In a similar way boys often manifest great interest in machinery in their youth, and afterward, if given the right opportunities, show their constructive ability in the organization of business enterprises and the successful devising of plans and schemes for pushing these enterprises to success.
Sometimes those of this type of organization devote themselves rather to invention and improvement than to the direct physical handling of machinery. The following brief story of the struggles of Elias Howe should be an inspiration to every individual who fights physical frailty; also, a lesson to him as to the way in which he should express his mechanical ability:
[Footnote 7: From “Great Fortunes,” by James D. McCabe. Published by George Maclean.]
“Elias Howe was born in the town of Spencer, Massachusetts, in 1819. He was one of eight children, and it was no small undertaking on the part of his father to provide a maintenance for such a household. Mr. Howe, Sr., was a farmer and miller, and, as was the custom at that time in the country towns of New England, carried on in his family some of those minor branches of industry suited to the capacity of children, with which New England abounds. When Elias was six years old, he was set, with his brothers and sisters, to sticking wire teeth through the leather straps used for making cotton cards. When he became old enough, he assisted his father in his saw-mill and grist-mill, and during the winter months picked up a meager education at the district school. He has said that it was the rude and imperfect mills of his father that first turned his attention to machinery. He was not fitted for hard work, however, as he was frail in constitution and incapable of bearing much fatigue. Moreover, he inherited a species of lameness which proved a great obstacle to any undertaking on his part, and gave him no little trouble all through life. At the age of eleven he went to live out on the farm of a neighbor, but the labor proving too severe for him he returned home and resumed his place in his father’s mills, where he remained until he was sixteen years old.
“At the age of twenty-one he married. This was a rash step for him, as his health was very delicate, and his earnings were but nine dollars per week. Three children were born to him in quick succession, and he found it no easy task to provide food, shelter and clothing for his little family. The light heartedness for which he had formerly been noted entirely deserted him, and he became sad and melancholy. His health did not improve, and it was with difficulty that he could perform his daily task. His strength was so slight that he would frequently return from his day’s work too exhausted to eat. He could only go to bed, and in his agony he wished ’to lie in bed forever and ever,’ Still he worked faithfully and conscientiously, for his wife and children were very dear to him; but he did so with a hopelessness which only those who have tasted the depths of poverty can understand.