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DOING OUR BEST:
AS SEEN IN
THE ILLUSTRATIONS BY
* LONDON. JAMES HOGG AND SONS.
210 g. 5
HEArt of Doing our Best' is the most useful,
although, perhaps, the least practised of all the Arts. How often we hear the world say, such and such a boy is so clever-he can do anything he likes ;' but that is a grand mistake, as it is one thing to be naturally clever and quick, but quite another thing to be able to do anything' one likes
- if without that steadiness of purpose and thoroughness which is the “Art of Doing our Best.' When I hear that said of any boy I am interested in, I tremble for the future of the lad; lest, in the long run, that very boy may be the one who does nothing; because doing so many things easily, he does not do one thing well. He will, perhaps, trust too much to his natural ability carrying him through the several careers of school, college, his profession, or business ; but his ability will be, powerless either to make him good or great, if he be not also persevering.
It is to inculcate that principle of thoroughness, in an entertaining and instructive form, that the following biographical stories are offered to those who, yet on life's threshold, can choose one of two paths; that is, the one of ease and pleasure, ending only, it may be, in disappointment and regret; or the other, which, when its obstacles have been met by doing our best, is certain to lead to success, both in this world and in the next: for a good citizen must be also a good Christian.
It does not follow that because all are not equally called upon to perform great deeds or actions, all are not required to do their best;' for a little thing well done may require the same amount of perseverance and real greatness as the heroic deeds or dazzling genius of the great' of this world. When Palissy persevered with experiments, which were to end by the introduction of that apparent trifle, the white enamel, he was, in his way, doing as much as Inigo Jones when he erected the beautiful Banqueting-hall or as Brindley when he made the Canal from Worsley to Manchester. Again, when Bishop Heber and Sir William Jones gave up home ties, their native land, and present ease, to obey the voice that called them to fatal India, and to do their best'in different lines, they were but following in the footsteps of William Tyndale, who also, in the sixteenth century, did his best, when encountering even death to leave behind him an English Bible.
Hüber, studying the little busy-bee;' Izaak Walton, ennobling the art of angling; Flaxman, designing for Wedgwood; Gifford, studying his algebra in secret and while others slept; Holcroft, mending shoes, but educating himself; the band of Invincibles '—Carey, Ledyard, Count Rumford, and Drew; and in our own time, Macaulay-all have left us a lesson in the stories of their varied lives, which bears out the title of this book. Natural talent will do much, but perseverance may do more; while the two combined may conquer everything.
Trusting, therefore, that a perusal of these biographical sketches may point out its necessity, it is hoped that they may likewise induce a wish in the youthful reader for a practical knowledge of the Art of Doing our Best.'