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reached it we should not have time to main- | studies is the true secret of economy in time. tain it. To have one main pursuit and several auxilIn modern languages it is not so easy to fix iaries, but none that are not auxiliary, is the limits satisfactorily. You may resolve to true principle of arrangement. Many hard read French or German without either writ-workers have followed pursuits as widely dising or speaking them, and that would be an connected as possible, but this was for the effectual limit, certainly. But in practice it refreshment of absolute change, not for the is found difficult to keep within that boun- economy of time. dary if ever you travel or have intercourse with foreigners.
Lastly, it is a deplorable waste of time to And when once you begin | leave fortresses untaken in our rear. What
to speak, it is so humiliating to speak badly, that a lover of soundness in accomplishment will never rest perfectly satisfied until he speaks like a cultivated native, which nobody ever did except under peculiar family conditions.
ever has to be mastered ought to be mastered so thoroughly that we shall not have to come back to it when we ought to be carrying the war far into the enemy's country. But to study on this sound principle, we require not to be hurried. And this is why, to a sincere student, all external pressure, whether of examiners, or poverty, or business engagements, which causes him to leave work behind him which was not done as it ought to have been done, is so grievously, so intolerably vexatious.
In music the limits are found more easily. The amateur musician is frequently not inferior in feeling and taste to the more accomplished professional, and by selecting those compositions which require much feeling and taste for their interpretation, but not so much manual skill, he may reach a sufficient success. The art is to choose the very simplest music (provided of course that it is beautiful, which it frequently is), and to avoid all technical difficulties which are not really necessary to the expression of feeling. The ama- TO A YOUNG MAN OF GREAT TALENT AND ENteur ought also to select the easiest instrument, an instrument in which the notes are made for him already, rather than one which Mistaken estimates about time and occasion-The Unknown
compels him to fix the notes as he is playing. The violin tempts amateurs who have a deep feeling for music because it renders feeling as no other instrument can render it, but the difficulty of just intonation is almost insuperable unless the whole time is given to that one instrument. It is a fatal error to perform on several different instruments, and an amateur who has done so may find a desirable limitation in restricting himself to one.
ERGY WHO HAD MAGNIFICENT PLANS FOR THE
Element-Procrastination often time's best preserver-Napoleon's advice to do nothing at all-Use of deliberation and of intervals of leisure-Artistic advantages of calculating time-Prevalent childishness about time-Illusions about reading-Bad economy of reading in languages we have not mastered-That we ought to be thrifty of time, but not avaricious-Time necessary in production-Men who work best under the sense of pressure-Rossini-That these cases prove nothing against time-thrift-The waste of time from miscalculation-People calculate accurately for short spaces, but do not calculate so well for long ones-Reason for this-Stupidity of the Philistines about wasted time-Töpffer and Claude Tillier-Retrospective miscalculations, and the regrets that result from them.
HAVE you ever observed that we pay much more attention to a wise passage when it is quoted, than when we read it in the original author? On the same principle, people will give a higher price to a picture-dealer than they would have given to the painter himself. The picture that has been once bought has a recommendation, and the quoted passage is both recommended and isolated from the context.
Much time is saved by following pursuits which help each other. It is a great help to a landscape painter to know the botany of the country he works in, for botany gives the greatest possible distinctness to his memory of all kinds of vegetation. Therefore, if a landscape painter takes to the study of science at all, he would do well to study botany, which would be of use in his painting, rather than chemistry or mathematics, which would be entirely disconnected from it. The memory easily retains the studies which are auxiliary to the chief pursuit. Entomologists Trusting to this well-known principle, alremember plants well, the reason being that though I am aware that you have read everythey find insects in them, just as Leslie the thing that Sir Arthur Helps has published, I painter had an excellent memory for houses proceed to make the following quotation from where there were any good pictures to be one of his wisest books. found. "Time and occasion are the two important The secret of order and proportion in our circumstances in human life, as regards which
the most mistaken estimates are made. And | Very frequently I have escaped it, but more the error is universal. It besets even the by good luck than good management. Somemost studious and philosophic men. This times I have tumbled into it, and when this may notably be seen in the present day, when many most distinguished men have laid down projects for literature and philosophy, to be accomplished by them in their own lifetime, which would require several men and many lifetimes to complete; and, generally speaking, if any person, who has passed the meridian of life, looks back upon his career, he will probably own that his greatest errors have arisen from his not having made sufficient allowance for the length of time which his various schemes required for their fulfilment."
There are many traditional maxims about time which insist upon its brevity, upon the necessity of using it whilst it is there, upon the impossibility of recovering what is lost; but the practical effect of these maxims upon conduct can scarcely be said to answer to their undeniable importance. The truth is, that although they tell us to economize our time, they cannot, in the nature of things, instruct us as to the methods by which it is to be economized. Human life is so extremely various and complicated, whilst it tends every day to still greater variety and complication, that all maxims of a general nature require a far higher degree of intelligence in their application to individual cases than it ever cost originally to invent them. Any person gifted with ordinary common sense can perceive that life is short, that time flies, that we ought to make good use of the present; but it needs the union of much experience, with the most consummate wisdom, to know exactly what ought to be done and what ought to be left undone the latter being frequently by far the more important of the two.
misfortune occurred it has not unfrequently been in consequence of having acted upon the advice of some very knowing and experienced person indeed. We have all read, when we were boys, Captain Marryat's “Midshipman Easy." There is a passage in that story which may serve as an illustration of what is constantly happening in actual life. The boats of the Harpy were ordered to board one of the enemy's vessels; young Easy was in command of one of these boats, and as they had to wait he began to fish. After they had received the order to advance, he delayed a little to catch his fish, and this delay not only saved him from being sunk by the enemy's broadside, but enabled him to board the Frenchman. Here the pitfall was avoided by idling away a minute of time on an occasion when minutes were like hours; yet it was mere luck, not wisdom, which led to the good result. There was a sad railway accident on one of the continental lines last autumn; a notable personage would have been in the train if he had arrived in time for it, but his miscalculation saved him. In matters where there is no risk of the loss of life, but only of the waste of a portion of it in unprofitable employment, it frequently happens that procrastination, which is reputed to be the thief of time, becomes its best preserver. Suppose that you undertake an enterprise, but defer the execution of it from day to day: it is quite possible that in the interval some fact may accidentally come to your knowledge which would cause a great modification of your plan, or even its complete abandonment. Every thinking person is well aware that the enormous loss of time caused by the friction of our legislative machinery has preAmongst the favorable influences of my served the country from a great deal of crude early life was the kindness of a venerable and ill-digested legislation. Even Napoleon country gentleman, who had seen a great the Great who had a rapidity of conception deal of the world and passed many years, be- and of action so far surpassing that of other fore he inherited his estates, in the practice kings and commanders that it seems to us alof a laborious profession. I remember a the- most supernatural, said that when you did ory of his, that experience was much less not quite know what ought to be done it was valuable than is generally supposed, because, best to do nothing at all. One of the most except in matters of simple routine, the prob- distinguished of living painters said exactly lems that present themselves to us for solu- the same thing with reference to the practice tion are nearly always dangerous from the of his art, and added that very little time presence of some unknown element. The un- would be needed for the actual execution of a known element he regarded as a hidden pit- picture if only the artist knew beforehand fall, and he warned me that in my progress how and where to lay the color. It so often through life I might always expect to tumble happens that mere activity is a waste of time, into it. This saying of his has been so often that people who have a morbid habit of being confirmed since then, that I now count upon busy are often terrible time-wasters, whilst, the pitfall quite as a matter of certainty. on the contrary, those who are judiciously de
liberate, and allow themselves intervals of accomplished nothing. "What! have you leisure, see the way before them in those in-done only that?" they say, or we know by tervals, and save time by the accuracy of their looks that they are thinking it. their calculations.
of mine, who was a solicitor with a large practice, indulged in wonderful illusions about reading, and collected several thousand volumes, all fine editions, but he died without having cut their leaves. I like the university habit of making reading a business, and estimating the mastery of a few authors as a just title to consideration for scholarship. I should like very well to be shut up in a garden for a whole summer with no literature but the "Faëry Queene," and one year I very nearly realized that project, but publishers and the postman interfered with it. After all, this business of reading ought to be less illusory than most others, for printers divide books into pages, which they number, so that, with a moderate skill in arithmetic, one ought to be able to foresee the limits of his possibilities. There is another observation which may be suggested, and that is to take note of the time required for reading different languages. We read very slowly when the language is imperfectly mastered, and we need the dictionary, whereas in the native tongue we see the whole page almost at a glance, as if it were a picture. People whose time for reading is limited ought not to waste it in grammars and dictionaries, but to confine themselves resolutely to a couple of languages, or three at the very utmost, notwithstanding the contempt of polyglots, who estimate your learning by the variety of your tongues. It is a fearful throwing away of time, from the literary point of view, to begin more languages than you can master or retain, and to be always puzzling
The most illusory of all the work that we A largely intelligent thrift of time is neces-propose to ourselves is reading. It seems so sary to all great works-and many works are easy to read, that we intend, in the indefinite very great indeed relatively to the energies future, to master the vastest literatures. We of a single individual, which pass unper- cannot bring ourselves to admit that the liceived in the tumult of the world. The ad-brary we have collected is in great part closed vantages of calculating time are artistic as to us simply by want of time. A dear friend well as economical. I think that, in this respect, magnificent as are the cathedrals which the Gothic builders have left us, they committed an artistic error in the very immensity of their plans. They do not appear to have reflected that from the continual changes of fashion in architecture, incongruous work would be sure to intrude itself before their gigantic projects could be realized by the generations that were to succeed them. For a work of that kind to possess artistic unity, it ought to be completely realized within the space of forty years. How great is the charm of those perfect edifices which, like the Sainte Chapelle, are the realization of one sublime idea? And those changes in national thought which have made the old cathedrals a jumble of incongruous styles, have their parallel in the life of every individual workman. We change from year to year, and any work which occupies us for very long will be wanting in unity of manner. Men are apt enough of themselves to fall into the most astonishing delusions about the opportunities which time affords, but they are even more deluded by the talk of the people about them. When children hear that a new carriage has been ordered of the builder, they expect to see it driven up to the door in a fortnight, with the paint quite dry on the panels. All people are children in this respect, except the workman, who knows the endless details of production; and the workman himself, notwithstanding the lessons of experience, makes light of the future task. What gigantic plans we scheme, and how lit-yourself about irregular verbs. tle we advance in the labor of a day! Three All plans for sparing time in intellectual pages of the book (to be half erased to-mor-matters ought, however, to proceed upon the row), a bit of drapery in the picture that will principle of thrift, and not upon the principrobably have to be done over again, the im- ple of avarice. The object of the thrifty perceptible removal of an ounce of marbledust from the statue that seems as if it never would be finished; so much from dawn to twilight has been the accomplishment of the golden hours. If there is one lesson which experience teaches, surely it is this, to make plans that are strictly limited, and to arrange our work in a practicable way within the limits that we must accept. Others expect 80 much from us that it seems as if we had
man in money matters is so to lay out his money as to get the best possible result from his expenditure; the object of the avaricious man is to spend no more money than he can help. An artist who taught me painting often repeated a piece of advice which is valuable in other things than art, and which I try to remember whenever patience fails. He used to say to me, "Give it time." The mere length of time that we bestow upon our work is in
I have quoted the best instance known to me of this voluntary seeking after pressure, but striking as it is, even this instance does not weaken what I said before. For observe, that although Rossini deferred the
before the first performance, he knew very well that he could do it thoroughly in the time. He was like a clever schoolboy who knows that he can learn his lesson in the quarter of an hour before the class begins; or he was like an orator who knows that he can deliver a passage and compose at the same time the one which is to follow, so that he prefers to arrange his speech in the presence of his audience. Since Rossini always allowed himself all the time that was necessary for what he had to do, it is clear that he did not sin against the great time-necessity. The express which can travel from London to Edinburgh in a night may leave the English metropolis on Saturday evening although it is due in Scotland on Sunday, and still act with the strictest consideration about time. The blameable error lies in miscalculation, and not in rapidity of performance.
itself a most important element of success, [agers had shut me up by force with nothing and if I object to the use of languages that we but a dish of maccaroni, and the threat that I only half know, it is not because it takes us a should not leave the place alive until I had long time to get through a chapter, but be- written the last note. I wrote the overture cause we are compelled to think about syntax to the 'Gazza Ladra' on the day of the first and conjugations which did not in the least performance, in the upper loft of the La occupy the mind of the author, when we Scala, where I had been confined by the manought rather to be thinking about those things ager, under the guard of four scene-shifters which did occupy his mind, about the events who had orders to throw my text out of the which he narrated, or the characters that he window bit by bit to copyists, who were waitimagined or described. There are, in truth, ing below to transcribe it. In default of only two ways of impressing anything on the music I was to be thrown out myself." memory, either intensity or duration. If you saw a man struck down by an assassin, you would remember the occurrence all your life; but to remember with equal vividness a picture of the assassination, you would probably be obliged to spend a month or two in copying composition of his overture till the evening it. The subjects of our studies rarely produce an intensity of emotion sufficient to ensure perfect recollection without the expenditure of time. And when your object is not to learn, but to produce, it is well to bear in mind that everything requires a certain definite time-outlay, which cannot be reduced without an inevitable injury to quality. A most experienced artist, a man of the very rarest executive ability, wrote to me the other day about a set of designs I had suggested. "If I could but get the TIME," the large capitals are his own,-"for, somehow or other, let a design be never so studiously simple in the masses, it will fill itself as it goes on, like the weasel in the fable who got into the meal-tub; and when the pleasure begins in attempting tone and mystery and intricacy, away go the hours at a gallop." A well-known and very successful English dramatist wrote to me: "When I am hurried, and have undertaken more work than I can execute in the time at my disposal, I am always perfectly paralyzed." There is another side to this subject which deserves attention. Some men work best under the sense of pressure. Simple compression evolves heat from iron, so that there is a flash of fire when a ball hits the side of an ironclad. The same law seems to hold good in the intellectual life of man, whenever he needs the stimulus of extraordinary excitement. Rossini positively advised a young composer never to write his overture until the evening before the first performance. "Nothing," he said, "excites inspiration like necessity; the presence of a copyist waiting for your work, and the view of a manager in despair tearing out his hair by handfuls. In Italy in my time all the managers were bald at thirty. I composed the overture to 'Othello' in a small room in the Barbaja Palace, where the baldest and most ferocious of man-possesses?
Nothing wastes time like miscalculation. It negatives all results. It is the parent of incompleteness, the great author of the Unfinished and the Unserviceable. Almost every intellectual man has laid out great masses of time on five or six different branches of knowledge which are not of the least use to him, simply because he has not carried them far enough, and could not carry them far enough in the time he had to give. Yet this might have been ascertained at the beginning by the simplest arithmetical calculation. The experience of students in all departments of knowledge has quite definitely ascertained the amount of time that is necessary for success in them, and the successful student can at once inform the aspirant how far he is likely to travel along the road. What is the use, to anybody, of having just enough skill to feel vexed with himself that he has no more, and yet angry at other people for not admiring the little that he
whilst Claude Tillier went even farther, and boldly affirmed that "le temps le mieux employé est celui que l'on perd."
I wish to direct your attention to a cause which more than any other produces disappointment in ordinary intellectual pursuits. It is this. People can often calculate with the Let us not think too contemptuously of the utmost accuracy what they can accomplish in miscalculators of time, since not one of us is ten minutes or even in ten hours, and yet the exempt from their folly. We have all made very same persons will make the most absurd miscalculations, or more frequently have simmiscalculations about what they can accom- ply omitted calculation altogether, preferring plish in ten years. There is of course a rea- childish illusion to a manly examination of son for this: if there were not, so many sensi- realities; and afterwards as life advances ble people would not suffer from the delusion. another illusion steals over us not less vain The reason is, that owing to the habits of hu- than the early one, but bitter as that was man life there is a certain elasticity in large sweet. We now begin to reproach ourselves spaces of time that include nights, and meal- with all the opportunities that have been times, and holidays. We fancy that we shall neglected, and now our folly is to imagine be able, by working harder than we have been that we might have done impossible wonders accustomed to work, and by stealing hours if we had only exercised a little resolution. from all the different kinds of rest and amuse- We might have been thorough classical scholment, to accomplish far more in the ten years ars, and spoken all the great modern lanthat are to come than we have ever actually guages, and written immortal books, and accomplished in the same space. And to a made a colossal fortune. Miscalculations certain extent this may be very true. No doubt again, and these the most imbecile of all; for a man whose mind has become seriously aware the youth who forgets to reason in the glow of the vast importance of economizing his time of happiness and hope, is wiser than the man will economize it better than he did in the days who overestimates what was once possible before the new conviction came to him. No that he may embitter the days which remain doubt, after skill in our work has been con- to him. firmed, we shall perform it with increased
speed. But the elasticity of time is rather that of leather than that of india-rubber.
There is certainly a degree of elasticity, but To A MAN OF BUSINESS WHO DESIRED TO MAKE the degree is strictly limited.
The true mas
ter of time-thrift would be no more liable to illusion about years than about hours, and would act as prudently when working for remote results as for near ones.
HIMSELF BETTER ACQUAINTED WITH LITERA-
Victor Jacquemont on the intellectual labors of the Germans
Not that we ought to work as if we were always under severe pressure. Little books are occasionally published in which we are told that it is a sin to lose a minute. From the intellectual point of view this doctrine is simply IN the charming and precious letters of stupid. What the Philistines call wasted Victor Jacquemont, a man whose life was time is often rich in the most varied experience dedicated to culture, and who not only lived to the intelligent. If all that we have learned for it, but died for it, there is a passage about in idle moments could be suddenly expelled the intellectual labors of Germans, which from our minds by some chemical process, it takes due account of the expenditure of time. is probable that they would be worth very lit-"Comme j'étais étonné," he says, "de la tle afterwards. What, after such a process, prodigieuse variété et de l'étendue de connaiswould have remained to Shakespeare, Scott, sances des Allemands, je demandai un jour à Cervantes, Thackeray, Dickens, Hogarth, l'un de mes amis, Saxon de naissance et l'un Goldsmith, Molière? When these great stu- des premiers géologues de l'Europe, comment dents of human nature were learning most, ses compatriotes s'y prenaient pour savoir the sort of people who write the foolish little tant de choses. Voici sa réponse, à peu près: books just alluded to would have wanted to Un Allemand (moi excepté qui suis le plus send them home to the dictionary or the paresseux des hommes) se lève de bonne heure, desk. Töpffer and Claude Tillier, both men of été et hiver, à cinq heures environ. Il tradelicate and observant genius, attached the vaille quatre heures avant le déjeuner, fumant greatest importance to hours of idleness. quelquefois pendant tout ce temps, sans que Töpffer said that a year of downright loitering cela nuise à son application. Son déjeuner was a desirable element in a liberal education; dure une demi-heure, et il reste, après, une