Idleness and Industry


Idleness and Industry: An Instructive Example for Young Children, translated by Victor Adam (Guben: F. Fechner, 1840)

This is the tale of Felix, the lazy, spoiled, sickly son of a wealthy merchant, and Robert, the industrious son of the merchant’s gardener.  Felix’s idleness, indulged by his widowed father who fears for his son’s health, leads him down a path of self-destruction, causing him to fall in with bad company, acquire a gambling habit that squanders his entire fortune, and even contribute to the death of his father.  Robert, through his hard work and kind nature, becomes a wealthy landowner with a happy, loving family, while Felix lives alone in a shed.  Upon hearing of Felix’s misfortunes Robert helps him find work as a clerk which allows Felix to reacquire an “honourable existence and the esteem of all virtuous men,” though, as the author notes, at a lower social rank than the circumstances of his birth should have afforded.  This story is as much a warning to parents as it is to children: Felix’s father dies of a broken heart while Robert’s parents are cared for in their old age by their successful son.

This book was published in Germany for export to England and America and includes 16 hand-colored lithographic illustrations.