“Blessings of Work,” by J. E. McConaughy (from Robert Merry’s Museum, May 1863; pp. 150-151)
“Oh, dear! how nice it must be to have nothing to do! like Alfred King, now. He just runs in from school and has some one to wait upon him, if he even wants a book from up-stairs. I was over there once, and he sent a servant back three times because he did not get the right one.”
And ruddy-cheeked Ned Holding buttoned up his jacket preparatory to his going out and “doing up the chores” one frosty night.
“Ah, Ned, ‘buckle to,’ and you will have the chores done before you know it,” said Uncle John, as he drew a stout “waxed end” through a bit of harness he was mending; “of all the miserable folks I ever saw in all my days, those were the worst off who had nothing to do. So just set to, Ned, and in a few minutes you will be back with an appetite sharp enough, I’ll warrant; and you may depend mother has something good for supper under that basin.”
Thus encouraged, the boy’s face lightened considerably, and clearing the door-step at a bound, he was out to the yard in half a minute foddering the cattle, pitching down a rack full of nice hay for old Bucy, taking care that the door was shut to the poultry-house, and everything about the place was snug and comfortable. Soon the kindlings were split up, the wood for morning piled high in the wood-boxes, and Ned, with ruddy cheeks, was standing before the fire quite ready for his supper.
“You have been spry to-night, my son,” said the mother pleasantly, as she placed on the table a delicious dish of cream toast, which was Ned’s especial favorite. There was a bountiful plate of home-made bread, cold meat, honey, and golden butter, with a pitcher of nice milk, all ready placed on it by sister Nelly’s industrious little hands, and with very cheerful, thankful hearts did they all answer the summons to “sit by.”
“Well, Neddy,” said Uncle John, when the blessing had been asked and he was helping the children, “do you feel any worse for your work this evening? Do you believe Alfred King enjoys his fine dinner, as he calls it this time of night, any better than you do our plain, wholesome supper? Nothing like hunger-sauce to make even old jerked beef relish, I used to find, when I was away off in the pines lumbering. And depend upon it, my boy, if you ever mean to make anything in the world you must work for it, head and hands both. A fine education is an excellent thing, but it is of little account unless you have a sound body to match it. And there is nothing like exercise to make a man’s mind strong and healthy as well as his body. One who shuts himself up, and creeps along like a snail through life, will grow sickly, and peevish, and unhappy, and make those about him miserable too. But the scholar who takes regular exercise, and plenty of it, is the one whose mind can dive deep into things, and grasp and hold big thoughts, and move other minds with them. I was never a scholar myself, more’s the pity, but I have seen and known a good many in my day, but I never knew a single lazy person ever come to anything in the world—never. God does not bless lazy people. He bids us work ‘with our might what our hands find to do;’ and there is plenty of work
to everybody’s hand if they will only do it. Now, don’t forget that, Ned, when you go to college, or you’ll break down in a year’s time. I have seen plenty of farmers’ sons do it. Take plenty of exercise at a regular time, and get some pleasant fellow to go along, and you will enjoy it twice as well, and it will do you twice as much good. Now Nelly, here, expects you to be some one to be proud of, when you come home from college.”
Do not be discouraged, boys, because you have your way to make in the world. Many a young man’s prospects for life have been utterly blasted by having an estate left him. There is nothing like work to brace a man up, to energize and strengthen every power, to ennoble and exhilirate the mind. There can be no true content without it. Remember to be “not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord,” and you will be sure of that “blessing of the Lord which maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.”