William Andrus Alcott. The Boy's Guide to Usefulness. Boston: 1844.
CL A355 B793 1844


Evils of Idleness

P. 49 Idleness is one cause of poverty. THis evil xonsequenc of idleness is described by no one better than by Solomon. "I went by the fielf of the slothful," says he, "and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding, and lo! it was all grown over with thorns: nettle had comvered the face thereof, and the stone wall was broken down." And again, in another place, he says, that drowsiness - by which I suppose he means idleness, - "will clothe a man whith rags."

But poverty is not the only, or the worst, evil ofidleness. It leads to vice and crive, as well as poverty. It is an old, but to some extent a true saying, that, "Whom the devil finds idle, he sets at once to work," without doubt to doing mischief; and it is a melancholy and highly alarming fact, that most wicked men, who have come to a miserable end, began their career in idleness.


How to Play

Pp79-81 1. Play steadily. I have told you, in a former chapter, that, when you work, you ought to work steadily, and not intermingle plaly with your work. Now, the, I advise you to play when you do play, not intermingling with it either work or study. "One thing at a time," should be your motto.

2. Be good-natured. some boys are ill-natured or fretful at their plays; and a few are even quarrelsome. This is very bad indeed. Ill-nature not only spoils your own peace, but greatly diminishes the peace and happiness of others.

3. Be gentle. Some are so impetuous in their nature, that they cannot be gentle, even in their plays. Or, in other words, they will not be gentle; for it is a moral cannot, and not a physical one. It is the difficulty which the boy felt who could not put on his shoe, because it pinched him, not, indeed, in or on, any part of the foot, but in the region of the heart!
Violence at play is wrong in many respects. In the first place, it is injurious to health; for though it is healthy to play moderately, it is equally unhealthy to play too hard. But, in the second place, it is bad for the mind. He who allows himself in violence and impetuosity at one time or place, will be apt to grant himself the same indulgence at another time or place; and the habit of violence will thus be sure to grow. Thirdly, it is wrng, because it sets a bad eample to other boys, and tends tomake them violent. Fourthly, boys who are violent at theri plays are very apt either to get hurt, or to hurt others.

4. Keep cool. I do not mean, by this, that you should never get warm enough to start the perspiration either in winter or summer; for this would be impossible. Even in the winter, you may be moderately warm with exercise, without catching cold after it; and in smmer you could not play without getting a little warm. What I mean is simply to advise ou not to get over heated.

5. Play as much as possible wiht good boys. Sometimes, I know, a very good boy may be caught unawares, and unintentionally, in the company of a bad boy; but generally it need not be thus. In five cases in six, a boy may select his company, avoiding the bad and choosing the good; and, whenever he can, he ought to do it.

Remember God sees you. some boys seem to me to forget, wholly, that God sees them while at play; and some may, by possibility, have never known that such is the fact. May not have knkown it, did I sa? Why, there are thouseands and millinons of boys, in some countries, that never knew it. But, the, I menat in New England, or at most in the United States. And I repeat it, I most sincerely fear taht a great multitude of our own boys of New England, though they have been told that God always sees them, never, for once in teirlives, have realized, to any practical purpose, taht it is so; for, if they had, would they dare to be as thoutless of the manner in which they pleay as they now are?

It will be well for most boys - perhaps all- to open the Bible, and turn to the eleventh chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes, and read the last verse but one of it; not to be frightened away from play, for I have said, more thatn once, that play is right, in itself considered; but only that they may be led to play as they ought, and with a wise regard to a judgment to come; for that such a judgment is coming, is as certain as that to-morrow is coming, and much more so. And though it may not come immediately, yet, for all our plays, and even for every secret thing, whether good or evil, we must render up a most solemn account, whenever it does come.


When to Converse

Pp. 98-99 You should always desire to converse, when you can become wiser or better by conversing; provided, however, that nobody else is convering so near you that your converation would be an interruption to theirs. For your great object, in all that you do, should be to know more, and to become better.

True it is that there are some people - some very few, I mean - who never seem willing children should talk at all in their peresence, how much good soever it migh be likely to do them. But, unless these persons happent o be parents or teachers, and to have a right to require your entire silence, do not be dissuaded from speaking occasionally, - sof ar, at least, as to ask civil, and modest, and proper questions.

The rule to which I have alluded of being silent while other are speaking,should be as strictly observed in the society of those who are of your own age as elsewhere. Boys are apt to forget to treat those of their own age with good manners, even when they would not dare to ill-treat an older person in the same way. Yet it ought never to be forgotten by them, that, if they speak while another is speaking, even among their playmates, they will be by so much the more likely to speak while older people are speaking. Habit is very powerful; and the young ought to be cautious about doing anything whatever, alone or among those of their own age, which they would not like to do before the most aged and venerated.


Whom to Converse With

P. 100 There is nobody in the world - no class of persons, I mean - from whom you may not, in one condition or another, learn something. Fro thigh and low, rich and poor, bond and free, learned and unlearned, young and old, male and female, - nay, even from the lilies of the field and the bird so fthe air, - you may obtain knowlege. I don not say you can learn from them all by conversation; but you can from almost all.

Some people will not talk much with those whom they think a little below them in point of rank; and I have even known very small boys who had caught this exclusive spirit. But if other people know something which you do not, and you can obtain the knowledge at their hands, - or if, on the other hand, you can tell them something which will make them better or wiser, - why should you hesitate to converse with them? Our blessed Savior did not so. He conversed with everybody, to whom he supposed he could do good, without regard to rank, station, or circumstances. I do not, of course, wish you to associate with people, if your parents or teachers have forbidden it; for I have already told you that obedience is a first or primary duty. What I say applies only to those cases where there is no prohibition of the kind.


Conversing With Female Friends

P. 106 some may deem it strandge that I should geve adveice to bys how to cnvers with their female frriends, and especially when I come to say "Treat them with respect." "Why, we never did other wise," they will perhaps say.

Perhaps they did not. Most boys, I believe, treat their own sisters wiyh respect; and these are the friends which, without explanation, many will suppose I mean. But I mean much more. I wish to have you treat all females with whom you are acquainted - all, atleast, with whom you converse - as if they were your sisters. But do you thus treat them?

Not a few boys grow up with far different feelings towards the femaleworld around them, beyond the precints of their own family, that those which they entertain with regard to sisters. And some, I am quite certain, entertain views of female character which are obviously not only unworthy, but unjust.

Now, let everyone, who is conscious that any other feelings are harbored in his breast towards this fairest, and loveliest, and most-to-be-respected part of the creation, than those which ought to be entertained towards a large familiy of sisters, look well to the causes ofthis state of feeling; and if he finds they are without foundation, (that is, received by tradition, or rather caught by example,) let him substitute something better in their place.


Conversation with Superiors

Pp. 103-104 By a suitable regard for those who are older than ourselves, I do not mean rendering to them the mere external marks of reverence, such as pulling off our hats in their presence, making our bows, and saying, "Yes, sir," and "No, sir." All these may be well are well, as I have elsewhere shown - but they are not enough. It is the feeling of respect at which I aim.

If the young, when they converse with those who are older than themselves, would remember that they are older, and that, consequently, they ought to be wiser and better, (I do not say they always are so, but onlty that the ought to be,) they might derive much more benefit than they now often do by conversation with them. The old must be very great fools, indeed, not to be able to teach the younger concerning many things of which the latter are necessarily ignorant.


Talking to Little Children

P. 105 It is very common for boys of your age to think that, in talking to very young children, they must adopt a baby style, or they shall not be understood. But this is a mistake. Children understand the language of older eople, in their conversation with them, quite as fast as they comprehend their ideas.

One thing you should never forget; which is, that the little child, with whom you associate, will imitate you, whatever your style or manner of conversation may be, much more than it will imitate older people; and the more, the nearer you are to its own age. This, however, instead of affording a reason for your descending, in conversation, to the child, is a reason - a strong one, too - why, instead of descending, you should bring him up to you.


Early Rising

Pp. 16-17 Two or three things, hoewever, if you chance to be a late riser, must beobserved, in order to gain your point, and have a complete triumph. You must make it a rule never to indulge in a morning nap. He who awakes and finds it to be morning, must rise immediately. He who says, diliberately, "Yet a little longer," will remain a sluggard, in spite of all his resolutions, or even his prayers.

No one, who means to rise early must ever yield to his feelings when those feelings are contrary to his better judgment. Let me give an example of my meaning. Suppose a boy awakes just before sunrise. It is broad daylight, and he knows that the sun will soon be up, and that he ought to rise. He went to bed early, and has slept quietly and soundly; and he knows that he ought to be sufficiently rested. But then he feels as if he had not slept enough, and nobody is yet stirring, or, at least, making any demands on him, and he is tempted to lie "a little longer." Perhaps, indeed, he does not mean to go to sleep; but ere he is aware, sleep seizes him, and when he wakes again, the sun is an hour high! He yielded to feeling contrary to his better judgment; and this is the consequenece.

The minute you are awake, and know it is time to get up, you should rise instantly. If you give way to your indolent feelings, and remain in bed one second, you may two, four, or six; and if you remain six seconds, you may sixty, or perhaps an hour. Start, then at once. The least delay is dangerous; it may be fatal.


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