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The Spike or Victoria University College Review June 1925

In Defence of Slacking

page 33

In Defence of Slacking

"What is this life if, full of care,
We have no lime to stand and stare?"

—William H. Davies.

Have you ever, gentle reader, had the privilege of examining at leisure a table of longevity? That was my good fortune, some time ago, and I must say that I experienced a most agreeable surprise. I found that he whose days are spent in absolute idleness attains, of all mortals, the greatest age. You can picture my pleasure at the thought that I should live to be an old, old man, my joy as I recollected that no day of my fresh young life had gone by with a solid eight hours' work to mar its untarnished glory.

There, too, I found that the farmer, yclept backbone of his country, tiller of green fields and brown, and stern visitor of vengeance (according to tradition) upon trespassing dogs and rosy-cheeked, innocent-eyed little boys wandering in his apple orchards, the farmer, the next on the scale, reaches the great age of sixty-eight years. This remarkable fact, like all others, must have an explanation, and I feel it my responsibility to make matters clear, to reveal the great secret. The farmer, wily old dog, long ere you or I brushed back the cobwebs of lethargy from our intellects, and permitted a few wandering beams of commonsense to penetrate the gloomy recesses of our perceptive powers, possessed himself of this precious table, and was discreet enough to conduct himself accordingly. The fact that he reaches such an age is easily explained: he works, or appears to work, only when you and I are watching him. His plea that he is bowed down to the earth with excess of toil is what historians have termed "mere verbiage," what our distinguished modern student would brand once and for all by the meaningful cry of "Rats!" and what we, who are familiar with the facts, would recognise as an exceedingly crafty and deceptive device calculated to divert us from the path of knowledge, and to make the farmer's own position secure.

Thus far, our theory holds good, but we must, to prove it conclusively, be able to produce some more definite argument, we must quote some positive, undeniable example. I am proud to state that I am in a position to enlighten you. Methusaleh is my example.

Did you never pause to wonder why Methusaleh attained such a marvellous age? And if so, were you able to satisfy yourself as to the real reason for his length of years? For there is a precise reason: he also was acquainted with the desirable facts of this table. You are to imagine, if you please, that when Methusaleh reached his fortieth birthday—man in those days did not grow old young, but was considered still young while quite old—his mother took him upon her knee, put his curls aside with a loving touch, and placed this very table in his hands, admonishing him the while to be virtuous, and to live in strict observance of its laws.

And with what decisive results! We can picture Methusaleh, for over nine hundred years after that memorable day, bringing forth his table annually upon the anniversary of his birth, and page 34 gazing fondly upon it. We can imagine his baffled companions, laboriously earning their bread by the sweat of the brow, toiling through brief lives of three or four hundred years, and dropping into their weary graves one by one, gnashing their teeth and turning their last bitter looks upon him, while century after century he lived happily on in idleness, luxurious and fat. We think of him, say, on his nine hundredth birthday, displaying the table to the young fellows of the community, and impressively saying "This made me what I am!"

The only melancholy feature is recalled when we remember that had this presentation occurred when Methusaleh was one or two years of age, instead of forty, he would have lived to enjoy the ripe old age of a thousand summers. The point to be stressed is, that if one wishes to live long, one cannot commence too young to observe the rules of this table, and to avoid such folly as "to scorn delights and live laborious days "

Let us be true followers of Methusaleh!