From: How To Succeed
Note the sublime precision that leads the earth over a circuit
of 500,000,000 miles back to the solstice at the appointed
moment without the loss of one second--no, not the millionth
part of a second--for ages and ages of which it traveled that
Despatch is the soul of business.
Unfaithfulness in the keeping of an appointment is an act of
clear dishonesty. You may as well borrow a person's money as
By the street of by-and-by one arrives at the house of never.
The greatest thief this world has ever produced is
procrastination, and he is still at large.
--H. W. SHAW.
"Oh, how I do appreciate a boy who is always on time!" says H. C. Bowen.
"How quickly you learn to depend on him, and how soon you find yourself
intrusting him with weightier matters! The boy who has acquired a
reputation for punctuality has made the first contribution to the
capital that in after years makes his success a certainty!"
"Nothing commends a young man so much to his employers," says John
Stuart Blackie, "as accuracy and punctuality in the conduct of his
business. And no wonder. On each man's exactitude depends the
comfortable and easy going of his machine. If the clock goes fitfully
nobody knows the time of day; and, if your task is a link in the chain
of another man's work, you are his clock, and he ought to be able to
rely on you."
"The whole period of youth," said Ruskin, "is one essentially of
formation, edification, instruction. There is not an hour of it but is
trembling with destinies--not a moment of which, once passed, the
appointed work can ever be done again, or the neglected blow struck on
the cold iron."
"To-morrow, didst thou say?" asked Cotton. "Go to--I will not hear of
it. To-morrow! 't is a sharper who stakes his penury against thy
plenty--who takes thy ready cash and pays thee naught but wishes, hopes
and promises, the currency of idiots. _To-morrow!_ it is a period
nowhere to be found in all the hoary registers of time, unless perchance
in the fool's calendar. Wisdom disclaims the word, nor holds society
with those that own it. 'Tis fancy's child, and folly is its father;
wrought of such stuffs as dreams are; and baseless as the fantastic
visions of the evening." Oh, how many a wreck on the road to success
could say: "I have spent all my life in the pursuit of to-morrow, being
assured that to-morrow has some vast benefit or other in store for me."
"I give it as my deliberate and solemn conviction," said Dr. Fitch,
"that the individual who is tardy in meeting an appointment will never
be respected or successful in life."
"If a man has no regard for the time of other men," said Horace Greeley,
"why should he have for their money? What is the difference between
taking a man's hour and taking his five dollars? There are many men to
whom each hour of the business day is worth more than five dollars."
A man who keeps his time will keep his word; in truth, he cannot keep
his word unless he _does_ keep his time.
When the Duchess of Sutherland came late, keeping the court waiting, the
queen, who was always vexed by tardiness, presented her with her own
watch, saying, "I am afraid your's does not keep good time."
"Then you must get a new watch, or I another secretary," replied
Washington, when his secretary excused the lateness of his attendance by
saying that his watch was too slow.
"I have generally found that a man who is good at an excuse is good for
nothing else," said Franklin to a servant who was always late, but
always ready with an excuse.
One of the best things about school and college life is that the bell
which strikes the hour for rising, for recitations, or for lectures,
teaches habits of promptness. Every young man should have a watch which
is a good timekeeper; one that is _nearly_ right encourages bad habits,
and is an expensive investment at any price. Wear threadbare clothes if
you must, but never carry an inaccurate watch.
"Five minutes behind time" has ruined many a man and many a firm.
"He who rises late," says Fuller, "must trot all day, and shall scarcely
overtake his business at night."
Some people are too late for everything but ruin; when a nobleman
apologized to George III. for being late, and said, "better late than
never," the king replied, "No, I say, _better never than late_."
"Better late than never" is not half so good a maxim as "Better never
If Samuel Budgett was even a minute late at an appointment he would
apologize; he was as punctual as a chronometer. Punctuality is
contagious. Napoleon infused promptness into his officers every minute.
What power there is in promptness to take the drudgery out of a
"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
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.
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