Page images
PDF
EPUB

.

ments prove

that hath a trade hath an estate ; and he that hath a calling hath an office of profit and honour.” Amongst the ancient Jews, every one, however well educated, was brought up to a trade. A lad, upon first entering upon the scene of his new duties, should firmly resolve to bestow every possible attention upon the matters that are passing around him, and acquaint himself with every detail of the business he is engaged in ; for there is no accomplishment, nor any action that men are called upon to perform throughout their lives, that are done so gracefully or so well, as those which are acquired during early youth. Our sports and amuse

this

every day; and those who have learned to shoot, swim, or ride in their young days, can amply bear out this truth, and contrast the natural manner with which these things come to them, with the clumsy carriage of the less fortunate ones who learned later in life. In no one instance does this apply so forcibly as to business-like system, which in short is habit.

“I trust everything, under God," says Lord Brougham, “to habit, upon which, in all ages, the lawgiver as well as the schoolmaster has mainly placed his reliance : habit, which makes everything easy, and casts all difficulties upon a deviation from a wonted course. Make sobriety a habit, and intemperance will be hateful. Make prudence a habit, and reckless profligacy will be as contrary to the child, grown or adult, as the most atrocious crimes are to any

lord

of your

FIRST START IN LIFE.

3

ships. Give a child the habit of sacredly regarding truth, of carefully respecting the property of others, of scrupulously abstaining from all sorts of improvidence, which involve him in distress, and he will be just as likely to think of rushing into an element in which he cannot breathe, as of lying, or cheating, or stealing."

Many lads are apt to consider the period of their apprenticeship only in the light of a disagreeable term of probation, and that it matters not what they do in that interval, so they but get through the time, and make it as short as possible to themselves; hence we often see carelessness, a downright indifference to business, and a wasting of those opportunities for selfimprovement which never occur again ; because the disposition gets formed, certain habits and ways of thinking and feeling are contracted ;-in fact, speaking allegorically, (after the old saying, “bend a tree while it is young,") the tree is bent, during this period, to the form it will alterwards grow.

If an apprentice is uncomfortable, in nine cases out of ten it is his own fault that he is so. Notions such as I have mentioned influence his conduct; his inattention provokes censure, which perhaps he returns with sullenness or obstinacy; which, in their turn, will produce still greater harshness, until he becomes uncomfortable himself, and is disagreeable to all those near him. A source of trouble and vexation to his employer, and feeling thoroughly miserable, then, indeed, the term of apprenticeship is disagreeable; but whose fault is that?

Two or three hundred years ago, apprentices were not so easily situated as they are now; it was usual for them to perform many menial offices, such as waiting upon their master's table, and helping his guests. When the tradesman walked abroad at nights, he attended him with staff and lantern, in the capacity of body-servant, and, altogether, was not a tithe so well off as those of the present time. Trade is now conducted upon system, with liberality and attention to the comfort of those engaged, affording a pleasant contrast to the time gone by. Then, indeed, a youth so situated might consider his position irksome, and wish “his seven long years were out;" but in this enlightened age the importance of commerce is fully understood and appreciated, as being the main bulwark of a nation's greatness, and many of the aristocracy of this country are directly or indirectly engaged in business ; and it is in the power of the humblest lad in the kingdom, by perseverance and diligence, to raise himself to an eminent position, if he takes advantage of those opportunities which always present themselves to the qualified and industrious. Truly the poet says,

“Honour and shame from no condition rise ;

Act well your part—there all the honour lies.” The principal matter, therefore, for an apprentice, is to be attentive. One who is industrious and always

NOVITIATE, OR APPRENTICESHIP.

5

at his post is constantly acquiring a stock of knowledge, and is also rendering effective assistance to his employer, who invariably rewards accordingly.

If a youth makes himself useful, the errands and mere drudgery have to be performed by those who are less assiduous. When managing a large establishment, I have frequently found it necessary to promote a sharp little lad of fourteen to be assistant in a department, while the meaner offices were transacted by the careless and idle ones of eighteen and nineteen. Of course they said it was a shame, and accused me of favoritism ; for all such youths entertain by far too high an opinion of their own merits to think or admit of their own unworthiness.

If, where you are placed, there are some few disagreeables to put up with, pray try to accommodate yourself to circumstances.

There are without thorns; and it is astonishing how obstacles melt, and difficulties fade away, when we do our best to meet and bear with them as we ought. I dare say many of you, when certain grievancess, peculiar to the house you live in, have been spoken of amongst the young men, have heard one of them remark,—“Well, after all, go where you will, there is always something." A keener satire could not be uttered ; for it amounts to this :- If there is nothing to find fault with, it is the nature of assistants to discover something or other to complain of.

Endeavour to bear with any little infirmity of

no

roses

temper that those in authority over you may be so unfortunate as to be afflicted with; remember, “the soft answer turneth away wrath ;” and consider the heads of an establishment have cares and anxieties to contend with, that are unknown to the junior, which are often apt to ruffle one's general equanimity.

Make a point of mastering all the various details of the profession or trade you are engaged in ; and if you have a predilection for any particular department, do

your best to excel in it. But, at the same time, if you are placed in a department that you would not of your own free will have made choice of, do not let that circumstance affect you ; for at an early age we are not such good judges of what is best suited for us, and for which we are most adapted, as we are likely to suppose.

Those who are more experienced can generally decide the best for us. When I was a lad, at one time I was so anxious to go to sea that I could scarcely sleep at nights for thinking on the interesting subject; indeed, I had gone so far in my determination as to invest the savings of many weeks' pocket money in the purchase of a large pair of fisherman's boots, together with a rusty cutlass, which I carefully hid away in my chamber. What I purposed doing with these articles I can scarcely tell you. I had only a confused notion that they were useful things to possess, and altogether highly desirable. Hard as I thought it at the time, I am now very thankful that my friends would not for a moment listen to my

« PreviousContinue »