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BUSINESS AND EMPLOYMENT.
Not folded arms, and slackness of the mind,
To a man that is in possession of his health and faculties, a life of Business and Employment is far preferable to one spent without occupation. It procures him abundantly more satisfactions, and conduces essentially to his happiness. To enjoy the pleasures of Business, its affairs should be innocent and lawful, proportionate to our faculties and powers, conducted with order and regularity, and affording a fair prospect of advantage. So regulated, the busiest life is much preferable to a career of indolence. It is the best, indeed the only preservative from that languor of body, and dejection of mind, which proves one of the heaviest burdens of human existence; since the man of business is never at a loss for objects to beguile the passing hour. In the morning when he awakes, he bas continually something to employ his thoughts and to call forth his active powers. It is he alone who truly enjoys the delights of leisure, of the festive board, of the social circle, and of innocent recreation.
Business is likewise a powerful protection from folly and sin. The indolent and lazy are the most exposed
to temptation, and they who most frequently fall into the snares of the destroyer. Vigorous exertion and full occupation beget that firmness and seriousness of mind, necessary to resist the fascinations of evil; and the steady habits to which they necessarily give rise, prevent any lapse into folly or frivolity when the mind is unbent by recreation and enjoyment. Business develops talent, promotes exercise, invigorates the animal spirits, and thus conduces to real perfection and happiness. It gives a man consequence in society; for his importance cannot be diminished, whilst providing for the wants, the conveniencies, the elegancies, and the pleasures of others.
These are thy blessings, Industry! rough power!
Industry rous'd man from sloth;
Hence every form of cultivated life
And happy. Nurse of art ! the city rear'd
The pillar'd dome, magnific heay'd
THOMSON. No disposition so totally unfits a man for the social offices of life, as that of indolence. If idle, he is a mere blank in the creation ; he seems to be made for no end, and to live to no purpose. He cannot engage heartily in any employment or profession, because he has not sufficient diligence to pursue it regularly. He succeeds in no undertaking, for he is a stranger to perseverance; and the tenderest claims of relationship are no stimulus to his exertions. Wife, child, or friend, are no farther estimated than as they contribute to the solitary gratifications of a selfish disposition. If he be born poor, he will ever remain so; and if education or connection prevent him closing his life in a ditch, or at the gallows, it will probably terminate within the walls of the Fleet.
It should be considered, that nature did not bring us into the world in a state of perfection, but with capacities that admitted of improvement; intimating, ihat by labour we should render ourselves excellent. Very few are prevented becoming respectable, if not eminent, in their several stations, by unwearied and keen application; nor are there any possessed of such transcendant genius as to render exertion and diligence unnecessary. Perseverance will overcome obstacles, however formidable ; for, like the Alpine rocks which melted by the continued application of Hannibal's vinegar, difficulties apparently insurmountable will rapidly yield to continued and well-directed labour.
There is not in the world a more useless idle animal, than he who contents himself with being merely a gentleman. He has an estate, and therefore he will not endeavour to acquire knowledge: he is not to labour in any vocation, therefore he will do nothing. But the misfortune is, that no such thing exists in nature as negative virtue. He who does no good will not long abstain from mischief; and the mind, if it be not stored with useful knowledge, will necessarily become a magazine of nonsense and trifles. Wherefore, a gentleman, though not obliged to rise, open his shop, or to work at his trade, should always find some method of employing his time to advantage. If he make no advances in wisdom, he will become more and more a slave to folly ; and he who does nothing, because he has nothing to do, will become vicious and abandoned, or at best ridiculous and contemptible. There is not a more melancholy object than a man of an honest heart and fine natural abilities, whose good qualities are thus destroyed by indolence. He is a constant plague to his friends and acquaintance, though possessing every requisite necessary to promote their happiness; and, under the influence of this fatal apathy, he suffers himself to rank with the lowest characters, when he might command distinction among the most conspicuous.
The following allegory, however well known, may not be found amiss in this place :
" Labour, the offspring of Want, and the mother of Health and Contentment, lived with her two daughters in a little cottage, by the side of a hill, at a great distance from town. They were totally unacquainted with the great, and kept no better company than the neighbouring villagers; but being desirous of seeing the world, they forsook their companions and habitation, and determined to travel. Labour went soberly along the road with Health on the right hand, who, by the sprightliness of her conversation and songs of cheerfulness and joy, softened the toils of the way; while Contentment went smiling on the left, supporting the steps of her mother, and by her perpetual good-humour increasing the vivacity of her sister. In this manner they travelled over forests, and through towns and villages, till at last they arrived at the capital of the kingdom. At their entrance into the great city, the mother conjured her daughters never to lose sight of her; for it was the will of Jupiter, she said, that their separation should be attended with the utter ruin of all three. But Health was of too gay a disposition to regard the councils of Labour; she suffered herself to be debauched by Intemperance, and at last died in child-birth of Disease. Contentment, in the absence of her sister, gave herself up to the enticements of sloth, and was never heard of after: while Labour, who could have no enjoyment without her daughters, went every where in search of them, till she was at last seized by Lassitude in her way, and died in misery.”
What cannot Aft and Industry perform,
When Science plans the progress of their toil!
And oceans from their mighty mounds recoil. Lord Chesterfield writes to his son on the employ. ment of time, as follows :
“I am convinced that many people lose two or three hours each day, because they neglect the minutes. Never consider any part of time as too short to be employed; you may always find how to occupy it by one thing or another."
This is excellent advice, particularly for people of the world. Dissipation causes such an immense waste of time, that if the short intervals which it leaves for study and rational occupation be carelessly squandered, life is continued to no single beneficial purpose. We ought not to pass an instant in absolute idleness; but always to have some little kind of work for those frequently recurring occasions, denominated spare minutes. It is an excellent custom to carry some small book in the pocket continually. It is true, those ladies, who have the rage of imitating the Grecian statues, cannot adopt this custom, since they wear no pockets ; and those who pique themselves on resembling the Dianas and Venuses, with their light drapery, will have very little relish for improving their minds. In countries where the women are required
to be good housewives, and even to understand cookery, it is singular they should consent to the abolition of pockets, since it is impossible for those to be good housewives, who are continually losing their handkerchiefs and gloves; who leave their parses lying about,