Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

YOUTH: THE AGE FOR IMPROVEMENT.

29

is an inexhaustible store for the mind; there is everything that is beneficial to man-comfort to himself and happiness in the administration of comfort to others—for where there is no basis, nothing else will bear a calm and sedate review.”

Nature, when beautified and improved by an assemblage of moral and intellectual endowments, ensures happiness, and is the only object of a solid and lasting esteem. It is a well-known fact that the neglect of early improving the mind is attended by unhappy consequences.

There is no greater inlet to misery and vices of all kinds, says an old philosopher, - than not knowing how to pass our leisure hours.” A man that has a taste for music, painting, or architecture, or any other intellectual pursuit, is like one that has another sense when compared with such as have no relish for those arts. The arts of the florist, the planter, the gardener, the husbandman, when they are only as accomplishments, are great reliefs to the mind, and avocations which are in many ways useful ; to study which is better than to suffer the mind to lie idle or adrift by any passion that may chance to influence it; and, remember, that whatever knowledge or acquirement we do not solidly lay the foundation of in youth, is difficult to master in after years, and knowledge is a comfortable retreat and shelter; but if we do not plant when young, there is no shade for us in old age. Let youth store up an inexhaustible fund of knowledge when he may, for when he is laying out that time in the pursuit of some great and important truth which others waste in follies, he is conscious of having acted up to the dignity of his nature ; and from that consciousness there result a serenity and complacency which add strength to strength ; for, in science, as in each new conquest, what he gains empowers him to push his conquests still further, gives impulse to his exertions, and enlarges the centre of reason ; thus he is ever in a progressive state, still making more acquirements, and still animated with fresh hopes of future discoveries.

run

[blocks in formation]

OPPORTUNITIES LOST ARE DIFFICULT TO RECALL. Let not valuable opportunities escape; for once lost, they are difficult to recall. The only sure way to make any proficiency in a virtuous and praiseworthy life is to set out at once. It is in youth that our inclinations are trained up in the way that they should lead us; that custom soon makes the best habits the most agreeable, the ways of wisdom being the ways of pleasantness, and every step we advance they grow more easy and more delightful. But, on the contrary, when vicious. hereditary appetites are to be reclaimed, and inveterate habits to be corrected, what security can we give ourselves that we shall have either inclination, resolution, or power to turn back, and recover the right way, from which we have so long and so widely wandered, and enter upon a new life when health, perhaps, faileth us, and our journey's end may be near ? for men,” says the philosopher, “ would they once seriously consider their evil ways;" and no time can be more proper than the present, when discipline should particularly dispose them to seriousness and thought. They would then discover that though they are awhile carried supinely down the stream of pleasure, yet soon the torrent will grow too violent to be stemmed, the waves will arise, and dash them on rocks, or sink them in whirlpools. It is, therefore, the part of prudence to stop short while they may, and to divert their course into a different channel ; while whatever obstructions and difficulties they may labour with at first will every day become more practicable and pleasing, and they are at length sure to reach a serene and secure haven.

« Happy

[ocr errors]

DUTY. Our duties are moral and social, as they relate to ourselves or our neighbours. He who, under the guidance of reason and calm reflection, feels he has a duty to perform to himself or others, and neglects it, is morally guilty of an act of dishonesty, and conscience will his silent but inexorable accuser for the wrong.

THE FIRST STEP TO GREATNESS.

31

He best performs his duty to God and man who, taking reason for his guide, and listening to that "still small voice within,” strives manfully in the station which circumstances have placed him to live a blameless life-and to fulfil his obligations as a parent, a neighbour, and a citizen-to do his duty to his God, and to do to others as he would be done by.

6. There is no consideration in life,” says an eminent philosopher, “ that excludes a wise man from discharging his duty;" for he knows that there is not any duty to which Providence has not annexed a blessing—not any temptation that is not subject to our reason, nor any passion or affliction for which Virtue has not provided a remedy; so that it is our own fault if we FEAR or cover anything, which two AFFECTIONS are the root of all our miseries.

Man's duty to God and man's duty to man are the hinges upon which man's happiness depends—the corrosion of one is the canker of the soul—a flaw in the other imperils man's happiness.

Duty is the first step to greatness—the helm that steers man safely over the billows of life. If we fail in our duty, we bid farewell to the land of promise—to the haven of hope. Man's honourable occupation is gone.

Let youth engrave upon his mind that DUTY is twin-brother to honesty—that duty is a fundamental law of nature, the observance of which she rigidly exacts from the children of prosperity. A disregard to duty mars prospects, blasts hopes, and bars success in life.

How many young men can trace their rise in life to a strict observance of their duty in regard to time—in being not only careful of their own time, but scrupulously faithful of the time

[blocks in formation]

of their employers. The tide in the affairs of youth is punctuality; and if not attended to, how many tloods of forture glide away.

There is an old story on record, and, no doubt, there are many at the present day unrecorded, of a certain citizen who took a pleasure in looking after the interests of his men, and more particularly young men, whom he deemed deserving from their punctuality, steadiness, and industrious habits.

“Smart young fellow, that,” said a friend, pointing to one of the apprentices.

“ Aye, aye!" said the old man, “ clever lad; but he nibbles the kernel.”

" The kernel ; what's that?"

“ The kernel—don't know what the kernel is, and born in a wood, too,” said the old man, ironically. “Did you ever give yourself a great deal of trouble in reaching a nut, and after you had nearly broken your teeth upon it, found that a worm had been there before you?”

“What has that to do with that clever-looking lad ?”

Why, I'll tell you. Imagine my office a nut, and guess what I call the kernel of that nut—you can't. Why, man, it's TIME; and, notwithstanding the pains I have taken with that young lad, he is always nibbling at my kernel whenever an opportunity occurs. By nibbling at kernels boys throw away many chances in life.”

PUNCTUALITY is a sterling coin—passes current, though not the best-looking nor the brightest, and is one on which all masters place a high value. Punctuality, patience, and industrious habits, secure wealth, wisdom, and worth ; while ability or genius without it will be found grovelling in the mire.

Be careful of time ; and, above all, that time which is not your own, let it be spent diligently.

TIME.

33

THE EMPLOYMENT OF TIME.

Chesterfield, in his advice to his son, very shrewdly remarks:

6. How little do we reflect on the use and value of time! It is in everybody's mouth, but in few people's practice. Every fool, who slatterns away his whole time in nothings, frequently utters some trite common-place sentence to prove at once the value and fleetness of time. The sun dials all over Europe have some ingenious inscription to that effect; so that nobody squanders away their time without frequently hearing and seeing how necessary it is to employ it well, and how irrecoverable it is if lost. Young people are apt to think that they have so much time before them, that they may squander what they please of it, and yet have enough left; as great fortunes have frequently seduced people to a ruinous profusion. But all these admonitions are useless, where there is not a FUND of GOOD SENSE, and REASON to suggest rather than receive them.

• Time is precious, life short, and consequently not a single moment should be lost. Sensible men know how to make the most of time, and put out their whole sum either to interest or pleasure; they are never idle, but continually employed either in amusements or study. It is an universal maxim that Idleness is the mother of Vice. It is, however, certain that laziness is the inheritance of fools; and nothing can be so despicable as a sluggard.

666 Take care of the pence, for the pounds will take care of themselves,' was a very just and sensible reflection of old Mr. Lowndes, the famous Secretary of the Treasury under William III., Anne, and George I. I therefore recommend to you to take care of minutes, for hours will take care of themselves. Be doing something or other all day long; and not neglect half-hours and quarters of hours, which, at the year's end, amount to a great sum. For instance, there are many short intervals in the day, between studies and pleasures; instead of sitting idle, and yawning at those intervals, snatch

« ZurückWeiter »