Application and PerseveranceThe greatest results in life are usually attained by simple means, and the exercise of ordinary qualities. The common life of every day, affords ample opportunities for acquiring experience of the best kind.
Fortune has often been blamed for her blindness. Those who look into practical life will find that fortune is usually on the side of the industrious, as the winds and waves are on the side of the best navigators. In the pursuit of even the highest branches of human inquiry, the commoner qualities are found the most useful,such as common sense, attention, application, and perseverance.
Genius may not be necessary, though even genius of the highest sort does not disdain the use of these ordinary qualities. The very greatest men have been among the least believers in the power of genius, and as worldly wise and persevering as successful men of the commoner sort. Some have even defined genius to be only common sense intensified. A distinguished teacher and president of a college spoke of it as the power of making ef forts. John Foster held it to be the power of lighting one's own fire.
Newton's was unquestionably a mind of the very highest order, and yet, when asked by what means he had worked out his extraordinary discoveries, he modestly answered, "By always thinking unto them." At another time he thus expressed his method of study: "I keep the subject continually before me, and wait till the first dawnings open slowly by little and little into a full and clear light." It was in Newton's case, as in every other,only by diligent application and perseverance that his great reputation was achieved.
Dalton,the chemist,repudiated the notion of his being "a genius," attributing everything which he had accomplished to simple industry and accumulation. John Hunter said of himself, "My mind is like a beehives; but full as it is of buzz and apparent confusion, it is yet full of order and regularity, and food collected with incessant industry from the choiceset stores of nature. "
We have, indeed, but to glance at the biographies of great men to find that the most distinguished inventors, artists, thinkers, and workers of all kinds, owe their success, in a great measure, to their indefatigable industry and application.