The stone-cutter goes to work on a stone and most patiently shapes it. He carves that bit of fern, putting all his skill and taste into it. And by-and-by the master says, “Well done,” and takes it away and gives him another block and tells him to work on that. And so he works on that from the rising of the sun till the going down of the same, and he only knows that he is earning his bread. And he continues to put all his skill and taste into his work. He has no idea what use will be made of these few stones which he has been carving, until afterward, when, one day, walking along the street, and looking up at the front of the Art Gallery, he sees the stones upon which he has worked. He did not know what they were for, but the architect did. And as he stands looking at his work on that structure which is the beauty of the whole street, he says: “I am glad I did it well.” And every day as he passes that way, he says to himself exultingly, “I did it well.” He did not draw the design, nor plan the building, and he knew nothing of what use was to be made of his work: but he took pains in cutting those stems; and when he saw they were a part of that magnificent structure, his soul rejoiced.
Work that is not finished, is not work at all; it is merely a botch. We often see this defect of incompleteness in a child, which increases in youth. All about the house, everywhere, there are half-finished things. It is true that children often become tired of things which they begin with enthusiasm; but there is a great difference in children about finishing what they undertake. A boy, for instance, will start out in the morning with great enthusiasm to dig his garden over; but, after a few minutes, his enthusiasm has evaporated, and he wants to go fishing. He soon becomes tired of this, and thinks he will make a boat. No sooner does he get a saw and knife and a few pieces of board about him than he makes up his mind that really what he wanted to do, after all, was to play ball, and this, in turn, must give way to something else.
One watch, set right, will do to set many by; but, on the other hand, one that goes wrong may be the means of misleading a whole neighborhood. The same may be said of the example we individually set to those around us.
“Whatever I have tried to do in life,” said Dickens, “I have tried with all my heart to do well. What I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely.”
It is no disgrace to be a shoemaker, but it is a disgrace for a shoemaker to make bad shoes.
A traveler, recently returned from Jerusalem, found, in conversation with Humboldt, that the latter was as conversant with the streets and houses of Jerusalem as he was himself. On being asked how long it was since he had visited it, the aged philosopher replied: “I have never been there; but I expected to go sixty years since, and I prepared myself.”
So noted for excellency was everything bearing the brand of George Washington, that a barrel of flour marked “George Washington, Mount Vernon,” was exempted from the customary inspection in the West India ports.
Pascal, the most wonderful mathematical genius of his time, whose work on conic sections, at sixteen, Descartes refused to believe could be produced at that age, is considered to have fixed the French language, as Luther did the German, by his writings. None of his provincial letters, with the exception of the last three, was more than eight quarto pages in length, yet he devoted twenty days to the writing of a single letter, and one of them was written no less than thirteen times.
The night the Tasmania was wrecked, the captain had given the course north by west, sixty-seven degrees. He had taken account of eddies and currents. The second officer, overlooking these, ordered the helmsman to make it north by west, fifty-seven degrees, but to bring the ship around so gently that the captain wouldn’t know it. Hence her destruction.
Rev. Mr. Maley, of the Ohio Conference of the Methodist Church, had the habit of greatly exaggerating anything he talked about. His brethren at conference told him that this habit was growing on him, and rendering him unpopular in the ministry. Mr. Maley heard them patiently, and then said: “Brethren, I am aware of the truth of all you have said, and have shed barrels of tears over it.”
There is a great difference between going just right and a little wrong.