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THE NOBILITY OF LABOR.
BY HEBER J. GRANT, OF THE QUORUM OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES.
While speaking to the young people at stake conferences of the Improvement Associations, and at ward meetings, I have endeavored to impress upon the minds of the youth the necessity of their working to the extent of their ability; and also while so laboring never to become disheartened.
The Marchioness de Lambert has said: “There is nothing so improper for a young man as that modesty which makes him fancy he is not capable of great things. That modesty is a faintness of soul which hinders it from exerting itself. There is a superior genius and merit in some persons that tells them nothing is impossible to them.”
A number of those who have listened to my remarks have assured me that they have been benefitted thereby; and so I have concluded to become a regular contributor to the columns of the ERA, and to chat with "our boys," as through that medium, I will be able to reach many thousands instead of a few hundreds.
“Arise, therefore, and be doing, and the Lord will be with you.”—I. Chron. 22: 16.
"To do that which before us lies in daily life is the prime wisdom."
"He that loseth wealth, loseth much; he that loseth friends loseth more; but he that loseth his spirit, loseth all."-Cervantes.
“Dream, oh youth! dream nobly and manfully, and thy dreams shall be thy prophets."--Lord Bulwer Lytton.
If the readers of the ERA will learn by heart the above quotations, and make these sentiments the rule of their lives, this action will be worth more to them, many times over, than the cost of a year's subscription.
I have found nothing in the battle of life that has been of more value to me than to perform the duty of today to the best of my ability; and I know that where young men do this, they will be better prepared for the labors of tomorrow.
In contributing to the ERA a series of articles which will be made up principally of my own experiences, I shall do so, not for the purpose of throwing boquets at myself, figuratively speaking, but with the hope that I may inspire my readers with a desire to labor.
It is admitted that statements of personal experiences, spoken or written, carry more force, and make a more lasting impression upon the minds of hearers and readers than can be made in any other way. This must be my excuse for relating so many incidents in my own career.
When a youth, attending school, a man was pointed out to me who kept books in Wells, Fargo and Co's. Bank, in Salt Lake City, and it was said that he received a salary of one hundred and fifty dollars a month. Well do I remember figuring that he was earning six dollars a day, Sundays omitted, which seemed to me an enormous amount. Although I had not yet read the inspiring words of Lord Bulwer Lytton, quoted above, yet I dreamed of being a book-keeper, and of working for Wells, Fargo & Co., and immediately joined the book-keeping class in the Deseret University, in the hope some day of earning what I thought at that time to be an immense salary.
I quote with pleasure once more from Lord Bulwer Lytton: "What man wants is not talent, it is purpose; not power to achieve, but the will to labor."
Samuel Smiles has said: “Purposes, like eggs, unless they are hatched into action, will run into decay.”
Lord Lytton took it for granted undoubtedly that where a youth dreamed nobly and manfully, that it would inspire him to have a purpose in life, and to hatch the same into action," and not allow it to "run into decay." Having purposed to become a book-keeper, I immediately set to work to attain this object. Well do I remember the amusement I furnished my fellow-students. One remarked when looking at my books, "What is it; hen tracks ?” Another said, “Has lightning struck an ink bottle ?” These remarks and others, while not made to hurt my feelings but in good-natured fun, nevertheless cut deep, and aroused within me a spirit of determination. I resolved to live to set copies for all who attended the university, and to be the teacher of penmanship and bookkeeping in that institution. Having a purpose and also "the will to labor," and agreeing with Lord Lytton that, “In the bright lexicon of youth there's no such word as fail,” I commenced to employ my spare time in practicing penmanship, continuing year after year until I was referred to as “the greatest scribbler on earth.”
The result was that some years later, I secured a position as book-keeper and policy clerk in an insurance office. Although at fifteen, I wrote a very nice hand, and it was all that was needed to satisfactorily fill the position which I then held, yet I was not fully satisfied but continued to dream and "scribble," when not otherwise occupied. I worked in the front part of A. W. White & Co's. bank, and, when not busy, volunteered to assist with the bank work, and to do anything and everything I could to employ my time, never thinking whether I was to be paid for it or not, but having only a desire to work and learn. Mr. Morf, the book-keeper in the bank, wrote well, and took pains to assist me in my efforts to become proficient as a penman. I learned to write so well that I often earned more before and after office hours by writing cards, invitations, etc., and making maps, than the amount of my regular salary. Some years later, a diploma at the Territorial Fair was awarded me for the finest penmanship in Utah. When I engaged in business for myself, there was a vacancy at the university in the position of teacher of penmanship and book-keeping, and to make good the promise to myself, made when a youth of twelve or thirteen, that
I would some day teach these branches, I applied for the situation. My application was accepted, and my obligation to myself was thus discharged.
Young men who are laboring in the improvement cause should be true to themselves, and when they resolve to accomplish something, they should never become discouraged, but should labor cheerfully and with a determination until the promise to themselves has become a reality. I cannot possibly impress this lesson too strongly upon the minds of my readers. If we fall into the habit of making resolves in relation to ourselves, and of constantly breaking them, such a course will tend to make us careless in the fulfillment of promises to others. Young men should always remember the advice which Shakespeare puts into the mouth of the father of Laertes, when the latter was leaving home:
"To thine own self be true,
I quote in full one of the lessons from the National Fifth Reader, which made a profound impression on my mind during my school days, and which has never been forgotten:
There is no trait of human character so potential for weal or woe as firmness. To the business man it is all important. Before its irresistable energy the most formidable obstacles become as cobweb barriers in its path. Difficulties, the terror of which causes the pampered sons of luxury to shrink back with dismay, provoke from the man of lofty determination only a smile. The whole story of our race-all nature, indeed-teems with examples to show what wonders may be accomplished by resolute perseverance and patient toil.
It is related of Tamerlane, the celebrated warrior, the terror of whose arms spread through all the eastern nations, and whom victory attended at almost every step, that he once learned from an insect a lesson of perseverance, which had a striking effect upon his future character and success.
When closely pursued by his enemies—as a contemporary tells the anecdote - he took refuge in some old ruins, where, left to his solitary
musings, he espied an ant tugging and striving to carry a single grain of corn. His unavailing efforts were repeated sixty-nine times, and at each several time so soon as he reached a certain point of projection, he fell back with his burden, unable to surmount it; but the seventieth time he bore away his spoil in triumph, and left the wondering hero reanimated and exulting in the hope of future victory.
How pregnant the lesson this incident conveys! How many thousand instances there are in which inglorious defeat ends the career of the timid and desponding, when the same tenacity of purpose would crown it with triumphant success! Resolution is almost omnipotent. Sheridan was at first timid and obliged to sit down in the midst of a speech. Convinced of, and mortified at, the cause of his failure, he said one day to a friend, "It is in me, and it shall come out.”
From that moment he arose, and shone, and triumphed in a consummate eloquence. Here was true moral courage. And it was well observed by a heathen moralist, that it is not because things are difficult that we dare not undertake them.
Be, then, bold in spirit. Indulge no doubts—they are traitors. In the practical pursuit of our high aim, let us never lose sight of it in the slightest instance: for it is more by a disregard of small things than by open and flagrant offenses, that men come short of excellence. There is always a right and a wrong; and if you ever doubt, be sure you take not the wrong. Observe this rule, and every experience will be to you a means of advancement.
"Never Despair” has been one of the guiding stars of my life, as I have often felt that I could not afford to be outdone by an insect.
At nineteen, I was keeping books and acting as policy clerk for Mr. Henry Wadsworth, the agent of Wells, Fargo & Co. My time was not fully employed. I was not working for the company but for the agent personally. I did the same as I had done in Mr. White's bank,-volunteered to file a lot of bank letters, etc., and to keep a set of books of the Sandy Smelting Co., which Mr. Wadsworth was doing personally.
To emphasize the truth of the above quotation from I Chronicles, I will remark that my action so pleased Mr. Wadsworth that he employed me to do the collecting for Wells, Fargo & Co., and paid me twenty dollars a month for this work in addition to my regular compensation of seventy-five dollars from the insur