« AnteriorContinuar »
education, the sciences, the fine arts; and, above all, the great art of employing time, which can alone advance all the others, alike afford occasions and means of applying them.
To conclude, our general laws furnish the reason and the understanding with instruments, which may be employed well or ill, according as the reason is more or less sound, and the understand. ing more or less enlightened; for the best things are liable to be spoiled by the use which is made of them. It behoves us, above all, to determine with precision what we ought to aim at, to rectify and fix the will, which is the chief point of support in moral conduct; and then to acquaint it with the various uses which may be made of these instruments: Such is the twofold object of the following work, in which the general principles that have here been laid down will be successively applied and put in practice. It is principally in this point of view that the ideas developed in this Introduction are connected with the Essay on the Art of Employing Time.
Application of the Twelve preceding General Laws to the particular Conduct of Life;
for the Use of young Persons. Let us now briefly recapitulate some of the most important applications of our twelde general laws, with especial reference to the employment of time and to the conduct of life, that we may put a compass, as it were, into the hands of youth, for whom this work is particularly designed. “Here,” we would say to them, “ you have sure and positive rules, which you may consult with benefit in all the critical circumstances in which you may stand in need of counsel and support.'
1. Law of the Point of Support. Take a reasonable point of support, the point of possibility. Fix yourself upon real bases, which it behoves you to lay down solidly, while examining with care your mind, your faculties, your situation, and your duties. This calm and deliberate scrutiny will preserve you from the illusions of an ardent imagination, which frequently exaggerates means and powers, which exalts the desires and hopes, which generates vague, false, and ambitious conceptions, and urges into theories, abstractions, and the region of chimeras and extravagance. In all things take care to
have a base, fixed principles, a point of support ; know the point from which you set out, and be sure that sound reason and sober views, properly connected and combined, and mutually supporting one another, govern your resolutions and your plan of life, and regulate your actions.
2. Law of Causes or Generation. Study with care the daily, and often almost imperceptible, causes of the changes in your health, of the greater or less vigour and energy of your physical, moral, , and intellectual constitution, and you will discover that the good and evil which succeed each other in life, in your pleasures and your pains, depend almost always upon yourself, and you will become, to a certain degree, the arbiter and governor of your destiny. There is no effect without cause. In every thing, causes thoroughly studied, investigated, and appreciated, extend ad infinitum our power over ourselves, over other men, and over things.
3. Law of the Universal Chain. Never lose sight of the intimate connection that exists between the different elements of which man is composed. The debility of your body robs your heart and mind of their energy; and the want of vigour in the mind and soul subjects the body to the most disgraceful propensities, and the most baneful passions. When the body languishes and the mind is enfeebled, the soul also droops : when the soul is paralysed and the body enervated, the mind sinks along with them. Thus man is a whole, the three elements of which, necessary to one another, are by their nature blended and intermingled :—an important truth, but which is too much disregarded. All things are connected together in the human individual as in the universe.
4. Law of Gradation. On observing that strict continuity which is manifested in the individual being, and in the totality of beings, habituate yourself to go through the links of the chain and the steps of the ladder with progression and
gradation, without attempting to hurry or force any thing before its due time. A proper circumspection, which is not incompatible with presence of mind, which never lets slip the favourable opportunity, but proceeds with prudence, method, and deliberation, will preserve you from the rocks upon
which superior talents themselves frequently strike. It will teach you to avoid that eager impatience, that rash imprudence, that indiscreet precipitation, too common in the young, and which, by urging them to attempt to grasp every thing, prevent them from seizing, or at least from
retaining any thing. These dangerous qualities would have no other effect than to exhaust your energies to no purpose, and to destroy that individual
power, which each ought to be anxious to extend, augment, and consolidate. Every thing in nature is succession and gradation. Learn to obey this general law, and to take it for the rule of your conduct.
5. Law of Division and Re-union. First divide the things which your body and your mind design to undertake, for the purpose of afterwards duly arranging and re-uniting them; but aspire not with foolish presumption to do every thing at once. Take up one by one the physical habits which you think it beneficial to contract, or those of which you design to break yourself; the moral observations which you make on yourself or your fellow-creatures; the studies, sciences, methods, with which you would enrich your mind ; and the different portions of life, which you are desirous of employing to the best advantage: then connect and combine these habits, these observations, these acquirements, these results of the various uses of each of your days, in order to form a whole out of them, and to direct them to one object--the melioration of your condition, or your physical, moral, and intellectual improvement