When a Persian king was directed by his wise men to wear the shirt of a contented man, the only contented man in the kingdom had no shirt. The most contented man in Boston does not live on Commonwealth avenue or do business on State street: he is poor and blind, and he peddles needles and thread, buttons and sewing-room supplies, about the streets of Boston from house to house. Dr. Minot J. Savage used to pity this man very much, and once in venturing to talk with him about his condition, he was utterly amazed to find that the man was perfectly happy. He said that he had a faithful wife, and a business by which he earned sufficient for his wants; and, if he were to complain of his lot, he should feel mean and contemptible. Surely, if there are any “solid men” in Boston, he is one.
Content is the magic lamp, which, according to the beautiful picture painted for us by Goethe, transforms the rude fisherman’s hut into a palace of silver; the logs, the floors, the roof, the furniture, everything being changed and gleaming with new light.
“My crown is in my heart,
not on my head;
Not decked with diamonds and Indian stones,
Nor to be seen; my crown is called content;
A crown it is that seldom kings enjoy.”
III. OILING YOUR BUSINESS MACHINERY.
Business is king. We often say that cotton is king, or corn is king, but with greater propriety we may say that the king is that great machine which is kept in motion by the Law of Supply and Demand: the destinies of all mankind are ruled by it.
“Were the question asked,” says Stearns, “what is at this moment the strongest power in operation for controlling, regulating, and inciting the actions of men, what has most at its disposal the condition and destinies of the world, we must answer at once, it is business, in its various ranks and departments; of which commerce, foreign and domestic, is the most appropriate representation. In all prosperous and advancing communities,—advancing in arts, knowledge, literature, and social refinement,—business is king. Other influences in society may be equally indispensable, and some may think far more dignified, but Business is King. The statesman and the scholar, the nobleman and the prince, equally with the manufacturer, the mechanic, and the laborer, pursue their several objects only by leave granted and means furnished by this potentate.”
Oil is better than sand for keeping this vast machinery in good running condition. Do not shovel grit or gravel stones upon the bearings. A tiny copper shaving in a wheel box, or a scratch on a journal, may set a railway train on fire. The running of the business world is damaged by whatever creates friction.
Anxiety mars one’s work. Nobody can do his best when, fevered by worry. One may rush, and always be in great haste, and may talk about being busy, fuming and sweating as if he were doing ten men’s duties; and yet some quiet person alongside, who is moving leisurely and without anxious haste, is probably accomplishing twice as much, and doing it better. Fluster unfits one for good work.