How to Succeed, or Stepping-Stones to Fame and Fortune

CHAPTER XI.

AT ONCE.

Note the sublime precision that leads the earth over a circuit
of 500,000,000 miles back to the solstice at the appointed
moment without the loss of one second–no, not the millionth
part of a second–for ages and ages of which it traveled that
imperial road.
–EDWARD EVERETT.

Despatch is the soul of business.
–CHESTERFIELD.

Unfaithfulness in the keeping of an appointment is an act of
clear dishonesty. You may as well borrow a person’s money as
his time.
–HORACE MANN.

By the street of by-and-by one arrives at the house of never.
–CERVANTES.

The greatest thief this world has ever produced is
procrastination, and he is still at large.
–H. W. SHAW.

“Oh, how I do appreciate a boy who is always on time!” says H. C. Bowen. “How quickly you learn to depend on him, and how soon you find yourself intrusting him with weightier matters! The boy who has acquired a reputation for punctuality has made the first contribution to the capital that in after years makes his success a certainty!”

“Nothing commends a young man so much to his employers,” says John Stuart Blackie, “as accuracy and punctuality in the conduct of his business. And no wonder. On each man’s exactitude depends the comfortable and easy going of his machine. If the clock goes fitfully nobody knows the time of day; and, if your task is a link in the chain of another man’s work, you are his clock, and he ought to be able to rely on you.”

“The whole period of youth,” said Ruskin, “is one essentially of formation, edification, instruction. There is not an hour of it but is trembling with destinies–not a moment of which, once passed, the appointed work can ever be done again, or the neglected blow struck on the cold iron.”

“To-morrow, didst thou say?” asked Cotton. “Go to–I will not hear of it. To-morrow! ‘t is a sharper who stakes his penury against thy plenty–who takes thy ready cash and pays thee naught but wishes, hopes and promises, the currency of idiots. _To-morrow!_ it is a period nowhere to be found in all the hoary registers of time, unless perchance in the fool’s calendar. Wisdom disclaims the word, nor holds society with those that own it. ‘Tis fancy’s child, and folly is its father; wrought of such stuffs as dreams are; and baseless as the fantastic visions of the evening.” Oh, how many a wreck on the road to success could say: “I have spent all my life in the pursuit of to-morrow, being assured that to-morrow has some vast benefit or other in store for me.”

“I give it as my deliberate and solemn conviction,” said Dr. Fitch, “that the individual who is tardy in meeting an appointment will never be respected or successful in life.”

“If a man has no regard for the time of other men,” said Horace Greeley, “why should he have for their money? What is the difference between taking a man’s hour and taking his five dollars? There are many men to whom each hour of the business day is worth more than five dollars.”

A man who keeps his time will keep his word; in truth, he cannot keep his word unless he _does_ keep his time.

When the Duchess of Sutherland came late, keeping the court waiting, the queen, who was always vexed by tardiness, presented her with her own watch, saying, “I am afraid your’s does not keep good time.”

“Then you must get a new watch, or I another secretary,” replied Washington, when his secretary excused the lateness of his attendance by saying that his watch was too slow.

“I have generally found that a man who is good at an excuse is good for nothing else,” said Franklin to a servant who was always late, but always ready with an excuse.

One of the best things about school and college life is that the bell which strikes the hour for rising, for recitations, or for lectures, teaches habits of promptness. Every young man should have a watch which is a good timekeeper; one that is _nearly_ right encourages bad habits, and is an expensive investment at any price. Wear threadbare clothes if you must, but never carry an inaccurate watch.

“Five minutes behind time” has ruined many a man and many a firm.

“He who rises late,” says Fuller, “must trot all day, and shall scarcely overtake his business at night.”

Some people are too late for everything but ruin; when a nobleman apologized to George III. for being late, and said, “better late than never,” the king replied, “No, I say, _better never than late_.”

“Better late than never” is not half so good a maxim as “Better never late.”

If Samuel Budgett was even a minute late at an appointment he would apologize; he was as punctual as a chronometer. Punctuality is contagious. Napoleon infused promptness into his officers every minute. What power there is in promptness to take the drudgery out of a disagreeable task.