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MA CAUL AY S BOYHOOD. 2$
which reposed among the dust and cobwebs of an upper shelf in his father's shop, he clambered thither to effect a capture. The apples were forthcoming, but the folio, which proved to be the works of Petrarch, also attracted his attention, apd its perusal awoke in him his dormant literary tastes.
That the child is father of the man was shown by the early occupations of Macaulay. He was only eight years old when his mother wrote of him :—" He gets on wonderfully in all branches of his education, and the extent of his reading, and of the knowledge he has derived from it, are truly astonishing. . . . To give you some idea of the activity of his mind, I will mention a few circumstances. . . . He took it into his head to write a compendium of universal history about a year ago, and he really contrived to give a tolerably connected view of the leading events from the creation to the present time, filling about a quire of paper. He told me one day that he had been writing a paper, which Henry Daly (a friend of his father's) was to translate into Malabar, to persuade the people of Travancore to embrace the Christian religion. On reading it, I found it to contain a very clear idea of the leading facts and doctrines of that religion, with some strong arguments for its adoption. He was so fired with reading Scott's 'Lay' and 'Marmion,' the former of which he got entirely, and the latter almost entirely, by heart, merely from his delight in reading them, that he determined on writing a poem himself in six cantos, which he called the ' Battle of Cheviot.' After he had finished about three of the cantos of about 120 lines each, which he did in a couple of days, he became tired of it. I make no doubt he would have finished his design, but, as he was proceeding with it, the thought struck him of writing an heroic poem to be called 'Olaus the Great, or the Conquest of Mona,' in which, after the manner of Virgil, he might introduce in prophetic song the future fortunes of the family; among others, those of the hero who aided in the fall of the tyrant of Mysore, after having long suffered from his tyranny; and of another of his race who had exerted himself for the deliverance of the wretched Africans. He has just begun it. He has composed I know not how many hymns." Such was Macaulay in his childhood, and such he was in his manhood. No man ever economised his time more wisely, or more diligently sought every opportunity of adding to his accumulation of knowledge.
&4 MISS MITFORD IN HER GIRLHOOD.
It is related of Miss Mitford, the author of some ever-charming sketches of " Our Village," that at three years old she was able to read; and her father, proud of his daughter's accomplishment, would often perch her on the breakfast-table to exhibit it to his admiring guests. These admired her all the more because she was a puny child, appearing younger than she was, and gifted with an affluence of curls, which made her look as if she were twin-sister to her own great doll. The ballad of " The Children of the Wood" was one of her early favourites; and from this she proceeded to make acquaintance with the other contents of Bishop Percy's admirable "Reliques." They awakened and fostered her taste for poetry; and so strong was their hold upon her infant mind, that before she could read them herself, her father, who could deny her nothing, was coaxed into placing the volume in her nurse's hands, that they might be read to her whenever she wished. "The breakfast room," writes Miss Mitford," where I first possessed myself of my beloved ballads, was a lofty and spacious apartment, literally lined with books. The windows opened on a large oldfashioned garden, full of old-fashioned flowers, stocks, honeysuckles, and pinks." Here we may remark, that to the end of her life Miss Mitford's two great passions were books and oldfashioned flowers. She was a wonderful economist of time. Forced by circumstances to become the stay and support of her parents, she contrived to "find time " for assiduous literary labour, for eager perusal of all new books of interest and importance, for visiting, entertaining, and corresponding with her friends, for superintending her garden and little household, for charitable ministrations in the village which will always be associated with her name, and for loving attendance to the wants of those who were dependent upon her in their old age. It is astonishing what may be done by a dexterous manipulation of time! In some hands it is capable of a wonderful elasticity, though in others it assumes an immobile rigidity. So Sydney Smith says of the late Francis Horner:—" He had an intense love of knowledge; he wasted very little of the portion of life accorded to him." All turns, the reader will perceive, on that exact and vigilant thriftiness which we have so strongly recommended.
In nearly every book on this subject that has come under our notice, the example of Sir William Jones, the famous Oriental
WISE DIVISION OF ONES TIME. 25
scholar, has been adduced; and trite as it is, its force of application is such, that we are disposed to revive it in these pages. To such good purpose did he use his minutes, so few did he waste, that before he was twenty years of age he had acquired a complete acquaintance with Greek and Latin, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, and also had made considerable progress in Arabic and Persian. His successful economy of time and his ceaseless pursuit of knowledge eventually elevated him to a seat in the Supreme Court of Indian judicature. His biographers have remarked with interest how carefully he allotted to each hour the work appropriate for it, how precise he was in his methodical division of labour. The great lawyer of James I.'s reign, Sir Edward Coke, had portioned out his days as follows :—
"Six hours in sleep, in law's grave study six,
Sir William adopted a distribution much more earnestly to be commended :—
'' Seven hours to law, to soothing slumbers seven,
The reader will not be displeased with the wise and discriminating remarks which the career of the distinguished Orientalist suggested to Lord Jeffrey:—
"From the very commencement," he says, "he appears to have taxed himself very highly; and having in early youth set before his eyes the standard of a noble and accomplished character in every department of excellence, he seems never to have lost sight of this object of emulation, and never to have remitted his exertions to elevate and conform himself to it in every particular. Though born in a condition very remote from affluence, he soon determined to give himself the education of a finished gentleman, and not only to cultivate all the elegance and refinement implied in that appellation, but to carry into the practice of an honourable profession all the lights and ornaments of philosophy and learning, and, extending his ambition beyond the attainment of mere literary or professional eminence, to qualify himself for the management of public affairs, and to look forward to the higher rewards of patriotism, virtue, and political skilL
26 THE CHARM OF METHOD.
"The perseverance and exemplary industry," continues Lord Jeffrey, "with which he laboured to carry out his magnificent plan, and the distinguished success attending the accomplishment of all that part of it which the shortness of his life permitted him to execute, afford an instructive lesson to all who may be inclined by equal diligence to deserve an equal reward. The more we learn, indeed, of the early history of those who have bequeathed a great name to posterity, the more shall we be persuaded that no substantial or permanent excellence can ever be attained without much pains, labour, and preparation, and that extraordinary talents are less necessary to the most brilliant success than perseverance and application."
The methodical employment of our time is, as we have said, one of the great secrets of success. It is the only way by which we can do justice to time and to ourselves. "When the charm of method is wanting," says Coleridge, "every other merit loses its name, or becomes an additional ground of accusation and regret. Of one by whom it is eminently possessed, we say, proverbially, he is like clockwork. The resemblance extends beyond the point of regularity, and yet falls short of the truth. Both do, indeed, at once divide and announce the silent and otherwise indistinguishable lapse of time. But the man of methodical industry and honourable pursuits does more: he realises its ideal divisions, and he gives a character and individuality to its movements. If the idle are described as killing time, he may justly be said to call it into life and moral being, while he makes it the destined object not only of the consciousness, but of the conscience. He organises the hours, and gives them a soul; and that, the very essence of which is to pass away, he takes up into his own permanence, and endows with the imperishableness of a spiritual nature. Of the good and faithful servant, whose energies, thus directed, are thus methodised, it may rather be said that he lives in time than that time lives in him. His days, months, and years, as the steps and punctual marks in the records of duties performed, will survive the wreck of worlds, and remain extant when time itself shall be no more."
"Time is money," says the proverb. If some people we know were of the same opinion, how careful they would be of it! But it is also happiness, and peace of mind, and the fulfilment of the A FEW PRACTICAL RULES. 2?
Divine commission intrusted to us at birth. It is, in truth, the chief good upon earth, if we do but know how to make it so. For, be it remembered, time is exactly what we make it; in the hands of the wise, a blessing; in the hands of the foolish, a curse; in the hands of the wise, a preparation for life eternal; in the hands of the foolish, a preparation for the condemnation that is everlasting. To you it is much; to your neighbour it is naught. He is as anxious to throw it away as you (we hope) are anxious to cultivate it to the greatest advantage. Ah, if all of us did but know what it is, what it signifies, what it might be, how we should watch over every grain in the hour-glass! How great would be our activity, how solicitous our labour, how profound our consciousness of duty! How we should aspire to avail ourselves of each passing moment! How keen would be our regret if conscience could speak to us of days wasted and opportunities neglected!
In commenting on the importance of thrift in regard to time, it would be easy to lay down a few practical and familiar rules for the benefit of the young adventurer in life's chequered career. As, for instance :—
One thing at a time.1
Never put off till to-morrow what ought to be done to-day.
But more is to be learned from example than precept; and the lives of great men, or of men good and great, will prove of higher and more lasting value to the student than the most precious fragments of proverbial philosophy. Show me a man who has attained to eminence or excellence, and you show me a man who has economised his time. Show me a man who has benefited the world by his wisdom, or his country by his patriotism, or his neighbourhood by his philanthropy, and you show me a man who has made the best of every minute. In business, the men who have attained success are the men who have known the importance of method, the men who have appreciated the potentiality of time. Of Tours, the wealthy
1 So the Rev. Robert Cecil said, "The shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing at once."