Business is king. We often say that cotton is king, or corn is king, but
with greater propriety we may say that the king is that great machine which is
kept in motion by the Law of Supply and Demand: the destinies of all mankind are
ruled by it.
"Were the question asked," says Stearns, "what is at this
moment the strongest Power in operation for controlling, regulating, and
inciting the actions of men, what has most at its disposal the condition and
destinies of the world, we must answer at once, it is business, in its various
ranks and departments; of which commerce, foreign and domestic, is the most
appropriate representation. In all prosperous and advancing communities, -
advancing in arts, knowledge, literature, and social refinement, - business is
king. Other influences in society may be equally indispensable, and some may
think far more dignified, but Business is King. The statesman and the scholar,
the nobleman and the prince, equally with the manufacturer, the mechanic, and
the labourer, pursue their several objects only by leave granted and means
furnished by this potentate."
Oil is better than sand for keeping this vast machinery in good running
condition. Do not shovel grit or gravel stones upon the bearings. A tiny copper
shaving in a wheel box, or a scratch on a journal, may set a railway train on
fire. The running of the business world is damaged by whatever creates friction.
Anxiety mars one's work. Nobody can do his best when fevered by worry.
One may rush and always be in great haste, and may talk about being busy, fuming
and sweating as if he were doing ten men's duties; and yet some quiet person
alongside, who is moving leisurely and without anxious haste, is probably
accomplishing twice as much, and doing it better. Fluster unfits one for good
Have you not sometimes seen a business manager whose stiffness would
serve as "a good example to a poker?" He acts toward his employees as
the father of Frederick the Great did toward his subjects, caning them on the
streets, and shouting, "I wish to be loved and not feared." Growl,
Spitfire and Brothers," says Talmage, "wonder why they fail, while
Messrs. Merriman and Warmheart succeed."
There is no investment a businessman can make that will pay him a greater
per cent, than patience and amiability. Good humour will sell the most goods.
John Wanamaker's clerks have been heard to say: "We can work better
for a weak after a pleasant 'Good morning' from Mr. Wanamaker."
This kindly disposition and cheerful manner, and a desire to create a
pleasant feeling and diffuse good cheer among those who work for him, have had a
great deal to do with the great merchant's remarkable success. On the other
hand, a man who easily finds fault, and is never generous-spirited, who never
commends the work of subordinates when he can do so justly, who is unwilling to
brighten their hours, fails to secure the best of service. "Why not try
love's way?" It will pay better, and be better.
A habit of cheerfulness, enabling one to transmute apparent misfortunes
into real blessings, is a fortune to a young man or young woman just crossing
the threshold of active life. There is nothing but ill fortune in a habit of
grumbling, which "requires no talent, no self-denial, no brains, no
character." Grumbling only makes an employee more uncomfortable, and may
cause his dismissal. No one would or should wish to make him do grudgingly what
so many others would be glad to do in a cheerful spirit.
If you dislike your position, complain to no one, least of all to your
employer. Fill the place as it was never filled before. Crowd it to overflowing.
Make yourself more competent for it. Show that you are abundantly worthy of
better things. Express yourself in this manner as freely as you please, for it
is the only way that will count.
No one ever found the world quite as he would like it. You will be sure
to have burdens laid upon you that belong to other people, unless you are a
shirk yourself; but don't grumble. If the work needs doing and you can do it,
never mind about the other one who ought to have done it and did not; do it
yourself. Those workers who fill up the gaps, and smooth away the rough spots,
and finish up the jobs that others leave undone, - they are the true
peacemakers, and worth a regiment of grumblers.
"Oh, what a sunny, winsome face she has!" said a Christian
Endeavorer, in reporting of a clerk woman he saw in a Bay City store. "The
customers flocked about her like bees about a honey-bush bloom."
"Give us, therefore," - let us cry with Carlyle, - "oh,
give us the man who sings at his work ! He will do more in the same time, he
will do it better, he will persevere longer. One is scarcely sensible of fatigue
whilst he marches to music. The very stars are said to make harmony as they
revolve in their spheres. Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, altogether
past calculation its powers of endurance. Efforts, to be permanently useful,
must be uniformly joyous, a spirit all sunshine, graceful from very gladness,
beautiful because bright."
"It is a good sign," says another writer, "when girlish
voices carol over the steaming dishpan or the mending basket, when the broom
moves rhythmically, and the duster flourishes in time to some brisk melody. We
are sure that the dishes shine more brightly, and that the sweeping and dusting
and mending are more satisfactory because of this running accompaniment of song.
Father smiles when he has his girl singing about her work, and mother's tired
face brightens at the sound. Brothers and sisters, without realising it,
perhaps, catch the spirit of the cheerful worker."
There are singing milkers in Switzerland; a milkmaid or man gets better
wages if gifted with a good voice, for a cow will yield one-fifth more milk when
soothed by a pleasing melody.
It was said by Buffon that even sheep fatten better to the sound of
music. And when field hands are singing, as you sometimes hear them in the old
country, you may be sure the labour is lightened.
It is Mrs. Howitt who has told us of the musical bells of the farm teams
in a rural district in England: - "It was no regular tune, but a delicious
melody in that soft, sunshiny air which was filled at the same time with the
song of birds. Angela had heard all kinds of music in London, but this was
unlike anything she had heard before, so soft, and sweet, and gladsome. On it
came, ringing, ringing as softly as flowing water. The boys and grandfather knew
what it meant. Then it came in sight, - the farm team going to the mill with
sacks of corn to be ground, each horse with a little string of bells to its
harness. On they came, the handsome, well-cared-for creatures, nodding their
heads as they stepped along; and at every step the cheerful and cheering melody
"'Do all horses down here have bells?' asked Angela.
"By no means,' replied her grandfather. 'They cost something; but if
we can make labour easier to a horse by giving him a little music, which he
loves, he is less worn by his work, and that is a saving worth thinking of. A
horse is a generous, noble-spirited animal, and not without intellect, either;
and he is capable of much enjoyment from music.'"
A spirit of song, if not the singing itself, is a constant delight to us.
"It is like passing sweet meadows alive with bobolinks."
"Some men," says Beecher, "move through life as a band of
music moves down the street, flinging out pleasures on every side, through the
air, to every one far and near who can listen; others fill the air with harsh
clang and clangour. Many men go through life carrying their tongue, their
temper, their whole disposition so that wherever they go, others dread them.
Some men fill the air with their presence and sweetness, as orchards in October
days fill the air with the perfume of ripe fruit."
"Health and good humour," said Massillon, "are to the
human body like sunshine to vegetation."
The late Charles A. Dana fairly bubbled over with the enjoyment of his
work, and was, up to his last illness, at his office every day. A Cabinet
officer once said to him: "Well, Mr. Dana, I don't see how you stand this
"Grind?" said Mr. Dana. "You never were more mistaken. I
have nothing but fun."
"Bully" was a favourite word with him; a slang word used to
express uncommon pleasure, such as had been afforded by a trip abroad, or by a
run to Cuba or Mexico, or by the perusal of something especially pleasing in the
"One of my neighbours is a very ill-tempered man," said Nathan
Rothschild. "He tries to vex me, and has built a great place for swine
close to my walk. So, when I go out, I hear first, 'Grunt, grunt,' then 'Squeak,
squeak.' But this does me no harm. I am always in good humour."
"Offended by a pungent article, a gentleman called at the
"Tribune" office and inquired for the editor. He was shown into a
little seven by-nine sanctum, where Greeley sat, with his head close down to his
paper, scribbling away at a two-forty rate. The angry man began by asking if
this was Mr. Greeley. "Yes, sir, what do you want?" said the editor
quickly, without once looking up from his paper. The irate visitor then began
using his tongue, with no reference to the rules of propriety, good breeding, or
reason. Meantime Mr. Greeley continued to write. Page after page was dashed off
in the most impetuous style, with no change of features, and without paying the
slightest attention to the visitor. Finally, after about twenty minutes of the
most impassioned scolding ever poured out in an editor's office, the angry man
became disgusted, and abruptly turned to walk out of the room. Then, for the
first time, Mr. Greeley quickly looked up, rose from his chair and, slapping the
gentleman familiarly on his shoulder, in a pleasant tone of voice said:
"Don't go, friend; sit down, sit down, and free your mind; it will do you
good, - you will feel better for it. Besides, it helps me to think what I am to
write about. Don't go."
"One good hearty laugh." says Talmage, "is like a
bombshell exploding in the right place, and spleen and discontent like a gun
that kicks over the man shooting it off."
"Every one," says Lubbock, "likes a man who can enjoy a
laugh at his own expense, - and justly so, for it shows good humour and good
sense. If you laugh at yourself, other people will not laugh at you."
People differ very much in their sense of humour. As some are deaf to
certain sounds and blind to certain colours, so there are those who seem deaf
and blind to certain pleasures. What makes me laugh until I almost go into
convulsions moves them not at all.
Is it not worthwhile to make an effort to see the funny side of our petty
annoyances? How could the two boys but laugh, after they had contended long over
the possession of a box found by the wayside, when they agreed to divide its
contents, and found nothing in it?
The ability to get on with scolding, irritating people is a great art in
doing business. To preserve serenity amid petty trials is a happy gift.
A sunny temper is also conducive to health. A medical authority of
highest repute affirms that "excessive labour, exposure to wet and cold,
deprivation of sufficient quantities of necessary and wholesome food, habitual
bad lodging, sloth, and intemperance are all deadly enemies to human life, but
they are none of them so bad as violent and ungoverned passions;" that men
and women have frequently lived to an advanced age in spite of these; but that
instances are very rare in which people of irascible tempers live to extreme old
Poultney Bigelow, in "Harper's Magazine," in relating the story
of Jameson's raid upon the Boers of South Africa, says that the triumphant Boers
fell on their knees, thanking God for their victory; and that they prayed for
their enemies, and treated their prisoners with the utmost kindness. Our foreign
missionary books relate similar anecdotes, it being a characteristic feature of
their childlike piety for new converts to take literally the words of our Lord,
- "Love your enemies."
It is not true that the devil has his tail in everything. A stalwart
confidence in God, and faith in the happy outcome of life, will do more to
lubricate the creaking machinery of our daily affairs than anything else.