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of man. He wishes to study, to know, and then to represent under every form for his own instruction man in general—a real Proteus, who metamorphoses himself in a thousand ways, and assumes a thousand shapes for the purpose of eluding the most penetrating eye-a strange compound, the varied hues of which cannot be seized and fixed but by degrees, and after long observation of different persons in all classes of society, and in every condition of life.
XXIV. OBJECTIONS FORESEEN AND REFUTED. INCONVENIENCIES
TO BE AVOIDED IN THE KEEPING OF THE DIFFERENT Ac
It now behoves us to seek and to examine various objections, some of which have already been urged against the proposed method, by persons to whom it has been communicated. We shall repeat them here in all their force, that we
the better appreciate their validity. In this discussion we shall be obliged to recur to some of the preceding details, for the purpose of bringing into one view the objections and the observations destined to refute them, with the general theory to which both relate, and the results that We have ascribed to this method.
First Objection. The first objection which naturally occurs is, " the prodigious difficulty and almost absolute impossibility of following the proposed plan in the state of society in which we live.”—“ What you require,” say the objectors on this ground, 6 would no doubt be very fine, but it is not practicable : for who would thus spend all his life in the compilation of journals? Your method might do very well for angels, but is not suitable for human creatures : the results which you promise yourself are chimerical, imaginary, impossible of attainment.”
If the principles laid down in this work are acknowledged to be good and beneficial; if happiness is really the end of education and of life; if the essential elements of happiness are without doubt health, virtue, and knowledge; if time is the grand instrument for procuring these; if the good or bad use of this instrument constitutes the happiness or misery of individuals and of society; if the method bere developed for regulating the good use of time, the chief mean of being happy presents a pleasing, but, according to some per
gons, an impracticable theory: is it not of the utmost interest to youth, to whom it is more particularly addressed, to prove that this method is, on the contrary, easy of execution ? If those who condemn it solely as impracticable approve its object, and acknowledge the truth of the princi. ples on which it rests, but are alarmed at the obligations, apparently numerous and arduous, which it enjoins, what will they have to reply, when it is demonstrated to them that this method is less theoretical than practical, and that it is susceptible of being applied by persons of ordinary capacity in almost all the situations of life? We
may even add, that it has been successfully practised by persons of different ages, but more particularly by young men, chiefly belonging to the army; though a military life, from being more unsettled and dependent, seems at first sight to be less favourable than any other to the execution of the plan described.
What is, in fact, this method, reduced to its simplest and most concise expression ? It consists of three principal and two auxiliary conditions.
1. Never to speak or act without asking ourselves this question : “ What good and useful end will it answer ?—without having an object." This preservative practice, which should be applied in preference to important actions, may nevertheless be easily extended to all proceedings; but the will must first be there. The will imparts strength to the weakest. The power of the will may be said to be incalculable. How many signal and solemn evidences might be adduced in support of this truth!
2. “ To inquire, after each interval of twentyfour hours, in the morning, in the evening, or any other moment of the day that is at our disposal, the use we have made, whether good or bad, of that portion of life"-to contract in this manner the habit of constituting reason the judge of all our words and actions, and to avoid those faults into which people are too frequently led by thoughtlessness and inconsistency.-In the present state of society every individual may have the free disposal of the moments that immediately precede retiring to rest, and that follow his rising. If we were to accustom ourselves to devote these brief intervals, which are most commonly wasted, to a rapid examination of whatever interesting and useful we have said or done, seen or heard, learned or observed, we should have an employment not only very instructive and beneficial, but also very agreeable, for that portion of time which at présent has no destination prescribed by necessity.
3. The third condition has appeared more
terrific than even the other two_" To keep a journal containing an analytical summary of the employment of the day, under the three heads, physical, moral, and intellectual.”—This mighty effort, nevertheless, consists merely in employing a few minutes, and in writing a few lines, for the purpose of arranging and committing to paper the result of the examination mentioned above. This examination is confined to three principal points: the imagination and observation are fixed, and cannot ramble. Is then such a custom, which soon becomes familiar by practice, more troublesome than that of winding up one's watch every night, and looking at it many times in the day, of consulting the thermometer, or even of dressing and undressing every twenty-four hours. These things are done without being thought of, some by certain persons only, others by all without exception. I assert, from experience, that it is not more difficult for any one who is solicitous to contract the habit, to commit to writing every day the substance of such observations as he judges. important for his health, for his moral state, and for his instruction.
Such are the first three conditions or rules of the method, to which may be added the two fol. lowing, to render it more complete :