What wonder that at twenty-five this noble youth, whose incessant toil had perfected genius, was the marvel of his age! What wonder that his famous group, Theseus vanquishing the Minotaur, elicited the enthusiastic admiration of the most noted art critics of Rome! What wonder that the little peasant boy, who had first opened his eyes, in 1757, in a mud cabin, closed them at last, in 1822, in a marble palace, crowned with all of fame and honor and wealth the world could give! But better still, he was loved and enshrined in the hearts of the people, as a friend of the poor, a patron of struggling merit, a man in whom nobility of character overtopped even the genius of the artist.
Dost thou love life?
Then, do not squander time, for
that is the stuff life is made of!—Franklin.
Franklin not only understood the value of time, but he put a price upon it that made others appreciate its worth.
A customer who came one day to his little bookstore in Philadelphia, not being satisfied with the price demanded by the clerk for the book he wished to purchase, asked for the proprietor. “Mr. Franklin is very busy just now in the press room,” replied the clerk. The man, however, who had already spent an hour aimlessly turning over books, insisted on seeing him. In answer to the clerk’s summons, Mr. Franklin hurried out from the newspaper establishment at the back of the store.
“What is the lowest price you can take for this book, sir?” asked the leisurely customer, holding up the volume. “One dollar and a quarter,” was the prompt reply. “A dollar and a quarter! Why, your clerk asked me only a dollar just now.” “True,” said Franklin, “and I could have better afforded to take a dollar than to leave my work.”
The man, who seemed to be in doubt as to whether Mr. Franklin was in earnest, said jokingly, “Well, come now, tell me your lowest price for this book.” “One dollar and a half,” was the grave reply. “A dollar and a half! Why, you just offered it for a dollar and a quarter.” “Yes, and I could have better taken that price then than a dollar and a half now.”
Without another word, the crestfallen purchaser laid the money on the counter and left the store. He had learned not only that he who squanders his own time is foolish, but that he who wastes the time of others is a thief.
“But I am only nineteen years old, Mr. Riggs,” and the speaker looked questioningly into the eyes of his companion, as if he doubted his seriousness in asking him to become a partner in his business.
Mr. Riggs was not joking, however, and he met George Peabody’s perplexed gaze smilingly, as he replied: “That is no objection. If you are willing to go in with me and put your labor against my capital, I shall be well satisfied.”