"Oh, this isn't a horse," said the middle aged one ; "this is a hobby. If it were a horse, I could get off." Whether a man's work be of brawn or brain, he has his limit of endurance. His work demands regularity, and his limit of endur ance demands attention.
Experience proves that rest may take one of three forms : Either the entire cessation of activity, or a change of occupation, or both, judiciously blended.
Experience further proves that change is better than cessation.
If a man lives simply, sleeps the normal amount, takes sufficient exercise, and does not hurry at his meals, the time remaining for in tensive application to his business, in a twenty four-hour day, is abundant.
As example is better than precept, let us take a concrete case.
Dr. Ebenezer Prout, was, it is safe to say, the most noted English musical theorist. He led an unusually busy life as author, teacher, lecturer and traveler. He maintained this ac tivity to the end of his days.
When I first met him, he was much beyond sixty years of age.
He had the most kindly face imaginable; deep blue eyes that, in animation, were vital, that is, full of the look of life.
On the day of our first meeting the two outer pockets of his overcoat bulged so enor mously that I said to him: "What in the world do you carry in your pockets, doctor?" He replied, laughing at my interest: "In this, my Russian grammar; I have just begun to study the language and I am to have a lesson this afternoon at three (over sixty, remember!). In the other I have a fine vol ume of Bjornson; his Laboremus, a splendid drama." "And do you also know Norwegian?" I asked.
"Oh, yes," he replied, "and French and Ger man. I have been going to Norway every summer for twenty years, and I know the lan guage quite intimately." I have been told that he knew the language so well that the Norwegians themselves thought him a native of the country around Bergen.
"I have two hobbies," he went on, "lan guages and their literature, and Norway. I love that country and tramp it incessantly in the summer time.
"I find," he went on, "that busy as I am in my profession, I still have a time-margin. Al ways, at home and on my travels, I have my books handy. It is amazing what a lot of pleasure and real education a man can pick up in his odd moments. All clear gain, I call it. Why, I will wager that I will have a good grip on Russian shortly, and never miss the minutes it takes.
"My summer in Norway keeps me out-of doors. I'm just as busy learning that country, its people and its literature as I am with my professional affairs here in London during the winter. I get my rest, in change, that way. I go forward. Many a man I know, who has periods of doing nothing, goes backward.
"I have noticed that a man who rests in idleness soon specializes it ; it gets the upper hand, and, like the man of drink, he goes in for more and more. But with rest through change of occupation, one's interests in life grow more and more numerous, the sympa thies are more deeply appealed to, the world unfolds before him as a wonderful book—more wonderful, in fact, than any volume in the British Museum. I do not wonder Charles Lamb loved the streets of London. Where can a man find a greater book or one more marvelously illustrated ?" (Over sixty, remember!) In brief, Dr. Prout was a sane man. He had his hobbies; he rode his fleet charger, but he could dismount at a moment's notice, and attend to business.
And he never rode on a broomstick! Another man with a hobby! What a splen did insurance against the crime of killing time!