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first approach, of the insidious languor, I said at once within myself, "in the next quarter of an hour I will do such and such a thing;" and presto, it was done, and much more than that into the bargain. My mind was set in motion, my spirits stirred and quickened, and raised to their proper height. I watched the cloud, and dissipated it at its first gathering-well knowing that, if it could grow but to the largeness of a man's hand, it would spread out everywhere, and darken the whole horizon.
Oh, that this example might be as profitable to others as the practice has been to myself! How rich would be the reward of this book, if its readers would but take it to heart in this one lesson; if the simple truth that here speaks could prompt them to take their happiness into their own hands, and learn the value of industry, not from what they may have heard of it, but because they have themselves tried and felt it! In the first place, its direct and immediate value, inasmuch as it quickens, and cheers, and gladdens every moment that it occupies, and keeps off the Evil One, by repelling him at the outposts, instead of admitting him to a doubtful, perhaps a deadly, struggle in the citadel. Again, its more remote, but no less certain value, as the mother of many virtues, when it has once grown into the temper of the mind, and become the nursing mother of many more. And if we gain so much by its exercise, how much more must we lose by its neglect! Our vexations are annoying to us-the disappointinents of life are grievous-its calamities deplorableits indulgences and lusts sinful; but our idleness is worse than all these, and more sinful than even sin itself—just as the stock is more fruitful than any branch that springs from it. In fine, do what you will, only do something, and that actively and energetically.
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is neither work, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest."
I REMEMBER, when I was at school, there was a little boy whom every one nicknamed lazy Bobby. At first I could not understand why he went by that dishonorable name; for Bobby to all appearance seemed to me to be the most harmless lad in the whole school. And so indeed he was; but, as I afterwards found out, a harmless good-for-nothing is as great a pest to society as a mischievous boy any day. The one will not work at all, but the other's fault is in doing too much, although sometimes not in the right way, to be sure.
One day I came up with Bobby sauntering along by the roadside on his way to school. "Good morning, Bobby," said I; we must make haste, it is ten minutes to nine, and we have half a mile to go." "Oh!" said he, "I can walk it in less than ten minutes, and I should like to get at those blackberries. Look at the clusters of them on that branch! You can reach
them, I think, for you are taller than I." Very gladly if I had time," replied I, but you see we shall be late enough for school as it is."
Bobby's eye sparkled at the fruitful hedge; he gave a grumble at me, and lagged behind. I hastened with all speed, and was just in time, and glad was I, for master used to look annoyed at late-comers.
At a quarter past nine, Bobby came waddling in. "Late again, as usual," said the master; "what has kept you?" Oh! I blushed for Bobby when I heard him answer that he had to go a message for his mother, for I knew it was not the case. For the first time I observed how laziness or sloth may easily lead to deceit or falsehood.
When we were working our sums, lazy Bobby was sitting next me, and I felt a loathing at his being so near. It was very strange-and perhaps it was wrong-but I could not look at his dull and dishonest-looking eyes with any pleasure. And then he quite vexed me by looking stealthily at my slate, for I felt quite sure he was copying my work, instead of working for himself.
Now it so happened that I had done my sum wrong, and the master, in his rounds, showed me the error. When he came to
Bobby he found the same blunder, and as he had so often laid himself open to suspicion, the teacher charged him with copying from me; for how could he make precisely the same mistakes as I?
In short he could not deny the accusation, but was not candid enough to confess it. At last being pressed with a severity that I thought he richly deserved, he mumbled that the sum had been too difficult for him. Now Bobby had been long at school, and it need not have been a hard sum, had he been a hard worker.
This indirect confession did not, however, save him, as he vainly thought it would; for the master at once told him that that was no reason for deceiving him by presenting his neighbour's work as his own. That was a lie, and none the whiter
from being a dumb one.
Having no respect for the good opinion of his master and schoolfellows, he soon lost respect for himself. First he was the laziest boy, then he was the most deceitful, and by-and-by he became the only unhappy boy of the school.
MEANING OF "DOING."
HAVE you ever considered carefully what is the meaning of "doing" a thing?
Suppose a rock falls from a hill-side, crushes a group of cottages, and kills a number of people. The stone has produced a great effect in the world. If any one asks respecting the broken roofs, "What did it?" you say the stone did it. Yet you don't talk of the deed of the stone. If you inquire farther, and find that a goat had been feeding beside the rock, and had loosened it by gnawing the roots of the grasses beneath, you find the goat to be the active cause of the calamity, and you say the goat did it. Yet you don't call the goat the doer, nor talk of its evil deed. But if you find any one went up the rock in the night, and with deliberate purpose loosened it, that it might fall on the cottages, you say in quite a different sense, "It is his deed; he is the doer of it."
It appears, then, that deliberate purpose and resolve are
needed to constitute a deed or doing in the true sense of the word; and that when, accidentally or mechanically, events take place without such purpose, we have indeed effects or results, and agents or causes, but neither deeds nor doers.
Now, it so happens, as we all well know, that by far the largest part of things happening in practical life are brought about with no deliberate purpose. There are always a number of people who have the nature of stones; they fall on other persons and crush them. Some, again, have the nature of weeds, and twist about other people's feet and entangle them. More have the nature of logs, and lie in the way, so that every one falls over them. And most of all have the nature of thorns, and set themselves by waysides, so that every passer-by must be torn, and all good seed choked. All these people produce immense and sorrowful effect in the world. Yet none of them are doers; it is their nature to crush, impede, and prick, but deed is not in them.
We may, perhaps, expediently recollect as much of our botany as to teach us that there may be sharp and rough persons, like spines, who yet have good in them, and are essentially branches, and can bud. But the true thorny person is no spine, only an excrescence; rootless evermore-leafless evermore. No crown made of such can ever meet glory of angel's hand.
A GOOD Stout bodily machine being provided, we must be actively occupied, or there can be little happiness.
If a good useful occupation be not provided, it is so ungenial to the human mind to do nothing, that men occupy themselves perilously, as with gaming; or frivolously, as with walking up and down a street at a watering place, and looking at the passersby; or malevolently, as by teazing their wives and children. It is impossible to support, for any length of time, a state of perfect idleness; and if you were to shut a man up for any length of time within four walls, without occupation, he would go mad. If idleness do not produce vice or malevolence, it commonly produces melancholy.
A stockbroker or a farmer have no leisure for imaginary wretchedness; their minds are usually hurried away by the necessity of noticing external objects, and they are guaranteed from that curse of idleness, the external disposition to think of themselves.
If we have no necessary occupation, it becomes extremely difficult to make to ourselves occupations as entirely absorbing as those which necessity imposes.
The profession which a man makes for himself is seldom more than a half profession, and often leaves the mind in a state of vacancy and inoccupation. We must lash ourselves up, however, as well as we can, to a notion of its great importance; and as the dispensing power is in our own hands, we must be very jealous of remission and of idleness.
It may seem absurd that a gentleman who does not live by the profits of farming should rise at six o'clock in the morning to look after his farm; or, if botany be his object, that he should voyage to Iceland in pursuit of it. He is the happier, however, for his eagerness; his mind is more fully employed, and he is much more effectually guaranteed from all the miseries of indolence.
Let every man be occupied, and occupied in the highest employment of which his nature is capable, and die with the consciousness that he has done his best!
A PIECE OF LEGAL ADVICE.
RENNES, the ancient capital of Brittany, is a famous place for law. People come there from all parts of the country to ask advice. To visit Rennes without getting advice, appears impossible to the country people, who are a timid and cautious race.
A farmer, named Bernard, having come to Rennes on business, and having a few spare hours, thought he would employ them in getting the advice of a good lawyer. He had often heard of Monsieur Potier, who was in such repute that people considered a lawsuit gained when he undertook their cause.
The countryman inquired for his address, and went to his