Value Of Time
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
In the gold working rooms of the United States mint at Philadelphia an ingenious expedient is employed to save the little particles of gold that fall to the floor in the different processes of making coin. The floor is laid with a network of wooden bars. This network is made in sections, so that it can be easily removed. After the day's work is done the bars are removed, and the floors are carefully swept so as to save every particle of the precious metal that may have fallen from the hands of the workmen. This expedient to save the shining dust in the mint well illustrates the cafe that should be taken to save the golden moments of life. Time is the most precious gift of God. Upon its proper use depends self-culture, self-improvement, self-respect and high success.
With the gift of time men can accomplish almost any-thing. Thirty minutes saved each day from unemployed hours and devoted conscientiously to intellectual pursuits will make a man master of almost any branch of learning in a few years. To catch the moments as they pass and save them for some useful purpose is, in the end, to accomplish any desired object that lies legitimately within one's power.
An ancient proverb says that time is money; but it is more than money. The proper use of it will give us what money cannot buy, and a greater happiness than the treasures of Croesus. An hour a day, now wasted on trifles or in indolence, devoted to study, would make an ignorant man wise in a little while. Fifteen minutes a day given to reading a good book will bear fruit at the end of the year. Time saved is money, talent, culture and power. Lost, it can never be regained, and is gone with all its rare and price-less benefits. Lost wealth may be replaced by industry and frugality; lost knowledge maybe won again by diligence and application; lost health may be re-stored by temperance and exercise; but lost time is hopelessly and forever lost.
Time is an opportunity given in which to perform useful labor, and in which to accomplish the work of life. The loss of time, for any reason soever, is a loss of opportunities, and so much subtracted from the sum total of one's success. People do not realize this fact as they ought. Indolence creeps upon us so silently, so easily, that the moments and the hours fly past without our giving due heed to their progress ; and most lives are made up of very few hours of labor and very many of idleness and waste. The world's great workers have all been misers of their time. They have saved the golden moments that others waste, and have turned them to account, either in self-culture or in the pursuit of their daily labors. Benja min Franklin was most avaricious of time ; while others slept, he read and pondered ; while others idled away an hour at the close of day, he walked out in some quiet place, pondering upon what he had read and strengtening his mind by wise reflections. Late in life, when in Paris, and exhaustive demands were made upon his time in the society of that gay city, Franklin was always punctual to his engagements, had time to devote to those with whom he met, and had time to learn the language and customs of the French nation and masters a considerable portion of their literature. It is said of George Stephenson, that he saved the smallest fragments of time, turning quickly from one thing to another, and always having some task in hand to occupy his spare moments. We all know how Lincoln learned his Euclid, in the old Kentucky cabin, by using the time that others spent in sleep or indolence. I have somewhere read the story of a weaving girl who fastened an open book at one end of her loom, and as she passed back and forth in her work, her eyes could catch the lines, and in this way she read a number of good and useful books. Hugh Miller laid the foundation of his geological studies while a stone-mason. In addition to this, he found time to read and write, and improve his style, until he became one of the best writers of this century. The wonderful intellectual feats of Elihu Burritt, in the learning of so many languages, are known to everybody. William Cullen Bryant was most careful in the use of his time. He labored for many years as the editor of the Evening Post, but found time to translate the poems of Homer, and make himself famous as a poet and a critic. Mr. Grote, the Greek historian, whose work is the most exhaustive and trustworthy upon that subject, was a banker, and made his history by the use of time snatched from business occupations. He also found time to write two large volumes upon Plato. Cuvier used to study in his carriage while passing from place to place, and by his ceaseless industry accomplished more than any other man, perhaps, for the cause of physical science. It is related of a German critic that he could repeat the whole of Homer's Iliad in Greek. This man was a physician, with a very large and burdensome practice, and he did not spend years upon this gigantic task, but only by saving hurried moments as he was passing from one patient to another. George Washington was one of the most punctual of men and observed the most rigid economy of time. It is said that on one occasion his secretary came late, and excused himself by saying that his watch had lost time. Washington quietly said, " Then you must get another watch, or I another secretary." Lord Chesterfield said in his old age, that the greatest regret of his life was the time that he had wasted when a boy. " If I had those moments now," said he " I could use them as the levers of Archimedes, to move the world; but as it is, they are all hopelessly lost."