Letter to his seventeen-year-old son Philip,1750
My dear friend,
Very few people are good economists of their fortune, and still fewer of their time, and yet, of the two, the latter is the most precious. I heartily wish you to be a good economist of both, and you are now of an age to begin to think seriously of these two important articles. Young people are apt to think they have so much time before them, that they may squander what they please of it, and yet have enough left, as very great fortunes have frequently seduced people to a ruinous profusion. Fatal mistakes: always repented of, but always too late!
Many people lose time by laziness; they loll and yawn in a great chair, tell themselves that they have not time to begin anything then, and that it will do as well another time. This is a most unfortunate disposition, and the greatest obstruction to both knowledge and business. At your age, you have no right nor claim to laziness—I have, if I please, being emeritus. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
You will say, it may be, as many young people would, that all this order and method is very troublesome, only fit for dull people, and a disagreeable restraint upon the noble spirit and fire of youth. I deny it, and assert, on the contrary, that it will procure you both more time and more taste for your pleasures; and, so far from being troublesome to you, that, after you have pursued it a month, it would be troublesome to you to lay it aside.