Hypertext Meanings and Commentaries from the Encyclopedia of the Self
by Mark Zimmerman
(24) But nothing could be more one-sided, and in effect untrue, than such a definition. Of course, there are narrow-minded men of business, as there are narrow-minded scientific men, literary men, and legislators; but there are also business men of large and comprehensive minds, capable of action on the very largest scale. As Burke said in his speech on the
For it is not the calling that degrades the man, but the man that degrades the calling. All work that brings honest gain is honourable, whether it be of hand or mind. The fingers may be soiled, yet the heart remain pure; for it is not material so much as moral dirt that defiles - greed far more than grime, and vice than verdigris.
Thales, the first of the seven sages, Solon, the second founder of Athens, and Hyperates, the mathematician, were all traders. Plato, called the Divine by reason of the excellence of his wisdom, defrayed his travelling expenses in
Spencer was Secretary to the Lord Deputy of Ireland, was afterwards Sheriff of Cork, and is said to have been shrewd and attentive in matters of business. Milton, originally a schoolmaster, was elevated to the post of Secretary to the Council of State during the Commonwealth; and the extant Order-book of the Council, as well as many of Milton's letters which are preserved, give abundant evidence of his activity and usefulness in that office. Sir Isaac Newton proved himself an efficient Master of the Mint; the new coinage of 1694 having been carried on under his immediate personal superintendence. Cowper prided himself upon his business punctuality, though he confessed that he "never knew a poet, except himself, who was punctual in anything." But against this we may set the lives of Wordsworth and Scott - the former a distributor of stamps, the latter a clerk to the Court of Session, - both of whom, though great poets, were eminently punctual and practical men of business. David Ricardo, amidst the occupations of his daily business as a London stock-jobber, in conducting which he acquired an ample fortune, was able to concentrate his mind upon his favourite subject - on which he was enabled to throw great light - the principles of political economy; for he united in himself the sagacious commercial man and the profound philosopher. Baily, the eminent astronomer, was another stockbroker; and Allen, the chemist, was a silk manufacturer.
I think whatever is done should be done for Moore himself. This is more distinct, direct, and intelligible. Making a small provision for young men is hardly justifiable; and it is of all things the most prejudicial to themselves. They think what they have much larger than it really is; and they make no exertion. The young should never hear any language but this: 'You have your own way to make, and it depends upon your own exertions whether you starve or not.' Believe me, &c., MELBOURNE."
Yet in business affairs, it is the manner in which even small matters are transacted, that often decides men for or against you.
With virtue, capacity, and good conduct in other respects, the person who is habitually inaccurate cannot be trusted; his work has to be gone over again; and he thus causes an infinity of annoyance, vexation, and trouble.
Though a corpulent man, he was wonderfully active at picking up cut tennis balls, and when asked how he contrived to do so, he playfully replied, "Because I am a very pains-taking man." The same accuracy in trifling matters was displayed by him in things of greater importance; and he acquired his reputation, like the painter, by "neglecting nothing."
"Beware of stumbling over a propensity which easily besets you from not having your time fully employed - I mean what the women call DAWDLING. Your motto must be, HOC AGE. Do instantly whatever is to be done, and take the hours of recreation after business, never before it. When a regiment is under march, the rear is often thrown into confusion because the front do not move steadily and without interruption. It is the same with business. If that which is first in hand is not instantly, steadily, and regularly
despatched, other things accumulate behind, till affairs begin to press all at once, and no human brain can stand the confusion."
But the habit of listlessness and idleness may already have become confirmed, and they are unable to break the bonds with which they have permitted themselves to become bound. Lost wealth may be replaced by industry, lost knowledge by study, lost health by
temperance or medicine, but lost time is gone for ever.
after the victory of Eylau.
the most part concentrated in his own head.
But so brilliant a victory did not in the least disturb his equanimity, or affect the perfect honesty of his character. Shortly after this event the opportunity occurred for exhibiting his admirable practical qualities as an administrator. Placed in command of an important district immediately after the capture of Seringapatam, his first object was to establish rigid order and discipline among his own men. Flushed with victory, the troops were found riotous and disorderly. "Send me the provost marshal," said he, "and put him under my orders: till some of the marauders are hung, it is impossible to expect order or safety." This rigid severity of Wellington in the field, though it was the dread, proved the salvation of his troops in many campaigns. His next step was to re-establish the markets and re-open the sources of supply. General Harris wrote to the Governor-general, strongly commending Colonel Wellesley for the perfect discipline he had established, and for his "judicious and masterly arrangements in respect to supplies, which opened an abundant free market, and inspired confidence into dealers of every description." The same close attention to, and mastery of details, characterized him throughout his Indian career; and it is remarkable that one of his ablest despatches to Lord Clive, full of practical information as to the conduct of the campaign, was written whilst the column he commanded was crossing the Toombuddra, in the face of the vastly superior army of Dhoondiah, posted on the opposite bank, and while a thousand matters of the deepest interest were pressing upon the commander's mind. But it was one of his most remarkable characteristics, thus to be able to withdraw himself temporarily from the business immediately in hand, and to bend his full powers upon the consideration of matters totally distinct; even the most difficult circumstances on such occasions failing to embarrass or intimidate him.
He neglected nothing, and attended to every important detail of business himself. When he found that food for his troops was not to be obtained from England, and that he must rely upon his own resources for feeding them, he forthwith commenced business as a corn merchant on a large scale, in copartnery with the British Minister at Lisbon.
productions and the character of their country; it is far more their wisdom, their economy, and, above all, their probity. If ever in the British Islands the useful citizen should lose these virtues, we may be sure that, for England, as for every other country, the vessels of a degenerate commerce, repulsed from every shore, would speedily disappear from those seas whose surface they now cover with the treasures of the universe, bartered for the treasures of the industry of the three kingdoms."
If we reflect but for a moment on the vast amount of wealth daily entrusted even to subordinate persons, who themselves probably earn but a bare competency - the loose cash which is constantly passing through the hands of shopmen, agents, brokers, and clerks in banking houses, - and note how comparatively few are the breaches of trust which occur amidst all this temptation, it will probably be admitted that this steady daily honesty of conduct is most honourable to human nature, if it do not even tempt us to be proud of it. The same trust and confidence reposed by men of business in each other, as implied by the system of Credit, which is mainly based upon the principle of honour, would be surprising if it were not so much a matter of ordinary practice in business transactions.
Dr. Chalmers has well said, that the implicit trust with which merchants are accustomed to confide in distant agents, separated from them perhaps by half the globe - often consigning vast wealth to persons, recommended only by their character, whom perhaps they have never seen - is probably the finest act of homage which men can render to one another.
He was a mirror of truthfulness and honesty; and, as became the good Christian and true gentleman, his word was always held to be as good as his bond. His position, and his high character, induced the Ministers of the day on many occasions to seek his advice; and, when examined before the House of Commons on the subject of the American dispute, his views were so clearly expressed, and his advice was so strongly justified by the reasons stated by him, that Lord North publicly acknowledged that he had derived more information from David Barclay than from all others east of Temple Bar. On retiring from business, it was not to rest in luxurious ease, but to enter upon new labours of usefulness for others. With ample means, he felt that he still owed to society the duty of a good example. He founded a house of industry near his residence at Walthamstow, which he supported at a heavy outlay for several years, until at length he succeeded in rendering it a source of comfort as well as independence to the well-disposed families of the poor in that neighbourhood. When an estate in Jamaica fell to him, he determined, though at a cost of some 10,000L., at once to give liberty to the whole of the slaves on the property. He sent out an agent, who hired a ship, and he had the little slave community transported to one of the free American states, where they settled down and prospered. Mr. Barclay had been assured that the negroes were too ignorant and too barbarous for freedom, and it was thus that he determined practically to demonstrate the fallacy of the assertion. In dealing with his accumulated savings, he made himself the executor of his own will, and instead of leaving a large fortune to be divided among his relatives at his death, he extended to them his munificent aid during his life, watched and aided them in their respective careers, and thus not only laid the foundation, but lived to see the maturity, of some of the largest and most prosperous business concerns in the metropolis. We believe that to this day some of our most eminent merchants – such as the Gurneys, Hanburys, and Buxtons - are proud to acknowledge with gratitude the obligations they owe to David Barclay for the means of their first introduction to life, and for the benefits of his counsel and countenance in the early stages of their career.