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principles. While yet a boy, he won the confidence of those around him. In manhood he was a wealthy merchant of New York city, and subsequently became mayor of that great metropolis. He was also at one time a member of Congress. His last words to his sons
“ BE INDUSTRIOUS, BE HONEST.” Many more names might be added to the list who started in life without any special favour from others. But they possessed those high moral principles, and cultivated those habits which are the strength and ornament of human character, especially christian character.
But there are among successful men many who do not claim the highest style of religious principle, while yet they are distinguished for those excellent habits to which reference has been made. Girard, Astor, Butler, and M‘Donough, were millionaires when they died; and they all acquired their wealth by the strictest attention to the habits of industry, sobriety, and frugality. In boyhood they were penniless, and almost homeless. In age they were the wealthiest men in our land. If they were not religious, they neverthless were not wont to resort to those dishonest ways of doing business which are so common in the marts of trade. It is a good principle in a business man to set his face like a flint against all such unrighteous practices.
If we turn to men who have distinguished themselves in other pursuits of life, we shall find that the same is true of them. Whether philosophers, astronomers, statesmen, physicians, or preachers, many of those commenced their career without the patronage of rank or wealth. They were poor and unknown. By their own efforts they surmounted every difficulty in the way of success, and won for themselves the place which posterity has assigned them upon the roll of fame. Their “good start” was their good principles and habits.
A hundred years ago there lived a poor boy in the city of Oxford, England, whose business was to clean the boots of the students in the university. He was compelled to resort to this menial employment to obtain the necessaries of life. He was an active, energetic, bright, generous lad, and he soon won the confidence of the students. Some of them proposed to instruct him a short time, every day, which proposition he accepted with delight. He surprised his teachers by his rapid progress. He lost not a moment, but gave himself so diligently and perseveringly to his studies, as to excite the admiration of all. Of course he was eminently successful. Every youth with the same excellent qualities will succeed in any laudable undertaking. This lad became the eloquent GEORGE WHITEFIELD. The favour of the students would have availed him nothing without his energy, industry, and perseverance. Indeed, it was these qualities in the boy, which first attracted the attention of the students.
Eighty years ago a boy was born in Salem, Massachusetts, of obscure parentage, and in very lowly circumstances. His mother died when he was ten years of age, though she lived long enough to impress his heart with the love of truth. His father was so poor that he could afford his boy but limited opportunities of acquiring an education. On account of his poverty, this lad wore his summer clothes to school one winter, and became the laughing-stock of the scholars. When only eleven or twelve years of age, he was apprenticed to
shoemaker, who kept him in the shop, though he allowed him a slate and pencil on his bench. Yet tbis boy improved every opportunity, and without teachers, advanced daily in knowledge, and finally became the well known mathematician, NATHANIEL BOWDITCH.
Patrick Henry was the son of a poor man in Virginia. In early life he struggled hard with poverty, and gave little promise of distinction in any pursuit. But he finally devoted himself with energy and perseverance to his studies, and became the most gifted orator of his age.
Benjamin Franklin was the son of a tallow-chandler in Boston. He was the youngest but two of seventeen children, and, having a poor father, penury was his lot. At ten years of age he was taken from school, and placed in his father's workshop. Of course his early advantages were few, but he triumphed over every obstacle by his own exertions, and placed himself in the front rank of philosophers.
Here, then, is a divine, a mathematician, a statesman, and a philosopher, each of whom distinguished himself without any of those worldly advantages to which youth often attach so much importance. The above may be taken as a few illustrations of a large part of honoured men in the various departments of human effort.
We may add, in a word, that Virgil's father was a potter. Luther was the son of a poor miner, and Zuinglius of a shepherd. Bunyan's father was a travelling tinker, and Columbus was the son of a weaver. Bloomfield, Gibbon, Gifford, Linnæus, Dr Carey, and Roger Sherman, were shoemakers. Cowley was the son of a grocer, Pope of a linen draper, Collins of a hatter, Beattie and Butler of farmers, and Akenside and Henry Kirk White and Shakespeare, of butchers. Jeremy Taylor was the son of a barber, John Hunter of a carpenter, and Scott, the commentator, of a glazier. The father of John Opie, the great English portrait painter, was a carpenter, and Opie was raised from the work of a saw-pit, where he was employed in cutting wood, to the professorship of painting in the Royal Academy.
Time would fail to enumerate the men who have struggled into enviable notoriety, from the most obscure parentage. A very large majority of famous men had a humble origin.
Such facts prove that want and obscurity are ne hindrance to success in life; but that, on the other hand, they lead to that self-denial, self-reliance, industry, and perseverance, which are indispensable to eminence in any calling.
We have been thus particular in citing names to substantiate the truth of this chapter, because young persons are disposed to rely upon wealth and rank to give them a start in the world. When they see that the youth who have distinguished themselves in the world, without these external advantages, far outnumber those who have become famous with the aid of riches and station, they cannot fail to understand that lowly circumstances are not unfavourable to success.
We felt that some readers might conclude that the case of Amos Lawrence was an exception to a general rule, and we desired to shew them that the reverse is the truth. In common with other noted
he owed nothing to those worldly inheritances which are so often coveted. With the aid of a moral and religious education at the fireside, he made himself what he was. As Patrick Henry made himself a statesman, and Franklin made himself a philosopher, and Ferguson made himself an astronomer, so Lawrence made himself the prince of merchants and philanthropists. The same elements of success that were in them were also in him.
So much for good principles and good habits with which to begin the world!
Mr Lawrence once wrote to his son, who was in France at the time :-“Good principles, good temper, and good manners, will carry a man through the world much better than with the absence of either. The most important is good principles. Without these, the best manners, although, for a time, very acceptable, cannot sustain a person in trying situations.”
In this chapter we have spoken in general of certain good principles and habits, which will be considered separately in subsequent pages.
THE FIRST TEMPTATION.
We have said that intoxicating drinks were sold in the shop where young Lawrence began his mercantile career. This was, probably, the first great temptation that he experienced. It was a new thing to him to be invited every forenoon to take a glass of spirits. Although at that time it was the universal custom with old men, and even with young men, to take their daily drams,