How to Succeed, or Stepping-Stones to Fame and Fortune

CHAPTER XII.

THOROUGHNESS.

Doing well depends upon doing completely.
–PERSIAN PROVERB.

He who does well will always have patrons enough.
–PLAUTUS.

If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or
make a better mouse-trap than his neighbor, though he build his
house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his
door.
–EMERSON.

I hate a thing done by halves. If it be right, do it boldly; if
it be wrong, leave it undone.
–GILPIN.

No two things differ more than Hurry and Dispatch. Hurry is the
mark of a weak mind, Dispatch of a strong one. * * * Like a
turnstile, he (the weak man) is in everybody’s way, but stops
nobody; he talks a great deal, but says very little; looks into
everything, but sees nothing; and has a hundred irons in the
fire, but very few of them are hot, and with those few that are
he only burns his fingers.
–COLTON.

“Make me as good a hammer as you know how,” said a carpenter to the blacksmith in a New York village before the first railroad was built; “six of us have come to work on the new church, and I’ve left mine at home.” “As good a one as I know how?” asked David Maydole, doubtfully, “but perhaps you don’t want to pay for as good a one as I know how to make.” “Yes, I do,” said the carpenter, “I want a good hammer.”

It was indeed a good hammer that he received, the best, probably, that had ever been made. By means of a longer hole than usual, David had wedged the handle in its place so that the head could not fly off, a wonderful improvement in the eyes of the carpenter, who boasted of his prize to his companions. They all came to the shop next day, and each ordered just such a hammer. When the contractor saw the tools, he ordered two for himself, asking that they be made a little better than those for his men. “I can’t make any better ones,” said Maydole; “when I make a thing, I make it as well as I can, no matter whom it is for.”

The storekeeper soon ordered two dozen, a supply unheard of in his previous business career. A New York dealer in tools came to the village to sell his wares, and bought all the storekeeper had, and left a standing order for all the blacksmith could make. David might have grown very wealthy by making goods of the standard already attained; but throughout his long and successful life he never ceased to study still further to perfect his hammers in the minutest detail. They were usually sold without any warrant of excellence, the word “Maydole” stamped on the head being universally considered a guaranty of the best article the world could produce. Character is power, and is the best advertisement in the world.

“Yes,” said he one day to the late James Parton, who told this story, “I have made hammers in this little village for twenty-eight years.” “Well,” replied the great historian, “by this time you ought to make a pretty good hammer.”

“No, I can’t,” was the reply, “I can’t make a pretty good hammer. I make the best hammer that’s made. My only care is to make a perfect hammer. If folks don’t want to pay me what they’re worth, they’re welcome to buy cheaper ones somewhere else. My wants are few, and I’m ready any time to go back to my blacksmith’s shop, where I worked forty years ago, before I thought of making hammers. Then I had a boy to blow by bellows, now I have one hundred and fifteen men. Do you see them over there watching the heads cook over the charcoal furnace, as your cook, if she knows what she is about, watches the chops broiling? Each of them is hammered out of a piece of iron, and is tempered under the inspection of an experienced man. Every handle is seasoned three years, or until there is no shrink left in it. Once I thought I could use machinery in manufacturing them; now I know that a perfect tool can’t be made by machinery, and every bit of the work is done by hand.”

“In telling this little story,” said Parton, “I have told thousands of stories. Take the word ‘hammer’ out of it, and put ‘glue’ in its place, and you have the history of Peter Cooper. By putting in other words, you can make the true history of every great business in the world which has lasted thirty years.”