And now I was much amused to perceive with what frequency eyes were turned upon the dial-plate, through all the day so little regarded. Watches were drawn out, compared, and pronounced too slow. With some difficulty, one was found that had outrun its fellows, and, determined to be right, gave permission to the company to disperse, little more than twelve hours from the time of their assembling, to recover, as I supposed, during the other twelve, dressing and undressing included, the effect of their mental and bodily exertions.
“So!” I exclaimed, as soon as I found myself alone, “twelve times round yonder dial-plate those little hands have stolen, and twelve times more they may now go round unheeded. They who are gone to rest, have a day less to live, and record has been made in heaven of that day’s use. Will He who gave, ask no reckoning for his gifts? The time, the thoughts, the talents; the improvement we might have made, and made not; the good we might have done, and did not; the health, and strength, and intellect, that may not be our’s to-morrow, and have not been used to-day; will not conscience whisper of it ere they sleep to-night? The days of man were shortened upon earth by reason of the wickedness the Creator saw. Threescore years and ten are now his portion, and often not half the number. They pause not; they loiter not: the hours strike on, and they may even go, for it seems they are all too much.”
The young, with minds as yet unstored, full of error, full of ignorance in all that it behooves them most to know, unfit alike as yet for earth or heaven—the old, whose sum of life is almost told, and but a brief space remaining to repair their mistakes and redeem the time they have lost—the simple and ungifted, who, having from nature but little, need the more assiduity to fulfill their measure of usefulness, and make that little do the most it may—the clever and highly talented, who have an almost appalling account to render for the much received—they all have time to waste. But let them remember, time is not their own; not a moment of it; but is the grant of Heaven; and Heaven gives nothing without a purpose and an end. Every hour that is wasted, fails of that purpose; and in so far as it is wasted or ill-spent, the gift of Heaven is misused, and the misuse is to be answered for. Methinks I would be allowed to whisper nightly in the ears of my young friends as they lie down to rest, “How many minutes have you lost to-day, that might have been employed in your own improvement, in our Maker’s service, or for your fellow-creature’s good?”