Arnold bennett – how to live on twenty-four hours a day

How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day

By Arnold Bennett


This preface, though placed at the beginning, as a preface must be,
Should be read at the end of the book.

I have received a large amount of correspondence concerning this
Small work, and many reviews of it – some of them nearly as long
As the book itself – have been printed. But scarcely any of the
Comment has been adverse. Some people have objected to a
Frivolity of tone; but as the tone is not, in my opinion, at all
Frivolous, this objection did not impress me; and had no weightier
Reproach been put forward I might almost have been persuaded that
The volume was flawless! A more serious stricture has, however,
Been offered – not in the press, but by sundry obviously sincere
Correspondents – and I must deal with it. A reference to page 43
Will show that I anticipated and feared this disapprobation. The
Sentence against which protests have been made is as follows: –
“In the majority of instances he [the typical man] does not
Precisely feel a passion for his business; at best he does not
Dislike it. He begins his business functions with some reluctance,
As late as he can, and he ends them with joy, as early as he can.
And his engines, while he is engaged in his business, are seldom at
Their full ‘h. p.'”

I am assured, in accents of unmistakable sincerity, that there are
Many business men – not merely those in high positions or with fine
Prospects, but modest subordinates with no hope of ever being
Much better off – who do enjoy their business functions, who do not
Shirk them, who do not arrive at the office as late as possible and
Depart as early as possible, who, in a word, put the whole of their
Force into their day’s work and are genuinely fatigued

at the end

I am ready to believe it. I do believe it. I know it. I always
Knew it. Both in London and in the provinces it has been my lot to
Spend long years in subordinate situations of business; and the fact
Did not escape me that a certain proportion of my peers showed what
Amounted to an honest passion for their duties, and that while
Engaged in those duties they were really *living* to the fullest
Extent of which they were capable. But I remain convinced that
These fortunate and happy individuals (happier perhaps than they
Guessed) did not and do not constitute a majority, or anything like
A majority. I remain convinced that the majority of decent average
Conscientious men of business (men with aspirations and ideals) do
Not as a rule go home of a night genuinely tired. I remain
Convinced that they put not as much but as little of themselves as
They conscientiously can into the earning of a livelihood, and that
Their vocation bores rather than interests them.

Nevertheless, I admit that the minority is of sufficient importance
To merit attention, and that I ought not to have ignored it so
Completely as I did do. The whole difficulty of the hard-working
Minority was put in a single colloquial sentence by one of my
Correspondents. He wrote: “I am just as keen as anyone on doing
Something to ‘exceed my programme,’ but allow me to tell you that
When I get home at six thirty p. m. I am not anything like so fresh
As you seem to imagine.”

Now I must point out that the case of the minority, who throw
Themselves with passion and gusto into their daily business task, is
Infinitely less deplorable than the case of the majority, who go
Half-heartedly and feebly through their official day. The former

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Arnold bennett – how to live on twenty-four hours a day