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
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
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
"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
"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.