It is an erroneous notion, though too generally held, that the way of ease is the pathway to utility and nobility.
It is a matter for gratitude that ere many years have elapsed the glorious word duty looks us in the face, nor can its imperious demands be disregarded without great loss being sustained in everything that pertains to character. The poet's lines in this connection are very apposite.
"And I must work through months of toil
And years of cultivation
Upon my proper patch of soil,
And grow my own plantation."
Every young man has an eye to the uplands. What of the valley between? It is a valley of hard work and long discipline. Is he prepared to traverse the desert? He will get a push downward, but ought not to be discouraged.
He must keep on striving.
"Then welcome each rebuff
That turns earth's smoothness rough,
Each sting that bids nor sit, nor stand, but go!
Be our joy three parts pain!
Strive, and hold cheap the strain;
Learn, nor account the pang; dare, never grudge the throe."
The temper to have things by quick returns, at the least possible expense of time, thought, and energy, is growing.
The aim is an unworthy one and can only end in stagnation to everything that makes for manhood. To be thrown upon a bed of roses is not a good thing for any young man, but the reverse.
The struggle is not by any means uniform. Some have heavier burdens to carry than others, but the less-heavily burdened can share the struggle of the over-burdened ones; and so effect the grand work of healing, soothing and saving.
Emerson used to delight in telling a story to his children that has a beautiful lesson. Napoleon and a lady were one day walking a rugged road at St. Helena when they met a number of men carrying heavy burdens; said the lady to the men "Stand aside! Clear the way!" "Madam," said Napoleon "respect the burden."
Our task may be beset with difficulties, but—be deterred in consequence is beneath the dignity of our manhood. By the discipline that comes through struggle is our salvation to be made effectual.
Fashioned and fathered by our Thought;
Whoso, his mind by evil swayed,
Sin—or in speech or act—had wrought;
As the wheel dog's the oxen's tread,
Him Fate sure follows, sorrow-fraught.