, a workman suddenly
entered the room, lamenting that “Poor Benvenuto’s work was irretrievably
spoiled!”  On hearing this, Cellini immediately sprang from his bed and
rushed to the workshop, where he found the fire so much gone down that
the metal had again become hard.

Sending across to a neighbour for a load of young oak which had been more
than a year in drying, he soon had the fire blazing again and the metal
melting and glittering.  The wind was, however, still blowing with fury,
and the rain falling heavily; so, to protect himself, Cellini had some
tables with pieces of tapestry and old clothes brought to him, behind
which he went on hurling the wood into the furnace.  A mass of pewter was
thrown in upon the other metal, and by stirring, sometimes with iron and
sometimes with long poles, the whole soon became completely melted.  At
this juncture, when the trying moment was close at hand, a terrible noise
as of a thunderbolt was heard, and a glittering of fire flashed before
Cellini’s eyes.  The cover of the furnace had burst, and the metal began
to flow!  Finding that it did not run with the proper velocity, Cellini
rushed into the kitchen, bore away every piece of copper and pewter that
it contained—some two hundred porringers, dishes, and kettles of
different kinds—and threw them into the furnace.  Then at length the
metal flowed freely, and thus the splendid statue of Perseus was cast.

The divine fury of genius in which Cellini rushed to his kitchen and
stripped it of its utensils for the purposes of his furnace, will remind
the reader of the like act of Pallissy in breaking up his furniture for
the purpose of baking his earthenware.  Excepting, however, in their
enthusiasm, no two men could be less alike in character.  Cellini was an
Ishmael against whom, according to his own account, every man’s hand was
turned.  But about his extraordinary skill as a workman, and his genius
as an artist, there cannot be two opinions.

Much less turbulent was the career of Nicolas Poussin, a man as pure and
elevated in his ideas of art as he was in his daily life, and
distinguished alike for his vigour of intellect, his rectitude of
character, and his noble simplicity.  He was born in a very humble
station, at Andeleys, near Rouen, where his father kept a small school.
The boy had the benefit of his parent’s instruction, such as it was, but
of that he is said to have been somewhat negligent, preferring to spend
his time in covering his lesson-books and his slate with drawings.  A
country painter, much pleased with his sketches, besought his parents not
to thwart him in his tastes.  The painter agreed to give Poussin lessons,
and he soon made such progress that his master had nothing more to teach
him.  Becoming restless, and desirous of further improving himself,
Poussin, at the age of 18, set out for Paris, painting signboards on his
way for a maintenance.

At Paris a new world of art opened before him, exciting his wonder and
stimulating his emulation.  He worked diligently in many studios,
drawing, copying, and painting pictures.  After a time, he resolved, if
possible, to visit Rome, and set out on his journey; but he only
succeeded in getting as far as Florence, and again returned to Paris.  A
second attempt which he made to reach Rome was even less successful; for
this time he only got as far as Lyons.  He was, nevertheless, careful to
take advantage of all opportunities for improvement which came in his
way, and continued as sedulous as before in studying and working.

Thus twelve years passed, years of obscurity and toil, of failures and
disappointments, and probably of privations.  At length Poussin succeeded
in reaching Rome.  There he diligently studied the old masters, and
especially the ancient statues, with whose perfection he was greatly
impressed.  For some time he lived with the sculptor Duquesnoi, as poor
as himself, and assisted him in modelling figures after the antique.
With him he carefully measured some of the most celebrated statues in
Rome, more particularly the ‘Antinous:’ and it is supposed that this
practice exercised considerable influence on the formation of his future
style.  At the same time he studied anatomy, practised drawing from the
life, and made a great store of sketches of postures and attitudes of
people whom he met, carefully reading at his leisure such standard books
on art as he could borrow from his friends.

During all this time he remained very poor, satisfied to be continually
improving himself.  He was glad to sell his pictures for whatever they
would bring.  One, of a prophet, he sold for eight livres; and another,
the ‘Plague of the Philistines,’ he sold for 60 crowns—a picture
afterwards bought by Cardinal de Richelieu for a thousand.  To add to his
troubles, he was stricken by a cruel malady, during the helplessness
occasioned by which the Chevalier del Posso assisted him with money.  For
this gentleman Poussin afterwards painted the ‘Rest in the Desert,’ a
fine picture, which far more than repaid the advances made during his

The brave man went on toiling and learning through suffering.  Still
aiming at higher things, he went to Florence and Venice, enlarging the
range of his studies.  The fruits of his conscientious labour at length
appeared in the series of great pictures which he now began to
produce,—his ‘Death of Germanicus,’ followed by ‘Extreme Unction,’ the
‘Testament of Eudamidas,’ the ‘Manna,’ and the ‘Abduction of the

The reputation of Poussin, however, grew but slowly.  He was of a
retiring disposition and shunned society.  People gave him credit for
being a thinker much more than a painter.  When not actually employed in
painting, he took long solitary walks in the country, meditating the
designs of future pictures.  One of his few friends while at Rome was
Claude Lorraine, with whom he spent many hours at a time on the terrace
of La Trinité-du-Mont, conversing about art and antiquarianism.  The
monotony and the quiet of Rome were suited to his taste, and, provided he
could earn a moderate living by his brush, he had no wish to leave it.

But his fame now extended beyond Rome, and repeated invitations were sent
him to return to Paris.  He was offered the appointment of principal
painter to the King.  At first he hesitated; quoted the Italian proverb,
_Chi sta bene non si muove_; said he had lived fifteen years in Rome,
married a wife there, and looked forward to dying and being buried there.
Urged again, he consented, and returned to Paris.  But his appearance
there awakened much professional jealousy, and he soon wished himself
back in Rome again.  While in Paris he painted some of his greatest
works—his ‘Saint Xavier,’ the ‘Baptism,’ and the ‘Last Supper.’  He was
kept constantly at work.  At first he did whatever he was asked to do,
such as designing frontispieces for the royal books, more particularly a
Bible and a Virgil, cartoons for the Louvre, and designs for tapestry;
but at length he expostulated:—“It is impossible for me,” he said to M.
de Chanteloup, “to work at the same time at frontispieces for books, at a
Virgin, at a picture of the Congregation of St. Louis, at the various
designs for the gallery, and, finally, at designs for the royal tapestry.
I have only one pair of hands and a feeble head, and can neither be
helped nor can my labours be lightened by another.”

Annoyed by the enemies his success had provoked and whom he was unable to
conciliate, he determined, at the end of less than two years’ labour in
Paris, to return to Rome.  Again settled there in his humble dwelling on
Mont Pincio, he employed himself diligently in the practice of his art
during the remaining years of his life, living in great simplicity and
privacy.  Though suffering much from the disease which afflicted him, he
solaced himself by study, always striving after excellence.  “In growing
old,” he said, “I feel myself becoming more and more inflamed with the
desire of surpassing myself and reaching the highest degree of
perfection.”  Thus toiling, struggling, and suffering, Poussin spent his
later years.  He had no children; his wife died before him; all his
friends were gone: so that in his old age he was left absolutely alone in
Rome, so full of tombs, and died there in 1665, bequeathing to his
relatives at Andeleys the savings of his life, amounting to about 1000
crowns; and leaving behind him, as a legacy to his race, the great works
of his genius.

The career of Ary Scheffer furnishes one of the best examples in modern
times of a like high-minded devotion to art.  Born at Dordrecht, the son
of a German artist, he early manifested an aptitude for drawing and
painting, which his parents encouraged.  His father dying while he was
still young, his mother resolved, though her means were but small, to
remove the family to Paris, in order that her son might obtain the best
opportunities for instruction.  There young Scheffer was placed with
Guérin the painter.  But his mother’s means were too limited to permit
him to devote himself exclusively to study.  She had sold the few jewels
she possessed, and refused herself every indulgence, in order to forward
the instruction of her other children.  Under such circumstances, it was
natural that Ary should wish to help her; and by the time he was eighteen
years of age he began to paint small pictures of simple subjects, which
met with a ready sale at moderate prices.  He also practised portrait
painting, at the same time gathering experience and earning honest money.
He gradually improved in drawing, colouring, and composition.  The
‘Baptism’ marked a new epoch in his career, and from that point he went
on advancing, until his fame culminated in his pictures illustrative of
‘Faust,’ his ‘Francisca de Rimini,’ ‘Christ the Consoler,’ the ‘Holy
Women,’ ‘St. Monica and St. Augustin,’ and many other noble works.

“The amount of labour, thought, and attention,” says Mrs. Grote, “which
Scheffer brought to the production of the ‘Francisca,’ must have been
enormous.  In truth, his technical education having been so imperfect, he
was forced to climb the steep of art by drawing upon his own resources,
and thus, whilst his hand was at work, his mind was engaged in
meditation.  He had to try various processes of handling, and experiments
in colouring; to paint and repaint, with tedious and unremitting
assiduity.  But Nature had endowed him with that which proved in some
sort an equivalent for shortcomings of a professional kind.  His own
elevation of character, and his profound sensibility, aided him in acting
upon the feelings of others through the medium of the pencil.” {173}

One of the artists whom Scheffer most admired was Flaxman; and he once
said to a friend, “If I have unconsciously borrowed from any one in the
design of the ‘Francisca,’ it must have been from something I had seen
among Flaxman’s drawings.”  John Flaxman was the son of a humble seller
of plaster casts in New Street, Covent Garden.  When a child, he was such
an invalid that it was his custom to sit behind his father’s shop counter
propped by pillows, amusing himself with drawing and reading.  A
benevolent clergyman, the Rev. Mr. Matthews, calling at the shop one day,
saw the boy trying to read a book, and on inquiring what it was, found it
to be a Cornelius Nepos, which his father had picked up for a few pence
at a bookstall.  The gentleman, after some conversation with the boy,
said that was not the proper book for him to read, but that he would
bring him one.  The next day he called with translations of Homer and
‘Don Quixote,’ which the boy proceeded to read with great avidity.  His
mind was soon filled with the heroism which breathed through the pages of
the former, and, with the stucco Ajaxes and Achilleses about him, ranged
along the shop shelves, the ambition took possession of him, that he too
would design and embody in poetic forms those majestic heroes.

Like all youthful efforts, his first designs were crude.  The proud
father one day showed some of them to Roubilliac the sculptor, who turned
from them with a contemptuous “pshaw!”  But the boy had the right stuff
in him; he had industry and patience; and he continued to labour
incessantly at his books and drawings.  He then tried his young powers in
modelling figures in plaster of Paris, wax, and clay.  Some of these
early works are still preserved, not because of their merit, but because
they are curious as the first healthy efforts of patient genius.  It was
long before the boy could walk, and he only learnt to do so by hobbling
along upon crutches.  At length he became strong enough to walk without

The kind Mr. Matthews invited him to his house, where his wife explained
Homer and Milton to him.  They helped him also in his self-culture—giving
him lessons in Greek and Latin, the study of which he prosecuted at home.
By dint of patience and perseverance, his drawing improved so much that
he obtained a commission from a lady, to execute six original drawings in
black chalk of subjects in Homer.  His first commission!  What an event
in the artist’s life!  A surgeon’s first fee, a lawyer’s first retainer,
a legislator’s first speech, a singer’s first appearance behind the
foot-lights, an author’s first book, are not any of them more full of
interest to the aspirant for fame than the artist’s first commission.
The boy at once proceeded to execute the order, and he was both well
praised and well paid for his work.

At fifteen Flaxman entered a pupil at the Royal Academy.  Notwithstanding
his retiring disposition, he soon became known among the students, and
great things were expected of him.  Nor were their expectations
disappointed: in his fifteenth year he gained the silver prize, and next
year he became a candidate for the gold one.  Everybody prophesied that
he would carry off the medal, for there was none who surpassed him in
ability and industry.  Yet he lost it, and the gold medal was adjudged to
a pupil who was not afterwards heard of.  This failure on the part of the
youth was really of service to him; for defeats do not long cast down the
resolute-hearted, but only serve to call forth their real powers.  “Give
me time,” said he to his father, “and I will yet produce works that the
Academy will be proud to recognise.”  He redoubled his efforts, spared no
pains, designed and modelled incessantly, and made steady if not rapid
progress.  But meanwhile poverty threatened his father’s household; the
plaster-cast trade yielded a very bare living; and young Flaxman, with
resolute self-denial, curtailed his hours of study, and devoted himself
to helping his father in the humble details of his business.  He laid
aside his Homer to take up the plaster-trowel.  He was willing to work in
the humblest department of the trade so that his father’s family might be
supported, and the wolf kept from the door.  To this drudgery of his art
he served a long apprenticeship; but it did him good.  It familiarised
him with steady work, and cultivated in him the spirit of patience.  The
discipline may have been hard, but it was wholesome.

Happily, young Flaxman’s skill in design had reached the knowledge of
Josiah Wedgwood, who sought him out for the purpose of employing him to
design improved patterns of china and earthenware.  It may seem a humble
department of art for such a genius as Flaxman to work in; but it really
was not so.  An artist may be labouring truly in his vocation while
designing a common teapot or water-jug.  Articles in daily use amongst
the people, which are before their eyes at every meal, may be made the
vehicles of education to all, and minister to their highest culture.  The
most ambitious artist way thus confer a greater practical benefit on his
countrymen than by executing an elaborate work which he may sell for
thousands of pounds to be placed in some wealthy man’s gallery where it
is hidden away from public sight.  Before Wedgwood’s time the designs
which figured upon our china and stoneware were hideous both in drawing
and execution, and he determined to improve both.  Flaxman did his best
to carry out the manufacturer’s views.  He supplied him from time to time
with models and designs of various pieces of earthenware, the subjects of
which were principally from ancient verse and history.  Many of them are
still in existence, and some are equal in beauty and simplicity to his
after designs for marble.  The celebrated Etruscan vases, specimens of
which were to be found in public museums and in the cabinets of the
curious, furnished him with the best examples of form, and these he
embellished with his own elegant devices.  Stuart’s ‘Athens,’ then
recently published, furnished him with specimens of the purest-shaped
Greek utensils; of these he adopted the best, and worked them into new
shapes of elegance and beauty.  Flaxman then saw that he was labouring in
a great work—no less than the promotion of popular education; and he was
proud, in after life, to allude to his early labours in this walk, by
which he was enabled at the same time to cultivate his love of the
beautiful, to diffuse a taste for art among the people, and to replenish
his own purse, while he promoted the prosperity of his friend and

At length, in the year 1782, when twenty-seven years of age, he quitted
his father’s roof and rented a small house and studio in Wardour Street,
Soho; and what was more, he married—Ann Denman was the name of his
wife—and a cheerful, bright-souled, noble woman she was.  He believed
that in marrying her he should be able to work with an intenser spirit;
for, like him, she had a taste for poetry and art; and besides was an
enthusiastic admirer of her husband’s genius.  Yet when Sir Joshua
Reynolds—himself a bachelor—met Flaxman shortly after his marriage, he
said to him, “So, Flaxman, I am told you are married; if so, sir, I tell
you you are ruined for an artist.”  Flaxman went straight home, sat down
beside his wife, took her hand in his, and said, “Ann, I am ruined for an
artist.”  “How so, John?  How has it happened? and who has done it?”  “It
happened,” he replied, “in the church, and Ann Denman has done it.”  He
then told her of Sir Joshua’s remark—whose opinion was well known, and
had often been expressed, that if students would excel they must bring
the whole powers of their mind to bear upon their art, from the moment
they rose until they went to bed; and also, that no man could be a
_great_ artist unless he studied the grand works of Raffaelle, Michael
Angelo, and others, at Rome and Florence.  “And I,” said Flaxman, drawing
up his little figure to its full height, “_I_ would be a great artist.”
“And a great artist you shall be,” said his wife, “and visit Rome too, if
that be really necessary to make you great.”  “But how?” asked Flaxman.
“_Work and economise_,” rejoined the brave wife; “I will never have it
said that Ann Denman ruined John Flaxman for an artist.”  And so it was
determined by the pair that the journey to Rome was to be made when their
means would admit.  “I will go to Rome,” said Flaxman, “and show the
President that wedlock is for a man’s good rather than his harm; and you,
Ann, shall accompany me.”

Patiently and happily the affectionate couple plodded on during five
years in their humble little home in Wardour Street, always with the long
journey to Rome before them.  It was never lost sight of for a moment,
and not a penny was uselessly spent that could be saved towards the
necessary expenses.  They said no word to any one about their project;
solicited no aid from the Academy; but trusted only to their own patient
labour and love to pursue and achieve their object.  During this time
Flaxman exhibited very few works.  He could not afford marble to
experiment in original designs; but he obtained frequent commissions for
monuments, by the profits of which he maintained himself.  He still
worked for Wedgwood, who was a prompt paymaster; and, on the whole, he
was thriving, happy, and hopeful.  His local respectability was even such
as to bring local honours and local work upon him; for he was elected by
the ratepayers to collect the watch-rate for the Parish of St. Anne, when
he might be seen going about with an ink-bottle suspended from his
button-hole, collecting the money.

At length Flaxman and his wife having accumulated a sufficient store of
savings, set out for Rome.  Arrived there, he applied himself diligently
to study, maintaining himself, like other poor artists, by making copies
from the antique.  English visitors sought his studio, and gave him
commissions; and it was then that he composed his beautiful designs
illustrative of Homer, Æschylus, and Dante.  The price paid for them was
moderate—only fifteen shillings a-piece; but Flaxman worked for art as
well as money; and the beauty of the designs brought him other friends
and patrons.  He executed Cupid and Aurora for the munificent Thomas
Hope, and the Fury of Athamas for the Earl of Bristol.  He then prepared
to return to England, his taste improved and cultivated by careful study;
but before he left Italy, the Academies of Florence and Carrara
recognised his merit by electing him a member.

His fame had preceded him to London, where he soon found abundant
employment.  While at Rome he had been commissioned to execute his famous
monument in memory of Lord Mansfield, and it was erected in the north
transept of Westminster Abbey shortly after his return.  It stands there
in majestic grandeur, a monument to the genius of Flaxman himself—calm,
simple, and severe.  No wonder that Banks, the sculptor, then in the
heyday of his fame, exclaimed when he saw it, “This little man cuts us
all out!”

When the members of the Royal Academy heard of Flaxman’s return, and
especially when they had an opportunity of seeing and admiring his
portrait-statue of Mansfield, they were eager to have him enrolled among
their number.  He allowed his name to be proposed in the candidates’ list
of associates, and was immediately elected.  Shortly after, he appeared
in an entirely new character.  The little boy who had begun his studies
behind the plaster-cast-seller’s shop-counter in New Street, Covent
Garden, was now a man of high intellect and recognised supremacy in art,
to instruct students, in the character of Professor of Sculpture to the
Royal Academy!  And no man better deserved to fill that distinguished
office; for none is so able to instruct others as he who, for himself and
by his own efforts, has learnt to grapple with and overcome difficulties.

After a long, peaceful, and happy life, Flaxman found himself growing
old.  The loss which he sustained by the death of his affectionate wife
Ann, was a severe shock to him; but he survived her several years, during
which he executed his celebrated “Shield of Achilles,” and his noble
“Archangel Michael vanquishing Satan,”—perhaps his two greatest works.

Chantrey was a more robust man;—somewhat rough, but hearty in his
demeanour; proud of his successful struggle with the difficulties which
beset him in early life; and, above all, proud of his independence.  He
was born a poor man’s child, at Norton, near Sheffield.  His father dying
when he was a mere boy, his mother married again.  Young Chantrey used to
drive an ass laden with milk-cans across its back into the neighbouring
town of Sheffield, and there serve his mother’s customers with milk.
Such was the humble beginning of his industrial career; and it was by his
own strength that he rose from that position, and achieved the highest
eminence as an artist.  Not taking kindly to his step-father, the boy was
sent to trade, and was first placed with a grocer in Sheffield.  The
business was very distasteful to him; but, passing a carver’s shop window
one day, his eye was attracted by the glittering articles it contained,
and, charmed with the idea of being a carver, he begged to be released
from the grocery business with that object.  His friends consented, and
he was bound apprentice to the carver and gilder for seven years.  His
new master, besides being a carver in wood, was also a dealer in prints
and plaster models; and Chantrey at once set about imitating both,
studying with great industry and energy.  All his spare hours were
devoted to drawing, modelling, and self-improvement, and he often carried
his labours far into the night.  Before his apprenticeship was out—at the
ace of twenty-one—he paid over to his master the whole wealth which he
was able to muster—a sum of 50_l._—to cancel his indentures, determined
to devote himself to the career of an artist.  He then made the best of
his way to London, and with characteristic good sense, sought employment
as an assistant carver, studying painting and modelling at his bye-hours.
Among the jobs on which he was first employed as a journeyman carver, was
the decoration of the dining-room of Mr. Rogers, the poet—a room in which
he was in after years a welcome visitor; and he usually took pleasure in
pointing out his early handywork to the guests whom he met at his
friend’s table.

Returning to Sheffield on a professional visit, he advertised himself in
the local papers as a painter of portraits in crayons and miniatures, and
also in oil.  For his first crayon portrait he was paid a guinea by a
cutler; and for a portrait in oil, a confectioner paid him as much as
5_l._ and a pair of top boots!  Chantrey was soon in London again to
study at the Royal Academy; and next time he returned to Sheffield he
advertised himself as ready to model plaster busts of his townsmen, as
well as paint portraits of them.  He was even selected to design a
monument to a deceased vicar of the town, and executed it to the general
satisfaction.  When in London he used a room over a stable as a studio,
and there he modelled his first original work for exhibition.  It was a
gigantic head of Satan.  Towards the close of Chantrey’s life, a friend
passing through his studio was struck by this model lying in a corner.
“That head,” said the sculptor, “was the first thing that I did after I
came to London.  I worked at it in a garret with a paper cap on my head;
and as I could then afford only one candle, I stuck that one in my cap
that it might move along with me, and give me light whichever way I
turned.”  Flaxman saw and admired this head at the Academy Exhibition,
and recommended Chantrey for the execution of the busts of four admirals,
required for the Naval Asylum at Greenwich.  This commission led to
others, and painting was given up.  But for eight years before, he had
not earned 5_l._ by his modelling.  His famous head of Horne Tooke was
such a success that, according to his own account, it brought him
commissions amounting to 12,000_l._

Chantrey had now succeeded, but he had worked hard, and fairly earned his
good fortune.  He was selected from amongst sixteen competitors to
execute the statue of George III. for the city of London.  A few years
later, he produced the exquisite monument of the Sleeping Children, now
in Lichfield Cathedral,—a work of great tenderness and beauty; and
thenceforward his career was one of increasing honour, fame, and
prosperity.  His patience, industry, and steady perseverance were the
means by which he achieved his greatness.  Nature endowed him with
genius, and his sound sense enabled him to employ the precious gift as a
blessing.  He was prudent and shrewd, like the men amongst whom he was
born; the pocket-book which accompanied him on his Italian tour
containing mingled notes on art, records of daily expenses, and the
current prices of marble.  His tastes were simple, and he made his finest
subjects great by the mere force of simplicity.  His statue of Watt, in
Handsworth church, seems to us the very consummation of art; yet it is
perfectly artless and simple.  His generosity to brother artists in need
was splendid, but quiet and unostentatious.  He left the principal part
of his fortune to the Royal Academy for the promotion of British art.

The same honest and persistent industry was throughout distinctive of the
career of David Wilkie.  The son of a Scotch minister, he gave early
indications of an artistic turn; and though he was a negligent and inapt
scholar, he was a sedulous drawer of faces and figures.  A silent boy, he
already displayed that quiet concentrated energy of character which
distinguished him through life.  He was always on the look-out for an
opportunity to draw,—and the walls of the manse, or the smooth sand by
the river side, were alike convenient for his purpose.  Any sort of tool
would serve him; like Giotto, he found a pencil in a burnt stick, a
prepared canvas in any smooth stone, and the subject for a picture in
every ragged mendicant he met.  When he visited a house, he generally
left his mark on the walls as an indication of his presence, sometimes to
the disgust of cleanly housewives.  In short, notwithstanding the
aversion of his father, the minister, to the “sinful” profession of
painting, Wilkie’s strong propensity was not to be thwarted, and he
became an artist, working his way manfully up the steep of difficulty.
Though rejected on his first application as a candidate for admission to
the Scottish Academy, at Edinburgh, on account of the rudeness and
inaccuracy of his introductory specimens, he persevered in producing
better, until he was admitted.  But his progress was slow.  He applied
himself diligently to the drawing of the human figure, and held on with
the determination to succeed, as if with a resolute confidence in the
result.  He displayed none of the eccentric humour and fitful application
of many youths who conceive themselves geniuses, but kept up the routine
of steady application to such an extent that he himself was afterwards
accustomed to attribute his success to his dogged perseverance rather
than to any higher innate power.  “The single element,” he said, “in all
the progressive movements of my pencil was persevering industry.”  At
Edinburgh he gained a few premiums, thought of turning his attention to
portrait painting, with a view to its higher and more certain
remuneration, but eventually went boldly into the line in which he earned
his fame,—and painted his Pitlessie Fair.  What was bolder still, he
determined to proceed to London, on account of its presenting so much
wider a field for study and work; and the poor Scotch lad arrived in
town, and painted his Village Politicians while living in a humble
lodging on eighteen shillings a week.

Notwithstanding the success of this picture, and the commissions which
followed it, Wilkie long continued poor.  The prices which his works
realized were not great, for he bestowed upon them so much time and
labour, that his earnings continued comparatively small for many years.
Every picture was carefully studied and elaborated beforehand; nothing
was struck off at a heat; many occupied him for years—touching,
retouching, and improving them until they finally passed out of his
hands.  As with Reynolds, his motto was “Work! work! work!” and, like
him, he expressed great dislike for talking artists.  Talkers may sow,
but the silent reap.  “Let us be _doing_ something,” was his oblique mode
of rebuking the loquacious and admonishing the idle.  He once related to
his friend Constable that when he studied at the Scottish Academy,
Graham, the master of it, was accustomed to say to the students, in the
words of Reynolds, “If you have genius, industry will improve it; if you
have none, industry will supply its place.”  “So,” said Wilkie, “I was
determined to be very industrious, for I knew I had no genius.”  He also
told Constable that when Linnell and Burnett, his fellow-students in
London, were talking about art, he always contrived to get as close to
them as he could to hear all they said, “for,” said he, “they know a
great deal, and I know very little.”  This was said with perfect
sincerity, for Wilkie was habitually modest.  One of the first things
that he did with the sum of thirty pounds which he obtained from Lord
Mansfield for his Village Politicians, was to buy a present—of bonnets,
shawls, and dresses—for his mother and sister at home, though but little
able to afford it at the time.  Wilkie’s early poverty had trained him in
habits of strict economy, which were, however, consistent with a noble
liberality, as appears from sundry passages in the Autobiography of
Abraham Raimbach the engraver.

William Etty was another notable instance of unflagging industry and
indomitable perseverance in art.  His father was a ginger-bread and
spicemaker at York, and his mother—a woman of considerable force and
originality of character—was the daughter of a ropemaker.  The boy early
displayed a love of drawing, covering walls, floors, and tables with
specimens of his skill; his first crayon being a farthing’s worth of
chalk, and this giving place to a piece of coal or a bit of charred
stick.  His mother, knowing nothing of art, put the boy apprentice to a
trade—that of a printer.  But in his leisure hours he went on with the
practice of drawing; and when his time was out he determined to follow
his bent—he would be a painter and nothing else.  Fortunately his uncle
and elder brother were able and willing to help him on in his new career,
and they provided him with the means of entering as pupil at the Royal
Academy.  We observe, from Leslie’s Autobiography, that Etty was looked
upon by his fellow students as a worthy but dull, plodding person, who
would never distinguish himself.  But he had in him the divine faculty of
work, and diligently plodded his way upward to eminence in the highest
walks of art.

Many artists have had to encounter privations which have tried their
courage and endurance to the utmost before they succeeded.  What number
may have sunk under them we can never know.  Martin encountered
difficulties in the course of his career such as perhaps fall to the lot
of few.  More than once he found himself on the verge of starvation while
engaged on his first great picture.  It is related of him that on one
occasion he found himself reduced to his last shilling—a _bright_
shilling—which he had kept because of its very brightness, but at length
he found it necessary to exchange it for bread.  He went to a baker’s
shop, bought a loaf, and was taking it away, when the baker snatched it
from him, and tossed back the shilling to the starving painter.  The
bright shilling had failed him in his hour of need—it was a bad one!
Returning to his lodgings, he rummaged his trunk for some remaining crust
to satisfy his hunger.  Upheld throughout by the victorious power of
enthusiasm, he pursued his design with unsubdued energy.  He had the
courage to work on and to wait; and when, a few days after, he found an
opportunity to exhibit his picture, he was from that time famous.  Like
many other great artists, his life proves that, in despite of outward
circumstances, genius, aided by industry, will be its own protector, and
that fame, though she comes late, will never ultimately refuse her
favours to real merit.

The most careful discipline and training after academic methods will fail
in making an artist, unless he himself take an active part in the work.
Like every highly cultivated man, he must be mainly self-educated.  When
Pugin, who was brought up in his father’s office, had learnt all that he
could learn of architecture according to the usual formulas, he still
found that he had learned but little; and that he must begin at the
beginning, and pass through the discipline of labour.  Young Pugin
accordingly hired himself out as a common carpenter at Covent Garden
Theatre—first working under the stage, then behind the flys, then upon
the stage itself.  He thus acquired a familiarity with work, and
cultivated an architectural taste, to which the diversity of the
mechanical employment about a large operatic establishment is peculiarly
favourable.  When the theatre closed for the season, he worked a
sailing-ship between London and some of the French ports, carrying on at
the same time a profitable trade.  At every opportunity he would land and
make drawings of any old building, and especially of any ecclesiastical
structure which fell in his way.  Afterwards he would make special
journeys to the Continent for the same purpose, and returned home laden
with drawings.  Thus he plodded and laboured on, making sure of the
excellence and distinction which he eventually achieved.

A similar illustration of plodding industry in the same walk is presented
in the career of George Kemp, the architect of the beautiful Scott
Monument at Edinburgh.  He was the son of a poor shepherd, who pursued
his calling on the southern slope of the Pentland Hills.  Amidst that
pastoral solitude the boy had no opportunity of enjoying the
contemplation of works of art.  It happened, however, that in his tenth
year he was sent on a message to Roslin, by the farmer for whom his
father herded sheep, and the sight of the beautiful castle and chapel
there seems to have made a vivid and enduring impression on his mind.
Probably to enable him to indulge his love of architectural construction,
the boy besought his father to let him be a joiner; and he was
accordingly put apprentice to a neighbouring village carpenter.  Having
served his time, he went to Galashiels to seek work.  As he was plodding
along the valley of the Tweed with his tools upon his back, a carriage
overtook him near Elibank Tower; and the coachman, doubtless at the
suggestion of his master, who was seated inside, having asked the youth
how far he had to walk, and learning that he was on his way to
Galashiels, invited him to mount the box beside him, and thus to ride
thither.  It turned out that the kindly gentleman inside was no other
than Sir Walter Scott, then travelling on his official duty as Sheriff of
Selkirkshire.  Whilst working at Galashiels, Kemp had frequent
opportunities of visiting Melrose, Dryburgh, and Jedburgh Abbeys, which
he studied carefully.  Inspired by his love of architecture, he worked
his way as a carpenter over the greater part of the north of England,
never omitting an opportunity of inspecting and making sketches of any
fine Gothic building.  On one occasion, when working in Lancashire, he
walked fifty miles to York, spent a week in carefully examining the
Minster, and returned in like manner on foot.  We next find him in
Glasgow, where he remained four years, studying the fine cathedral there
during his spare time.  He returned to England again, this time working
his way further south; studying Canterbury, Winchester, Tintern, and
other well-known structures.  In 1824 he formed the design of travelling
over Europe with the same object, supporting himself by his trade.
Reaching Boulogne, he proceeded by Abbeville and Beauvais to Paris,
spending a few weeks making drawings and studies at each place.  His
skill as a mechanic, and especially his knowledge of mill-work, readily
secured him employment wherever he went; and he usually chose the site of
his employment in the neighbourhood of some fine old Gothic structure, in
studying which he occupied his leisure.  After a year’s working, travel,
and study abroad, he returned to Scotland.  He continued his studies, and
became a proficient in drawing and perspective: Melrose was his favourite
ruin; and he produced several elaborate drawings of the building, one of
which, exhibiting it in a “restored” state, was afterwards engraved.  He
also obtained employment as a modeller of architectural designs; and made
drawings for a work begun by an Edinburgh engraver, after the plan of
Britton’s ‘Cathedral Antiquities.’  This was a task congenial to his
tastes, and he laboured at it with an enthusiasm which ensured its rapid
advance; walking on foot for the purpose over half Scotland, and living
as an ordinary mechanic, whilst executing drawings which would have done
credit to the best masters in the art.  The projector of the work having
died suddenly, the publication was however stopped, and Kemp sought other
employment.  Few knew of the genius of this man—for he was exceedingly
taciturn and habitually modest—when the Committee of the Scott Monument
offered a prize for the best design.  The competitors were
numerous—including some of the greatest names in classical architecture;
but the design unanimously selected was that of George Kemp, who was
working at Kilwinning Abbey in Ayrshire, many miles off, when the letter
reached him intimating the decision of the committee.  Poor Kemp!
Shortly after this event he met an untimely death, and did not live to
see the first result of his indefatigable industry and self-culture
embodied in stone,—one of the most beautiful and appropriate memorials
ever erected to literary genius.

John Gibson was another artist full of a genuine enthusiasm and love for
his art, which placed him high above those sordid temptations which urge
meaner natures to make time the measure of profit.  He was born at Gyffn,
near Conway, in North Wales—the son of a gardener.  He early showed
indications of his talent by the carvings in wood which he made by means
of a common pocket knife; and his father, noting the direction of his
talent, sent him to Liverpool and bound him apprentice to a cabinet-maker
and wood-carver.  He rapidly improved at his trade, and some of his
carvings were much admired.  He was thus naturally led to sculpture, and
when eighteen years old he modelled a small figure of Time in wax, which
attracted considerable notice.  The Messrs. Franceys, sculptors, of
Liverpool, having purchased the boy’s indentures, took him as their
apprentice for six years, during which his genius displayed itself in
many original works.  From thence he proceeded to London, and afterwards
to Rome; and his fame became European.

Robert Thorburn, the Royal Academician, like John Gibson, was born of
poor parents.  His father was a shoe-maker at Dumfries.  Besides Robert
there were two other sons; one of whom is a skilful carver in wood.  One
day a lady called at the shoemaker’s and found Robert, then a mere boy,
engaged in drawing upon a stool which served him for a table.  She
examined his work, and observing his abilities, interested herself in
obtaining for him some employment in drawing, and enlisted in his behalf
the services of others who could assist him in prosecuting the study of
art.  The boy was diligent, pains-taking, staid, and silent, mixing
little with his companions, and forming but few intimacies.  About the
year 1830, some gentlemen of the town provided him with the means of
proceeding to Edinburgh, where he was admitted a student at the Scottish
Academy.  There he had the advantage of studying under competent masters,
and the progress which he made was rapid.  From Edinburgh he removed to
London, where, we understand, he had the advantage of being introduced to
notice under the patronage of the Duke of Buccleuch.  We need scarcely
say, however, that of whatever use patronage may have been to Thorburn in
giving him an introduction to the best circles, patronage of no kind
could have made him the great artist that he unquestionably is, without
native genius and diligent application.

Noel Paton, the well-known painter, began his artistic career at
Dunfermline and Paisley, as a drawer of patterns for table-cloths and
muslin embroidered by hand; meanwhile working diligently at higher
subjects, including the drawing of the human figure.  He was, like
Turner, ready to turn his hand to any kind of work, and in 1840, when a
mere youth, we find him engaged, among his other labours, in illustrating
the ‘Renfrewshire Annual.’  He worked his way step by step, slowly yet
surely; but he remained unknown until the exhibition of the prize
cartoons painted for the houses of Parliament, when his picture of the
Spirit of Religion (for which he obtained one of the first prizes)
revealed him to the world as a genuine artist; and the works which he has
since exhibited—such as the ‘Reconciliation of Oberon and Titania,’
‘Home,’ and ‘The bluidy Tryste’—have shown a steady advance in artistic
power and culture.

Another striking exemplification of perseverance and industry in the
cultivation of art in humble life is presented in the career of James
Sharples, a working blacksmith at Blackburn.  He was born at Wakefield in
Yorkshire, in 1825, one of a family of thirteen children.  His father was
a working ironfounder, and removed to Bury to follow his business.  The
boys received no school education, but were all sent to work as soon as
they were able; and at about ten James was placed in a foundry, where he
was employed for about two years as smithy-boy.  After that he was sent
into the engine-shop where his father worked as engine-smith.  The boy’s
employment was to heat and carry rivets for the boiler-makers.  Though
his hours of labour were very long—often from six in the morning until
eight at night—his father contrived to give him some little teaching
after working hours; and it was thus that he partially learned his
letters.  An incident occurred in the course of his employment among the
boiler-makers, which first awakened in him the desire to learn drawing.
He had occasionally been employed by the foreman to hold the chalked line
with which he made the designs of boilers upon the floor of the workshop;
and on such occasions the foreman was accustomed to hold the line, and
direct the boy to make the necessary dimensions.  James soon became so
expert at this as to be of considerable service to the foreman; and at
his leisure hours at home his great delight was to practise drawing
designs of boilers upon his mother’s floor.  On one occasion, when a
female relative was expected from Manchester to pay the family a visit,
and the house had been made as decent as possible for her reception, the
boy, on coming in from the foundry in the evening, began his usual
operations upon the floor.  He had proceeded some way with his design of
a large boiler in chalk, when his mother arrived with the visitor, and to
her dismay found the boy unwashed and the floor chalked all over.  The
relative, however, professed to be pleased with the boy’s industry,
praised his design, and recommended his mother to provide “the little
sweep,” as she called him, with paper and pencils.

Encouraged by his elder brother, he began to practise figure and
landscape drawing, making copies of lithographs, but as yet without any
knowledge of the rules of perspective and the principles of light and
shade.  He worked on, however, and gradually acquired expertness in
copying.  At sixteen, he entered the Bury Mechanic’s Institution in order
to attend the drawing class, taught by an amateur who followed the trade
of a barber.  There he had a lesson a week during three months.  The
teacher recommended him to obtain from the library Burnet’s ‘Practical
Treatise on Painting;’ but as he could not yet read with ease, he was
under the necessity of getting his mother, and sometimes his elder
brother, to read passages from the book for him while he sat by and
listened.  Feeling hampered by his ignorance of the art of reading, and
eager to master the contents of Burnet’s book, he ceased attending the
drawing class at the Institute after the first quarter, and devoted
himself to learning reading and writing at home.  In this he soon
succeeded; and when he again entered the Institute and took out ‘Burnet’
a second time, he was not only able to read it, but to make written
extracts for further use.  So ardently did he study the volume, that he
used to rise at four o’clock in the morning to read it and copy out
passages; after which he went to the foundry at six, worked until six and
sometimes eight in the evening; and returned home to enter with fresh
zest upon the study of Burnet, which he continued often until a late
hour.  Parts of his nights were also occupied in drawing and making
copies of drawings.  On one of these—a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last
Supper”—he spent an entire night.  He went to bed indeed, but his mind
was so engrossed with the subject that he could not sleep, and rose again
to resume his pencil.

He next proceeded to try his hand at painting in oil, for which purpose
he procured some canvas from a draper, stretched it on a frame, coated it
over with white lead, and began painting on it with colours bought from a
house-painter.  But his work proved a total failure; for the canvas was
rough and knotty, and the paint would not dry.  In his extremity he
applied to his old teacher, the barber, from whom he first learnt that
prepared canvas was to be had, and that there were colours and varnishes
made for the special purpose of oil-painting.  As soon therefore, as his
means would allow, he bought a small stock of the necessary articles and
began afresh,—his amateur master showing him how to paint; and the pupil
succeeded so well that he excelled the master’s copy.  His first picture
was a copy from an engraving called “Sheep-shearing,” and was afterwards
sold by him for half-a-crown.  Aided by a shilling Guide to Oil-painting,
he went on working at his leisure hours, and gradually acquired a better
knowledge of his materials.  He made his own easel and palette,
palette-knife, and paint-chest; he bought his paint, brushes, and canvas,
as he could raise the money by working over-time.  This was the slender
fund which his parents consented to allow him for the purpose; the burden
of supporting a very large family precluding them from doing more.  Often
he would walk to Manchester and back in the evenings to buy two or three
shillings’ worth of paint and canvas, returning almost at midnight, after
his eighteen miles’ walk, sometimes wet through and completely exhausted,
but borne up throughout by his inexhaustible hope and invincible
determination.  The further progress of the self-taught artist is best
narrated in his own words, as communicated by him in a letter to the

“The next pictures I painted,” he says, “were a Landscape by Moonlight, a
Fruitpiece, and one or two others; after which I conceived the idea of
painting ‘The Forge.’  I had for some time thought about it, but had not
attempted to embody the conception in a drawing.  I now, however, made a
sketch of the subject upon paper, and then proceeded to paint it on
canvas.  The picture simply represents the interior of a large workshop
such as I have been accustomed to work in, although not of any particular
shop.  It is, therefore, to this extent, an original conception.  Having
made an outline of the subject, I found that, before I could proceed with
it successfully, a knowledge of anatomy was indispensable to enable me
accurately to delineate the muscles of the figures.  My brother Peter
came to my assistance at this juncture, and kindly purchased for me
Flaxman’s ‘Anatomical studies,’—a work altogether beyond my means at the
time, for it cost twenty-four shillings.  This book I looked upon as a
great treasure, and I studied it laboriously, rising at three o’clock in
the morning to draw after it, and occasionally getting my brother Peter
to stand for me as a model at that untimely hour.  Although I gradually
improved myself by this practice, it was some time before I felt
sufficient confidence to go on with my picture.  I also felt hampered by
my want of knowledge of perspective, which I endeavoured to remedy by
carefully studying Brook Taylor’s ‘Principles;’ and shortly after I
resumed my painting.  While engaged in the study of perspective at home,
I used to apply for and obtain leave to work at the heavier kinds of
smith work at the foundry, and for this reason—the time required for
heating the heaviest iron work is so much longer than that required for
heating the lighter, that it enabled me to secure a number of spare
minutes in the course of the day, which I carefully employed in making
diagrams in perspective upon the sheet iron casing in front of the hearth
at which I worked.”

Thus assiduously working and studying, James Sharples steadily advanced
in his knowledge of the principles of art, and acquired greater facility
in its practice.  Some eighteen months after the expiry of his
apprenticeship he painted a portrait of his father, which attracted
considerable notice in the town; as also did the picture of “The Forge,”
which he finished soon after.  His success in portrait-painting obtained
for him a commission from the foreman of the shop to paint a family
group, and Sharples executed it so well that the foreman not only paid
him the agreed price of eighteen pounds, but thirty shillings to boot.
While engaged on this group he ceased to work at the foundry, and he had
thoughts of giving up his trade altogether and devoting himself
exclusively to painting.  He proceeded to paint several pictures, amongst
others a head of Christ, an original conception, life-size, and a view of
Bury; but not obtaining sufficient employment at portraits to occupy his
time, or give him the prospect of a steady income, he had the good sense
to resume his leather apron, and go on working at his honest trade of a
blacksmith; employing his leisure hours in engraving his picture of “The
Forge,” since published.  He was induced to commence the engraving by the
following circumstance.  A Manchester picture-dealer, to whom he showed
the painting, let drop the observation, that in the hands of a skilful
engraver it would make a very good print.  Sharples immediately conceived
the idea of engraving it himself, though altogether ignorant of the art.
The difficulties which he encountered and successfully overcame in
carrying out his project are thus described by himself:—

“I had seen an advertisement of a Sheffield steel-plate maker, giving a
list of the prices at which he supplied plates of various sizes, and,
fixing upon one of suitable dimensions, I remitted the amount, together
with a small additional sum for which I requested him to send me a few
engraving tools.  I could not specify the articles wanted, for I did not
then know anything about the process of engraving.  However, there duly
arrived with the plate three or four gravers and an etching needle; the
latter I spoiled before I knew its use.  While working at the plate, the
Amalgamated Society of Engineers offered a premium for the best design
for an emblematical picture, for which I determined to compete, and I was
so fortunate as to win the prize.  Shortly after this I removed to
Blackburn, where I obtained employment at Messrs. Yates’, engineers, as
an engine-smith; and continued to employ my leisure time in drawing,
painting, and engraving, as before.  With the engraving I made but very
slow progress, owing to the difficulties I experienced from not
possessing proper tools.  I then determined to try to make some that
would suit my purpose, and after several failures I succeeded in making
many that I have used in the course of my engraving.  I was also greatly
at a loss for want of a proper magnifying glass, and part of the plate
was executed with no other assistance of this sort than what my father’s
spectacles afforded, though I afterwards succeeded in obtaining a proper
magnifier, which was of the utmost use to me.  An incident occurred while
I was engraving the plate, which had almost caused me to abandon it
altogether.  It sometimes happened that I was obliged to lay it aside for
a considerable time, when other work pressed; and in order to guard it
against rust, I was accustomed to rub over the graven parts with oil.
But on examining the plate after one of such intervals, I found that the
oil had become a dark sticky substance extremely difficult to get out.  I
tried to pick it out with a needle, but found that it would almost take
as much time as to engrave the parts afresh.  I was in great despair at
this, but at length hit upon the expedient of boiling it in water
containing soda, and afterwards rubbing the engraved parts with a
tooth-brush; and to my delight found the plan succeeded perfectly.  My
greatest difficulties now over, patience and perseverance were all that
were needed to bring my labours to a successful issue.  I had neither
advice nor assistance from any one in finishing the plate.  If,
therefore, the work possess any merit, I can claim it as my own; and if
in its accomplishment I have contributed to show what can be done by
persevering industry and determination, it is all the honour I wish to
lay claim to.”

It would be beside our purpose to enter upon any criticism of “The Forge”
as an engraving; its merits having been already fully recognised by the
art journals.  The execution of the work occupied Sharples’s leisure
evening hours during a period of five years; and it was only when he took
the plate to the printer that he for the first time saw an engraved plate
produced by any other man.  To this unvarnished picture of industry and
genius, we add one other trait, and it is a domestic one.  “I have been
married seven years,” says he, “and during that time my greatest
pleasure, after I have finished my daily labour at the foundry, has been
to resume my pencil or graver, frequently until a late hour of the
evening, my wife meanwhile sitting by my side and reading to me from some
interesting book,”—a simple but beautiful testimony to the thorough
common sense as well as the genuine right-heartedness of this most
interesting and deserving workman.

The same industry and application which we have found to be necessary in
order to acquire excellence in painting and sculpture, are equally
required in the sister art of music—the one being the poetry of form and
colour, the other of the sounds of nature.  Handel was an indefatigable
and constant worker; he was never cast down by defeat, but his energy
seemed to increase the more that adversity struck him.  When a prey to
his mortifications as an insolvent debtor, he did not give way for a
moment, but in one year produced his ‘Saul,’ ‘Israel,’ the music for
Dryden’s ‘Ode,’ his ‘Twelve Grand Concertos,’ and the opera of ‘Jupiter
in Argos,’ among the finest of his works.  As his biographer says of him,
“He braved everything, and, by his unaided self, accomplished the work of
twelve men.”

Haydn, speaking of his art, said, “It consists in taking up a subject and
pursuing it.”  “Work,” said Mozart, “is my chief pleasure.”  Beethoven’s
favourite maxim was, “The barriers are not erected which can say to
aspiring talents and industry, ‘Thus far and no farther.’”  When
Moscheles submitted his score of ‘Fidelio’ for the pianoforte to
Beethoven, the latter found written at the bottom of the last page,
“Finis, with God’s help.”  Beethoven immediately wrote underneath, “O
man! help thyself!”  This was the motto of his artistic life.  John
Sebastian Bach said of himself, “I was industrious; whoever is equally
sedulous, will be equally successful.”  But there is no doubt that Bach
was born with a passion for music, which formed the mainspring of his
industry, and was the true secret of his success.  When a mere youth, his
elder brother, wishing to turn his abilities in another direction,
destroyed a collection of studies which the young Sebastian, being denied
candles, had copied by moonlight; proving the strong natural bent of the
boy’s genius.  Of Meyerbeer, Bayle thus wrote from Milan in 1820:—“He is
a man of some talent, but no genius; he lives solitary, working fifteen
hours a day at music.”  Years passed, and Meyerbeer’s hard work fully
brought out his genius, as displayed in his ‘Roberto,’ ‘Huguenots,’
‘Prophète,’ and other works, confessedly amongst the greatest operas
which have been produced in modern times.

Although musical composition is not an art in which Englishmen have as
yet greatly distinguished themselves, their energies having for the most
part taken other and more practical directions, we are not without native
illustrations of the power of perseverance in this special pursuit.  Arne
was an upholsterer’s son, intended by his father for the legal
profession; but his love of music was so great, that he could not be
withheld from pursuing it.  While engaged in an attorney’s office, his
means were very limited, but, to gratify his tastes, he was accustomed to
borrow a livery and go into the gallery of the Opera, then appropriated
to domestics.  Unknown to his father he made great progress with the
violin, and the first knowledge his father had of the circumstance was
when accidentally calling at the house of a neighbouring gentleman, to
his surprise and consternation he found his son playing the leading
instrument with a party of musicians.  This incident decided the fate of
Arne.  His father offered no further opposition to his wishes; and the
world thereby lost a lawyer, but gained a musician of much taste and
delicacy of feeling, who added many valuable works to our stores of
English music.

The career of the late William Jackson, author of ‘The Deliverance of
Israel,’ an oratorio which has been successfully performed in the
principal towns of his native county of York, furnishes an interesting
illustration of the triumph of perseverance over difficulties in the
pursuit of musical science.  He was the son of a miller at Masham, a
little town situated in the valley of the Yore, in the north-west corner
of Yorkshire.  Musical taste seems to have been hereditary in the family,
for his father played the fife in the band of the Masham Volunteers, and
was a singer in the parish choir.  His grandfather also was leading
singer and ringer at Masham Church; and one of the boy’s earliest musical
treats was to be present at the bell pealing on Sunday mornings.  During
the service, his wonder was still more excited by the organist’s
performance on the barrel-organ, the doors of which were thrown open
behind to let the sound fully into the church, by which the stops, pipes,
barrels, staples, keyboard, and jacks, were fully exposed, to the
wonderment of the little boys sitting in the gallery behind, and to none
more than our young musician.  At eight years of age he began to play
upon his father’s old fife, which, however, would not sound D; but his
mother remedied the difficulty by buying for him a one-keyed flute; and
shortly after, a gentleman of the neighbourhood presented him with a
flute with four silver keys.  As the boy made no progress with his “book
learning,” being fonder of cricket, fives, and boxing, than of his school
lessons—the village schoolmaster giving him up as “a bad job”—his parents
sent him off to a school at Pateley Bridge.  While there he found
congenial society in a club of village choral singers at Brighouse Gate,
and with them he learnt the sol-fa-ing gamut on the old English plan.  He
was thus well drilled in the reading of music, in which he soon became a
proficient.  His progress astonished the club, and he returned home full
of musical ambition.  He now learnt to play upon his father’s old piano,
but with little melodious result; and he became eager to possess a
finger-organ, but had no means of procuring one.  About this time, a
neighbouring parish clerk had purchased, for an insignificant sum, a
small disabled barrel-organ, which had gone the circuit of the northern
counties with a show.  The clerk tried to revive the tones of the
instrument, but failed; at last he bethought him that he would try the
skill of young Jackson, who had succeeded in making some alterations and
improvements in the hand-organ of the parish church.  He accordingly
brought it to the lad’s house in a donkey cart, and in a short time the
instrument was repaired, and played over its old tunes again, greatly to
the owner’s satisfaction.

The thought now haunted the youth that he could make a barrel-organ, and
he determined to do so.  His father and he set to work, and though
without practice in carpentering, yet, by dint of hard labour and after
many failures, they at last succeeded; and an organ was constructed which
played ten tunes very decently, and the instrument was generally regarded
as a marvel in the neighbourhood.  Young Jackson was now frequently sent
for to repair old church organs, and to put new music upon the barrels
which he added to them.  All this he accomplished to the satisfaction of
his employers, after which he proceeded with the construction of a
four-stop finger-organ, adapting to it the keys of an old harpsichord.
This he learnt to play upon,—studying ‘Callcott’s Thorough Bass’ in the
evening, and working at his trade of a miller during the day;
occasionally also tramping about the country as a “cadger,” with an ass
and a cart.  During summer he worked in the fields, at turnip-time,
hay-time, and harvest, but was never without the solace of music in his
leisure evening hours.  He next tried his hand at musical composition,
and twelve of his anthems were shown to the late Mr. Camidge, of York, as
“the production of a miller’s lad of fourteen.”  Mr. Camidge was pleased
with them, marked the objectionable passages, and returned them with the
encouraging remark, that they did the youth great credit, and that he
must “go on writing.”

A village band having been set on foot at Masham, young Jackson joined
it, and was ultimately appointed leader.  He played all the instruments
by turns, and thus acquired a considerable practical knowledge of his
art: he also composed numerous tunes for the band.  A new finger-organ
having been presented to the parish church, he was appointed the
organist.  He now gave up his employment as a journeyman miller, and
commenced tallow-chandling, still employing his spare hours in the study
of music.  In 1839 he published his first anthem—‘For joy let fertile
valleys sing;’ and in the following year he gained the first prize from
the Huddersfield Glee Club, for his ‘Sisters of the Lea.’  His other
anthem ‘God be merciful to us,’ and the 103rd Psalm, written for a double
chorus and orchestra, are well known.  In the midst of these minor works,
Jackson proceeded with the composition of his oratorio,—‘The Deliverance
of Israel from Babylon.’  His practice was, to jot down a sketch of the
ideas as they presented themselves to his mind, and to write them out in
score in the evenings, after he had left his work in the candle-shop.
His oratorio was published in parts, in the course of 1844–5, and he
published the last chorus on his twenty-ninth birthday.  The work was
exceedingly well received, and has been frequently performed with much
success in the northern towns.  Mr. Jackson eventually settled as a
professor of music at Bradford, where he contributed in no small degree
to the cultivation of the musical taste of that town and its
neighbourhood.  Some years since he had the honour of leading his fine
company of Bradford choral singers before Her Majesty at Buckingham
Palace; on which occasion, as well as at the Crystal Palace, some choral
pieces of his composition, were performed with great effect. {201}

Such is a brief outline of the career of a self-taught musician, whose
life affords but another illustration of the power of self-help, and the
force of courage and industry in enabling a man to surmount and overcome
early difficulties and obstructions of no ordinary kind.


    “He either fears his fate too much,
    Or his deserts are small,
    That dares not put it to the touch,
    To gain or lose it all.”—_Marquis of Montrose_.

    “He hath put down the mighty from their seats; and exalted them of
    low degree.”—_St. Luke_.

WE have already referred to some illustrious Commoners raised from humble
to elevated positions by the power of application and industry; and we
might point to even the Peerage itself as affording equally instructive
examples.  One reason why the Peerage of England has succeeded so well in
holding its own, arises from the fact that, unlike the peerages of other
countries, it has been fed, from time to time, by the best industrial
blood of the country—the very “liver, heart, and brain of Britain.”  Like
the fabled Antæus, it has been invigorated and refreshed by touching its
mother earth, and mingling with that most ancient order of nobility—the
working order.

The blood of all men flows from equally remote sources; and though some
are unable to trace their line directly beyond their grandfathers, all
are nevertheless justified in placing at the head of their pedigree the
great progenitors of the race, as Lord Chesterfield did when he wrote,
“ADAM _de Stanhope_—EVE _de Stanhope_.”  No class is ever long
stationary.  The mighty fall, and the humble are exalted.  New families
take the place of the old, who disappear among the ranks of the common
people.  Burke’s ‘Vicissitudes of Families’ strikingly exhibit this rise
and fall of families, and show that the misfortunes which overtake the
rich and noble are greater in proportion than those which overwhelm the
poor.  This author points out that of the twenty-five barons selected to
enforce the observance of Magna Charta, there is not now in the House of
Peers a single male descendant.  Civil wars and rebellions ruined many of
the old nobility and dispersed their families.  Yet their descendants in
many cases survive, and are to be found among the ranks of the people.
Fuller wrote in his ‘Worthies,’ that “some who justly hold the surnames
of Bohuns, Mortimers, and Plantagenets, are hid in the heap of common
men.”  Thus Burke shows that two of the lineal descendants of the Earl of
Kent, sixth son of Edward I., were discovered in a butcher and a
toll-gatherer; that the great grandson of Margaret Plantagenet, daughter
of the Duke of Clarance, sank to the condition of a cobbler at Newport,
in Shropshire; and that among the lineal descendants of the Duke of
Gloucester, son of Edward III., was the late sexton of St. George’s,
Hanover Square.  It is understood that the lineal descendant of Simon de
Montfort, England’s premier baron, is a saddler in Tooley Street.  One of
the descendants of the “Proud Percys,” a claimant of the title of Duke of
Northumberland, was a Dublin trunk-maker; and not many years since one of
the claimants for the title of Earl of Perth presented himself in the
person of a labourer in a Northumberland coal-pit.  Hugh Miller, when
working as a stone-mason near Edinburgh, was served by a hodman, who was
one of the numerous claimants for the earldom of Crauford—all that was
wanted to establish his claim being a missing marriage certificate; and
while the work was going on, the cry resounded from the walls many times
in the day, of—“John, Yearl Crauford, bring us anither hod o’lime.”  One
of Oliver Cromwell’s great grandsons was a grocer on Snow Hill, and
others of his descendants died in great poverty.  Many barons of proud
names and titles have perished, like the sloth, upon their family tree,
after eating up all the leaves; while others have been overtaken by
adversities which they have been unable to retrieve, and sunk at last
into poverty and obscurity.  Such are the mutabilities of rank and

The great bulk of our peerage is comparatively modern, so far as the
titles go; but it is not the less noble that it has been recruited to so
large an extent from the ranks of honourable industry.  In olden times,
the wealth and commerce of London, conducted as it was by energetic and
enterprising men, was a prolific source of peerages.  Thus, the earldom
of Cornwallis was founded by Thomas Cornwallis, the Cheapside merchant;
that of Essex by William Capel, the draper; and that of Craven by William
Craven, the merchant tailor.  The modern Earl of Warwick is not descended
from the “King-maker,” but from William Greville, the woolstapler; whilst
the modern dukes of Northumberland find their head, not in the Percies,
but in Hugh Smithson, a respectable London apothecary.  The founders of
the families of Dartmouth, Radnor, Ducie, and Pomfret, were respectively
a skinner, a silk manufacturer, a merchant tailor, and a Calais merchant;
whilst the founders of the peerages of Tankerville, Dormer, and Coventry,
were mercers.  The ancestors of Earl Romney, and Lord Dudley and Ward,
were goldsmiths and jewellers; and Lord Dacres was a banker in the reign
of Charles I., as Lord Overstone is in that of Queen Victoria.  Edward
Osborne, the founder of the Dukedom of Leeds, was apprentice to William
Hewet, a rich clothworker on London Bridge, whose only daughter he
courageously rescued from drowning, by leaping into the Thames after her,
and eventually married.  Among other peerages founded by trade are those
of Fitzwilliam, Leigh, Petre, Cowper, Darnley, Hill, and Carrington.  The
founders of the houses of Foley and Normanby were remarkable men in many
respects, and, as furnishing striking examples of energy of character,
the story of their lives is worthy of preservation.

The father of Richard Foley, the founder of the family, was a small
yeoman living in the neighbourhood of Stourbridge in the time of Charles
I.  That place was then the centre of the iron manufacture of the midland
districts, and Richard was brought up to work at one of the branches of
the trade—that of nail-making.  He was thus a daily observer of the great
labour and loss of time caused by the clumsy process then adopted for
dividing the rods of iron in the manufacture of nails.  It appeared that
the Stourbridge nailers were gradually losing their trade in consequence
of the importation of nails from Sweden, by which they were undersold in
the market.  It became known that the Swedes were enabled to make their
nails so much cheaper, by the use of splitting mills and machinery, which
had completely superseded the laborious process of preparing the rods for
nail-making then practised in England.

Richard Foley, having ascertained this much, determined to make himself
master of the new process.  He suddenly disappeared from the
neighbourhood of Stourbridge, and was not heard of for several years.  No
one knew whither he had gone, not even his own family; for he had not
informed them of his intention, lest he should fail.  He had little or no
money in his pocket, but contrived to get to Hull, where he engaged
himself on board a ship bound for a Swedish port, and worked his passage
there.  The only article of property which he possessed was his fiddle,
and on landing in Sweden he begged and fiddled his way to the Dannemora
mines, near Upsala.  He was a capital musician, as well as a pleasant
fellow, and soon ingratiated himself with the iron-workers.  He was
received into the works, to every part of which he had access; and he
seized the opportunity thus afforded him of storing his mind with
observations, and mastering, as he thought, the mechanism of iron
splitting.  After a continued stay for this purpose, he suddenly
disappeared from amongst his kind friends the miners—no one knew whither.

Returned to England, he communicated the results of his voyage to Mr.
Knight and another person at Stourbridge, who had sufficient confidence
in him to advance the requisite funds for the purpose of erecting
buildings and machinery for splitting iron by the new process.  But when
set to work, to the great vexation and disappointment of all, and
especially of Richard Foley, it was found that the machinery would not
act—at all events it would not split the bars of iron.  Again Foley
disappeared.  It was thought that shame and mortification at his failure
had driven him away for ever.  Not so!  Foley had determined to master
this secret of iron-splitting, and he would yet do it.  He had again set
out for Sweden, accompanied by his fiddle as before, and found his way to
the iron works, where he was joyfully welcomed by the miners; and, to
make sure of their fiddler, they this time lodged him in the very
splitting-mill itself.  There was such an apparent absence of
intelligence about the man, except in fiddle-playing, that the miners
entertained no suspicions as to the object of their minstrel, whom they
thus enabled to attain the very end and aim of his life.  He now
carefully examined the works, and soon discovered the cause of his
failure.  He made drawings or tracings of the machinery as well as he
could, though this was a branch of art quite new to him; and after
remaining at the place long enough to enable him to verify his
observations, and to impress the mechanical arrangements clearly and
vividly on his mind, he again left the miners, reached a Swedish port,
and took ship for England.  A man of such purpose could not but succeed.
Arrived amongst his surprised friends, he now completed his arrangements,
and the results were entirely successful.  By his skill and his industry
he soon laid the foundations of a large fortune, at the same time that he
restored the business of an extensive district.  He himself continued,
during his life, to carry on his trade, aiding and encouraging all works
of benevolence in his neighbourhood.  He founded and endowed a school at
Stourbridge; and his son Thomas (a great benefactor of Kidderminster),
who was High Sheriff of Worcestershire in the time of “The Rump,” founded
and endowed an hospital, still in existence, for the free education of
children at Old Swinford.  All the early Foleys were Puritans.  Richard
Baxter seems to have been on familiar and intimate terms with various
members of the family, and makes frequent mention of them in his ‘Life
and Times.’  Thomas Foley, when appointed high sheriff of the county,
requested Baxter to preach the customary sermon before him; and Baxter in
his ‘Life’ speaks of him as “of so just and blameless dealing, that all
men he ever had to do with magnified his great integrity and honesty,
which were questioned by none.”  The family was ennobled in the reign of
Charles the Second.

William Phipps, the founder of the Mulgrave or Normanby family, was a man
quite as remarkable in his way as Richard Foley.  His father was a
gunsmith—a robust Englishman settled at Woolwich, in Maine, then forming
part of our English colonies in America.  He was born in 1651, one of a
family of not fewer than twenty-six children (of whom twenty-one were
sons), whose only fortune lay in their stout hearts and strong arms.
William seems to have had a dash of the Danish-sea blood in his veins,
and did not take kindly to the quiet life of a shepherd in which he spent
his early years.  By nature bold and adventurous, he longed to become a
sailor and roam through the world.  He sought to join some ship; but not
being able to find one, he apprenticed himself to a shipbuilder, with
whom he thoroughly learnt his trade, acquiring the arts of reading and
writing during his leisure hours.  Having completed his apprenticeship
and removed to Boston, he wooed and married a widow of some means, after
which he set up a little shipbuilding yard of his own, built a ship, and,
putting to sea in her, he engaged in the lumber trade, which he carried
on in a plodding and laborious way for the space of about ten years.

It happened that one day, whilst passing through the crooked streets of
old Boston, he overheard some sailors talking to each other of a wreck
which had just taken place off the Bahamas; that of a Spanish ship,
supposed to have much money on board.  His adventurous spirit was at once
kindled, and getting together a likely crew without loss of time, he set
sail for the Bahamas.  The wreck being well in-shore, he easily found it,
and succeeded in recovering a great deal of its cargo, but very little
money; and the result was, that he barely defrayed his expenses.  His
success had been such, however, as to stimulate his enterprising spirit;
and when he was told of another and far more richly laden vessel which
had been wrecked near Port de la Plata more than half a century before,
he forthwith formed the resolution of raising the wreck, or at all events
of fishing up the treasure.

Being too poor, however, to undertake such an enterprise without powerful
help, he set sail for England in the hope that he might there obtain it.
The fame of his success in raising the wreck off the Bahamas had already
preceded him.  He applied direct to the Government.  By his urgent
enthusiasm, he succeeded in overcoming the usual inertia of official
minds; and Charles II. eventually placed at his disposal the “Rose
Algier,” a ship of eighteen guns and ninety-five men, appointing him to
the chief command.

Phipps then set sail to find the Spanish ship and fish up the treasure.
He reached the coast of Hispaniola in safety; but how to find the sunken
ship was the great difficulty.  The fact of the wreck was more than fifty
years old; and Phipps had only the traditionary rumours of the event to
work upon.  There was a wide coast to explore, and an outspread ocean
without any trace whatever of the argosy which lay somewhere at its
bottom.  But the man was stout in heart and full of hope.  He set his
seamen to work to drag along the coast, and for weeks they went on
fishing up sea-weed, shingle, and bits of rock.  No occupation could be
more trying to seamen, and they began to grumble one to another, and to
whisper that the man in command had brought them on a fool’s errand.

At length the murmurers gained head, and the men broke into open mutiny.
A body of them rushed one day on to the quarter-deck, and demanded that
the voyage should be relinquished.  Phipps, however, was not a man to be
intimidated; he seized the ringleaders, and sent the others back to their
duty.  It became necessary to bring the ship to anchor close to a small
island for the purpose of repairs; and, to lighten her, the chief part of
the stores was landed.  Discontent still increasing amongst the crew, a
new plot was laid amongst the men on shore to seize the ship, throw
Phipps overboard, and start on a piratical cruize against the Spaniards
in the South Seas.  But it was necessary to secure the services of the
chief ship carpenter, who was consequently made privy to the pilot.  This
man proved faithful, and at once told the captain of his danger.
Summoning about him those whom he knew to be loyal, Phipps had the ship’s
guns loaded which commanded the shore, and ordered the bridge
communicating with the vessel to be drawn up.  When the mutineers made
their appearance, the captain hailed them, and told the men he would fire
upon them if they approached the stores (still on land),—when they drew
back; on which Phipps had the stores reshipped under cover of his guns.
The mutineers, fearful of being left upon the barren island, threw down
their arms and implored to be permitted to return to their duty.  The
request was granted, and suitable precautions were taken against future
mischief.  Phipps, however, took the first opportunity of landing the
mutinous part of the crew, and engaging other men in their places; but,
by the time that he could again proceed actively with his explorations,
he found it absolutely necessary to proceed to England for the purpose of
repairing the ship.  He had now, however, gained more precise information
as to the spot where the Spanish treasure ship had sunk; and, though as
yet baffled, he was more confident than ever of the eventual success of
his enterprise.

Returned to London, Phipps reported the result of his voyage to the
Admiralty, who professed to be pleased with his exertions; but he had
been unsuccessful, and they would not entrust him with another king’s
ship.  James II. was now on the throne, and the Government was in
trouble; so Phipps and his golden project appealed to them in vain.  He
next tried to raise the requisite means by a public subscription.  At
first he was laughed at; but his ceaseless importunity at length
prevailed, and after four years’ dinning of his project into the ears of
the great and influential—during which time he lived in poverty—he at
length succeeded.  A company was formed in twenty shares, the Duke of
Albermarle, son of General Monk, taking the chief interest in it, and
subscribing the principal part of the necessary fund for the prosecution
of the enterprise.

Like Foley, Phipps proved more fortunate in his second voyage than in his
first.  The ship arrived without accident at Port de la Plata, in the
neighbourhood of the reef of rocks supposed to have been the scene of the
wreck.  His first object was to build a stout boat capable of carrying
eight or ten oars, in constructing which Phipps used the adze himself.
It is also said that he constructed a machine for the purpose of
exploring the bottom of the sea similar to what is now known as the
Diving Bell.  Such a machine was found referred to in books, but Phipps
knew little of books, and may be said to have re-invented the apparatus
for his own use.  He also engaged Indian divers, whose feats of diving
for pearls, and in submarine operations, were very remarkable.  The
tender and boat having been taken to the reef, the men were set to work,
the diving bell was sunk, and the various modes of dragging the bottom of
the sea were employed continuously for many weeks, but without any
prospect of success.  Phipps, however, held on valiantly, hoping almost
against hope.  At length, one day, a sailor, looking over the boat’s side
down into the clear water, observed a curious sea-plant growing in what
appeared to be a crevice of the rock; and he called upon an Indian diver
to go down and fetch it for him.  On the red man coming up with the weed,
he reported that a number of ships guns were lying in the same place.
The intelligence was at first received with incredulity, but on further
investigation it proved to be correct.  Search was made, and presently a
diver came up with a solid bar of silver in his arms.  When Phipps was
shown it, he exclaimed, “Thanks be to God! we are all made men.”  Diving
bell and divers now went to work with a will, and in a few days, treasure
was brought up to the value of about £300,000, with which Phipps set sail
for England.  On his arrival, it was urged upon the king that he should
seize the ship and its cargo, under the pretence that Phipps, when
soliciting his Majesty’s permission, had not given accurate information
respecting the business.  But the king replied, that he knew Phipps to be
an honest man, and that he and his friends should divide the whole
treasure amongst them, even though he had returned with double the value.
Phipps’s share was about £20,000, and the king, to show his approval of
his energy and honesty in conducting the enterprise, conferred upon him
the honour of knighthood.  He was also made High Sheriff of New England;
and during the time he held the office, he did valiant service for the
mother country and the colonists against the French, by expeditions
against Port Royal and Quebec.  He also held the post of Governor of
Massachusetts, from which he returned to England, and died in London in

Phipps throughout the latter part of his career, was not ashamed to
allude to the lowness of his origin, and it was matter of honest pride to
him that he had risen from the condition of common ship carpenter to the
honours of knighthood and the government of a province.  When perplexed
with public business, he would often declare that it would be easier for
him to go back to his broad axe again.  He left behind him a character
for probity, honesty, patriotism, and courage, which is certainly not the
least noble inheritance of the house of Normanby.

William Petty, the founder of the house of Lansdowne, was a man of like
energy and public usefulness in his day.  He was the son of a clothier in
humble circumstances, at Romsey, in Hampshire, where he was born in 1623.
In his boyhood he obtained a tolerable education at the grammar school of
his native town; after which he determined to improve himself by study at
the University of Caen, in Normandy.  Whilst there he contrived to
support himself unassisted by his father, carrying on a sort of small
pedler’s trade with “a little stock of merchandise.”  Returning to
England, he had himself bound apprentice to a sea captain, who “drubbed
him with a rope’s end” for the badness of his sight.  He left the navy in
disgust, taking to the study of medicine.  When at Paris he engaged in
dissection, during which time he also drew diagrams for Hobbes, who was
then writing his treatise on Optics.  He was reduced to such poverty that
he subsisted for two or three weeks entirely on walnuts.  But again he
began to trade in a small way, turning an honest penny, and he was
enabled shortly to return to England with money in his pocket.  Being of
an ingenious mechanical turn, we find him taking out a patent for a
letter-copying machine.  He began to write upon the arts and sciences,
and practised chemistry and physic with such success that his reputation
shortly became considerable.  Associating with men of science, the
project of forming a Society for its prosecution was discussed, and the
first meetings of the infant Royal Society were held at his lodgings.  At
Oxford he acted for a time as deputy to the anatomical professor there,
who had a great repugnance to dissection.  In 1652 his industry was
rewarded by the appointment of physician to the army in Ireland, whither
he went; and whilst there he was the medical attendant of three
successive lords-lieutenant, Lambert, Fleetwood, and Henry Cromwell.
Large grants of forfeited land having been awarded to the Puritan
soldiery, Petty observed that the lands were very inaccurately measured;
and in the midst of his many avocations he undertook to do the work
himself.  His appointments became so numerous and lucrative that he was
charged by the envious with corruption, and removed from them all; but he
was again taken into favour at the Restoration.

Petty was a most indefatigable contriver, inventor, and organizer of
industry.  One of his inventions was a double-bottomed ship, to sail
against wind and tide.  He published treatises on dyeing, on naval
philosophy, on woollen cloth manufacture, on political arithmetic, and
many other subjects.  He founded iron works, opened lead mines, and
commenced a pilchard fishery and a timber trade; in the midst of which he
found time to take part in the discussions of the Royal Society, to which
he largely contributed.  He left an ample fortune to his sons, the eldest
of whom was created Baron Shelburne.  His will was a curious document,
singularly illustrative of his character; containing a detail of the
principal events of his life, and the gradual advancement of his fortune.
His sentiments on pauperism are characteristic: “As for legacies for the
poor,” said he, “I am at a stand; as for beggars by trade and election, I
give them nothing; as for impotents by the hand of God, the public ought
to maintain them; as for those who have been bred to no calling nor
estate, they should be put upon their kindred;” . . .  “wherefore I am
contented that I have assisted all my poor relations, and put many into a
way of getting their own bread; have laboured in public works; and by
inventions have sought out real objects of charity; and I do hereby
conjure all who partake of my estate, from time to time, to do the same
at their peril.  Nevertheless to answer custom, and to take the surer
side, I give 20_l._ to the most wanting of the parish wherein I die.”  He
was interred in the fine old Norman church of Romsey—the town wherein he
was born a poor man’s son—and on the south side of the choir is still to
be seen a plain slab, with the inscription, cut by an illiterate workman,
“Here Layes Sir William Petty.”

Another family, ennobled by invention and trade in our own day, is that
of Strutt of Belper.  Their patent of nobility was virtually secured by
Jedediah Strutt in 1758, when he invented his machine for making ribbed
stockings, and thereby laid the foundations of a fortune which the
subsequent bearers of the name have largely increased and nobly employed.
The father of Jedediah was a farmer and malster, who did but little for
the education of his children; yet they all prospered.  Jedediah was the
second son, and when a boy assisted his father in the work of the farm.
At an early age he exhibited a taste for mechanics, and introduced
several improvements in the rude agricultural implements of the period.
On the death of his uncle he succeeded to a farm at Blackwall, near
Normanton, long in the tenancy of the family, and shortly after he
married Miss Wollatt, the daughter of a Derby hosier.  Having learned
from his wife’s brother that various unsuccessful attempts had been made
to manufacture ribbed-stockings, he proceeded to study the subject with a
view to effect what others had failed in accomplishing.  He accordingly
obtained a stocking-frame, and after mastering its construction and mode
of action, he proceeded to introduce new combinations, by means of which
he succeeded in effecting a variation in the plain looped-work of the
frame, and was thereby enabled to turn out “ribbed” hosiery.  Having
secured a patent for the improved machine, he removed to Derby, and there
entered largely on the manufacture of ribbed-stockings, in which he was
very successful.  He afterwards joined Arkwright, of the merits of whose
invention he fully satisfied himself, and found the means of securing his
patent, as well as erecting a large cotton-mill at Cranford, in
Derbyshire.  After the expiry of the partnership with Arkwright, the
Strutts erected extensive cotton-mills at Milford, near Belper, which
worthily gives its title to the present head of the family.  The sons of
the founder were, like their father, distinguished for their mechanical
ability.  Thus William Strutt, the eldest, is said to have invented a
self-acting mule, the success of which was only prevented by the
mechanical skill of that day being unequal to its manufacture.  Edward,
the son of William, was a man of eminent mechanical genius, having early
discovered the principle of suspension-wheels for carriages: he had a
wheelbarrow and two carts made on the principle, which were used on his
farm near Belper.  It may be added that the Strutts have throughout been
distinguished for their noble employment of the wealth which their
industry and skill have brought them; that they have sought in all ways
to improve the moral and social condition of the work-people in their
employment; and that they have been liberal donors in every good cause—of
which the presentation, by Mr. Joseph Strutt, of the beautiful park or
Arboretum at Derby, as a gift to the townspeople for ever, affords only
one of many illustrations.  The concluding words of the short address
which he delivered on presenting this valuable gift are worthy of being
quoted and remembered:—“As the sun has shone brightly on me through life,
it would be ungrateful in me not to employ a portion of the fortune I
possess in promoting the welfare of those amongst whom I live, and by
whose industry I have been aided in its organisation.”

No less industry and energy have been displayed by the many brave men,
both in present and past times, who have earned the peerage by their
valour on land and at sea.  Not to mention the older feudal lords, whose
tenure depended upon military service, and who so often led the van of
the English armies in great national encounters, we may point to Nelson,
St. Vincent, and Lyons—to Wellington, Hill, Hardinge, Clyde, and many
more in recent times, who have nobly earned their rank by their
distinguished services.  But plodding industry has far oftener worked its
way to the peerage by the honourable pursuit of the legal profession,
than by any other.  No fewer than seventy British peerages, including two
dukedoms, have been founded by successful lawyers.  Mansfield and Erskine
were, it is true, of noble family; but the latter used to thank God that
out of his own family he did not know a lord. {216}  The others were, for
the most part, the sons of attorneys, grocers, clergymen, merchants, and
hardworking members of the middle class.  Out of this profession have
sprung the peerages of Howard and Cavendish, the first peers of both
families having been judges; those of Aylesford, Ellenborough, Guildford,
Shaftesbury, Hardwicke, Cardigan, Clarendon, Camden, Ellesmere, Rosslyn;
and others nearer our own day, such as Tenterden, Eldon, Brougham,
Denman, Truro, Lyndhurst, St. Leonards, Cranworth, Campbell, and

Lord Lyndhurst’s father was a portrait painter, and that of St. Leonards
a perfumer and hairdresser in Burlington Street.  Young Edward Sugden was
originally an errand-boy in the office of the late Mr. Groom, of
Henrietta Street, Cavendish Square, a certificated conveyancer; and it
was there that the future Lord Chancellor of Ireland obtained his first
notions of law.  The origin of the late Lord Tenterden was perhaps the
humblest of all, nor was he ashamed of it; for he felt that the industry,
study, and application, by means of which he achieved his eminent
position, were entirely due to himself.  It is related of him, that on
one occasion he took his son Charles to a little shed, then standing
opposite the western front of Canterbury Cathedral, and pointing it out
to him, said, “Charles, you see this little shop; I have brought you here
on purpose to show it you.  In that shop your grandfather used to shave
for a penny: that is the proudest reflection of my life.”  When a boy,
Lord Tenterden was a singer in the Cathedral, and it is a curious
circumstance that his destination in life was changed by a
disappointment.  When he and Mr. Justice Richards were going the Home
Circuit together, they went to service in the cathedral; and on Richards
commending the voice of a singing man in the choir, Lord Tenterden said,
“Ah! that is the only man I ever envied!  When at school in this town, we
were candidates for a chorister’s place, and he obtained it.”

Not less remarkable was the rise to the same distinguished office of Lord
Chief Justice, of the rugged Kenyon and the robust Ellenborough; nor was
he a less notable man who recently held the same office—the astute Lord
Campbell, late Lord Chancellor of England, son of a parish minister in
Fifeshire.  For many years he worked hard as a reporter for the press,
while diligently preparing himself for the practice of his profession.
It is said of him, that at the beginning of his career, he was accustomed
to walk from county town to county town when on circuit, being as yet too
poor to afford the luxury of posting.  But step by step he rose slowly
but surely to that eminence and distinction which ever follow a career of
industry honourably and energetically pursued, in the legal, as in every
other profession.

There have been other illustrious instances of Lords Chancellors who have
plodded up the steep of fame and honour with equal energy and success.
The career of the late Lord Eldon is perhaps one of the most remarkable
examples.  He was the son of a Newcastle coal-fitter; a mischievous
rather than a studious boy; a great scapegrace at school, and the subject
of many terrible thrashings,—for orchard-robbing was one of the favourite
exploits of the future Lord Chancellor.  His father first thought of
putting him apprentice to a grocer, and afterwards had almost made up his
mind to bring him up to his own trade of a coal-fitter.  But by this time
his eldest son William (afterwards Lord Stowell) who had gained a
scholarship at Oxford, wrote to his father, “Send Jack up to me, I can do
better for him.”  John was sent up to Oxford accordingly, where, by his
brother’s influence and his own application, he succeeded in obtaining a
fellowship.  But when at home during the vacation, he was so
unfortunate—or rather so fortunate, as the issue proved—as to fall in
love; and running across the Border with his eloped bride, he married,
and as his friends thought, ruined himself for life.  He had neither
house nor home when he married, and had not yet earned a penny.  He lost
his fellowship, and at the same time shut himself out from preferment in
the Church, for which he had been destined.  He accordingly turned his
attention to the study of the law.  To a friend he wrote, “I have married
rashly; but it is my determination to work hard to provide for the woman
I love.”

John Scott came up to London, and took a small house in Cursitor Lane,
where he settled down to the study of the law.  He worked with great
diligence and resolution; rising at four every morning and studying till
late at night, binding a wet towel round his head to keep himself awake.
Too poor to study under a special pleader, he copied out three folio
volumes from a manuscript collection of precedents.  Long after, when
Lord Chancellor, passing down Cursitor Lane one day, he said to his
secretary, “Here was my first perch: many a time do I recollect coming
down this street with sixpence in my hand to buy sprats for supper.”
When at length called to the bar, he waited long for employment.  His
first year’s earnings amounted to only nine shillings.  For four years he
assiduously attended the London Courts and the Northern Circuit, with
little better success.  Even in his native town, he seldom had other than
pauper cases to defend.  The results were indeed so discouraging, that he
had almost determined to relinquish his chance of London business, and
settle down in some provincial town as a country barrister.  His brother
William wrote home, “Business is dull with poor Jack, very dull indeed!”
But as he had escaped being a grocer, a coal-fitter, and a country parson
so did he also escape being a country lawyer.

An opportunity at length occurred which enabled John Scott to exhibit the
large legal knowledge which he had so laboriously acquired.  In a case in
which he was engaged, he urged a legal point against the wishes both of
the attorney and client who employed him.  The Master of the Rolls
decided against him, but on an appeal to the House of Lords, Lord Thurlow
reversed the decision on the very point that Scott had urged.  On leaving
the House that day, a solicitor tapped him on the shoulder and said,
“Young man, your bread and butter’s cut for life.”  And the prophecy
proved a true one.  Lord Mansfield used to say that he knew no interval
between no business and 3000_l._ a-year, and Scott might have told the
same story; for so rapid was his progress, that in 1783, when only
thirty-two, he was appointed King’s Counsel, was at the head of the
Northern Circuit, and sat in Parliament for the borough of Weobley.  It
was in the dull but unflinching drudgery of the early part of his career
that he laid the foundation of his future success.  He won his spurs by
perseverance, knowledge, and ability, diligently cultivated.  He was
successively appointed to the offices of solicitor and attorney-general,
and rose steadily upwards to the highest office that the Crown had to
bestow—that of Lord Chancellor of England, which he held for a quarter of
a century.

Henry Bickersteth was the son of a surgeon at Kirkby Lonsdale, in
Westmoreland, and was himself educated to that profession.  As a student
at Edinburgh, he distinguished himself by the steadiness with which he
worked, and the application which he devoted to the science of medicine.
Returned to Kirkby Lonsdale, he took an active part in his father’s
practice; but he had no liking for the profession, and grew discontented
with the obscurity of a country town.  He went on, nevertheless,
diligently improving himself, and engaged on speculations in the higher
branches of physiology.  In conformity with his own wish, his father
consented to send him to Cambridge, where it was his intention to take a
medical degree with the view of practising in the metropolis.  Close
application to his studies, however, threw him out of health, and with a
view to re-establishing his strength he accepted the appointment of
travelling physician to Lord Oxford.  While abroad he mastered Italian,
and acquired a great admiration for Italian literature, but no greater
liking for medicine than before.  On the contrary, he determined to
abandon it; but returning to Cambridge, he took his degree; and that he
worked hard may be inferred from the fact that he was senior wrangler of
his year.  Disappointed in his desire to enter the army, he turned to the
bar, and entered a student of the Inner Temple.  He worked as hard at law
as he had done at medicine.  Writing to his father, he said, “Everybody
says to me, ‘You are certain of success in the end—only persevere;’ and
though I don’t well understand how this is to happen, I try to believe it
as much as I can, and I shall not fail to do everything in my power.”  At
twenty-eight he was called to the bar, and had every step in life yet to
make.  His means were straitened, and he lived upon the contributions of
his friends.  For years he studied and waited.  Still no business came.
He stinted himself in recreation, in clothes, and even in the necessaries
of life; struggling on indefatigably through all.  Writing home, he
“confessed that he hardly knew how he should be able to struggle on till
he had fair time and opportunity to establish himself.”  After three
years’ waiting, still without success, he wrote to his friends that
rather than be a burden upon them longer, he was willing to give the
matter up and return to Cambridge, “where he was sure of support and some
profit.”  The friends at home sent him another small remittance, and he
persevered.  Business gradually came in.  Acquitting himself creditably
in small matters, he was at length entrusted with cases of greater
importance.  He was a man who never missed an opportunity, nor allowed a
legitimate chance of improvement to escape him.  His unflinching industry
soon began to tell upon his fortunes; a few more years and he was not
only enabled to do without assistance from home, but he was in a position
to pay back with interest the debts which he had incurred.  The clouds
had dispersed, and the after career of Henry Bickersteth was one of
honour, of emolument, and of distinguished fame.  He ended his career as
Master of the Rolls, sitting in the House of Peers as Baron Langdale.
His life affords only another illustration of the power of patience,
perseverance, and conscientious working, in elevating the character of
the individual, and crowning his labours with the most complete success.

Such are a few of the distinguished men who have honourably worked their
way to the highest position, and won the richest rewards of their
profession, by the diligent exercise of qualities in many respects of an
ordinary character, but made potent by the force of application and


    “A cœur vaillant rien d’impossible.”—_Jacques Cœur_.

    “Den Muthigen gehört die Welt.”—_German Proverb_.

    “In every work that he began . . . he did it with all his heart, and
    prospered.”—_II. Chron._ xxxi. 21.

THERE is a famous speech recorded of an old Norseman, thoroughly
characteristic of the Teuton.  “I believe neither in idols nor demons,”
said he, “I put my sole trust in my own strength of body and soul.”  The
ancient crest of a pickaxe with the motto of “Either I will find a way or
make one,” was an expression of the same sturdy independence which to
this day distinguishes the descendants of the Northmen.  Indeed nothing
could be more characteristic of the Scandinavian mythology, than that it
had a god with a hammer.  A man’s character is seen in small matters; and
from even so slight a test as the mode in which a man wields a hammer,
his energy may in some measure be inferred.  Thus an eminent Frenchman
hit off in a single phrase the characteristic quality of the inhabitants
of a particular district, in which a friend of his proposed to settle and
buy land.  “Beware,” said he, “of making a purchase there; I know the men
of that department; the pupils who come from it to our veterinary school
at Paris _do nor strike hard upon the anvil_; they want energy; and you
will not get a satisfactory return on any capital you may invest there.”
A fine and just appreciation of character, indicating the thoughtful
observer; and strikingly illustrative of the fact that it is the energy
of the individual men that gives strength to a State, and confers a value
even upon the very soil which they cultivate.  As the French proverb has
it: “Tant vaut l’homme, tant vaut sa terre.”

The cultivation of this quality is of the greatest importance; resolute
determination in the pursuit of worthy objects being the foundation of
all true greatness of character.  Energy enables a man to force his way
through irksome drudgery and dry details, and carries him onward and
upward in every station in life.  It accomplishes more than genius, with
not one-half the disappointment and peril.  It is not eminent talent that
is required to ensure success in any pursuit, so much as purpose,—not
merely the power to achieve, but the will to labour energetically and
perseveringly.  Hence energy of will may be defined to be the very
central power of character in a man—in a word, it is the Man himself.  It
gives impulse to his every action, and soul to every effort.  True hope
is based on it,—and it is hope that gives the real perfume to life.
There is a fine heraldic motto on a broken helmet in Battle Abbey,
“L’espoir est ma force,” which might be the motto of every man’s life.
“Woe unto him that is fainthearted,” says the son of Sirach.  There is,
indeed, no blessing equal to the possession of a stout heart.  Even if a
man fail in his efforts, it will be a satisfaction to him to enjoy the
consciousness of having done his best.  In humble life nothing can be
more cheering and beautiful than to see a man combating suffering by
patience, triumphing in his integrity, and who, when his feet are
bleeding and his limbs failing him, still walks upon his courage.

Mere wishes and desires but engender a sort of green sickness in young
minds, unless they are promptly embodied in act and deed.  It will not
avail merely to wait as so many do, “until Blucher comes up,” but they
must struggle on and persevere in the mean time, as Wellington did.  The
good purpose once formed must be carried out with alacrity and without
swerving.  In most conditions of life, drudgery and toil are to be
cheerfully endured as the best and most wholesome discipline.  “In life,”
said Ary Scheffer, “nothing bears fruit except by labour of mind or body.
To strive and still strive—such is life; and in this respect mine is
fulfilled; but I dare to say, with just pride, that nothing has ever
shaken my courage.  With a strong soul, and a noble aim, one can do what
one wills, morally speaking.”

Hugh Miller said the only school in which he was properly taught was
“that world-wide school in which toil and hardship are the severe but
noble teachers.”  He who allows his application to falter, or shirks his
work on frivolous pretexts, is on the sure road to ultimate failure.  Let
any task be undertaken as a thing not possible to be evaded, and it will
soon come to be performed with alacrity and cheerfulness.  Charles IX. of
Sweden was a firm believer in the power of will, even in youth.  Laying
his hand on the head of his youngest son when engaged on a difficult
task, he exclaimed, “He _shall_ do it! he _shall_ do it!”  The habit of
application becomes easy in time, like every other habit.  Thus persons
with comparatively moderate powers will accomplish much, if they apply
themselves wholly and indefatigably to one thing at a time.  Fowell
Buxton placed his confidence in ordinary means and extraordinary
application; realizing the scriptural injunction, “Whatsoever thy hand
findeth to do, do it with all thy might;” and he attributed his own
success in life to his practice of “being a whole man to one thing at a

Nothing that is of real worth can be achieved without courageous working.
Man owes his growth chiefly to that active striving of the will, that
encounter with difficulty, which we call effort; and it is astonishing to
find how often results apparently impracticable are thus made possible.
An intense anticipation itself transforms possibility into reality; our
desires being often but the precursors of the things which we are capable
of performing.  On the contrary, the timid and hesitating find everything
impossible, chiefly because it seems so.  It is related of a young French
officer, that he used to walk about his apartment exclaiming, “I _will_
be Marshal of France and a great general.”  His ardent desire was the
presentiment of his success; for the young officer did become a
distinguished commander, and he died a Marshal of France.

Mr. Walker, author of the ‘Original,’ had so great a faith in the power
of will, that he says on one occasion he _determined_ to be well, and he
was so.  This may answer once; but, though safer to follow than many
prescriptions, it will not always succeed.  The power of mind over body
is no doubt great, but it may be strained until the physical power breaks
down altogether.  It is related of Muley Moluc, the Moorish leader, that,
when lying ill, almost worn out by an incurable disease, a battle took
place between his troops and the Portuguese; when, starting from his
litter at the great crisis of the fight, he rallied his army, led them to
victory, and instantly afterwards sank exhausted and expired.

It is will,—force of purpose,—that enables a man to do or be whatever he
sets his mind on being or doing.  A holy man was accustomed to say,
“Whatever you wish, that you are: for such is the force of our will,
joined to the Divine, that whatever we wish to be, seriously, and with a
true intention, that we become.  No one ardently wishes to be submissive,
patient, modest, or liberal, who does not become what he wishes.”  The
story is told of a working carpenter, who was observed one day planing a
magistrate’s bench which he was repairing, with more than usual
carefulness; and when asked the reason, he replied, “Because I wish to
make it easy against the time when I come to sit upon it myself.”  And
singularly enough, the man actually lived to sit upon that very bench as
a magistrate.

Whatever theoretical conclusions logicians may have formed as to the
freedom of the will, each individual feels that practically he is free to
choose between good and evil—that he is not as a mere straw thrown upon
the water to mark the direction of the current, but that he has within
him the power of a strong swimmer, and is capable of striking out for
himself, of buffeting with the waves, and directing to a great extent his
own independent course.  There is no absolute constraint upon our
volitions, and we feel and know that we are not bound, as by a spell,
with reference to our actions.  It would paralyze all desire of
excellence were we to think otherwise.  The entire business and conduct
of life, with its domestic rules, its social arrangements, and its public
institutions, proceed upon the practical conviction that the will is
free.  Without this where would be responsibility?—and what the advantage
of teaching, advising, preaching, reproof, and correction?  What were the
use of laws, were it not the universal belief, as it is the universal
fact, that men obey them or not, very much as they individually
determine?  In every moment of our life, conscience is proclaiming that
our will is free.  It is the only thing that is wholly ours, and it rests
solely with ourselves individually, whether we give it the right or the
wrong direction.  Our habits or our temptations are not our masters, but
we of them.  Even in yielding, conscience tells us we might resist; and
that were we determined to master them, there would not be required for
that purpose a stronger resolution than we know ourselves to be capable
of exercising.

“You are now at the age,” said Lamennais once, addressing a gay youth,
“at which a decision must be formed by you; a little later, and you may
have to groan within the tomb which you yourself have dug, without the
power of rolling away the stone.  That which the easiest becomes a habit
in us is the will.  Learn then to will strongly and decisively; thus fix
your floating life, and leave it no longer to be carried hither and
thither, like a withered leaf, by every wind that blows.”

Buxton held the conviction that a young man might be very much what he
pleased, provided he formed a strong resolution and held to it.  Writing
to one of his sons, he said to him, “You are now at that period of life,
in which you must make a turn to the right or the left.  You must now
give proofs of principle, determination, and strength of mind; or you
must sink into idleness, and acquire the habits and character of a
desultory, ineffective young man; and if once you fall to that point, you
will find it no easy matter to rise again.  I am sure that a young man
may be very much what he pleases.  In my own case it was so. . . . Much
of my happiness, and all my prosperity in life, have resulted from the
change I made at your age.  If you seriously resolve to be energetic and
industrious, depend upon it that you will for your whole life have reason
to rejoice that you were wise enough to form and to act upon that
determination.”  As will, considered without regard to direction, is
simply constancy, firmness, perseverance, it will be obvious that
everything depends upon right direction and motives.  Directed towards
the enjoyment of the senses, the strong will may be a demon, and the
intellect merely its debased slave; but directed towards good, the strong
will is a king, and the intellect the minister of man’s highest

“Where there is a will there is a way,” is an old and true saying.  He
who resolves upon doing a thing, by that very resolution often scales the
barriers to it, and secures its achievement.  To think we are able, is
almost to be so—to determine upon attainment is frequently attainment
itself.  Thus, earnest resolution has often seemed to have about it
almost a savour of omnipotence.  The strength of Suwarrow’s character lay
in his power of willing, and, like most resolute persons, he preached it
up as a system.  “You can only half will,” he would say to people who
failed.  Like Richelieu and Napoleon, he would have the word “impossible”
banished from the dictionary.  “I don’t know,” “I can’t,” and
“impossible,” were words which he detested above all others.  “Learn!
Do!  Try!” he would exclaim.  His biographer has said of him, that he
furnished a remarkable illustration of what may be effected by the
energetic development and exercise of faculties, the germs of which at
least are in every human heart.

One of Napoleon’s favourite maxims was, “The truest wisdom is a resolute
determination.”  His life, beyond most others, vividly showed what a
powerful and unscrupulous will could accomplish.  He threw his whole
force of body and mind direct upon his work.  Imbecile rulers and the
nations they governed went down before him in succession.  He was told
that the Alps stood in the way of his armies—“There shall be no Alps,” he
said, and the road across the Simplon was constructed, through a district
formerly almost inaccessible.  “Impossible,” said he, “is a word only to
be found in the dictionary of fools.”  He was a man who toiled terribly;
sometimes employing and exhausting four secretaries at a time.  He spared
no one, not even himself.  His influence inspired other men, and put a
new life into them.  “I made my generals out of mud,” he said.  But all
was of no avail; for Napoleon’s intense selfishness was his ruin, and the
ruin of France, which he left a prey to anarchy.  His life taught the
lesson that power, however energetically wielded, without beneficence, is
fatal to its possessor and its subjects; and that knowledge, or
knowingness, without goodness, is but the incarnate principle of Evil.

Our own Wellington was a far greater man.  Not less resolute, firm, and
persistent, but more self-denying, conscientious, and truly patriotic.
Napoleon’s aim was “Glory;” Wellington’s watchword, like Nelson’s, was
“Duty.”  The former word, it is said, does not once occur in his
despatches; the latter often, but never accompanied by any high-sounding
professions.  The greatest difficulties could neither embarrass nor
intimidate Wellington; his energy invariably rising in proportion to the
obstacles to be surmounted.  The patience, the firmness, the resolution,
with which he bore through the maddening vexations and gigantic
difficulties of the Peninsular campaigns, is, perhaps, one of the
sublimest things to be found in history.  In Spain, Wellington not only
exhibited the genius of the general, but the comprehensive wisdom of the
statesman.  Though his natural temper was irritable in the extreme, his
high sense of duty enabled him to restrain it; and to those about him his
patience seemed absolutely inexhaustible.  His great character stands
untarnished by ambition, by avarice, or any low passion.  Though a man of
powerful individuality, he yet displayed a great variety of endowment.
The equal of Napoleon in generalship, he was as prompt, vigorous, and
daring as Clive; as wise a statesman as Cromwell; and as pure and
high-minded as Washington.  The great Wellington left behind him an
enduring reputation, founded on toilsome campaigns won by skilful
combination, by fortitude which nothing could exhaust, by sublime daring,
and perhaps by still sublimer patience.

Energy usually displays itself in promptitude and decision.  When Ledyard
the traveller was asked by the African Association when he would be ready
to set out for Africa, he immediately answered, “To-morrow morning.”
Blucher’s promptitude obtained for him the cognomen of “Marshal Forwards”
throughout the Prussian army.  When John Jervis, afterwards Earl St.
Vincent, was asked when he would be ready to join his ship, he replied,
“Directly.”  And when Sir Colin Campbell, appointed to the command of the
Indian army, was asked when he could set out, his answer was,
“To-morrow,”—an earnest of his subsequent success.  For it is rapid
decision, and a similar promptitude in action, such as taking instant
advantage of an enemy’s mistakes, that so often wins battles.  “At
Arcola,” said Napoleon, “I won the battle with twenty-five horsemen.  I
seized a moment of lassitude, gave every man a trumpet, and gained the
day with this handful.  Two armies are two bodies which meet and
endeavour to frighten each other: a moment of panic occurs, and _that
moment_ must be turned to advantage.”  “Every moment lost,” said he at
another time, “gives an opportunity for misfortune;” and he declared that
he beat the Austrians because they never knew the value of time: while
they dawdled, he overthrew them.

India has, during the last century, been a great field for the display of
British energy.  From Clive to Havelock and Clyde there is a long and
honourable roll of distinguished names in Indian legislation and
warfare,—such as Wellesley, Metcalfe, Outram, Edwardes, and the
Lawrences.  Another great but sullied name is that of Warren Hastings—a
man of dauntless will and indefatigable industry.  His family was ancient
and illustrious; but their vicissitudes of fortune and ill-requited
loyalty in the cause of the Stuarts, brought them to poverty, and the
family estate at Daylesford, of which they had been lords of the manor
for hundreds of years, at length passed from their hands.  The last
Hastings of Daylesford had, however, presented the parish living to his
second son; and it was in his house, many years later, that Warren
Hastings, his grandson, was born.  The boy learnt his letters at the
village school, on the same bench with the children of the peasantry.  He
played in the fields which his fathers had owned; and what the loyal and
brave Hastings of Daylesford _had_ been, was ever in the boy’s thoughts.
His young ambition was fired, and it is said that one summer’s day, when
only seven years old, as he laid him down on the bank of the stream which
flowed through the domain, he formed in his mind the resolution that he
would yet recover possession of the family lands.  It was the romantic
vision of a boy; yet he lived to realize it.  The dream became a passion,
rooted in his very life; and he pursued his determination through youth
up to manhood, with that calm but indomitable force of will which was the
most striking peculiarity of his character.  The orphan boy became one of
the most powerful men of his time; he retrieved the fortunes of his line;
bought back the old estate, and rebuilt the family mansion.  “When, under
a tropical sun,” says Macaulay, “he ruled fifty millions of Asiatics, his
hopes, amidst all the cares of war, finance, and legislation, still
pointed to Daylesford.  And when his long public life, so singularly
chequered with good and evil, with glory and obloquy, had at length
closed for ever, it was to Daylesford that he retired to die.”

Sir Charles Napier was another Indian leader of extraordinary courage and
determination.  He once said of the difficulties with which he was
surrounded in one of his campaigns, “They only make my feet go deeper
into the ground.”  His battle of Meeanee was one of the most
extraordinary feats in history.  With 2000 men, of whom only 400 were
Europeans, he encountered an army of 35,000 hardy and well-armed
Beloochees.  It was an act, apparently, of the most daring temerity, but
the general had faith in himself and in his men.  He charged the Belooch
centre up a high bank which formed their rampart in front, and for three
mortal hours the battle raged.  Each man of that small force, inspired by
the chief, became for the time a hero.  The Beloochees, though twenty to
one, were driven back, but with their faces to the foe.  It is this sort
of pluck, tenacity, and determined perseverance which wins soldiers’
battles, and, indeed, every battle.  It is the one neck nearer that wins
the race and shows the blood; it is the one march more that wins the
campaign; the five minutes’ more persistent courage that wins the fight.
Though your force be less than another’s, you equal and outmaster your
opponent if you continue it longer and concentrate it more.  The reply of
the Spartan father, who said to his son, when complaining that his sword
was too short, “Add a step to it,” is applicable to everything in life.

Napier took the right method of inspiring his men with his own heroic
spirit.  He worked as hard as any private in the ranks.  “The great art
of commanding,” he said, “is to take a fair share of the work.  The man
who leads an army cannot succeed unless his whole mind is thrown into his
work.  The more trouble, the more labour must be given; the more danger,
the more pluck must be shown, till all is overpowered.”  A young officer
who accompanied him in his campaign in the Cutchee Hills, once said,
“When I see that old man incessantly on his horse, how can I be idle who
am young and strong?  I would go into a loaded cannon’s mouth if he
ordered me.”  This remark, when repeated to Napier, he said was ample
reward for his toils.  The anecdote of his interview with the Indian
juggler strikingly illustrates his cool courage as well as his remarkable
simplicity and honesty of character.  On one occasion, after the Indian
battles, a famous juggler visited the camp and performed his feats before
the General, his family, and staff.  Among other performances, this man
cut in two with a stroke of his sword a lime or lemon placed in the hand
of his assistant.  Napier thought there was some collusion between the
juggler and his retainer.  To divide by a sweep of the sword on a man’s
hand so small an object without touching the flesh he believed to be
impossible, though a similar incident is related by Scott in his romance
of the ‘Talisman.’  To determine the point, the General offered his own
hand for the experiment, and he stretched out his right arm.  The juggler
looked attentively at the hand, and said he would not make the trial.  “I
thought I would find you out!” exclaimed Napier.  “But stop,” added the
other, “let me see your left hand.”  The left hand was submitted, and the
man then said firmly, “If you will hold your arm steady I will perform
the feat.”  “But why the left hand and not the right?”  “Because the
right hand is hollow in the centre, and there is a risk of cutting off
the thumb; the left is high, and the danger will be less.”  Napier was
startled.  “I got frightened,” he said; “I saw it was an actual feat of
delicate swordsmanship, and if I had not abused the man as I did before
my staff, and challenged him to the trial, I honestly acknowledge I would
have retired from the encounter.  However, I put the lime on my hand, and
held out my arm steadily.  The juggler balanced himself, and, with a
swift stroke cut the lime in two pieces.  I felt the edge of the sword on
my hand as if a cold thread had been drawn across it.  So much (he added)
for the brave swordsmen of India, whom our fine fellows defeated at

The recent terrible struggle in India has served to bring out, perhaps
more prominently than any previous event in our history, the determined
energy and self-reliance of the national character.  Although English
officialism may often drift stupidly into gigantic blunders, the men of
the nation generally contrive to work their way out of them with a
heroism almost approaching the sublime.  In May, 1857, when the revolt
burst upon India like a thunder-clap, the British forces had been allowed
to dwindle to their extreme minimum, and were scattered over a wide
extent of country, many of them in remote cantonments.  The Bengal
regiments, one after another, rose against their officers, broke away,
and rushed to Delhi.  Province after province was lapped in mutiny and
rebellion; and the cry for help rose from east to west.  Everywhere the
English stood at bay in small detachments, beleaguered and surrounded,
apparently incapable of resistance.  Their discomfiture seemed so
complete, and the utter ruin of the British cause in India so certain,
that it might be said of them then, as it had been said before, “These
English never know when they are beaten.”  According to rule, they ought
then and there to have succumbed to inevitable fate.

While the issue of the mutiny still appeared uncertain, Holkar, one of
the native princes, consulted his astrologer for information.  The reply
was, “If all the Europeans save one are slain, that one will remain to
fight and reconquer.”  In their very darkest moment—even where, as at
Lucknow, a mere handful of British soldiers, civilians, and women, held
out amidst a city and province in arms against them—there was no word of
despair, no thought of surrender.  Though cut off from all communication
with their friends for months, and not knowing whether India was lost or
held, they never ceased to have perfect faith in the courage and
devotedness of their countrymen.  They knew that while a body of men of
English race held together in India, they would not be left unheeded to
perish.  They never dreamt of any other issue but retrieval of their
misfortune and ultimate triumph; and if the worst came to the worst, they
could but fall at their post, and die in the performance of their duty.
Need we remind the reader of the names of Havelock, Inglis, Neill, and
Outram—men of truly heroic mould—of each of whom it might with truth be
said that he had the heart of a chevalier, the soul of a believer, and
the temperament of a martyr.  Montalembert has said of them that “they do
honour to the human race.”  But throughout that terrible trial almost all
proved equally great—women, civilians and soldiers—from the general down
through all grades to the private and bugleman.  The men were not picked:
they belonged to the same ordinary people whom we daily meet at home—in
the streets, in workshops, in the fields, at clubs; yet when sudden
disaster fell upon them, each and all displayed a wealth of personal
resources and energy, and became as it were individually heroic.  “Not
one of them,” says Montalembert, “shrank or trembled—all, military and
civilians, young and old, generals and soldiers, resisted, fought, and
perished with a coolness and intrepidity which never faltered.  It is in
this circumstance that shines out the immense value of public education,
which invites the Englishman from his youth to make use of his strength
and his liberty, to associate, resist, fear nothing, to be astonished at
nothing, and to save himself, by his own sole exertions, from every sore
strait in life.”

It has been said that Delhi was taken and India saved by the personal
character of Sir John Lawrence.  The very name of “Lawrence” represented
power in the North-West Provinces.  His standard of duty, zeal, and
personal effort, was of the highest; and every man who served under him
seemed to be inspired by his spirit.  It was declared of him that his
character alone was worth an army.  The same might be said of his brother
Sir Henry, who organised the Punjaub force that took so prominent a part
in the capture of Delhi.  Both brothers inspired those who were about
them with perfect love and confidence.  Both possessed that quality of
tenderness, which is one of the true elements of the heroic character.
Both lived amongst the people, and powerfully influenced them for good.
Above all as Col. Edwardes says, “they drew models on young fellows’
minds, which they went forth and copied in their several administrations:
they sketched a _faith_, and begot a _school_, which are both living
things at this day.”  Sir John Lawrence had by his side such men as
Montgomery, Nicholson, Cotton, and Edwardes, as prompt, decisive, and
high-souled as himself.  John Nicholson was one of the finest, manliest,
and noblest of men—“every inch a hakim,” the natives said of him—“a tower
of strength,” as he was characterised by Lord Dalhousie.  In whatever
capacity he acted he was great, because he acted with his whole strength
and soul.  A brotherhood of fakeers—borne away by their enthusiastic
admiration of the man—even began the worship of Nikkil Seyn: he had some
of them punished for their folly, but they continued their worship
nevertheless.  Of his sustained energy and persistency an illustration
may be cited in his pursuit of the 55th Sepoy mutineers, when he was in
the saddle for twenty consecutive hours, and travelled more than seventy
miles.  When the enemy set up their standard at Delhi, Lawrence and
Montgomery, relying on the support of the people of the Punjaub, and
compelling their admiration and confidence, strained every nerve to keep
their own province in perfect order, whilst they hurled every available
soldier, European and Sikh, against that city.  Sir John wrote to the
commander-in-chief to “hang on to the rebels’ noses before Delhi,” while
the troops pressed on by forced marches under Nicholson, “the tramp of
whose war-horse might be heard miles off,” as was afterwards said of him
by a rough Sikh who wept over his grave.

The siege and storming of Delhi was the most illustrious event which
occurred in the course of that gigantic struggle, although the leaguer of
Lucknow, during which the merest skeleton of a British regiment—the
32nd—held out, under the heroic Inglis, for six months against two
hundred thousand armed enemies, has perhaps excited more intense
interest.  At Delhi, too, the British were really the besieged, though
ostensibly the besiegers; they were a mere handful of men “in the
open”—not more than 3,700 bayonets, European and native—and they were
assailed from day to day by an army of rebels numbering at one time as
many as 75,000 men, trained to European discipline by English officers,
and supplied with all but exhaustless munitions of war.  The heroic
little band sat down before the city under the burning rays of a tropical
sun.  Death, wounds, and fever failed to turn them from their purpose.
Thirty times they were attacked by overwhelming numbers, and thirty times
did they drive back the enemy behind their defences.  As Captain
Hodson—himself one of the bravest there—has said, “I venture to aver that
no other nation in the world would have remained here, or avoided defeat
if they had attempted to do so.”  Never for an instant did these heroes
falter at their work; with sublime endurance they held on, fought on, and
never relaxed until, dashing through the “imminent deadly breach,” the
place was won, and the British flag was again unfurled on the walls of
Delhi.  All were great—privates, officers, and generals.  Common soldiers
who had been inured to a life of hardship, and young officers who had
been nursed in luxurious homes, alike proved their manhood, and emerged
from that terrible trial with equal honour.  The native strength and
soundness of the English race, and of manly English training and
discipline, were never more powerfully exhibited; and it was there
emphatically proved that the Men of England are, after all, its greatest
products.  A terrible price was paid for this great chapter in our
history, but if those who survive, and those who come after, profit by
the lesson and example, it may not have been purchased at too great a

But not less energy and courage have been displayed in India and the East
by men of various nations, in other lines of action more peaceful and
beneficent than that of war.  And while the heroes of the sword are
remembered, the heroes of the gospel ought not to be forgotten.  From
Xavier to Martyn and Williams, there has been a succession of illustrious
missionary labourers, working in a spirit of sublime self-sacrifice,
without any thought of worldly honour, inspired solely by the hope of
seeking out and rescuing the lost and fallen of their race.  Borne up by
invincible courage and never-failing patience, these men have endured
privations, braved dangers, walked through pestilence, and borne all
toils, fatigues, and sufferings, yet held on their way rejoicing,
glorying even in martyrdom itself.  Of these one of the first and most
illustrious was Francis Xavier.  Born of noble lineage, and with
pleasure, power, and honour within his reach, he proved by his life that
there are higher objects in the world than rank, and nobler aspirations
than the accumulation of wealth.  He was a true gentleman in manners and
sentiment; brave, honourable, generous; easily led, yet capable of
leading; easily persuaded, yet himself persuasive; a most patient,
resolute and energetic man.  At the age of twenty-two he was earning his
living as a public teacher of philosophy at the University of Paris.
There Xavier became the intimate friend and associate of Loyola, and
shortly afterwards he conducted the pilgrimage of the first little band
of proselytes to Rome.

When John III. of Portugal resolved to plant Christianity in the Indian
territories subject to his influence, Bobadilla was first selected as his
missionary; but being disabled by illness, it was found necessary to make
another selection, and Xavier was chosen.  Repairing his tattered
cassock, and with no other baggage than his breviary, he at once started
for Lisbon and embarked for the East.  The ship in which he set sail for
Goa had the Governor on board, with a reinforcement of a thousand men for
the garrison of the place.  Though a cabin was placed at his disposal,
Xavier slept on deck throughout the voyage with his head on a coil of
ropes, messing with the sailors.  By ministering to their wants,
inventing innocent sports for their amusement, and attending them in
their sickness, he wholly won their hearts, and they regarded him with

Arrived at Goa, Xavier was shocked at the depravity of the people,
settlers as well as natives; for the former had imported the vices
without the restraints of civilization, and the latter had only been too
apt to imitate their bad example.  Passing along the streets of the city,
sounding his handbell as he went, he implored the people to send him
their children to be instructed.  He shortly succeeded in collecting a
large number of scholars, whom he carefully taught day by day, at the
same time visiting the sick, the lepers, and the wretched of all classes,
with the object of assuaging their miseries, and bringing them to the
Truth.  No cry of human suffering which reached him was disregarded.
Hearing of the degradation and misery of the pearl fishers of Manaar, he
set out to visit them, and his bell again rang out the invitation of
mercy.  He baptized and he taught, but the latter he could only do
through interpreters.  His most eloquent teaching was his ministration to
the wants and the sufferings of the wretched.

On he went, his hand-bell sounding along the coast of Comorin, among the
towns and villages, the temples and the bazaars, summoning the natives to
gather about him and be instructed.  He had translations made of the
Catechism, the Apostles’ Creed, the Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and
some of the devotional offices of the Church.  Committing these to memory
in their own tongue he recited them to the children, until they had them
by heart; after which he sent them forth to teach the words to their
parents and neighbours.  At Cape Comorin, he appointed thirty teachers,
who under himself presided over thirty Christian Churches, though the
Churches were but humble, in most cases consisting only of a cottage
surmounted by a cross.  Thence he passed to Travancore, sounding his way
from village to village, baptizing until his hands dropped with
weariness, and repeating his formulas until his voice became almost
inaudible.  According to his own account, the success of his mission
surpassed his highest expectations.  His pure, earnest, and beautiful
life, and the irresistible eloquence of his deeds, made converts wherever
he went; and by sheer force of sympathy, those who saw him and listened
to him insensibly caught a portion of his ardour.

Burdened with the thought that “the harvest is great and the labourers
are few,” Xavier next sailed to Malacca and Japan, where he found himself
amongst entirely new races speaking other tongues.  The most that he
could do here was to weep and pray, to smooth the pillow and watch by the
sick-bed, sometimes soaking the sleeve of his surplice in water, from
which to squeeze out a few drops and baptize the dying.  Hoping all
things, and fearing nothing, this valiant soldier of the truth was borne
onward throughout by faith and energy.  “Whatever form of death or
torture,” said he, “awaits me, I am ready to suffer it ten thousand times
for the salvation of a single soul.”  He battled with hunger, thirst,
privations and dangers of all kinds, still pursuing his mission of love,
unresting and unwearying.  At length, after eleven years’ labour, this
great good man, while striving to find a way into China, was stricken
with fever in the Island of Sanchian, and there received his crown of
glory.  A hero of nobler mould, more pure, self-denying, and courageous,
has probably never trod this earth.

Other missionaries have followed Xavier in the same field of work, such
as Schwartz, Carey, and Marshman in India; Gutzlaff and Morrison in
China; Williams in the South Seas; Campbell, Moffatt and Livingstone in
Africa.  John Williams, the martyr of Erromanga, was originally
apprenticed to a furnishing ironmonger.  Though considered a dull boy, he
was handy at his trade, in which he acquired so much skill that his
master usually entrusted him with any blacksmiths work that required the
exercise of more than ordinary care.  He was also fond of bell-hanging
and other employments which took him away from the shop.  A casual sermon
which he heard gave his mind a serious bias, and he became a
Sunday-school teacher.  The cause of missions having been brought under
his notice at some of his society’s meetings, he determined to devote
himself to this work.  His services were accepted by the London
Missionary Society; and his master allowed him to leave the ironmonger’s
shop before the expiry of his indentures.  The islands of the Pacific
Ocean were the principal scene of his labours—more particularly Huahine
in Tahiti, Raiatea, and Rarotonga.  Like the Apostles he worked with his
hands,—at blacksmith work, gardening, shipbuilding; and he endeavoured to
teach the islanders the art of civilised life, at the same time that he
instructed them in the truths of religion.  It was in the course of his
indefatigable labours that he was massacred by savages on the shore of
Erromanga—none worthier than he to wear the martyr’s crown.

The career of Dr. Livingstone is one of the most interesting of all.  He
has told the story of his life in that modest and unassuming manner which
is so characteristic of the man himself.  His ancestors were poor but
honest Highlanders, and it is related of one of them, renowned in his
district for wisdom and prudence, that when on his death-bed he called
his children round him and left them these words, the only legacy he had
to bequeath—“In my life-time,” said he, “I have searched most carefully
through all the traditions I could find of our family, and I never could
discover that there was a dishonest man among our forefathers: if,
therefore, any of you or any of your children should take to dishonest
ways, it will not be because it runs in our blood; it does not belong to
you: I leave this precept with you—Be honest.”  At the age of ten
Livingstone was sent to work in a cotton factory near Glasgow as a
“piecer.”  With part of his first week’s wages he bought a Latin grammar,
and began to learn that language, pursuing the study for years at a night
school.  He would sit up conning his lessons till twelve or later, when
not sent to bed by his mother, for he had to be up and at work in the
factory every morning by six.  In this way he plodded through Virgil and
Horace, also reading extensively all books, excepting novels, that came
in his way, but more especially scientific works and books of travels.
He occupied his spare hours, which were but few, in the pursuit of
botany, scouring the neighbourhood to collect plants.  He even carried on
his reading amidst the roar of the factory machinery, so placing the book
upon the spinning jenny which he worked that he could catch sentence
after sentence as he passed it.  In this way the persevering youth
acquired much useful knowledge; and as he grew older, the desire
possessed him of becoming a missionary to the heathen.  With this object
he set himself to obtain a medical education, in order the better to be
qualified for the work.  He accordingly economised his earnings, and
saved as much money as enabled him to support himself while attending the
Medical and Greek classes, as well as the Divinity Lectures, at Glasgow,
for several winters, working as a cotton spinner during the remainder of
each year.  He thus supported himself, during his college career,
entirely by his own earnings as a factory workman, never having received
a farthing of help from any other source.  “Looking back now,” he
honestly says, “at that life of toil, I cannot but feel thankful that it
formed such a material part of my early education; and, were it possible,
I should like to begin life over again in the same lowly style, and to
pass through the same hardy training.”  At length he finished his medical
curriculum, wrote his Latin thesis, passed his examinations, and was
admitted a licentiate of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons.  At
first he thought of going to China, but the war then waging with that
country prevented his following out the idea; and having offered his
services to the London Missionary Society, he was by them sent out to
Africa, which he reached in 1840.  He had intended to proceed to China by
his own efforts; and he says the only pang he had in going to Africa at
the charge of the London Missionary Society was, because “it was not
quite agreeable to one accustomed to work his own way to become, in a
manner, dependent upon others.”  Arrived in Africa he set to work with
great zeal.  He could not brook the idea of merely entering upon the
labours of others, but cut out a large sphere of independent work,
preparing himself for it by undertaking manual labour in building and
other handicraft employment, in addition to teaching, which, he says,
“made me generally as much exhausted and unfit for study in the evenings
as ever I had been when a cotton-spinner.”  Whilst labouring amongst the
Bechuanas, he dug canals, built houses, cultivated fields, reared cattle,
and taught the natives to work as well as worship.  When he first started
with a party of them on foot upon a long journey, he overheard their
observations upon his appearance and powers—“He is not strong,” said
they; “he is quite slim, and only appears stout because he puts himself
into those bags (trowsers): he will soon knock up.”  This caused the
missionary’s Highland blood to rise, and made him despise the fatigue of
keeping them all at the top of their speed for days together, until he
heard them expressing proper opinions of his pedestrian powers.  What he
did in Africa, and how he worked, may be learnt from his own ‘Missionary
Travels,’ one of the most fascinating books of its kind that has ever
been given to the public.  One of his last known acts is thoroughly
characteristic of the man.  The ‘Birkenhead’ steam launch, which he took
out with him to Africa, having proved a failure, he sent home orders for
the construction of another vessel at an estimated cost of 2000_l._  This
sum he proposed to defray out of the means which he had set aside for his
children arising from the profits of his books of travels.  “The children
must make it up themselves,” was in effect his expression in sending home
the order for the appropriation of the money.

The career of John Howard was throughout a striking illustration of the
same power of patient purpose.  His sublime life proved that even
physical weakness could remove mountains in the pursuit of an end
recommended by duty.  The idea of ameliorating the condition of prisoners
engrossed his whole thoughts and possessed him like a passion; and no
toil, nor danger, nor bodily suffering could turn him from that great
object of his life.  Though a man of no genius and but moderate talent,
his heart was pure and his will was strong.  Even in his own time he
achieved a remarkable degree of success; and his influence did not die
with him, for it has continued powerfully to affect not only the
legislation of England, but of all civilised nations, down to the present

Jonas Hanway was another of the many patient and persevering men who have
made England what it is—content simply to do with energy the work they
have been appointed to do, and go to their rest thankfully when it is

    “Leaving no memorial but a world
    Made better by their lives.”

He was born in 1712, at Portsmouth, where his father, a storekeeper in
the dockyard, being killed by an accident, he was left an orphan at an
early age.  His mother removed with her children to London, where she had
them put to school, and struggled hard to bring them up respectably.  At
seventeen Jonas was sent to Lisbon to be apprenticed to a merchant, where
his close attention to business, his punctuality, and his strict honour
and integrity, gained for him the respect and esteem of all who knew him.
Returning to London in 1743, he accepted the offer of a partnership in an
English mercantile house at St. Petersburg engaged in the Caspian trade,
then in its infancy.  Hanway went to Russia for the purpose of extending
the business; and shortly after his arrival at the capital he set out for
Persia, with a caravan of English bales of cloth making twenty carriage
loads.  At Astracan he sailed for Astrabad, on the south-eastern shore of
the Caspian; but he had scarcely landed his bales, when an insurrection
broke out, his goods were seized, and though he afterwards recovered the
principal part of them, the fruits of his enterprise were in a great
measure lost.  A plot was set on foot to seize himself and his party; so
he took to sea and, after encountering great perils, reached Ghilan in
safety.  His escape on this occasion gave him the first idea of the words
which he afterwards adopted as the motto of his life—“_Never Despair_.”
He afterwards resided in St. Petersburg for five years, carrying on a
prosperous business.  But a relative having left him some property, and
his own means being considerable, he left Russia, and arrived in his
native country in 1755.  His object in returning to England was, as he
himself expressed it, “to consult his own health (which was extremely
delicate), and do as much good to himself and others as he was able.”
The rest of his life was spent in deeds of active benevolence and
usefulness to his fellow men.  He lived in a quiet style, in order that
he might employ a larger share of his income in works of benevolence.
One of the first public improvements to which he devoted himself was that
of the highways of the metropolis, in which he succeeded to a large
extent.  The rumour of a French invasion being prevalent in 1755, Mr.
Hanway turned his attention to the best mode of keeping up the supply of
seamen.  He summoned a meeting of merchants and shipowners at the Royal
Exchange, and there proposed to them to form themselves into a society
for fitting out landsmen volunteers and boys, to serve on board the
king’s ships.  The proposal was received with enthusiasm: a society was
formed, and officers were appointed, Mr. Hanway directing its entire
operations.  The result was the establishment in 1756 of The Marine
Society, an institution which has proved of much national advantage, and
is to this day of great and substantial utility.  Within six years from
its formation, 5451 boys and 4787 landsmen volunteers had been trained
and fitted out by the society and added to the navy, and to this day it
is in active operation, about 600 poor boys, after a careful education,
being annually apprenticed as sailors, principally in the merchant

Mr. Hanway devoted the other portions of his spare time to improving or
establishing important public institutions in the metropolis.  From an
early period he took an active interest in the Foundling Hospital, which
had been started by Thomas Coram many years before, but which, by
encouraging parents to abandon their children to the charge of a charity,
was threatening to do more harm than good.  He determined to take steps
to stem the evil, entering upon the work in the face of the fashionable
philanthropy of the time; but by holding to his purpose he eventually
succeeded in bringing the charity back to its proper objects; and time
and experience have proved that he was right.  The Magdalen Hospital was
also established in a great measure through Mr. Hanway’s exertions.  But
his most laborious and persevering efforts were in behalf of the infant
parish poor.  The misery and neglect amidst which the children of the
parish poor then grew up, and the mortality which prevailed amongst them,
were frightful; but there was no fashionable movement on foot to abate
the suffering, as in the case of the foundlings.  So Jonas Hanway
summoned his energies to the task.  Alone and unassisted he first
ascertained by personal inquiry the extent of the evil.  He explored the
dwellings of the poorest classes in London, and visited the poorhouse
sick wards, by which he ascertained the management in detail of every
workhouse in and near the metropolis.  He next made a journey into France
and through Holland, visiting the houses for the reception of the poor,
and noting whatever he thought might be adopted at home with advantage.
He was thus employed for five years; and on his return to England he
published the results of his observations.  The consequence was that many
of the workhouses were reformed and improved.  In 1761 he obtained an Act
obliging every London parish to keep an annual register of all the
infants received, discharged, and dead; and he took care that the Act
should work, for he himself superintended its working with indefatigable
watchfulness.  He went about from workhouse to workhouse in the morning,
and from one member of parliament to another in the afternoon, for day
after day, and for year after year, enduring every rebuff, answering
every objection, and accommodating himself to every humour.  At length,
after a perseverance hardly to be equalled, and after nearly ten years’
labour, he obtained another Act, at his sole expense (7 Geo. III. c. 39),
directing that all parish infants belonging to the parishes within the
bills of mortality should not be nursed in the workhouses, but be sent to
nurse a certain number of miles out of town, until they were six years
old, under the care of guardians to be elected triennially.  The poor
people called this “the Act for keeping children alive;” and the
registers for the years which followed its passing, as compared with
those which preceded it, showed that thousands of lives had been
preserved through the judicious interference of this good and sensible

Wherever a philanthropic work was to be done in London, be sure that
Jonas Hanway’s hand was in it.  One of the first Acts for the protection
of chimney-sweepers’ boys was obtained through his influence.  A
destructive fire at Montreal, and another at Bridgetown, Barbadoes,
afforded him the opportunity for raising a timely subscription for the
relief of the sufferers.  His name appeared in every list, and his
disinterestedness and sincerity were universally recognized.  But he was
not suffered to waste his little fortune entirely in the service of
others.  Five leading citizens of London, headed by Mr. Hoare, the
banker, without Mr. Hanway’s knowledge, waited on Lord Bute, then prime
minister, in a body, and in the names of their fellow-citizens requested
that some notice might be taken of this good man’s disinterested services
to his country.  The result was, his appointment shortly after, as one of
the commissioners for victualling the navy.

Towards the close of his life Mr. Hanway’s health became very feeble, and
although he found it necessary to resign his office at the Victualling
Board, he could not be idle; but laboured at the establishment of Sunday
Schools,—a movement then in its infancy,—or in relieving poor blacks,
many of whom wandered destitute about the streets of the metropolis,—or,
in alleviating the sufferings of some neglected and destitute class of
society.  Notwithstanding his familiarity with misery in all its shapes,
he was one of the most cheerful of beings; and, but for his cheerfulness
he could never, with so delicate a frame, have got through so vast an
amount of self-imposed work.  He dreaded nothing so much as inactivity.
Though fragile, he was bold and indefatigable; and his moral courage was
of the first order.  It may be regarded as a trivial matter to mention
that he was the first who ventured to walk the streets of London with an
umbrella over his head.  But let any modern London merchant venture to
walk along Cornhill in a peaked Chinese hat, and he will find it takes
some degree of moral courage to persevere in it.  After carrying an
umbrella for thirty years, Mr. Hanway saw the article at length come into
general use.

Hanway was a man of strict honour, truthfulness, and integrity; and every
word he said might be relied upon.  He had so great a respect, amounting
almost to a reverence, for the character of the honest merchant, that it
was the only subject upon which he was ever seduced into a eulogium.  He
strictly practised what he professed, and both as a merchant, and
afterwards as a commissioner for victualling the navy, his conduct was
without stain.  He would not accept the slightest favour of any sort from
a contractor; and when any present was sent to him whilst at the
Victualling Office, he would politely return it, with the intimation that
“he had made it a rule not to accept anything from any person engaged
with the office.”  When he found his powers failing, he prepared for
death with as much cheerfulness as he would have prepared himself for a
journey into the country.  He sent round and paid all his tradesmen, took
leave of his friends, arranged his affairs, had his person neatly
disposed of, and parted with life serenely and peacefully in his 74th
year.  The property which he left did not amount to two thousand pounds,
and, as he had no relatives who wanted it, he divided it amongst sundry
orphans and poor persons whom he had befriended during his lifetime.
Such, in brief, was the beautiful life of Jonas Hanway,—as honest,
energetic, hard-working, and true-hearted a man as ever lived.

The life of Granville Sharp is another striking example of the same power
of individual energy—a power which was afterwards transfused into the
noble band of workers in the cause of Slavery Abolition, prominent among
whom were Clarkson, Wilberforce, Buxton, and Brougham.  But, giants
though these men were in this cause, Granville Sharp was the first, and
perhaps the greatest of them all, in point of perseverance, energy, and
intrepidity.  He began life as apprentice to a linen-draper on Tower
Hill; but, leaving that business after his apprenticeship was out, he
next entered as a clerk in the Ordnance Office; and it was while engaged
in that humble occupation that he carried on in his spare hours the work
of Negro Emancipation.  He was always, even when an apprentice, ready to
undertake any amount of volunteer labour where a useful purpose was to be
served.  Thus, while learning the linen-drapery business, a fellow
apprentice who lodged in the same house, and was a Unitarian, led him
into frequent discussions on religious subjects.  The Unitarian youth
insisted that Granville’s Trinitarian misconception of certain passages
of Scripture arose from his want of acquaintance with the Greek tongue;
on which he immediately set to work in his evening hours, and shortly
acquired an intimate knowledge of Greek.  A similar controversy with
another fellow-apprentice, a Jew, as to the interpretation of the
prophecies, led him in like manner to undertake and overcome the
difficulties of Hebrew.

But the circumstance which gave the bias and direction to the main
labours of his life originated in his generosity and benevolence.  His
brother William, a surgeon in Mincing Lane, gave gratuitous advice to the
poor, and amongst the numerous applicants for relief at his surgery was a
poor African named Jonathan Strong.  It appeared that the negro had been
brutally treated by his master, a Barbadoes lawyer then in London, and
became lame, almost blind, and unable to work; on which his owner,
regarding him as of no further value as a chattel, cruelly turned him
adrift into the streets to starve.  This poor man, a mass of disease,
supported himself by begging for a time, until he found his way to
William Sharp, who gave him some medicine, and shortly after got him
admitted to St. Bartholomew’s hospital, where he was cured.  On coming
out of the hospital, the two brothers supported the negro in order to
keep him off the streets, but they had not the least suspicion at the
time that any one had a claim upon his person.  They even succeeded in
obtaining a situation for Strong with an apothecary, in whose service he
remained for two years; and it was while he was attending his mistress
behind a hackney coach, that his former owner, the Barbadoes lawyer,
recognized him, and determined to recover possession of the slave, again
rendered valuable by the restoration of his health.  The lawyer employed
two of the Lord Mayor’s officers to apprehend Strong, and he was lodged
in the Compter, until he could be shipped off to the West Indies.  The
negro, bethinking him in his captivity of the kind services which
Granville Sharp had rendered him in his great distress some years before,
despatched a letter to him requesting his help.  Sharp had forgotten the
name of Strong, but he sent a messenger to make inquiries, who returned
saying that the keepers denied having any such person in their charge.
His suspicions were roused, and he went forthwith to the prison, and
insisted upon seeing Jonathan Strong.  He was admitted, and recognized
the poor negro, now in custody as a recaptured slave.  Mr. Sharp charged
the master of the prison at his own peril not to deliver up Strong to any
person whatever, until he had been carried before the Lord Mayor, to whom
Sharp immediately went, and obtained a summons against those persons who
had seized and imprisoned Strong without a warrant.  The parties appeared
before the Lord Mayor accordingly, and it appeared from the proceedings
that Strong’s former master had already sold him to a new one, who
produced the bill of sale and claimed the negro as his property.  As no
charge of offence was made against Strong, and as the Lord Mayor was
incompetent to deal with the legal question of Strong’s liberty or
otherwise, he discharged him, and the slave followed his benefactor out
of court, no one daring to touch him.  The man’s owner immediately gave
Sharp notice of an action to recover possession of his negro slave, of
whom he declared he had been robbed.

About that time (1767), the personal liberty of the Englishman, though
cherished as a theory, was subject to grievous infringements, and was
almost daily violated.  The impressment of men for the sea service was
constantly practised, and, besides the press-gangs, there were regular
bands of kidnappers employed in London and all the large towns of the
kingdom, to seize men for the East India Company’s service.  And when the
men were not wanted for India, they were shipped off to the planters in
the American colonies.  Negro slaves were openly advertised for sale in
the London and Liverpool newspapers.  Rewards were offered for recovering
and securing fugitive slaves, and conveying them down to certain
specified ships in the river.

The position of the reputed slave in England was undefined and doubtful.
The judgments which had been given in the courts of law were fluctuating
and various, resting on no settled principle.  Although it was a popular
belief that no slave could breathe in England, there were legal men of
eminence who expressed a directly contrary opinion.  The lawyers to whom
Mr. Sharp resorted for advice, in defending himself in the action raised
against him in the case of Jonathan Strong, generally concurred in this
view, and he was further told by Jonathan Strong’s owner, that the
eminent Lord Chief Justice Mansfield, and all the leading counsel, were
decidedly of opinion that the slave, by coming into England, did not
become free, but might legally be compelled to return again to the
plantations.  Such information would have caused despair in a mind less
courageous and earnest than that of Granville Sharp; but it only served
to stimulate his resolution to fight the battle of the negroes’ freedom,
at least in England.  “Forsaken,” he said, “by my professional defenders,
I was compelled, through the want of regular legal assistance, to make a
hopeless attempt at self-defence, though I was totally unacquainted
either with the practice of the law or the foundations of it, having
never opened a law book (except the Bible) in my life, until that time,
when I most reluctantly undertook to search the indexes of a law library,
which my bookseller had lately purchased.”

The whole of his time during the day was occupied with the business of
the ordnance department, where he held the most laborious post in the
office; he was therefore under the necessity of conducting his new
studies late at night or early in the morning.  He confessed that he was
himself becoming a sort of slave.  Writing to a clerical friend to excuse
himself for delay in replying to a letter, he said, “I profess myself
entirely incapable of holding a literary correspondence.  What little
time I have been able to save from sleep at night, and early in the
morning, has been necessarily employed in the examination of some points
of law, which admitted of no delay, and yet required the most diligent
researches and examination in my study.”

Mr. Sharp gave up every leisure moment that he could command during the
next two years, to the close study of the laws of England affecting
personal liberty,—wading through an immense mass of dry and repulsive
literature, and making extracts of all the most important Acts of
Parliament, decisions of the courts, and opinions of eminent lawyers, as
he went along.  In this tedious and protracted inquiry he had no
instructor, nor assistant, nor adviser.  He could not find a single
lawyer whose opinion was favourable to his undertaking.  The results of
his inquiries were, however, as gratifying to himself, as they were
surprising to the gentlemen of the law.  “God be thanked,” he wrote,
“there is nothing in any English law or statute—at least that I am able
to find out—that can justify the enslaving of others.”  He had planted
his foot firm, and now he doubted nothing.  He drew up the result of his
studies in a summary form; it was a plain, clear, and manly statement,
entitled, ‘On the Injustice of Tolerating Slavery in England;’ and
numerous copies, made by himself, were circulated by him amongst the most
eminent lawyers of the time.  Strong’s owner, finding the sort of man he
had to deal with, invented various pretexts for deferring the suit
against Sharp, and at length offered a compromise, which was rejected.
Granville went on circulating his manuscript tract among the lawyers,
until at length those employed against Jonathan Strong were deterred from
proceeding further, and the result was, that the plaintiff was compelled
to pay treble costs for not bringing forward his action.  The tract was
then printed in 1769.

In the mean time other cases occurred of the kidnapping of negroes in
London, and their shipment to the West Indies for sale.  Wherever Sharp
could lay hold of any such case, he at once took proceedings to rescue
the negro.  Thus the wife of one Hylas, an African, was seized, and
despatched to Barbadoes; on which Sharp, in the name of Hylas, instituted
legal proceedings against the aggressor, obtained a verdict with damages,
and Hylas’s wife was brought back to England free.

Another forcible capture of a negro, attended with great cruelty, having
occurred in 1770, he immediately set himself on the track of the
aggressors.  An African, named Lewis, was seized one dark night by two
watermen employed by the person who claimed the negro as his property,
dragged into the water, hoisted into a boat, where he was gagged, and his
limbs were tied; and then rowing down river, they put him on board a ship
bound for Jamaica, where he was to be sold for a slave upon his arrival
in the island.  The cries of the poor negro had, however, attracted the
attention of some neighbours; one of whom proceeded direct to Mr.
Granville Sharp, now known as the negro’s friend, and informed him of the
outrage.  Sharp immediately got a warrant to bring back Lewis, and he
proceeded to Gravesend, but on arrival there the ship had sailed for the
Downs.  A writ of Habeas Corpus was obtained, sent down to Spithead, and
before the ship could leave the shores of England the writ was served.
The slave was found chained to the main-mast bathed in tears, casting
mournful looks on the land from which he was about to be torn.  He was
immediately liberated, brought back to London, and a warrant was issued
against the author of the outrage.  The promptitude of head, heart, and
hand, displayed by Mr. Sharp in this transaction could scarcely have been
surpassed, and yet he accused himself of slowness.  The case was tried
before Lord Mansfield—whose opinion, it will be remembered, had already
been expressed as decidedly opposed to that entertained by Granville
Sharp.  The judge, however, avoided bringing the question to an issue, or
offering any opinion on the legal question as to the slave’s personal
liberty or otherwise, but discharged the negro because the defendant
could bring no evidence that Lewis was even nominally his property.

The question of the personal liberty of the negro in England was
therefore still undecided; but in the mean time Mr. Sharp continued
steady in his benevolent course, and by his indefatigable exertions and
promptitude of action, many more were added to the list of the rescued.
At length the important case of James Somerset occurred; a case which is
said to have been selected, at the mutual desire of Lord Mansfield and
Mr. Sharp, in order to bring the great question involved to a clear legal
issue.  Somerset had been brought to England by his master, and left
there.  Afterwards his master sought to apprehend him and send him off to
Jamaica, for sale.  Mr. Sharp, as usual, at once took the negro’s case in
hand, and employed counsel to defend him.  Lord Mansfield intimated that
the case was of such general concern, that he should take the opinion of
all the judges upon it.  Mr. Sharp now felt that he would have to contend
with all the force that could be brought against him, but his resolution
was in no wise shaken.  Fortunately for him, in this severe struggle, his
exertions had already begun to tell: increasing interest was taken in the
question, and many eminent legal gentlemen openly declared themselves to
be upon his side.

The cause of personal liberty, now at stake, was fairly tried before Lord
Mansfield, assisted by the three justices,—and tried on the broad
principle of the essential and constitutional right of every man in
England to the liberty of his person, unless forfeited by the law.  It is
unnecessary here to enter into any account of this great trial; the
arguments extended to a great length, the cause being carried over to
another term,—when it was adjourned and re-adjourned,—but at length
judgment was given by Lord Mansfield, in whose powerful mind so gradual a
change had been worked by the arguments of counsel, based mainly on
Granville Sharp’s tract, that he now declared the court to be so clearly
of one opinion, that there was no necessity for referring the case to the
twelve judges.  He then declared that the claim of slavery never can be
supported; that the power claimed never was in use in England, nor
acknowledged by the law; therefore the man James Somerset must be
discharged.  By securing this judgment Granville Sharp effectually
abolished the Slave Trade until then carried on openly in the streets of
Liverpool and London.  But he also firmly established the glorious axiom,
that as soon as any slave sets his foot on English ground, that moment he
becomes free; and there can be no doubt that this great decision of Lord
Mansfield was mainly owing to Mr. Sharp’s firm, resolute, and intrepid
prosecution of the cause from the beginning to the end.

It is unnecessary further to follow the career of Granville Sharp.  He
continued to labour indefatigably in all good works.  He was instrumental
in founding the colony of Sierra Leone as an asylum for rescued negroes.
He laboured to ameliorate the condition of the native Indians in the
American colonies.  He agitated the enlargement and extension of the
political rights of the English people; and he endeavoured to effect the
abolition of the impressment of seamen.  Granville held that the British
seamen, as well as the African negro, was entitled to the protection of
the law; and that the fact of his choosing a seafaring life did not in
any way cancel his rights and privileges as an Englishman—first amongst
which he ranked personal freedom.  Mr. Sharp also laboured, but
ineffectually, to restore amity between England and her colonies in
America; and when the fratricidal war of the American Revolution was
entered on, his sense of integrity was so scrupulous that, resolving not
in any way to be concerned in so unnatural a business, he resigned his
situation at the Ordnance Office.

To the last he held to the great object of his life—the abolition of
slavery.  To carry on this work, and organize the efforts of the growing
friends of the cause, the Society for the Abolition of Slavery was
founded, and new men, inspired by Sharp’s example and zeal, sprang
forward to help him.  His energy became theirs, and the self-sacrificing
zeal in which he had so long laboured single-handed, became at length
transfused into the nation itself.  His mantle fell upon Clarkson, upon
Wilberforce, upon Brougham, and upon Buxton, who laboured as he had done,
with like energy and stedfastness of purpose, until at length slavery was
abolished throughout the British dominions.  But though the names last
mentioned may be more frequently identified with the triumph of this
great cause, the chief merit unquestionably belongs to Granville Sharp.
He was encouraged by none of the world’s huzzas when he entered upon his
work.  He stood alone, opposed to the opinion of the ablest lawyers and
the most rooted prejudices of the times; and alone he fought out, by his
single exertions, and at his individual expense, the most memorable
battle for the constitution of this country and the liberties of British
subjects, of which modern times afford a record.  What followed was
mainly the consequence of his indefatigable constancy.  He lighted the
torch which kindled other minds, and it was handed on until the
illumination became complete.

Before the death of Granville Sharp, Clarkson had already turned his
attention to the question of Negro Slavery.  He had even selected it for
the subject of a college Essay; and his mind became so possessed by it
that he could not shake it off.  The spot is pointed out near Wade’s
Mill, in Hertfordshire, where, alighting from his horse one day, he sat
down disconsolate on the turf by the road side, and after long thinking,
determined to devote himself wholly to the work.  He translated his Essay
from Latin into English, added fresh illustrations, and published it.
Then fellow labourers gathered round him.  The Society for Abolishing the
Slave Trade, unknown to him, had already been formed, and when he heard
of it he joined it.  He sacrificed all his prospects in life to prosecute
this cause.  Wilberforce was selected to lead in parliament; but upon
Clarkson chiefly devolved the labour of collecting and arranging the
immense mass of evidence offered in support of the abolition.  A
remarkable instance of Clarkson’s sleuth-hound sort of perseverance may
be mentioned.  The abettors of slavery, in the course of their defence of
the system, maintained that only such negroes as were captured in battle
were sold as slaves, and if not so sold, then they were reserved for a
still more frightful doom in their own country.  Clarkson knew of the
slave-hunts conducted by the slave-traders, but had no witnesses to prove
it.  Where was one to be found?  Accidentally, a gentleman whom he met on
one of his journeys informed him of a young sailor, in whose company he
had been about a year before, who had been actually engaged in one of
such slave-hunting expeditions.  The gentleman did not know his name, and
could but indefinitely describe his person.  He did not know where he
was, further than that he belonged to a ship of war in ordinary, but at
what port he could not tell.  With this mere glimmering of information,
Clarkson determined to produce this man as a witness.  He visited
personally all the seaport towns where ships in ordinary lay; boarded and
examined every ship without success, until he came to the very _last_
port, and found the young man, his prize, in the very _last_ ship that
remained to be visited.  The young man proved to be one of his most
valuable and effective witnesses.

During several years Clarkson conducted a correspondence with upwards of
four hundred persons, travelling more than thirty-five thousand miles
during the same time in search of evidence.  He was at length disabled
and exhausted by illness, brought on by his continuous exertions; but he
was not borne from the field until his zeal had fully awakened the public
mind, and excited the ardent sympathies of all good men on behalf of the

After years of protracted struggle, the slave trade was abolished.  But
still another great achievement remained to be accomplished—the abolition
of slavery itself throughout the British dominions.  And here again
determined energy won the day.  Of the leaders in the cause, none was
more distinguished than Fowell Buxton, who took the position formerly
occupied by Wilberforce in the House of Commons.  Buxton was a dull,
heavy boy, distinguished for his strong self-will, which first exhibited
itself in violent, domineering, and headstrong obstinacy.  His father
died when he was a child; but fortunately he had a wise mother, who
trained his will with great care, constraining him to obey, but
encouraging the habit of deciding and acting for himself in matters which
might safely be left to him.  His mother believed that a strong will,
directed upon worthy objects, was a valuable manly quality if properly
guided, and she acted accordingly.  When others about her commented on
the boy’s self-will, she would merely say, “Never mind—he is self-willed
now—you will see it will turn out well in the end.”  Fowell learnt very
little at school, and was regarded as a dunce and an idler.  He got other
boys to do his exercises for him, while he romped and scrambled about.
He returned home at fifteen, a great, growing, awkward lad, fond only of
boating, shooting, riding, and field sports,—spending his time
principally with the gamekeeper, a man possessed of a good heart,—an
intelligent observer of life and nature, though he could neither read nor
write.  Buxton had excellent raw material in him, but he wanted culture,
training, and development.  At this juncture of his life, when his habits
were being formed for good or evil, he was happily thrown into the
society of the Gurney family, distinguished for their fine social
qualities not less than for their intellectual culture and
public-spirited philanthropy.  This intercourse with the Gurneys, he used
afterwards to say, gave the colouring to his life.  They encouraged his
efforts at self-culture; and when he went to the University of Dublin and
gained high honours there, the animating passion in his mind, he said,
“was to carry back to them the prizes which they prompted and enabled me
to win.”  He married one of the daughters of the family, and started in
life, commencing as a clerk to his uncles Hanbury, the London brewers.
His power of will, which made him so difficult to deal with as a boy, now
formed the backbone of his character, and made him most indefatigable and
energetic in whatever he undertook.  He threw his whole strength and bulk
right down upon his work; and the great giant—“Elephant Buxton” they
called him, for he stood some six feet four in height—became one of the
most vigorous and practical of men.  “I could brew,” he said, “one
hour,—do mathematics the next,—and shoot the next,—and each with my whole
soul.”  There was invincible energy and determination in whatever he did.
Admitted a partner, he became the active manager of the concern; and the
vast business which he conducted felt his influence through every fibre,
and prospered far beyond its previous success.  Nor did he allow his mind
to lie fallow, for he gave his evenings diligently to self-culture,
studying and digesting Blackstone, Montesquieu, and solid commentaries on
English law.  His maxims in reading were, “never to begin a book without
finishing it;” “never to consider a book finished until it is mastered;”
and “to study everything with the whole mind.”

When only thirty-two, Buxton entered parliament, and at once assumed that
position of influence there, of which every honest, earnest,
well-informed man is secure, who enters that assembly of the first
gentlemen in the world.  The principal question to which he devoted
himself was the complete emancipation of the slaves in the British
colonies.  He himself used to attribute the interest which he early felt
in this question to the influence of Priscilla Gurney, one of the Earlham
family,—a woman of a fine intellect and warm heart, abounding in
illustrious virtues.  When on her deathbed, in 1821, she repeatedly sent
for Buxton, and urged him “to make the cause of the slaves the great
object of his life.”  Her last act was to attempt to reiterate the solemn
charge, and she expired in the ineffectual effort.  Buxton never forgot
her counsel; he named one of his daughters after her; and on the day on
which she was married from his house, on the 1st of August, 1834,—the day
of Negro emancipation—after his Priscilla had been manumitted from her
filial service, and left her father’s home in the company of her husband,
Buxton sat down and thus wrote to a friend: “The bride is just gone;
everything has passed off to admiration; and _there is not a slave in the
British colonies_!”

Buxton was no genius—not a great intellectual leader nor discoverer, but
mainly an earnest, straightforward, resolute, energetic man.  Indeed, his
whole character is most forcibly expressed in his own words, which every
young man might well stamp upon his soul: “The longer I live,” said he,
“the more I am certain that the great difference between men, between the
feeble and the powerful, the great and the insignificant, is
_energy_—_invincible determination_—a purpose once fixed, and then death
or victory!  That quality will do anything that can be done in this
world; and no talents, no circumstances, no opportunities, will make a
two-legged creature a Man without it.”


    “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before
    kings.”—_Proverbs of Solomon_.

    “That man is but of the lower part of the world that is not brought
    up to business and affairs.”—_Owen Feltham_.

HAZLITT, in one of his clever essays, represents the man of business as a
mean sort of person put in a go-cart, yoked to a trade or profession;
alleging that all he has to do is, not to go out of the beaten track, but
merely to let his affairs take their own course.  “The great requisite,”
he says, “for the prosperous management of ordinary business is the want
of imagination, or of any ideas but those of custom and interest on the
narrowest scale.” {263}  But nothing could be more one-sided, and in
effect untrue, than such a definition.  Of course, there are
narrow-minded men of business, as there are narrow-minded scientific men,
literary men, and legislators; but there are also business men of large
and comprehensive minds, capable of action on the very largest scale.  As
Burke said in his speech on the India Bill, he knew statesmen who were
pedlers, and merchants who acted in the spirit of statesmen.

If we take into account the qualities necessary for the successful
conduct of any important undertaking,—that it requires special aptitude,
promptitude of action on emergencies, capacity for organizing the labours
often of large numbers of men, great tact and knowledge of human nature,
constant self-culture, and growing experience in the practical affairs of
life,—it must, we think, be obvious that the school of business is by no
means so narrow as some writers would have us believe.  Mr. Helps had
gone much nearer the truth when he said that consummate men of business
are as rare almost as great poets,—rarer, perhaps, than veritable saints
and martyrs.  Indeed, of no other pursuit can it so emphatically be said,
as of this, that “Business makes men.”

It has, however, been a favourite fallacy with dunces in all times, that
men of genius are unfitted for business, as well as that business
occupations unfit men for the pursuits of genius.  The unhappy youth who
committed suicide a few years since because he had been “born to be a man
and condemned to be a grocer,” proved by the act that his soul was not
equal even to the dignity of grocery.  For it is not the calling that
degrades the man, but the man that degrades the calling.  All work that
brings honest gain is honourable, whether it be of hand or mind.  The
fingers may be soiled, yet the heart remain pure; for it is not material
so much as moral dirt that defiles—greed far more than grime, and vice
than verdigris.

The greatest have not disdained to labour honestly and usefully for a
living, though at the same time aiming after higher things.  Thales, the
first of the seven sages, Solon, the second founder of Athens, and
Hyperates, the mathematician, were all traders.  Plato, called the Divine
by reason of the excellence of his wisdom, defrayed his travelling
expenses in Egypt by the profits derived from the oil which he sold
during his journey.  Spinoza maintained himself by polishing glasses
while he pursued his philosophical investigations.  Linnæus, the great
botanist, prosecuted his studies while hammering leather and making
shoes.  Shakespeare was a successful manager of a theatre—perhaps priding
himself more upon his practical qualities in that capacity than on his
writing of plays and poetry.  Pope was of opinion that Shakespeare’s
principal object in cultivating literature was to secure an honest
independence.  Indeed he seems to have been altogether indifferent to
literary reputation.  It is not known that he superintended the
publication of a single play, or even sanctioned the printing of one; and
the chronology of his writings is still a mystery.  It is certain,
however, that he prospered in his business, and realized sufficient to
enable him to retire upon a competency to his native town of

Chaucer was in early life a soldier, and afterwards an effective
Commissioner of Customs, and Inspector of Woods and Crown Lands.  Spencer
was Secretary to the Lord Deputy of Ireland, was afterwards Sheriff of
Cork, and is said to have been shrewd and attentive in matters of
business.  Milton, originally a schoolmaster, was elevated to the post of
Secretary to the Council of State during the Commonwealth; and the extant
Order-book of the Council, as well as many of Milton’s letters which are
preserved, give abundant evidence of his activity and usefulness in that
office.  Sir Isaac Newton proved himself an efficient Master of the Mint;
the new coinage of 1694 having been carried on under his immediate
personal superintendence.  Cowper prided himself upon his business
punctuality, though he confessed that he “never knew a poet, except
himself, who was punctual in anything.”  But against this we may set the
lives of Wordsworth and Scott—the former a distributor of stamps, the
latter a clerk to the Court of Session,—both of whom, though great poets,
were eminently punctual and practical men of business.  David Ricardo,
amidst the occupations of his daily business as a London stock-jobber, in
conducting which he acquired an ample fortune, was able to concentrate
his mind upon his favourite subject—on which he was enabled to throw
great light—the principles of political economy; for he united in himself
the sagacious commercial man and the profound philosopher.  Baily, the
eminent astronomer, was another stockbroker; and Allen, the chemist, was
a silk manufacturer.

We have abundant illustrations, in our own day, of the fact that the
highest intellectual power is not incompatible with the active and
efficient performance of routine duties.  Grote, the great historian of
Greece, was a London banker.  And it is not long since John Stuart Mill,
one of our greatest living thinkers, retired from the Examiner’s
department of the East India Company, carrying with him the admiration
and esteem of his fellow officers, not on account of his high views of
philosophy, but because of the high standard of efficiency which he had
established in his office, and the thoroughly satisfactory manner in
which he had conducted the business of his department.

The path of success in business is usually the path of common sense.
Patient labour and application are as necessary here as in the
acquisition of knowledge or the pursuit of science.  The old Greeks said,
“to become an able man in any profession, three things are
necessary—nature, study, and practice.”  In business, practice, wisely
and diligently improved, is the great secret of success.  Some may make
what are called “lucky hits,” but like money earned by gambling, such
“hits” may only serve to lure one to ruin.  Bacon was accustomed to say
that it was in business as in ways—the nearest way was commonly the
foulest, and that if a man would go the fairest way he must go somewhat
about.  The journey may occupy a longer time, but the pleasure of the
labour involved by it, and the enjoyment of the results produced, will be
more genuine and unalloyed.  To have a daily appointed task of even
common drudgery to do makes the rest of life feel all the sweeter.

The fable of the labours of Hercules is the type of all human doing and
success.  Every youth should be made to feel that his happiness and
well-doing in life must necessarily rely mainly on himself and the
exercise of his own energies, rather than upon the help and patronage of
others.  The late Lord Melbourne embodied a piece of useful advice in a
letter which he wrote to Lord John Russell, in reply to an application
for a provision for one of Moore the poet’s sons: “My dear John,” he
said, “I return you Moore’s letter.  I shall be ready to do what you like
about it when we have the means.  I think whatever is done should be done
for Moore himself.  This is more distinct, direct, and intelligible.
Making a small provision for young men is hardly justifiable; and it is
of all things the most prejudicial to themselves.  They think what they
have much larger than it really is; and they make no exertion.  The young
should never hear any language but this: ‘You have your own way to make,
and it depends upon your own exertions whether you starve or not.’
Believe me, &c., MELBOURNE.”

Practical industry, wisely and vigorously applied, always produces its
due effects.  It carries a man onward, brings out his individual
character, and 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.”

On the whole, it is not good that human nature should have the road of
life made too easy.  Better to be under the necessity of working hard and
faring meanly, than to have everything done ready to our hand and a
pillow of down to repose upon.  Indeed, to start in life with
comparatively small means seems so necessary as a stimulus to work, that
it may almost be set down as one of the conditions essential to success
in life.  Hence, an eminent judge, when asked what contributed most to
success at the bar, replied, “Some succeed by great talent, some by high
connexions, some by miracle, but the majority by commencing without a

We have heard of an architect of considerable accomplishments,—a man who
had improved himself by long study, and travel in the classical lands of
the East,—who came home to commence the practice of his profession.  He
determined to begin anywhere, provided he could be employed; and he
accordingly undertook a business connected with dilapidations,—one of the
lowest and least remunerative departments of the architect’s calling.
But he had the good sense not to be above his trade, and he had the
resolution to work his way upward, so that he only got a fair start.  One
hot day in July a friend found him sitting astride of a house roof
occupied with his dilapidation business.  Drawing his hand across his
perspiring countenance, he exclaimed, “Here’s a pretty business for a man
who has been all over Greece!”  However, he did his work, such as it was,
thoroughly and well; he persevered until he advanced by degrees to more
remunerative branches of employment, and eventually he rose to the
highest walks of his profession.

The necessity of labour may, indeed, be regarded as the main root and
spring of all that we call progress in individuals, and civilization in
nations; and it is doubtful whether any heavier curse could be imposed on
man than the complete gratification of all his wishes without effort on
his part, leaving nothing for his hopes, desires or struggles.  The
feeling that life is destitute of any motive or necessity for action,
must be of all others the most distressing and insupportable to a
rational being.  The Marquis de Spinola asking Sir Horace Vere what his
brother died of, Sir Horace replied, “He died, Sir, of having nothing to
do.”  “Alas!” said Spinola, “that is enough to kill any general of us

Those who fail in life are however very apt to assume a tone of injured
innocence, and conclude too hastily that everybody excepting themselves
has had a hand in their personal misfortunes.  An eminent writer lately
published a book, in which he described his numerous failures in
business, naively admitting, at the same time, that he was ignorant of
the multiplication table; and he came to the conclusion that the real
cause of his ill-success in life was the money-worshipping spirit of the
age.  Lamartine also did not hesitate to profess his contempt for
arithmetic; but, had it been less, probably we should not have witnessed
the unseemly spectacle of the admirers of that distinguished personage
engaged in collecting subscriptions for his support in his old age.

Again, some consider themselves born to ill luck, and make up their minds
that the world invariably goes against them without any fault on their
own part.  We have heard of a person of this sort, who went so far as to
declare his belief that if he had been a hatter people would have been
born without heads!  There is however a Russian proverb which says that
Misfortune is next door to Stupidity; and it will often be found that men
who are constantly lamenting their luck, are in some way or other reaping
the consequences of their own neglect, mismanagement, improvidence, or
want of application.  Dr. Johnson, who came up to London with a single
guinea in his pocket, and who once accurately described himself in his
signature to a letter addressed to a noble lord, as _Impransus_, or
Dinnerless, has honestly said, “All the complaints which are made of the
world are unjust; I never knew a man of merit neglected; it was generally
by his own fault that he failed of success.”

Washington Irying, the American author, held like views.  “As for the
talk,” said he, “about modest merit being neglected, it is too often a
cant, by which indolent and irresolute men seek to lay their want of
success at the door of the public.  Modest merit is, however, too apt to
be inactive, or negligent, or uninstructed merit.  Well matured and well
disciplined talent is always sure of a market, provided it exerts itself;
but it must not cower at home and expect to be sought for.  There is a
good deal of cant too about the success of forward and impudent men,
while men of retiring worth are passed over with neglect.  But it usually
happens that those forward men have that valuable quality of promptness
and activity without which worth is a mere inoperative property.  A
barking dog is often more useful than a sleeping lion.”

Attention, application, accuracy, method, punctuality, and despatch, are
the principal qualities required for the efficient conduct of business of
any sort.  These, at first sight, may appear to be small matters; and yet
they are of essential importance to human happiness, well-being, and
usefulness.  They are little things, it is true; but human life is made
up of comparative trifles.  It is the repetition of little acts which
constitute not only the sum of human character, but which determine the
character of nations.  And where men or nations have broken down, it will
almost invariably be found that neglect of little things was the rock on
which they split.  Every human being has duties to be performed, and,
therefore, has need of cultivating the capacity for doing them; whether
the sphere of action be the management of a household, the conduct of a
trade or profession, or the government of a nation.

The examples we have already given of great workers in various branches
of industry, art, and science, render it unnecessary further to enforce
the importance of persevering application in any department of life.  It
is the result of every-day experience that steady attention to matters of
detail lies at the root of human progress; and that diligence, above all,
is the mother of good luck.  Accuracy is also of much importance, and an
invariable mark of good training in a man.  Accuracy in observation,
accuracy in speech, accuracy in the transaction of affairs.  What is done
in business must be well done; for it is better to accomplish perfectly a
small amount of work, than to half-do ten times as much.  A wise man used
to say, “Stay a little, that we may make an end the sooner.”

Too little attention, however, is paid to this highly important quality
of accuracy.  As a man eminent in practical science lately observed to
us, “It is astonishing how few people I have met with in the course of my
experience, who can _define a fact_ accurately.”  Yet in business
affairs, it is the manner in which even small matters are transacted,
that often decides men for or against you.  With virtue, capacity, and
good conduct in other respects, the person who is habitually inaccurate
cannot be trusted; his work has to be gone over again; and he thus causes
an infinity of annoyance, vexation, and trouble.

It was one of the characteristic qualities of Charles James Fox, that he
was thoroughly pains-taking in all that he did.  When appointed Secretary
of State, being piqued at some observation as to his bad writing, he
actually took a writing-master, and wrote copies like a schoolboy until
he had sufficiently improved himself.  Though a corpulent man, he was
wonderfully active at picking up cut tennis balls, and when asked how he
contrived to do so, he playfully replied, “Because I am a very
pains-taking man.”  The same accuracy in trifling matters was displayed
by him in things of greater importance; and he acquired his reputation,
like the painter, by “neglecting nothing.”

Method is essential, and enables a larger amount of work to be got
through with satisfaction.  “Method,” said the Reverend Richard Cecil,
“is like packing things in a box; a good packer will get in half as much
again as a bad one.”  Cecil’s despatch of business was extraordinary, his
maxim being, “The shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing
at once;” and he never left a thing undone with a view of recurring to it
at a period of more leisure.  When business pressed, he rather chose to
encroach on his hours of meals and rest than omit any part of his work.
De Witt’s maxim was like Cecil’s: “One thing at a time.”  “If,” said he,
“I have any necessary despatches to make, I think of nothing else till
they are finished; if any domestic affairs require my attention, I give
myself wholly up to them till they are set in order.”

A French minister, who was alike remarkable for his despatch of business
and his constant attendance at places of amusement, being asked how he
contrived to combine both objects, replied, “Simply by never postponing
till to-morrow what should be done to-day.”  Lord Brougham has said that
a certain English statesman reversed the process, and that his maxim was,
never to transact to-day what could be postponed till to-morrow.
Unhappily, such is the practice of many besides that minister, already
almost forgotten; the practice is that of the indolent and the
unsuccessful.  Such men, too, are apt to rely upon agents, who are not
always to be relied upon.  Important affairs must be attended to in
person.  “If you want your business done,” says the proverb, “go and do
it; if you don’t want it done, send some one else.”

An indolent country gentleman had a freehold estate producing about five
hundred a-year.  Becoming involved in debt, he sold half the estate, and
let the remainder to an industrious farmer for twenty years.  About the
end of the term the farmer called to pay his rent, and asked the owner
whether he would sell the farm.  “Will _you_ buy it?” asked the owner,
surprised.  “Yes, if we can agree about the price.”  “That is exceedingly
strange,” observed the gentleman; “pray, tell me how it happens that,
while I could not live upon twice as much land for which I paid no rent,
you are regularly paying me two hundred a-year for your farm, and are
able, in a few years, to purchase it.”  “The reason is plain,” was the
reply; “you sat still and said _Go_, I got up and said _Come_; you laid
in bed and enjoyed your estate, I rose in the morning and minded my

Sir Walter Scott, writing to a youth who had obtained a situation and
asked for his advice, gave him in reply this sound counsel: “Beware of
stumbling over a propensity which easily besets you from not having your
time fully employed—I mean what the women call _dawdling_.  Your motto
must be, _Hoc age_.  Do instantly whatever is to be done, and take the
hours of recreation after business, never before it.  When a regiment is
under march, the rear is often thrown into confusion because the front do
not move steadily and without interruption.  It is the same with
business.  If that which is first in hand is not instantly, steadily, and
regularly despatched, other things accumulate behind, till affairs begin
to press all at once, and no human brain can stand the confusion.”

Promptitude in action may be stimulated by a due consideration of the
value of time.  An Italian philosopher was accustomed to call time his
estate: an estate which produces nothing of value without cultivation,
but, duly improved, never fails to recompense the labours of the diligent
worker.  Allowed to lie waste, the product will be only noxious weeds and
vicious growths of all kinds.  One of the minor uses of steady employment
is, that it keeps one out of mischief, for truly an idle brain is the
devil’s workshop, and a lazy man the devil’s bolster.  To be occupied is
to be possessed as by a tenant, whereas to be idle is to be empty; and
when the doors of the imagination are opened, temptation finds a ready
access, and evil thoughts come trooping in.  It is observed at sea, that
men are never so much disposed to grumble and mutiny as when least
employed.  Hence an old captain, when there was nothing else to do, would
issue the order to “scour the anchor!”

Men of business are accustomed to quote the maxim that Time is money; but
it is more; the proper improvement of it is self-culture,
self-improvement, and growth of character.  An hour wasted daily on
trifles or in indolence, would, if devoted to self-improvement, make an
ignorant man wise in a few years, and employed in good works, would make
his life fruitful, and death a harvest of worthy deeds.  Fifteen minutes
a day devoted to self-improvement, will be felt at the end of the year.
Good thoughts and carefully gathered experience take up no room, and may
be carried about as our companions everywhere, without cost or
incumbrance.  An economical use of time is the true mode of securing
leisure: it enables us to get through business and carry it forward,
instead of being driven by it.  On the other hand, the miscalculation of
time involves us in perpetual hurry, confusion, and difficulties; and
life becomes a mere shuffle of expedients, usually followed by disaster.
Nelson once said, “I owe all my success in life to having been always a
quarter of an hour before my time.”

Some take no thought of the value of money until they have come to an end
of it, and many do the same with their time.  The hours are allowed to
flow by unemployed, and then, when life is fast waning, they bethink
themselves of the duty of making a wiser use of it.  But the habit of
listlessness and idleness may already have become confirmed, and they are
unable to break the bonds with which they have permitted themselves to
become bound.  Lost wealth may be replaced by industry, lost knowledge by
study, lost health by temperance or medicine, but lost time is gone for

A proper consideration of the value of time, will also inspire habits of
punctuality.  “Punctuality,” said Louis XIV., “is the politeness of
kings.”  It is also the duty of gentlemen, and the necessity of men of
business.  Nothing begets confidence in a man sooner than the practice of
this virtue, and nothing shakes confidence sooner than the want of it.
He who holds to his appointment and does not keep you waiting for him,
shows that he has regard for your time as well as for his own.  Thus
punctuality is one of the modes by which we testify our personal respect
for those whom we are called upon to meet in the business of life.  It is
also conscientiousness in a measure; for an appointment is a contract,
express or implied, and he who does not keep it breaks faith, as well as
dishonestly uses other people’s time, and thus inevitably loses
character.  We naturally come to the conclusion that the person who is
careless about time will be careless about business, and that he is not
the one to be trusted with the transaction of matters of importance.
When Washington’s secretary excused himself for the lateness of his
attendance and laid the blame upon his watch, his master quietly said,
“Then you must get another watch, or I another secretary.”

The person who is negligent of time and its employment is usually found
to be a general disturber of others’ peace and serenity.  It was wittily
said by Lord Chesterfield of the old Duke of Newcastle—“His Grace loses
an hour in the morning, and is looking for it all the rest of the day.”
Everybody with whom the unpunctual man has to do is thrown from time to
time into a state of fever: he is systematically late; regular only in
his irregularity.  He conducts his dawdling as if upon system; arrives at
his appointment after time; gets to the railway station after the train
has started; posts his letter when the box has closed.  Thus business is
thrown into confusion, and everybody concerned is put out of temper.  It
will generally be found that the men who are thus habitually behind time
are as habitually behind success; and the world generally casts them
aside to swell the ranks of the grumblers and the railers against

In addition to the ordinary working qualities the business man of the
highest class requires quick perception and firmness in the execution of
his plans.  Tact is also important; and though this is partly the gift of
nature, it is yet capable of being cultivated and developed by
observation and experience.  Men of this quality are quick to see the
right mode of action, and if they have decision of purpose, are prompt to
carry out their undertakings to a successful issue.  These qualities are
especially valuable, and indeed indispensable, in those who direct the
action of other men on a large scale, as for instance, in the case of the
commander of an army in the field.  It is not merely necessary that the
general should be great as a warrior but also as a man of business.  He
must possess great tact, much knowledge of character, and ability to
organize the movements of a large mass of men, whom he has to feed,
clothe, and furnish with whatever may be necessary in order that they may
keep the field and win battles.  In these respects Napoleon and
Wellington were both first-rate men of business.

Though Napoleon had an immense love for details, he had also a vivid
power of imagination, which enabled him to look along extended lines of
action, and deal with those details on a large scale, with judgment and
rapidity.  He possessed such knowledge of character as enabled him to
select, almost unerringly, the best agents for the execution of his
designs.  But he trusted as little as possible to agents in matters of
great moment, on which important results depended.  This feature in his
character is illustrated in a remarkable degree by the ‘Napoleon
Correspondence,’ now in course of publication, and particularly by the
contents of the 15th volume, {277} which include the letters, orders, and
despatches, written by the Emperor at Finkenstein, a little chateau on
the frontier of Poland in the year 1807, shortly after the victory of

The French army was then lying encamped along the river Passarge with the
Russians before them, the Austrians on their right flank, and the
conquered Prussians in their rear.  A long line of communications had to
be maintained with France, through a hostile country; but so carefully,
and with such foresight was this provided for, that it is said Napoleon
never missed a post.  The movements of armies, the bringing up of
reinforcements from remote points in France, Spain, Italy, and Germany,
the opening of canals and the levelling of roads to enable the produce of
Poland and Prussia to be readily transported to his encampments, had his
unceasing attention, down to the minutest details.  We find him directing
where horses were to be obtained, making arrangements for an adequate
supply of saddles, ordering shoes for the soldiers, and specifying the
number of rations of bread, biscuit, and spirits, that were to be brought
to camp, or stored in magazines for the use of the troops.  At the same
time we find him writing to Paris giving directions for the
reorganization of the French College, devising a scheme of public
education, dictating bulletins and articles for the ‘Moniteur,’ revising
the details of the budgets, giving instructions to architects as to
alterations to be made at the Tuileries and the Church of the Madelaine,
throwing an occasional sarcasm at Madame de Stael and the Parisian
journals, interfering to put down a squabble at the Grand Opera, carrying
on a correspondence with the Sultan of Turkey and the Schah of Persia, so
that while his body was at Finkenstein, his mind seemed to be working at
a hundred different places in Paris, in Europe, and throughout the world.

We find him in one letter asking Ney if he has duly received the muskets
which have been sent him; in another he gives directions to Prince Jerome
as to the shirts, greatcoats, clothes, shoes, shakos, and arms, to be
served out to the Wurtemburg regiments; again he presses Cambacérès to
forward to the army a double stock of corn—“The _ifs_ and the _buts_,”
said he, “are at present out of season, and above all it must be done
with speed.”  Then he informs Daru that the army want shirts, and that
they don’t come to hand.  To Massena he writes, “Let me know if your
biscuit and bread arrangements are yet completed.”  To the Grand due de
Berg, he gives directions as to the accoutrements of the
cuirassiers—“They complain that the men want sabres; send an officer to
obtain them at Posen.  It is also said they want helmets; order that they
be made at Ebling. . . . It is not by sleeping that one can accomplish
anything.”  Thus no point of detail was neglected, and the energies of
all were stimulated into action with extraordinary power.  Though many of
the Emperor’s days were occupied by inspections of his troops,—in the
course of which he sometimes rode from thirty to forty leagues a day,—and
by reviews, receptions, and affairs of state, leaving but little time for
business matters, he neglected nothing on that account; but devoted the
greater part of his nights, when necessary, to examining budgets,
dictating dispatches, and attending to the thousand matters of detail in
the organization and working of the Imperial Government; the machinery of
which was for the most part concentrated in his own head.

Like Napoleon, the Duke of Wellington was a first-rate man of business;
and it is not perhaps saying too much to aver that it was in no small
degree because of his possession of a business faculty amounting to
genius, that the Duke never lost a battle.

While a subaltern, he became dissatisfied with the slowness of his
promotion, and having passed from the infantry to the cavalry twice, and
back again, without advancement, he applied to Lord Camden, then Viceroy
of Ireland, for employment in the Revenue or Treasury Board.  Had he
succeeded, no doubt he would have made a first-rate head of a department,
as he would have made a first-rate merchant or manufacturer.  But his
application failed, and he remained with the army to become the greatest
of British generals.

The Duke began his active military career under the Duke of York and
General Walmoden, in Flanders and Holland, where he learnt, amidst
misfortunes and defeats, how bad business arrangements and bad
generalship serve to ruin the _morale_ of an army.  Ten years after
entering the army we find him a colonel in India, reported by his
superiors as an officer of indefatigable energy and application.  He
entered into the minutest details of the service, and sought to raise the
discipline of his men to the highest standard.  “The regiment of Colonel
Wellesley,” wrote General Harris in 1799, “is a model regiment; on the
score of soldierly bearing, discipline, instruction, and orderly
behaviour it is above all praise.”  Thus qualifying himself for posts of
greater confidence, he was shortly after nominated governor of the
capital of Mysore.  In the war with the Mahrattas he was first called
upon to try his hand at generalship; and at thirty-four he won the
memorable battle of Assaye, with an army composed of 1500 British and
5000 sepoys, over 20,000 Mahratta infantry and 30,000 cavalry.  But so
brilliant a victory did not in the least disturb his equanimity, or
affect the perfect honesty of his character.

Shortly after this event the opportunity occurred for exhibiting his
admirable practical qualities as an administrator.  Placed in command of
an important district immediately after the capture of Seringapatam, his
first object was to establish rigid order and discipline among his own
men.  Flushed with victory, the troops were found riotous and disorderly.
“Send me the provost marshal,” said he, “and put him under my orders:
till some of the marauders are hung, it is impossible to expect order or
safety.”  This rigid severity of Wellington in the field, though it was
the dread, proved the salvation of his troops in many campaigns.  His
next step was to re-establish the markets and re-open the sources of
supply.  General Harris wrote to the Governor-general, strongly
commending Colonel Wellesley for the perfect discipline he had
established, and for his “judicious and masterly arrangements in respect
to supplies, which opened an abundant free market, and inspired
confidence into dealers of every description.”  The same close attention
to, and mastery of details, characterized him throughout his Indian
career; and it is remarkable that one of his ablest despatches to Lord
Clive, full of practical information as to the conduct of the campaign,
was written whilst the column he commanded was crossing the Toombuddra,
in the face of the vastly superior army of Dhoondiah, posted on the
opposite bank, and while a thousand matters of the deepest interest were
pressing upon the commander’s mind.  But it was one of his most
remarkable characteristics, thus to be able to withdraw himself
temporarily from the business immediately in hand, and to bend his full
powers upon the consideration of matters totally distinct; even the most
difficult circumstances on such occasions failing to embarrass or
intimidate him.

Returned to England with a reputation for generalship, Sir Arthur
Wellesley met with immediate employment.  In 1808 a corps of 10,000 men
destined to liberate Portugal was placed under his charge.  He landed,
fought, and won two battles, and signed the Convention of Cintra.  After
the death of Sir John Moore he was entrusted with the command of a new
expedition to Portugal.  But Wellington was fearfully overmatched
throughout his Peninsular campaigns.  From 1809 to 1813 he never had more
than 30,000 British troops under his command, at a time when there stood
opposed to him in the Peninsula some 350,000 French, mostly veterans, led
by some of Napoleon’s ablest generals.  How was he to contend against
such immense forces with any fair prospect of success?  His clear
discernment and strong common sense soon taught him that he must adopt a
different policy from that of the Spanish generals, who were invariably
beaten and dispersed whenever they ventured to offer battle in the open
plains.  He perceived he had yet to create the army that was to contend
against the French with any reasonable chance of success.  Accordingly,
after the battle of Talavera in 1809, when he found himself encompassed
on all sides by superior forces of French, he retired into Portugal,
there to carry out the settled policy on which he had by this time
determined.  It was, to organise a Portuguese army under British
officers, and teach them to act in combination with his own troops, in
the mean time avoiding the peril of a defeat by declining all
engagements.  He would thus, he conceived, destroy the _morale_ of the
French, who could not exist without victories; and when his army was ripe
for action, and the enemy demoralized, he would then fall upon them with
all his might.

The extraordinary qualities displayed by Lord Wellington throughout these
immortal campaigns, can only be appreciated after a perusal of his
despatches, which contain the unvarnished tale of the manifold ways and
means by which he laid the foundations of his success.  Never was man
more tried by difficulty and opposition, arising not less from the
imbecility, falsehoods and intrigues of the British Government of the
day, than from the selfishness, cowardice, and vanity of the people he
went to save.  It may, indeed, be said of him, that he sustained the war
in Spain by his individual firmness and self-reliance, which never failed
him even in the midst of his great discouragements.  He had not only to
fight Napoleon’s veterans, but also to hold in check the Spanish juntas
and the Portuguese regency.  He had the utmost difficulty in obtaining
provisions and clothing for his troops; and it will scarcely be credited
that, while engaged with the enemy in the battle of Talavera, the
Spaniards, who ran away, fell upon the baggage of the British army, and
the ruffians actually plundered it!  These and other vexations the Duke
bore with a sublime patience and self-control, and held on his course, in
the face of ingratitude, treachery, and opposition, with indomitable
firmness.  He neglected nothing, and attended to every important detail
of business himself.  When he found that food for his troops was not to
be obtained from England, and that he must rely upon his own resources
for feeding them, he forthwith commenced business as a corn merchant on a
large scale, in copartnery with the British Minister at Lisbon.
Commissariat bills were created, with which grain was bought in the ports
of the Mediterranean and in South America.  When he had thus filled his
magazines, the overplus was sold to the Portuguese, who were greatly in
want of provisions.  He left nothing whatever to chance, but provided for
every contingency.  He gave his attention to the minutest details of the
service; and was accustomed to concentrate his whole energies, from time
to time, on such apparently ignominious matters as soldiers’ shoes,
camp-kettles, biscuits and horse fodder.  His magnificent business
qualities were everywhere felt, and there can be no doubt that, by the
care with which he provided for every contingency, and the personal
attention which he gave to every detail, he laid the foundations of his
great success. {283}  By such means he transformed an army of raw levies
into the best soldiers in Europe, with whom he declared it to be possible
to go anywhere and do anything.

We have already referred to his remarkable power of abstracting himself
from the work, no matter how engrossing, immediately in hand, and
concentrating his energies upon the details of some entirely different
business.  Thus Napier relates that it was while he was preparing to
fight the battle of Salamanca that he had to expose to the Ministers at
home the futility of relying upon a loan; it was on the heights of San
Christoval, on the field of battle itself, that he demonstrated the
absurdity of attempting to establish a Portuguese bank; it was in the
trenches of Burgos that he dissected Funchal’s scheme of finance, and
exposed the folly of attempting the sale of church property; and on each
occasion, he showed himself as well acquainted with these subjects as
with the minutest detail in the mechanism of armies.

Another feature in his character, showing the upright man of business,
was his thorough honesty.  Whilst Soult ransacked and carried away with
him from Spain numerous pictures of great value, Wellington did not
appropriate to himself a single farthing’s worth of property.  Everywhere
he paid his way, even when in the enemy’s country.  When he had crossed
the French frontier, followed by 40,000 Spaniards, who sought to “make
fortunes” by pillage and plunder, he first rebuked their officers, and
then, finding his efforts to restrain them unavailing, he sent them back
into their own country.  It is a remarkable fact, that, even in France
the peasantry fled from their own countrymen, and carried their valuables
within the protection of the British lines!  At the very same time,
Wellington was writing home to the British Ministry, “We are overwhelmed
with debts, and I can scarcely stir out of my house on account of public
creditors waiting to demand payment of what is due to them.”  Jules
Maurel, in his estimate of the Duke’s character, says, “Nothing can be
grander or more nobly original than this admission.  This old soldier,
after thirty years’ service, this iron man and victorious general,
established in an enemy’s country at the head of an immense army, is
afraid of his creditors!  This is a kind of fear that has seldom troubled
the mind of conquerors and invaders; and I doubt if the annals of war
could present anything comparable to this sublime simplicity.”  But the
Duke himself, had the matter been put to him, would most probably have
disclaimed any intention of acting even grandly or nobly in the matter;
merely regarding the punctual payment of his debts as the best and most
honourable mode of conducting his business.

The truth of the good old maxim, that “Honesty is the best policy,” is
upheld by the daily experience of life; uprightness and integrity being
found as successful in business as in everything else.  As Hugh Miller’s
worthy uncle used to advise him, “In all your dealings give your
neighbour the cast of the bank—‘good measure, heaped up, and running
over,’—and you will not lose by it in the end.”  A well-known brewer of
beer attributed his success to the liberality with which he used his
malt.  Going up to the vat and tasting it, he would say, “Still rather
poor, my lads; give it another cast of the malt.”  The brewer put his
character into his beer, and it proved generous accordingly, obtaining a
reputation in England, India, and the colonies, which laid the foundation
of a large fortune.  Integrity of word and deed ought to be the very
cornerstone of all business transactions.  To the tradesman, the
merchant, and manufacturer, it should be what honour is to the soldier,
and charity to the Christian.  In the humblest calling there will always
be found scope for the exercise of this uprightness of character.  Hugh
Miller speaks of the mason with whom he served his apprenticeship, as one
who “_put his conscience into every stone that he laid_.”  So the true
mechanic will pride himself upon the thoroughness and solidity of his
work, and the high-minded contractor upon the honesty of performance of
his contract in every particular.  The upright manufacturer will find not
only honour and reputation, but substantial success, in the genuineness
of the article which he produces, and the merchant in the honesty of what
he sells, and that it really is what it seems to be.  Baron Dupin,
speaking of the general probity of Englishmen, which he held to be a
principal cause of their success, observed, “We may succeed for a time by
fraud, by surprise, by violence; but we can succeed permanently only by
means directly opposite.  It is not alone the courage, the intelligence,
the activity, of the merchant and manufacturer which maintain the
superiority of their productions and the character of their country; it
is far more their wisdom, their economy, and, above all, their probity.
If ever in the British Islands the useful citizen should lose these
virtues, we may be sure that, for England, as for every other country,
the vessels of a degenerate commerce, repulsed from every shore, would
speedily disappear from those seas whose surface they now cover with the
treasures of the universe, bartered for the treasures of the industry of
the three kingdoms.”

It must be admitted, that Trade tries character perhaps more severely
than any other pursuit in life.  It puts to the severest tests honesty,
self-denial, justice, and truthfulness; and men of business who pass
through such trials unstained are perhaps worthy of as great honour as
soldiers who prove their courage amidst the fire and perils of battle.
And, to the credit of the multitudes of men engaged in the various
departments of trade, we think it must be admitted that on the whole they
pass through their trials nobly.  If we reflect but for a moment on the
vast amount of wealth daily entrusted even to subordinate persons, who
themselves probably earn but a bare competency—the loose cash which is
constantly passing through the hands of shopmen, agents, brokers, and
clerks in banking houses,—and note how comparatively few are the breaches
of trust which occur amidst all this temptation, it will probably be
admitted that this steady daily honesty of conduct is most honourable to
human nature, if it do not even tempt us to be proud of it.  The same
trust and confidence reposed by men of business in each other, as implied
by the system of Credit, which is mainly based upon the principle of
honour, would be surprising if it were not so much a matter of ordinary
practice in business transactions.  Dr. Chalmers has well said, that the
implicit trust with which merchants are accustomed to confide in distant
agents, separated from them perhaps by half the globe—often consigning
vast wealth to persons, recommended only by their character, whom perhaps
they have never seen—is probably the finest act of homage which men can
render to one another.

Although common honesty is still happily in the ascendant amongst common
people, and the general business community of England is still sound at
heart, putting their honest character into their respective
callings,—there are unhappily, as there have been in all times, but too
many instances of flagrant dishonesty and fraud, exhibited by the
unscrupulous, the over-speculative, and the intensely selfish in their
haste to be rich.  There are tradesmen who adulterate, contractors who
“scamp,” manufacturers who give us shoddy instead of wool, “dressing”
instead of cotton, cast-iron tools instead of steel, needles without
eyes, razors made only “to sell,” and swindled fabrics in many shapes.
But these we must hold to be the exceptional cases, of low-minded and
grasping men, who, though they may gain wealth which they probably cannot
enjoy, will never gain an honest character, nor secure that without which
wealth is nothing—a heart at peace.  “The rogue cozened not me, but his
own conscience,” said Bishop Latimer of a cutler who made him pay
twopence for a knife not worth a penny.  Money, earned by screwing,
cheating, and overreaching, may for a time dazzle the eyes of the
unthinking; but the bubbles blown by unscrupulous rogues, when
full-blown, usually glitter only to burst.  The Sadleirs, Dean Pauls, and
Redpaths, for the most part, come to a sad end even in this world; and
though the successful swindles of others may not be “found out,” and the
gains of their roguery may remain with them, it will be as a curse and
not as a blessing.

It is possible that the scrupulously honest man may not grow rich so fast
as the unscrupulous and dishonest one; but the success will be of a truer
kind, earned without fraud or injustice.  And even though a man should
for a time be unsuccessful, still he must be honest: better lose all and
save character.  For character is itself a fortune; and if the
high-principled man will but hold on his way courageously, success will
surely come,—nor will the highest reward of all be withheld from him.
Wordsworth well describes the “Happy Warrior,” as he

    “Who comprehends his trust, and to the same
    Keeps faithful with a singleness of aim;
    And therefore does not stoop, nor lie in wait
    For wealth, or honour, or for worldly state;
    Whom they must follow, on whose head must fall,
    Like showers of manna, if they come at all.”

As an example of the high-minded mercantile man trained in upright habits
of business, and distinguished for justice, truthfulness, and honesty of
dealing in all things, the career of the well-known David Barclay,
grandson of Robert Barclay, of Ury, the author of the celebrated ‘Apology
for the Quakers,’ may be briefly referred to.  For many years he was the
head of an extensive house in Cheapside, chiefly engaged in the American
trade; but like Granville Sharp, he entertained so strong an opinion
against the war with our American colonies, that he determined to retire
altogether from the trade.  Whilst a merchant, he was as much
distinguished for his talents, knowledge, integrity, and power, as he
afterwards was for his patriotism and munificent philanthropy.  He was a
mirror of truthfulness and honesty; and, as became the good Christian and
true gentleman, his word was always held to be as good as his bond.  His
position, and his high character, induced the Ministers of the day on
many occasions to seek his advice; and, when examined before the House of
Commons on the subject of the American dispute, his views were so clearly
expressed, and his advice was so strongly justified by the reasons stated
by him, that Lord North publicly acknowledged that he had derived more
information from David Barclay than from all others east of Temple Bar.
On retiring from business, it was not to rest in luxurious ease, but to
enter upon new labours of usefulness for others.  With ample means, he
felt that he still owed to society the duty of a good example.  He
founded a house of industry near his residence at Walthamstow, which he
supported at a heavy outlay for several years, until at length he
succeeded in rendering it a source of comfort as well as independence to
the well-disposed families of the poor in that neighbourhood.  When an
estate in Jamaica fell to him, he determined, though at a cost of some
10,000_l._, at once to give liberty to the whole of the slaves on the
property.  He sent out an agent, who hired a ship, and he had the little
slave community transported to one of the free American states, where
they settled down and prospered.  Mr. Barclay had been assured that the
negroes were too ignorant and too barbarous for freedom, and it was thus
that he determined practically to demonstrate the fallacy of the
assertion.  In dealing with his accumulated savings, he made himself the
executor of his own will, and instead of leaving a large fortune to be
divided among his relatives at his death, he extended to them his
munificent aid during his life, watched and aided them in their
respective careers, and thus not only laid the foundation, but lived to
see the maturity, of some of the largest and most prosperous business
concerns in the metropolis.  We believe that to this day some of our most
eminent merchants—such as the Gurneys, Hanburys, and Buxtons—are proud to
acknowledge with gratitude the obligations they owe to David Barclay for
the means of their first introduction to life, and for the benefits of
his counsel and countenance in the early stages of their career.  Such a
man stands as a mark of the mercantile honesty and integrity of his
country, and is a model and example for men of business in all time to


    “Not for to hide it in a hedge,
       Nor for a train attendant,
    But for the glorious privilege
       Of being independent.”—_Burns_.

    “Neither a borrower nor a lender be:
    For loan oft loses both itself and friend;
    And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.”—_Shakepeare_.

    Never treat money affairs with levity—Money is character.—_Sir E. L.
    Bulwer Lytton_.

HOW a man uses money—makes it, saves it, and spends it—is perhaps one of
the best tests of practical wisdom.  Although money ought by no means to
be regarded as a chief end of man’s life, neither is it a trifling
matter, to be held in philosophic contempt, representing as it does to so
large an extent, the means of physical comfort and social well-being.
Indeed, some of the finest qualities of human nature are intimately
related to the right use of money; such as generosity, honesty, justice,
and self-sacrifice; as well as the practical virtues of economy and
providence.  On the other hand, there are their counterparts of avarice,
fraud, injustice, and selfishness, as displayed by the inordinate lovers
of gain; and the vices of thriftlessness, extravagance, and improvidence,
on the part of those who misuse and abuse the means entrusted to them.
“So that,” as is wisely observed by Henry Taylor in his thoughtful ‘Notes
from Life,’ “a right measure and manner in getting, saving, spending,
giving, taking, lending, borrowing, and bequeathing, would almost argue a
perfect man.”

Comfort in worldly circumstances is a con ion which every man is
justified in striving to attain by all worthy means.  It secures that
physical satisfaction, which is necessary for the culture of the better
part of his nature; and enables him to provide for those of his own
household, without which, says the Apostle, a man is “worse than an
infidel.”  Nor ought the duty to be any the less indifferent to us, that
the respect which our fellow-men entertain for us in no slight degree
depends upon the manner in which we exercise the opportunities which
present themselves for our honourable advancement in life.  The very
effort required to be made to succeed in life with this object, is of
itself an education; stimulating a man’s sense of self-respect, bringing
out his practical qualities, and disciplining him in the exercise of
patience, perseverance, and such like virtues.  The provident and careful
man must necessarily be a thoughtful man, for he lives not merely for the
present, but with provident forecast makes arrangements for the future.
He must also be a temperate man, and exercise the virtue of self-denial,
than which nothing is so much calculated to give strength to the
character.  John Sterling says truly, that “the worst education which
teaches self denial, is better than the best which teaches everything
else, and not that.”  The Romans rightly employed the same word (virtus)
to designate courage, which is in a physical sense what the other is in a
moral; the highest virtue of all being victory over ourselves.

Hence the lesson of self-denial—the sacrificing of a present
gratification for a future good—is one of the last that is learnt.  Those
classes which work the hardest might naturally be expected to value the
most the money which they earn.  Yet the readiness with which so many are
accustomed to eat up and drink up their earnings as they go, renders them
to a great extent helpless and dependent upon the frugal.  There are
large numbers of persons among us who, though enjoying sufficient means
of comfort and independence, are often found to be barely a day’s march
ahead of actual want when a time of pressure occurs; and hence a great
cause of social helplessness and suffering.  On one occasion a deputation
waited on Lord John Russell, respecting the taxation levied on the
working classes of the country, when the noble lord took the opportunity
of remarking, “You may rely upon it that the Government of this country
durst not tax the working classes to anything like the extent to which
they tax themselves in their expenditure upon intoxicating drinks alone!”
Of all great public questions, there is perhaps none more important than
this,—no great work of reform calling more loudly for labourers.  But it
must be admitted that “self-denial and self-help” would make a poor
rallying cry for the hustings; and it is to be feared that the patriotism
of this day has but little regard for such common things as individual
economy and providence, although it is by the practice of such virtues
only that the genuine independence of the industrial classes is to be
secured.  “Prudence, frugality, and good management,” said Samuel Drew,
the philosophical shoemaker, “are excellent artists for mending bad
times: they occupy but little room in any dwelling, but would furnish a
more effectual remedy for the evils of life than any Reform Bill that
ever passed the Houses of Parliament.”  Socrates said, “Let him that
would move the world move first himself.  ” Or as the old rhyme runs—

    “If every one would see
    To his own reformation,
    How very easily
    You might reform a nation.”

It is, however, generally felt to be a far easier thing to reform the
Church and the State than to reform the least of our own bad habits; and
in such matters it is usually found more agreeable to our tastes, as it
certainly is the common practice, to begin with our neighbours rather
than with ourselves.

Any class of men that lives from hand to mouth will ever be an inferior
class.  They will necessarily remain impotent and helpless, hanging on to
the skirts of society, the sport of times and seasons.  Having no respect
for themselves, they will fail in securing the respect of others.  In
commercial crises, such men must inevitably go to the wall.  Wanting that
husbanded power which a store of savings, no matter how small, invariably
gives them, they will be at every man’s mercy, and, if possessed of right
feelings, they cannot but regard with fear and trembling the future
possible fate of their wives and children.  “The world,” once said Mr.
Cobden to the working men of Huddersfield, “has always been divided into
two classes,—those who have saved, and those who have spent—the thrifty
and the extravagant.  The building of all the houses, the mills, the
bridges, and the ships, and the accomplishment of all other great works
which have rendered man civilized and happy, has been done by the savers,
the thrifty; and those who have wasted their resources have always been
their slaves.  It has been the law of nature and of Providence that this
should be so; and I were an impostor if I promised any class that they
would advance themselves if they were improvident, thoughtless, and

Equally sound was the advice given by Mr. Bright to an assembly of
working men at Rochdale, in 1847, when, after expressing his belief that,
“so far as honesty was concerned, it was to be found in pretty equal
amount among all classes,” he used the following words:—“There is only
one way that is safe for any man, or any number of men, by which they can
maintain their present position if it be a good one, or raise themselves
above it if it be a bad one,—that is, by the practice of the virtues of
industry, frugality, temperance, and honesty.  There is no royal road by
which men can raise themselves from a position which they feel to be
uncomfortable and unsatisfactory, as regards their mental or physical
condition, except by the practice of those virtues by which they find
numbers amongst them are continually advancing and bettering themselves.”

There is no reason why the condition of the average workman should not be
a useful, honourable, respectable, and happy one.  The whole body of the
working classes might, (with few exceptions) be as frugal, virtuous,
well-informed, and well-conditioned as many individuals of the same class
have already made themselves.  What some men are, all without difficulty
might be.  Employ the same means, and the same results will follow.  That
there should be a class of men who live by their daily labour in every
state is the ordinance of God, and doubtless is a wise and righteous one;
but that this class should be otherwise than frugal, contented,
intelligent, and happy, is not the design of Providence, but springs
solely from the weakness, self-indulgence, and perverseness of man
himself.  The healthy spirit of self-help created amongst working people
would more than any other measure serve to raise them as a class, and
this, not by pulling down others, but by levelling them up to a higher
and still advancing standard of religion, intelligence, and virtue.  “All
moral philosophy,” says Montaigne, “is as applicable to a common and
private life as to the most splendid.  Every man carries the entire form
of the human condition within him.”

When a man casts his glance forward, he will find that the three chief
temporal contingencies for which he has to provide are want of
employment, sickness, and death.  The two first he may escape, but the
last is inevitable.  It is, however, the duty of the prudent man so to
live, and so to arrange, that the pressure of suffering, in event of
either contingency occurring, shall be mitigated to as great an extent as
possible, not only to himself, but also to those who are dependent upon
him for their comfort and subsistence.  Viewed in this light the honest
earning and the frugal use of money are of the greatest importance.
Rightly earned, it is the representative of patient industry and untiring
effort, of temptation resisted, and hope rewarded; and rightly used, it
affords indications of prudence, forethought and self-denial—the true
basis of manly character.  Though money represents a crowd of objects
without any real worth or utility, it also represents many things of
great value; not only food, clothing, and household satisfaction, but
personal self-respect and independence.  Thus a store of savings is to
the working man as a barricade against want; it secures him a footing,
and enables him to wait, it may be in cheerfulness and hope, until better
days come round.  The very endeavour to gain a firmer position in the
world has a certain dignity in it, and tends to make a man stronger and
better.  At all events it gives him greater freedom of action, and
enables him to husband his strength for future effort.

But the man who is always hovering on the verge of want is in a state not
far removed from that of slavery.  He is in no sense his own master, but
is in constant peril of falling under the bondage of others, and
accepting the terms which they dictate to him.  He cannot help being, in
a measure, servile, for he dares not look the world boldly in the face;
and in adverse times he must look either to alms or the poor’s rates.  If
work fails him altogether, he has not the means of moving to another
field of employment; he is fixed to his parish like a limpet to its rock,
and can neither migrate nor emigrate.

To secure independence, the practice of simple economy is all that is
necessary.  Economy requires neither superior courage nor eminent virtue;
it is satisfied with ordinary energy, and the capacity of average minds.
Economy, at bottom, is but the spirit of order applied in the
administration of domestic affairs: it means management, regularity,
prudence, and the avoidance of waste.  The spirit of economy was
expressed by our Divine Master in the words ‘Gather up the fragments that
remain, so that nothing may be lost.’  His omnipotence did not disdain
the small things of life; and even while revealing His infinite power to
the multitude, he taught the pregnant lesson of carefulness of which all
stand so much in need.

Economy also means the power of resisting present gratification for the
purpose of securing a future good, and in this light it represents the
ascendancy of reason over the animal instincts.  It is altogether
different from penuriousness: for it is economy that can always best
afford to be generous.  It does not make money an idol, but regards it as
a useful agent.  As Dean Swift observes, “we must carry money in the
head, not in the heart.”  Economy may be styled the daughter of Prudence,
the sister of Temperance, and the mother of Liberty.  It is evidently
conservative—conservative of character, of domestic happiness, and social
well-being.  It is, in short, the exhibition of self-help in one of its
best forms.

Francis Horner’s father gave him this advice on entering life:—“Whilst I
wish you to be comfortable in every respect, I cannot too strongly
inculcate economy.  It is a necessary virtue to all; and however the
shallow part of mankind may despise it, it certainly leads to
independence, which is a grand object to every man of a high spirit.”
Burns’ lines, quoted at the head of this chapter, contain the right idea;
but unhappily his strain of song was higher than his practice; his ideal
better than his habit.  When laid on his death-bed he wrote to a friend,
“Alas! Clarke, I begin to feel the worst.  Burns’ poor widow, and half a
dozen of his dear little ones helpless orphans;—there I am weak as a
woman’s tear.  Enough of this;—’tis half my disease.”

Every man ought so to contrive as to live within his means.  This
practice is of the very essence of honesty.  For if a man do not manage
honestly to live within his own means, he must necessarily be living
dishonestly upon the means of somebody else.  Those who are careless
about personal expenditure, and consider merely their own gratification,
without regard for the comfort of others, generally find out the real
uses of money when it is too late.  Though by nature generous, these
thriftless persons are often driven in the end to do very shabby things.
They waste their money as they do their time; draw bills upon the future;
anticipate their earnings; and are thus under the necessity of dragging
after them a load of debts and obligations which seriously affect their
action as free and independent men.

It was a maxim of Lord Bacon, that when it was necessary to economize, it
was better to look after petty savings than to descend to petty gettings.
The loose cash which many persons throw away uselessly, and worse, would
often form a basis of fortune and independence for life.  These wasters
are their own worst enemies, though generally found amongst the ranks of
those who rail at the injustice of “the world.”  But if a man will not be
his own friend, how can he expect that others will?  Orderly men of
moderate means have always something left in their pockets to help
others; whereas your prodigal and careless fellows who spend all never
find an opportunity for helping anybody.  It is poor economy, however, to
be a scrub.  Narrowmindedness in living and in dealing is generally
short-sighted, and leads to failure.  The penny soul, it is said, never
came to twopence.  Generosity and liberality, like honesty, prove the
best policy after all.  Though Jenkinson, in the ‘Vicar of Wakefield,’
cheated his kind-hearted neighbour Flamborough in one way or another
every year, “Flamborough,” said he, “has been regularly growing in
riches, while I have come to poverty and a gaol.”  And practical life
abounds in cases of brilliant results from a course of generous and
honest policy.

The proverb says that “an empty bag cannot stand upright;” neither can a
man who is in debt.  It is also difficult for a man who is in debt to be
truthful; hence it is said that lying rides on debt’s back.  The debtor
has to frame excuses to his creditor for postponing payment of the money
he owes him; and probably also to contrive falsehoods.  It is easy enough
for a man who will exercise a healthy resolution, to avoid incurring the
first obligation; but the facility with which that has been incurred
often becomes a temptation to a second; and very soon the unfortunate
borrower becomes so entangled that no late exertion of industry can set
him free.  The first step in debt is like the first step in falsehood;
almost involving the necessity of proceeding in the same course, debt
following debt, as lie follows lie.  Haydon, the painter, dated his
decline from the day on which he first borrowed money.  He realized the
truth of the proverb, “Who goes a-borrowing, goes a-sorrowing.”  The
significant entry in his diary is: “Here began debt and obligation, out
of which I have never been and never shall be extricated as long as I
live.”  His Autobiography shows but too painfully how embarrassment in
money matters produces poignant distress of mind, utter incapacity for
work, and constantly recurring humiliations.  The written advice which he
gave to a youth when entering the navy was as follows: “Never purchase
any enjoyment if it cannot be procured without borrowing of others.
Never borrow money: it is degrading.  I do not say never lend, but never
lend if by lending you render yourself unable to pay what you owe; but
under any circumstances never borrow.”  Fichte, the poor student, refused
to accept even presents from his still poorer parents.

Dr. Johnson held that early debt is ruin.  His words on the subject are
weighty, and worthy of being held in remembrance.  “Do not,” said he,
“accustom yourself to consider debt only as an inconvenience; you will
find it a calamity.  Poverty takes away so many means of doing good, and
produces so much inability to resist evil, both natural and moral, that
it is by all virtuous means to be avoided. . . . Let it be your first
care, then, not to be in any man’s debt.  Resolve not to be poor;
whatever you have spend less.  Poverty is a great enemy to human
happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues
impracticable and others extremely difficult.  Frugality is not only the
basis of quiet, but of beneficence.  No man can help others that wants
help himself; we must have enough before we have to spare.”

It is the bounden duty of every man to look his affairs in the face, and
to keep an account of his incomings and outgoings in money matters.  The
exercise of a little simple arithmetic in this way will be found of great
value.  Prudence requires that we shall pitch our scale of living a
degree below our means, rather than up to them; but this can only be done
by carrying out faithfully a plan of living by which both ends may be
made to meet.  John Locke strongly advised this course: “Nothing,” said
he, “is likelier to keep a man within compass than having constantly
before his eyes the state of his affairs in a regular course of account.”
The Duke of Wellington kept an accurate detailed account of all the
moneys received and expended by him.  “I make a point,” said he to Mr.
Gleig, “of paying my own bills, and I advise every one to do the same;
formerly I used to trust a confidential servant to pay them, but I was
cured of that folly by receiving one morning, to my great surprise, duns
of a year or two’s standing.  The fellow had speculated with my money,
and left my bills unpaid.”  Talking of debt his remark was, “It makes a
slave of a man.  I have often known what it was to be in want of money,
but I never got into debt.”  Washington was as particular as Wellington
was, in matters of business detail; and it is a remarkable fact, that he
did not disdain to scrutinize the smallest outgoings of his
household—determined as he was to live honestly within his means—even
while holding the high office of President of the American Union.

Admiral Jervis, Earl St. Vincent, has told the story of his early
struggles, and, amongst other things, of his determination to keep out of
debt.  “My father had a very large family,” said he, “with limited means.
He gave me twenty pounds at starting, and that was all he ever gave me.
After I had been a considerable time at the station [at sea], I drew for
twenty more, but the bill came back protested.  I was mortified at this
rebuke, and made a promise, which I have ever kept, that I would never
draw another bill without a certainty of its being paid.  I immediately
changed my mode of living, quitted my mess, lived alone, and took up the
ship’s allowance, which I found quite sufficient; washed and mended my
own clothes; made a pair of trousers out of the ticking of my bed; and
having by these means saved as much money as would redeem my honour, I
took up my bill, and from that time to this I have taken care to keep
within my means.”  Jervis for six years endured pinching privation, but
preserved his integrity, studied his profession with success, and
gradually and steadily rose by merit and bravery to the highest rank.

Mr. Hume hit the mark when he once stated in the House of Commons—though
his words were followed by “laughter”—that the tone of living in England
is altogether too high.  Middle-class people are too apt to live up to
their incomes, if not beyond them: affecting a degree of “style” which is
most unhealthy in its effects upon society at large.  There is an
ambition to bring up boys as gentlemen, or rather “genteel” men; though
the result frequently is, only to make them gents.  They acquire a taste
for dress, style, luxuries, and amusements, which can never form any
solid foundation for manly or gentlemanly character; and the result is,
that we have a vast number of gingerbread young gentry thrown upon the
world, who remind one of the abandoned hulls sometimes picked up at sea,
with only a monkey on board.

There is a dreadful ambition abroad for being “genteel.”  We keep up
appearances, too often at the expense of honesty; and, though we may not
be rich, yet we must seem to be so.  We must be “respectable,” though
only in the meanest sense—in mere vulgar outward show.  We have not the
courage to go patiently onward in the condition of life in which it has
pleased God to call us; but must needs live in some fashionable state to
which we ridiculously please to call ourselves, and all to gratify the
vanity of that unsubstantial genteel world of which we form a part.
There is a constant struggle and pressure for front seats in the social
amphitheatre; in the midst of which all noble self-denying resolve is
trodden down, and many fine natures are inevitably crushed to death.
What waste, what misery, what bankruptcy, come from all this ambition to
dazzle others with the glare of apparent worldly success, we need not
describe.  The mischievous results show themselves in a thousand ways—in
the rank frauds committed by men who dare to be dishonest, but do not
dare to seem poor; and in the desperate dashes at fortune, in which the
pity is not so much for those who fail, as for the hundreds of innocent
families who are so often involved in their ruin.

The late Sir Charles Napier, in taking leave of his command in India, did
a bold and honest thing in publishing his strong protest, embodied in his
last General Order to the officers of the Indian army, against the “fast”
life led by so many young officers in that service, involving them in
ignominious obligations.  Sir Charles strongly urged, in that famous
document—what had almost been lost sight of that “honesty is inseparable
from the character of a thorough-bred gentleman;” and that “to drink
unpaid-for champagne and unpaid-for beer, and to ride unpaid-for horses,
is to be a cheat, and not a gentleman.”  Men who lived beyond their means
and were summoned, often by their own servants, before Courts of Requests
for debts contracted in extravagant living, might be officers by virtue
of their commissions, but they were not gentlemen.  The habit of being
constantly in debt, the Commander-in-chief held, made men grow callous to
the proper feelings of a gentleman.  It was not enough that an officer
should be able to fight: that any bull-dog could do.  But did he hold his
word inviolate?—did he pay his debts?  These were among the points of
honour which, he insisted, illuminated the true gentleman’s and soldier’s
career.  As Bayard was of old, so would Sir Charles Napier have all
British officers to be.  He knew them to be “without fear,” but he would
also have them “without reproach.”  There are, however, many gallant
young fellows, both in India and at home, capable of mounting a breach on
an emergency amidst belching fire, and of performing the most desperate
deeds of valour, who nevertheless cannot or will not exercise the moral
courage necessary to enable them to resist a petty temptation presented
to their senses.  They cannot utter their valiant “No,” or “I can’t
afford it,” to the invitations of pleasure and self-enjoyment; and they
are found ready to brave death rather than the ridicule of their

The young man, as he passes through life, advances through a long line of
tempters ranged on either side of him; and the inevitable effect of
yielding, is degradation in a greater or a less degree.  Contact with
them tends insensibly to draw away from him some portion of the divine
electric element with which his nature is charged; and his only mode of
resisting them is to utter and to act out his “no” manfully and
resolutely.  He must decide at once, not waiting to deliberate and
balance reasons; for the youth, like “the woman who deliberates, is
lost.”  Many deliberate, without deciding; but “not to resolve, _is_ to
resolve.”  A perfect knowledge of man is in the prayer, “Lead us not into
temptation.”  But temptation will come to try the young man’s strength;
and once yielded to, the power to resist grows weaker and weaker.  Yield
once, and a portion of virtue has gone.  Resist manfully, and the first
decision will give strength for life; repeated, it will become a habit.
It is in the outworks of the habits formed in early life that the real
strength of the defence must lie; for it has been wisely ordained, that
the machinery of moral existence should be carried on principally through
the medium of the habits, so as to save the wear and tear of the great
principles within.  It is good habits, which insinuate themselves into
the thousand inconsiderable acts of life, that really constitute by far
the greater part of man’s moral conduct.

Hugh Miller has told how, by an act of youthful decision, he saved
himself from one of the strong temptations so peculiar to a life of toil.
When employed as a mason, it was usual for his fellow-workmen to have an
occasional treat of drink, and one day two glasses of whisky fell to his
share, which he swallowed.  When he reached home, he found, on opening
his favourite book—‘Bacon’s Essays’—that the letters danced before his
eyes, and that he could no longer master the sense.  “The condition,” he
says, “into which I had brought myself was, I felt, one of degradation.
I had sunk, by my own act, for the time, to a lower level of intelligence
than that on which it was my privilege to be placed; and though the state
could have been no very favourable one for forming a resolution, I in
that hour determined that I should never again sacrifice my capacity of
intellectual enjoyment to a drinking usage; and, with God’s help, I was
enabled to hold by the determination.”  It is such decisions as this that
often form the turning-points in a man’s life, and furnish the foundation
of his future character.  And this rock, on which Hugh Miller might have
been wrecked, if he had not at the right moment put forth his moral
strength to strike away from it, is one that youth and manhood alike need
to be constantly on their guard against.  It is about one of the worst
and most deadly, as well as extravagant, temptations which lie in the way
of youth.  Sir Walter Scott used to say that “of all vices drinking is
the most incompatible with greatness.”  Not only so, but it is
incompatible with economy, decency, health, and honest living.  When a
youth cannot restrain, he must abstain.  Dr. Johnson’s case is the case
of many.  He said, referring to his own habits, “Sir, I can abstain; but
I can’t be moderate.”

But to wrestle vigorously and successfully with any vicious habit, we
must not merely be satisfied with contending on the low ground of worldly
prudence, though that is of use, but take stand upon a higher moral
elevation.  Mechanical aids, such as pledges, may be of service to some,
but the great thing is to set up a high standard of thinking and acting,
and endeavour to strengthen and purify the principles as well as to
reform the habits.  For this purpose a youth must study himself, watch
his steps, and compare his thoughts and acts with his rule.  The more
knowledge of himself he gains, the more humble will he be, and perhaps
the less confident in his own strength.  But the discipline will be
always found most valuable which is acquired by resisting small present
gratifications to secure a prospective greater and higher one.  It is the
noblest work in self-education—for

    “Real glory
    Springs from the silent conquest of ourselves,
    And without that the conqueror is nought
    But the first slave.”

Many popular books have been written for the purpose of communicating to
the public the grand secret of making money.  But there is no secret
whatever about it, as the proverbs of every nation abundantly testify.
“Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.”
“Diligence is the mother of good luck.”  “No pains no gains.”  “No sweat
no sweet.”  “Work and thou shalt have.”  “The world is his who has
patience and industry.”  “Better go to bed supperless than rise in debt.”
Such are specimens of the proverbial philosophy, embodying the hoarded
experience of many generations, as to the best means of thriving in the
world.  They were current in people’s mouths long before books were
invented; and like other popular proverbs they were the first codes of
popular morals.  Moreover they have stood the test of time, and the
experience of every day still bears witness to their accuracy, force, and
soundness.  The proverbs of Solomon are full of wisdom as to the force of
industry, and the use and abuse of money:—“He that is slothful in work is
brother to him that is a great waster.”  “Go to the ant, thou sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise.”  Poverty, says the preacher, shall come
upon the idler, “as one that travelleth, and want as an armed man;” but
of the industrious and upright, “the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”
“The drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty; and drowsiness shall
clothe a man with rags.”  “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he
shall stand before kings.”  But above all, “It is better to get wisdom
than gold; for wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things that may
be desired are not to be compared to it.”

Simple industry and thrift will go far towards making any person of
ordinary working faculty comparatively independent in his means.  Even a
working man may be so, provided he will carefully husband his resources,
and watch the little outlets of useless expenditure.  A penny is a very
small matter, yet the comfort of thousands of families depends upon the
proper spending and saving of pennies.  If a man allows the little
pennies, the results of his hard work, to slip out of his fingers—some to
the beershop, some this way and some that—he will find that his life is
little raised above one of mere animal drudgery.  On the other hand, if
he take care of the pennies—putting some weekly into a benefit society or
an insurance fund, others into a savings’ bank, and confiding the rest to
his wife to be carefully laid out, with a view to the comfortable
maintenance and education of his family—he will soon find that this
attention to small matters will abundantly repay him, in increasing
means, growing comfort at home, and a mind comparatively free from fears
as to the future.  And if a working man have high ambition and possess
richness in spirit,—a kind of wealth which far transcends all mere
worldly possessions—he may not only help himself, but be a profitable
helper of others in his path through life.  That this is no impossible
thing even for a common labourer in a workshop, may be illustrated by the
remarkable career of Thomas Wright of Manchester, who not only attempted
but succeeded in the reclamation of many criminals while working for
weekly wages in a foundry.

Accident first directed Thomas Wright’s attention to the difficulty
encountered by liberated convicts in returning to habits of honest
industry.  His mind was shortly possessed by the subject; and to remedy
the evil became the purpose of his life.  Though he worked from six in
the morning till six at night, still there were leisure minutes that he
could call his own—more especially his Sundays—and these he employed in
the service of convicted criminals; a class then far more neglected than
they are now.  But a few minutes a day, well employed, can effect a great
deal; and it will scarcely be credited, that in ten years this working
man, by steadfastly holding to his purpose, succeeded in rescuing not
fewer than three hundred felons from continuance in a life of villany!
He came to be regarded as the moral physician of the Manchester Old
Bailey; and where the Chaplain and all others failed, Thomas Wright often
succeeded.  Children he thus restored reformed to their parents; sons and
daughters otherwise lost, to their homes; and many a returned convict did
he contrive to settle down to honest and industrious pursuits.  The task
was by no means easy.  It required money, time, energy, prudence, and
above all, character, and the confidence which character invariably
inspires.  The most remarkable circumstance was that Wright relieved many
of these poor outcasts out of the comparatively small wages earned by him
at foundry work.  He did all this on an income which did not average,
during his working career, 100_l._ per annum; and yet, while he was able
to bestow substantial aid on criminals, to whom he owed no more than the
service of kindness which every human being owes to another, he also
maintained his family in comfort, and was, by frugality and carefulness,
enabled to lay by a store of savings against his approaching old age.
Every week he apportioned his income with deliberate care; so much for
the indispensable necessaries of food and clothing, so much for the
landlord, so much for the schoolmaster, so much for the poor and needy;
and the lines of distribution were resolutely observed.  By such means
did this humble workman pursue his great work, with the results we have
so briefly described.  Indeed, his career affords one of the most
remarkable and striking illustrations of the force of purpose in a man,
of the might of small means carefully and sedulously applied, and, above
all, of the power which an energetic and upright character invariably
exercises upon the lives and conduct of others.

There is no discredit, but honour, in every right walk of industry,
whether it be in tilling the ground, making tools, weaving fabrics, or
selling the products behind a counter.  A youth may handle a yard-stick,
or measure a piece of ribbon; and there will be no discredit in doing so,
unless he allows his mind to have no higher range than the stick and
ribbon; to be as short as the one, and as narrow as the other.  “Let not
those blush who _have_,” said Fuller, “but those who _have not_ a lawful
calling.”  And Bishop Hall said, “Sweet is the destiny of all trades,
whether of the brow or of the mind.”  Men who have raised themselves from
a humble calling, need not be ashamed, but rather ought to be proud of
the difficulties they have surmounted.  An American President, when asked
what was his coat-of-arms, remembering that he had been a hewer of wood
in his youth, replied, “A pair of shirt sleeves.”  A French doctor once
taunted Flechier, Bishop of Nismes, who had been a tallow-chandler in his
youth, with the meanness of his origin, to which Flechier replied, “If
you had been born in the same condition that I was, you would still have
been but a maker of candles.”

Nothing is more common than energy in money-making, quite independent of
any higher object than its accumulation.  A man who devotes himself to
this pursuit, body and soul, can scarcely fail to become rich.  Very
little brains will do; spend less than you earn; add guinea to guinea;
scrape and save; and the pile of gold will gradually rise.  Osterwald,
the Parisian banker, began life a poor man.  He was accustomed every
evening to drink a pint of beer for supper at a tavern which he visited,
during which he collected and pocketed all the corks that he could lay
his hands on.  In eight years he had collected as many corks as sold for
eight louis d’ors.  With that sum he laid the foundations of his
fortune—gained mostly by stock-jobbing; leaving at his death some three
millions of francs.  John Foster has cited a striking illustration of
what this kind of determination will do in money-making.  A young man who
ran through his patrimony, spending it in profligacy, was at length
reduced to utter want and despair.  He rushed out of his house intending
to put an end to his life, and stopped on arriving at an eminence
overlooking what were once his estates.  He sat down, ruminated for a
time, and rose with the determination that he would recover them.  He
returned to the streets, saw a load of coals which had been shot out of a
cart on to the pavement before a house, offered to carry them in, and was
employed.  He thus earned a few pence, requested some meat and drink as a
gratuity, which was given him, and the pennies were laid by.  Pursuing
this menial labour, he earned and saved more pennies; accumulated
sufficient to enable him to purchase some cattle, the value of which he
understood, and these he sold to advantage.  He proceeded by degrees to
undertake larger transactions, until at length he became rich.  The
result was, that he more than recovered his possessions, and died an
inveterate miser.  When he was buried, mere earth went to earth.  With a
nobler spirit, the same determination might have enabled such a man to be
a benefactor to others as well as to himself.  But the life and its end
in this case were alike sordid.

To provide for others and for our own comfort and independence in old
age, is honourable, and greatly to be commended; but to hoard for mere
wealth’s sake is the characteristic of the narrow-souled and the miserly.
It is against the growth of this habit of inordinate saving that the wise
man needs most carefully to guard himself: else, what in youth was simple
economy, may in old age grow into avarice, and what was a duty in the one
case, may become a vice in the other.  It is the _love_ of money—not
money itself—which is “the root of evil,”—a love which narrows and
contracts the soul, and closes it against generous life and action.
Hence, Sir Walter Scott makes one of his characters declare that “the
penny siller slew more souls than the naked sword slew bodies.”  It is
one of the defects of business too exclusively followed, that it
insensibly tends to a mechanism of character.  The business man gets into
a rut, and often does not look beyond it.  If he lives for himself only,
he becomes apt to regard other human beings only in so far as they
minister to his ends.  Take a leaf from such men’s ledger and you have
their life.

Worldly success, measured by the accumulation of money, is no doubt a
very dazzling thing; and all men are naturally more or less the admirers
of worldly success.  But though men of persevering, sharp, dexterous, and
unscrupulous habits, ever on the watch to push opportunities, may and do
“get on” in the world, yet it is quite possible that they may not possess
the slightest elevation of character, nor a particle of real goodness.
He who recognizes no higher logic than that of the shilling, may become a
very rich man, and yet remain all the while an exceedingly poor creature.
For riches are no proof whatever of moral worth; and their glitter often
serves only to draw attention to the worthlessness of their possessor, as
the light of the glowworm reveals the grub.

The manner in which many allow themselves to be sacrificed to their love
of wealth reminds one of the cupidity of the monkey—that caricature of
our species.  In Algiers, the Kabyle peasant attaches a gourd, well
fixed, to a tree, and places within it some rice.  The gourd has an
opening merely sufficient to admit the monkey’s paw.  The creature comes
to the tree by night, inserts his paw, and grasps his booty.  He tries to
draw it back, but it is clenched, and he has not the wisdom to unclench
it.  So there he stands till morning, when he is caught, looking as
foolish as may be, though with the prize in his grasp.  The moral of this
little story is capable of a very extensive application in life.

The power of money is on the whole over-estimated.  The greatest things
which have been done for the world have not been accomplished by rich
men, nor by subscription lists, but by men generally of small pecuniary
means.  Christianity was propagated over half the world by men of the
poorest class; and the greatest thinkers, discoverers, inventors, and
artists, have been men of moderate wealth, many of them little raised
above the condition of manual labourers in point of worldly
circumstances.  And it will always be so.  Riches are oftener an
impediment than a stimulus to action; and in many cases they are quite as
much a misfortune as a blessing.  The youth who inherits wealth is apt to
have life made too easy for him, and he soon grows sated with it, because
he has nothing left to desire.  Having no special object to struggle for,
he finds time hang heavy on his hands; he remains morally and spiritually
asleep; and his position in society is often no higher than that of a
polypus over which the tide floats.

    “His only labour is to kill the time,
    And labour dire it is, and weary woe.”

Yet the rich man, inspired by a right spirit, will spurn idleness as
unmanly; and if he bethink himself of the responsibilities which attach
to the possession of wealth and property he will feel even a higher call
to work than men of humbler lot.  This, however, must be admitted to be
by no means the practice of life.  The golden mean of Agur’s perfect
prayer is, perhaps, the best lot of all, did we but know it: “Give me
neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me.”  The
late Joseph Brotherton, M.P., left a fine motto to be recorded upon his
monument in the Peel Park at Manchester,—the declaration in his case
being strictly true: “My richness consisted not in the greatness of my
possessions, but in the smallness of my wants.”  He rose from the
humblest station, that of a factory boy, to an eminent position of
usefulness, by the simple exercise of homely honesty, industry,
punctuality, and self-denial.  Down to the close of his life, when not
attending Parliament, he did duty as minister in a small chapel in
Manchester to which he was attached; and in all things he made it appear,
to those who knew him in private life, that the glory he sought was _not_
“to be seen of men,” or to excite their praise, but to earn the
consciousness of discharging the every-day duties of life, down to the
smallest and humblest of them, in an honest, upright, truthful, and
loving spirit.

“Respectability,” in its best sense, is good.  The respectable man is one
worthy of regard, literally worth turning to look at.  But the
respectability that consists in merely keeping up appearances is not
worth looking at in any sense.  Far better and more respectable is the
good poor man than the bad rich one—better the humble silent man than the
agreeable well-appointed rogue who keeps his gig.  A well balanced and
well-stored mind, a life full of useful purpose, whatever the position
occupied in it may be, is of far greater importance than average worldly
respectability.  The highest object of life we take to be, to form a
manly character, and to work out the best development possible, of body
and spirit—of mind, conscience, heart, and soul.  This is the end: all
else ought to be regarded but as the means.  Accordingly, that is not the
most successful life in which a man gets the most pleasure, the most
money, the most power or place, honour or fame; but that in which a man
gets the most manhood, and performs the greatest amount of useful work
and of human duty.  Money is power after its sort, it is true; but
intelligence, public spirit, and moral virtue, are powers too, and far
nobler ones.  “Let others plead for pensions,” wrote Lord Collingwood to
a friend; “I can be rich without money, by endeavouring to be superior to
everything poor.  I would have my services to my country unstained by any
interested motive; and old Scott {313} and I can go on in our
cabbage-garden without much greater expense than formerly.”  On another
occasion he said, “I have motives for my conduct which I would not give
in exchange for a hundred pensions.”

The making of a fortune may no doubt enable some people to “enter
society,” as it is called; but to be esteemed there, they must possess
qualities of mind, manners, or heart, else they are merely rich people,
nothing more.  There are men “in society” now, as rich as Croesus, who
have no consideration extended towards them, and elicit no respect.  For
why?  They are but as money-bags: their only power is in their till.  The
men of mark in society—the guides and rulers of opinion—the really
successful and useful men—are not necessarily rich men; but men of
sterling character, of disciplined experience, and of moral excellence.
Even the poor man, like Thomas Wright, though he possess but little of
this world’s goods, may, in the enjoyment of a cultivated nature, of
opportunities used and not abused, of a life spent to the best of his
means and ability, look down, without the slightest feeling of envy, upon
the person of mere worldly success, the man of money-bags and acres.


    “Every person has two educations, one which he receives from others,
    and one, more important, which he gives to himself.”—_Gibbon_.

    “Is there one whom difficulties dishearten—who bends to the storm?
    He will do little.  Is there one who will conquer?  That kind of man
    never fails.”—_John Hunter_.

    “The wise and active conquer difficulties,
    By daring to attempt them: sloth and folly
    Shiver and shrink at sight of toil and danger,
    And _make_ the impossibility they fear.”—_Rowe_.

“THE best part of every man’s education,” said Sir Walter Scott, “is that
which he gives to himself.”  The late Sir Benjamin Brodie delighted to
remember this saying, and he used to congratulate himself on the fact
that professionally he was self-taught.  But this is necessarily the case
with all men who have acquired distinction in letters, science, or art.
The education received at school or college is but a beginning, and is
valuable mainly inasmuch as it trains the mind and habituates it to
continuous application and study.  That which is put into us by others is
always far less ours than that which we acquire by our own diligent and
persevering effort.  Knowledge conquered by labour becomes a possession—a
property entirely our own.  A greater vividness and permanency of
impression is secured; and facts thus acquired become registered in the
mind in a way that mere imparted information can never effect.  This kind
of self-culture also calls forth power and cultivates strength.  The
solution of one problem helps the mastery of another; and thus knowledge
is carried into faculty.  Our own active effort is the essential thing;
and no facilities, no books, no teachers, no amount of lessons learnt by
rote will enable us to dispense with it.

The best teachers have been the readiest to recognize the importance of
self-culture, and of stimulating the student to acquire knowledge by the
active exercise of his own faculties.  They have relied more upon
_training_ than upon telling, and sought to make their pupils themselves
active parties to the work in which they were engaged; thus making
teaching something far higher than the mere passive reception of the
scraps and details of knowledge.  This was the spirit in which the great
Dr. Arnold worked; he strove to teach his pupils to rely upon themselves,
and develop their powers by their own active efforts, himself merely
guiding, directing, stimulating, and encouraging them.  “I would far
rather,” he said, “send a boy to Van Diemen’s Land, where he must work
for his bread, than send him to Oxford to live in luxury, without any
desire in his mind to avail himself of his advantages.”  “If there be one
thing on earth,” he observed on another occasion, “which is truly
admirable, it is to see God’s wisdom blessing an inferiority of natural
powers, when they have been honestly, truly, and zealously cultivated.”
Speaking of a pupil of this character, he said, “I would stand to that
man hat in hand.”  Once at Laleham, when teaching a rather dull boy,
Arnold spoke somewhat sharply to him, on which the pupil looked up in his
face and said, “Why do you speak angrily, sir? _indeed_, I am doing the
best I can.”  Years afterwards, Arnold used to tell the story to his
children, and added, “I never felt so much in my life—that look and that
speech I have never forgotten.”

From the numerous instances already cited of men of humble station who
have risen to distinction in science and literature, it will be obvious
that labour is by no means incompatible with the highest intellectual
culture.  Work in moderation is healthy, as well as agreeable to the
human constitution.  Work educates the body, as study educates the mind;
and that is the best state of society in which there is some work for
every man’s leisure, and some leisure for every man’s work.  Even the
leisure classes are in a measure compelled to work, sometimes as a relief
from _ennui_, but in most cases to gratify an instinct which they cannot
resist.  Some go foxhunting in the English counties, others
grouse-shooting on the Scotch hills, while many wander away every summer
to climb mountains in Switzerland.  Hence the boating, running,
cricketing, and athletic sports of the public schools, in which our young
men at the same time so healthfully cultivate their strength both of mind
and body.  It is said that the Duke of Wellington, when once looking on
at the boys engaged in their sports in the play-ground at Eton, where he
had spent many of his own younger days, made the remark, “It was there
that the battle of Waterloo was won!”

Daniel Malthus urged his son when at college to be most diligent in the
cultivation of knowledge, but he also enjoined him to pursue manly sports
as the best means of keeping up the full working power of his mind, as
well as of enjoying the pleasures of intellect.  “Every kind of
knowledge,” said he, “every acquaintance with nature and art, will amuse
and strengthen your mind, and I am perfectly pleased that cricket should
do the same by your arms and legs; I love to see you excel in exercises
of the body, and I think myself that the better half, and much the most
agreeable part, of the pleasures of the mind is best enjoyed while one is
upon one’s legs.”  But a still more important use of active employment is
that referred to by the great divine, Jeremy Taylor.  “Avoid idleness,”
he says, “and fill up all the spaces of thy time with severe and useful
employment; for lust easily creeps in at those emptinesses where the soul
is unemployed and the body is at ease; for no easy, healthful, idle
person was ever chaste if he could be tempted; but of all employments
bodily labour is the most useful, and of the greatest benefit for driving
away the devil.”

Practical success in life depends more upon physical health than is
generally imagined.  Hodson, of Hodson’s Horse, writing home to a friend
in England, said, “I believe, if I get on well in India, it will be
owing, physically speaking, to a sound digestion.”  The capacity for
continuous working in any calling must necessarily depend in a great
measure upon this; and hence the necessity for attending to health, even
as a means of intellectual labour.  It is perhaps to the neglect of
physical exercise that we find amongst students so frequent a tendency
towards discontent, unhappiness, inaction, and reverie,—displaying itself
in contempt for real life and disgust at the beaten tracks of men,—a
tendency which in England has been called Byronism, and in Germany
Wertherism.  Dr. Channing noted the same growth in America, which led him
to make the remark, that “too many of our young men grow up in a school
of despair.”  The only remedy for this green-sickness in youth is
physical exercise—action, work, and bodily occupation.

The use of early labour in self-imposed mechanical employments may be
illustrated by the boyhood of Sir Isaac Newton.  Though a comparatively
dull scholar, he was very assiduous in the use of his saw, hammer, and
hatchet—“knocking and hammering in his lodging room”—making models of
windmills, carriages, and machines of all sorts; and as he grew older, he
took delight in making little tables and cupboards for his friends.
Smeaton, Watt, and Stephenson, were equally handy with tools when mere
boys; and but for such kind of self-culture in their youth, it is
doubtful whether they would have accomplished so much in their manhood.
Such was also the early training of the great inventors and mechanics
described in the preceding pages, whose contrivance and intelligence were
practically trained by the constant use of their hands in early life.
Even where men belonging to the manual labour class have risen above it,
and become more purely intellectual labourers, they have found the
advantages of their early training in their later pursuits.  Elihu
Burritt says he found hard labour _necessary_ to enable him to study with
effect; and more than once he gave up school-teaching and study, and,
taking to his leather-apron again, went back to his blacksmith’s forge
and anvil for his health of body and mind’s sake.

The training of young men in the use of tools would, at the same time
that it educated them in “common things,” teach them the use of their
hands and arms, familiarize them with healthy work, exercise their
faculties upon things tangible and actual, give them some practical
acquaintance with mechanics, impart to them the ability of being useful,
and implant in them the habit of persevering physical effort.  This is an
advantage which the working classes, strictly so called, certainly
possess over the leisure classes,—that they are in early life under the
necessity of applying themselves laboriously to some mechanical pursuit
or other,—thus acquiring manual dexterity and the use of their physical
powers.  The chief disadvantage attached to the calling of the laborious
classes is, not that they are employed in physical work, but that they
are too exclusively so employed, often to the neglect of their moral and
intellectual faculties.  While the youths of the leisure classes, having
been taught to associate labour with servility, have shunned it, and been
allowed to grow up practically ignorant, the poorer classes, confining
themselves within the circle of their laborious callings, have been
allowed to grow up in a large proportion of cases absolutely illiterate.
It seems possible, however, to avoid both these evils by combining
physical training or physical work with intellectual culture: and there
are various signs abroad which seem to mark the gradual adoption of this
healthier system of education.

The success of even professional men depends in no slight degree on their
physical health; and a public writer has gone so far as to say that “the
greatness of our great men is quite as much a bodily affair as a mental
one.” {319}  A healthy breathing apparatus is as indispensable to the
successful lawyer or politician as a well-cultured intellect.  The
thorough aëration of the blood by free exposure to a large breathing
surface in the lungs, is necessary to maintain that full vital power on
which the vigorous working of the brain in so large a measure depends.
The lawyer has to climb the heights of his profession through close and
heated courts, and the political leader has to bear the fatigue and
excitement of long and anxious debates in a crowded House.  Hence the
lawyer in full practice and the parliamentary leader in full work are
called upon to display powers of physical endurance and activity even
more extraordinary than those of the intellect,—such powers as have been
exhibited in so remarkable a degree by Brougham, Lyndhurst, and Campbell;
by Peel, Graham, and Palmerston—all full-chested men.

Though Sir Walter Scott, when at Edinburgh College, went by the name of
“The Greek Blockhead,” he was, notwithstanding his lameness, a remarkably
healthy youth: he could spear a salmon with the best fisher on the Tweed,
and ride a wild horse with any hunter in Yarrow.  When devoting himself
in after life to literary pursuits, Sir Walter never lost his taste for
field sports; but while writing ‘Waverley’ in the morning, he would in
the afternoon course hares.  Professor Wilson was a very athlete, as
great at throwing the hammer as in his flights of eloquence and poetry;
and Burns, when a youth, was remarkable chiefly for his leaping, putting,
and wrestling.  Some of our greatest divines were distinguished in their
youth for their physical energies.  Isaac Barrow, when at the
Charterhouse School, was notorious for his pugilistic encounters, in
which he got many a bloody nose; Andrew Fuller, when working as a
farmer’s lad at Soham, was chiefly famous for his skill in boxing; and
Adam Clarke, when a boy, was only remarkable for the strength displayed
by him in “rolling large stones about,”—the secret, possibly, of some of
the power which he subsequently displayed in rolling forth large thoughts
in his manhood.

While it is necessary, then, in the first place to secure this solid
foundation of physical health, it must also be observed that the
cultivation of the habit of mental application is quite indispensable for
the education of the student.  The maxim that “Labour conquers all
things” holds especially true in the case of the conquest of knowledge.
The road into learning is alike free to all who will give the labour and
the study requisite to gather it; nor are there any difficulties so great
that the student of resolute purpose may not surmount and overcome them.
It was one of the characteristic expressions of Chatterton, that God had
sent his creatures into the world with arms long enough to reach anything
if they chose to be at the trouble.  In study, as in business, energy is
the great thing.  There must be the “fervet opus”: we must not only
strike the iron while it is hot, but strike it till it is made hot.  It
is astonishing how much may be accomplished in self-culture by the
energetic and the persevering, who are careful to avail themselves of
opportunities, and use up the fragments of spare time which the idle
permit to run to waste.  Thus Ferguson learnt astronomy from the heavens,
while wrapt in a sheep-skin on the highland hills.  Thus Stone learnt
mathematics while working as a journeyman gardener; thus Drew studied the
highest philosophy in the intervals of cobbling shoes; and thus Miller
taught himself geology while working as a day labourer in a quarry.

Sir Joshua Reynolds, as we have already observed, was so earnest a
believer in the force of industry that he held that all men might achieve
excellence if they would but exercise the power of assiduous and patient
working.  He held that drudgery lay on the road to genius, and that there
was no limit to the proficiency of an artist except the limit of his own
painstaking.  He would not believe in what is called inspiration, but
only in study and labour.  “Excellence,” he said, “is never granted to
man but as the reward of labour.”  “If you have great talents, industry
will improve them; if you have but moderate abilities, industry will
supply their deficiency.  Nothing is denied to well-directed labour;
nothing is to be obtained without it.”  Sir Fowell Buxton was an equal
believer in the power of study; and he entertained the modest idea that
he could do as well as other men if he devoted to the pursuit double the
time and labour that they did.  He placed his great confidence in
ordinary means and extraordinary application.

“I have known several men in my life,” says Dr. Ross, “who may be
recognized in days to come as men of genius, and they were all plodders,
hard-working, _intent_ men.  Genius is known by its works; genius without
works is a blind faith, a dumb oracle.  But meritorious works are the
result of time and labour, and cannot be accomplished by intention or by
a wish. . . . Every great work is the result of vast preparatory
training.  Facility comes by labour.  Nothing seems easy, not even
walking, that was not difficult at first.  The orator whose eye flashes
instantaneous fire, and whose lips pour out a flood of noble thoughts,
startling by their unexpectedness, and elevating by their wisdom and
truth, has learned his secret by patient repetition, and after many
bitter disappointments.” {321}

Thoroughness and accuracy are two principal points to be aimed at in
study.  Francis Horner, in laying down rules for the cultivation of his
mind, placed great stress upon the habit of continuous application to one
subject for the sake of mastering it thoroughly; he confined himself,
with this object, to only a few books, and resisted with the greatest
firmness “every approach to a habit of desultory reading.”  The value of
knowledge to any man consists not in its quantity, but mainly in the good
uses to which he can apply it.  Hence a little knowledge, of an exact and
perfect character, is always found more valuable for practical purposes
than any extent of superficial learning.

One of Ignatius Loyola’s maxims was, “He who does well one work at a
time, does more than all.”  By spreading our efforts over too large a
surface we inevitably weaken our force, hinder our progress, and acquire
a habit of fitfulness and ineffective working.  Lord St. Leonards once
communicated to Sir Fowell Buxton the mode in which he had conducted his
studies, and thus explained the secret of his success.  “I resolved,”
said he, “when beginning to read law, to make everything I acquired
perfectly my own, and never to go to a second thing till I had entirely
accomplished the first.  Many of my competitors read as much in a day as
I read in a week; but, at the end of twelve months, my knowledge was as
fresh as the day it was acquired, while theirs had glided away from

It is not the quantity of study that one gets through, or the amount of
reading, that makes a wise man; but the appositeness of the study to the
purpose for which it is pursued; the concentration of the mind for the
time being on the subject under consideration; and the habitual
discipline by which the whole system of mental application is regulated.
Abernethy was even of opinion that there was a point of saturation in his
own mind, and that if he took into it something more than it could hold,
it only had the effect of pushing something else out.  Speaking of the
study of medicine, he said, “If a man has a clear idea of what he desires
to do, he will seldom fail in selecting the proper means of accomplishing

The most profitable study is that which is conducted with a definite aim
and object.  By thoroughly mastering any given branch of knowledge we
render it more available for use at any moment.  Hence it is not enough
merely to have books, or to know where to read for information as we want
it.  Practical wisdom, for the purposes of life, must be carried about
with us, and be ready for use at call.  It is not sufficient that we have
a fund laid up at home, but not a farthing in the pocket: we must carry
about with us a store of the current coin of knowledge ready for exchange
on all occasions, else we are comparatively helpless when the opportunity
for using it occurs.

Decision and promptitude are as requisite in self-culture as in business.
The growth of these qualities may be encouraged by accustoming young
people to rely upon their own resources, leaving them to enjoy as much
freedom of action in early life as is practicable.  Too much guidance and
restraint hinder the formation of habits of self-help.  They are like
bladders tied under the arms of one who has not taught himself to swim.
Want of confidence is perhaps a greater obstacle to improvement than is
generally imagined.  It has been said that half the failures in life
arise from pulling in one’s horse while he is leaping.  Dr. Johnson was
accustomed to attribute his success to confidence in his own powers.
True modesty is quite compatible with a due estimate of one’s own merits,
and does not demand the abnegation of all merit.  Though there are those
who deceive themselves by putting a false figure before their ciphers,
the want of confidence, the want of faith in one’s self, and consequently
the want of promptitude in action, is a defect of character which is
found to stand very much in the way of individual progress; and the
reason why so little is done, is generally because so little is

There is usually no want of desire on the part of most persons to arrive
at the results of self-culture, but there is a great aversion to pay the
inevitable price for it, of hard work.  Dr. Johnson held that “impatience
of study was the mental disease of the present generation;” and the
remark is still applicable.  We may not believe that there is a royal
road to learning, but we seem to believe very firmly in a “popular” one.
In education, we invent labour-saving processes, seek short cuts to
science, learn French and Latin “in twelve lessons,” or “without a
master.”  We resemble the lady of fashion, who engaged a master to teach
her on condition that he did not plague her with verbs and participles.
We get our smattering of science in the same way; we learn chemistry by
listening to a short course of lectures enlivened by experiments, and
when we have inhaled laughing gas, seen green water turned to red, and
phosphorus burnt in oxygen, we have got our smattering, of which the most
that can be said is, that though it may be better than nothing, it is yet
good for nothing.  Thus we often imagine we are being educated while we
are only being amused.

The facility with which young people are thus induced to acquire
knowledge, without study and labour, is not education.  It occupies but
does not enrich the mind.  It imparts a stimulus for the time, and
produces a sort of intellectual keenness and cleverness; but, without an
implanted purpose and a higher object than mere pleasure, it will bring
with it no solid advantage.  In such cases knowledge produces but a
passing impression; a sensation, but no more; it is, in fact, the merest
epicurism of intelligence—sensuous, but certainly not intellectual.  Thus
the best qualities of many minds, those which are evoked by vigorous
effort and independent action, sleep a deep sleep, and are often never
called to life, except by the rough awakening of sudden calamity or
suffering, which, in such cases, comes as a blessing, if it serves to
rouse up a courageous spirit that, but for it, would have slept on.

Accustomed to acquire information under the guise of amusement, young
people will soon reject that which is presented to them under the aspect
of study and labour.  Learning their knowledge and science in sport, they
will be too apt to make sport of both; while the habit of intellectual
dissipation, thus engendered, cannot fail, in course of time, to produce
a thoroughly emasculating effect both upon their mind and character.
“Multifarious reading,” said Robertson of Brighton, “weakens the mind
like smoking, and is an excuse for its lying dormant.  It is the idlest
of all idlenesses, and leaves more of impotency than any other.”

The evil is a growing one, and operates in various ways.  Its least
mischief is shallowness; its greatest, the aversion to steady labour
which it induces, and the low and feeble tone of mind which it
encourages.  If we would be really wise, we must diligently apply
ourselves, and confront the same continuous application which our
forefathers did; for labour is still, and ever will be, the inevitable
price set upon everything which is valuable.  We must be satisfied to
work with a purpose, and wait the results with patience.  All progress,
of the best kind, is slow; but to him who works faithfully and zealously
the reward will, doubtless, be vouchsafed in good time.  The spirit of
industry, embodied in a man’s daily life, will gradually lead him to
exercise his powers on objects outside himself, of greater dignity and
more extended usefulness.  And still we must labour on; for the work of
self-culture is never finished.  “To be employed,” said the poet Gray,
“is to be happy.”  “It is better to wear out than rust out,” said Bishop
Cumberland.  “Have we not all eternity to rest in?” exclaimed Arnauld.
“Repos ailleurs” was the motto of Marnix de St. Aldegonde, the energetic
and ever-working friend of William the Silent.

It is the use we make of the powers entrusted to us, which constitutes
our only just claim to respect.  He who employs his one talent aright is
as much to be honoured as he to whom ten talents have been given.  There
is really no more personal merit attaching to the possession of superior
intellectual powers than there is in the succession to a large estate.
How are those powers used—how is that estate employed?  The mind may
accumulate large stores of knowledge without any useful purpose; but the
knowledge must be allied to goodness and wisdom, and embodied in upright
character, else it is naught.  Pestalozzi even held intellectual training
by itself to be pernicious; insisting that the roots of all knowledge
must strike and feed in the soil of the rightly-governed will.  The
acquisition of knowledge may, it is true, protect a man against the
meaner felonies of life; but not in any degree against its selfish vices,
unless fortified by sound principles and habits.  Hence do we find in
daily life so many instances of men who are well-informed in intellect,
but utterly deformed in character; filled with the learning of the
schools, yet possessing little practical wisdom, and offering examples
for warning rather than imitation.  An often quoted expression at this
day is that “Knowledge is power;” but so also are fanaticism, despotism,
and ambition.  Knowledge of itself, unless wisely directed, might merely
make bad men more dangerous, and the society in which it was regarded as
the highest good, little better than a pandemonium.

It is possible that at this day we may even exaggerate the importance of
literary culture.  We are apt to imagine that because we possess many
libraries, institutes, and museums, we are making great progress.  But
such facilities may as often be a hindrance as a help to individual
self-culture of the highest kind.  The possession of a library, or the
free use of it, no more constitutes learning, than the possession of
wealth constitutes generosity.  Though we undoubtedly possess great
facilities it is nevertheless true, as of old, that wisdom and
understanding can only become the possession of individual men by
travelling the old road of observation, attention, perseverance, and
industry.  The possession of the mere materials of knowledge is something
very different from wisdom and understanding, which are reached through a
higher kind of discipline than that of reading,—which is often but a mere
passive reception of other men’s thoughts; there being little or no
active effort of mind in the transaction.  Then how much of our reading
is but the indulgence of a sort of intellectual dram-drinking, imparting
a grateful excitement for the moment, without the slightest effect in
improving and enriching the mind or building up the character.  Thus many
indulge themselves in the conceit that they are cultivating their minds,
when they are only employed in the humbler occupation of killing time, of
which perhaps the best that can be said is that it keeps them from doing
worse things.

It is also to be borne in mind that the experience gathered from books,
though often valuable, is but of the nature of _learning_; whereas the
experience gained from actual life is of the nature of _wisdom_; and a
small store of the latter is worth vastly more than any stock of the
former.  Lord Bolingbroke truly said that “Whatever study tends neither
directly nor indirectly to make us better men and citizens, is at best
but a specious and ingenious sort of idleness, and the knowledge we
acquire by it, only a creditable kind of ignorance—nothing more.”

Useful and instructive though good reading may be, it is yet only one
mode of cultivating the mind; and is much less influential than practical
experience and good example in the formation of character.  There were
wise, valiant, and true-hearted men bred in England, long before the
existence of a reading public.  Magna Charta was secured by men who
signed the deed with their marks.  Though altogether unskilled in the art
of deciphering the literary signs by which principles were denominated
upon paper, they yet understood and appreciated, and boldly contended
for, the things themselves.  Thus the foundations of English liberty were
laid by men, who, though illiterate, were nevertheless of the very
highest stamp of character.  And it must be admitted that the chief
object of culture is, not merely to fill the mind with other men’s
thoughts, and to be the passive recipient of their impressions of things,
but to enlarge our individual intelligence, and render us more useful and
efficient workers in the sphere of life to which we may be called.  Many
of our most energetic and useful workers have been but sparing readers.
Brindley and Stephenson did not learn to read and write until they
reached manhood, and yet they did great works and lived manly lives; John
Hunter could barely read or write when he was twenty years old, though he
could make tables and chairs with any carpenter in the trade.  “I never
read,” said the great physiologist when lecturing before his class;
“this”—pointing to some part of the subject before him—“this is the work
that you must study if you wish to become eminent in your profession.”
When told that one of his contemporaries had charged him with being
ignorant of the dead languages, he said, “I would undertake to teach him
that on the dead body which he never knew in any language, dead or

It is not then how much a man may know, that is of importance, but the
end and purpose for which he knows it.  The object of knowledge should be
to mature wisdom and improve character, to render us better, happier, and
more useful; more benevolent, more energetic, and more efficient in the
pursuit of every high purpose in life.  “When people once fall into the
habit of admiring and encouraging ability as such, without reference to
moral character—and religious and political opinions are the concrete
form of moral character—they are on the highway to all sorts of
degradation.” {329}  We must ourselves _be_ and _do_, and not rest
satisfied merely with reading and meditating over what other men have
been and done.  Our best light must be made life, and our best thought
action.  At least we ought to be able to say, as Richter did, “I have
made as much out of myself as could be made of the stuff, and no man
should require more;” for it is every man’s duty to discipline and guide
himself, with God’s help, according to his responsibilities and the
faculties with which he has been endowed.

Self-discipline and self-control are the beginnings of practical wisdom;
and these must have their root in self-respect.  Hope springs from
it—hope, which is the companion of power, and the mother of success; for
whoso hopes strongly has within him the gift of miracles.  The humblest
may say, “To respect myself, to develop myself—this is my true duty in
life.  An integral and responsible part of the great system of society, I
owe it to society and to its Author not to degrade or destroy either my
body, mind, or instincts.  On the contrary, I am bound to the best of my
power to give to those parts of my constitution the highest degree of
perfection possible.  I am not only to suppress the evil, but to evoke
the good elements in my nature.  And as I respect myself, so am I equally
bound to respect others, as they on their part are bound to respect me.”
Hence mutual respect, justice, and order, of which law becomes the
written record and guarantee.

Self-respect is the noblest garment with which a man may clothe
himself—the most elevating feeling with which the mind can be inspired.
One of Pythagoras’s wisest maxims, in his ‘Golden Verses,’ is that with
which he enjoins the pupil to “reverence himself.”  Borne up by this high
idea, he will not defile his body by sensuality, nor his mind by servile
thoughts.  This sentiment, carried into daily life, will be found at the
root of all the virtues—cleanliness, sobriety, chastity, morality, and
religion.  “The pious and just honouring of ourselves,” said Milton, “may
be thought the radical moisture and fountain-head from whence every
laudable and worthy enterprise issues forth.”  To think meanly of one’s
self, is to sink in one’s own estimation as well as in the estimation of
others.  And as the thoughts are, so will the acts be.  Man cannot aspire
if he look down; if he will rise, he must look up.  The very humblest may
be sustained by the proper indulgence of this feeling.  Poverty itself
may be lifted and lighted up by self-respect; and it is truly a noble
sight to see a poor man hold himself upright amidst his temptations, and
refuse to demean himself by low actions.

One way in which self-culture may be degraded is by regarding it too
exclusively as a means of “getting on.”  Viewed in this light, it is
unquestionable that education is one of the best investments of time and
labour.  In any line of life, intelligence will enable a man to adapt
himself more readily to circumstances, suggest improved methods of
working, and render him more apt, skilled and effective in all respects.
He who works with his head as well as his hands, will come to look at his
business with a clearer eye; and he will become conscious of increasing
power—perhaps the most cheering consciousness the human mind can cherish.
The power of self-help will gradually grow; and in proportion to a man’s
self-respect, will he be armed against the temptation of low indulgences.
Society and its action will be regarded with quite a new interest, his
sympathies will widen and enlarge, and he will thus be attracted to work
for others as well as for himself.

Self-culture may not, however, end in eminence, as in the numerous
instances above cited.  The great majority of men, in all times, however
enlightened, must necessarily be engaged in the ordinary avocations of
industry; and no degree of culture which can be conferred upon the
community at large will ever enable them—even were it desirable, which it
is not—to get rid of the daily work of society, which must be done.  But
this, we think, may also be accomplished.  We can elevate the condition
of labour by allying it to noble thoughts, which confer a grace upon the
lowliest as well as the highest rank.  For no matter how poor or humble a
man may be, the great thinker of this and other days may come in and sit
down with him, and be his companion for the time, though his dwelling be
the meanest hut.  It is thus that the habit of well-directed reading may
become a source of the greatest pleasure and self-improvement, and
exercise a gentle coercion, with the most beneficial results, over the
whole tenour of a man’s character and conduct.  And even though
self-culture may not bring wealth, it will at all events give one the
companionship of elevated thoughts.  A nobleman once contemptuously asked
of a sage, “What have you got by all your philosophy?”  “At least I have
got society in myself,” was the wise man’s reply.

But many are apt to feel despondent, and become discouraged in the work
of self-culture, because they do not “get on” in the world so fast as
they think they deserve to do.  Having planted their acorn, they expect
to see it grow into an oak at once.  They have perhaps looked upon
knowledge in the light of a marketable commodity, and are consequently
mortified because it does not sell as they expected it would do.  Mr.
Tremenheere, in one of his ‘Education Reports’ (for 1840–1), states that
a schoolmaster in Norfolk, finding his school rapidly falling off, made
inquiry into the cause, and ascertained that the reason given by the
majority of the parents for withdrawing their children was, that they had
expected “education was to make them better off than they were before,”
but that having found it had “done them no good,” they had taken their
children from school, and would give themselves no further trouble about

The same low idea of self-culture is but too prevalent in other classes,
and is encouraged by the false views of life which are always more or
less current in society.  But to regard self-culture either as a means of
getting past others in the world, or of intellectual dissipation and
amusement, rather than as a power to elevate the character and expand the
spiritual nature, is to place it on a very low level.  To use the words
of Bacon, “Knowledge is not a shop for profit or sale, but a rich
storehouse for the glory of the Creator and the relief of man’s estate.”
It is doubtless most honourable for a man to labour to elevate himself,
and to better his condition in society, but this is not to be done at the
sacrifice of himself.  To make the mind the mere drudge of the body, is
putting it to a very servile use; and to go about whining and bemoaning
our pitiful lot because we fail in achieving that success in life which,
after all, depends rather upon habits of industry and attention to
business details than upon knowledge, is the mark of a small, and often
of a sour mind.  Such a temper cannot better be reproved than in the
words of Robert Southey, who thus wrote to a friend who sought his
counsel: “I would give you advice if it could be of use; but there is no
curing those who choose to be diseased.  A good man and a wise man may at
times be angry with the world, at times grieved for it; but be sure no
man was ever discontented with the world if he did his duty in it.  If a
man of education, who has health, eyes, hands, and leisure, wants an
object, it is only because God Almighty has bestowed all those blessings
upon a man who does not deserve them.”

Another way in which education may be prostituted is by employing it as a
mere means of intellectual dissipation and amusement.  Many are the
ministers to this taste in our time.  There is almost a mania for
frivolity and excitement, which exhibits itself in many forms in our
popular literature.  To meet the public taste, our books and periodicals
must now be highly spiced, amusing, and comic, not disdaining slang, and
illustrative of breaches of all laws, human and divine.  Douglas Jerrold
once observed of this tendency, “I am convinced the world will get tired
(at least I hope so) of this eternal guffaw about all things.  After all,
life has something serious in it.  It cannot be all a comic history of
humanity.  Some men would, I believe, write a Comic Sermon on the Mount.
Think of a Comic History of England, the drollery of Alfred, the fun of
Sir Thomas More, the farce of his daughter begging the dead head and
clasping it in her coffin on her bosom.  Surely the world will be sick of
this blasphemy.”  John Sterling, in a like spirit, said:—“Periodicals and
novels are to all in this generation, but more especially to those whose
minds are still unformed and in the process of formation, a new and more
effectual substitute for the plagues of Egypt, vermin that corrupt the
wholesome waters and infest our chambers.”

As a rest from toil and a relaxation from graver pursuits, the perusal of
a well-written story, by a writer of genius, is a high intellectual
pleasure; and it is a description of literature to which all classes of
readers, old and young, are attracted as by a powerful instinct; nor
would we have any of them debarred from its enjoyment in a reasonable
degree.  But to make it the exclusive literary diet, as some do,—to
devour the garbage with which the shelves of circulating libraries are
filled,—and to occupy the greater portion of the leisure hours in
studying the preposterous pictures of human life which so many of them
present, is worse than waste of time: it is positively pernicious.  The
habitual novel-reader indulges in fictitious feelings so much, that there
is great risk of sound and healthy feeling becoming perverted or
benumbed.  “I never go to hear a tragedy,” said a gay man once to the
Archbishop of York, “it wears my heart out.”  The literary pity evoked by
fiction leads to no corresponding action; the susceptibilities which it
excites involve neither inconvenience nor self-sacrifice; so that the
heart that is touched too often by the fiction may at length become
insensible to the reality.  The steel is gradually rubbed out of the
character, and it insensibly loses its vital spring.  “Drawing fine
pictures of virtue in one’s mind,” said Bishop Butler, “is so far from
necessarily or certainly conducive to form a _habit_ of it in him who
thus employs himself, that it may even harden the mind in a contrary
course, and render it gradually more insensible.”

Amusement in moderation is wholesome, and to be commended; but amusement
in excess vitiates the whole nature, and is a thing to be carefully
guarded against.  The maxim is often quoted of “All work and no play
makes Jack a dull boy;” but all play and no work makes him something
greatly worse.  Nothing can be more hurtful to a youth than to have his
soul sodden with pleasure.  The best qualities of his mind are impaired;
common enjoyments become tasteless; his appetite for the higher kind of
pleasures is vitiated; and when he comes to face the work and the duties
of life, the result is usually aversion and disgust.  “Fast” men waste
and exhaust the powers of life, and dry up the sources of true happiness.
Having forestalled their spring, they can produce no healthy growth of
either character or intellect.  A child without simplicity, a maiden
without innocence, a boy without truthfulness, are not more piteous
sights than the man who has wasted and thrown away his youth in
self-indulgence.  Mirabeau said of himself, “My early years have already
in a great measure disinherited the succeeding ones, and dissipated a
great part of my vital powers.”  As the wrong done to another to-day
returns upon ourselves to-morrow, so the sins of our youth rise up in our
age to scourge us.  When Lord Bacon says that “strength of nature in
youth passeth over many excesses which are owing a man until he is old,”
he exposes a physical as well as a moral fact which cannot be too well
weighed in the conduct of life.  “I assure you,” wrote Giusti the Italian
to a friend, “I pay a heavy price for existence.  It is true that our
lives are not at our own disposal.  Nature pretends to give them gratis
at the beginning, and then sends in her account.”  The worst of youthful
indiscretions is, not that they destroy health, so much as that they
sully manhood.  The dissipated youth becomes a tainted man; and often he
cannot be pure, even if he would.  If cure there be, it is only to be
found in inoculating the mind with a fervent spirit of duty, and in
energetic application to useful work.

One of the most gifted of Frenchmen, in point of great intellectual
endowments, was Benjamin Constant; but, _blasé_ at twenty, his life was
only a prolonged wail, instead of a harvest of the great deeds which he
was capable of accomplishing with ordinary diligence and self-control.
He resolved upon doing so many things, which he never did, that people
came to speak of him as Constant the Inconstant.  He was a fluent and
brilliant writer, and cherished the ambition of writing works, “which the
world would not willingly let die.”  But whilst Constant affected the
highest thinking, unhappily he practised the lowest living; nor did the
transcendentalism of his books atone for the meanness of his life.  He
frequented the gaming-tables while engaged in preparing his work upon
religion, and carried on a disreputable intrigue while writing his
‘Adolphe.’  With all his powers of intellect, he was powerless, because
he had no faith in virtue.  “Bah!” said he, “what are honour and dignity?
The longer I live, the more clearly I see there is nothing in them.”  It
was the howl of a miserable man.  He described himself as but “ashes and
dust.”  “I pass,” said he, “like a shadow over the earth, accompanied by
misery and _ennui_.”  He wished for Voltaire’s energy, which he would
rather have possessed than his genius.  But he had no strength of
purpose—nothing but wishes: his life, prematurely exhausted, had become
but a heap of broken links.  He spoke of himself as a person with one
foot in the air.  He admitted that he had no principles, and no moral
consistency.  Hence, with his splendid talents, he contrived to do
nothing; and, after living many years miserable, he died worn out and

The career of Augustin Thierry, the author of the ‘History of the Norman
Conquest,’ affords an admirable contrast to that of Constant.  His entire
life presented a striking example of perseverance, diligence, self
culture, and untiring devotion to knowledge.  In the pursuit he lost his
eyesight, lost his health, but never lost his love of truth.  When so
feeble that he was carried from room to room, like a helpless infant, in
the arms of a nurse, his brave spirit never failed him; and blind and
helpless though he was, he concluded his literary career in the following
noble words:—“If, as I think, the interest of science is counted in the
number of great national interests, I have given my country all that the
soldier, mutilated on the field of battle, gives her.  Whatever may be
the fate of my labours, this example, I hope, will not be lost.  I would
wish it to serve to combat the species of moral weakness which is _the
disease_ of our present generation; to bring back into the straight road
of life some of those enervated souls that complain of wanting faith,
that know not what to do, and seek everywhere, without finding it, an
object of worship and admiration.  Why say, with so much bitterness, that
in the world, constituted as it is, there is no air for all lungs—no
employment for all minds?  Is not calm and serious study there? and is
not that a refuge, a hope, a field within the reach of all of us?  With
it, evil days are passed over without their weight being felt.  Every one
can make his own destiny—every one employ his life nobly.  This is what I
have done, and would do again if I had to recommence my career; I would
choose that which has brought me where I am.  Blind, and suffering
without hope, and almost without intermission, I may give this testimony,
which from me will not appear suspicious.  There is something in the
world better than sensual enjoyments, better than fortune, better than
health itself—it is devotion to knowledge.”

Coleridge, in many respects, resembled Constant.  He possessed equally
brilliant powers, but was similarly infirm of purpose.  With all his
great intellectual gifts, he wanted the gift of industry, and was averse
to continuous labour.  He wanted also the sense of independence, and
thought it no degradation to leave his wife and children to be maintained
by the brain-work of the noble Southey, while he himself retired to
Highgate Grove to discourse transcendentalism to his disciples, looking
down contemptuously upon the honest work going forward beneath him amidst
the din and smoke of London.  With remunerative employment at his command
he stooped to accept the charity of friends; and, notwithstanding his
lofty ideas of philosophy, he condescended to humiliations from which
many a day-labourer would have shrunk.  How different in spirit was
Southey! labouring not merely at work of his own choice, and at taskwork
often tedious and distasteful, but also unremittingly and with the utmost
eagerness seeking and storing knowledge purely for the love of it.  Every
day, every hour had its allotted employment: engagements to publishers
requiring punctual fulfilment; the current expenses of a large household
duty to provide: for Southey had no crop growing while his pen was idle.
“My ways,” he used to say, “are as broad as the king’s high-road, and my
means lie in an inkstand.”

Robert Nicoll wrote to a friend, after reading the ‘Recollections of
Coleridge,’ “What a mighty intellect was lost in that man for want of a
little energy—a little determination!”  Nicoll himself was a true and
brave spirit, who died young, but not before he had encountered and
overcome great difficulties in life.  At his outset, while carrying on a
small business as a bookseller, he found himself weighed down with a debt
of only twenty pounds, which he said he felt “weighing like a millstone
round his neck,” and that, “if he had it paid he never would borrow again
from mortal man.”  Writing to his mother at the time he said, “Fear not
for me, dear mother, for I feel myself daily growing firmer and more
hopeful in spirit.  The more I think and reflect—and thinking, not
reading, is now my occupation—I feel that, whether I be growing richer or
not, I am growing a wiser man, which is far better.  Pain, poverty, and
all the other wild beasts of life which so affrighten others, I am so
bold as to think I could look in the face without shrinking, without
losing respect for myself, faith in man’s high destinies, or trust in
God.  There is a point which it costs much mental toil and struggling to
gain, but which, when once gained, a man can look down from, as a
traveller from a lofty mountain, on storms raging below, while he is
walking in sunshine.  That I have yet gained this point in life I will
not say, but I feel myself daily nearer to it.”

It is not ease, but effort—not facility, but difficulty, that makes men.
There is, perhaps, no station in life, in which difficulties have not to
be encountered and overcome before any decided measure of success can be
achieved.  Those difficulties are, however, our best instructors, as our
mistakes often form our best experience.  Charles James Fox was
accustomed to say that he hoped more from a man who failed, and yet went
on in spite of his failure, than from the buoyant career of the
successful.  “It is all very well,” said he, “to tell me that a young man
has distinguished himself by a brilliant first speech.  He may go on, or
he may be satisfied with his first triumph; but show me a young man who
has _not_ succeeded at first, and nevertheless has gone on, and I will
back that young man to do better than most of those who have succeeded at
the first trial.”

We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success.  We often
discover what _will_ do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he
who never made a mistake never made a discovery.  It was the failure in
the attempt to make a sucking-pump act, when the working bucket was more
than thirty-three feet above the surface of the water to be raised, that
led observant men to study the law of atmospheric pressure, and opened a
new field of research to the genius of Galileo, Torrecelli, and Boyle.
John Hunter used to remark that the art of surgery would not advance
until professional men had the courage to publish their failures as well
as their successes.  Watt the engineer said, of all things most wanted in
mechanical engineering was a history of failures: “We want,” he said, “a
book of blots.”  When Sir Humphry Davy was once shown a dexterously
manipulated experiment, he said—“I thank God I was not made a dexterous
manipulator, for the most important of my discoveries have been suggested
to me by failures.”  Another distinguished investigator in physical
science has left it on record that, whenever in the course of his
researches he encountered an apparently insuperable obstacle, he
generally found himself on the brink of some discovery.  The very
greatest things—great thoughts, discoveries, inventions—have usually been
nurtured in hardship, often pondered over in sorrow, and at length
established with difficulty.

Beethoven said of Rossini, that he had in him the stuff to have made a
good musician if he had only, when a boy, been well flogged; but that he
had been spoilt by the facility with which he produced.  Men who feel
their strength within them need not fear to encounter adverse opinions;
they have far greater reason to fear undue praise and too friendly
criticism.  When Mendelssohn was about to enter the orchestra at
Birmingham, on the first performance of his ‘Elijah,’ he said laughingly
to one of his friends and critics, “Stick your claws into me!  Don’t tell
me what you like, but what you don’t like!”

It has been said, and truly, that it is the defeat that tries the general
more than the victory.  Washington lost more battles than he gained; but
he succeeded in the end.  The Romans, in their most victorious campaigns,
almost invariably began with defeats.  Moreau used to be compared by his
companions to a drum, which nobody hears of except it be beaten.
Wellington’s military genius was perfected by encounter with difficulties
of apparently the most overwhelming character, but which only served to
nerve his resolution, and bring out more prominently his great qualities
as a man and a general.  So the skilful mariner obtains his best
experience amidst storms and tempests, which train him to self-reliance,
courage, and the highest discipline; and we probably own to rough seas
and wintry nights the best training of our race of British seamen, who
are, certainly, not surpassed by any in the world.

Necessity may be a hard schoolmistress, but she is generally found the
best.  Though the ordeal of adversity is one from which we naturally
shrink, yet, when it comes, we must bravely and manfully encounter it.
Burns says truly,

    “Though losses and crosses
    Be lessons right severe,
    There’s wit there, you’ll get there,
    You’ll find no other where.”

“Sweet indeed are the uses of adversity.”  They reveal to us our powers,
and call forth our energies.  If there be real worth in the character,
like sweet herbs, it will give forth its finest fragrance when pressed.
“Crosses,” says the old proverb, “are the ladders that lead to heaven.”
“What is even poverty itself,” asks Richter, “that a man should murmur
under it?  It is but as the pain of piercing a maiden’s ear, and you hang
precious jewels in the wound.”  In the experience of life it is found
that the wholesome discipline of adversity in strong natures usually
carries with it a self-preserving influence.  Many are found capable of
bravely bearing up under privations, and cheerfully encountering
obstructions, who are afterwards found unable to withstand the more
dangerous influences of prosperity.  It is only a weak man whom the wind
deprives of his cloak: a man of average strength is more in danger of
losing it when assailed by the beams of a too genial sun.  Thus it often
needs a higher discipline and a stronger character to bear up under good
fortune than under adverse.  Some generous natures kindle and warm with
prosperity, but there are many on whom wealth has no such influence.
Base hearts it only hardens, making those who were mean and servile, mean
and proud.  But while prosperity is apt to harden the heart to pride,
adversity in a man of resolution will serve to ripen it into fortitude.
To use the words of Burke, “Difficulty is a severe instructor, set over
us by the supreme ordinance of a parental guardian and instructor, who
knows us better than we know ourselves, as He loves us better too.  He
that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill: our
antagonist is thus our helper.”  Without the necessity of encountering
difficulty, life might be easier, but men would be worth less.  For
trials, wisely improved, train the character, and teach self-help; thus
hardship itself may often prove the wholesomest discipline for us, though
we recognise it not.  When the gallant young Hodson, unjustly removed
from his Indian command, felt himself sore pressed down by unmerited
calumny and reproach, he yet preserved the courage to say to a friend, “I
strive to look the worst boldly in the face, as I would an enemy in the
field, and to do my appointed work resolutely and to the best of my
ability, satisfied that there is a reason for all; and that even irksome
duties well done bring their own reward, and that, if not, still they
_are_ duties.”

The battle of life is, in most cases, fought up-hill; and to win it
without a struggle were perhaps to win it without honour.  If there were
no difficulties there would be no success; if there were nothing to
struggle for, there would be nothing to be achieved.  Difficulties may
intimidate the weak, but they act only as a wholesome stimulus to men of
resolution and valour.  All experience of life indeed serves to prove
that the impediments thrown in the way of human advancement may for the
most part be overcome by steady good conduct, honest zeal, activity,
perseverance, and above all by a determined resolution to surmount
difficulties, and stand up manfully against misfortune.

The school of Difficulty is the best school of moral discipline, for
nations as for individuals.  Indeed, the history of difficulty would be
but a history of all the great and good things that have yet been
accomplished by men.  It is hard to say how much northern nations owe to
their encounter with a comparatively rude and changeable climate and an
originally sterile soil, which is one of the necessities of their
condition,—involving a perennial struggle with difficulties such as the
natives of sunnier climes know nothing of.  And thus it may be, that
though our finest products are exotic, the skill and industry which have
been necessary to rear them, have issued in the production of a native
growth of men not surpassed on the globe.

Wherever there is difficulty, the individual man must come out for better
for worse.  Encounter with it will train his strength, and discipline his
skill; heartening him for future effort, as the racer, by being trained
to run against the hill, at length courses with facility.  The road to
success may be steep to climb, and it puts to the proof the energies of
him who would reach the summit.  But by experience a man soon learns that
obstacles are to be overcome by grappling with them,—that the nettle
feels as soft as silk when it is boldly grasped,—and that the most
effective help towards realizing the object proposed is the moral
conviction that we can and will accomplish it.  Thus difficulties often
fall away of themselves before the determination to overcome them.

Much will be done if we do but try.  Nobody knows what he can do till he
has tried; and few try their best till they have been forced to do it.
“_If_ I could do such and such a thing,” sighs the desponding youth.  But
nothing will be done if he only wishes.  The desire must ripen into
purpose and effort; and one energetic attempt is worth a thousand
aspirations.  It is these thorny “ifs”—the mutterings of impotence and
despair—which so often hedge round the field of possibility, and prevent
anything being done or even attempted.  “A difficulty,” said Lord
Lyndhurst, “is a thing to be overcome;” grapple with it at once; facility
will come with practice, and strength and fortitude with repeated effort.
Thus the mind and character may be trained to an almost perfect
discipline, and enabled to act with a grace, spirit, and liberty, almost
incomprehensible to those who have not passed through a similar

Everything that we learn is the mastery of a difficulty; and the mastery
of one helps to the mastery of others.  Things which may at first sight
appear comparatively valueless in education—such as the study of the dead
languages, and the relations of lines and surfaces which we call
mathematics—are really of the greatest practical value, not so much
because of the information which they yield, as because of the
development which they compel.  The mastery of these studies evokes
effort, and cultivates powers of application, which otherwise might have
lain dormant, Thus one thing leads to another, and so the work goes on
through life—encounter with difficulty ending only when life and culture
end.  But indulging in the feeling of discouragement never helped any one
over a difficulty, and never will.  D’Alembert’s advice to the student
who complained to him about his want of success in mastering the first
elements of mathematics was the right one—“Go on, sir, and faith and
strength will come to you.”

The danseuse who turns a pirouette, the violinist who plays a sonata,
have acquired their dexterity by patient repetition and after many
failures.  Carissimi, when praised for the ease and grace of his
melodies, exclaimed, “Ah! you little know with what difficulty this ease
has been acquired.”  Sir Joshua Reynolds, when once asked how long it had
taken him to paint a certain picture, replied, “All my life.”  Henry
Clay, the American orator, when giving advice to young men, thus
described to them the secret of his success in the cultivation of his
art: “I owe my success in life,” said he, “chiefly to one
circumstance—that at the age of twenty-seven I commenced, and continued
for years, the process of daily reading and speaking upon the contents of
some historical or scientific book.  These off-hand efforts were made,
sometimes in a cornfield, at others in the forest, and not unfrequently
in some distant barn, with the horse and the ox for my auditors.  It is
to this early practice of the art of all arts that I am indebted for the
primary and leading impulses that stimulated me onward and have shaped
and moulded my whole subsequent destiny.”

Curran, the Irish orator, when a youth, had a strong defect in his
articulation, and at school he was known as “stuttering Jack Curran.”
While he was engaged in the study of the law, and still struggling to
overcome his defect, he was stung into eloquence by the sarcasms of a
member of a debating club, who characterised him as “Orator Mum;” for,
like Cowper, when he stood up to speak on a previous occasion, Curran had
not been able to utter a word.  The taunt stung him and he replied in a
triumphant speech.  This accidental discovery in himself of the gift of
eloquence encouraged him to proceed in his studies with renewed energy.
He corrected his enunciation by reading aloud, emphatically and
distinctly, the best passages in literature, for several hours every day,
studying his features before a mirror, and adopting a method of
gesticulation suited to his rather awkward and ungraceful figure.  He
also proposed cases to himself, which he argued with as much care as if
he had been addressing a jury.  Curran began business with the
qualification which Lord Eldon stated to be the first requisite for
distinction, that is, “to be not worth a shilling.”  While working his
way laboriously at the bar, still oppressed by the diffidence which had
overcome him in his debating club, he was on one occasion provoked by the
Judge (Robinson) into making a very severe retort.  In the case under
discussion, Curran observed “that he had never met the law as laid down
by his lordship in any book in his library.”  “That may be, sir,” said
the judge, in a contemptuous tone, “but I suspect that _your_ library is
very small.”  His lordship was notoriously a furious political partisan,
the author of several anonymous pamphlets characterised by unusual
violence and dogmatism.  Curran, roused by the allusion to his straitened
circumstances, replied thus; “It is very true, my lord, that I am poor,
and the circumstance has certainly curtailed my library; my books are not
numerous, but they are select, and I hope they have been perused with
proper dispositions.  I have prepared myself for this high profession by
the study of a few good works, rather than by the composition of a great
many bad ones.  I am not ashamed of my poverty; but I should be ashamed
of my wealth, could I have stooped to acquire it by servility and
corruption.  If I rise not to rank, I shall at least be honest; and
should I ever cease to be so, many an example shows me that an ill-gained
elevation, by making me the more conspicuous, would only make me the more
universally and the more notoriously contemptible.”

The extremest poverty has been no obstacle in the way of men devoted to
the duty of self-culture.  Professor Alexander Murray, the linguist,
learnt to write by scribbling his letters on an old wool-card with the
end of a burnt heather stem.  The only book which his father, who was a
poor shepherd, possessed, was a penny Shorter Catechism; but that, being
thought too valuable for common use, was carefully preserved in a
cupboard for the Sunday catechisings.  Professor Moor, when a young man,
being too poor to purchase Newton’s ‘Principia,’ borrowed the book, and
copied the whole of it with his own hand.  Many poor students, while
labouring daily for their living, have only been able to snatch an atom
of knowledge here and there at intervals, as birds do their food in
winter time when the fields are covered with snow.  They have struggled
on, and faith and hope have come to them.  A well-known author and
publisher, William Chambers, of Edinburgh, speaking before an assemblage
of young men in that city, thus briefly described to them his humble
beginnings, for their encouragement: “I stand before you,” he said, “a
self-educated man.  My education was that which is supplied at the humble
parish schools of Scotland; and it was only when I went to Edinburgh, a
poor boy, that I devoted my evenings, after the labours of the day, to
the cultivation of that intellect which the Almighty has given me.  From
seven or eight in the morning till nine or ten at night was I at my
business as a bookseller’s apprentice, and it was only during hours after
these, stolen from sleep, that I could devote myself to study.  I did not
read novels: my attention was devoted to physical science, and other
useful matters.  I also taught myself French.  I look back to those times
with great pleasure, and am almost sorry I have not to go through the
same experience again; for I reaped more pleasure when I had not a
sixpence in my pocket, studying in a garret in Edinburgh, then I now find
when sitting amidst all the elegancies and comforts of a parlour.”

William Cobbett’s account of how he learnt English Grammar is full of
interest and instruction for all students labouring under difficulties.
“I learned grammar,” said he, “when I was a private soldier on the pay of
sixpence a day.  The edge of my berth, or that of my guard-bed, was my
seat to study in; my knapsack was my book-case; a bit of board lying on
my lap was my writing-table; and the task did not demand anything like a
year of my life.  I had no money to purchase candle or oil; in winter
time it was rarely that I could get any evening light but that of the
fire, and only my turn even of that.  And if I, under such circumstances,
and without parent or friend to advise or encourage me, accomplished this
undertaking, what excuse can there be for any youth, however poor,
however pressed with business, or however circumstanced as to room or
other conveniences?  To buy a pen or a sheet of paper I was compelled to
forego some portion of food, though in a state of half-starvation: I had
no moment of time that I could call my own; and I had to read and to
write amidst the talking, laughing, singing, whistling, and brawling of
at least half a score of the most thoughtless of men, and that, too, in
the hours of their freedom from all control.  Think not lightly of the
farthing that I had to give, now and then, for ink, pen, or paper!  That
farthing was, alas! a great sum to me!  I was as tall as I am now; I had
great health and great exercise.  The whole of the money, not expended
for us at market, was two-pence a week for each man.  I remember, and
well I may! that on one occasion I, after all necessary expenses, had, on
a Friday, made shifts to have a halfpenny in reserve, which I had
destined for the purchase of a redherring in the morning; but, when I
pulled off my clothes at night, so hungry then as to be hardly able to
endure life, I found that I had lost my halfpenny!  I buried my head
under the miserable sheet and rug, and cried like a child!  And again I
say, if, I, under circumstances like these, could encounter and overcome
this task, is there, can there be, in the whole world, a youth to find an
excuse for the non-performance?”

We have been informed of an equally striking instance of perseverance and
application in learning on the part of a French political exile in
London.  His original occupation was that of a stonemason, at which he
found employment for some time; but work becoming slack, he lost his
place, and poverty stared him in the face.  In his dilemma he called upon
a fellow exile profitably engaged in teaching French, and consulted him
what he ought to do to earn a living.  The answer was, “Become a
professor!”  “A professor?” answered the mason—“I, who am only a workman,
speaking but a patois!  Surely you are jesting?”  “On the contrary, I am
quite serious,” said the other, “and again I advise you—become a
professor; place yourself under me, and I will undertake to teach you how
to teach others.”  “No, no!” replied the mason, “it is impossible; I am
too old to learn; I am too little of a scholar; I cannot be a professor.”
He went away, and again he tried to obtain employment at his trade.  From
London he went into the provinces, and travelled several hundred miles in
vain; he could not find a master.  Returning to London, he went direct to
his former adviser, and said, “I have tried everywhere for work, and
failed; I will now try to be a professor!”  He immediately placed himself
under instruction; and being a man of close application, of quick
apprehension, and vigorous intelligence, he speedily mastered the
elements of grammar, the rules of construction and composition, and (what
he had still in a great measure to learn) the correct pronunciation of
classical French.  When his friend and instructor thought him
sufficiently competent to undertake the teaching of others, an
appointment, advertised as vacant, was applied for and obtained; and
behold our artisan at length become professor!  It so happened, that the
seminary to which he was appointed was situated in a suburb of London
where he had formerly worked as a stonemason; and every morning the first
thing which met his eyes on looking out of his dressing-room window was a
stack of cottage chimneys which he had himself built!  He feared for a
time lest he should be recognised in the village as the quondam workman,
and thus bring discredit on his seminary, which was of high standing.
But he need have been under no such apprehension, as he proved a most
efficient teacher, and his pupils were on more than one occasion publicly
complimented for their knowledge of French.  Meanwhile, he secured the
respect and friendship of all who knew him—fellow-professors as well as
pupils; and when the story of his struggles, his difficulties, and his
past history, became known to them, they admired him more than ever.

Sir Samuel Romilly was not less indefatigable as a self-cultivator.  The
son of a jeweller, descended from a French refugee, he received little
education in his early years, but overcame all his disadvantages by
unwearied application, and by efforts constantly directed towards the
same end.  “I determined,” he says, in his autobiography, “when I was
between fifteen and sixteen years of age, to apply myself seriously to
learning Latin, of which I, at that time, knew little more than some of
the most familiar rules of grammar.  In the course of three or four
years, during which I thus applied myself, I had read almost every prose
writer of the age of pure Latinity, except those who have treated merely
of technical subjects, such as Varro, Columella, and Celsus.  I had gone
three times through the whole of Livy, Sallust, and Tacitus.  I had
studied the most celebrated orations of Cicero, and translated a great
deal of Homer.  Terence, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Juvenal, I had read
over and over again.”  He also studied geography, natural history, and
natural philosophy, and obtained a considerable acquaintance with general
knowledge.  At sixteen he was articled to a clerk in Chancery; worked
hard; was admitted to the bar; and his industry and perseverance ensured
success.  He became Solicitor-General under the Fox administration in
1806, and steadily worked his way to the highest celebrity in his
profession.  Yet he was always haunted by a painful and almost oppressive
sense of his own disqualifications, and never ceased labouring to remedy
them.  His autobiography is a lesson of instructive facts, worth volumes
of sentiment, and well deserves a careful perusal.

Sir Walter Scott was accustomed to cite the case of his young friend John
Leyden as one of the most remarkable illustrations of the power of
perseverance which he had ever known.  The son of a shepherd in one of
the wildest valleys of Roxburghshire, he was almost entirely self
educated.  Like many Scotch shepherds’ sons—like Hogg, who taught himself
to write by copying the letters of a printed book as he lay watching his
flock on the hill-side—like Cairns, who from tending sheep on the
Lammermoors, raised himself by dint of application and industry to the
professor’s chair which he now so worthily holds—like Murray, Ferguson,
and many more, Leyden was early inspired by a thirst for knowledge.  When
a poor barefooted boy, he walked six or eight miles across the moors
daily to learn reading at the little village schoolhouse of Kirkton; and
this was all the education he received; the rest he acquired for himself.
He found his way to Edinburgh to attend the college there, setting the
extremest penury at defiance.  He was first discovered as a frequenter of
a small bookseller’s shop kept by Archibald Constable, afterwards so well
known as a publisher.  He would pass hour after hour perched on a ladder
in mid-air, with some great folio in his hand, forgetful of the scanty
meal of bread and water which awaited him at his miserable lodging.
Access to books and lectures comprised all within the bounds of his
wishes.  Thus he toiled and battled at the gates of science until his
unconquerable perseverance carried everything before it.  Before he had
attained his nineteenth year he had astonished all the professors in
Edinburgh by his profound knowledge of Greek and Latin, and the general
mass of information he had acquired.  Having turned his views to India,
he sought employment in the civil service, but failed.  He was however
informed that a surgeon’s assistant’s commission was open to him.  But he
was no surgeon, and knew no more of the profession than a child.  He
could however learn.  Then he was told that he must be ready to pass in
six months!  Nothing daunted, he set to work, to acquire in six months
what usually required three years.  At the end of six months he took his
degree with honour.  Scott and a few friends helped to fit him out; and
he sailed for India, after publishing his beautiful poem ‘The Scenes of
Infancy.’  In India he promised to become one of the greatest of oriental
scholars, but was unhappily cut off by fever caught by exposure, and died
at an early age.

The life of the late Dr. Lee, Professor of Hebrew at Cambridge, furnishes
one of the most remarkable instances in modern times of the power of
patient perseverance and resolute purpose in working out an honourable
career in literature.  He received his education at a charity school at
Lognor, near Shrewsbury, but so little distinguished himself there, that
his master pronounced him one of the dullest boys that ever passed
through his hands.  He was put apprentice to a carpenter, and worked at
that trade until he arrived at manhood.  To occupy his leisure hours he
took to reading; and, some of the books containing Latin quotations, he
became desirous of ascertaining what they meant.  He bought a Latin
grammar, and proceeded to learn Latin.  As Stone, the Duke of Argyle’s
gardener, said, long before, “Does one need to know anything more than
the twenty-four letters in order to learn everything else that one
wishes?”  Lee rose early and sat up late, and he succeeded in mastering
the Latin before his apprenticeship was out.  Whilst working one day in
some place of worship, a copy of a Greek Testament fell in his way, and
he was immediately filled with the desire to learn that language.  He
accordingly sold some of his Latin books, and purchased a Greek Grammar
and Lexicon.  Taking pleasure in learning, he soon mastered the language.
Then he sold his Greek books, and bought Hebrew ones, and learnt that
language, unassisted by any instructor, without any hope of fame or
reward, but simply following the bent of his genius.  He next proceeded
to learn the Chaldee, Syriac, and Samaritan dialects.  But his studies
began to tell upon his health, and brought on disease in his eyes through
his long night watchings with his books.  Having laid them aside for a
time and recovered his health, he went on with his daily work.  His
character as a tradesman being excellent, his business improved, and his
means enabled him to marry, which he did when twenty-eight years old.  He
determined now to devote himself to the maintenance of his family, and to
renounce the luxury of literature; accordingly he sold all his books.  He
might have continued a working carpenter all his life, had not the chest
of tools upon which he depended for subsistence been destroyed by fire,
and destitution stared him in the face.  He was too poor to buy new
tools, so he bethought him of teaching children their letters,—a
profession requiring the least possible capital.  But though he had
mastered many languages, he was so defective in the common branches of
knowledge, that at first he could not teach them.  Resolute of purpose,
however, he assiduously set to work, and taught himself arithmetic and
writing to such a degree as to be able to impart the knowledge of these
branches to little children.  His unaffected, simple, and beautiful
character gradually attracted friends, and the acquirements of the
“learned carpenter” became bruited abroad.  Dr. Scott, a neighbouring
clergyman, obtained for him the appointment of master of a charity school
in Shrewsbury, and introduced him to a distinguished Oriental scholar.
These friends supplied him with books, and Lee successively mastered
Arabic, Persic, and Hindostanee.  He continued to pursue his studies
while on duty as a private in the local militia of the county; gradually
acquiring greater proficiency in languages.  At length his kind patron,
Dr. Scott, enabled Lee to enter Queen’s College, Cambridge; and after a
course of study, in which he distinguished himself by his mathematical
acquirements, a vacancy occurring in the professorship of Arabic and
Hebrew, he was worthily elected to fill the honourable office.  Besides
ably performing his duties as a professor, he voluntarily gave much of
his time to the instruction of missionaries going forth to preach the
Gospel to eastern tribes in their own tongue.  He also made translations
of the Bible into several Asiatic dialects; and having mastered the New
Zealand language, he arranged a grammar and vocabulary for two New
Zealand chiefs who were then in England, which books are now in daily use
in the New Zealand schools.  Such, in brief, is the remarkable history of
Dr. Samuel Lee; and it is but the counterpart of numerous similarly
instructive examples of the power of perseverance in self-culture, as
displayed in the lives of many of the most distinguished of our literary
and scientific men.

There are many other illustrious names which might be cited to prove the
truth of the common saying that “it is never too late to learn.”  Even at
advanced years men can do much, if they will determine on making a
beginning.  Sir Henry Spelman did not begin the study of science until he
was between fifty and sixty years of age.  Franklin was fifty before he
fully entered upon the study of Natural Philosophy.  Dryden and Scott
were not known as authors until each was in his fortieth year.  Boccaccio
was thirty-five when he commenced his literary career, and Alfieri was
forty-six when he began the study of Greek.  Dr. Arnold learnt German at
an advanced age, for the purpose of reading Niebuhr in the original; and
in like manner James Watt, when about forty, while working at his trade
of an instrument maker in Glasgow, learnt French, German, and Italian, to
enable himself to peruse the valuable works on mechanical philosophy
which existed in those languages.  Thomas Scott was fifty-six before he
began to learn Hebrew.  Robert Hall was once found lying upon the floor,
racked by pain, learning Italian in his old age, to enable him to judge
of the parallel drawn by Macaulay between Milton and Dante.  Handel was
forty-eight before he published any of his great works.  Indeed hundreds
of instances might be given of men who struck out an entirely new path,
and successfully entered on new studies, at a comparatively advanced time
of life.  None but the frivolous or the indolent will say, “I am too old
to learn.” {354}

And here we would repeat what we have said before, that it is not men of
genius who move the world and take the lead in it, so much as men of
steadfastness, purpose, and indefatigable industry.  Notwithstanding the
many undeniable instances of the precocity of men of genius, it is
nevertheless true that early cleverness gives no indication of the height
to which the grown man will reach.  Precocity is sometimes a symptom of
disease rather than of intellectual vigour.  What becomes of all the
“remarkably clever children?”  Where are the duxes and prize boys?  Trace
them through life, and it will frequently be found that the dull boys,
who were beaten at school, have shot ahead of them.  The clever boys are
rewarded, but the prizes which they gain by their greater quickness and
facility do not always prove of use to them.  What ought rather to be
rewarded is the endeavour, the struggle, and the obedience; for it is the
youth who does his best, though endowed with an inferiority of natural
powers, that ought above all others to be encouraged.

An interesting chapter might be written on the subject of illustrious
dunces—dull boys, but brilliant men.  We have room, however, for only a
few instances.  Pietro di Cortona, the painter, was thought so stupid
that he was nicknamed “Ass’s Head” when a boy; and Tomaso Guidi was
generally known as “Heavy Tom” (Massaccio Tomasaccio), though by
diligence he afterwards raised himself to the highest eminence.  Newton,
when at school, stood at the bottom of the lowest form but one.  The boy
above Newton having kicked him, the dunce showed his pluck by challenging
him to a fight, and beat him.  Then he set to work with a will, and
determined also to vanquish his antagonist as a scholar, which he did,
rising to the top of his class.  Many of our greatest divines have been
anything but precocious.  Isaac Barrow, when a boy at the Charterhouse
School, was notorious chiefly for his strong temper, pugnacious habits,
and proverbial idleness as a scholar; and he caused such grief to his
parents that his father used to say that, if it pleased God to take from
him any of his children, he hoped it might be Isaac, the least promising
of them all.  Adam Clarke, when a boy, was proclaimed by his father to be
“a grievous dunce;” though he could roll large stones about.  Dean Swift
was “plucked” at Dublin University, and only obtained his recommendation
to Oxford “speciali gratia.”  The well-known Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Cook
{356a} were boys together at the parish school of St. Andrew’s; and they
were found so stupid and mischievous, that the master, irritated beyond
measure, dismissed them both as incorrigible dunces.

The brilliant Sheridan showed so little capacity as a boy, that he was
presented to a tutor by his mother with the complimentary accompaniment
that he was an incorrigible dunce.  Walter Scott was all but a dunce when
a boy, always much readier for a “bicker,” than apt at his lessons.  At
the Edinburgh University, Professor Dalzell pronounced upon him the
sentence that “Dunce he was, and dunce he would remain.”  Chatterton was
returned on his mother’s hands as “a fool, of whom nothing could be
made.”  Burns was a dull boy, good only at athletic exercises.  Goldsmith
spoke of himself, as a plant that flowered late.  Alfieri left college no
wiser than he entered it, and did not begin the studies by which he
distinguished himself, until he had run half over Europe.  Robert Clive
was a dunce, if not a reprobate, when a youth; but always full of energy,
even in badness.  His family, glad to get rid of him, shipped him off to
Madras; and he lived to lay the foundations of the British power in
India.  Napoleon and Wellington were both dull boys, not distinguishing
themselves in any way at school. {356b}  Of the former the Duchess
d’Abrantes says, “he had good health, but was in other respects like
other boys.”

Ulysses Grant, the Commander-in-Chief of the United States, was called
“Useless Grant” by his mother—he was so dull and unhandy when a boy; and
Stonewall Jackson, Lee’s greatest lieutenant, was, in his youth, chiefly
noted for his slowness.  While a pupil at West Point Military Academy he
was, however, equally remarkable for his indefatigable application and
perseverance.  When a task was set him, he never left it until he had
mastered it; nor did he ever feign to possess knowledge which he had not
entirely acquired.  “Again and again,” wrote one who knew him, “when
called upon to answer questions in the recitation of the day, he would
reply, ‘I have not yet looked at it; I have been engaged in mastering the
recitation of yesterday or the day before.’  The result was that he
graduated seventeenth in a class of seventy.  There was probably in the
whole class not a boy to whom Jackson at the outset was not inferior in
knowledge and attainments; but at the end of the race he had only sixteen
before him, and had outstripped no fewer than fifty-three.  It used to be
said of him by his contemporaries, that if the course had been for ten
years instead of four, Jackson would have graduated at the head of his
class.” {357}

John Howard, the philanthropist, was another illustrious dunce, learning
next to nothing during the seven years that he was at school.
Stephenson, as a youth, was distinguished chiefly for his skill at
putting and wrestling, and attention to his work.  The brilliant Sir
Humphry Davy was no cleverer than other boys: his teacher, Dr. Cardew,
once said of him, “While he was with me I could not discern the faculties
by which he was so much distinguished.”  Indeed, Davy himself in after
life considered it fortunate that he had been left to “enjoy so much
idleness” at school.  Watt was a dull scholar, notwithstanding the
stories told about his precocity; but he was, what was better, patient
and perseverant, and it was by such qualities, and by his carefully
cultivated inventiveness, that he was enabled to perfect his

What Dr. Arnold said of boys is equally true of men—that the difference
between one boy and another consists not so much in talent as in energy.
Given perseverance and energy soon becomes habitual.  Provided the dunce
has persistency and application he will inevitably head the cleverer
fellow without those qualities.  Slow but sure wins the race.  It is
perseverance that explains how the position of boys at school is so often
reversed in real life; and it is curious to note how some who were then
so clever have since become so commonplace; whilst others, dull boys, of
whom nothing was expected, slow in their faculties but sure in their
pace, have assumed the position of leaders of men.  The author of this
book, when a boy, stood in the same class with one of the greatest of
dunces.  One teacher after another had tried his skill upon him and
failed.  Corporal punishment, the fool’s cap, coaxing, and earnest
entreaty, proved alike fruitless.  Sometimes the experiment was tried of
putting him at the top of his class, and it was curious to note the
rapidity with which he gravitated to the inevitable bottom.  The youth
was given up by his teachers as an incorrigible dunce—one of them
pronouncing him to be a “stupendous booby.”  Yet, slow though he was,
this dunce had a sort of dull energy of purpose in him, which grew with
his muscles and his manhood; and, strange to say, when he at length came
to take part in the practical business of life, he was found heading most
of his school companions, and eventually left the greater number of them
far behind.  The last time the author heard of him, he was chief
magistrate of his native town.

The tortoise in the right road will beat a racer in the wrong.  It
matters not though a youth be slow, if he be but diligent.  Quickness of
parts may even prove a defect, inasmuch as the boy who learns readily
will often forget as readily; and also because he finds no need of
cultivating that quality of application and perseverance which the slower
youth is compelled to exercise, and which proves so valuable an element
in the formation of every character.  Davy said “What I am I have made
myself;” and the same holds true universally.

To conclude: the best culture is not obtained from teachers when at
school or college, so much as by our own diligent self-education when we
have become men.  Hence parents need not be in too great haste to see
their children’s talents forced into bloom.  Let them watch and wait
patiently, letting good example and quiet training do their work, and
leave the rest to Providence.  Let them see to it that the youth is
provided, by free exercise of his bodily powers, with a full stock of
physical health; set him fairly on the road of self-culture; carefully
train his habits of application and perseverance; and as he grows older,
if the right stuff be in him, he will be enabled vigorously and
effectively to cultivate himself.


    “Ever their phantoms rise before us,
       Our loftier brothers, but one in blood;
    By bed and table they lord it o’er us,
       With looks of beauty and words of good.”—_John Sterling_.

    “Children may be strangled, but Deeds never; they have an
    indestructible life, both in and out of our consciousness.”—_George

    “There is no action of man in this life, which is not the beginning
    of so long a chain of consequences, as that no human providence is
    high enough to give us a prospect to the end.”—_Thomas of

EXAMPLE is one of the most potent of instructors, though it teaches
without a tongue.  It is the practical school of mankind, working by
action, which is always more forcible than words.  Precept may point to
us the way, but it is silent continuous example, conveyed to us by
habits, and living with us in fact, that carries us along.  Good advice
has its weight: but without the accompaniment of a good example it is of
comparatively small influence; and it will be found that the common
saying of “Do as I say, not as I do,” is usually reversed in the actual
experience of life.

All persons are more or less apt to learn through the eye rather than the
ear; and, whatever is seen in fact, makes a far deeper impression than
anything that is merely read or heard.  This is especially the case in
early youth, when the eye is the chief inlet of knowledge.  Whatever
children see they unconsciously imitate.  They insensibly come to
resemble those who are about them—as insects take the colour of the
leaves they feed on.  Hence the vast importance of domestic training.
For whatever may be the efficiency of schools, the examples set in our
Homes must always be of vastly greater influence in forming the
characters of our future men and women.  The Home is the crystal of
society—the nucleus of national character; and from that source, be it
pure or tainted, issue the habits, principles and maxims, which govern
public as well as private life.  The nation comes from the nursery.
Public opinion itself is for the most part the outgrowth of the home; and
the best philanthropy comes from the fireside.  “To love the little
platoon we belong to in society,” says Burke, “is the germ of all public
affections.”  From this little central spot, the human sympathies may
extend in an ever widening circle, until the world is embraced; for,
though true philanthropy, like charity, begins at home, assuredly it does
not end there.

Example in conduct, therefore, even in apparently trivial matters, is of
no light moment, inasmuch as it is constantly becoming inwoven with the
lives of others, and contributing to form their natures for better or for
worse.  The characters of parents are thus constantly repeated in their
children; and the acts of affection, discipline, industry, and
self-control, which they daily exemplify, live and act when all else
which may have been learned through the ear has long been forgotten.
Hence a wise man was accustomed to speak of his children as his “future
state.”  Even the mute action and unconscious look of a parent may give a
stamp to the character which is never effaced; and who can tell how much
evil act has been stayed by the thought of some good parent, whose memory
their children may not sully by the commission of an unworthy deed, or
the indulgence of an impure thought?  The veriest trifles thus become of
importance in influencing the characters of men.  “A kiss from my
mother,” said West, “made me a painter.”  It is on the direction of such
seeming trifles when children that the future happiness and success of
men mainly depend.  Fowell Buxton, when occupying an eminent and
influential station in life, wrote to his mother, “I constantly feel,
especially in action and exertion for others, the effects of principles
early implanted by you in my mind.”  Buxton was also accustomed to
remember with gratitude the obligations which he owed to an illiterate
man, a gamekeeper, named Abraham Plastow, with whom he played, and rode,
and sported—a man who could neither read nor write, but was full of
natural good sense and mother-wit.  “What made him particularly
valuable,” says Buxton, “were his principles of integrity and honour.  He
never said or did a thing in the absence of my mother of which she would
have disapproved.  He always held up the highest standard of integrity,
and filled our youthful minds with sentiments as pure and as generous as
could be found in the writings of Seneca or Cicero.  Such was my first
instructor, and, I must add, my best.”

Lord Langdale, looking back upon the admirable example set him by his
mother, declared, “If the whole world were put into one scale, and my
mother into the other, the world would kick the beam.”  Mrs. Schimmel
Penninck, in her old age, was accustomed to call to mind the personal
influence exercised by her mother upon the society amidst which she
moved.  When she entered a room it had the effect of immediately raising
the tone of the conversation, and as if purifying the moral
atmosphere—all seeming to breathe more freely, and stand more erectly.
“In her presence,” says the daughter, “I became for the time transformed
into another person.”  So much does she moral health depend upon the
moral atmosphere that is breathed, and so great is the influence daily
exercised by parents over their children by living a life before their
eyes, that perhaps the best system of parental instruction might be
summed up in these two words: “Improve thyself.”

There is something solemn and awful in the thought that there is not an
act done or a word uttered by a human being but carries with it a train
of consequences, the end of which we may never trace.  Not one but, to a
certain extent, gives a colour to our life, and insensibly influences the
lives of those about us.  The good deed or word will live, even though we
may not see it fructify, but so will the bad; and no person is so
insignificant as to be sure that his example will not do good on the one
hand, or evil on the other.  The spirits of men do not die: they still
live and walk abroad among us.  It was a fine and a true thought uttered
by Mr. Disraeli in the House of Commons on the death of Richard Cobden,
that “he was one of those men who, though not present, were still members
of that House, who were independent of dissolutions, of the caprices of
constituencies, and even of the course of time.”

There is, indeed, an essence of immortality in the life of man, even in
this world.  No individual in the universe stands alone; he is a
component part of a system of mutual dependencies; and by his several
acts he either increases or diminishes the sum of human good now and for
ever.  As the present is rooted in the past, and the lives and examples
of our forefathers still to a great extent influence us, so are we by our
daily acts contributing to form the condition and character of the
future.  Man is a fruit formed and ripened by the culture of all the
foregoing centuries; and the living generation continues the magnetic
current of action and example destined to bind the remotest past with the
most distant future.  No man’s acts die utterly; and though his body may
resolve into dust and air, his good or his bad deeds will still be
bringing forth fruit after their kind, and influencing future generations
for all time to come.  It is in this momentous and solemn fact that the
great peril and responsibility of human existence lies.

Mr. Babbage has so powerfully expressed this idea in a noble passage in
one of his writings that we here venture to quote his words: “Every
atom,” he says, “impressed with good or ill, retains at once the motions
which philosophers and sages have imparted to it, mixed and combined in
ten thousand ways with all that is worthless and base; the air itself is
one vast library, on whose pages are written _for ever_ all that man has
ever said or whispered.  There, in their immutable but unerring
characters, mixed with the earliest as well as the latest sighs of
mortality, stand for ever recorded vows unredeemed, promises unfulfilled;
perpetuating, in the united movements of each particle, the testimony of
man’s changeful will.  But, if the air we breathe is the never-failing
historian of the sentiments we have uttered, earth, air, and ocean, are,
in like manner, the eternal witnesses of the acts we have done; the same
principle of the equality of action and reaction applies to them.  No
motion impressed by natural causes, or by human agency, is ever
obliterated. . . . If the Almighty stamped on the brow of the first
murderer the indelible and visible mark of his guilt, He has also
established laws by which every succeeding criminal is not less
irrevocably chained to the testimony of his crime; for every atom of his
mortal frame, through whatever changes its severed particles may migrate,
will still retain adhering to it, through every combination, some
movement derived from that very muscular effort by which the crime itself
was perpetrated.”

Thus, every act we do or word we utter, as well as every act we witness
or word we hear, carries with it an influence which extends over, and
gives a colour, not only to the whole of our future life, but makes
itself felt upon the whole frame of society.  We may not, and indeed
cannot, possibly, trace the influence working itself into action in its
various ramifications amongst our children, our friends, or associates;
yet there it is assuredly, working on for ever.  And herein lies the
great significance of setting forth a good example,—a silent teaching
which even the poorest and least significant person can practise in his
daily life.  There is no one so humble, but that he owes to others this
simple but priceless instruction.  Even the meanest condition may thus be
made useful; for the light set in a low place shines as faithfully as
that set upon a hill.  Everywhere, and under almost all circumstances,
however externally adverse—in moorland shielings, in cottage hamlets, in
the close alleys of great towns—the true man may grow.  He who tills a
space of earth scarce bigger than is needed for his grave, may work as
faithfully, and to as good purpose, as the heir to thousands.  The
commonest workshop may thus be a school of industry, science, and good
morals, on the one hand; or of idleness, folly, and depravity, on the
other.  It all depends on the individual men, and the use they make of
the opportunities for good which offer themselves.

A life well spent, a character uprightly sustained, is no slight legacy
to leave to one’s children, and to the world; for it is the most eloquent
lesson of virtue and the severest reproof of vice, while it continues an
enduring source of the best kind of riches.  Well for those who can say,
as Pope did, in rejoinder to the sarcasm of Lord Hervey, “I think it
enough that my parents, such as they were, never cost me a blush, and
that their son, such as he is, never cost them a tear.”

It is not enough to tell others what they are to do, but to exhibit the
actual example of doing.  What Mrs. Chisholm described to Mrs. Stowe as
the secret of her success, applies to all life.  “I found,” she said,
“that if we want anything _done_, we must go to work and _do_: it is of
no use merely to talk—none whatever.”  It is poor eloquence that only
shows how a person can talk.  Had Mrs. Chisholm rested satisfied with
lecturing, her project, she was persuaded, would never have got beyond
the region of talk; but when people saw what she was doing and had
actually accomplished, they fell in with her views and came forward to
help her.  Hence the most beneficent worker is not he who says the most
eloquent things, or even who thinks the most loftily, but he who does the
most eloquent acts.

True-hearted persons, even in the humblest station in life, who are
energetic doers, may thus give an impulse to good works out of all
proportion, apparently, to their actual station in society.  Thomas
Wright might have talked about the reclamation of criminals, and John
Pounds about the necessity for Ragged Schools, and yet done nothing;
instead of which they simply set to work without any other idea in their
minds than that of doing, not talking.  And how the example of even the
poorest man may tell upon society, hear what Dr. Guthrie, the apostle of
the Ragged School movement, says of the influence which the example of
John Pounds, the humble Portsmouth cobbler, exercised upon his own
working career:—

“The interest I have been led to take in this cause is an example of how,
in Providence, a man’s destiny—his course of life, like that of a
river—may be determined and affected by very trivial circumstances.  It
is rather curious—at least it is interesting to me to remember—that it
was by a picture I was first led to take an interest in ragged schools—by
a picture in an old, obscure, decaying burgh that stands on the shores of
the Frith of Forth, the birthplace of Thomas Chalmers.  I went to see
this place many years ago; and, going into an inn for refreshment, I
found the room covered with pictures of shepherdesses with their crooks,
and sailors in holiday attire, not particularly interesting.  But above
the chimney-piece there was a large print, more respectable than its
neighbours, which represented a cobbler’s room.  The cobbler was there
himself, spectacles on nose, an old shoe between his knees—the massive
forehead and firm mouth indicating great determination of character, and,
beneath his bushy eyebrows, benevolence gleamed out on a number of poor
ragged boys and girls who stood at their lessons round the busy cobbler.
My curiosity was awakened; and in the inscription I read how this man,
John Pounds, a cobbler in Portsmouth, taking pity on the multitude of
poor ragged children left by ministers and magistrates, and ladies and
gentlemen, to go to ruin on the streets—how, like a good shepherd, he
gathered in these wretched outcasts—how he had trained them to God and to
the world—and how, while earning his daily bread by the sweat of his
brow, he had rescued from misery and saved to society not less than five
hundred of these children.  I felt ashamed of myself.  I felt reproved
for the little I had done.  My feelings were touched.  I was astonished
at this man’s achievements; and I well remember, in the enthusiasm of the
moment, saying to my companion (and I have seen in my cooler and calmer
moments no reason for unsaying the saying)—‘That man is an honour to
humanity, and deserves the tallest monument ever raised within the shores
of Britain.’  I took up that man’s history, and I found it animated by
the spirit of Him who ‘had compassion on the multitude.’  John Pounds was
a clever man besides; and, like Paul, if he could not win a poor boy any
other way, he won him by art.  He would be seen chasing a ragged boy
along the quays, and compelling him to come to school, not by the power
of a policeman, but by the power of a hot potato.  He knew the love an
Irishman had for a potato; and John Pounds might be seen running holding
under the boy’s nose a potato, like an Irishman, very hot, and with a
coat as ragged as himself.  When the day comes when honour will be done
to whom honour is due, I can fancy the crowd of those whose fame poets
have sung, and to whose memory monuments have been raised, dividing like
the wave, and, passing the great, and the noble, and the mighty of the
land, this poor, obscure old man stepping forward and receiving the
especial notice of Him who said ‘Inasmuch as ye did it to one of the
least of these, ye did it also to Me.’”

The education of character is very much a question of models; we mould
ourselves so unconsciously after the characters, manners, habits, and
opinions of those who are about us.  Good rules may do much, but good
models far more; for in the latter we have instruction in action—wisdom
at work.  Good admonition and bad example only build with one hand to
pull down with the other.  Hence the vast importance of exercising great
care in the selection of companions, especially in youth.  There is a
magnetic affinity in young persons which insensibly tends to assimilate
them to each other’s likeness.  Mr. Edgeworth was so strongly convinced
that from sympathy they involuntarily imitated or caught the tone of the
company they frequented, that he held it to be of the most essential
importance that they should be taught to select the very best models.
“No company, or good company,” was his motto.  Lord Collingwood, writing
to a young friend, said, “Hold it as a maxim that you had better be alone
than in mean company.  Let your companions be such as yourself, or
superior; for the worth of a man will always be ruled by that of his
company.”  It was a remark of the famous Dr. Sydenham that everybody some
time or other would be the better or the worse for having but spoken to a
good or a bad man.  As Sir Peter Lely made it a rule never to look at a
bad picture if he could help it, believing that whenever he did so his
pencil caught a taint from it, so, whoever chooses to gaze often upon a
debased specimen of humanity and to frequent his society, cannot help
gradually assimilating himself to that sort of model.

It is therefore advisable for young men to seek the fellowship of the
good, and always to aim at a higher standard than themselves.  Francis
Horner, speaking of the advantages to himself of direct personal
intercourse with high-minded, intelligent men, said, “I cannot hesitate
to decide that I have derived more intellectual improvement from them
than from all the books I have turned over.”  Lord Shelburne (afterwards
Marquis of Lansdowne), when a young man, paid a visit to the venerable
Malesherbes, and was so much impressed by it, that he said,—“I have
travelled much, but I have never been so influenced by personal contact
with any man; and if I ever accomplish any good in the course of my life,
I am certain that the recollection of M. de Malesherbes will animate my
soul.”  So Fowell Buxton was always ready to acknowledge the powerful
influence exercised upon the formation of his character in early life by
the example of the Gurney family: “It has given a colour to my life,” he
used to say.  Speaking of his success at the Dublin University, he
confessed, “I can ascribe it to nothing but my Earlham visits.”  It was
from the Gurneys he “caught the infection” of self-improvement.

Contact with the good never fails to impart good, and we carry away with
us some of the blessing, as travellers’ garments retain the odour of the
flowers and shrubs through which they have passed.  Those who knew the
late John Sterling intimately, have spoken of the beneficial influence
which he exercised on all with whom he came into personal contact.  Many
owed to him their first awakening to a higher being; from him they learnt
what they were, and what they ought to be.  Mr. Trench says of him:—“It
was impossible to come in contact with his noble nature without feeling
one’s self in some measure _ennobled_ and _lifted up_, as I ever felt
when I left him, into a higher region of objects and aims than that in
which one is tempted habitually to dwell.”  It is thus that the noble
character always acts; we become insensibly elevated by him, and cannot
help feeling as he does and acquiring the habit of looking at things in
the same light.  Such is the magical action and reaction of minds upon
each other.

Artists, also, feel themselves elevated by contact with artists greater
than themselves.  Thus Haydn’s genius was first fired by Handel.  Hearing
him play, Haydn’s ardour for musical composition was at once excited, and
but for this circumstance, he himself believed that he would never have
written the ‘Creation.’  Speaking of Handel, he said, “When he chooses,
he strikes like the thunderbolt;” and at another time, “There is not a
note of him but draws blood.”  Scarlatti was another of Handel’s ardent
admirers, following him all over Italy; afterwards, when speaking of the
great master, he would cross himself in token of admiration.  True
artists never fail generously to recognise each other’s greatness.  Thus
Beethoven’s admiration for Cherubini was regal: and he ardently hailed
the genius of Schubert: “Truly,” said he, “in Schubert dwells a divine
fire.”  When Northcote was a mere youth he had such an admiration for
Reynolds that, when the great painter was once attending a public meeting
down in Devonshire, the boy pushed through the crowd, and got so near
Reynolds as to touch the skirt of his coat, “which I did,” says
Northcote, “with great satisfaction to my mind,”—a true touch of youthful
enthusiasm in its admiration of genius.

The example of the brave is an inspiration to the timid, their presence
thrilling through every fibre.  Hence the miracles of valour so often
performed by ordinary men under the leadership of the heroic.  The very
recollection of the deeds of the valiant stirs men’s blood like the sound
of a trumpet.  Ziska bequeathed his skin to be used as a drum to inspire
the valour of the Bohemians.  When Scanderbeg, prince of Epirus, was
dead, the Turks wished to possess his bones, that each might wear a piece
next his heart, hoping thus to secure some portion of the courage he had
displayed while living, and which they had so often experienced in
battle.  When the gallant Douglas, bearing the heart of Bruce to the Holy
Land, saw one of his knights surrounded and sorely pressed by the
Saracens, he took from his neck the silver case containing the hero’s
bequest, and throwing it amidst the thickest press of his foes, cried,
“Pass first in fight, as thou wert wont to do, and Douglas will follow
thee, or die;” and so saying, he rushed forward to the place where it
fell, and was there slain.

The chief use of biography consists in the noble models of character in
which it abounds.  Our great forefathers still live among us in the
records of their lives, as well as in the acts they have done, which live
also; still sit by us at table, and hold us by the hand; furnishing
examples for our benefit, which we may still study, admire and imitate.
Indeed, whoever has left behind him the record of a noble life, has
bequeathed to posterity an enduring source of good, for it serves as a
model for others to form themselves by in all time to come; still
breathing fresh life into men, helping them to reproduce his life anew,
and to illustrate his character in other forms.  Hence a book containing
the life of a true man is full of precious seed.  It is a still living
voice; it is an intellect.  To use Milton’s words, “it is the precious
life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a
life beyond life.”  Such a book never ceases to exercise an elevating and
ennobling influence.  But, above all, there is the Book containing the
very highest Example set before us to shape our lives by in this
world—the most suitable for all the necessities of our mind and heart—an
example which we can only follow afar off and feel after,

    “Like plants or vines which never saw the sun,
    But dream of him and guess where he may be,
    And do their best to climb and get to him.”

Again, no young man can rise from the perusal of such lives as those of
Buxton and Arnold, without feeling his mind and heart made better, and
his best resolves invigorated.  Such biographies increase a man’s
self-reliance by demonstrating what men can be, and what they can do;
fortifying his hopes and elevating his aims in life.  Sometimes a young
man discovers himself in a biography, as Correggio felt within him the
risings of genius on contemplating the works of Michael Angelo: “And I
too, am a painter,” he exclaimed.  Sir Samuel Romilly, in his
autobiography, confessed himself to have been powerfully influenced by
the life of the great and noble-minded French Chancellor Daguesseau:—“The
works of Thomas,” says he, “had fallen into my hands, and I had read with
admiration his ‘Eloge of Daguesseau;’ and the career of honour which he
represented that illustrious magistrate to have run, excited to a great
degree my ardour and ambition, and opened to my imagination new paths of

Franklin was accustomed to attribute his usefulness and eminence to his
having early read Cotton Mather’s ‘Essays to do Good’—a book which grew
out of Mather’s own life.  And see how good example draws other men after
it, and propagates itself through future generations in all lands.  For
Samuel Drew avers that he framed his own life, and especially his
business habits, after the model left on record by Benjamin Franklin.
Thus it is impossible to say where a good example may not reach, or where
it will end, if indeed it have an end.  Hence the advantage, in
literature as in life, of keeping the best society, reading the best
books, and wisely admiring and imitating the best things we find in them.
“In literature,” said Lord Dudley, “I am fond of confining myself to the
best company, which consists chiefly of my old acquaintance, with whom I
am desirous of becoming more intimate; and I suspect that nine times out
of ten it is more profitable, if not more agreeable, to read an old book
over again, than to read a new one for the first time.”

Sometimes a book containing a noble exemplar of life, taken up at random,
merely with the object of reading it as a pastime, has been known to call
forth energies whose existence had not before been suspected.  Alfieri
was first drawn with passion to literature by reading ‘Plutarch’s Lives.’
Loyola, when a soldier serving at the siege of Pampeluna, and laid up by
a dangerous wound in his leg, asked for a book to divert his thoughts:
the ‘Lives of the Saints’ was brought to him, and its perusal so inflamed
his mind, that he determined thenceforth to devote himself to the
founding of a religious order.  Luther, in like manner, was inspired to
undertake the great labours of his life by a perusal of the ‘Life and
Writings of John Huss.’  Dr. Wolff was stimulated to enter upon his
missionary career by reading the ‘Life of Francis Xavier;’ and the book
fired his youthful bosom with a passion the most sincere and ardent to
devote himself to the enterprise of his life.  William Carey, also, got
the first idea of entering upon his sublime labours as a missionary from
a perusal of the Voyages of Captain Cook.

Francis Horner was accustomed to note in his diary and letters the books
by which he was most improved and influenced.  Amongst these were
Condorcet’s ‘Eloge of Haller,’ Sir Joshua Reynolds’ ‘Discourses,’ the
writings of Bacon, and ‘Burnet’s Account of Sir Matthew Hale.’  The
perusal of the last-mentioned book—the portrait of a prodigy of
labour—Horner says, filled him with enthusiasm.  Of Condorcet’s ‘Eloge of
Haller,’ he said: “I never rise from the account of such men without a
sort of thrilling palpitation about me, which I know not whether I should
call admiration, ambition, or despair.”  And speaking of the ‘Discourses’
of Sir Joshua Reynolds, he said: “Next to the writings of Bacon, there is
no book which has more powerfully impelled me to self-culture.  He is one
of the first men of genius who has condescended to inform the world of
the steps by which greatness is attained.  The confidence with which he
asserts the omnipotence of human labour has the effect of familiarising
his reader with the idea that genius is an acquisition rather than a
gift; whilst with all there is blended so naturally and eloquently the
most elevated and passionate admiration of excellence, that upon the
whole there is no book of a more _inflammatory_ effect.”  It is
remarkable that Reynolds himself attributed his first passionate impulse
towards the study of art, to reading Richardson’s account of a great
painter; and Haydon was in like manner afterwards inflamed to follow the
same pursuit by reading of the career of Reynolds.  Thus the brave and
aspiring life of one man lights a flame in the minds of others of like
faculties and impulse; and where there is equally vigorous efforts like
distinction and success will almost surely follow.  Thus the chain of
example is carried down through time in an endless succession of
links,—admiration exciting imitation, and perpetuating the true
aristocracy of genius.

One of the most valuable, and one of the most infectious examples which
can be set before the young, is that of cheerful working.  Cheerfulness
gives elasticity to the spirit.  Spectres fly before it; difficulties
cause no despair, for they are encountered with hope, and the mind
acquires that happy disposition to improve opportunities which rarely
fails of success.  The fervent spirit is always a healthy and happy
spirit; working cheerfully itself, and stimulating others to work.  It
confers a dignity on even the most ordinary occupations.  The most
effective work, also, is usually the full-hearted work—that which passes
through the hands or the head of him whose heart is glad.  Hume was
accustomed to say that he would rather possess a cheerful
disposition—inclined always to look at the bright side of things—than
with a gloomy mind to be the master of an estate of ten thousand a year.
Granville Sharp, amidst his indefatigable labours on behalf of the slave,
solaced himself in the evenings by taking part in glees and instrumental
concerts at his brother’s house, singing, or playing on the flute, the
clarionet or the oboe; and, at the Sunday evening oratorios, when Handel
was played, he beat the kettle-drums.  He also indulged, though
sparingly, in caricature drawing.  Fowell Buxton also was an eminently
cheerful man; taking special pleasure in field sports, in riding about
the country with his children, and in mixing in all their domestic

In another sphere of action, Dr. Arnold was a noble and a cheerful
worker, throwing himself into the great business of his life, the
training and teaching of young men, with his whole heart and soul.  It is
stated in his admirable biography, that “the most remarkable thing in the
Laleham circle was the wonderful healthiness of tone which prevailed
there.  It was a place where a new comer at once felt that a great and
earnest work was going forward.  Every pupil was made to feel that there
was a work for him to do; that his happiness, as well as his duty, lay in
doing that work well.  Hence an indescribable zest was communicated to a
young man’s feeling about life; a strange joy came over him on discerning
that he had the means of being useful, and thus of being happy; and a
deep respect and ardent attachment sprang up towards him who had taught
him thus to value life and his own self, and his work and mission in the
world.  All this was founded on the breadth and comprehensiveness of
Arnold’s character, as well as its striking truth and reality; on the
unfeigned regard he had for work of all kinds, and the sense he had of
its value, both for the complex aggregate of society and the growth and
protection of the individual.  In all this there was no excitement; no
predilection for one class of work above another; no enthusiasm for any
one-sided object: but a humble, profound, and most religious
consciousness that work is the appointed calling of man on earth; the end
for which his various faculties were given; the element in which his
nature is ordained to develop itself, and in which his progressive
advance towards heaven is to lie.”  Among the many valuable men trained
for public life and usefulness by Arnold, was the gallant Hodson, of
Hodson’s Horse, who, writing home from India, many years after, thus
spoke of his revered master: “The influence he produced has been most
lasting and striking in its effects.  It is felt even in India; I cannot
say more than _that_.”

The useful influence which a right-hearted man of energy and industry may
exercise amongst his neighbours and dependants, and accomplish for his
country, cannot, perhaps, be better illustrated than by the career of Sir
John Sinclair; characterized by the Abbé Gregoire as “the most
indefatigable man in Europe.”  He was originally a country laird, born to
a considerable estate situated near John o’ Groat’s House, almost beyond
the beat of civilization, in a bare wild country fronting the stormy
North Sea.  His father dying while he was a youth of sixteen, the
management of the family property thus early devolved upon him; and at
eighteen he began a course of vigorous improvement in the county of
Caithness, which eventually spread all over Scotland.  Agriculture then
was in a most backward state; the fields were unenclosed, the lands
undrained; the small farmers of Caithness were so poor that they could
scarcely afford to keep a horse or shelty; the hard work was chiefly
done, and the burdens borne, by the women; and if a cottier lost a horse
it was not unusual for him to marry a wife as the cheapest substitute.
The country was without roads or bridges; and drovers driving their
cattle south had to swim the rivers along with their beasts.  The chief
track leading into Caithness lay along a high shelf on a mountain side,
the road being some hundred feet of clear perpendicular height above the
sea which dashed below.  Sir John, though a mere youth, determined to
make a new road over the hill of Ben Cheilt, the old let-alone
proprietors, however, regarding his scheme with incredulity and derision.
But he himself laid out the road, assembled some twelve hundred workmen
early one summer’s morning, set them simultaneously to work,
superintending their labours, and stimulating them by his presence and
example; and before night, what had been a dangerous sheep track, six
miles in length, hardly passable for led horses, was made practicable for
wheel-carriages as if by the power of magic.  It was an admirable example
of energy and well-directed labour, which could not fail to have a most
salutary influence upon the surrounding population.  He then proceeded to
make more roads, to erect mills, to build bridges, and to enclose and
cultivate the waste lands.  He introduced improved methods of culture,
and regular rotation of crops, distributing small premiums to encourage
industry; and he thus soon quickened the whole frame of society within
reach of his influence, and infused an entirely new spirit into the
cultivators of the soil.  From being one of the most inaccessible
districts of the north—the very _ultima Thule_ of civilization—Caithness
became a pattern county for its roads, its agriculture, and its
fisheries.  In Sinclair’s youth, the post was carried by a runner only
once a week, and the young baronet then declared that he would never rest
till a coach drove daily to Thurso.  The people of the neighbourhood
could not believe in any such thing, and it became a proverb in the
county to say of an utterly impossible scheme, “Ou, ay, that will come to
pass when Sir John sees the daily mail at Thurso!”  But Sir John lived to
see his dream realized, and the daily mail established to Thurso.

The circle of his benevolent operation gradually widened.  Observing the
serious deterioration which had taken place in the quality of British
wool,—one of the staple commodities of the country,—he forthwith, though
but a private and little-known country gentleman, devoted himself to its
improvement.  By his personal exertions he established the British Wool
Society for the purpose, and himself led the way to practical improvement
by importing 800 sheep from all countries, at his own expense.  The
result was, the introduction into Scotland of the celebrated Cheviot
breed.  Sheep farmers scouted the idea of south country flocks being able
to thrive in the far north.  But Sir John persevered; and in a few years
there were not fewer than 300,000 Cheviots diffused over the four
northern counties alone.  The value of all grazing land was thus
enormously increased; and Scotch estates, which before were comparatively
worthless, began to yield large rentals.

Returned by Caithness to Parliament, in which he remained for thirty
years, rarely missing a division, his position gave him farther
opportunities of usefulness, which he did not neglect to employ.  Mr.
Pitt, observing his persevering energy in all useful public projects,
sent for him to Downing Street, and voluntarily proposed his assistance
in any object he might have in view.  Another man might have thought of
himself and his own promotion; but Sir John characteristically replied,
that he desired no favour for himself, but intimated that the reward most
gratifying to his feelings would be Mr. Pitt’s assistance in the
establishment of a National Board of Agriculture.  Arthur Young laid a
bet with the baronet that his scheme would never be established, adding,
“Your Board of Agriculture will be in the moon!”  But vigorously setting
to work, he roused public attention to the subject, enlisted a majority
of Parliament on his side, and eventually established the Board, of which
he was appointed President.  The result of its action need not be
described, but the stimulus which it gave to agriculture and
stock-raising was shortly felt throughout the whole United Kingdom, and
tens of thousands of acres were redeemed from barrenness by its
operation.  He was equally indefatigable in encouraging the establishment
of fisheries; and the successful founding of these great branches of
British industry at Thurso and Wick was mainly due to his exertions.  He
urged for long years, and at length succeeded in obtaining the enclosure
of a harbour for the latter place, which is perhaps the greatest and most
prosperous fishing town in the world.

Sir John threw his personal energy into every work in which he engaged,
rousing the inert, stimulating the idle, encouraging the hopeful, and
working with all.  When a French invasion was threatened, he offered to
Mr. Pitt to raise a regiment on his own estate, and he was as good as his
word.  He went down to the north, and raised a battalion of 600 men,
afterwards increased to 1000; and it was admitted to be one of the finest
volunteer regiments ever raised, inspired throughout by his own noble and
patriotic spirit.  While commanding officer of the camp at Aberdeen he
held the offices of a Director of the Bank of Scotland, Chairman of the
British Wool Society, Provost of Wick, Director of the British Fishery
Society, Commissioner for issuing Exchequer Bills, Member of Parliament
for Caithness, and President of the Board of Agriculture.  Amidst all
this multifarious and self-imposed work, he even found time to write
books, enough of themselves to establish a reputation.  When Mr. Rush,
the American Ambassador, arrived in England, he relates that he inquired
of Mr. Coke of Holkham, what was the best work on Agriculture, and was
referred to Sir John Sinclair’s; and when he further asked of Mr.
Vansittart, Chancellor of the Exchequer, what was the best work on
British Finance, he was again referred to a work by Sir John Sinclair,
his ‘History of the Public Revenue.’  But the great monument of his
indefatigable industry, a work that would have appalled other men, but
only served to rouse and sustain his energy, was his ‘Statistical Account
of Scotland,’ in twenty-one volumes, one of the most valuable practical
works ever published in any age or country.  Amid a host of other
pursuits it occupied him nearly eight years of hard labour, during which
he received, and attended to, upwards of 20,000 letters on the subject.
It was a thoroughly patriotic undertaking, from which he derived no
personal advantage whatever, beyond the honour of having completed it.
The whole of the profits were assigned by him to the Society for the Sons
of the Clergy in Scotland.  The publication of the book led to great
public improvements; it was followed by the immediate abolition of
several oppressive feudal rights, to which it called attention; the
salaries of schoolmasters and clergymen in many parishes were increased;
and an increased stimulus was given to agriculture throughout Scotland.
Sir John then publicly offered to undertake the much greater labour of
collecting and publishing a similar Statistical Account of England; but
unhappily the then Archbishop of Canterbury refused to sanction it, lest
it should interfere with the tithes of the clergy, and the idea was

A remarkable illustration of his energetic promptitude was the manner in
which he once provided, on a great emergency, for the relief of the
manufacturing districts.  In 1793 the stagnation produced by the war led
to an unusual number of bankruptcies, and many of the first houses in
Manchester and Glasgow were tottering, not so much from want of property,
but because the usual sources of trade and credit were for the time
closed up.  A period of intense distress amongst the labouring classes
seemed imminent, when Sir John urged, in Parliament, that Exchequer notes
to the amount of five millions should be issued immediately as a loan to
such merchants as could give security.  This suggestion was adopted, and
his offer to carry out his plan, in conjunction with certain members
named by him, was also accepted.  The vote was passed late at night, and
early next morning Sir John, anticipating the delays of officialism and
red tape, proceeded to bankers in the city, and borrowed of them, on his
own personal security, the sum of 70,000_l._, which he despatched the
same evening to those merchants who were in the most urgent need of
assistance.  Pitt meeting Sir John in the House, expressed his great
regret that the pressing wants of Manchester and Glasgow could not be
supplied so soon as was desirable, adding, “The money cannot be raised
for some days.”  “It is already gone! it left London by to-night’s mail!”
was Sir John’s triumphant reply; and in afterwards relating the anecdote
he added, with a smile of pleasure, “Pitt was as much startled as if I
had stabbed him.”  To the last this great, good man worked on usefully
and cheerfully, setting a great example for his family and for his
country.  In so laboriously seeking others’ good, it might be said that
he found his own—not wealth, for his generosity seriously impaired his
private fortune, but happiness, and self-satisfaction, and the peace that
passes knowledge.  A great patriot, with magnificent powers of work, he
nobly did his duty to his country; yet he was not neglectful of his own
household and home.  His sons and daughters grew up to honour and
usefulness; and it was one of the proudest things Sir John could say,
when verging on his eightieth year, that he had lived to see seven sons
grown up, not one of whom had incurred a debt he could not pay, or caused
him a sorrow that could have been avoided.


    “For who can always act? but he,
       To whom a thousand memories call,
    Not being less but more than all
       The gentleness he seemed to be,

    But seemed the thing he was, and joined
       Each office of the social hour
    To noble manners, as the flower
       And native growth of noble mind;

    And thus he bore without abuse
       The grand old name of Gentleman.”—_Tennyson_.

    “Es bildet ein Talent sich in der Stille,
    Sich ein Charakter in dem Strom der Welt.”—_Goethe_.

    “That which raises a country, that which strengthens a country, and
    that which dignifies a country,—that which spreads her power, creates
    her moral influence, and makes her respected and submitted to, bends
    the hearts of millions, and bows down the pride of nations to her—the
    instrument of obedience, the fountain of supremacy, the true throne,
    crown, and sceptre of a nation;—this aristocracy is not an
    aristocracy of blood, not an aristocracy of fashion, not an
    aristocracy of talent only; it is an aristocracy of Character.  That
    is the true heraldry of man.”—_The Times_.

THE crown and glory of life is Character.  It is the noblest possession
of a man, constituting a rank in itself, and an estate in the general
goodwill; dignifying every station, and exalting every position in
society.  It exercises a greater power than wealth, and secures all the
honour without the jealousies of fame.  It carries with it an influence
which always tells; for it is the result of proved honour, rectitude, and
consistency—qualities which, perhaps more than any other, command the
general confidence and respect of mankind.

Character is human nature in its best form.  It is moral order embodied
in the individual.  Men of character are not only the conscience of
society, but in every well-governed State they are its best motive power;
for it is moral qualities in the main which rule the world.  Even in war,
Napoleon said the moral is to the physical as ten to one.  The strength,
the industry, and the civilisation of nations—all depend upon individual
character; and the very foundations of civil security rest upon it.  Laws
and institutions are but its outgrowth.  In the just balance of nature,
individuals, nations, and races, will obtain just so much as they
deserve, and no more.  And as effect finds its cause, so surely does
quality of character amongst a people produce its befitting results.

Though a man have comparatively little culture, slender abilities, and
but small wealth, yet, if his character be of sterling worth, he will
always command an influence, whether it be in the workshop, the
counting-house, the mart, or the senate.  Canning wisely wrote in 1801,
“My road must be through Character to power; I will try no other course;
and I am sanguine enough to believe that this course, though not perhaps
the quickest, is the surest.”  You may admire men of intellect; but
something more is necessary before you will trust them.  Hence Lord John
Russell once observed in a sentence full of truth, “It is the nature of
party in England to ask the assistance of men of genius, but to follow
the guidance of men of character.”  This was strikingly illustrated in
the career of the late Francis Horner—a man of whom Sydney Smith said
that the Ten Commandments were stamped upon his countenance.  “The
valuable and peculiar light,” says Lord Cockburn, “in which his history
is calculated to inspire every right-minded youth, is this.  He died at
the age of thirty-eight; possessed of greater public influence than any
other private man; and admired, beloved, trusted, and deplored by all,
except the heartless or the base.  No greater homage was ever paid in
Parliament to any deceased member.  Now let every young man ask—how was
this attained?  By rank?  He was the son of an Edinburgh merchant.  By
wealth?  Neither he, nor any of his relations, ever had a superfluous
sixpence.  By office?  He held but one, and only for a few years, of no
influence, and with very little pay.  By talents?  His were not splendid,
and he had no genius.  Cautious and slow, his only ambition was to be
right.  By eloquence?  He spoke in calm, good taste, without any of the
oratory that either terrifies or seduces.  By any fascination of manner?
His was only correct and agreeable.  By what, then, was it?  Merely by
sense, industry, good principles, and a good heart—qualities which no
well-constituted mind need ever despair of attaining.  It was the force
of his character that raised him; and this character not impressed upon
him by nature, but formed, out of no peculiarly fine elements, by
himself.  There were many in the House of Commons of far greater ability
and eloquence.  But no one surpassed him in the combination of an
adequate portion of these with moral worth.  Horner was born to show what
moderate powers, unaided by anything whatever except culture and
goodness, may achieve, even when these powers are displayed amidst the
competition and jealousy of public life.”

Franklin, also, attributed his success as a public man, not to his
talents or his powers of speaking—for these were but moderate—but to his
known integrity of character.  Hence it was, he says, “that I had so much
weight with my fellow citizens.  I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent,
subject to much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly correct in
language, and yet I generally carried my point.”  Character creates
confidence in men in high station as well as in humble life.  It was said
of the first Emperor Alexander of Russia, that his personal character was
equivalent to a constitution.  During the wars of the Fronde, Montaigne
was the only man amongst the French gentry who kept his castle gates
unbarred; and it was said of him, that his personal character was a
better protection for him than a regiment of horse would have been.

That character is power, is true in a much higher sense than that
knowledge is power.  Mind without heart, intelligence without conduct,
cleverness without goodness, are powers in their way, but they may be
powers only for mischief.  We may be instructed or amused by them; but it
is sometimes as difficult to admire them as it would be to admire the
dexterity of a pickpocket or the horsemanship of a highwayman.

Truthfulness, integrity, and goodness—qualities that hang not on any
man’s breath—form the essence of manly character, or, as one of our old
writers has it, “that inbred loyalty unto Virtue which can serve her
without a livery.”  He who possesses these qualities, united with
strength of purpose, carries with him a power which is irresistible.  He
is strong to do good, strong to resist evil, and strong to bear up under
difficulty and misfortune.  When Stephen of Colonna fell into the hands
of his base assailants, and they asked him in derision, “Where is now
your fortress?”  “Here,” was his bold reply, placing his hand upon his
heart.  It is in misfortune that the character of the upright man shines
forth with the greatest lustre; and when all else fails, he takes stand
upon his integrity and his courage.

The rules of conduct followed by Lord Erskine—a man of sterling
independence of principle and scrupulous adherence to truth—are worthy of
being engraven on every young man’s heart.  “It was a first command and
counsel of my earliest youth,” he said, “always to do what my conscience
told me to be a duty, and to leave the consequence to God.  I shall carry
with me the memory, and I trust the practice, of this parental lesson to
the grave.  I have hitherto followed it, and I have no reason to complain
that my obedience to it has been a temporal sacrifice.  I have found it,
on the contrary, the road to prosperity and wealth, and I shall point out
the same path to my children for their pursuit.”

Every man is bound to aim at the possession of a good character as one of
the highest objects of life.  The very effort to secure it by worthy
means will furnish him with a motive for exertion; and his idea of
manhood, in proportion as it is elevated, will steady and animate his
motive.  It is well to have a high standard of life, even though we may
not be able altogether to realize it.  “The youth,” says Mr. Disraeli,
“who does not look up will look down; and the spirit that does not soar
is destined perhaps to grovel.”  George Herbert wisely writes,

    “Pitch thy behaviour low, thy projects high,
    So shall thou humble and magnanimous be.
    Sink not in spirit; who aimeth at the sky
    Shoots higher much than he that means a tree.”

He who has a high standard of living and thinking will certainly do
better than he who has none at all.  “Pluck at a gown of gold,” says the
Scotch proverb, “and you may get a sleeve o’t.”  Whoever tries for the
highest results cannot fail to reach a point far in advance of that from
which he started; and though the end attained may fall short of that
proposed, still, the very effort to rise, of itself cannot fail to prove
permanently beneficial.

There are many counterfeits of character, but the genuine article is
difficult to be mistaken.  Some, knowing its money value, would assume
its disguise for the purpose of imposing upon the unwary.  Colonel
Charteris said to a man distinguished for his honesty, “I would give a
thousand pounds for your good name.”  “Why?”  “Because I could make ten
thousand by it,” was the knave’s reply.

Integrity in word and deed is the backbone of character; and loyal
adherence to veracity its most prominent characteristic.  One of the
finest testimonies to the character of the late Sir Robert Peel was that
borne by the Duke of Wellington in the House of Lords, a few days after
the great statesman’s death.  “Your lordships,” he said, “must all feel
the high and honourable character of the late Sir Robert Peel.  I was
long connected with him in public life.  We were both in the councils of
our Sovereign together, and I had long the honour to enjoy his private
friendship.  In all the course of my acquaintance with him I never knew a
man in whose truth and justice I had greater confidence, or in whom I saw
a more invariable desire to promote the public service.  In the whole
course of my communication with him, I never knew an instance in which he
did not show the strongest attachment to truth; and I never saw in the
whole course of my life the smallest reason for suspecting that he stated
anything which he did not firmly believe to be the fact.”  And this
high-minded truthfulness of the statesman was no doubt the secret of no
small part of his influence and power.

There is a truthfulness in action as well as in words, which is essential
to uprightness of character.  A man must really be what he seems or
purposes to be.  When an American gentleman wrote to Granville Sharp,
that from respect for his great virtues he had named one of his sons
after him, Sharp replied: “I must request you to teach him a favourite
maxim of the family whose name you have given him—_Always endeavour to be
really what you would wish to appear_.  This maxim, as my father informed
me, was carefully and humbly practised by _his_ father, whose sincerity,
as a plain and honest man, thereby became the principal feature of his
character, both in public and private life.”  Every man who respects
himself, and values the respect of others, will carry out the maxim in
act—doing honestly what he proposes to do—putting the highest character
into his work, scamping nothing, but priding himself upon his integrity
and conscientiousness.  Once Cromwell said to Bernard,—a clever but
somewhat unscrupulous lawyer, “I understand that you have lately been
vastly wary in your conduct; do not be too confident of this; subtlety
may deceive you, integrity never will.”  Men whose acts are at direct
variance with their words, command no respect, and what they say has but
little weight; even truths, when uttered by them, seem to come blasted
from their lips.

The true character acts rightly, whether in secret or in the sight of
men.  That boy was well trained who, when asked why he did not pocket
some pears, for nobody was there to see, replied, “Yes, there was: I was
there to see myself; and I don’t intend ever to see myself do a dishonest
thing.”—This is a simple but not inappropriate illustration of principle,
or conscience, dominating in the character, and exercising a noble
protectorate over it; not merely a passive influence, but an active power
regulating the life.  Such a principle goes on moulding the character
hourly and daily, growing with a force that operates every moment.
Without this dominating influence, character has no protection, but is
constantly liable to fall away before temptation; and every such
temptation succumbed to, every act of meanness or dishonesty, however
slight, causes self-degradation.  It matters not whether the act be
successful or not, discovered or concealed; the culprit is no longer the
same, but another person; and he is pursued by a secret uneasiness, by
self-reproach, or the workings of what we call conscience, which is the
inevitable doom of the guilty.

And here it may be observed how greatly the character may be strengthened
and supported by the cultivation of good habits.  Man, it has been said,
is a bundle of habits; and habit is second nature.  Metastasio
entertained so strong an opinion as to the power of repetition in act and
thought, that he said, “All is habit in mankind, even virtue itself.”
Butler, in his ‘Analogy,’ impresses the importance of careful
self-discipline and firm resistance to temptation, as tending to make
virtue habitual, so that at length it may become more easy to be good
than to give way to sin.  “As habits belonging to the body,” he says,
“are produced by external acts, so habits of the mind are produced by the
execution of inward practical purposes, i.e., carrying them into act, or
acting upon them—the principles of obedience, veracity, justice, and
charity.”  And again, Lord Brougham says, when enforcing the immense
importance of training and example in youth, “I trust everything under
God to habit, on which, in all ages, the lawgiver, as well as the
schoolmaster, has mainly placed his reliance; habit, which makes
everything easy, and casts the difficulties upon the deviation from a
wonted course.”  Thus, make sobriety a habit, and intemperance will be
hateful; make prudence a habit, and reckless profligacy will become
revolting to every principle of conduct which regulates the life of the
individual.  Hence the necessity for the greatest care and watchfulness
against the inroad of any evil habit; for the character is always weakest
at that point at which it has once given way; and it is long before a
principle restored can become so firm as one that has never been moved.
It is a fine remark of a Russian writer, that “Habits are a necklace of
pearls: untie the knot, and the whole unthreads.”

Wherever formed, habit acts involuntarily, and without effort; and, it is
only when you oppose it, that you find how powerful it has become.  What
is done once and again, soon gives facility and proneness.  The habit at
first may seem to have no more strength than a spider’s web; but, once
formed, it binds as with a chain of iron.  The small events of life,
taken singly, may seem exceedingly unimportant, like snow that falls
silently, flake by flake; yet accumulated, these snow-flakes form the

Self-respect, self-help, application, industry, integrity—all are of the
nature of habits, not beliefs.  Principles, in fact, are but the names
which we assign to habits; for the principles are words, but the habits
are the things themselves: benefactors or tyrants, according as they are
good or evil.  It thus happens that as we grow older, a portion of our
free activity and individuality becomes suspended in habit; our actions
become of the nature of fate; and we are bound by the chains which we
have woven around ourselves.

It is indeed scarcely possible to over-estimate the importance of
training the young to virtuous habits.  In them they are the easiest
formed, and when formed they last for life; like letters cut on the bark
of a tree they grow and widen with age.  “Train up a child in the way he
should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  The beginning
holds within it the end; the first start on the road of life determines
the direction and the destination of the journey; _ce n’est que le
premier pas qui coûte_.  “Remember,” said Lord Collingwood to a young man
whom he loved, “before you are five-and-twenty you must establish a
character that will serve you all your life.”  As habit strengthens with
age, and character becomes formed, any turning into a new path becomes
more and more difficult.  Hence, it is often harder to unlearn than to
learn; and for this reason the Grecian flute-player was justified who
charged double fees to those pupils who had been taught by an inferior
master.  To uproot an old habit is sometimes a more painful thing, and
vastly more difficult, than to wrench out a tooth.  Try and reform a
habitually indolent, or improvident, or drunken person, and in a large
majority of cases you will fail.  For the habit in each case has wound
itself in and through the life until it has become an integral part of
it, and cannot be uprooted.  Hence, as Mr. Lynch observes, “the wisest
habit of all is the habit of care in the formation of good habits.”

Even happiness itself may become habitual.  There is a habit of looking
at the bright side of things, and also of looking at the dark side.  Dr.
Johnson has said that the habit of looking at the best side of a thing is
worth more to a man than a thousand pounds a year.  And we possess the
power, to a great extent, of so exercising the will as to direct the
thoughts upon objects calculated to yield happiness and improvement
rather than their opposites.  In this way the habit of happy thought may
be made to spring up like any other habit.  And to bring up men or women
with a genial nature of this sort, a good temper, and a happy frame of
mind, is perhaps of even more importance, in many cases, than to perfect
them in much knowledge and many accomplishments.

As daylight can be seen through very small holes, so little things will
illustrate a person’s character.  Indeed character consists in little
acts, well and honourably performed; daily life being the quarry from
which we build it up, and rough-hew the habits which form it.  One of the
most marked tests of character is the manner in which we conduct
ourselves towards others.  A graceful behaviour towards superiors,
inferiors, and equals, is a constant source of pleasure.  It pleases
others because it indicates respect for their personality; but it gives
tenfold more pleasure to ourselves.  Every man may to a large extent be a
self-educator in good behaviour, as in everything else; he can be civil
and kind, if he will, though he have not a penny in his purse.
Gentleness in society is like the silent influence of light, which gives
colour to all nature; it is far more powerful than loudness or force, and
far more fruitful.  It pushes its way quietly and persistently, like the
tiniest daffodil in spring, which raises the clod and thrusts it aside by
the simple persistency of growing.

Even a kind look will give pleasure and confer happiness.  In one of
Robertson of Brighton’s letters, he tells of a lady who related to him
“the delight, the tears of gratitude, which she had witnessed in a poor
girl to whom, in passing, I gave a kind look on going out of church on
Sunday.  What a lesson!  How cheaply happiness can be given!  What
opportunities we miss of doing an angel’s work!  I remember doing it,
full of sad feelings, passing on, and thinking no more about it; and it
gave an hour’s sunshine to a human life, and lightened the load of life
to a human heart for a time!” {392}

Morals and manners, which give colour to life, are of much greater
importance than laws, which are but their manifestations.  The law
touches us here and there, but manners are about us everywhere, pervading
society like the air we breathe.  Good manners, as we call them, are
neither more nor less than good behaviour; consisting of courtesy and
kindness; benevolence being the preponderating element in all kinds of
mutually beneficial and pleasant intercourse amongst human beings.
“Civility,” said Lady Montague, “costs nothing and buys everything.”  The
cheapest of all things is kindness, its exercise requiring the least
possible trouble and self-sacrifice.  “Win hearts,” said Burleigh to
Queen Elizabeth, “and you have all men’s hearts and purses.”  If we would
only let nature act kindly, free from affectation and artifice, the
results on social good humour and happiness would be incalculable.  The
little courtesies which form the small change of life, may separately
appear of little intrinsic value, but they acquire their importance from
repetition and accumulation.  They are like the spare minutes, or the
groat a day, which proverbially produce such momentous results in the
course of a twelvemonth, or in a lifetime.

Manners are the ornament of action; and there is a way of speaking a kind
word, or of doing a kind thing, which greatly enhances their value.  What
seems to be done with a grudge, or as an act of condescension, is
scarcely accepted as a favour.  Yet there are men who pride themselves
upon their gruffness; and though they may possess virtue and capacity,
their manner is often such as to render them almost insupportable.  It is
difficult to like a man who, though he may not pull your nose, habitually
wounds your self-respect, and takes a pride in saying disagreeable things
to you.  There are others who are dreadfully condescending, and cannot
avoid seizing upon every small opportunity of making their greatness
felt.  When Abernethy was canvassing for the office of surgeon to St.
Bartholomew Hospital, he called upon such a person—a rich grocer, one of
the governors.  The great man behind the counter seeing the great surgeon
enter, immediately assumed the grand air towards the supposed suppliant
for his vote.  “I presume, Sir, you want my vote and interest at this
momentous epoch of your life?”  Abernethy, who hated humbugs, and felt
nettled at the tone, replied: “No, I don’t: I want a pennyworth of figs;
come, look sharp and wrap them up; I want to be off!”

The cultivation of manner—though in excess it is foppish and foolish—is
highly necessary in a person who has occasion to negociate with others in
matters of business.  Affability and good breeding may even be regarded
as essential to the success of a man in any eminent station and enlarged
sphere of life; for the want of it has not unfrequently been found in a
great measure to neutralise the results of much industry, integrity, and
honesty of character.  There are, no doubt, a few strong tolerant minds
which can bear with defects and angularities of manner, and look only to
the more genuine qualities; but the world at large is not so forbearant,
and cannot help forming its judgments and likings mainly according to
outward conduct.

Another mode of displaying true politeness is consideration for the
opinions of others.  It has been said of dogmatism, that it is only
puppyism come to its full growth; and certainly the worst form this
quality can assume, is that of opinionativeness and arrogance.  Let men
agree to differ, and, when they do differ, bear and forbear.  Principles
and opinions may be maintained with perfect suavity, without coming to
blows or uttering hard words; and there are circumstances in which words
are blows, and inflict wounds far less easy to heal.  As bearing upon
this point, we quote an instructive little parable spoken some time since
by an itinerant preacher of the Evangelical Alliance on the borders of
Wales:—“As I was going to the hills,” said he, “early one misty morning,
I saw something moving on a mountain side, so strange looking that I took
it for a monster.  When I came nearer to it I found it was a man.  When I
came up to him I found he was my brother.”

The inbred politeness which springs from right-heartedness and kindly
feelings, is of no exclusive rank or station.  The mechanic who works at
the bench may possess it, as well as the clergyman or the peer.  It is by
no means a necessary condition of labour that it should, in any respect,
be either rough or coarse.  The politeness and refinement which
distinguish all classes of the people in many continental countries show
that those qualities might become ours too—as doubtless they will become
with increased culture and more general social intercourse—without
sacrificing any of our more genuine qualities as men.  From the highest
to the lowest, the richest to the poorest, to no rank or condition in
life has nature denied her highest boon—the great heart.  There never yet
existed a gentleman but was lord of a great heart.  And this may exhibit
itself under the hodden grey of the peasant as well as under the laced
coat of the noble.  Robert Burns was once taken to task by a young
Edinburgh blood, with whom he was walking, for recognising an honest
farmer in the open street.  “Why you fantastic gomeral,” exclaimed Burns,
“it was not the great coat, the scone bonnet, and the saunders-boot hose
that I spoke to, but _the man_ that was in them; and the man, sir, for
true worth, would weigh down you and me, and ten more such, any day.”
There may be a homeliness in externals, which may seem vulgar to those
who cannot discern the heart beneath; but, to the right-minded, character
will always have its clear insignia.

William and Charles Grant were the sons of a farmer in Inverness-shire,
whom a sudden flood stripped of everything, even to the very soil which
he tilled.  The farmer and his sons, with the world before them where to
choose, made their way southward in search of employment until they
arrived in the neighbourhood of Bury in Lancashire.  From the crown of
the hill near Walmesley they surveyed the wide extent of country which
lay before them, the river Irwell making its circuitous course through
the valley.  They were utter strangers in the neighbourhood, and knew not
which way to turn.  To decide their course they put up a stick, and
agreed to pursue the direction in which it fell.  Thus their decision was
made, and they journeyed on accordingly until they reached the village of
Ramsbotham, not far distant.  They found employment in a print-work, in
which William served his apprenticeship; and they commanded themselves to
their employers by their diligence, sobriety, and strict integrity.  They
plodded on, rising from one station to another, until at length the two
men themselves became employers, and after many long years of industry,
enterprise, and benevolence, they became rich, honoured, and respected by
all who knew them.  Their cotton-mills and print-works gave employment to
a large population.  Their well-directed diligence made the valley teem
with activity, joy, health, and opulence.  Out of their abundant wealth
they gave liberally to all worthy objects, erecting churches, founding
schools, and in all ways promoting the well-being of the class of
working-men from which they had sprung.  They afterwards erected, on the
top of the hill above Walmesley, a lofty tower in commemoration of the
early event in their history which had determined the place of their
settlement.  The brothers Grant became widely celebrated for their
benevolence and their various goodness, and it is said that Mr. Dickens
had them in his mind’s eye when delineating the character of the brothers
Cheeryble.  One amongst many anecdotes of a similar kind may be cited to
show that the character was by no means exaggerated.  A Manchester
warehouseman published an exceedingly scurrilous pamphlet against the
firm of Grant Brothers, holding up the elder partner to ridicule as
“Billy Button.”  William was informed by some one of the nature of the
pamphlet, and his observation was that the man would live to repent of
it.  “Oh!” said the libeller, when informed of the remark, “he thinks
that some time or other I shall be in his debt; but I will take good care
of that.”  It happens, however, that men in business do not always
foresee who shall be their creditor, and it so turned out that the
Grants’ libeller became a bankrupt, and could not complete his
certificate and begin business again without obtaining their signature.
It seemed to him a hopeless case to call upon that firm for any favour,
but the pressing claims of his family forced him to make the application.
He appeared before the man whom he had ridiculed as “Billy Button”
accordingly.  He told his tale and produced his certificate.  “You wrote
a pamphlet against us once?” said Mr. Grant.  The supplicant expected to
see his document thrown into the fire; instead of which Grant signed the
name of the firm, and thus completed the necessary certificate.  “We make
it a rule,” said he, handing it back, “never to refuse signing the
certificate of an honest tradesman, and we have never heard that you were
anything else.”  The tears started into the man’s eyes.  “Ah,” continued
Mr. Grant, “you see my saying was true, that you would live to repent
writing that pamphlet.  I did not mean it as a threat—I only meant that
some day you would know us better, and repent having tried to injure us.”
“I do, I do, indeed, repent it.”  “Well, well, you know us now.  But how
do you get on—what are you going to do?”  The poor man stated that he had
friends who would assist him when his certificate was obtained.  “But how
are you off in the mean time?”  The answer was, that, having given up
every farthing to his creditors, he had been compelled to stint his
family in even the common necessaries of life, that he might be enabled
to pay for his certificate.  “My good fellow, this will never do; your
wife and family must not suffer in this way; be kind enough to take this
ten-pound note to your wife from me: there, there, now—don’t cry, it will
be all well with you yet; keep up your spirits, set to work like a man,
and you will raise your head among the best of us yet.”  The overpowered
man endeavoured with choking utterance to express his gratitude, but in
vain; and putting his hand to his face, he went out of the room sobbing
like a child.

The True Gentleman is one whose nature has been fashioned after the
highest models.  It is a grand old name, that of Gentleman, and has been
recognized as a rank and power in all stages of society.  “The Gentleman
is always the Gentleman,” said the old French General to his regiment of
Scottish gentry at Rousillon, “and invariably proves himself such in need
and in danger.”  To possess this character is a dignity of itself,
commanding the instinctive homage of every generous mind, and those who
will not bow to titular rank, will yet do homage to the gentleman.  His
qualities depend not upon fashion or manners, but upon moral worth—not on
personal possessions, but on personal qualities.  The Psalmist briefly
describes him as one “that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness,
and speaketh the truth in his heart.”

The gentleman is eminently distinguished for his self-respect.  He values
his character,—not so much of it only as can be seen of others, but as he
sees it himself; having regard for the approval of his inward monitor.
And, as he respects himself, so, by the same law, does he respect others.
Humanity is sacred in his eyes: and thence proceed politeness and
forbearance, kindness and charity.  It is related of Lord Edward
Fitzgerald that, while travelling in Canada, in company with the Indians,
he was shocked by the sight of a poor squaw trudging along laden with her
husband’s trappings, while the chief himself walked on unencumbered.
Lord Edward at once relieved the squaw of her pack by placing it upon his
own shoulders,—a beautiful instance of what the French call _politesse de
cœur_—the inbred politeness of the true gentleman.

The true gentleman has a keen sense of honour,—scrupulously avoiding mean
actions.  His standard of probity in word and action is high.  He does
not shuffle or prevaricate, dodge or skulk; but is honest, upright, and
straightforward.  His law is rectitude—action in right lines.  When he
says _yes_, it is a law: and he dares to say the valiant _no_ at the
fitting season.  The gentleman will not be bribed; only the low-minded
and unprincipled will sell themselves to those who are interested in
buying them.  When the upright Jonas Hanway officiated as commissioner in
the victualling department, he declined to receive a present of any kind
from a contractor; refusing thus to be biassed in the performance of his
public duty.  A fine trait of the same kind is to be noted in the life of
the Duke of Wellington.  Shortly after the battle of Assaye, one morning
the Prime Minister of the Court of Hyderabad waited upon him for the
purpose of privately ascertaining what territory and what advantages had
been reserved for his master in the treaty of peace between the Mahratta
princes and the Nizam.  To obtain this information the minister offered
the general a very large sum—considerably above 100,000_l._  Looking at
him quietly for a few seconds, Sir Arthur said, “It appears, then, that
you are capable of keeping a secret?”  “Yes, certainly,” replied the
minister.  “_Then so am I_,” said the English general, smiling, and bowed
the minister out.  It was to Wellington’s great honour, that though
uniformly successful in India, and with the power of earning in such
modes as this enormous wealth, he did not add a farthing to his fortune,
and returned to England a comparatively poor man.

A similar sensitiveness and high-mindedness characterised his noble
relative, the Marquis of Wellesley, who, on one occasion, positively
refused a present of 100,000_l._ proposed to be given him by the
Directors of the East India Company on the conquest of Mysore.  “It is
not necessary,” said he, “for me to allude to the independence of my
character, and the proper dignity attaching to my office; other reasons
besides these important considerations lead me to decline this testimony,
which is not suitable to me.  _I think of nothing but our army_.  I
should be much distressed to curtail the share of those brave soldiers.”
And the Marquis’s resolution to refuse the present remained unalterable.

Sir Charles Napier exhibited the same noble self-denial in the course of
his Indian career.  He rejected all the costly gifts which barbaric
princes were ready to lay at his feet, and said with truth, “Certainly I
could have got 30,000_l._ since my coming to Scinde, but my hands do not
want washing yet.  Our dear father’s sword which I wore in both battles
(Meanee and Hyderabad) is unstained.”

Riches and rank have no necessary connexion with genuine gentlemanly
qualities.  The poor man may be a true gentleman,—in spirit and in daily
life.  He may be honest, truthful, upright, polite, temperate,
courageous, self-respecting, and self-helping,—that is, be a true
gentleman.  The poor man with a rich spirit is in all ways superior to
the rich man with a poor spirit.  To borrow St. Paul’s words, the former
is as “having nothing, yet possessing all things,” while the other,
though possessing all things, has nothing.  The first hopes everything,
and fears nothing; the last hopes nothing, and fears everything.  Only
the poor in spirit are really poor.  He who has lost all, but retains his
courage, cheerfulness, hope, virtue, and self-respect, is still rich.
For such a man, the world is, as it were, held in trust; his spirit
dominating over its grosser cares, he can still walk erect, a true

Occasionally, the brave and gentle character may be found under the
humblest garb.  Here is an old illustration, but a fine one.  Once on a
time, when the Adige suddenly overflowed its banks, the bridge of Verona
was carried away, with the exception of the centre arch, on which stood a
house, whose inhabitants supplicated help from the windows, while the
foundations were visibly giving way.  “I will give a hundred French
louis,” said the Count Spolverini, who stood by, “to any person who will
venture to deliver these unfortunate people.”  A young peasant came forth
from the crowd, seized a boat, and pushed into the stream.  He gained the
pier, received the whole family into the boat, and made for the shore,
where he landed them in safety.  “Here is your money, my brave young
fellow,” said the count.  “No,” was the answer of the young man, “I do
not sell my life; give the money to this poor family, who have need of
it.”  Here spoke the true spirit of the gentleman, though he was but in
the garb of a peasant.

Not less touching was the heroic conduct of a party of Deal boatmen in
rescuing the crew of a collier-brig in the Downs but a short time ago.
{400}  A sudden storm which set in from the north-east drove several
ships from their anchors, and it being low water, one of them struck the
ground at a considerable distance from the shore, when the sea made a
clean breach over her.  There was not a vestige of hope for the vessel,
such was the fury of the wind and the violence of the waves.  There was
nothing to tempt the boatmen on shore to risk their lives in saving
either ship or crew, for not a farthing of salvage was to be looked for.
But the daring intrepidity of the Deal boatmen was not wanting at this
critical moment.  No sooner had the brig grounded than Simon Pritchard,
one of the many persons assembled along the beach, threw off his coat and
called out, “Who will come with me and try to save that crew?”  Instantly
twenty men sprang forward, with “I will,” “and I.”  But seven only were
wanted; and running down a galley punt into the surf, they leaped in and
dashed through the breakers, amidst the cheers of those on shore.  How
the boat lived in such a sea seemed a miracle; but in a few minutes,
impelled by the strong arms of these gallant men, she flew on and reached
the stranded ship, “catching her on the top of a wave”; and in less than
a quarter of an hour from the time the boat left the shore, the six men
who composed the crew of the collier were landed safe on Walmer Beach.  A
nobler instance of indomitable courage and disinterested heroism on the
part of the Deal boatmen—brave though they are always known to be—perhaps
cannot be cited; and we have pleasure in here placing it on record.

Mr. Turnbull, in his work on ‘Austria,’ relates an anecdote of the late
Emperor Francis, in illustration of the manner in which the Government of
that country has been indebted, for its hold upon the people, to the
personal qualities of its princes.  “At the time when the cholera was
raging at Vienna, the emperor, with an aide-de-camp, was strolling about
the streets of the city and suburbs, when a corpse was dragged past on a
litter unaccompanied by a single mourner.  The unusual circumstance
attracted his attention, and he learnt, on inquiry, that the deceased was
a poor person who had died of cholera, and that the relatives had not
ventured on what was then considered the very dangerous office of
attending the body to the grave.  ‘Then,’ said Francis, ‘we will supply
their place, for none of my poor people should go to the grave without
that last mark of respect;’ and he followed the body to the distant place
of interment, and, bare-headed, stood to see every rite and observance
respectfully performed.”

Fine though this illustration may be of the qualities of the gentleman,
we can match it by another equally good, of two English navvies in Paris,
as related in a morning paper a few years ago.  “One day a hearse was
observed ascending the steep Rue de Clichy on its way to Montmartre,
bearing a coffin of poplar wood with its cold corpse.  Not a soul
followed—not even the living dog of the dead man, if he had one.  The day
was rainy and dismal; passers by lifted the hat as is usual when a
funeral passes, and that was all.  At length it passed two English
navvies, who found themselves in Paris on their way from Spain.  A right
feeling spoke from beneath their serge jackets.  ‘Poor wretch!’ said the
one to the other, ‘no one follows him; let us two follow!’  And the two
took off their hats, and walked bare-headed after the corpse of a
stranger to the cemetery of Montmartre.”

Above all, the gentleman is truthful.  He feels that truth is the “summit
of being,” and the soul of rectitude in human affairs.  Lord Chesterfield
declared that Truth made the success of a gentleman.  The Duke of
Wellington, writing to Kellerman, on the subject of prisoners on parole,
when opposed to that general in the peninsula, told him that if there was
one thing on which an English officer prided himself more than another,
excepting his courage, it was his truthfulness.  “When English officers,”
said he, “have given their parole of honour not to escape, be sure they
will not break it.  Believe me—trust to their word; the word of an
English officer is a surer guarantee than the vigilance of sentinels.”

True courage and gentleness go hand in hand.  The brave man is generous
and forbearant, never unforgiving and cruel.  It was finely said of Sir
John Franklin by his friend Parry, that “he was a man who never turned
his back upon a danger, yet of that tenderness that he would not brush
away a mosquito.”  A fine trait of character—truly gentle, and worthy of
the spirit of Bayard—was displayed by a French officer in the cavalry
combat of El Bodon in Spain.  He had raised his sword to strike Sir
Felton Harvey, but perceiving his antagonist had only one arm, he
instantly stopped, brought down his sword before Sir Felton in the usual
salute, and rode past.  To this may be added a noble and gentle deed of
Ney during the same Peninsular War.  Charles Napier was taken prisoner at
Corunna, desperately wounded; and his friends at home did not know
whether he was alive or dead.  A special messenger was sent out from
England with a frigate to ascertain his fate.  Baron Clouet received the
flag, and informed Ney of the arrival.  “Let the prisoner see his
friends,” said Ney, “and tell them he is well, and well treated.”  Clouet
lingered, and Ney asked, smiling, “what more he wanted”?  “He has an old
mother, a widow, and blind.”  “Has he? then let him go himself and tell
her he is alive.”  As the exchange of prisoners between the countries was
not then allowed, Ney knew that he risked the displeasure of the Emperor
by setting the young officer at liberty; but Napoleon approved the
generous act.

Notwithstanding the wail which we occasionally hear for the chivalry that
is gone, our own age has witnessed deeds of bravery and gentleness—of
heroic self-denial and manly tenderness—which are unsurpassed in history.
The events of the last few years have shown that our countrymen are as
yet an undegenerate race.  On the bleak plateau of Sebastopol, in the
dripping perilous trenches of that twelvemonth’s leaguer, men of all
classes proved themselves worthy of the noble inheritance of character
which their forefathers have bequeathed to them.  But it was in the hour
of the great trial in India that the qualities of our countrymen shone
forth the brightest.  The march of Neill on Cawnpore, of Havelock on
Lucknow—officers and men alike urged on by the hope of rescuing the women
and the children—are events which the whole history of chivalry cannot
equal.  Outram’s conduct to Havelock, in resigning to him, though his
inferior officer, the honour of leading the attack on Lucknow, was a
trait worthy of Sydney, and alone justifies the title which has been
awarded to him of, “the Bayard of India.”  The death of Henry
Lawrence—that brave and gentle spirit—his last words before dying, “Let
there be no fuss about me; let me be buried _with the men_,”—the anxious
solicitude of Sir Colin Campbell to rescue the beleaguered of Lucknow,
and to conduct his long train of women and children by night from thence
to Cawnpore, which he reached amidst the all but overpowering assault of
the enemy,—the care with which he led them across the perilous bridge,
never ceasing his charge over them until he had seen the precious convoy
safe on the road to Allahabad, and then burst upon the Gwalior contingent
like a thunder-clap;—such things make us feel proud of our countrymen and
inspire the conviction that the best and purest glow of chivalry is not
dead, but vigorously lives among us yet.

Even the common soldiers proved themselves gentlemen under their trials.
At Agra, where so many poor fellows had been scorched and wounded in
their encounter with the enemy, they were brought into the fort, and
tenderly nursed by the ladies; and the rough, gallant fellows proved
gentle as any children.  During the weeks that the ladies watched over
their charge, never a word was said by any soldier that could shock the
ear of the gentlest.  And when all was over—when the mortally-wounded had
died, and the sick and maimed who survived were able to demonstrate their
gratitude—they invited their nurses and the chief people of Agra to an
entertainment in the beautiful gardens of the Taj, where, amidst flowers
and music, the rough veterans, all scarred and mutilated as they were,
stood up to thank their gentle countrywomen who had clothed and fed them,
and ministered to their wants during their time of sore distress.  In the
hospitals at Scutari, too, many wounded and sick blessed the kind English
ladies who nursed them; and nothing can be finer than the thought of the
poor sufferers, unable to rest through pain, blessing the shadow of
Florence Nightingale as it fell upon their pillow in the night watches.

The wreck of the _Birkenhead_ off the coast of Africa on the 27th of
February, 1852, affords another memorable illustration of the chivalrous
spirit of common men acting in this nineteenth century, of which any age
might be proud.  The vessel was steaming along the African coast with 472
men and 166 women and children on board.  The men belonged to several
regiments then serving at the Cape, and consisted principally of recruits
who had been only a short time in the service.  At two o’clock in the
morning, while all were asleep below, the ship struck with violence upon
a hidden rock which penetrated her bottom; and it was at once felt that
she must go down.  The roll of the drums called the soldiers to arms on
the upper deck, and the men mustered as if on parade.  The word was
passed to _save the women and children_; and the helpless creatures were
brought from below, mostly undressed, and handed silently into the boats.
When they had all left the ship’s side, the commander of the vessel
thoughtlessly called out, “All those that can swim, jump overboard and
make for the boats.”  But Captain Wright, of the 91st Highlanders, said,
“No! if you do that, _the boats with the women must be swamped_;” and the
brave men stood motionless.  There was no boat remaining, and no hope of
safety; but not a heart quailed; no one flinched from his duty in that
trying moment.  “There was not a murmur nor a cry amongst them,” said
Captain Wright, a survivor, “until the vessel made her final plunge.”
Down went the ship, and down went the heroic band, firing a _feu de joie_
as they sank beneath the waves.  Glory and honour to the gentle and the
brave!  The examples of such men never die, but, like their memories, are

There are many tests by which a gentleman may be known; but there is one
that never fails—How does he _exercise power_ over those subordinate to
him?  How does he conduct himself towards women and children?  How does
the officer treat his men, the employer his servants, the master his
pupils, and man in every station those who are weaker than himself?  The
discretion, forbearance, and kindliness, with which power in such cases
is used, may indeed be regarded as the crucial test of gentlemanly
character.  When La Motte was one day passing through a crowd, he
accidentally trod upon the foot of a young fellow, who forthwith struck
him on the face: “Ah, sire,” said La Motte, “you will surely be sorry for
what you have done, when you know that _I am blind_.”  He who bullies
those who are not in a position to resist may be a snob, but cannot be a
gentleman.  He who tyrannizes over the weak and helpless may be a coward,
but no true man.  The tyrant, it has been said, is but a slave turned
inside out.  Strength, and the consciousness of strength, in a
right-hearted man, imparts a nobleness to his character; but he will be
most careful how he uses it; for

    “It is excellent
    To have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous
    To use it like a giant.”

Gentleness is indeed the best test of gentlemanliness.  A consideration
for the feelings of others, for his inferiors and dependants as well as
his equals, and respect for their self-respect, will pervade the true
gentleman’s whole conduct.  He will rather himself suffer a small injury,
than by an uncharitable construction of another’s behaviour, incur the
risk of committing a great wrong.  He will be forbearant of the
weaknesses, the failings, and the errors, of those whose advantages in
life have not been equal to his own.  He will be merciful even to his
beast.  He will not boast of his wealth, or his strength, or his gifts.
He will not be puffed up by success, or unduly depressed by failure.  He
will not obtrude his views on others, but speak his mind freely when
occasion calls for it.  He will not confer favours with a patronizing
air.  Sir Walter Scott once said of Lord Lothian, “He is a man from whom
one may receive a favour, and that’s saying a great deal in these days.”

Lord Chatham has said that the gentleman is characterised by his
sacrifice of self and preference of others to himself in the little daily
occurrences of life.  In illustration of this ruling spirit of
considerateness in a noble character, we may cite the anecdote of the
gallant Sir Ralph Abercromby, of whom it is related, that when mortally
wounded in the battle of Aboukir, he was carried in a litter on board the
‘Foudroyant;’ and, to ease his pain, a soldier’s blanket was placed under
his head, from which he experienced considerable relief.  He asked what
it was.  “It’s only a soldier’s blanket,” was the reply.  “_Whose_
blanket is it?” said he, half lifting himself up.  “Only one of the
men’s.”  “I wish to know the name of the man whose blanket this is.”  “It
is Duncan Roy’s, of the 42nd, Sir Ralph.”  “Then see that Duncan Roy gets
his blanket this very night.” {408}  Even to ease his dying agony the
general would not deprive the private soldier of his blanket for one
night.  The incident is as good in its way as that of the dying Sydney
handing his cup of water to the private soldier on the field of Zutphen.

The quaint old Fuller sums up in a few words the character of the true
gentleman and man of action in describing that of the great admiral, Sir
Francis Drake: “Chaste in his life, just in his dealings, true of his
word; merciful to those that were under him, and hating nothing so much
as idlenesse; in matters especially of moment, he was never wont to rely
on other men’s care, how trusty or skilful soever they might seem to be,
but, always contemning danger, and refusing no toyl, he was wont himself
to be one (whoever was a second) at every turn, where courage, skill, or
industry, was to be employed.”


{4}  Napoleon III., ‘Life of Cæsar.’

{15}  Soult received but little education in his youth, and learnt next
to no geography until he became foreign minister of France, when the
study of this branch of knowledge is said to have given him the greatest
pleasure.—‘Œuvres, &c., d’Alexis de Tocqueville.  Par G. de Beaumont.’
Paris, 1861. I. 52

{25}  ‘Œuvres et Correspondance inédite d’Alexis de Tocqueville.  Par
Gustave de Beaumont.’  I. 398.

{26}  “I have seen,” said he, “a hundred times in the course of my life,
a weak man exhibit genuine public virtue, because supported by a wife who
sustained hint in his course, not so much by advising him to such and
such acts, as by exercising a strengthening influence over the manner in
which duty or even ambition was to be regarded.  Much oftener, however,
it must be confessed, have I seen private and domestic life gradually
transform a man to whom nature had given generosity, disinterestedness,
and even some capacity for greatness, into an ambitious, mean-spirited,
vulgar, and selfish creature who, in matters relating to his country,
ended by considering them only in so far as they rendered his own
particular condition more comfortable and easy.”—‘Œuvres de Tocqueville.’
II. 349.

{31}  Since the original publication of this book, the author has in
another work, ‘The Lives of Boulton and Watt,’ endeavoured to portray in
greater detail the character and achievements of these two remarkable

{43a}  The following entry, which occurs in the account of monies
disbursed by the burgesses of Sheffield in 1573 [?] is supposed by some
to refer to the inventor of the stocking frame:—“Item gyven to Willm-Lee,
a poore scholler in Sheafield, towards the settyng him to the Universitie
of Chambrydge, and buying him bookes and other furnyture [which money was
afterwards returned] xiii iiii [13s. 4d.].”—Hunter, ‘History of
Hallamshire,’ 141.

{43b}  ‘History of the Framework Knitters.’

{44}  There are, however, other and different accounts.  One is to the
effect that Lee set about studying the contrivance of the stocking-loom
for the purpose of lessening the labour of a young country-girl to whom
he was attached, whose occupation was knitting; another, that being
married and poor, his wife was under the necessity of contributing to
their joint support by knitting; and that Lee, while watching the motion
of his wife’s fingers, conceived the idea of imitating their movements by
a machine.  The latter story seems to have been invented by Aaron Hill,
Esq., in his ‘Account of the Rise and Progress of the Beech Oil
manufacture,’ London, 1715; but his statement is altogether unreliable.
Thus he makes Lee to have been a Fellow of a college at Oxford, from
which he was expelled for marrying an innkeeper’s daughter; whilst Lee
neither studied at Oxford, nor married there, nor was a Fellow of any
college; and he concludes by alleging that the result of his invention
was to “make Lee and his family happy;” whereas the invention brought him
only a heritage of misery, and he died abroad destitute.

{45}  Blackner, ‘History of Nottingham.’  The author adds, “We have
information, handed down in direct succession from father to son, that it
was not till late in the seventeenth century that one man could manage
the working of a frame.  The man who was considered the workman employed
a labourer, who stood behind the frame to work the slur and pressing
motions; but the application of traddles and of the feet eventually
rendered the labour unnecessary.”

{74}  Palissy’s own words are:—“Le bois m’ayant failli, je fus contraint
brusler les estapes (étaies) qui soustenoyent les tailles de mon jardin,
lesquelles estant bruslées, je fus constraint brusler les tables et
plancher de la maison, afin de faire fondre la seconde composition.
J’estois en une telle angoisse que je ne sçaurois dire: car j’estois tout
tari et deseché à cause du labeur et de la chaleur du fourneau; il y
avoit plus d’un mois que ma chemise n’avoit seiché sur moy, encores pour
me consoler on se moquoit de moy, et mesme ceux qui me devoient secourir
alloient crier par la ville que je faisois brusler le plancher: et par
tel moyen l’on me faisoit perdre mon credit et m’estimoit-on estre fol.
Les autres disoient que je cherchois à faire la fausse monnoye, qui
estoit un mal qui me faisoit seicher sur les pieds; et m’en allois par
les ruës tout baissé comme un homme honteux: . . . personne ne me
secouroit: Mais au contraire ils se mocquoyent de moy, en disant: Il luy
appartient bien de mourir de faim, par ce qu’il delaisse son mestier.
Toutes ces nouvelles venoyent a mes aureilles quand je passois par la
ruë.”  ‘Œuvres Complètes de Palissy.  Paris, 1844;’ De l’Art de Terre, p.

{77}  “Toutes ces fautes m’ont causé un tel lasseur et tristesse
d’esprit, qu’auparavant que j’aye rendu mes émaux fusible à un mesme
degré de feu, j’ay cuidé entrer jusques à la porte du sepulchre: aussi en
me travaillant à tels affaires je me suis trouvé l’espace de plus se dix
ans si fort escoulé en ma personne, qu’il n’y avoit aucune forme ny
apparence de bosse aux bras ny aux jambes: ains estoyent mes dites jambes
toutes d’une venue: de sorte que les liens de quoy j’attachois mes bas de
chausses estoyent, soudain que je cheminois, sur les talons avec le
residu de mes chausses.”—‘Œuvres, 319–20.

{78}  At the sale of Mr. Bernal’s articles of vertu in London a few years
since, one of Palissy’s small dishes, 12 inches in diameter, with a
lizard in the centre, sold for 162_l._

{79}  Within the last few months, Mr. Charles Read, a gentleman curious
in matters of Protestant antiquarianism in France, has discovered one of
the ovens in which Palissy baked his chefs-d’œuvre.  Several moulds of
faces, plants, animals, &c., were dug up in a good state of preservation,
bearing his well-known stamp.  It is situated under the gallery of the
Louvre, in the Place du Carrousel.

{80a}  D’Aubigné, ‘Histoire Universelle.’  The historian adds, “Voyez
l’impudence de ce bilistre! vous diriez qu’il auroit lu ce vers de
Sénèque: ‘On ne peut contraindre celui qui sait mourir: _Qui mori scit_,
cogi nescit.’”

{80b}  The subject of Palissy’s life and labours has been ably and
elaborately treated by Professor Morley in his well-known work.  In the
above brief narrative we have for the most part followed Palissy’s own
account of his experiments as given in his ‘Art de Terre.’

{84}  “Almighty God, the great Creator,
Has changed a goldmaker to a potter.”

{85}  The whole of the Chinese and Japanese porcelain was formerly known
as Indian porcelain—probably because it was first brought by the
Portuguese from India to Europe, after the discovery of the Cape of Good
Hope by Vasco da Gama.

{89}  ‘Wedgwood: an Address delivered at Burslem, Oct. 26th, 1863.’  By
the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, M.P.

{115}  It was characteristic of Mr. Hume, that, during his professional
voyages between England and India, he should diligently apply his spare
time to the study of navigation and seamanship; and many years after, it
proved of use to him in a remarkable manner.  In 1825, when on his
passage from London to Leith by a sailing smack, the vessel had scarcely
cleared the mouth of the Thames when a sudden storm came on, she was
driven out of her course, and, in the darkness of the night, she struck
on the Goodwin Sands.  The captain, losing his presence of mind, seemed
incapable of giving coherent orders, and it is probable that the vessel
would have become a total wreck, had not one of the passengers suddenly
taken the command and directed the working of the ship, himself taking
the helm while the danger lasted.  The vessel was saved, and the stranger
was Mr. Hume.

{149}  ‘Saturday Review,’ July 3rd, 1858.

{173}  Mrs. Grote’s ‘Memoir of the Life of Ary Scheffer,’ p. 67.

{201}  While the sheets of this revised edition are passing through the
press, the announcement appears in the local papers of the death of Mr.
Jackson at the age of fifty.  His last work, completed shortly before his
death, was a cantata, entitled ‘The Praise of Music.’  The above
particulars of his early life were communicated by himself to the author
several years since, while he was still carrying on his business of a
tallow-chandler at Masham.

{216}  Mansfield owed nothing to his noble relations, who were poor and
uninfluential.  His success was the legitimate and logical result of the
means which he sedulously employed to secure it.  When a boy he rode up
from Scotland to London on a pony—taking two months to make the journey.
After a course of school and college, he entered upon the profession of
the law, and he closed a career of patient and ceaseless labour as Lord
Chief Justice of England—the functions of which he is universally
admitted to have performed with unsurpassed ability, justice, and honour.

{263}  On ‘Thought and Action.’

{277}  ‘Correspondance de Napoléon Ier.,’ publiée par ordre de l’Empereur
Napoléon III, Paris, 1864.

{283}  The recently published correspondence of Napoleon with his brother
Joseph, and the Memoirs of the Duke of Ragusa, abundantly confirm this
view.  The Duke overthrew Napoleon’s generals by the superiority of his
routine.  He used to say that, if he knew anything at all, he knew how to
feed an army.

{313}  His old gardener.  Collingwood’s favourite amusement was
gardening.  Shortly after the battle of Trafalgar a brother admiral
called upon him, and, after searching for his lordship all over the
garden, he at last discovered him, with old Scott, in the bottom of a
deep trench which they were busily employed in digging.

{319}  Article in the ‘Times.’

{321}  ‘Self-Development: an Address to Students,’ by George Ross, M.D.,
pp. 1–20, reprinted from the ‘Medical Circular.’  This address, to which
we acknowledge our obligations, contains many admirable thoughts on
self-culture, is thoroughly healthy in its tone, and well deserves
republication in an enlarged form.

{329}  ‘Saturday Review.’

{354}  See the admirable and well-known book, ‘The Pursuit of Knowledge
under Difficulties.’

{356a}  Late Professor of Moral Philosophy at St. Andrew’s.

{356b}  A writer in the ‘Edinburgh Review’ (July, 1859) observes that
“the Duke’s talents seem never to have developed themselves until some
active and practical field for their display was placed immediately
before him.  He was long described by his Spartan mother, who thought him
a dunce, as only ‘food for powder.’  He gained no sort of distinction,
either at Eton or at the French Military College of Angers.”  It is not
improbable that a competitive examination, at this day, might have
excluded him from the army.

{357}  Correspondent of ‘The Times,’ 11th June, 1863.

{392}  Robertson’s ‘Life and Letters,’ i. 258.

{400}  On the 11th January, 1866.

{408}  Brown’s ‘Horæ Subsecivæ.’

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to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.