"A Place For Everything And Everything In Its Place"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: One of the widely read authors of the late nineteenth century was a Scotch physician and biographer who began his writing career with the life of George Stephenson (1781–1848), who helped introduce the steam locomotive into England when he built the Rocket, that won out over competitors and began pulling trains from Liverpool to Manchester. Encouraged by one success, Smiles employed biographical episodes and moral counsel in a series of inspirational books for young people. Self-Help (1859) began the series. Smiles paused long enough to compile a three-volume Lives of Engineers (1861–1863), then resumed the didactic series with Character (1871), Thrift (1875), and Duty (1880). The completion of Thrift was delayed by an attack of paralysis, but the author rose above his infirmity as he advised his readers to rise above their handicaps. He had written his first book to stress the importance of economizing and the rewards of so doing, but as he comments in the Preface to his third book, thrift is the basis of self-help and the foundation of much that is excellent in character. In its first chapter, he points out the importance of money, and remarks on the need for industry to benefit those who depend on a person. Industry must know how to earn, how to spend, and how to save. So Chapter II considers habits of thrift. It is followed by a contrasting chapter on Improvidence. Chapter IV lists the Means of Saving, and V is filled with Examples of Thrift. It begins with quotations from Lacon (1820) by Charles C. Colton, as well as from Burns, Cicero, and Shakespeare. Then Smiles tells the story of the British dramatist Mrs. Inchbald, who from her small earnings set aside two pounds a week for the benefit of her ailing sister. The author comes to the conclusion that "Benevolence never ruined any one, though thoughtlessness and dissipation have ruined thousands." In the next paragraph he discusses the need for planning and order.

The words "Waste not, want not," carved in stone over Sir Walter Scott's kitchen fireplace at Abbotsford, express in a few words the secret of order in the midst of abundance. Order is most useful in the management of everything–of a household, of a business, of a manufactory, of an army. Its maxim is, A place for everything and everything in its place. Order is wealth; for, whoever properly regulates the use of his income, almost doubles his resources. Disorderly people are rarely rich, and orderly people are rarely poor.