“A singular mischance has happened to some of our friends,” said Hamilton. “At the instant when He ushered them into existence, God gave them work to do, and He also gave them a competency of time; so much that if they began at the right moment and wrought with sufficient vigor, their time and their work would end together. But a good many years ago a strange misfortune befell them. A fragment of their allotted time was lost. They cannot tell what became of it, but sure enough, it has dropped out of existence; for just like two measuring lines laid alongside the one an inch shorter than the other, their work and their time run parallel, but the work is always ten minutes in advance of the time. They are not irregular. They are never too soon. Their letters are posted the very minute after the mail is closed. They arrive at the wharf just in time to see the steamboat off, they come in sight of the terminus precisely as the station gates are closing. They do not break any engagement nor neglect any duty; but they systematically go about it too late, and usually too late by about the same fatal interval.”
Of Tours, the wealthy New Orleans ship-owner, it is said that he was as methodical and regular as a clock, and that his neighbors were in the habit of judging of the time of the day by his movements.
“How,” asked a man of Sir Walter Raleigh, “do you accomplish so much and in so short a time?” “When I have anything do, I go and do it,” was the reply. The man who always acts promptly, even if he makes occasional mistakes, will succeed when a procrastinator will fail–even if he have the better judgment.
When asked how he got through so much work, Lord Chesterfield replied: “Because I never put off till morrow what I can do to-day.”
Dewitt, pensionary of Holland, answered the same question: “Nothing is more easy; never do but one thing at a time, and never put off until to-morrow what can be done to-day.”
Walter Scott was a very punctual man. This was the secret of his enormous achievements. He made it a rule to answer all letters the day they were received. He rose at five. By breakfast time he had broken the neck of the day’s work, as he used to say. Writing to a youth who had obtained a situation and asked him for advice, he gave this counsel: “Beware of stumbling over a propensity which easily besets you from not having your time fully employed–I mean what the women call dawdling. Do instantly whatever is to be done, and take the hours of recreation after business, never before it.”
Frederick the Great had a maxim: “Time is the only treasure of which it is proper to be avaricious.”
Leibnitz declared that “the loss of an hour is the loss of a part of life.”
Napoleon, who knew the value of time, remarked that it was the quarter hours that won battles. The value of minutes has been often recognized, and any person watching a railway clerk handing out tickets and change during the last few minutes available must have been struck with how much could be done in these short periods of time.
At the appointed hour the train starts and by and by is carrying passengers at the rate of sixty miles an hour. In a second you are carried twenty-nine yards. In one twenty-ninth of a second you pass over one yard. Now, one yard is quite an appreciable distance, but one twenty-ninth of a second is a period which cannot be appreciated.
The father of the Webster brothers, before going away to be gone for a week, gave his boys a stint to cut a field of corn, telling them that after it was done, if they had any time left, they might do what they pleased. The boys looked the field over on Monday morning and concluded they could do all the work in three days, so they decided to play the first three days. Thursday morning they went to the field, but it looked so much larger than it did on Monday morning, that they decided they could not possibly do it in three days, and rather than not do it all, they would not touch it. When the angry father returned, he called Ezekiel to him and asked him why they had not harvested the corn. “What have you been doing?” said the stern father. “Nothing, father.” “And what have you been doing, Daniel?” “Helping Zeke, sir.”
How many boys, and men, too, waste hours and days “helping Zeke!”
“Remember the world was created in six days,” said Napoleon to one of his officers. “Ask for whatever you please except time.”
Railroads and steamboats have been wonderful educators in promptness. No matter who is late they leave right on the minute.
It is interesting to watch people at a great railroad station, running, hurrying, trying to make up time, for they well know when the time arrives the train will leave.
Factories, shops, stores, banks, everything opens and closes on the minute. The higher the state of civilization the prompter is everything done. In countries without railroads, as in Eastern countries, everything is behind time. Everybody is indolent and lazy.
The world knows that the prompt man’s bills and notes will be paid on the day they are due, and will trust him. People will give him credit, for they know they can depend upon him. But lack of promptness will shake confidence almost as quickly as downright dishonesty. The man who has a habit of dawdling or listlessness will show it in everything he does. He is late at meals, late at work, dawdles on the street, loses his train, misses his appointments, and dawdles at his store until the banks are closed. Everybody he meets suffers more or less from his malady, for dawdling becomes practically a disease.
“You will never find time for anything,” said Charles Buxton; “if you want time you must make it.”
The best work we ever do is that which we do now, and can never repeat. “Too late,” is the curse of the unsuccessful, who forget that “one to-day is worth two to-morrows.”
Time accepts no sacrifice; it admits of neither redemption nor atonement. _It is the true avenger._ Your enemy may become your friend,–your injurer may do you justice,–but Time is inexorable, and has no mercy.
Then stay the present instant, dear Horatio:
Imprint the marks of wisdom on its wings.
‘Tis of more worth than kingdoms! far more precious
Than all the crimson treasures of life’s fountain.
O! let it not elude thy grasp; but, like
The good old patriarch upon record,
Hold the fleet angel fast until he bless thee.