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Quotations about Labor



I asked for a hoe, and I set me to work,
And my red blood danced as I went:
At night I rested, and looking back,
I counted my day well spent.
~Eleanor H. Porter, "Dorothy Tries Her Hand," Dawn, 1918  [poem "Contentment," verse "Labor," by Susan Betts —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


No man e’er was glorious, who was not laborious. ~Benjamin Franklin


Thou, O God, dost sell us all good things at the price of labour. ~Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), translated by Maurice Baring


I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges or scrub the floor. ~D. H. Lawrence, 1913


Honest labor dispels melancholy. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882


This is the gospel of labour — ring it, ye bells of the kirk —
The Lord of Love came down from above, to live with the men who work.
This is the rose that He planted, here in the thorn-cursed soil —
Heaven is blest with perfect rest, but the blessing of Earth is toil.
~Henry Van Dyke, "The Toiling of Felix: The Gospel of Labour," 1900


A hand that's dirty with honest labor is fit to shake with any neighbor. ~Proverb


Life without work is a bloom without fruit. ~William Arthur Ward, Thoughts of a Christian Optimist, 1968


Activity is good, almost without reservation, for the body and the soul. A lot of what passes for depression these days is nothing more than a body saying that it needs work. ~Geoffrey Norman, in Esquire, 1979


I know of a cure for everything:  salt water... Sweat, or tears, or the sea. ~Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), "The Deluge at Norderney," 1933


Help us if necessary, to get dirty at our work, gracefully. ~Charles F. Raymond, "A Desire," Just Be Glad, 1907


Work is life's most normal plan;
Work puts worry under ban;
Work its own results doth scan;
      Just work!
Work promoteth more than wealth;
Work is tonic for the health;
Work builds strength as if by stealth;
      Just work!
~James Henry Potts, "Just Work," Every Life a Delight, 1914


Lastly, work secures the rich reward of rest, we must rest to be able to work well, and work to be able to enjoy rest... The idle man does not know what it is to enjoy rest, for he has not earned it. Hard work... tends not only to give us rest for the body, but, what is even more important, peace to the mind. If we have done our best to do, and to be, we can rest in peace. ~John Lubbock, "Labour and Rest"


The happiness of men consists in life. And life is in labor. ~Leo Tolstoy


More Health is gained by wearing out Shoe-leather,
Than comes from all the Doctors put together.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Old Irish Proverbs: Of the Farm," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924


I dare to be honest, and I fear no labour. ~Robert Burns, 1789


Nothing got without pains but an ill name and long nails. ~Scottish proverb


Nothing underneath the Sun
Merely Happens; Things are Done.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Industry," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924


...but I assure you that there are moments when Art almost attains to the dignity of manual labor. ~Oscar Wilde


See! without labour nothing prospers well. ~Sophocles, translated by E. H. Plumptre


Work as long as there is work and you have strength to do it; and count it a blessing, every day, that God gives you something to do. ~Henry Ward Beecher, "The Privilege of Working," 1870


It is your future happiness which interests me, and nothing can contribute more to it (moral rectitude always excepted) than the contracting a habit of industry and activity. Of all the cankers of human happiness, none corrodes it with so silent, yet so baneful a tooth, as indolence. Body and mind both unemployed, our being becomes a burthen, and every object about us loathsome, even the dearest. Idleness begets ennui, ennui the hypochrondria, and that a diseased body. No laborious person was ever yet hysterical. Exercise and application produce order in our affairs, health of body, chearfulness of mind, and these make us precious to our friends. It is while we are young that the habit of industry is formed. If not then, it never is afterwards. The fortune of our lives therefore depends on employing well the short period of youth. If at any moment, my dear, you catch yourself in idleness, start from it as you would from the precipice of a gulph. You are not however to consider yourself as unemployed while taking exercise. That is necessary for your health, and health is the first of all objects. ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Martha Jefferson, 1787


Take a man out of the trenches, make him a straw boss, and he develops a belly. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)


Here's to the man who labors and does it with a song. He stimulates his neighbors and helps the world along. ~Walt Mason


I never knew a man in all my life who was troubled with the BLUES who had plenty of work to do and did it. ~Josh Billings, revised by H. Montague


There are only three instincts: eating-drinking, sex, and work. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)


Believe me, the man who earns his bread by the sweat of his brow, eats oftener a sweeter morsel, however coarse, than he who procures it by the labor of his brains. ~Washington Irving, letter to Pierre Paris Irving (nephew), 1824 December 7th


Genius begins great works; labour alone finishes them. ~Joseph Joubert, translated from the French by Henry Attwell, 1877


Work isn't to make money. You work to justify life. ~Marc Chagall, c.1969


Serenity has to be three-quarters hard work to be worth having. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "The Emotions," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940


Hard work, worry and whiskey are the friends of man. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)


LABOR. Trying to get back the money you loaned. ~Noah Lott (George V. Hobart), The Silly Syclopedia, 1905


The object most interesting to me for the residue of my life, will be to see you both developing daily those principles of virtue and goodness which will make you valuable to others and happy in yourselves, and acquiring those talents and that degree of science which will guard you at all times against ennui, the most dangerous poison of life. A mind always employed is always happy. This is the true secret, the grand recipe for felicity. The idle are the only wretched. In a world which furnishes so many emploiments which are useful, and so many which are amusing, it is our own fault if we ever know what ennui is, or if we are ever driven to the miserable resource of gaming, which corrupts our dispositions, and teaches us a habit of hostility against all mankind. ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Martha Jefferson, 1787


...and a man who has no office to go to — I don't care who he is — is a trial of which you can have no conception. ~Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)


...the voluntary exercise of energy would be thought so delightful, that people would not dream of handing over its pleasure to the jaws of a machine.... this kind of division of labour is really only a new and wilful form of arrogant and slothful ignorance, far more injurious to the happiness and contentment of life than the ignorance of the processes of nature.... the true secret of happiness lies in the taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life, in elevating them by art instead of handing the performance of them over to unregarded drudges, and ignoring them... ~William Morris, "The Aims of Art," 1887


Temperance and labour are the two true physicians of man... ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778)


Hard work is rewarding beyond gold. Sweating is living. ~Terri Guillemets


When everything is finished, the mornings are sad. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin





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