“Never,” said the laborer.
“In less than five minutes you shall see me fifty times, and carry in your pocket fifty of my likenesses.”
“That is a riddle which I cannot unravel,” said the laborer.
“Then I will do it for you,” replied the king. Thrusting his hand into his pocket, and counting fifty brand-new gold pieces into his hand, stamped with his royal likeness, he said to the astonished laborer, who knew not what was coming, “The coin is good, for it also comes from our Lord God, and I am his paymaster. I bid you good-day.”
* * * * *
The working men, whatever their
Who carve the stone, or bear the hod,
They wear upon their honest brows
The royal stamp and seal of God;
And worthier are their drops of sweat
Than diamonds in a coronet.
Give fools their gold, and knaves
Let fortune’s bubbles rise and fall;
Who sows a field, or trains a flower,
Or plants a tree, is more than all.
[Illustration: LABOR Millet.]
* * * * *
con’ script in dis pen’ sa ble im’ ple ment in de fea’ si bly
Two men I honor, and no third. First, the toil worn craftsman, that with earth-made implement laboriously conquers the earth, and makes her man’s. Venerable to me is the hard hand, crooked, coarse, wherein, notwithstanding, lies a cunning virtue, indefeasibly royal, as of the scepter of this planet. Venerable, too, is the rugged face, all weather tanned, besoiled, with its rude intelligence; for it is the face of a man living manlike.
Oh, but the more venerable for thy rudeness, and even because I must pity as well as love thee! Hardly entreated brother! For us was thy back so bent, for us were thy straight limbs and fingers so deformed. Thou wert our conscript on whom the lot fell and, fighting our battles, wert so marred. Yet toil on, toil on; ... thou toilest for the altogether indispensable,—for daily bread.
A second man I honor, and still more highly; him who is seen toiling for the spiritually indispensable; not daily bread, but the bread of life. Is not he, too, in his duty; endeavoring towards inward harmony; revealing this, by act or word, through all his outward endeavors, be they high or low? Highest of all, when his outward and his inward endeavor are one; when we can name him artist; not earthly craftsman only, but inspired thinker, that with heaven-made implement conquers heaven for us!
If the poor and humble toil that we may have food, must not the high and glorious toil for him, in return, that he may have light and guidance, freedom, immortality?—these two, in all their degrees, I honor; all else is chaff and dust, which let the wind blow whither it listeth.