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man be indolent-man, who has so much to do, and who has so many encouragements to labor! No, let us go to these animals, and learn a lesson of industry; remembering that our wants are numerous than theirs, and therefore demand more untiring labor and zeal.
Let us now see how some of the ancient heathen regarded the duty of labor. History informs us that one of the Athenian lawgivers punished idleness with death. How do you think he regarded idleness? Certainly, as a great crime. Solon, who lived in Athens 600 years before our Saviour was born, made a law that if a man was convicted of idleness three times, he should be declared infamous, and, consequently, lose his character. He, too, must have considered idleness as no small crime. The consequence of these laws was, that no one died of want in Athens, or was seen begging in the streets.
But the citizens of Athens were not the only ones who made laws against idleness. The ancient Egyptians obliged all men to pursue some useful business. For this
purpose, every man was obliged to have his name entered in a public register, specifying his possessions and his occupation. If any man gave a false account of himself, he was put to death. We see by this what the views of the Egyptians were, in regard to industry. They believed what was asserted at the commencement of this chapter, that every man should have an occupation; and their laws in relation to indolence were founded on this simple proposition.
But what are the consequences of idleness? One is, it makes us unhappy. We have already seen that our happiness and health require us to labor; but, aside from this, Solomon declares, "The way of the slothful man is as a hedge of thorns." We have also seen that indolence tends to poverty. When Solomon went by the field of the sluggard, and saw how it was "all grown over with thorns," he said to him, "So shall thy poverty come as one that traveleth, and thy want as an armed man." He has also declared, in another place, that "an idle soul shall suffer hunger."
Young reader, if you would see the full effects of indolence on man, look at some of the uncivilized nations of the present day, the North American Indians, for instance. They depend for their living principally on hunting and fishing, and had rather suffer all the horrors of famine than till the soil. Consequently, they are often reduced to extreme want and wretchedness. They enjoy but few of the comforts of life, and know nothing of the bliss that arises from the social fireside. Their houses are rude, and are not sufficient to protect them from the piercing cold of a northern winter. Who would wish to be in their condition? Who would not prefer to labor hard among civilized men, and enjoy the fruits of his labor, rather than live the lazy life of the Indian, and eat the bitter bread of idleness?
Some other nations have an equally foolish aversion to labor. Perhaps there is no country where this is carried to a greater extreme than in Hindustan. There, many of the women are so languidly indolent, that they will hardly put forth their hand to save one of their own children from
being trodden to death. A favorite author of the Hindus says, "It is better to sit still than to walk; better to sleep than to be awake; and death is the best of all." Among the Chinese, many consider it a disgrace to work; and to show that they perform no labor, it is said, that they often suffer their finger nails to grow very long, sometimes 8 or 12 inches. How strongly does this show the blindness and folly of men, in trying to resist an ordinance of Heaven!
Before closing this chapter, I wish to say a few words about that maxim of Franklin's
'Early to bed and early to rise,
Makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise."
One of the first steps in order to become an industrious person is, to rise early; and to lie late in the morning is one of the first signs of indolence, and must be watched against with the greatest care. It is often the case that children are fond of this indulgence. Instead of rising with the sun, when birds and beasts rise, they spend an
hour or two of the morning in sleep. To show how much time may be lost, by late rising I will relate an anecdote.
Buffon, the celebrated writer on natural history, was in his youth very fond of sleep. As he was aware that it robbed him of a large portion of his time, he promised to give his old servant a crown every time he made him get up at six o'clock. The next morning the servant awoke him, and tormented him, but all to no purpose, for he received only abuse, and his master would not get up. He tried it again the next morning, but with no better effect. Accordingly, on the third morning, disregarding all his master's threats, he began to use force. Buffon begged for indulgence, but it was of no use; he bade his servant begone, but in vain; and at last he was obliged to get up. But he rewarded his faithful servant with the promised crown, and with his thanks. It thus went on for several mornings, the servant persevering, though he received at the time nothing but abuse. At length, however, this great lover of sleep conquered his bad