The Story of Porcelain - novelonlinefull.com
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"I guess no business is without its troubles," observed Theo.
"No business that is interesting," answered Mr. Croyden. "It is getting the better of such difficulties that gives zest to manufacture, making it a constant field for man's fertile brain. I think the old Italians were right when during the golden days of Venetian history they recognized the intellectual status of gla.s.s-makers, silk-makers, and the like; and accorded to such men the same honors they did to those of n.o.ble rank. For, after all, the n.o.ble was only what chance had made him; while the skilled artisan was what he had made himself--a far more creditable thing, to my way of thinking."
"And to mine!" agreed Theo.
"I am glad you feel that way," Mr. Croyden said, "because I am anxious to have you view this industry not alone from its technical but from its larger aspect. Did I not believe that I was doing something more than just the humdrum task of making dishes I should speedily become discouraged and decide my labor was not worth the strength I am constantly putting into it. But every honorable industry is far more than that. It is a monument to the men who conceived it and to those who little by little developed the wonderful machinery that makes it possible. Each perfect product it turns out voices the skill, patience, and faithfulness of scores of workmen. More than that, an industry is the weapon of the wage-earner--the means by which he and his family are protected from want and unhappiness. Hence every conscientious manufacturer performs a double service to mankind: he gives to the world something that it needs, and he furnishes his fellow-man with a means of livelihood. Regarded in this light it is no unworthy calling to be a manufacturer."
"I think both the man at the head of the firm, and the men who share in the work are doing their bit," put in Theo.
"The one is dependent on the other," affirmed Mr. Croyden. "It is a matter of equality. In fact, it would be hard to tell which of the two is the more indebted to the other--the employer or the employee. It is in this spirit that I try to run this great plant. I blunder, it is true; I suppose we all do that. But I sincerely believe labor should have an honored place, and so far as I am concerned I give it one. If I had a boy," Mr. Croyden's voice faltered, "If I had a boy," he repeated more firmly, "he should be brought up to touch his cap to the laborer as well as to the capitalist; and he should be made to feel that the trade school is as praiseworthy a place as is the college. The two simply furnish different types of education."
"Your father and I represent these two types," continued Mr. Croyden. "When you grow up you will have to choose which of them you will follow. I know you will choose wisely and well. But you must never forget that it is the ideal behind what you do that transforms a calling from a gray, dead, monotonous vocation into a glowing, living, interesting career. You can be a routine doctor, seeing only the dull round of aches and pains; or you can be the Great Physician who continues G.o.d's work of healing on the earth. As for the manufacturer--in this field, too, you can be the mere money-getter who crowds down and ignores those who have helped him to ama.s.s his wealth; or you can be the profit-sharer and co-worker. It all rests with yourself. It will not be the fault of the task you choose but the littleness of your vision if you dwarf your life and find your horizon small."
Long afterward Theo Swift remembered those words, and when on his twenty-second birthday he entered the Trenton mills, there to be trained to a.s.sume a partnership in the business, it was with the aim that as a captain of industry he would serve his generation.