In the elder days of Art
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part,
For the gods see everywhere.
Think naught a trifle, though it small appear,
Small sands the mountain, moments make the year,
And trifles, life.
The smallest hair throws its shadow.
He that despiseth small things shall fall little by little.
It is the little rift within the lute,
That by and by will make the music mute,
And ever widening slowly silence all.
“A pebble in the streamlet scant
Has turned the course of many a river:
A dewdrop on the baby plant
Has warped the giant oak forever.”
It is the close observation of little things which is the
secret of success in business, in art, in science, and in every
pursuit of life.
“Only!–But then the onlys
Make up the mighty all.”
“My rule of conduct has been that whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well,” said Nicolas Poussin, the great French painter. When asked the reason why he had become so eminent in a land of famous artists he replied, “Because I have neglected nothing.”
“Do little things now,” says a Persian proverb; “so shall big things come to thee by and by asking to be done.” God will take care of the great things if we do not neglect the little ones.
A gentleman advertised for a boy to assist him in his office, and nearly fifty applicants presented themselves to him. Out of the whole number he in a short time selected one and dismissed the rest. “I should like to know,” said a friend, “on what ground you selected that boy, who had not a single recommendation?” “You are mistaken,” said the gentleman, “he had a great many. He wiped his feet when he came in, and closed the door after him, showing that he was careful. He gave up his seat instantly to that lame old man, showing that he was kind and thoughtful. He took off his cap when he came in, and answered my questions promptly and respectfully, showing that he was polite and gentlemanly. He picked up the book which I had purposely laid upon the floor, and replaced it on the table, while all the rest stepped over it, or shoved it aside; and he waited quietly for his turn, instead of pushing and crowding, showing that he was honest and orderly. When I talked to him, I noticed that his clothes were carefully brushed, his hair in nice order, and his teeth as white as milk; and when he wrote his name, I noticed that his finger-nails were clean, instead of being tipped with jet, like that handsome little fellow’s, in the blue jacket. Don’t you call those letters of recommendation? I do; and I would give more for what I can tell about a boy by using my eyes ten minutes, than for all the fine letters he can bring me.”
“Least of all seeds, greatest of all harvests,” seems to be one of the great laws of nature. All life comes from microscopic beginnings. In nature there is nothing small. The microscope reveals as great a world below as the telescope above. All of nature’s laws govern the smallest atoms, and a single drop of water is a miniature ocean.
“I cannot see that you have made any progress since my last visit,” said a gentleman to Michael Angelo. “But,” said the sculptor, “I have retouched this part, polished that, softened that feature, brought out that muscle, given some expression to this lip, more energy to that limb, etc.” “But they are trifles!” exclaimed the visitor. “It may be so,” replied the great artist, “but trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.” That infinite patience which made Michael Angelo spend a week in bringing out a muscle in a statue with more vital fidelity to truth, or Gerhard Dow a day in giving the right effect to a dewdrop on a cabbage leaf, makes all the difference between success and failure.
“Of what use is it?” people asked with a sneer, when Franklin told of his discovery that lightning and electricity are identical. “What is the use of a child?” replied Franklin; “it may become a man.”
In the earliest days of cotton spinning, the small fibres would stick to the bobbins, and make it necessary to stop and clear the machinery. Although this loss of time reduced the earnings of the operatives, the father of Robert Peel noticed that one of his spinners always drew full pay, as his machine never stopped. “How is this, Dick?” asked Mr. Peel one day; “the on-looker tells me your bobbins are always clean.” “Ay, that they be,” replied Dick Ferguson. “How do you manage it, Dick?” “Why, you see, Meester Peel,” said the workman, “it is sort o’ secret! If I tow’d ye, yo’d be as wise as I am.” “That’s so,” said Mr. Peel, smiling; “but I’d give you something to know. Could you make all the looms work as smoothly as yours?” “Ivery one of ’em, meester,” replied Dick. “Well, what shall I give you for your secret?” asked Mr. Peel, and Dick replied, “Gi’ me a quart of ale every day as I’m in the mills, and I’ll tell thee all about it.” “Agreed,” said Mr. Peel, and Dick whispered very cautiously in his ear, “Chalk your bobbins!” That was the whole secret, and Mr. Peel soon shot ahead of all his competitors, for he made machines that would chalk their own bobbins. Dick was handsomely rewarded with money instead of beer. His little idea has saved the world millions of dollars.