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Many people lose a great deal of time by reading ; for they read frivolous and idle1 books, such as the absurd romances of the two last centuries, where characters, that never existed, are insipidly displayed, and sentiments, that never were felt, pompously described ; the oriental ravings and extravagance of the Arabian Nights, and such sort of idle frivolous stuff that nourishes and improves the mind just as much as whipped cream would the body.3 Stick to the best established books in every language, the celebrated poets, historians, orators, and philosophers. By these means, to use a city metaphor, you will make fifty per cent. of that time, of which others do not make above three or four, or probably nothing at all.
Many people lose a great deal of their time by laziness : they loll and yawn in a great chair, tell themselves that they have not time to begin anything then, and that it will do as well another time. This is a most unfortunate disposition, and the greatest obstruction to both knowledge and business. At your age you have no right or claim to laziness. You are but just listed in the world,4 and must be active, diligent, indefatigable. If ever you purpose commanding with dignity, you must serve up to it with diligence. Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.
Despatch is the soul of business ; and nothing contributes more to despatch 5 than method. Lay down a method for everything, and stick to it inviolably, as far as unexpected incidents may allow. Fix one certain hour and day in the week for your accounts, and keep them together in their proper order, by which means they will require very little time, and you can never be much cheated. Whatever letters and papers you keep, docket and tie them & up in their respective classes, so that you may instantly have recourse to any one. Lay down a method also for your reading, for which you allot a certain share of your mornings ; let it be in a consistent and consecutive course, and not in that desultory and immethodical manner in which many people read scraps of different authors, upon different subjects. Never read history without having maps and a chronological book or tables lying by you, and constantly recurred to, without which history is only a confused heap of facts. One method more I recommend to you, by which I have found great benefit, even in the most dissipated part of my life: that is, to rise early and at the same hour every morning, how late soever you may have sat up the night before.
1 Idle, Oiseux._? The Arabian Nights, Les Mille et Une Nuits. -_-3 That nourishes and improves the mind just as much as whipped cream would the body, Qui apporte à l'esprit juste autant de nourriture et de force que de la crême fouettée en apporterait au corps. -—4 You are but just listed in the world, Vous ne faites que d'entrer dans le monde.—5 To despatch, À rendre expéditif.–6 Docket them, Étiquetez-les.
You may say, it may be, as many young people would, that all this order and method is very troublesome, and only fit for dull people, and a disagreeable restraint upon the noble spirit and fire of youth. I deny it, and assert, on the contrary, that it will procure you both more time and more taste for your pleasures ; and, so far from being troublesome to you, that, after you have pursued it a month, it would be troublesome to you to lay it aside.
THE STORY OF A DISABLED SOLDIER.2 I was born 3 in Shropshire; my father was a labourer,4 and died when I was five years old: so I was put upon the parish.5 As he had been a wandering sort of man,6 the parishioners were not able to tell to what parish I belonged, or where I was born ; so they sent me to another parish, and that parish sent me to a third. I thought in my heart, they kept sending me about so long, that they would not let me be born in any parish at all ;7 but at last,
1 Let it be in a consistent and consecutive course, and not in that desultory and immethodical manner in which many people read scraps of different authors, Que vos lectures soient régulières et suivies ; ne les faites pas d'une manière décousue et sans méthode, comme beaucoup de gens qui lisent des bribes de différents auteurs
-? A disabled soldier, Un invalide. _3 See $ 3, 6.—4 See § 3, 8.-5 So I was put upon the parish, De sorte que je fus mis à la charge de la paroisse.—6 As he had been a wandering sort of man, Comme c'était un de ces hommes qui n'ont pas de domicile fixe.-_7 I thought in my heart, they kept sending me about so long, that they would not let me be born in any parish at all, Je pensai en moi-même, tant ils persistèrent à m'envoyer à droite et à gauche, qu'ils auraient bien voulu que je ne fusse né sous aucune paroisse.
however, they fixed me. I had some disposition to be a scholar, 2 and was resolved at least to know my letters; but the master of the workhouse put me to business as soon as I could handle a mallet; and here I lived an easy kind of life for five years. I only wrought ten hours in the day, and had my meat and drink provided for my labour. It is true, I was not suffered to stir out of the house, for fear, as they said, I should run away ; but what of that?3 I had the liberty of the whole house, and the yard before the door; and that was enough for me. I was then bound out to a farmer, 4 where I was up both early and late : but I ate and drank well, and liked my business well enough, till he died, when 5 I was obliged to provide for myself ;6 so I was resolved to go to seek my fortune.
In this manner, I went from town to town, worked when I could get employment, and starved when I could get none; when happening one day to go through a field belonging to a justice of the peace,? I spied a hare crossing the path just before me, and I flung my stick at it. I killed the hare, and was bringing it away, when the justice himself met me; he called me a poacher and a villain. I fell upon my knees, begged his worship’s pardon, and began to give a full account of all that I knew of myself, and my generation ; but though I gave a very true account, the justice said I could give no account ; so I was indicted at sessions, 8 found guilty of being poor, and sent up to London to Newgate, in order to be transported as a vagabond.
People may say this and that of being in jail, but, for my part, I found Newgate as agreeable a place as ever I was in in all my life. I had plenty to eat and drink, and did no work at all. This kind of life was too good to last for ever; so I was taken out of prison, after five months, put on board a ship,10 and sent off with two hundred more to the plantations. We had but an indifferent passage, for being all confined in the hold, more than a hundred
1 They fixed me, Ils m'en trouvèrent une.--2 To be a scholar, Pour faire des études, -3 But achat of that? Mais à quoi bon !_4 I was then bound out to a farmer. Je fus placé chez un fermier.—5 When, Mais alors.--. To provide for mysef, De me suffire.—7 Justice of peace, Juge de paix.—8 I was indicted at sessions, Je fus renvoyé devant les assises.-9 After five months, Au bout de cinq mois.---10 On board a ship, À bord d'un vaisseau.
of our people died for want of sweet air, and those that remained were sickly enough, God knows. When we came ashore, we were sold to the planters, and I was bound for seven years more. As I was no scholar, for I did not know my letters, I was obliged to work among the negroes; and I served out my time, as in duty bound to do.
When my time was expired, I worked my passage home,3 and glad to see old England again, because I loved my country. I was afraid, however, that I should be indicted for a vagabond once more ; so I did not much care to go down into the country, but kept about the town, and did little jobs when I could get them.
I was very happy in this manner for some time; till one evening, coming home from work, two men knocked me down. I was carried before the justice, and, as I could give no account of myself, 4 I had my choice left, whether to go on board a man-of-war, or list for a soldier. I chose the latter; and in this post of a gentleman, I served two campaigns in Flanders, was at the battles of Val and Fontenoy, and received but one wound through the breast ; but the doctor of our regiment soon made me well again.
When the peace came on I was discharged ;5 and as I could not work, because my wound was sometimes troublesome, I listed for a landsman in the East India Company's service. I have fought the French in three pitched battles ; and I verily believe that, if I could read or write, our captain would have made me a corporal. But it was not my good fortune to have any promotion, for I soon fell sick, and so got leave to return home again with forty pounds in my pocket. This was at the beginning of the present war, and I hoped to be set on shore, and to have the pleasure of spending my money ; but the government wanted men, and so I was pressed for a sailor,6 before ever I could set foot on shore.
1 Sweet air, Air pur.—2 I served out my time, Je servis tout mon temps.—3 I worked my passage home, Je m'engageai sur un vaisseau pour le prix de mon passage.
4 As I could give no account of myself, Comme je ne pus pas rendre compte de mes antécédents -5 I was discharged, Je fus licencié. -6 I was pressed for a sailor, Je fus forcé de m'engager comme matelot.
The boatswain found me, as he said, an obstinate fellow : he swore he knew I understood my business well, but that I shammed,1 to be idle ; but, God knows, I knew nothing of sea-business ; and he beat me, without considering what he was about. I had still, however, my forty pounds, (and that was some comfort to me under every beating,) and the money I might have had to this day, but that our ship was taken by the French : and so I lost all.
Our crew was carried into Brest, and many of them died, because they were not used to live in a jail ; but, for my part, it was nothing to me, for I was seasoned.4 One night, as I was asleep on the bed of boards, with a warm blanket about me, for I always love to lie well, I was awakened by the boatswain, who had a dark lantern in his hand. “Jack," said he to me, 6 will you knock out the French sentry's brains ?” “I don't care," says I, striving to keep myself awake, “if I lend a hand.”5 “ Then follow me,” said he, “ and I hope we shall do business.”
Though we had no arms, we went down to the door where both sentries were posted, and rushing upon them, seized their arms in a moment and knocked them down. From thence, nine of us ran together to the quay, and seizing the first boat we met, got out of the harbour and put to sea. We had not been there three days before we were taken up by the Dorset privateer 6 who were glad of so many good hands, and we consented to run our chance. However, we had not as much luck as we expected. In three days we fell in with the Pompadour privateer, of forty guns, while we had but twenty-three; so to it we went, yard-arm and yardarm.8 The fight lasted for three hours, and I verily believe we should have taken the Frenchman, had we but had some more men left behind ; but unfortunately we lost all our men just as we were going to get the victory.
1 That I shammed, Que je faisais le novice —2 Without considering what he was about, Sans vouloir rien entendre.—3 It was nothing to me, Cela ne me fit rien. 4 I was seasoned, J'étais à l'épreuve.-5 I don't care if I lend a hand, Cela ne me ferait pas de peine d'y prêter la main.-6 We were taken up by the Dorset privateer, Nous fûmes recueillis par le Dorset qui était un corsaire.—7 We fll in with the Pompadour privateer, Nous fîmes la rencontre d'un autre corsaire, le Pompadour.& So to it we went, yard-arm and yard-arm, Nous l'attaquâmes vergue à vergue. -9 See § 28, 1.