Journal of Dr GFW
Saturday, 17 October, 1829
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Is a pleasant day. The sun has been beautiful and now is just descending in magnificent grandeur below the horizon. Why could not man have always been as steady and unvarying in his disposition as marks the glory of your orb? He must be of much more importance than any inanimate matter. Why was man, or why is man, made the slave of unending disquiet? Has his nature changed from its primeval purity, or has nature made a greater variety of circumstances to surround him, and these more enticing and calculated to lead him from the true path of virtue, or has the improvement of which he boasts been instrumental in destroying his peace and benevolence, so plain to be seen on every countenance at this age or the world? My own opinion is that man has been the cause of all the misery under which he groans. His improvements, like every natural good, becomes detrimental by being used to some improper end. Why is it that when man has a proper opportunity of enjoying the things of life, he does not improve the moment and not wait until the object be gone and then lament his folly, and become miserable because of that procrastination? It has been said, and said truly, that we are not sensible of happiness until it takes its flight. There can be no doubt but this last has been, and will continue to be, a source of a great portion of the unhappiness now prevalent in the world.
I have for several years observed the effect that this very circumstance has produced on myself and have observed its operation on others; there is only one way to avoid it and that is when you have anything that duty requires you to do, whether it be for your pleasure, aside from the consideration of your fellow man, is to do it at the moment and not put it off and think that some other time will do as well. No! Grasp it at once, for if it be really an incumbent duty, there can be no danger attending its indulgence. Glad would I be if it was not so often the case in relation to myself. I have frequently, from diffidence alone, refrained from doing that which duty required until it was entirely too late, and have suffered for it not only in mind, but property also. I would recommend you to follow different courses in this respect and when you have any business with a man to do the first opportunity and by no means neglect it. If what you may have to do be agreeable, it will be the less, so the longer you defer and if it be disagreeable, it will increase in that disagreeableness. So by far the best and most proper way is to have it done at once.