Samuel Smiles: The Gospel of Self-Help

Self-help was one of the favourite mid-Victorian virtues. Relying on yourself was preferred morally - and economically - to depending on others. It was an expression of character even when it did not ensure - even, indeed, when it did not offer - a means of success. It also had social implications of a general kind. The progressive development of society ultimately depended, it was argued, not on collective action or on parliamentary legislation but on the prevalence of practices of self-help.

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