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Addresses Upon the Labor Question

Addresses Upon the Labor Question

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Excerpt from Addresses Upon the Labor Question: I. To the Workingmen of Providence, R. I.; II. To the Alumni of Andover Theological Seminary

Ladies and gentlemen, - After I had completed this lecture I was asked to give it a title, which puzzled me; but presently I chose two quotations, which, taken together, express its purpose.

The first is from an old lecture by Ralph Waldo Emerson Mankind is as lazy as it dares to be.

The second is from a cookery book by An Old Bohemian: If you don't sympathize with the poor, try it.

We hear very much about the dignity of labor; but I am cynical enough to think that this phrase is apt to be used oftener by those who don't know what real hard work is, than by those who do. Any way, a laborer's life is a mighty hard road to travel and to keep your dignity at the same time.

On the other hand, honest workmen want the truth and the facts of life: if they are hard facts, so be it. Life is a struggle with a purpose. In our material work, we are all the time trying to over come friction; but, if there were no friction, we couldn't work at all, because we should have no fulcrum. In the higher life, if there were no conscience no possibility of going wrong there could be no virtue, no manhood, no progress material or spiritual. Man would be like every other beast, a mere animal.

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