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‘Better Habits, Not Greater Rights’ : The extraordinary productivity and social mobility of the Victorian era is to the credit not of the governing class, but of the working man.
‘Better Habits, Not Greater Rights’

From ‘Self-Help, with Illustrations of Conduct and Perseverance’, by Samuel Smiles.

Samuel Smiles inspired millions of ordinary workers to achieve their dreams. In this passage, he urges them to rely on their own strength of character rather than on the State’s empty promises.

IN all times men have been prone to believe that their happiness and well-being were to be secured by means of institutions rather than by their own conduct. Hence the value of legislation as an agent in human advancement has usually been much over-estimated.

Laws, wisely administered, will secure men in the enjoyment of the fruits of their labour, whether of mind or body, at a comparatively small personal sacrifice; but no laws, however stringent, can make the idle industrious, the thriftless provident, or the drunken sober.

Such reforms can only be effected by means of individual action, economy, and self-denial; by better habits, rather than by greater rights.

From ‘Self-Help, with Illustrations of Conduct and Perseverance’, by Samuel Smiles.

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Picture: From Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain. View original
Scottish reformer and motivational author Samuel Smiles, by George Reid.
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