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Hor. O, my dear Lord,
Nay, do not think I flatter;
If you are not in the humour for doing any thing, and necessity does not press, do not waste yourself in vain efforts, or fritter away time in inaction, but turn to something else, or think what is most likely to put you into the bumour you wish, whether exercise or refreshinent, or society, and that try. By such a process you will often make what is difficult and irksome, easy and agreeable ; you will generally save time in the end, and almost always do better what you have to do. Some people are continually flying off from their occupations, so as scarcely ever to reach the effective point of application, whilst others go on so long as to destroy their energy and render perseverance useless. There is a profitable and wholesome mean between inconstancy and weariness. When we know what we shall have to do, it is wise to make suitable preparation; as professed gamblers, by abstemiousness and repose, make themselves fresh and clear for their midnight practices.
There are three weaknesses in our habits, which are very common, and which have a very prejudicial influence on our welfare. The first is giving way to the ease or indulgence of the moment, instead of doing at once what ought to be done. This practice almost always diminishes the beneficial effects of our actions, and often leads us to abstain from action altogether; as for instance, if at this season of the year there is a gleam of sunshine, of which we feel we ought to take advantage, but have not the resolution to leave at the moment a comfortable seat, or an attractive occupation, we miss the most favourable opportunity, and perhaps at last justify ourselves in remaining indoors on the ground that the time for exercise is past. One evil attendant upon tliis habit of procrastination is, that it produces a certain dissatisfaction of the mind, which impedes and deranges the animal functions, and tends to prevent the attainment of a high state of health. A perception of what is right, followed by a promptness of execution, would render the way of life perpetually smooth. Children should be told to do nothing but what is reasonable, but they should be taught to do what they are told at once. The habit will stand then in stead all their lives. The second weakness is, when we have made a good resolution, and have partially failed in executing it, we are very apt to abandon it altogether. For instance, if a person, who has been accustomed to rise at ten, resolves to rise at six, and, after a few successful attempts, happens to sleep till seven, there is great danger that he will relapse into his former habit, or probably even go beyond it, and lie till noon. It is the same with resolutions as to economy, or temperance, or any thing else ; if we cannot do all we intended, or make one slip, we are apt to give up entirely. Now what we should aim at is, always to do the best we can under existing circumstances; and then our progress, with the exception of slight interruptions, would be continual. The third and last weakness to which I allude is, the practice of eating and drinking things, because they are on table, and especially when they are to be paid for. How seldom it happens that two men leave a few glasses of wine in a decanter at a coffee-louse, though they have both had enough ; and the consequence of not doing so frequently is to order a fresh supply ; but, at any rate, even the first small excess is pernicious. Excess, however slight, either in solids or liquids, deranges the powers of digestion, and of course diminishes the full benefit of any meal. It often induces an indisposition to move, and so one excess leads to another. What is called a second appetite is generated, and the proper bounds being once passed, it is not easy to fix another limit. The importance in a man's life of stopping at enough is quite incalculable; and to be guilty of excess for the reason I have just mentioned, though very common, is the height of folly. A very small quantity will cause the difference between spending the remainder of the day profitably or agreeably, and in indolence and dissipation.
I have received a letter signed with initials which are unknown to me, in which the writer desires me to state my opinion as to the best mode of giving away large sums of money. My correspondent puts the case of persons who, from taste, live very much within their incomes, and who dispose of the surplus, to the amount of two or three thousand pounds a year, in the way of donation. The question is asked, whether it is better to distribute such large sums in snall portions to the usual objects of bounty, or to select persons in respectable stations, with straitened means, and to place them above their difficulties. It is said that if large benefactions were secretly made to such persons as were personally known to the benefactors, an immense mass of good would be done, and that such unasked donations cause no humiliation, but are on the contrary a compliment. The writer adds that the rich distributor would at the end of a series of years have the pleasure of contemplating an accumulation of benefits conferred on worthy persons.
To be a perpetual giver, and not to do more harm than good, is so difficult, as I believe to be next to impossible. Whoever gives often, and gives much, is sure to be found out, in spite of all attempts at secrecy; and the consequence is, that expectations are excited, and means resorted to, which are productive of a tone of dependence and sycophancy throughout the neighbourhood, or class, within the sphere of the bounty. Great givers can scarcely avoid being imposed upon, and one example of success has something of the same effect that a prize in the lottery used to have. It may benefit one; though even that is not often so, but the fame of it unsettles many. Giving in the usual way to what my correspondent calls pauper applicants, and begging-letter impostors, is now generally admitted to be pernicious, though still much persisted in. But what makes pauper applicants, and beggingletter impostors, but giving? And what would be the consequence, if such objects were rejected, and the sums distributed among them were confined to larger bounties to fewer persons? If it became a system, however specious in appearance, and beneficial in the outset, would it not infallibly become as poisonous as those it was designed to supplant ? Would it not, in the end, infect a higher grade with all the symptoms and evils of pauperism ? Straitened circumstances, in all conditions, are, in almost all cases, atributable, more or less, to indolence, imprudence, or absolute extravagance. Where it is not so, it is the exception, and it is the exception only that is really deserving of encouragement. But there can be no system for the relief of exceptions. They are in their nature objects of casualty only. Then givers themselves are often too indolent to make sufficient inquiries, or to be great observers.
(To be continued.)
Published also monthly with the Periodicals, stitched in a wrapper.
IBOTSON AND PALMER, PRINTERS, SAVOY STREET, STRAND.
BY THOMAS WALKER, M.A.
TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
BARRISTER AT LAW, AND ONE OF THE POLICE MAGISTRATES OF THE METROPOLIS.
PUBLISHED EVERY WEDNESDAY AT 12 O'CLOCK BY H, RENSHAW,
356, STRAND, NEARLY OPPOSITE WELLINGTON STREET.
No. XXIX.] WEDNESDAY, DEC. 2, 1835. [Price ld.
If I had known what I now know, I would not have concluded my first volume till the last number of last month, giving timely notice that it was' expedient I should take a holiday. London living and authorship do not go on well together. My writings have latterly drawn upon me more numerous and cordial invitations than usual, which is a gratifying sign of approbation, but of somewhat ruinous consequences. Conviviality, though without what is ordinarily called excess, during the greater part of the week, and hard fagging during the remainder, with a sacrifice of exercise and sleep, must tell ; and if I were to go on without intermission, I must make myself a slave, with at the same time great danger of falling off. I have therefore determined to suspend my labours till the first Wednesday in March, and feeling the expediency of such a step, I think it best to take it at once. What portion of my present indisposition