Marden started with this thought: "If you want knowledge, you must toil for it; if food, you must toil for it; and if pleasure, you must toil for it; toil is the law" (Ruskin).
And he included the following two stories: John Adams was tired of his studies and asked his father to excuse him from Latin grammar. His father said, "Certainly. Instead you can dig ditches in the bog." After one day of work with lots of time to reflect, John asked permission to resume his Latin grammar. We know the outcome of his education, i.e., President of the United States.
Here is the second story:
"Why don't you want to go to school?" asked Mr. Gray, in surprise, when his son of 15 wished to be excused from further attendance.
"Well, sir," replied Charles, "I am tired of studying, and I don't see any use in it."
"Do you think that you know enough?" inquired the father.
"I know as much as George Lyman does, and he left school three months ago. He says that he is not going away to school, as his father has plenty of money."
"You need not go, then," said Mr. Gray, "but wait a minute," he continued, as Charles thanked him and started for the door. "You have nothing to be grateful for. You need not go to school if you are not willing to study; but understand one thing--if you do not go to school, you will have to go to work. I cannot afford to have you idle."
The next morning, Mr. Gray took Charles with him to visit a prison and asked for an interview with a former schoolmate. "I am glad to see you, Mr. Harmon," said he, as the prisoner approached, "but sorry, very sorry, to find you here."
"You can't be more sorry than I am," said the convict, adding, as he looked at Charles, "I suppose that this is your boy"
"Yes, this is my eldest son, Charles. He is just about the age we were when we used to go to school together. Have you forgotten all about those days, John?"
"I wish I could forget, William!" exclaimed the prisoner, after a short pause. "I sometimes think that it is all a dream, and that I shall yet wake to find it so."
"How did it happen?" inquired Mr. Gray. "When I saw you last, your prospects were bright, much brighter than mine."
"It can be told in a few words," replied the prisoner; "my ruin was caused by idleness and bad company. I would not study. I thought there was no need for a rich man's son to do that. My father's death left me with great wealth, of which I never earned a dollar and of whose use and worth I knew nothing. How it went I hardly know; but I awoke one morning to find myself poorer than the lowest clerk in the house. I did not know how to get a dollar by honest labor, but money I must have; so I tried to get it without work. The rest needs no telling."
Harmon was called back to his prison work, and Mr. Gray asked the jailer, "How many of your prisoners have ever been trained to any useful trade or business?"
"Not one in 10," was the reply.
As they drove back home, this father commented that he would never be rich enough to have his son not work. He said, "Many a father has learned to his sorrow what it is to have a boy idle."
Charles decided to go to school.