The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
To William Cox Cochran
8 Februrary 1873
[Autograph signed letter in the possession of Mrs. Ellen Speers, 3915 Sierra Drive, Austin, Texas 78731. The sections of the letter in italics are in the handwriting of Finney's wife Rebecca Rayl Finney.]
Oberlin 8th Feb. 1873.
Since I wrote you last
I have been thinking more
of the probable results of
your remaining with your
Father. If you lean upon
him instead of studying
up the cases for yourself it
it will perpetuate your
clerkship merely & keep
you weak & dependent.
Again if you have not
the responsibility of working
through the causes it will
keep you weak, and again,
I if you do not appear prominently
in conducting the cases, you will
gain no reputation as a lawyer.
And again, I fear your Father cannot
afford, for many years to come, to
^ you forward, and give you the
prominent place, and consequently, the repu-
tation of being the leading man in the
office. If he were already advanced in life,
and rich, he might afford to ride
you into practice upon his shoulders.
He might get behind and boost you
into public favor, and retire himself
from business. As it is, if your Father
rolls much responsibility upon you, and
shirks, himself, he'll ruin his own
business. If he keeps the laboring oar
in his own hands, as it would seem
he must necessarily do, it will keep
you in the back-ground, weak, irresponsible,
dependent, inefficient, and without professional
reputation. Upon the whole, I am afraid that
my last letter was calculated to make a
wrong impression upon you, that is, one
inconsistent with your highest interests.
After much reflection, I am settled in
the opinion, that the sooner you throw
yourself squarely in front of such a
business as you can get, the better it
will be for you. It will require hard
study, much circumspection, and a deep
feeling of responsibility. It will, at first,
cost much labor, and perhaps small pay,
but then, what you do, you will have
the credit of doing, and it will be sure
to pay in the end. A lawyer can never
rise, except by hard climbing. He can
never, safely, ascend like a balloon. If per-
chance he should, for a little while, he'll be sure
to fall as rapidly as he rose. There is no royal
road to lasting eminence in your profession.
It is a very laborious one & at no
period can a lawyer afford
to be careless & superficial
because if he relaxes for a
day his antagonist will
trip & floor him. This he
can not avoid or afford.
Hard, close, exact work
must be the lawyers motto or
he had better quit the
profession. You are now
a single man & can live cheap.
If now you can work up a good
business, you can afford to marry, and
start off with the brightest prospects.
But, unless you are going to be a
permanent member of your Father's
firm, the longer you remain in it,
the later in life, if ever, will
you come into prominence.
I have partly written, and
partly dictated this letter, as you
see. Dolson is still with us. His
hand is getting well . All send
love. God Bless you all,
C. G. Finney.
"it" is repeated in the original.
Dolson Cox had sustained an injury at work during his apprenticeship with the Cleveland Iron Company:
I was grinding a planer tool on a badly worn out and cracked grindstone. The point of the tool caught in the crack of the grindstone and carried my left hand down into the frame of the machine, pinching off the ends of two of my fingers. This made it impossible for me to work for some time and those days of idleness I spent at Oberlin. Aunt Angie was visiting at grandfather's at the time, and every day she and I used to go over to the chemical laboratory to attend the lectures on physics by Dr. Dascomb (Jacob Dolcon Cox, Sr., Building An American Industry [The Cleveland Twist Drill Co, 1951], p.72).