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their natural liberty, they would be entirely free. An idle dog will be diseased ; and how can an idle person expect to escape? But mental idleness is infinitely more prejudicial than idleness of body: wit without employment is a disease, the rust of the soul, a plague, a very hell itself: "As in a standing pool, (says Seneca,) worms and filthy creepers increase, so do evil and corrupt thoughts in the mind of an idle person.” The whole soul is contaminated by it. As in a state that has no common enemy to contend with, civil wars generally ensue, and the members of it rage against each other; so is this body natural, when it is idle, macerated and vexed with cares, griefs, false fears, discontents, suspicions, and restless anxiety. Vulture-like, it preys upon the bowels of its victims, and allows them no respite from their sufferings :
For he's the Tityrus here that lies opprest
These are the eagles that still tear his breast. Idle persons, whatever be their age, sex, or condition, however rich, well allied, or fortunate, can never be well either in body or mind. Wearied, vexed, loathing, weeping, sighing, grieving, and suspecting, they are continually offended with the world and its concerns, and disgusted with every object in it. Their lives are painful to themselves, and burdensome to others; for their bodies are doomed to endure the miseries of ill-health, and their minds to be tortured by every foolish fancy. This is the true cause why the rich and great generally labour under the disease of melancholy; for idleness is an appendix to nobility, who, counting business a disgrace, sanction every whim in search of
, and spend all their time in, dissipated pleasures, idle sports, and useless recreations :
Their conduct, like a sick man's dreams,
Is form’d of vanity and whims. Activity, both mental and corporeal, is the great promoter of health and happiness. The heavens themselves are in constant motion; the sun rises and
sets, the moon increases and decreases, the stars and planets have their regular revolutions, the air is agitated by winds, the waters ebb
and flow, and man also should ever be in action. Employment, which Galen calls “ Nature's Physician,” is, indeed, so essential to the pleasures of life, that indolence has been justly considered the mother of misery.
The following piece, entitled, Loss in Delays, from Robert Southwell's works, is worthy of attention :
Shun delays, they breed remorse;
Take thy time, while time is lent thee;
Fly their fault, lest thou repent thee.
Tide and wind stay no man's pleasure :
Sober speed is wisdom's leisure.
Take thou hold upon his forehead;
And behind his scalp is naked.
Fester'd wounds ask deeper lancing:
Often sought, scarce ever chancing.
Out of season, out of price. Sir Joshua Reynolds makes the following sensible observations on the importance of perseverance and industry.
" There is one precept, however, in which I shall only be opposed by the vain, the ignorant, and the idle: I am not afraid that I shall repeat it too often. You must have no dependence on your own genius. If you have great talents, industry will improve them; if you have but moderate abilities, industry will supply their deficiency. Nothing is denied to well-directed labour: nothing is to be obtained without it. Not to enter into metaphysical discussions on the nature and essence of genius, I will venture to assert, that assiduity
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unabated by difficulty, and a disposition eagerly directed to the object of its pursuit, will produce effects similar to those which some call the result of natural powers.”
The concluding maxim in that learned and ingenious work, “ Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy," offers the cure and the preventive for mental disease. solitary-Be not idle.”
Activity, therefore, is such a very important requisite in the alembic of happiness, that it seems absolutely essential to the true enjoyment of life. The most active men are invariably the happiest ; while none are more destitute of felicity than such as are given up to slothful indulgence. “ The necessity of action, (says Dr. Johnson,) is not only demonstrable from the fabric of the human body, but is also evident from the universal practice of mankind ; since all men, for the preservation of their health, for pleasure and enjoyment, even when exempted by circumstances from the necessity of pursuing any kind of lucrative labour, have invented sports and diversions, which though not equally useful to the world with the mechanical or menial arts, yet equal them in the fatigue they occasion to those who practise them; differing from those which are attended by the painful sense of compulsion.” The man of business has the pleasure of vanquishing impediments, conquering difficulties, planning extensive projects, finishing useful works, and bringing good designs to perfection. He gains the affection, and gratitude of society, which greatly contributes to his felicity. Pleasant to him is the retrospect of his past, the enjoyment of his present, and the prospect of his future life. Delicious to him is every innocent pleasure, either sensual or intellectual, because he has earned it by useful employment, and has not palled his appetite by too frequent indulgence. These are the advantages, pleasures, and satisfactions, of a busy life. Add to this, that a life of occupation, conducted with intelligence, with regularity, and with conscientiousness, and directed to the general good, is the best preparation for a superior, a more perfect, and more blissful state, in the world to come.
THE PLEASURES OF BUSINESS AND EMPLOYMENT
Happy, ye sons of busy life,
No other view regard;
They bring their own reward.
The world cannot subsist, mutual support be afforded, nor the powers of men find suitable exercise, without different professions and callings. It is absolutely necessary, that some should till the earth, and others plough the main ; that some should“ work in gold, in silver, and in brass," or labour at the loom, and that others should conduct commerce, and direct manufactories; that some should practise the ingenious arts, which minister to the comfort or ornament of life, and that others should apply to the learned professions. The wants of mankind, the difference of sex, age, and condition, and the fluctuation of human affairs, create a variety of callings, and give scope for the mind to display genius, and the body strength, in a variety of ways.
In order to enjoy the pleasures of business, let it be your ambition to excel in it. Excellence is a laudable pursuit. The acquisition, in some degree or other, is generally attainable. The aim after it will exercise, enlarge, and improve your powers. Science, by the efforts of individuals, is extended and improved. The accommodations of life are increased. Society is benefited. Not its wants only are supplied, and its necessities assisted, but the ingenuity of one furnishes
labour for many. Ingenuity has the property of extending ; its influence is diffusive. One discovery, or improvement, gives birth to another, and that to a third ; till, in time, the understandings of hundreds, perhaps of thousands, are enlightened with new ideas; and their hearts warmed with new designs for the extension of knowledge or the improvement of art. Excel in your calling; you will attract notice and ensure
Eminence is honourable, even in the lowest department. It indicates superiority of mind, and gives reputation. It connects with it advantages more substantial than a name. As it attracts notice, so it invites and encourages the confidence of men It is their interest to have dealings with those who excel in their own way. To such, trades and professions offer ample emoluments. Employment solicits them, instead of their being necessitated to seek for it; and, in proportion to the scope which their occupation may allow for pecuniary reward, skill will pour into their lap its lucrative return. Excel ; and the great probability is, that you will be prosperous.
The necessity of life constrains us to industry. The emoluments of it invite us to exertion. Nothing is to be effected without labour; and continued efforts accomplish the greatest works. There is not a situation in which the demands of social life do not furnish calls upon the spirit of industry. The natural activity of the mind requires employment. Industry is the preservative of innocence, health, and cheerfulness. The highest ranks, if they would perpetuate the passion of affluence, or direct the use of it to the benefit of society, cannot be exempted from it. The very subsistence of the poor depends upon it. “An idle soul shall suffer hunger.” In a trading character, and even in a professional line, industry is a cardinal virtue. It is the master-spring of business. And if its absence does not necessarily prove destructive and fatal, yet, without it, there can be no rational expectation of success.
Without it the most valuable ad. vantages will utterly fail. They will be like a wellconstructed instrument, without a hand to employ it: