« PoprzedniaDalej »
by a dwarf hedge, we had an opportunity of seeing both together. The former presented a fine bed of vegetables, vigorous in their growth, and advancing to just such a stage of maturity as would fit them to stand the approaching winter. The other had but a scanty sprinkling of stunted plants, some of them precociously running to seed ; some languishing for want of moisture; and not any that afforded a promise of surviving the winter, and requiting the owner for the ground they occupied. “How is it," inquired my uncle," that your plantation is so much more flourishing than that of your neighbour ?” “I cannot say, sir, I am sure, except it is the seed having been put in so much earlier." “Ah, I recollect
sowed your bed the same night I brought you the seed.” “I did so, sir, though I had a great mind to leave it till next day ; but wife said, • Do it, and then it will be done.' If you remember, sir, the rain set in that very night, and lasted a fortnight. Wife and I were glad enough to think that the seed was in the ground, and we once or twice asked our neighbour whether his was in ; but he said the ground was so wet it was impossible to dig it; for that reason he was more than a fortnight behind us. Then came the long drought, which does not at all suit this kind of plant, as it requires a deal of moisture, especially at first ; so you see, sir, he is not likely to have much luck with it this year; but I shall be able to help him with a few of my plants ; for they will bear another thinning." "See, boys," said my uncle, addressing himself to us, wisdom of promptitude in attending to business, and doing what ought to be done. By diligently employing your own energies, which you can
command, you put your work in a position to receive every advantage of circumstances which you could not command, but which you may improve-advantages which the idle and procrastinating throw away.
We had a young companion occasionally visiting at my
uncle's, who sometimes adopted the saying, and in a sense acted upon it, but not exactly as my uncle recommended. Arthur was a quick lad, and when any thing was proposed that took his fancy, he would set about it directly, and say, "I will do it, and then it will be done.”
He quickly surrounded himself with materials and implements, and worked away at a great rate. But he soon suffered himself to be diverted; some new object was taken up, and the old one deserted and forgotten. Arthur was famous for clever, but unfinished projects; and prompt, but not persevering activity. “Ah,” said my uncle, “ to begin a thing is not to Do it. That one little Saxon word comprehends to commence, to carry on, to complete an enterprise ; and he who stops short of this, can never say that his work is done.” I have more than once known Arthur's experiments or projects fail for want of due attention to my uncle's exposition of the saying, “Do it, and it will be done.” “ To do a thing, means to do it properly, not half do it. Once well done, is twice done, or rather, done once for all.”
If the dimensions and proportions of a piece of mechanism, or the ingredients for a chemical experiment, were mentioned, my uncle would say,
Write it down, lest your memory should not retain it correctly.”
" I shall be sure to remember it," was generally Arthur's reply; or perhaps
he would make a pencilled memorandum on loose scrap of paper.
“ You had better use ink, and insert it in a book, lest the paper. should be mislaid, or the writing effaced.” “ This will do for the present, sir ; and I will copy it presently.” But in nine cases out of ten no permanent record was preserved ; either the paper was lost, or the writing illegible, and Arthur's operations had to be carried on by guess work. The same character that stamped incompleteness and uselessness on the productions and attempts of his boyhood, has marked and marred the undertakings of his riper years. It may be fairly questioned whether he ever carried on any one enterprise to perfection ; and he is now filling a very different rank in society, and in the esteem of his friends, from that for which his natural abilities, and his advantages of education and connexions, would have qualified him.
“Keep a regular account of your receipts and expenditure," was one of my good uncle's counsels, as it is of judicious parents and friends in general, to a youth when first intrusted with the disposal of money ; “ and whenever you have an entry to make, do it, and it will be done. If you trust your memory for a week, or even a day, it is ten to one but some articles are forgotten, and your account gets into confusion, perhaps that hopeless sort of confusion that would lead you altogether to give up the attempt to keep them regularly, or to keep them at alî.” In the days of my youth, during a short recess from business, Frank and myself were trusted together on a pedestrian tour through part of Wales. My good uncle furnished the needful supplies with a liberai,
but not with a lavish hand. He wished us to enjoy every innocent and rational pleasure consistent with our station in life, but desired that we might afford him satisfaction similar to that of John Gilpin in his “ loving wife,” when he was
“ o'erjoyed to find
She had a frugal mind." “Keep a regular account of your expenditure," said my uncle;
take care that you save enough to supply you liberally on the last day of your journey, and incur no expense that you would be ashamed to see in
your account-book.” Frank carried out my uncle's advice to the very letter. Not a penny did he part with, but he immediately made a regular entry. I fully intended to do the same, but sometimes suffered myself to let it go for a day or two, trusting to my memory to keep a careful register. Now, I am quite sure that I did not spend any money that I should have hesitated to appropriate in the very same manner in my uncle's presence; but so it was, there was one half-crown I never could make out. Whether I lost it from my pocket, or whether I forgot the article on which I had expended it, when, after a suspension of entries for not more than two days, I attempted to balance îny accounts, this said half-crown was not to be made out. It exceedingly vexed me; for I had pleased myself with the idea of showing my uncle a neat, correct, and accurate account, and receiving his approbation, which I highly valued. Now, if Frank showed his account, and I did not show mine, uncle might think there was some entry which I
wished to conceal. This would have been worse than the truth. If I showed it to him with, “Deficiency 2s.6d.,” he would justly say, “O Samuel, Samuel, you did not mind my maxim, every time you took money
from your purse to take also your memorandum-book from your pocket, and do it, that it might be done."" This, at last; I resolved to do; and, instead of receiving the unmingled approbation I had desired, to content myself with a lower position, and derive from my disappointment a lesson of wisdom for the future. Uncle, however, declined to look at our books; he was quite satisfied with the balance we brought home, and said the excursion was a little trial of character, in which he was pleased to find that we stood so well. But though I never had an opportunity of confessing my negligence to him, I never forgot it myself. That half-crown deficiency, coupled with my uncle's admonition, in attention to which I had failed, has often recurred to my memory in riper years, and preserved me from giving way to a similar negligence in transactions not merely involving pence and shillings, but pounds and hundreds of pounds. I know the comfort and advantage of keeping a regular account.
Poor Arthur carried his irregularity from little things to greater, and has consequently failed of success in all his undertakings, and been continually involved in difficulties against which a strictly regular account, daily meeting his view, would have formed no trifling preservative.
My uncle's knowledge of the law, as well as his established character for integrity and sound judgment, qualified him to give counsel and assistance in matters of property; and on