‘  unless at others' cost—that he was rarely seen at balls or frolics—that he was diligent in study and in business—that he did not hesitate to do an incompatible job, if it bade fair to be profitable—that he husbanded his hours and made each count one, either in earning or in preparing to work efficiently. He rarely or never stood idle because the business offered him was esteemed ungenteel or disagreeable—he laid up a few dollars during his minority, which proved a sensible help to him on going into business for himself—he married seasonably, prudently, respectably—he lived frugally and delved steadily until it clearly became him to live better, and until he could employ his time to better advantage than at the plow or over the bench. Thus his first thousand dollars came slowly but surely; the next more easily and readily by the help of the former; the next of course more easily still; until now he adds thousands to his hoard with little apparent effort or care. * * * * Talk to such a man as this of the wants of the poor, and he will answer you, that their sons can afford to smoke and drink freely, which he at their age could not; and that he now meets many of these poor in the market, buying luxuries that he cannot afford. Dwell on the miseries occasioned by a dearth of employment, and he will reply that he never encountered any such obstacle when poor; for when he could find nothing better, he cleaned streets or stables, and when he could not command twenty dollars a month, he fell to work as heartily and cheerfully for ten or five. In vain will you seek to explain to him that his rare faculty both of doing and of finding to do—his wise adaptation of means to ends in all circumstances, his frugality and others' improvidence—are a part of your case—that it is precisely because all are not created so handy, so thrifty, so worldly-wise, as himself, that you seek so to modify the laws and usages of Society that a man may still labor, steadily, efficiently, and live comfortably, although his youth was not improved to the utmost, and though his can never be the hand that transmutes all it touches to gold. Failing here, you urge that at least his children should be guaranteed an unfailing opportunity to learn and to earn, and that they, surely, should not suffer nor be stifled in ignorance because of their parent's imperfections. Still you talk in Greek to the man of substance, unless he be one of the few who have, in acquiring wealth, outgrown the idolatry of it, and learned to regard it truly as a means of doing good, and not as an end of earthly effort. If he be a man of wealth merely, still cherishing the spirit which impelled him to his life-long endeavor, the world appears to him a vast battle-field, on which some must win victory and glory, while to others are accorded shattered joints and discomfiture, and the former could not be, or would lose their zest, without the latter.’Such is the “case” of the conservative. So looks the battle of life to the victor. With equal complacency the hawk may philosophize while he is digesting the chicken. But the chicken was of a
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.