As to the wealth which the colonies have drawn from the sea by their fisheries, you had all that matter fully opened at your bar. You surely thought those acquisitions of value, for they seemed even to excite your envy; and yet the spirit by which that enterprising employment has been exercised ought rather, in my opinion, to have raised your esteem and admiration. And pray, Sir, what in the world is equal to it? Pass by the other parts, and look at the manner in which the people of New England have of late carried on the whale-fishery. Whilst we follow them among the tumbling mountains of ice, and behold them penetrating into the deepest frozen recesses of Hudsons Bay and Daviss Straits, whilst we are looking for them beneath the arctic circle, we hear that they have pierced into the opposite region of polar cold, that they are at the antipodes, and engaged under the frozen serpent of the South. Falkland Island, which seemed too remote and romantic an object for the grasp of national ambition, is but a stage and resting-place in the progress of their victorious industry. Nor is the equinoctial heat more discouraging to them than the accumulated winter of both the poles. We know that, whilst some of them draw the line and strike the harpoon on the coast of Africa, others run the longitude and pursue their gigantic game along the coast of Brazil. No sea but what is vexed by their fisheries. No climate that is not witness to their toils. Neither the perseverance of Holland, nor the activity of France, nor the dexterous and firm sagacity of English enterprise, ever carried this most perilous mode of hardy industry to the extent to which it has been pushed by this recent people,a people who are still, as it were, but in the gristle, and not yet hardened into the bone of manhood. When I contemplate these things,when I know that the colonies in general owe little or nothing to any care of yours, and that they are not squeezed into this happy form by the constraints of watchful and suspicious government, but that, through a wise and salutary neglect, a generous nature has been suffered to take her own way to perfection,when I reflect upon these effects, when I see how profitable they have been to us, I feel all the pride of power sink, and all presumption in the wisdom of human contrivances melt and die away within me,my rigour relents,I pardon something to the spirit of liberty.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Conciliation with America, March 22, 1775.
There is no art or science that is too difficult for industry to attain to: it is the gift of tongues, and makes a man understood and valued in all countries and by all nations. It is the philosophers stone that turns all metals, and even stones, into gold, and suffers no want to break into its dwelling. It is the north-west passage, that brings the merchants ships as soon to him as he can desire. In a word, it conquers all enemies, and makes fortune itself pay contribution.
Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all easy; and he that riseth late must trot all day, and scarce overtake his business at night; while Laziness travels so slowly that Poverty soon overtakes him.
A divine benediction is always invisibly breathed on painful and lawful diligence. Thus, the servant employed in making and blowing of the fire (though sent away thence as soon as it burneth clear) oft-times getteth by his pains a more kindly and continuing heat than the master himself, who sitteth down by the same; and thus persons industriously occupying themselves thrive better on a little of their own honest getting, than lazy heirs on the large revenues left unto them.
A generous competition is the animating spirit of every profession, without which it droops and languishes. If we look around us, we shall perceive that all the discoveries which have enriched science, and the improvements which have embellished life, are to be ascribed to the competition of nations with nations, of cities with cities, and of men with men.
The common people, no longer maintained in vicious idleness by their superiors, were obliged to learn some calling or industry, and became useful both to themselves and to others. And it must be acknowledged, in spite of those who declaim so violently against refinement in the arts, or what they are pleased to call luxury, that as much as an industrious tradesman is both a better man and a better citizen than one of those idle retainers who formerly depended on the great families, so much is the life of a modern nobleman more laudable than that of an ancient baron.
David Hume: Hist. of Eng., chap, xxvi., Reign of Henry VIII.
I persuade myself that the bountiful and gracious Author of mans being and faculties, and all things else, delights in the beauty of his creation, and is well pleased with the industry of man in adorning the earth with beautiful cities and castles, with pleasant villages and country houses, with regular gardens and orchards, and plantations of all sorts of shrubs, and herbs, and fruits, for meat, medicine, or moderate delight; with shady woods and groves, and walks set with rows of elegant trees; with pastures clothed with flocks, and valleys covered over with corn, and meadows burthened with grass, and whatever else differenceth a civil and well-cultivated region from a barren and desolate wilderness.
John Ray: The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation.
The great high-road of human welfare lies along the old highway of steadfast well-doing; and they who are the most persistent, and work in the truest spirit, will invariably be the most successful: success treads on the heels of every right effort.
We are more industrious than our fathers, because in the present time the funds destined for the maintenance of industry are much greater in proportion to those likely to be employed in the maintenance of idleness, than they were two or three centuries ago.
How profitable is it for every one of us to be reminded, as we are reminded when we make ourselves aware of the derivation of diligence from diligo, to love, that the only secret of true industry in our work is love of that work!