Faithfulness is the soul of goodness.--J. S. White
That which we love most in men and women is faithfulness.--S. Brooke
It is the fidelity in the daily drill which turns the raw recruit into
the accomplished soldier.--W. M. Punshon
The secret of success in life is for a man to be faithful to all his
duties and obligations.--Disraeli
The truest test of civilization is not the census, nor the size of
cities, nor the crops; but the kind of men the country turns
Faithfulness is just as possible to boys and girls as to men and women.
To be faithful is to be true to our own convictions,--never acting
without or against them,--and true to our professions,--never breaking
promises, or swerving from engagements.
Exactly what we mean will readily be seen in the following incident:
When Blucher was hastening over bad roads to help Wellington at
Waterloo, his troops faltered. "It can't be done," said they. "It
_must_ be done," was his reply. "I have promised to be there--_promised_,
do you hear? You wouldn't have me break my word!" It was done, as we
all know; and the result of his faithfulness was a great victory for
Wellington, and the complete overthrow of Napoleon.
Faithfulness in the daily routine of school work has laid the foundation
of many a noble character. There is no one thing which will sooner wreck
a young man, and utterly ruin his future prospects, than the reputation
of being lazy and shiftless.
Mr. Ruskin, speaking of the importance of faithfulness among the young
people of England, said, "Could I give the youth of this country but one
word of advice it would be this: _Let no moment pass until you have
extracted from it every possibility. Watch every grain in the
Sir Walter Scott, writing to his son at school, says: "I cannot too much
impress upon your mind that faithfulness is a condition imposed on us in
every station of life; there is nothing worth having that can be had
without it. As for knowledge, it can no more be planted in the human
mind without labor than a field of wheat can be produced without the
previous use of the plow. If we neglect our spring, our summer will be
useless and contemptible, our harvest will be chaff, and the winter of
our old age unrespected and desolate."
It will be seen, therefore, that all young persons should endeavor to
make each day stand for something. Neither heaven nor earth has any
place for the drone; he is a libel on his species. No glamour of wealth
or social prestige can hide his essential ugliness. It is better to
carry a hod, or wield a shovel, in an honest endeavor to be of some use
to humanity, than to be nursed in luxury and be a parasite.
The emptiness and misery sometimes found in idle high life is
illustrated by the following letter, written by a French countess to the
"DEAR HUSBAND:--Not knowing what else to do I will write to you. Not
knowing what to say, I will now close. Wearily yours,
COUNTESS DE R."
Of course we must admit that there is variety in the distribution of
human talents; and yet no one of us is incompletely furnished. Each one
has to be faithful only according to the measure of his trust, and is
not expected to make disproportionate gains. Some men are especially
fortunate both in opportunities and in resources, while to others,
chances of advancement come but seldom; but the man of few
opportunities may be just as faithful as the man who has many.
If you would be accounted faithful, you must do little things as if they
were great, and great things as if they were little and easy. That is
the true road to success; and your place or station in life has very
little to do with it.
Calais is a pleasant seaport town of France, situated on the Straits of
Dover. Large numbers of travelers from England to France, and from
France to England, pass through this beautiful town. Near the center of
it is a lighthouse, one hundred and eighteen feet high, on which is
placed a revolving light that can be seen by vessels twenty miles out at
At one time some gentlemen were visiting the tower upon which the light
is placed, when the watchman who has charge of the burners commenced
praising their brilliancy. One of the gentlemen then said to him, "What
if one of the lights should chance to go out?" "Impossible!" replied the
watchman, with amazement at the bare thought of such neglect of duty.
"Sir," said he, pointing to the ocean, "yonder, where nothing can be
seen, there are ships going to every part of the world. If to-night one
of my burners were out, within six months would come a letter--from
India, perhaps from the islands of the Pacific Ocean, perhaps from some
place I never heard of--saying that on such a night, at such an hour,
the light of Calais burned dim; the watchman neglected his post, and
vessels were in danger. Ah, sir, sometimes on dark nights, in the stormy
weather, I look out at sea, and I feel as if the eyes of the whole world
were looking at my light! My light go out! Calais's burners grow dim!
Exactly the opposite of this is seen in the incident which follows:
A few years ago, the keeper of a life-saving station on the Atlantic
coast found that his supply of powder had given out. The nearest village
was two or three miles distant, and the weather was inclement. He
concluded that it "was not worth while to go so far for such a trifle."
That night a vessel was wrecked within sight of the station. A line
could have been given to the crew if he had been able to use the mortar;
but he had no powder. He saw the drowning men perish one by one, knowing
that he alone was to blame. A few days afterward he was justly
dismissed from the service.
Faithfulness must especially take into account the feelings and
expectations we have raised in other minds. In this matter we cannot be
too careful. It is said of Lord Chatham that he once promised his son
that he should be present at the pulling down of a garden wall. The wall
was, however, taken down during his absence, through forgetfulness; but,
feeling the importance of his word being held sacred, Lord Chatham
ordered the workman to rebuild it, that his son might witness its
destruction according to his father's promise.
Loyalty is also a form of faithfulness. It is patriotism in practice.
Only the patriotic citizen is loyal to his country. The absence of this
sentiment, in times of national peril, exposes one to indecision and
cowardice, if not to treason. Hence its great value and beauty. It is
indispensable to good citizenship; indeed there is no true manhood and
womanhood without it. It is involved in the American idea of republican
institutions. It is loyalty alone which makes it possible for our
country to continue on its course from year to year.
This form of faithfulness is just now commanding attention throughout
our land. The national flag is flung to the breeze over our
schoolhouses, that American youth may not forget their allegiance to the
government it represents. The stars and stripes floating over the
temples of knowledge, wherein our youth are being trained for usefulness
and honor, is worth far more to us than we realize; and we should always
be ready to hail it with joyous songs and cheers.
CYRUS W. FIELD.
One of the greatest enterprises of modern times, was the laying of the
first Atlantic cable. Cyrus W. Field became impressed with the
feasibility of this project. He induced capitalists to put their money
into it; and then plunged into the work with all the force of his being.
The faithfulness with which he performed his task gained for him the
united praise of two continents.
By hard work he secured aid for his company from the British government;
but in Congress he encountered such bitter opposition from a powerful
lobby that his measure had a majority of only one in the senate.
The cable was loaded upon the Agamemnon, the flagship of the British
fleet at Sebastopol, and upon the Niagara, a magnificent new frigate of
the United States navy; but, when five miles of cable had been paid out,
it caught in the machinery and parted. On the second trial, when two
hundred miles at sea, the electric current was suddenly lost, and men
paced the decks nervously and sadly, as if in the presence of death.
Just as Mr. Field was about to give the order to cut the cable, the
current returned as quickly and mysteriously as it had disappeared. The
following night, when the ship was moving but four miles an hour and
the cable running out at the rate of six miles, the brakes were applied
too suddenly just as the steamer gave a heavy lurch, and the cable broke
and sank to the bottom of the sea.
Directors were disheartened, the public skeptical, capitalists were shy,
and, but for the faith of Mr. Field, who worked day and night, almost
without food or sleep, the whole project would have been abandoned.
A third attempt also resulted in failure, but not discouraged by all
these difficulties, Mr. Field went to work with a will, organized a new
company, and made a new cable far superior to anything before used; and,
on July 13, 1866, was begun the trial which ended with the following
message sent to New York:
"HEART'S CONTENT, July 27.
"We arrived here at nine o'clock this morning. All well. Thank God! the
cable is laid and is in perfect working order. CYRUS W. FIELD."
Such, in brief, is the story of the faithful performance of a seemingly
impossible task. It was a long, hard struggle, covering nearly thirteen
years of anxious watching and ceaseless toil. But the name and fame of
Cyrus W. Field will long be cherished and remembered by a grateful
[Footnote: See Appleton's "Cyclopedia of American Biography," Vol. II.,
pp. 448, 449, and Johnson's "Universal Cyclopedia," Vol. III., p. 351.]