- The necessity of diligence
- The futility of complaint against fate
- The true way to fame and fortune
- The biographies of great men of the world
- The employed is to be happy
- Diligence, the foundation of human civilization
- Diligence needs to be coupled with intelligence
The necessity of diligence may, indeed, be regarded as the main root and spring of all that we call progress in individuals and civilization in nations. In every walk of life, happiness is a fruit without sowing the seed. Fortune has often been blamed for the blindness, but fortune is not so blind as men are. Those who look into practical life will find that fortune is usually on the side of the industrious and perseverant as the winds and waves are on the side of the best navigators. Success treads on the heels of every right effort, and though it is possible to overestimate success as the gift of God, still in any worthy pursuit it is the diligent and painstaking that go the longest and win the most. Success, which is acquired by what are called “lucky hits”, is seldom dependable; like money earned by gambling, such “hits” only serve to hire one to ruin. Bacon was accustomed to say that in every form of business the nearest way was commonly the foulest, and if a man would go the fairest way he must go somewhat about. The journey may occupy a longer time, but the pleasure of the labour involved in it, and the enjoyment of the results produced, will be more genuine and lasting. To have, therefore; something to employ ourselves with and to stimulate the diligent exercise of our native talents and energies makes us -the rest of our life feel all the sweeter.
The futility of complaint against fate
Those who fail in life are however; very apt to assume a tone of injured innocence and conclude too hastily that everybody excepting him or her has had a hand in their personal misfortunes. Generally, they consider themselves born to ill luck, and make up their minds that the world invariably goes against them without any fault on their own part. But such complaints against fate or luck, if we look into the matter closely and critically, we shall discover, are altogether futile and baseless. Fate is nor a conscious being that can make or mar our happiness. It is a creation of idle fancy and an invention of superstitious brains. When men cannot examine and acknowledge their own weaknesses, say owing to their excessive self-love or lack of courage, not be able to attribute their failure to others, they take a convenient shelter under Fate. Hence, it will be found that those are consequences of their own neglect, mismanagement, incapacity, or want of industry and application. Dr. Johnson, who came up to London with a single guinea in his pocket, and who once accurately described himself in his signature to a letter addressed to a noble lord as Dinnerless, has honestly said, “All the complaints which are made of the world are unjust; I never know a man of merit and diligence neglected; it was by his own fault that he failed of success.”
It is said of a certain indolent country gentleman that had a freehold estate producing about five hundred a year. Becoming involved in debt, he sold half the estate, and let the remainder to an industrious farmer for twenty years. About the end of the term, the farmer called to pay his rent, and asked the owner whether he would sell the whole farm. “Will you buy it?” asked the owner, surprised. “Yes, if we can agree about the price.” “That is exceedingly strange,” observed the gentleman; pray, tell me how it happens that, while I could not live upon twice as much land for which I paid no rent, you are regularly paying me two hundred a year for your farm, and are able, in a few years, to purchase it”. “The reason is plain,” was the reply; you sat still and said go, I get up and said come; “you lay in bed and enjoyed your estate, I rose in the morning and minded my business hard.”
The true way to fame and fortune.
Many ways of achieving fame and fortune have been suggested but as Samuel Smiles says, “the common highway of steady industry and application is the only safe road to travel.” There is no other secret of success. The proverbs of every nation abundantly testify. “We make our fortunes and call them fate”. “No pains, no gains”. “No sweat, no sweet”, “Work and thou shalt have”. “The world is his who has patience and industry”, “Heaven helps those who help themselves”, “It is better to bear out than rust out”, such are the specimens of the proverbial philosophy, embodying the hoarded experience of many generations, as the best means of thriving in the world. They have stood the test of time and experience of every day still bears witness to their accuracy, force and soundness. The Proverbs of Solomon are full of wisdom as to the force of industry and the nobility of work. “He that is slothful in work is brother to him that is a great waster”, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise”. Poverty, says the preacher, shall come upon the idler, “as one that travaileth, and went as an armed man”; but of the industrious and upright, “the hand of the diligent maketh rich”. “The drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty; and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags”. “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings.”
The biographies of great men
Not only the proverbs but the lives of great men bear an ample witness to the fact that success and happiness are achieved not by those who move along the ‘primrose path of dalliance’ but by those who ‘scorn delight and live laborious days’. As Long Fellow writes,
The heights by great men reached and
kept Where not attained by sudden flight
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night”
We have, indeed, but to glance at the biographies of great men to find that the most distinguished inventors, artists, thinkers and workers of all kinds owe their success and good luck, in a great measure, to their indefatigable industry and application. They were men who turned all things to gold by the touch of their diligent hands. Disraeli held that the secret of success consisted in being master of your subject, such mastery being attainable through continuous application and study. Newton said to one of his friends, “If I have done the public any service it is due to nothing but industry and patient thought. George Stephenson when addressing young men, was accustomed to sum up his best advice to them in the words, “Do” as I have done – persevere.” Walter Scott, the famous historical novelist of Scotland who started as an ordinary clerk attained the great heights of eminence by dint of his sheer diligence and patient industry. It was his practice to rise by five o’clock, and light his own fire. He shaved and dressed with deliberation, and was seated at his desk by six o’clock, with his papers arranged before him in the most, accurate order, and his works of reference marshalled round him on the floor. Thus, by the time the family assembled for breakfast, between nine and ten, he had done enough – to use his own words – to break the neck of the day’s work. Roshua Reynolds, the celebrated painter of the eighteenth century was such a believer in the power of perseverance and the dignity of diligence that he worked all day and night with brush and paper, saying, “Those who are resolved to excel must go to their work, willing, or unwilling morning, noon and night: they will find it no play but very hard labour.” Napoleon used to call himself a man of destiny, but he advised his generals to rely for victory more on dry gunpowder than on prayers to the Almighty. He built up an empire in his lifetime, but for that he had to fight as many as sixty battles. He led his armies over the Alps and across the length and breadth of Europe, for days together he would neither eat nor sleep, but would go on making plans, issuing orders and seeing personally that a battle progressed exactly according to his scheme.
To be employed is to be happy
The habit of diligent work not only brings success and fortune but also keeps a man in a state of active employment, which in itself is a great reward. The idle man who withdraws his hands from the worship of work and folds them in prayer to heaven in the hope of a windfall can never reliant, heroic soul toiling upward through crosses and difficulties and rising high, as it were, against the very stars. Even if work does not bring success, idleness is worse for it bring fear, envy, pride, suspicion, jealousy and gloom things, which are more degrading them failure. As a great man says.
“In works of labour or of skill,
I would be busy too;
For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do”
There is no final comfort in life except in work. Hard work acts as a drug under the influence of which we forget all our earthly woes and worries and are lifted into a region where despair and gloom are unknown. It is said of Goethe that when someone whom he loved deeply and dearly died, – he, instead of mourning and lamenting uselessly, took up the study of an Eastern language and worked hard at it. To a man engaged in his work there is no pain, no disappointment. Pain and disappointment come only when there is no more of work to be done. It is said of Alexander that he wept bitterly when he know that he had no more worlds to conquer. Similarly, a work at which he had long been engaged, he had only a few moments of joy. It was, as he himself said, with a sober melancholy’ that he parted from his labors.
Thus true labour is its own reward. Even when success is not attained, the very consciousness of duty done fills the heart with a spiritual joy. Duty done carries with it its own reward, and the reward is inner satisfaction. Martyrs and pioneers have gladly laid down their .live, apparently without attaining the crown of success, but with a ‘smile in their eyes and hope in their hearts’. The patriot ascends the gibbet, the martyr enters the fire, the scientist dies in the laboratory and the Himalayan braves the chill and blizzard of the Polar or the Himalayan regions, because the heart of each is filled with a joy, which transcends all earthly blessings. It is not the result in any case that is to be regarded so much as the aim and the effort, the patience, the courage, and the endeavour with which desirable and worthy object are pursued:
“Tis not mortals to be command success;Diligence
We will do more – deserve it.”
The foundation of human civilization
Diligence has been a necessary principle of happiness, progress and prosperity not only in the life of the individuals but also in that of the great nations. The vigorous growth of any nation on the face of the globe has been mainly the result of the free energy of individuals, and it has been contingent upon the number of hands and minds from time to time actively employed within it, whether as cultivators of the soil, producers of articles of utility, contrivers of tools and machines, writers of books, or creators of works of art. Things, which are today the pride of human face, were achieved through the diligent and untiring efforts of man. It was continuous labour that built immortal pyramids in the plains of Egypt. It was by virtue of slow and steady perseverance that the grand beautiful cathedrals of Greece were constructed, the wall protecting the territory of China was raised, the peaks of Alps and Himalayas enveloped with clouds were conquered, the route of vast and stormy Atlantic ocean was opened, and flourishing cities, states and nations brought into existence where once wild forests and mountains existed. Industry transformed marble into undying statues and carved divine figures on metal. It is the untiring labour of man that has discovered unknown islands and covered the breast of sea with ships, revealed the secrets of nature, sealed the heights of heaven, counted stars of the infinite cosmos and produced imperishable works of art, science, literature and philosophy.
But diligence needs to be coupled with intelligence
But one thing has to be borne in mind in this connection. Diligence would never lead to any worthy and valuable achievement unless it is coupled with intelligence. The most diligent or laborious creature in the world is the donkey. Day in and day out donkey is busy in work. But what is his achievement? Labour pays when it is applied intelligently to achieve a certain end. Carlyle has said that genius is the capacity of putting in an infinite amount of labour. With labour a genius may achieve his objective but it does not mean that labour can create genius. Samuel Smiles has rightly remarked.
But just as diligence alone cannot make a splendid achievement, in the same way intelligence alone cannot achieve any remarkable fortune or success. Howsoever, intelligent a man may be he cannot achieve his objective without diligence. In the making of success, as Dr. Johnson has remarked there is 90% of perspiration and only 10% of inspiration. Let us, therefore, rely more intelligence and inspiration. It is not in literature but in life, not in study but in section, not in beauty but in duty, not in dreams but in deeds that the true joy and glory of life consists. In the words of a poet:
“We are not here to play; to dream, to drift,
We have hard work to do and loads to lift,
Shun not the struggle, ‘its God’s gift.”
The essence of life is activity, adventure and struggle. We live in deeds not in years. Let us, therefore, find our work, the breath of our being, and hold on through thick and thin, counting no labour loss, caring for no material rewards, heart within and God overhead. It has been rightly said, “we must go on knocking and the door of life will be opened to us.” And it is a blessing not a curse that we must do so for it there is no necessity of efforts, no zest for work, no joy of creation, life would be a meaningless succession of irrelevant episodes, unconnected with any specific purpose, springing from nothing and returning to nothing.