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Character by Samuel Smiles

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(10) 'Life of Curran,' by his son, p. 4.

(11) The father of the Wesleys had even determined at one time to
abandon his wife because her conscience forbade her to assent to
his prayers for the then reigning monarch, and he was only saved
from the consequences of his rash resolve by the accidental death
of William III. He displayed the same overbearing disposition in
dealing with his children; forcing his daughter Mehetabel to
marry, against her will, a man whom she did not love, and who
proved entirely unworthy of her.

(12) Goethe himself says--
"Vom Vater hab' ich die Statur,
Des Lebens ernstes Fuhren;
Von Mutterchen die Frohnatur
Und Lust zu fabuliren."

(13) Mrs. Grote's 'Life of Ary Scheffer,' p. 154.

(14) Michelet, 'On Priests, Women, and Families.'

(15) Mrs. Byron is said to have died in a fit of passion, brought on by
reading her upholsterer's bills.

(16) Sainte-Beuve, 'Causeries du Lundi,' i. 23.

(17) Ibid. i. 22.

(18) Ibid. 1. 23.

(19) That about one-third of all the children born in this country die
under five years of age, can only he attributable to ignorance of
the natural laws, ignorance of the human constitution, and
ignorance of the uses of pure air, pure water, and of the art of
preparing and administering wholesome food. There is no such
mortality amongst the lower animals.

(20) Beaumarchais' 'Figaro,' which was received with such enthusiasm
in France shortly before the outbreak of the Revolution, may be
regarded as a typical play; it represented the average morality of
the upper as well as the lower classes with respect to the
relations between the sexes. "Label men how you please," says
Herbert Spencer, "with titles of 'upper' and 'middle' and 'lower,'
you cannot prevent them from being units of the same society,
acted upon by the same spirit of the age, moulded after the same
type of character. The mechanical law, that action and reaction
are equal, has its moral analogue. The deed of one man to another
tends ultimately to produce a like effect upon both, be the deed
good or bad. Do but put them in relationship, and no division
into castes, no differences of wealth, can prevent men from
assimilating.... The same influences which rapidly adapt the
individual to his society, ensure, though by a slower process, the
general uniformity of a national character.... And so long as the
assimilating influences productive of it continue at work, it is
folly to suppose any one grade of a community can be morally
different from the rest. In whichever rank you see corruption, be
assured it equally pervades all ranks--be assured it is the
symptom of a bad social diathesis. Whilst the virus of depravity
exists in one part of the body-politic, no other part can remain
healthy."--SOCIAL STATICS, chap. xx. 7.

(21) Some twenty-eight years since, the author wrote and published the
following passage, not without practical knowledge of the subject;
and notwithstanding the great amelioration in the lot of factory-
workers, effected mainly through the noble efforts of Lord
Shaftesbury, the description is still to a large extent true:--
"The factory system, however much it may have added to the wealth
of the country, has had a most deleterious effect on the domestic
condition of the people. It has invaded the sanctuary of home,
and broken up family and social ties. It has taken the wife from
the husband, and the children from their parents. Especially has
its tendency been to lower the character of woman. The
performance of domestic duties is her proper office,--the
management of her household, the rearing of her family, the
economizing of the family means, the supplying of the family
wants. But the factory takes her from all these duties. Homes
become no longer homes. Children grow up uneducated and
neglected. The finer affections become blunted. Woman is no more
the gentle wife, companion, and friend of man, but his fellow-
labourer and fellow-drudge. She is exposed to influences which
too often efface that modesty of thought and conduct which is one
of the best safeguards of virtue. Without judgment or sound
principles to guide them, factory-girls early acquire the feeling
of independence. Ready to throw off the constraint imposed on
them by their parents, they leave their homes, and speedily become
initiated in the vices of their associates. The atmosphere,
physical as well as moral, in which they live, stimulates their
animal appetites; the influence of bad example becomes contagious
among them and mischief is propagated far and wide."--THE UNION,
January, 1843.

(22)A French satirist, pointing to the repeated PLEBISCITES and
perpetual voting of late years, and to the growing want of faith
in anything but votes, said, in 1870, that we seemed to be rapidly
approaching the period when the only prayer of man and woman would
be, "Give us this day our daily vote!"

(23) "Of primeval and necessary and absolute superiority, the relation
of the mother to the child is far more complete, though less
seldom quoted as an example, than that of father and son.... By
Sir Robert Filmer, the supposed necessary as well as absolute
power of the father over his children, was taken as the foundation
and origin, and thence justifying cause, of the power of the
monarch in every political state. With more propriety he might
have stated the absolute dominion of a woman as the only
legitimate form of government."--DEONTOLOGY, ii. 181.


"Keep good company, and you shall be of the number."

"For mine own part,
I Shall be glad to learn of noble men."--SHAKSPEARE

"Examples preach to th' eye--Care then, mine says,
Not how you end but how you spend your days."

"Dis moi qui t'admire, et je dirai qui tu es."--SAINTE-BEUVE

He that means to be a good limner will be sure to draw after the
most excellent copies and guide every stroke of his pencil by the
better pattern that lays before him; so he that desires that the
table of his life may be fair, will be careful to propose the best
examples, and will never be content till he equals or excels

The natural education of the Home is prolonged far into life--
indeed, it never entirely ceases. But the time arrives, in the
progress of years, when the Home ceases to exercise an exclusive
influence on the formation of character; and it is succeeded by
the more artificial education of the school and the companionship
of friends and comrades, which continue to mould the character by
the powerful influence of example.

Men, young and old--but the young more than the old--cannot help
imitating those with whom they associate. It was a saying of
George Herbert's mother, intended for the guidance of her sons,
"that as our bodies take a nourishment suitable to the meat on
which we feed, so do our souls as insensibly take in virtue or
vice by the example or conversation of good or bad company."

Indeed, it is impossible that association with those about us
should not produce a powerful influence in the formation of
character. For men are by nature imitators, and all persons are
more or less impressed by the speech, the manners, the gait, the
gestures, and the very habits of thinking of their companions.
"Is example nothing?" said Burke. "It is everything. Example is
the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other." Burke's
grand motto, which he wrote for the tablet of the Marquis of
Rockingham, is worth repeating: it was, "Remember--resemble--

Imitation is for the most part so unconscious that its effects are
almost unheeded, but its influence is not the less permanent on
that account. It is only when an impressive nature is placed in
contact with an impressionable one, that the alteration in the
character becomes recognisable. Yet even the weakest natures
exercise some influence upon those about them. The approximation
of feeling, thought, and habit is constant, and the action of
example unceasing.

Emerson has observed that even old couples, or persons who have
been housemates for a course of years, grow gradually like each
other; so that, if they were to live long enough, we should
scarcely be able to know them apart. But if this be true of the
old, how much more true is it of the young, whose plastic natures
are so much more soft and impressionable, and ready to take the
stamp of the life and conversation of those about them!

"There has been," observed Sir Charles Bell in one of his letters,
"a good deal said about education, but they appear to me to put
out of sight EXAMPLE, which is all-in-all. My best education was
the example set me by my brothers. There was, in all the members
of the family, a reliance on self, a true independence, and by
imitation I obtained it." (1)

It is in the nature of things that the circumstances which
contribute to form the character, should exercise their principal
influence during the period of growth. As years advance, example
and imitation become custom, and gradually consolidate into habit,
which is of so much potency that, almost before we know it, we
have in a measure yielded up to it our personal freedom.

It is related of Plato, that on one occasion he reproved a boy for
playing at some foolish game. "Thou reprovest me," said the boy,
"for a very little thing." "But custom," replied Plato, "is not a
little thing." Bad custom, consolidated into habit, is such a
tyrant that men sometimes cling to vices even while they curse
them. They have become the slaves of habits whose power they
are impotent to resist. Hence Locke has said that to create
and maintain that vigour of mind which is able to contest the
empire of habit, may be regarded as one of the chief ends
of moral discipline.

Though much of the education of character by example is
spontaneous and unconscious, the young need not necessarily be the
passive followers or imitators of those about them. Their own
conduct, far more than the conduct of their companions, tends to
fix the purpose and form the principles of their life. Each
possesses in himself a power of will and of free activity, which,
if courageously exercised, will enable him to make his own
individual selection of friends and associates. It is only
through weakness of purpose that young people, as well as old,
become the slaves of their inclinations, or give themselves up to
a servile imitation of others.

It is a common saying that men are known by the company they keep.
The sober do not naturally associate with the drunken, the refined
with the coarse, the decent with the dissolute. To associate with
depraved persons argues a low taste and vicious tendencies, and to
frequent their society leads to inevitable degradation of
character. "The conversation of such persons," says Seneca, "is
very injurious; for even if it does no immediate harm, it leaves
its seeds in the mind, and follows us when we have gone from the
speakers--a plague sure to spring up in future resurrection."

If young men are wisely influenced and directed, and
conscientiously exert their own free energies, they will seek the
society of those better than themselves, and strive to imitate
their example. In companionship with the good, growing natures
will always find their best nourishment; while companionship with
the bad will only be fruitful in mischief. There are persons whom
to know is to love, honour, and admire; and others whom to know is
to shun and despise,--"DONT LE SAVOIR N'EST QUE BETERIE," as says
Rabelais when speaking of the education of Gargantua. Live with
persons of elevated characters, and you will feel lifted and
lighted up in them: "Live with wolves," says the Spanish proverb,
"and you will learn to howl."

Intercourse with even commonplace, selfish persons, may prove most
injurious, by inducing a dry, dull reserved, and selfish condition
of mind, more or less inimical to true manliness and breadth of
character. The mind soon learns to run in small grooves, the
heart grows narrow and contracted, and the moral nature becomes
weak, irresolute, and accommodating, which is fatal to all
generous ambition or real excellence.

On the other hand, association with persons wiser, better, and
more experienced than ourselves, is always more or less inspiring
and invigorating. They enhance our own knowledge of life. We
correct our estimates by theirs, and become partners in their
wisdom. We enlarge our field of observation through their eyes,
profit by their experience, and learn not only from what they have
enjoyed, but--which is still more instructive--from what they
have suffered. If they are stronger than ourselves, we become
participators in their strength. Hence companionship with the
wise and energetic never fails to have a most valuable influence
on the formation of character--increasing our resources,
strengthening our resolves, elevating our aims, and enabling us to
exercise greater dexterity and ability in our own affairs, as well
as more effective helpfulness of others.

"I have often deeply regretted in myself," says Mrs.
Schimmelpenninck, "the great loss I have experienced from the
solitude of my early habits. We need no worse companion than our
unregenerate selves, and, by living alone, a person not only
becomes wholly ignorant of the means of helping his fellow-
creatures, but is without the perception of those wants which most
need help. Association with others, when not on so large a scale
as to make hours of retirement impossible, may be considered as
furnishing to an individual a rich multiplied experience; and
sympathy so drawn forth, though, unlike charity, it begins abroad,
never fails to bring back rich treasures home. Association with
others is useful also in strengthening the character, and in
enabling us, while we never lose sight of our main object, to
thread our way wisely and well." (2)

An entirely new direction may be given to the life of a young man
by a happy suggestion, a timely hint, or the kindly advice of an
honest friend. Thus the life of Henry Martyn the Indian
missionary, seems to have been singularly influenced by a
friendship which he formed, when a boy, at Truro Grammar School.
Martyn himself was of feeble frame, and of a delicate nervous
temperament. Wanting in animal spirits, he took but little
pleasure in school sports; and being of a somewhat petulant
temper, the bigger boys took pleasure in provoking him, and some
of them in bullying him. One of the bigger boys, however,
conceiving a friendship for Martyn, took him under his protection,
stood between him and his persecutors, and not only fought his
battles for him, but helped him with his lessons. Though Martyn
was rather a backward pupil, his father was desirous that he
should have the advantage of a college education, and at the age
of about fifteen he sent him to Oxford to try for a Corpus
scholarship, in which he failed. He remained for two years more
at the Truro Grammar School, and then went to Cambridge, where he
was entered at St. John's College. Who should he find already
settled there as a student but his old champion of the Truro
Grammar School? Their friendship was renewed; and the elder
student from that time forward acted as the Mentor, of the younger
one. Martyn was fitful in his studies, excitable and petulant,
and occasionally subject to fits of almost uncontrollable rage.
His big friend, on the other hand, was a steady, patient,
hardworking fellow; and he never ceased to watch over, to guide,
and to advise for good his irritable fellow-student. He kept
Martyn out of the way of evil company, advised him to work hard,
"not for the praise of men, but for the glory of God;" and so
successfully assisted him in his studies, that at the following
Christmas examination he was the first of his year. Yet Martyn's
kind friend and Mentor never achieved any distinction himself; he
passed away into obscurity, leading, most probably, a useful
though an unknown career; his greatest wish in life having been to
shape the character of his friend, to inspire his soul with the
love of truth, and to prepare him for the noble work, on which he
shortly after entered, of an Indian missionary.

A somewhat similar incident is said to have occurred in the
college career of Dr. Paley. When a student at Christ's College
Cambridge, he was distinguished for his shrewdness as well as his
clumsiness, and he was at the same time the favourite and the butt
of his companions. Though his natural abilities were great, he
was thoughtless, idle, and a spendthrift; and at the commencement
of his third year be had made comparatively little progress.
After one of his usual night-dissipations, a friend stood by his
bedside on the following morning. "Paley," said he, "I have not
been able to sleep for thinking about you. I have been thinking
what a fool you are! I have the means of dissipation, and can
afford to be idle: YOU are poor, and cannot afford it. I could do
nothing, probably, even were I to try: YOU are capable of doing
anything. I have lain awake all night thinking about your folly,
and I have now come solemnly to warn you. Indeed, if you persist
in your indolence, and go on in this way, I must renounce your
society altogether!

It is said that Paley was so powerfully affected by this
admonition, that from that moment he became an altered man. He
formed an entirely new plan of life, and diligently persevered in
it. He became one of the most industrious of students. One by
one he distanced his competitors, and at the end of the year be
came out Senior Wrangler. What he afterwards accomplished as an
author and a divine is sufficiently well known.

No one recognised more fully the influence of personal example on
the young than did Dr. Arnold. It was the great lever with which
he worked in striving to elevate the character of his school. He
made it his principal object, first to put a right spirit into the
leading boys, by attracting their good and noble feelings; and
then to make them instrumental in propagating the same spirit
among the rest, by the influence of imitation, example, and
admiration. He endeavoured to make all feel that they were
fellow-workers with himself, and sharers with him in the moral
responsibility for the good government of the place. One of the
first effects of this highminded system of management was, that it
inspired the boys with strength and self-respect. They felt that
they were trusted. There were, of course, MAUVAIS SUJETS at
Rugby, as there are at all schools; and these it was the master's
duty to watch, to prevent their bad example contaminating others.
On one occasion he said to an assistant-master: "Do you see those
two boys walking together? I never saw them together before. You
should make an especial point of observing the company they keep:
nothing so tells the changes in a boy's character."

Dr. Arnold's own example was an inspiration, as is that of every
great teacher. In his presence, young men learned to respect
themselves; and out of the root of self-respect there grew up the
manly virtues. "His very presence," says his biographer, "seemed
to create a new spring of health and vigour within them, and to
give to life an interest and elevation which remained with them
long after they had left him; and dwelt so habitually in their
thoughts as a living image, that, when death had taken him away,
the bond appeared to be still unbroken, and the sense of
separation almost lost in the still deeper sense of a life and a
Union indestructible." (3) And thus it was that Dr. Arnold
trained a host of manly and noble characters, who spread the
influence of his example in all parts of the world.

So also was it said of Dugald Stewart, that he breathed the love
of virtue into whole generations of pupils. "To me," says the
late Lord Cockburn, "his lectures were like the opening of the
heavens. I felt that I had a soul. His noble views, unfolded in
glorious sentences, elevated me into a higher world... They
changed my whole nature." (4)

Character tells in all conditions of life. The man of good
character in a workshop will give the tone to his fellows, and
elevate their entire aspirations. Thus Franklin, while a workman
in London, is said to have reformed the manners of an entire
workshop. So the man of bad character and debased energy will
unconsciously lower and degrade his fellows. Captain John Brown--
the "marching-on Brown"--once said to Emerson, that "for a
settler in a new country, one good believing man is worth a
hundred, nay, worth a thousand men without character." His
example is so contagious, that all other men are directly and
beneficially influenced by him, and he insensibly elevates and
lifts them up to his own standard of energetic activity.

Communication with the good is invariably productive of good. The
good character is diffusive in his influence. "I was common clay
till roses were planted in me," says some aromatic earth in the
Eastern fable. Like begets like, and good makes good. "It is
astonishing," says Canon Moseley, "how much good goodness makes.
Nothing that is good is alone, nor anything bad; it makes others
good or others bad--and that other, and so on: like a stone
thrown into a pond, which makes circles that make other wider
ones, and then others, till the last reaches the shore.... Almost
all the good that is in the world has, I suppose, thus come down
to us traditionally from remote times, and often unknown centres
of good." (5) So Mr. Ruskin says, "That which is born of evil
begets evil; and that which is born of valour and honour, teaches
valour and honour."

Hence it is that the life of every man is a daily inculcation of
good or bad example to others. The life of a good man is at the
same time the most eloquent lesson of virtue and the most severe
reproof of vice. Dr. Hooker described the life of a pious
clergyman of his acquaintance as "visible rhetoric," convincing
even the most godless of the beauty of goodness. And so the good
George Herbert said, on entering upon the duties of his parish:
"Above all, I will be sure to live well, because the virtuous life
of a clergyman is the most powerful eloquence, to persuade all who
see it to reverence and love, and--at least to desire to live
like him. And this I will do," he added, "because I know we live
in an age that hath more need of good examples than precepts." It
was a fine saying of the same good priest, when reproached with
doing an act of kindness to a poor man, considered beneath the
dignity of his office,--that the thought of such actions "would
prove music to him at midnight." (6) Izaak Walton speaks of a
letter written by George Herbert to Bishop Andrewes, about a holy
life, which the latter "put into his bosom," and after showing it
to his scholars, "did always return it to the place where he first
lodged it, and continued it so, near his heart, till the last day
of his life."

Great is the power of goodness to charm and to command. The man
inspired by it is the true king of men, drawing all hearts after
him. When General Nicholson lay wounded on his deathbed before
Delhi, he dictated this last message to his equally noble and
gallant friend, Sir Herbert Edwardes:- "Tell him," said he, "I
should have been a better man if I had continued to live with him,
and our heavy public duties had not prevented my seeing more of
him privately. I was always the better for a residence with him
and his wife, however short. Give my love to them both!"

There are men in whose presence we feel as if we breathed a
spiritual ozone, refreshing and invigorating, like inhaling
mountain air, or enjoying a bath of sunshine. The power of Sir
Thomas More's gentle nature was so great that it subdued the bad
at the same time that it inspired the good. Lord Brooke said of
his deceased friend, Sir Philip Sidney, that "his wit and
understanding beat upon his heart, to make himself and others, not
in word or opinion, but in life and action, good and great."

The very sight of a great and good man is often an inspiration to
the young, who cannot help admiring and loving the gentle, the
brave, the truthful, the magnanimous! Cbateaubriand saw
Washington only once, but it inspired him for life. After
describing the interview, he says: "Washington sank into the tomb
before any little celebrity had attached to my name. I passed
before him as the most unknown of beings. He was in all his glory
--I in the depth of my obscurity. My name probably dwelt not a
whole day in his memory. Happy, however, was I that his looks
were cast upon me. I have felt warmed for it all the rest of my
life. There is a virtue even in the looks of a great man."

When Niebuhr died, his friend, Frederick Perthes, said of him:
"What a contemporary! The terror of all bad and base men, the stay
of all the sterling and honest, the friend and helper of youth."
Perthes said on another occasion: "It does a wrestling man good to
be constantly surrounded by tried wrestlers; evil thoughts are put
to flight when the eye falls on the portrait of one in whose
living presence one would have blushed to own them." A Catholic
money-lender, when about to cheat, was wont to draw a veil over
the picture of his favourite saint. So Hazlitt has said of the
portrait of a beautiful female, that it seemed as if an unhandsome
action would be impossible in its presence. "It does one good to
look upon his manly honest face," said a poor German woman,
pointing to a portrait of the great Reformer hung upon the wall of
her humble dwelling.

Even the portrait of a noble or a good man, hung up in a room, is
companionship after a sort. It gives us a closer personal
interest in him. Looking at the features, we feel as if we knew
him better, and were more nearly related to him. It is a link
that connects us with a higher and better nature than our own.
And though we may be far from reaching the standard of our hero,
we are, to a certain extent, sustained and fortified by his
depicted presence constantly before us.

Fox was proud to acknowledge how much he owed to the example and
conversation of Burke. On one occasion he said of him, that "if
he was to put all the political information he had gained from
books, all that he had learned from science, or that the knowledge
of the world and its affairs taught him, into one scale, and the
improvement he had derived from Mr. Burke's conversation and
instruction into the other, the latter would preponderate."

Professor Tyndall speaks of Faraday's friendship as "energy and
inspiration." After spending an evening with him he wrote: "His
work excites admiration, but contact with him warms and elevates
the heart. Here, surely, is a strong man. I love strength, but
let me not forget the example of its union with modesty,
tenderness, and sweetness, in the character of Faraday."

Even the gentlest natures are powerful to influence the character
of others for good. Thus Wordsworth seems to have been especially
impressed by the character of his sister Dorothy, who exercised
upon his mind and heart a lasting influence. He describes her as
the blessing of his boyhood as well as of his manhood. Though two
years younger than himself, her tenderness and sweetness
contributed greatly to mould his nature, and open his mind to the
influences of poetry:

"She gave me eyes, she gave me ears,
And humble cares, and delicate fears;
A heart, the fountain of sweet tears,
And love and thought and joy."

Thus the gentlest natures are enabled, by the power of affection
and intelligence, to mould the characters of men destined to
influence and elevate their race through all time.

Sir William Napier attributed the early direction of his
character, first to the impress made upon it by his mother, when a
boy; and afterwards to the noble example of his commander, Sir
John Moore, when a man. Moore early detected the qualities of the
young officer; and he was one of those to whom the General
addressed the encouragement, "Well done, my majors!" at Corunna.
Writing home to his mother, and describing the little court by
which Moore was surrounded, he wrote, "Where shall we find such a
king?" It was to his personal affection for his chief that the
world is mainly indebted to Sir William Napier for his great book,
'The History of the Peninsular War.' But he was stimulated to
write the book by the advice of another friend, the late Lord
Langdale, while one day walking with him across the fields on
which Belgravia is now built. "It was Lord Langdale," he says,
"who first kindled the fire within me." And of Sir William Napier
himself, his biographer truly says, that "no thinking person could
ever come in contact with him without being strongly impressed
with the genius of the man.

The career of the late Dr. Marshall Hall was a lifelong
illustration of the influence of character in forming character.
Many eminent men still living trace their success in life to his
suggestions and assistance, without which several valuable lines
of study and investigation might not have been entered on, at
least at so early a period. He would say to young men about him,
"Take up a subject and pursue it well, and you cannot fail to
succeed." And often he would throw out a new idea to a young
friend, saying, "I make you a present of it; there is fortune in
it, if you pursue it with energy."

Energy of character has always a power to evoke energy in others.
It acts through sympathy, one of the most influential of human
agencies. The zealous energetic man unconsciously carries others
along with him. His example is contagious, and compels imitation.
He exercises a sort of electric power, which sends a thrill
through every fibre--flows into the nature of those about him,
and makes them give out sparks of fire.

Dr. Arnold's biographer, speaking of the power of this kind
exercised by him over young men, says: "It was not so much an
enthusiastic admiration for true genius, or learning, or
eloquence, which stirred within them; it was a sympathetic thrill,
caught from a spirit that was earnestly at work in the world--
whose work was healthy, sustained, and constantly carried forward
in the fear of God--a work that was founded on a deep sense of
its duty and its value." (7)

Such a power, exercised by men of genius, evokes courage,
enthusiasm, and devotion. It is this intense admiration for
individuals--such as one cannot conceive entertained for a
multitude--which has in all times produced heroes and martyrs.
It is thus that the mastery of character makes itself felt. It
acts by inspiration, quickening and vivifying the natures subject
to its influence.

Great minds are rich in radiating force, not only exerting power,
but communicating and even creating it. Thus Dante raised and
drew after him a host of great spirits--Petrarch, Boccacio,
Tasso, and many more. From him Milton learnt to bear the stings
of evil tongues and the contumely of evil days; and long years
after, Byron, thinking of Dante under the pine-trees of Ravenna,
was incited to attune his harp to loftier strains than he had ever
attempted before. Dante inspired the greatest painters of Italy--
Giotto, Orcagna, Michael Angelo, and Raphael. So Ariosto and
Titian mutually inspired one another, and lighted up each
other's glory.

Great and good men draw others after them, exciting the
spontaneous admiration of mankind. This admiration of noble
character elevates the mind, and tends to redeem it from the
bondage of self, one of the greatest stumbling blocks to moral
improvement. The recollection of men who have signalised
themselves by great thoughts or great deeds, seems as if to create
for the time a purer atmosphere around us: and we feel as if our
aims and purposes were unconsciously elevated.

"Tell me whom you admire," said Sainte-Beuve, "and I will tell you
what you are, at least as regards your talents, tastes, and
character." Do you admire mean men?--your own nature is mean.
Do you admire rich men?--you are of the earth, earthy. Do you
admire men of title?--you are a toad-eater, or a tuft-hunter. (8)
Do you admire honest, brave, and manly men?--you are yourself of
an honest, brave, and manly spirit.

It is in the season of youth, while the character is forming, that
the impulse to admire is the greatest. As we advance in life, we
crystallize into habit; and "NIL ADMIRARI" too often becomes our
motto. It is well to encourage the admiration of great characters
while the nature is plastic and open to impressions; for if the
good are not admired--as young men will have their heroes of some
sort--most probably the great bad may be taken by them for
models. Hence it always rejoiced Dr. Arnold to hear his pupils
expressing admiration of great deeds, or full of enthusiasm for
persons or even scenery. "I believe," said he, "that "NIL
ADMIRARI" is the devil's favourite text; and he could not choose a
better to introduce his pupils into the more esoteric parts of his
doctrine. And, therefore, I have always looked upon a man
infected with the disorder of anti-romance as one who has lost the
finest part of his nature, and his best protection against
everything low and foolish." (9)

It was a fine trait in the character of Prince Albert that he was
always so ready to express generous admiration of the good deeds
of others. "He had the greatest delight," says the ablest
delineator of his character, "in anybody else saying a fine
saying, or doing a great deed. He would rejoice over it, and talk
about it for days; and whether it was a thing nobly said or done
by a little child, or by a veteran statesman, it gave him equal
pleasure. He delighted in humanity doing well on any occasion and
in any manner." (10)

"No quality," said Dr. Johnson, "will get a man more friends than
a sincere admiration of the qualities of others. It indicates
generosity of nature, frankness, cordiality, and cheerful
recognition of merit." It was to the sincere--it might almost be
said the reverential--admiration of Johnson by Boswell, that we
owe one of the best biographies ever written. One is disposed to
think that there must have been some genuine good qualities in
Boswell to have been attracted by such a man as Johnson, and to
have kept faithful to his worship in spite of rebuffs and
snubbings innumerable. Macaulay speaks of Boswell as an
altogether contemptible person--as a coxcomb and a bore--weak,
vain, pushing, curious, garrulous; and without wit, humour, or
eloquence. But Carlyle is doubtless more just in his
characterisation of the biographer, in whom--vain and foolish
though he was in many respects--he sees a man penetrated by the
old reverent feeling of discipleship, full of love and admiration
for true wisdom and excellence. Without such qualities, Carlyle
insists, the 'Life of Johnson' never could have been written.
"Boswell wrote a good book," he says, "because he had a heart and
an eye to discern wisdom, and an utterance to render it forth;
because of his free insight, his lively talent, and, above all, of
his love and childlike openmindedness."

Most young men of generous mind have their heroes, especially if
they be book-readers. Thus Allan Cunningham, when a mason's
apprentice in Nithsdale, walked all the way to Edinburgh for the
sole purpose of seeing Sir Walter Scott as he passed along the
street. We unconsciously admire the enthusiasm of the lad, and
respect the impulse which impelled him to make the journey. It is
related of Sir Joshua Reynolds, that when a boy of ten, he thrust
his hand through intervening rows of people to touch Pope, as if
there were a sort of virtue in the contact. At a much later
period, the painter Haydon was proud to see and to touch Reynolds
when on a visit to his native place. Rogers the poet used to tell
of his ardent desire, when a boy, to see Dr. Johnson; but when his
hand was on the knocker of the house in Bolt Court, his courage
failed him, and he turned away. So the late Isaac Disraeli, when
a youth, called at Bolt Court for the same purpose; and though be
HAD the courage to knock, to his dismay he was informed by the
servant that the great lexicographer had breathed his last only a
few hours before.

On the contrary, small and ungenerous minds cannot admire
heartily. To their own great misfortune, they cannot recognise,
much less reverence, great men and great things. The mean nature
admires meanly. The toad's highest idea of beauty is his toadess.
The small snob's highest idea of manhood is the great snob. The
slave-dealer values a man according to his muscles. When a Guinea
trader was told by Sir Godfrey Kneller, in the presence of Pope,
that he saw before him two of the greatest men in the world, he
replied: "I don't know how great you may be, but I don't like your
looks. I have often bought a man much better than both of you
together, all bones and muscles, for ten guineas!"

Although Rochefoucauld, in one of his maxims, says that there is
something that is not altogether disagreeable to us in the
misfortunes of even our best friends, it is only the small and
essentially mean nature that finds pleasure in the disappointment,
and annoyance at the success of others. There are, unhappily, for
themselves, persons so constituted that they have not the heart to
be generous. The most disagreeable of all people are those who
"sit in the seat of the scorner." Persons of this sort often come
to regard the success of others, even in a good work, as a kind of
personal offence. They cannot bear to hear another praised,
especially if he belong to their own art, or calling, or
profession. They will pardon a man's failures, but cannot forgive
his doing a thing better than they can do. And where they have
themselves failed, they are found to be the most merciless of
detractors. The sour critic thinks of his rival:

"When Heaven with such parts has blest him,
Have I not reason to detest him?"

The mean mind occupies itself with sneering, carping, and fault-
finding; and is ready to scoff at everything but impudent
effrontery or successful vice. The greatest consolation of such
persons are the defects of men of character. "If the wise erred
not," says George Herbert, "it would go hard with fools." Yet,
though wise men may learn of fools by avoiding their errors, fools
rarely profit by the example which, wise men set them. A German
writer has said that it is a miserable temper that cares only to
discover the blemishes in the character of great men or great
periods. Let us rather judge them with the charity of
Bolingbroke, who, when reminded of one of the alleged weaknesses
of Marlborough, observed,--"He was so great a man that I forgot
he had that defect."

Admiration of great men, living or dead, naturally evokes
imitation of them in a greater or less degree. While a mere
youth, the mind of Themistocles was fired by the great deeds of
his contemporaries, and he longed to distinguish himself in the
service of his country. When the Battle of Marathon had been
fought, he fell into a state of melancholy; and when asked by his
friends as to the cause, he replied "that the trophies of
Miltiades would not suffer him to sleep." A few years later, we
find him at the head of the Athenian army, defeating the Persian
fleet of Xerxes in the battles of Artemisium and Salamis,--his
country gratefully acknowledging that it had been saved through
his wisdom and valour.

It is related of Thucydides that, when a boy, he burst into tears
on hearing Herodotus read his History, and the impression made
upon his mind was such as to determine the bent of his own genius.
And Demosthenes was so fired on one occasion by the eloquence of
Callistratus, that the ambition was roused within him of becoming
an orator himself. Yet Demosthenes was physically weak, had a
feeble voice, indistinct articulation, and shortness of breath--
defects which he was only enabled to overcome by diligent study
and invincible determination. But, with all his practice, he
never became a ready speaker; all his orations, especially the
most famous of them, exhibiting indications of careful
elaboration,--the art and industry of the orator being visible in
almost every sentence.

Similar illustrations of character imitating character, and
moulding itself by the style and manner and genius of great men,
are to be found pervading all history. Warriors, statesmen,
orators, patriots, poets, and artists--all have been, more or
less unconsciously, nurtured by the lives and actions of others
living before them or presented for their imitation.

Great men have evoked the admiration of kings, popes, and
emperors. Francis de Medicis never spoke to Michael Angelo
without uncovering, and Julius III. made him sit by his side while
a dozen cardinals were standing. Charles V. made way for Titian;
and one day, when the brush dropped from the painter's hand,
Charles stooped and picked it up, saying, "You deserve to be
served by an emperor." Leo X. threatened with excommunication
whoever should print and sell the poems of Ariosto without the
author's consent. The same pope attended the deathbed of Raphael,
as Francis I. did that of Leonardo da Vinci.

Though Haydn once archly observed that he was loved and esteemed
by everybody except professors of music, yet all the greatest
musicians were unusually ready to recognise each other's
greatness. Haydn himself seems to have been entirely free from
petty jealousy. His admiration of the famous Porpora was such,
that he resolved to gain admission to his house, and serve him as
a valet. Having made the acquaintance of the family with whom
Porpora lived, he was allowed to officiate in that capacity.
Early each morning he took care to brush the veteran's coat,
polish his shoes, and put his rusty wig in order. At first
Porpora growled at the intruder, but his asperity soon softened,
and eventually melted into affection. He quickly discovered his
valet's genius, and, by his instructions, directed it into the
line in which Haydn eventually acquired so much distinction.

Haydn himself was enthusiastic in his admiration of Handel. "He
is the father of us all," he said on one occasion. Scarlatti
followed Handel in admiration all over Italy, and, when his name
was mentioned, be crossed himself in token of veneration.
Mozart's recognition of the great composer was not less hearty.
"When he chooses," said he, "Handel strikes like the thunderbolt."
Beethoven hailed him as "The monarch of the musical kingdom."
When Beethoven was dying, one of his friends sent him a present of
Handel's works, in forty volumes. They were brought into his
chamber, and, gazing on them with reanimated eye, be exclaimed,
pointing at them with his finger, "There--there is the truth!"

Haydn not only recognised the genius of the great men who had
passed away, but of his young contemporaries, Mozart and
Beethoven. Small men may be envious of their fellows, but really
great men seek out and love each other. Of Mozart, Haydn wrote "I
only wish I could impress on every friend of music, and on great
men in particular, the same depth of musical sympathy, and
profound appreciation of Mozart's inimitable music, that I myself
feel and enjoy; then nations would vie with each other to possess
such a jewel within their frontiers. Prague ought not only to
strive to retain this precious man, but also to remunerate him;
for without this the history of a great genius is sad indeed....
It enrages me to think that the unparalleled Mozart is not yet
engaged by some imperial or royal court. Forgive my excitement;
but I love the man so dearly!"

Mozart was equally generous in his recognition of the merits of
Haydn. "Sir," said he to a critic, speaking of the latter, "if
you and I were both melted down together, we should not furnish
materials for one Haydn." And when Mozart first heard Beethoven,
he observed: "Listen to that young man; be assured that he will
yet make a great name in the world."

Buffon set Newton above all other philosophers, and admired him so
highly that he had always his portrait before him while he sat at
work. So Schiller looked up to Shakspeare, whom he studied
reverently and zealously for years, until he became capable of
comprehending nature at first-hand, and then his admiration became
even more ardent than before.

Pitt was Canning's master and hero, whom he followed and admired
with attachment and devotion. "To one man, while he lived," said
Canning, "I was devoted with all my heart and all my soul. Since
the death of Mr. Pitt I acknowledge no leader; my political
allegiance lies buried in his grave." (11)

A French physiologist, M. Roux, was occupied one day in lecturing
to his pupils, when Sir Charles Bell, whose discoveries were even
better known and more highly appreciated abroad than at home,
strolled into his class-room. The professor, recognising his
visitor, at once stopped his exposition, saying: "MESSIEURS, C'EST

The first acquaintance with a great work of art has usually proved
an important event in every young artist's life. When Correggio
first gazed on Raphael's 'Saint Cecilia,' he felt within himself
an awakened power, and exclaimed, "And I too am a painter" So
Constable used to look back on his first sight of Claude's picture
of 'Hagar,' as forming an epoch in his career. Sir George
Beaumont's admiration of the same picture was such that he always
took it with him in his carriage when he travelled from home.

The examples set by the great and good do not die; they continue
to live and speak to all the generations that succeed them. It
was very impressively observed by Mr. Disraeli, in the House of
Commons, shortly after the death of Mr. Cobden:--"There is this
consolation remaining to us, when we remember our unequalled and
irreparable losses, that those great men are not altogether lost
to us--that their words will often be quoted in this House--that
their examples will often be referred to and appealed to, and that
even their expressions will form part of our discussions and
debates. There are now, I may say, some members of Parliament
who, though they may not be present, are still members of this
House--who are independent of dissolutions, of the caprices of
constituencies, and even of the course of time. I think that Mr.
Cobden was one of those men."

It is the great lesson of biography to teach what man can be and
can do at his best. It may thus give each man renewed strength
and confidence. The humblest, in sight of even the greatest, may
admire, and hope, and take courage. These great brothers of ours
in blood and lineage, who live a universal life, still speak to us
from their graves, and beckon us on in the paths which they have
trod. Their example is still with us, to guide, to influence,
and to direct us. For nobility of character is a perpetual
bequest; living from age to age, and constantly tending to
reproduce its like.

"The sage," say the Chinese, "is the instructor of a hundred ages.
When the manners of Loo are heard of, the stupid become
intelligent, and the wavering determined." Thus the acted life of
a good man continues to be a gospel of freedom and emancipation to
all who succeed him:

"To live in hearts we leave behind,
is not to die."

The golden words that good men have uttered, the examples they
have set, live through all time: they pass into the thoughts and
hearts of their successors, help them on the road of life, and
often console them in the hour of death. "And the most miserable
or most painful of deaths," said Henry Marten, the Commonwealth
man, who died in prison, "is as nothing compared with the memory
of a well-spent life; and great alone is he who has earned the
glorious privilege of bequeathing such a lesson and example to his


(1) 'Letters of Sir Charles Bell,' p. 10.
(2) 'Autobiography of Mary Anne Schimmelpenninck,' p. 179.

(3) Dean Stanley's 'Life of Dr. Arnold,' i. 151 (Ed. 1858).

(4) Lord Cockburn's 'Memorials,' pp. 25-6.

(5) From a letter of Canon Moseley, read at a Memorial Meeting held
shortly after the death of the late Lord Herbert of Lea.

(6) Izaak Walton's 'Life of George Herbert.'

(7) Stanley's 'Life and Letters of Dr. Arnold,' i. 33.

(8) Philip de Comines gives a curious illustration of the subservient,
though enforced, imitation of Philip, Duke of Burgundy, by his
courtiers. When that prince fell ill, and had his head shaved, he
ordered that all his nobles, five hundred in number, should in
like manner shave their heads; and one of them, Pierre de
Hagenbach, to prove his devotion, no sooner caught sight of an
unshaven nobleman, than he forthwith had him seized and carried
off to the barber!--Philip de Comines (Bohn's Ed.), p. 243.

(9) 'Life,' i. 344.

(10) Introduction to 'The Principal Speeches and Addresses of H.R.H.
the Prince Consort,' p. 33.

(11) Speech at Liverpool, 1812.


"Arise therefore, and be doing, and the Lord be with thee."
--l CHRONICLES xxii. 16.

"Work as if thou hadst to live for aye;
Worship as if thou wert to die to-day."--TUSCAN PROVERB.

"C'est par le travail qu'on regne."--LOUIS XIV

"Blest work! if ever thou wert curse of God,
What must His blessing be!"--J. B. SELKIRK.

"Let every man be OCCUPIED, and occupied in the highest employment
of which his nature is capable, and die with the consciousness
that he has done his best"--Sydney Smith.

WORK is one of the best educators of practical character. It
evokes and disciplines obedience, self-control, attention,
application, and perseverance; giving a man deftness and skill in
his special calling, and aptitude and dexterity in dealing with
the affairs of ordinary life.

Work is the law of our being--the living principle that carries
men and nations onward. The greater number of men have to work
with their hands, as a matter of necessity, in order to live; but
all must work in one way or another, if they would enjoy life as
it ought to be enjoyed.

Labour may be a burden and a chastisement, but it is also an
honour and a glory. Without it, nothing can be accomplished. All
that is great in man comes through work; and civilisation is its
product. Were labour abolished, the race of Adam were at once
stricken by moral death.

It is idleness that is the curse of man--not labour. Idleness
eats the heart out of men as of nations, and consumes them as rust
does iron. When Alexander conquered the Persians, and had an
opportunity of observing their manners, he remarked that they did
not seem conscious that there could be anything more servile than
a life of pleasure, or more princely than a life of toil.

When the Emperor Severus lay on his deathbed at York, whither he
had been borne on a litter from the foot of the Grampians, his
final watchword to his soldiers was, "LABOREMUS" (we must work);
and nothing but constant toil maintained the power and extended
the authority of the Roman generals.

In describing the earlier social condition of Italy, when the
ordinary occupations of rural life were considered compatible with
the highest civic dignity, Pliny speaks of the triumphant generals
and their men, returning contentedly to the plough. In those days
the lands were tilled by the hands even of generals, the soil
exulting beneath a ploughshare crowned with laurels, and guided by
a husbandman graced with triumphs: "IPSORUM TUNC MANIBUS
slaves became extensively employed in all departments of industry
that labour came to be regarded as dishonourable and servile. And
so soon as indolence and luxury became the characteristics of the
ruling classes of Rome, the downfall of the empire, sooner or
later, was inevitable.

There is, perhaps, no tendency of our nature that has to be more
carefully guarded against than indolence. When Mr. Gurney asked
an intelligent foreigner who had travelled over the greater part
of the world, whether he had observed any one quality which, more
than another, could be regarded as a universal characteristic of
our species, his answer was, in broken English, "Me tink dat all
men LOVE LAZY." It is characteristic of the savage as of the
despot. It is natural to men to endeavour to enjoy the products
of labour without its toils. Indeed, so universal is this desire,
that James Mill has argued that it was to prevent its indulgence
at the expense of society at large, that the expedient of
Government was originally invented. (2)

Indolence is equally degrading to individuals as to nations.
Sloth never made its mark in the world, and never will. Sloth
never climbed a hill, nor overcame a difficulty that it could
avoid. Indolence always failed in life, and always will. It is
in the nature of things that it should not succeed in anything.
It is a burden, an incumbrance, and a nuisance--always useless,
complaining, melancholy, and miserable.

Burton, in his quaint and curious, book--the only one, Johnson
says, that ever took him out of bed two hours sooner than he
wished to rise--describes the causes of Melancholy as hingeing
mainly on Idleness. "Idleness," he says, "is the bane of body and
mind, the nurse of naughtiness, the chief mother of all mischief,
one of the seven deadly sins, the devil's cushion, his pillow and
chief reposal.... An idle dog will be mangy; and how shall an
idle person escape? Idleness of the mind is much worse than that
of the body: wit, without employment, is a disease--the rust of
the soul, a plague, a hell itself. As in a standing pool, worms
and filthy creepers increase, so do evil and corrupt thoughts in
an idle person; the soul is contaminated.... Thus much I dare
boldly say: he or she that is idle, be they of what condition they
will, never so rich, so well allied, fortunate, happy--let them
have all things in abundance and felicity that heart can wish and
desire, all contentment--so long as he, or she, or they, are
idle, they shall never be pleased, never well in body or mind, but
weary still, sickly still, vexed still, loathing still, weeping,
sighing, grieving, suspecting, offended with the world, with every
object, wishing themselves gone or dead, or else carried away with
some foolish phantasie or other." (3)

Burton says a great deal more to the same effect; the burden and
lesson of his book being embodied in the pregnant sentence with
which it winds up:- "Only take this for a corollary and
conclusion, as thou tenderest thine own welfare in this, and all
other melancholy, thy good health of body and mind, observe this
short precept, Give not way to solitariness and idleness. BE NOT

The indolent, however, are not wholly indolent. Though the body
may shirk labour, the brain is not idle. If it do not grow corn,
it will grow thistles, which will be found springing up all along
the idle man's course in life. The ghosts of indolence rise
up in the dark, ever staring the recreant in the face, and
tormenting him:

"The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices,
Make instrument to scourge us."

True happiness is never found in torpor of the faculties, (5) but in
their action and useful employment. It is indolence that
exhausts, not action, in which there is life, health, and
pleasure. The spirits may be exhausted and wearied by employment,
but they are utterly wasted by idleness. Hense a wise physician
was accustomed to regard occupation as one of his most valuable
remedial measures. "Nothing is so injurious," said Dr. Marshall
Hall, "as unoccupied time." An archbishop of Mayence used to say
that "the human heart is like a millstone: if you put wheat under
it, it grinds the wheat into flour; if you put no wheat, it grinds
on, but then 'tis itself it wears away."

Indolence is usually full of excuses; and the sluggard, though
unwilling to work, is often an active sophist. "There is a lion in
the path ;" or "The hill is hard to climb;" or "There is no use
trying--I have tried, and failed, and cannot do it." To the
sophistries of such an excuser, Sir Samuel Romilly once wrote to a
young man:- "My attack upon your indolence, loss of time, &c., was
most serious, and I really think that it can be to nothing but
your habitual want of exertion that can be ascribed your using
such curious arguments as you do in your defence. Your theory is
this: Every man does all the good that he can. If a particular
individual does no good, it is a proof that he is incapable of
doing it. That you don't write proves that you can't; and your
want of inclination demonstrates your want of talents. What an
admirable system!--and what beneficial effects would it be
attended with, if it were but universally received!"

It has been truly said, that to desire to possess, without being
burdened with the trouble of acquiring, is as much a sign of
weakness, as to recognise that everything worth having is only to
be got by paying its price, is the prime secret of practical
strength. Even leisure cannot be enjoyed unless it is won by
effort. If it have not been earned by work, the price has not
been paid for it. (6)

There must be work before and work behind, with leisure to fall
back upon; but the leisure, without the work, can no more be
enjoyed than a surfeit. Life must needs be disgusting alike to
the idle rich man as to the idle poor man, who has no work to do,
or, having work, will not do it. The words found tattooed on the
right arm of a sentimental beggar of forty, undergoing his eighth
imprisonment in the gaol of Bourges in France, might be adopted as
the motto of all idlers: "LE PASSE M'A TROMPE; LE PRESENT ME
TOURMENTE; L'AVENIR M'EPOUVANTE;"--(The past has deceived me; the
present torments me; the future terrifies me)

The duty of industry applies to all classes and conditions of
society. All have their work to do in the irrespective conditions
of life--the rich as well as the poor. (7) The gentleman by
birth and education, however richly he may be endowed with worldly
possessions, cannot but feel that he is in duty bound to
contribute his quota of endeavour towards the general wellbeing in
which he shares. He cannot be satisfied with being fed, clad, and
maintained by the labour of others, without making some suitable
return to the society that upholds him. An honest highminded man
would revolt at the idea of sitting down to and enjoying a feast,
and then going away without paying his share of the reckoning. To
be idle and useless is neither an honour nor a privilege; and
though persons of small natures may be content merely to consume--
FRUGES CONSUMERE NATI--men of average endowment, of manly
aspirations, and of honest purpose, will feel such a condition to
be incompatible with real honour and true dignity.

"I don't believe," said Lord Stanley (now Earl of Derby) at
Glasgow, "that an unemployed man, however amiable and otherwise
respectable, ever was, or ever can be, really happy. As work is
our life, show me what you can do, and I will show you what you
are. I have spoken of love of one's work as the best preventive
of merely low and vicious tastes. I will go further, and say that
it is the best preservative against petty anxieties, and the
annoyances that arise out of indulged self-love. Men have thought
before now that they could take refuge from trouble and vexation
by sheltering themselves as it were in a world of their own. The
experiment has, often been tried, and always with one result. You
cannot escape from anxiety and labour--it is the destiny of
humanity.... Those who shirk from facing trouble, find that
trouble comes to them. The indolent may contrive that he shall
have less than his share of the world's work to do, but Nature
proportioning the instinct to the work, contrives that the little
shall be much and hard to him. The man who has only himself to
please finds, sooner or later, and probably sooner than later,
that he has got a very hard master; and the excessive weakness
which shrinks from responsibility has its own punishment too, for
where great interests are excluded little matters become great,
and the same wear and tear of mind that might have been at least
usefully and healthfully expended on the real business of life is
often wasted in petty and imaginary vexations, such as breed and
multiply in the unoccupied brain." (8)

Even on the lowest ground--that of personal enjoyment--constant
useful occupation is necessary. He who labours not, cannot
enjoy the reward of labour. "We sleep sound," said Sir Walter
Scott, "and our waking hours are happy, when they are employed;
and a little sense of toil is necessary to the enjoyment of
leisure, even when earned by study and sanctioned by the
discharge of duty."

It is true, there are men who die of overwork; but many more die
of selfishness, indulgence, and idleness. Where men break down by
overwork, it is most commonly from want of duly ordering their
lives, and neglect of the ordinary conditions of physical health.
Lord Stanley was probably right when he said, in his address to
the Glasgow students above mentioned, that he doubted whether
"hard work, steadily and regularly carried on, ever yet hurt

Then, again, length of YEARS is no proper test of length of LIFE.
A man's life is to be measured by what he does in it, and what he
feels in it. The more useful work the man does, and the more he
thinks and feels, the more he really lives. The idle useless man,
no matter to what extent his life may be prolonged, merely

The early teachers of Christianity ennobled the lot of toil by
their example. "He that will not work," said Saint Paul, "neither
shall he eat;" and he glorified himself in that he had laboured
with his hands, and had not been chargeable to any man. When St.
Boniface landed in Britain, he came with a gospel in one hand and
a carpenter's rule in the other; and from England he afterwards
passed over into Germany, carrying thither the art of building.
Luther also, in the midst of a multitude of other employments,
worked diligently for a living, earning his bread by gardening,
building, turning, and even clockmaking. (9)

It was characteristic of Napoleon, when visiting a work of
mechanical excellence, to pay great respect to the inventor, and
on taking his leave, to salute him with a low bow. Once at St.
Helena, when walking with Mrs. Balcombe, some servants came along
carrying a load. The lady, in an angry tone, ordered them out of
the way, on which Napoleon interposed, saying, "Respect the
burden, madam." Even the drudgery of the humblest labourer
contributes towards the general wellbeing of society; and it was a
wise saying of a Chinese Emperor, that "if there was a man who did
not work, or a woman that was idle, somebody must suffer cold or
hunger in the empire."

The habit of constant useful occupation is as essential for the
happiness and wellbeing of woman as of man. Without it, women are
apt to sink into a state of listless ENNUI and uselessness,
accompanied by sick headache and attacks of "nerves." Caroline
Perthes carefully warned her married daughter Louisa to beware of
giving way to such listlessness. "I myself," she said, "when the
children are gone out for a half-holiday, sometimes feel as stupid
and dull as an owl by daylight; but one must not yield to this,
which happens more or less to all young wives. The best relief is
WORK, engaged in with interest and diligence. Work, then,
constantly and diligently, at something or other; for idleness is
the devil's snare for small and great, as your grandfather says,
and he says true." (10)

Constant useful occupation is thus wholesome, not only for the
body, but for the mind. While the slothful man drags himself
indolently through life, and the better part of his nature sleeps
a deep sleep, if not morally and spiritually dead, the energetic
man is a source of activity and enjoyment to all who come within
reach of his influence. Even any ordinary drudgery is better than
idleness. Fuller says of Sir Francis Drake, who was early sent to
sea, and kept close to his work by his master, that such "pains
and patience in his youth knit the joints of his soul, and made
them more solid and compact." Schiller used to say that he
considered it a great advantage to be employed in the discharge of
some daily mechanical duty--some regular routine of work, that
rendered steady application necessary.

Thousands can bear testimony to the truth of the saying of Greuze,
the French painter, that work--employment, useful occupation--is
one of the great secrets of happiness. Casaubon was once induced
by the entreaties of his friends to take a few days entire rest,
but he returned to his work with the remark, that it was easier to
bear illness doing something, than doing nothing.

When Charles Lamb was released for life from his daily drudgery of
desk-work at the India Office, he felt himself the happiest of
men. "I would not go back to my prison," he said to a friend,
"ten years longer, for ten thousand pounds." He also wrote in the
same ecstatic mood to Bernard Barton: "I have scarce steadiness of
head to compose a letter," he said; "I am free! free as air! I
will live another fifty years.... Would I could sell you some of
my leisure! Positively the best thing a man can do is--Nothing;
and next to that, perhaps, Good Works." Two years--two long and
tedious years passed; and Charles Lamb's feelings had undergone an
entire change. He now discovered that official, even humdrum work
--"the appointed round, the daily task"--had been good for him,
though he knew it not. Time had formerly been his friend; it had
now become his enemy. To Bernard Barton he again wrote: "I assure
you, NO work is worse than overwork; the mind preys on itself--
the most unwholesome of food. I have ceased to care for almost
anything.... Never did the waters of heaven pour down upon a
forlorner head. What I can do, and overdo, is to walk. I am a
sanguinary murderer of time. But the oracle is silent."

No man could be more sensible of the practical importance of
industry than Sir Walter Scott, who was himself one of the most
laborious and indefatigable of men. Indeed, Lockhart says of him
that, taking all ages and countries together, the rare example of
indefatigable energy, in union with serene self-possession of mind
and manner, such as Scott's, must be sought for in the roll of
great sovereigns or great captains, rather than in that of
literary genius. Scott himself was most anxious to impress upon
the minds of his own children the importance of industry as a
means of usefulness and happiness in the world. To his son
Charles, when at school, he wrote:- "I cannot too much impress
upon your mind that LABOUR is the condition which God has imposed
on us in every station of life; there is nothing worth having that
can be had without it, from the bread which the peasant wins with
the sweat of his brow, to the sports by which the rich man must
get rid of his ENNUI.... As for knowledge, it can no more be
planted in the human mind without labour than a field of wheat can
be produced without the previous use of the plough. There is,
indeed, this great difference, that chance or circumstances may so
cause it that another shall reap what the farmer sows; but no man
can be deprived, whether by accident or misfortune, of the fruits
of his own studies; and the liberal and extended acquisitions of
knowledge which he makes are all for his own use. Labour,
therefore, my dear boy, and improve the time. In youth our steps
are light, and our minds are ductile, and knowledge is easily laid
up; but if we neglect our spring, our summers will be useless and
contemptible, our harvest will be chaff, and the winter of our old
age unrespected and desolate." (11)

Southey was as laborious a worker as Scott. Indeed, work might
almost be said to form part of his religion. He was only nineteen
when he wrote these words:- "Nineteen years! certainly a fourth
part of my life; perhaps how great a part! and yet I have been of
no service to society. The clown who scares crows for twopence a
day is a more useful man; he preserves the bread which I eat in
idleness." And yet Southey had not been idle as a boy--on the
contrary, he had been a most diligent student. He had not only
read largely in English literature, but was well acquainted,
through translations, with Tasso, Ariosto, Homer, and Ovid. He
felt, however, as if his life had been purposeless, and he
determined to do something. He began, and from that time forward
he pursued an unremitting career of literary labour down to the
close of his life--"daily progressing in learning," to use his
own words--"not so learned as he is poor, not so poor as proud,
not so proud as happy."

The maxims of men often reveal their character. (12) That of Sir
Walter Scott was, "Never to be doing nothing." Robertson the
historian, as early as his fifteenth year, adopted the maxim of
"VITA SINE LITERIS MORS EST" (Life without learning is death).
Voltaire's motto was, "TOUJOURS AU TRAVAIL" (Always at work). The
favourite maxim of Lacepede, the naturalist, was, "VIVRE C'EST
VEILLER" (To live is to observe): it was also the maxim of Pliny.
When Bossuet was at college, he was so distinguished by his ardour
in study, that his fellow students, playing upon his name,
designated him as "BOS-SUETUS ARATRO" (The ox used to the plough).
The name of VITA-LIS (Life a struggle), which the Swedish poet
Sjoberg assumed, as Frederik von Hardenberg assumed that of NOVA-
LIS, described the aspirations and the labours of both these
men of genius.

We have spoken of work as a discipline: it is also an educator of
character. Even work that produces no results, because it IS
work, is better than torpor,--inasmuch as it educates faculty,
and is thus preparatory to successful work. The habit of working
teaches method. It compels economy of time, and the disposition
of it with judicious forethought. And when the art of packing
life with useful occupations is once acquired by practice, every
minute will be turned to account; and leisure, when it comes, will
be enjoyed with all the greater zest.

Coleridge has truly observed, that "if the idle are described as
killing time, the methodical man may be justly said to call it
into life and moral being, while he makes it the distinct object
not only of the consciousness, but of the conscience. He
organizes the hours and gives them a soul; and by that, the very
essence of which is to fleet and to have been, he communicates an
imperishable and spiritual nature. Of the good and faithful
servant, whose energies thus directed are thus methodized, it is
less truly affirmed that he lives in time than that time lives in
him. His days and months and years, as the stops and punctual
marks in the record of duties performed, will survive the wreck of
worlds, and remain extant when time itself shall be no more." (13)

It is because application to business teaches method most
effectually, that it is so useful as an educator of character.
The highest working qualities are best trained by active and
sympathetic contact with others in the affairs of daily life. It
does not matter whether the business relate to the management of a
household or of a nation. Indeed, as we have endeavoured to show
in a preceding chapter, the able housewife must necessarily be an
efficient woman of business. She must regulate and control the
details of her home, keep her expenditure within her means,
arrange everything according to plan and system, and wisely manage
and govern those subject to her rule. Efficient domestic
management implies industry, application, method, moral
discipline, forethought, prudence, practical ability, insight into
character, and power of organization--all of which are required
in the efficient management of business of whatever sort.

Business qualities have, indeed, a very large field of action.
They mean aptitude for affairs, competency to deal successfully
with the practical work of life--whether the spur of action lie
in domestic management, in the conduct of a profession, in trade
or commerce, in social organization, or in political government.
And the training which gives efficiency in dealing with these
various affairs is of all others the most useful in practical
life. (14) Moreover, it is the best discipline of character; for
it involves the exercise of diligence, attention, self-denial,
judgment, tact, knowledge of and sympathy with others.

Such a discipline is far more productive of happiness5 as well as
useful efficiency in life, than any amount of literary culture or
meditative seclusion; for in the long run it will usually be found
that practical ability carries it over intellect, and temper and
habits over talent. It must, however, he added that this is a
kind of culture that can only be acquired by diligent observation
and carefully improved experience. "To be a good blacksmith,"
said General Trochu in a recent publication, "one must have forged
all his life: to be a good administrator one should have passed
his whole life in the study and practice of business."

It was characteristic of Sir Walter Scott to entertain the highest
respect for able men of business; and he professed that he did not
consider any amount of literary distinction as entitled to be
spoken of in the same breath with a mastery in the higher
departments of practical life--least of all with a first-rate

The great commander leaves nothing to chance, but provides for
every contingency. He condescends to apparently trivial details.
Thus, when Wellington was at the head of his army in Spain, he
directed the precise manner in which the soldiers were to cook
their provisions. When in India, he specified the exact speed at
which the bullocks were to be driven; every detail in equipment
was carefully arranged beforehand. And thus not only was
efficiency secured, but the devotion of his men, and their
boundless confidence in his command. (15)

Like other great captains, Wellington had an almost boundless
capacity for work. He drew up the heads of a Dublin Police Bill
(being still the Secretary for Ireland), when tossing off the
mouth of the Mondego, with Junot and the French army waiting for
him on the shore. So Caesar, another of the greatest commanders,
is said to have written an essay on Latin Rhetoric while crossing
the Alps at the head of his army. And Wallenstein when at the
head of 60,000 men, and in the midst of a campaign with the enemy
before him, dictated from headquarters the medical treatment of
his poultry-yard.

Washington, also, was an indefatigable man of business. From his
boyhood he diligently trained himself in habits of application, of
study, and of methodical work. His manuscript school-books, which
are still preserved, show that, as early as the age of thirteen,
he occupied himself voluntarily in copying out such things as
forms of receipts, notes of hand, bills of exchange, bonds,
indentures, leases, land-warrants, and other dry documents, all
written out with great care. And the habits which he thus early
acquired were, in a great measure, the foundation of those
admirable business qualities which he afterwards so successfully
brought to bear in the affairs of government.

The man or woman who achieves success in the management of any
great affair of business is entitled to honour,--it may be, to as
much as the artist who paints a picture, or the author who writes
a book, or the soldier who wins a battle. Their success may have
been gained in the face of as great difficulties, and after as
great struggles; and where they have won their battle, it is at
least a peaceful one, and there is no blood on their hands.

The idea has been entertained by some, that business habits are
incompatible with genius. In the Life of Richard Lovell
Edgeworth, (16) it is observed of a Mr. Bicknell--a respectable
but ordinary man, of whom little is known but that he married
Sabrina Sidney, the ELEVE of Thomas Day, author of 'Sandford and
Merton'--that "he had some of the too usual faults of a man of
genius: he detested the drudgery of business." But there cannot
be a greater mistake. The greatest geniuses have, without
exception, been the greatest workers, even to the extent of
drudgery. They have not only worked harder than ordinary men, but
brought to their work higher faculties and a more ardent spirit.
Nothing great and durable was ever improvised. It is only by
noble patience and noble labour that the masterpieces of genius
have been achieved.

Power belongs only to the workers; the idlers are always
powerless. It is the laborious and painstaking men who are the
rulers of the world. There has not been a statesman of eminence
but was a man of industry. "It is by toil," said even Louis XIV.,
"that kings govern." When Clarendon described Hampden, he spoke
of him as "of an industry and vigilance not to be tired out or
wearied by the most laborious, and of parts not to be imposed on
by the most subtle and sharp, and of a personal courage equal to
his best parts." While in the midst of his laborious though self-
imposed duties, Hampden, on one occasion, wrote to his mother: "My
lyfe is nothing but toyle, and hath been for many yeares, nowe to
the Commonwealth, nowe to the Kinge.... Not so much tyme left as
to doe my dutye to my deare parents, nor to sende to them."
Indeed, all the statesmen of the Commonwealth were great toilers;
and Clarendon himself, whether in office or out of it, was a man
of indefatigable application and industry.

The same energetic vitality, as displayed in the power of working,
has distinguished all the eminent men in our own as well as in
past times. During the Anti-Corn Law movement, Cobden, writing to
a friend, described himself as "working like a horse, with not a
moment to spare." Lord Brougham was a remarkable instance of the
indefatigably active and laborious man; and it might be said of
Lord Palmerston, that he worked harder for success in his extreme
old age than he had ever done in the prime of his manhood--
preserving his working faculty, his good-humour and BONHOMMIE,
unimpaired to the end. (17) He himself was accustomed to say, that
being in office, and consequently full of work, was good for his
health. It rescued him from ENNUI. Helvetius even held, that it
is man's sense of ENNUI that is the chief cause of his superiority
over the brute,--that it is the necessity which he feels for
escaping from its intolerable suffering that forces him to
employ himself actively, and is hence the great stimulus
to human progress.

Indeed, this living principle of constant work, of abundant
occupation, of practical contact with men in the affairs of life,
has in all times been the best ripener of the energetic vitality
of strong natures. Business habits, cultivated and disciplined,
are found alike useful in every pursuit--whether in politics,
literature, science, or art. Thus, a great deal of the best
literary work has been done by men systematically trained in
business pursuits. The same industry, application, economy of
time and labour, which have rendered them useful in the one sphere
of employment, have been found equally available in the other.

Most of the early English writers were men of affairs, trained to
business; for no literary class as yet existed, excepting it might
be the priesthood. Chaucer, the father of English poetry, was
first a soldier, and afterwards a comptroller of petty customs.
The office was no sinecure either, for he had to write up all the
records with his own hand; and when he had done his "reckonings"
at the custom-house, he returned with delight to his favourite
studies at home--poring over his books until his eyes were
"dazed" and dull.

The great writers in the reign of Elizabeth, during which there
was such a development of robust life in England, were not
literary men according to the modern acceptation of the word, but
men of action trained in business. Spenser acted as secretary to
the Lord Deputy of Ireland; Raleigh was, by turns, a courtier,
soldier, sailor, and discoverer; Sydney was a politician,
diplomatist, and soldier; Bacon was a laborious lawyer before he
became Lord Keeper and Lord Chancellor; Sir Thomas Browne was a
physician in country practice at Norwich; Hooker was the
hardworking pastor of a country parish; Shakspeare was the manager
of a theatre, in which he was himself but an indifferent actor,
and he seems to have been even more careful of his money
investments than he was of his intellectual offspring. Yet these,
all men of active business habits, are among the greatest writers
of any age: the period of Elizabeth and James I. standing out in
the history of England as the era of its greatest literary
activity and splendour.

In the reign of Charles I., Cowley held various offices of trust
and confidence. He acted as private secretary to several of the
royalist leaders, and was afterwards engaged as private secretary
to the Queen, in ciphering and deciphering the correspondence
which passed between her and Charles I.; the work occupying all
his days, and often his nights, during several years. And while
Cowley was thus employed in the royal cause, Milton was employed
by the Commonwealth, of which he was the Latin secretary, and
afterwards secretary to the Lord Protector. Yet, in the earlier
part of his life, Milton was occupied in the humble vocation of a
teacher. Dr. Johnson says, "that in his school, as in everything
else which he undertook, he laboured with great diligence, there
is no reason for doubting" It was after the Restoration, when his
official employment ceased, that Milton entered upon the principal
literary work of his life; but before he undertook the writing of
his great epic, he deemed it indispensable that to "industrious
and select reading" he should add "steady observation" and
"insight into all seemly and generous arts and affairs." (18)

Locke held office in different reigns: first under Charles II. as
Secretary to the Board of Trade and afterwards under William III.
as Commissioner of Appeals and of Trade and Plantations. Many
literary men of eminence held office in Queen Anne's reign. Thus
Addison was Secretary of State; Steele, Commissioner of Stamps;
Prior, Under-Secretary of State, and afterwards Ambassador to
France; Tickell, Under-Secretary of State, and Secretary to the
Lords Justices of Ireland; Congreve, Secretary of Jamaica;, and
Gay, Secretary of Legation at Hanover.

Indeed, habits of business, instead of unfitting a cultivated mind
for scientific or literary pursuits, are often the best training
for them. Voltaire insisted with truth that the real spirit of
business and literature are the same; the perfection of each being
the union of energy and thoughtfulness, of cultivated intelligence
and practical wisdom, of the active and contemplative essence--a
union commended by Lord Bacon as the concentrated excellence of
man's nature. It has been said that even the man of genius can
write nothing worth reading in relation to human affairs, unless
he has been in some way or other connected with the serious
everyday business of life.

Hence it has happened that many of the best books, extant have
been written by men of business, with whom literature was a
pastime rather than a profession. Gifford, the editor of the
'Quarterly,' who knew the drudgery of writing for a living, once
observed that "a single hour of composition, won from the business
of the day, is worth more than the whole day's toil of him who
works at the trade of literature: in the one case, the spirit
comes joyfully to refresh itself, like a hart to the waterbrooks;
in the other, it pursues its miserable way, panting and jaded,
with the dogs and hunger of necessity behind." (19)

The first great men of letters in Italy were not mere men of
letters; they were men of business--merchants, statesmen,
diplomatists, judges, and soldiers. Villani, the author of the
best History of Florence, was a merchant; Dante, Petrarch, and
Boccacio, were all engaged in more or less important embassies;
and Dante, before becoming a diplomatist, was for some time
occupied as a chemist and druggist. Galileo, Galvani, and Farini
were physicians, and Goldoni a lawyer. Ariosto's talent for
affairs was as great as his genius for poetry. At the death of
his father, he was called upon to manage the family estate for the
benefit of his younger brothers and sisters, which he did with
ability and integrity. His genius for business having been
recognised, he was employed by the Duke of Ferrara on important
missions to Rome and elsewhere. Having afterwards been appointed
governor of a turbulent mountain district, he succeeded, by firm
and just governments in reducing it to a condition of comparative
good order and security. Even the bandits of the country
respected him. Being arrested one day in the mountains by a body
of outlaws, he mentioned his name, when they at once offered to
escort him in safety wherever he chose.

It has been the same in other countries. Vattel, the author of
the 'Rights of Nations,' was a practical diplomatist, and a first-
rate man of business. Rabelais was a physician, and a successful
practitioner; Schiller was a surgeon; Cervantes, Lope de Vega,
Calderon, Camoens, Descartes, Maupertius, La Rochefoucauld,
Lacepede, Lamark, were soldiers in the early part of their
respective lives.

In our own country, many men now known by their writings, earned
their living by their trade. Lillo spent the greater part of his
life as a working jeweller in the Poultry; occupying the intervals
of his leisure in the production of dramatic works, some of them
of acknowledged power and merit. Izaak Walton was a linendraper
in Fleet Street, reading much in his leisure hours, and storing
his mind with facts for future use in his capacity of biographer.
De Foe was by turns horse-factor, brick and tile maker,
shopkeeper, author, and political agent.

Samuel Richardson successfully combined literature, with business;
writing his novels in his back-shop in Salisbury Court, Fleet
Street, and selling them over the counter in his front-shop.
William Hutton, of Birmingham, also successfully combined the
occupations of bookselling and authorship. He says, in his
Autobiography, that a man may live half a century and not be
acquainted with his own character. He did not know that he was an
antiquary until the world informed him of it, from having read his
'History of Birmingham,' and then, he said, he could see it
himself. Benjamin Franklin was alike eminent as a printer and
bookseller--an author, a philosopher and a statesman.

Coming down to our own time, we find Ebenezer Elliott successfully
carrying on the business of a bar-iron merchant in Sheffield,
during which time he wrote and published the greater number of his
poems; and his success in business was such as to enable him to
retire into the country and build a house of his own, in which he
spent the remainder of his days. Isaac Taylor, the author of the
'Natural History of Enthusiasm,' was an engraver of patterns for
Manchester calico-printers; and other members of this gifted
family were followers of the same branch of art.

The principal early works of John Stuart Mill were written in the
intervals of official work, while he held the office of principal
examiner in the East India House,--in which Charles Lamb, Peacock
the author of 'Headlong Hall,' and Edwin Norris the philologist,
were also clerks. Macaulay wrote his 'Lays of Ancient Rome' in
the War Office, while holding the post of Secretary of War. It is
well known that the thoughtful writings of Mr. Helps are literally
"Essays written in the Intervals of Business." Many of our best
living authors are men holding important public offices--such as
Sir Henry Taylor, Sir John Kaye, Anthony Trollope, Tom Taylor,
Matthew Arnold, and Samuel Warren.

Mr. Proctor the poet, better known as "Barry Cornwall," was a
barrister and commissioner in lunacy. Most probably he assumed
the pseudonym for the same reason that Dr. Paris published his
'Philosophy in Sport made Science in Earnest' anonymously--
because he apprehended that, if known, it might compromise his
professional position. For it is by no means an uncommon
prejudice, still prevalent amongst City men, that a person who has
written a book, and still more one who has written a poem, is good
for nothing in the way of business. Yet Sharon Turner, though an
excellent historian, was no worse a solicitor on that account;
while the brothers Horace and James Smith, authors of 'The
Rejected Addresses,' were men of such eminence in their
profession, that they were selected to fill the important and
lucrative post of solicitors to the Admiralty, and they
filled it admirably.

It was while the late Mr. Broderip, the barrister, was acting as a
London police magistrate, that he was attracted to the study of
natural history, in which he occupied the greater part of his
leisure. He wrote the principal articles on the subject for the
'Penny Cyclopaedia,' besides several separate works of great
merit, more particularly the 'Zoological Recreations,' and 'Leaves
from the Notebook of a Naturalist.' It is recorded of him that,
though he devoted so much of his time to the production of his
works, as well as to the Zoological Society and their admirable
establishment in Regent's Park, of which he was one of the
founders, his studies never interfered with the real business of
his life, nor is it known that a single question was ever raised
upon his conduct or his decisions. And while Mr. Broderip devoted
himself to natural history, the late Lord Chief Baron Pollock
devoted his leisure to natural science, recreating himself in the
practice of photography and the study of mathematics, in both of
which he was thoroughly proficient.

Among literary bankers we find the names of Rogers, the poet;
Roscoe, of Liverpool, the biographer of Lorenzo de Medici;
Ricardo, the author of 'Political Economy and Taxation; (20)
Grote, the author of the 'History of Greece;' Sir John Lubbock,
the scientific antiquarian; (21) and Samuel Bailey, of Sheffield,
the author of 'Essays on the Formation and Publication of
Opinions,' besides various important works on ethics, political
economy, and philosophy.

Nor, on the other hand, have thoroughly-trained men of science and
learning proved themselves inefficient as first-rate men of
business. Culture of the best sort trains the habit of
application and industry, disciplines the mind, supplies it with
resources, and gives it freedom and vigour of action--all of
which are equally requisite in the successful conduct of business.
Thus, in young men, education and scholarship usually indicate
steadiness of character, for they imply continuous attention,
diligence, and the ability and energy necessary to master
knowledge; and such persons will also usually be found
possessed of more than average promptitude, address,
resource, and dexterity.

Montaigne has said of true philosophers, that "if they were great
in science, they were yet much greater in action;... and whenever
they have been put upon the proof, they have been seen to fly to
so high a pitch, as made it very well appear their souls were
strangely elevated and enriched with the knowledge of things." (22)

At the same time, it must be acknowledged that too exclusive a
devotion to imaginative and philosophical literature, especially
if prolonged in life until the habits become formed, does to a
great extent incapacitate a man for the business of practical
life. Speculative ability is one thing, and practical ability
another; and the man who, in his study, or with his pen in hand,
shows himself capable of forming large views of life and policy,
may, in the outer world, be found altogether unfitted for carrying
them into practical effect.

Speculative ability depends on vigorous thinking--practical
ability on vigorous acting; and the two qualities are usually
found combined in very unequal proportions. The speculative man
is prone to indecision: he sees all the sides of a question, and
his action becomes suspended in nicely weighing the pros and cons,
which are often found pretty nearly to balance each other; whereas
the practical man overleaps logical preliminaries, arrives at
certain definite convictions, and proceeds forthwith to carry his
policy into action. (23)

Yet there have been many great men of science who have proved
efficient men of business. We do not learn that Sir Isaac Newton
made a worse Master of the Mint because he was the greatest of
philosophers. Nor were there any complaints as to the efficiency
of Sir John Herschel, who held the same office. The brothers
Humboldt were alike capable men in all that they undertook--
whether it was literature, philosophy, mining, philology,
diplomacy, or statesmanship.

Niebuhr, the historian, was distinguished for his energy and
success as a man of business. He proved so efficient as secretary
and accountant to the African consulate, to which he had been
appointed by the Danish Government, that he was afterwards
selected as one of the commissioners to manage the national
finances; and he quitted that office to undertake the joint
directorship of a bank at Berlin. It was in the midst of his
business occupations that he found time to study Roman history, to
master the Arabic, Russian, and other Sclavonic languages, and to
build up the great reputation as an author by which he is now
chiefly remembered.

Having regard to the views professed by the First Napoleon as to
men of science, it was to have been expected that he would
endeavour to strengthen his administration by calling them to his
aid. Some of his appointments proved failures, while others were
completely successful. Thus Laplace was made Minister of the
Interior; but he had no sooner been appointed than it was seen
that a mistake had been made. Napoleon afterwards said of him,
that "Laplace looked at no question in its true point of view. He
was always searching after subtleties; all his ideas were
problems, and he carried the spirit of the infinitesimal calculus
into the management of business." But Laplace's habits had been
formed in the study, and he was too old to adapt them to the
purposes of practical life.

With Darn it was different. But Darn had the advantage of some
practical training in business, having served as an intendant of
the army in Switzerland under Massena, during which he also
distinguished himself as an author. When Napoleon proposed to
appoint him a councillor of state and intendant of the Imperial
Household, Darn hesitated to accept the office. "I have passed
the greater part of my life," he said, "among books, and have not
had time to learn the functions of a courtier." "Of courtiers,"
replied Napoleon, "I have plenty about me; they will never fail.
But I want a minister, at once enlightened, firm, and vigilant;
and it is for these qualities that I have selected you." Darn
complied with the Emperor's wishes, and eventually became his
Prime Minister, proving thoroughly efficient in that capacity, and
remaining the same modest, honourable, and disinterested man that
he had ever been through life.

Men of trained working faculty so contract the habit of labour
that idleness becomes intolerable to them; and when driven by
circumstances from their own special line of occupation, they find
refuge in other pursuits. The diligent man is quick to find
employment for his leisure; and he is able to make leisure when
the idle man finds none. "He hath no leisure," says George
Herbert, "who useth it not." "The most active or busy man that
hath been or can be," says Bacon, "hath, no question, many vacant
times of leisure, while he expecteth the tides and returns of
business, except he be either tedious and of no despatch, or
lightly and unworthily ambitious to meddle with things that may be
better done by others." Thus many great things have been done
during such "vacant times of leisure," by men to whom industry
had become a second nature, and who found it easier to work
than to be idle.

Even hobbies are useful as educators of the working faculty.
Hobbies evoke industry of a certain kind, and at least provide
agreeable occupation. Not such hobbies as that of Domitian, who
occupied himself in catching flies. The hobbies of the King of
Macedon who made lanthorns, and of the King of France who made
locks, were of a more respectable order. Even a routine
mechanical employment is felt to be a relief by minds acting under
high-pressure: it is an intermission of labour--a rest--a
relaxation, the pleasure consisting in the work itself rather than
in the result.

But the best of hobbies are intellectual ones. Thus men of active
mind retire from their daily business to find recreation in other
pursuits--some in science, some in art, and the greater number in
literature. Such recreations are among the best preservatives
against selfishness and vulgar worldliness. We believe it was
Lord Brougham who said, "Blessed is the man that hath a hobby!"
and in the abundant versatility of his nature, he himself had
many, ranging from literature to optics, from history and
biography to social science. Lord Brougham is even said to have
written a novel; and the remarkable story of the 'Man in the
Bell,' which appeared many years ago in 'Blackwood,' is reputed to
have been from his pen. Intellectual hobbies, however, must not
be ridden too hard--else, instead of recreating, refreshing,
and invigorating a man's nature, they may only have the
effect of sending him back to his business exhausted,
enervated, and depressed.

Many laborious statesmen besides Lord Brougham have occupied their
leisure, or consoled themselves in retirement from office, by the
composition of works which have become part of the standard
literature of the world. Thus 'Caesar's Commentaries' still
survive as a classic; the perspicuous and forcible style in which
they are written placing him in the same rank with Xenophon, who
also successfully combined the pursuit of letters with the
business of active life.

When the great Sully was disgraced as a minister, and driven into
retirement, he occupied his leisure in writing out his 'Memoirs,'
in anticipation of the judgment of posterity upon his career as a
statesman. Besides these, he also composed part of a romance
after the manner of the Scuderi school, the manuscript of which
was found amongst his papers at his death.

Turgot found a solace for the loss of office, from which he had
been driven by the intrigues of his enemies, in the study of
physical science. He also reverted to his early taste for
classical literature. During his long journeys, and at nights
when tortured by the gout, he amused himself by making Latin
verses; though the only line of his that has been preserved was
that intended to designate the portrait of Benjamin Franklin:

"Eripuit caelo fulmen, sceptrumque tyrannis."

Among more recent French statesmen--with whom, however,
literature has been their profession as much as politics--may
be mentioned De Tocqueville, Thiers, Guizot, and Lamartine,
while Napoleon III. challenged a place in the Academy by
his 'Life of Caesar.'

Literature has also been the chief solace of our greatest English
statesmen. When Pitt retired from office, like his great
contemporary Fox, he reverted with delight to the study of the
Greek and Roman classics. Indeed, Grenville considered Pitt the
best Greek scholar he had ever known. Canning and Wellesley, when
in retirement, occupied themselves in translating the odes and
satires of Horace. Canning's passion for literature entered into
all his pursuits, and gave a colour to his whole life. His
biographer says of him, that after a dinner at Pitt's, while the
rest of the company were dispersed in conversation, he and Pitt
would be observed poring over some old Grecian in a corner of the
drawing-room. Fox also was a diligent student of the Greek
authors, and, like Pitt, read Lycophron. He was also the author
of a History of James II., though the book is only a fragment,
and, it must be confessed, is rather a disappointing work.

One of the most able and laborious of our recent statesmen--with
whom literature was a hobby as well as a pursuit--was the late
Sir George Cornewall Lewis. He was an excellent man of business--
diligent, exact, and painstaking. He filled by turns the offices
of President of the Poor Law Board--the machinery of which he
created,--Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary, and
Secretary at War; and in each he achieved the reputation of a
thoroughly successful administrator. In the intervals of his
official labours, he occupied himself with inquiries into a wide
range of subjects--history, politics, philology, anthropology,
and antiquarianism. His works on 'The Astronomy of the Ancients,'
and 'Essays on the Formation of the Romanic Languages,' might have
been written by the profoundest of German SAVANS. He took
especial delight in pursuing the abstruser branches of learning,
and found in them his chief pleasure and recreation. Lord
Palmerston sometimes remonstrated with him, telling him he was
"taking too much out of himself" by laying aside official papers
after office-hours in order to study books; Palmerston himself
declaring that he had no time to read books--that the reading of
manuscript was quite enough for him.

Doubtless Sir George Lewis rode his hobby too hard, and but for
his devotion to study, his useful life would probably have been
prolonged. Whether in or out of office, he read, wrote, and
studied. He relinquished the editorship of the 'Edinburgh Review'
to become Chancellor of the Exchequer; and when no longer occupied
in preparing budgets, he proceeded to copy out a mass of Greek
manuscripts at the British Museum. He took particular delight in
pursuing any difficult inquiry in classical antiquity. One of the
odd subjects with which he occupied himself was an examination
into the truth of reported cases of longevity, which, according to
his custom, he doubted or disbelieved. This subject was uppermost
in his mind while pursuing his canvass of Herefordshire in 1852.
On applying to a voter one day for his support, he was met by a
decided refusal. "I am sorry," was the candidate's reply, "that
you can't give me your vote; but perhaps you can tell me whether
anybody in your parish has died at an extraordinary age!"

The contemporaries of Sir George Lewis also furnish many striking
instances of the consolations afforded by literature to statesmen
wearied with the toils of public life. Though the door of office
may be closed, that of literature stands always open, and men who
are at daggers-drawn in politics, join hands over the poetry of
Homer and Horace. The late Earl of Derby, on retiring from power,
produced his noble version of 'The Iliad,' which will probably
continue to be read when his speeches have been forgotten. Mr.
Gladstone similarly occupied his leisure in preparing for the
press his 'Studies on Homer,' (24) and in editing a translation of
'Farini's Roman State;' while Mr. Disraeli signalised his
retirement from office by the production of his 'Lothair.' Among
statesmen who have figured as novelists, besides Mr. Disraeli, are
Lord Russell, who has also contributed largely to history and
biography; the Marquis of Normanby, and the veteran novelist, Lord
Lytton, with whom, indeed, politics may be said to have been his
recreation, and literature the chief employment of his life.

To conclude: a fair measure of work is good for mind as well as
body. Man is an intelligence sustained and preserved by bodily
organs, and their active exercise is necessary to the enjoyment of
health. It is not work, but overwork, that is hurtful; and it is
not hard work that is injurious so much as monotonous work,
fagging work, hopeless work. All hopeful work is healthful; and
to be usefully and hopefully employed is one of the great secrets
of happiness. Brain-work, in moderation, is no more wearing than
any other kind of work. Duly regulated, it is as promotive of
health as bodily exercise; and, where due attention is paid to the
physical system, it seems difficult to put more upon a man than he
can bear. Merely to eat and drink and sleep one's way idly
through life is vastly more injurious. The wear-and-tear of rust
is even faster than the tear-and-wear of work.

But overwork is always bad economy. It is, in fact, great waste,
especially if conjoined with worry. Indeed, worry kills far more
than work does. It frets, it excites, it consumes the body--as
sand and grit, which occasion excessive friction, wear out the
wheels of a machine. Overwork and worry have both to be guarded
against. For over-brain-work is strain-work; and it is exhausting
and destructive according as it is in excess of nature. And the
brain-worker may exhaust and overbalance his mind by excess, just
as the athlete may overstrain his muscles and break his back by
attempting feats beyond the strength of his physical system.


(1)In the third chapter of his Natural History, Pliny relates in what
high honour agriculture was held in the earlier days of Rome; how
the divisions of land were measured by the quantity which could be
ploughed by a yoke of oxen in a certain time (JUGERUM, in one day;
ACTUS, at one spell); how the greatest recompence to a general or
valiant citizen was a JUGERUM; how the earliest surnames were
derived from agriculture (Pilumnus, from PILUM, the pestle for
pounding corn; Piso, from PISO, to grind coin; Fabius, from FABA,
a bean; Lentulus, from LENS, a lentil; Cicero, from CICER, a
chickpea; Babulcus, from BOS, &c.); how the highest compliment was
to call a man a good agriculturist, or a good husbandman
(LOCUPLES, rich, LOCI PLENUS, PECUNIA, from PECUS, &c.); how the
pasturing of cattle secretly by night upon unripe crops was a
capital offence, punishable by hanging; how the rural tribes held
the foremost rank, while those of the city had discredit thrown
upon them as being an indolent race; and how "GLORIAM DENIQUE
the reward of valour, being derived from Ador, or spelt,
a kind of grain.

(2) 'Essay on Government,' in 'Encyclopaedia Britannica.'

(3) Burton's 'Anatomy of Melancholy,' Part i., Mem. 2, Sub. 6.

(4) Ibid. End of concluding chapter.

(5) It is characteristic of the Hindoos to regard entire inaction as
the most perfect state, and to describe the Supreme Being as "The

(6) Lessing was so impressed with the conviction that stagnant
satisfaction was fatal to man, that he went so far as to say: "If
the All-powerful Being, holding in one hand Truth, and in the
other the search for Truth, said to me, 'Choose,' I would answer
Him, 'O All-powerful, keep for Thyself the Truth; but leave to me
the search for it, which is the better for me.'" On the other
hand, Bossuet said: "Si je concevais une nature purement
intelligente, il me semble que je n'y mettrais qu'entendre et
aimer la verite, et que cela seul la rendrait heureux."

(7) The late Sir John Patteson, when in his seventieth year, attended
an annual ploughing-match dinner at Feniton, Devon, at which he
thought it worth his while to combat the notion, still too
prevalent, that because a man does not work merely with his bones
and muscles, he is therefore not entitled to the appellation of a
workingman. "In recollecting similar meetings to the present," he
said, "I remember my friend, John Pyle, rather throwing it in my
teeth that I had not worked for nothing; but I told him, 'Mr.
Pyle, you do not know what you are talking about. We are all
workers. The man who ploughs the field and who digs the hedge is
a worker; but there are other workers in other stations of life as
well. For myself, I can say that I have been a worker ever since
I have been a boy.'... Then I told him that the office of judge
was by no means a sinecure, for that a judge worked as hard as any
man in the country. He has to work at very difficult questions of
law, which are brought before him continually, giving him great
anxiety; and sometimes the lives of his fellow-creatures are
placed in his hands, and are dependent very much upon the manner
in which he places the facts before the jury. That is a matter of
no little anxiety, I can assure you. Let any man think as he
will, there is no man who has been through the ordeal for the
length of time that I have, but must feel conscious of the
importance and gravity of the duty which is cast upon a judge."

(8) Lord Stanley's Address to the Students of Glasgow University, on
his installation as Lord Rector, 1869.

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