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…
An Excerpt from You Can Be a Great American! 39 Steps to True and Lasting Greatness (a Growing Up Great Guide for American Boys and for the Parents and Teachers Who Love Them), by W. F. Markwick and W. A. Smith
Entry #24 in the Raising Great Americans Project! Click Here to learn More!
Faithfulness is the soul of goodness.
–J. S. White
That which we love most in men and women is faithfulness.
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.
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 out.
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 hourglass.”
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 absent count:
“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 sea.
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! No, never!”
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 people.
This Article is an Excerpt from You Can Be a Great American! 39 Steps to True and Lasting Greatness (a Growing Up Great Guide for American Boys and for the Parents and Teachers Who Love Them), by W. F. Markwick and W. A. Smith, which is available from Better Days Books in quality hardbound, sturdy trade paperback and convenient .PDF e-book editions starting at just $4.95.
Industry, Ambition, Self Control, Self-Respect, Courtesy, Faithfulness, Courage, Duty, Honesty, Enthusiasm, Humility, Patriotism… In every era of our Nation’s history, the true alchemy by which ordinary boys have been transformed into Great American Men has always and only occurred where these indispensible moral principles have been successfully applied. In an age like our own, where such manly ideals are openly mocked and derided by our popular culture, it’s time to turn to the past to recapture a clear vision of what it takes to be a Great American, and the true moral and ethical ladder that leads reliably to its attainment.
You Can Be a Great American: 39 Steps to True and Lasting Greatness was first published in 1900, under the title The True Citizen, How to Become One, and contains 39 essential lessons in manhood tailored to each age and transition in a boy’s life, from infancy to adulthood. It is the clearest roadmap to American Greatness ever compiled for the youth of our Nation, and remains as life-changing today as it was when first published, over 100 years ago.
Whether you are an adult raising boys in a Traditional family setting, the single parent of a son, or a boy abandoned to no or poor parenting, left to grab your own bootstraps and lift yourself up to a life of achievement, success and All-American Greatness (or an adult who knows a boy in such sad straits), You Can Be a Great American!: 39 Steps to True and Lasting Greatness is the only guidebook you’ll ever need.