At Once

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

imperial road.


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

his time.


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

disagreeable task.

"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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