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him, has found it no easy task to bring his mind to a life of toil. Some, perhaps, think very little on the subject; and some, both in their apprenticeship and in later years, take work very easily, and do not scruple to make inroads on it whenever they can; little credit therefore is due to them; but we will say that it is a great victory to begin with, when a lad, with all his schoolboy love of play, brings his mind steadily to face a life of labour and restraint, from morning to night, and from one week's end to another, all for a little coarse food and homely raiment; and it is a perpetual renewal of the victory, when, as years advance, and the weary frame gets more clamorous for rest, the six o'clock morning bell, tyrant though it often seems, is obeyed with as steady loyalty, if not as great alacrity as ever.
We are accustomed to speak of the curse of labour; but it should never be forgotten that, except when it is absolutely overwhelming, there is a blessing in labour as well as a curse. The blessing lies chiefly in the training which it supplies, and the full value of that training will only be seen when the life to come is taken into account. We must not make a virtue of necessity; and yet necessity is sometimes a great help to virtue. By what he feels to be the very necessity of his situation, the steady workman is constrained to conquer many clamorous lusts; he
keeps down as with a rod of iron the baser propensities of his animal nature; he learns to be useful; he learns to be independent; he learns to accommodate himself to his fellow-workmen, and yet to hold his own when it is needful; and he acquires the invaluable habit of persevering effort. Many a time, in the midst of hard work, the feeling will hover round him—“Oh this weary, work—might I not throw off the harness a little, and snatch a cup of pleasure, regardless of the future ?" If his spirits are high, the craving will be for excitement; if they are low, it will be for rest; whether they are high or low, it will often be for strong drink. But the industrious and virtuous workman keeps all these cravings down; he must not dream of these things; he must be steady to his work. And hence, even to persons who have not to labour with their hands. and the regularity of whose work depends on their own will and conscience, the sight of physical labourers steadily at work is charged with a most useful lesson. There are men who, for nine or ten long hours, hardly lose a minute, make diligent use of their working talents, and brush aside every temptation to indolence. Would it not be well for some of us, if, in our department of work, we were as diligent, and made as constant use of our working talents as they?
But there is no rule without exception. And there are exceptions here. It is seen in many cases, that this devotion to work is the effect of mere and sheer necessity-nothing higher. At the stroke of six o'clock, when that necessity is removed, the goodly spectacle is often disenchanted ; the workman not unfrequently hastens to abandon himself to the indulgence which he has been driving off all day. He made a bargain with his employer that he would work so many hours; on his fulfilment of that bargain the payment of his wages depends ; when once the wages are earned, and his fellowlabourers, who kept him to his work very much as a team of horses keeps a lazy one in motion-when they are dispersed, and he is left quite to himself, his self-control flies to the winds. This is lamentable. The chances are, that in the dissipation of the evening the man wastes all the earnings of the day; but be this as it may, it is certain that he loses entirely all the high moral benefit which an inheritance of labour is fitted to bring. The harness and habits of daily toil do not help him to hold himself erect, to resist temptation right and left, to fight manfully the battle of life; he throws down his arms when he throws down his tools; and lets the Philistines rush upon him and treat him as they please. This is simply deplorable; it is the thing of all others
which working men should shun; the command which they gain over themselves in the hours of labour is worse than useless if it be not continued during the hours of rest; it gives them only the greater power of mischief, and it leaves them without excuse.
It shows that the power of money and the influence of companionship in labour are far more effectual than the force of conscience, or the love of goodness, or the command of God, or the example of Christ, or all these combined; it shows them to be not merely weak, but contemptible; capable of doing for a paltry consideration what they will not do for all the highest and weightiest considerations by which immortal beings should be swayed.
It is impossible to speak too strongly of the value of a spirit of virtuous, self-denying, persevering industry, even as regards the life that now is. Should you happen to fall in with Mr. Mayhew's elaborate work on the prisons of London, you will find it made very clear that it is not a direct fondness for vice that fills our prisons ; it is not innate criminality of disposition that drives many young men to a vicious life; it is dislike to hard, steady, homely labour-a wish to enjoy the pleasures of life on easier terms than those of honest toil. Inquire how it comes to pass that so many young women take to the streets, and in far
the greater number of cases you will get the same answer. Happy the man, in a temporal sense at all events, who, pursuing in his lawful calling the steady course of plodding industry, shoulders aside the temptations of lust and pleasure, as the prow of a steamer tosses from it the spray that would hinder its course, and holds himself erect, and walks as a man, where thousands, seduced by temptation, are weltering in the gulf of sensuality! We talk of the dignity of labour; it is this that makes labour honourable; this is labour associated with perpetual victory, crowned every day with fresh glory and honour; and the man who lives and labours thus is often far more deserving of honour, than those whose breasts are crowded with the stars and crosses and ribbons of a fictitious nobility. “Noble, upright, self-denying toil” exclaims Hugh Miller, that knows thy solid worth and value would be ashamed of thy hard hands, and thy soiled vestments, and thy obscure tasks; thy humble cottage, and hard couch, and homely fare? Save for thee and thy lessons, man in society would everywhere sink into a sad compound of the fiend and the wild beast, and this fallen world would be as certainly a moral as a natural wilderness. But I little thought of the excellence of thy character and of thy teachings, when, with a heavy heart, I set out, on a morn