The boy never forgot his noble benefactress, and years afterward, when the great singer lay dying, the beloved friend who smoothed her pillow and cheered and brightened her last moments—the rich, popular, and talented composer—was no other than our little Pierre.
“If I rest, I rust”
“The heights by great
men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight;
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.”
The significant inscription found on an old key,—“If I rest, I rust,”—would be an excellent motto for those who are afflicted with the slightest taint of idleness. Even the industrious might adopt it with advantage to serve as a reminder that, if one allows his faculties to rest, like the iron in the unused key, they will soon show signs of rust, and, ultimately, cannot do the work required of them.
Those who would attain
“The heights by great men reached and kept”
must keep their faculties burnished by constant use, so that they will unlock the doors of knowledge, the gates that guard the entrances to the professions, to science, art, literature, agriculture,—every department of human endeavor.
Industry keeps bright the key that opens the treasury of achievement. If Hugh Miller, after toiling all day in a quarry, had devoted his evenings to rest and recreation, he would never have become a famous geologist. The celebrated mathematician, Edmund Stone, would never have published a mathematical dictionary, never have found the key to the science of mathematics, if he had given his spare moments, snatched from the duties of a gardener, to idleness. Had the little Scotch lad, Ferguson, allowed the busy brain to go to sleep while he tended sheep on the hillside, instead of calculating the position of the stars by the help of a string of beads, he would never have become a famous astronomer.
“Labor vanquishes all,”—not in constant, spasmodic, or ill-directed labor, but faithful, unremitting, daily effort toward a well-directed purpose. Just as truly as eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, so is eternal industry the price of noble and enduring success.
“Seize, then, the minutes
as they pass;
The woof of life is thought!
Warm up the colors; let them glow
With fire of fancy fraught.”
Richard Wagner, the great composer, weaves into one of his musical dramas a beautiful story about a youth named Siegfried, who did not know what fear was.
The story is a sort of fairy tale or myth,—something which has a deep meaning hidden in it, but which is not literally true.
We smile at the idea of a youth who never knew fear, who even as a little child had never been frightened by the imaginary terrors of night, the darkness of the forest, or the cries of the wild animals which inhabited it.