That policy that can strike only while the iron is hot, will be overcome by that perseverance which, like Cromwells, can make the iron hot by striking; and he that can only rule the storm must yield to him who can both raise and rule it.
Persevere is applied only to matters of some importance which demand a steady purpose of the mind; persist is used in respect to the ordinary business of life, as well as on more important occasions. A learner perseveres in his studies; a child may persist in making a request until he has obtained the object of his desire.
I am persuaded that in carefully examining the conduct of those who have attained to any extraordinary fortune, we shall be tempted to believe there is nothing so sure of succeeding as not to be over brilliant, as to be entirely wrapped up in ones self, and endowed with a perseverance which, in spite of the rebuffs it may meet with, never relaxes in the pursuit of its object. It is incredible what may be done by dint of importunity alone; and where shall we find the man of real talents who knows how to be importunate enough? He is too soon overcome with the disgust inspired by all matters which have interest only for their object, with the desire of perpetual solicitation; he is too much alive to all the little movements visible on the countenance of the person solicited, and he gives up the pursuit. The fool sees none of these things, feels none of these thingshe pursues his object with unremitted ardour, and at length attains it.
People may tell you of your being unfit for some peculiar occupation in life; but heed them not. Whatever employ you follow with perseverance and assiduity will be found fit for you: it will be your support in youth and your comfort in age. In learning the useful part of any profession very moderate abilities will sufficegreat abilities are generally injurious to the possessors. Life has been compared to a race; but the allusion still improves by observing that the most swift are ever the most apt to stray from the course.
All the performances of human art, at which we look with praise or wonder, are instances of the resistless force of perseverance: it is by this that the quarry becomes a pyramid, and that distant countries are united with canals. If a man was to compare the effect of a single stroke of the pick-axe, or of one impression of a spade, with the general design and last result, he would be overwhelmed by the sense of their disproportion; yet those petty operations, incessantly continued, in time surmount the greatest difficulties, and mountains are levelled, and oceans bounded, by the slender force of human beings.
It is therefore of the utmost importance that those who have any intention of deviating from the beaten roads of life, and acquiring a reputation superior to names hourly swept away by time among the refuse of fame, should add to their reason, and their spirit, the power of persisting in their purposes; acquire the art of sapping what they cannot batter; and the habit of vanquishing obstinate resistance by obstinate attacks.