John looked under the bench and found a piece of wood which he thought would do for a wedge, only the end wanted sharpening.
“Shall I take your broad chisel and sharpen it?” said he.
“No,” said Ebenezer. “I have not taught you to use the chisel yet, and it would not be safe.”
“What would be the danger?” asked John, —”that I should cut my fingers?”
“No,” replied Ebenezer. “I am not afraid of that. We don’t usually give ourselves much concern about our apprentice’s fingers. The damage that I fear is, that you might dull my chisel, and that would be of much more consequence. You see if you cut your fingers, they will get well of themselves, after a little time; but it would make me a great deal of trouble to sharpen up my chisel, if you were to get it dull.”
(John then proceeds to finish sawing a board, and Ebenezer comes to inspect the result.)
“Have I sawed it pretty straight?” John asked.
“We don’t praise apprentices much,” said Ebenezer, “especially when they are beginning, for fear it should make them conceited. People that know very little are always apt to be very vain of what little they do know.”
— “The Boy’s Own Workshop” by Jacob Abbott (William P. Nimmo, 1866)