The Young Man's Guide to the Harmonious
Development of Christian Character

by Harvey Newcomb, 1847


Beginning things and leaving them unfinished, exerts a bad influence in the formation of character. If it becomes a habit, it will make you so fickle that no one will put confidence in you. There is James Scott. If you go into his room, you will find his table strewed, and his drawer filled, with compositions begun and not completed; scraps of verses, but no poem finished; letters commenced, but not completed. Or, if you go to his play-house, you will find a ball half wound; a kite half made; a boat begun; one runner of a sled; one wheel of a wagon; and other things to match. He lacks energy and perseverance to finish what he begins; and thus he wastes his time in frivolous pursuits. He is very ready to begin; but before he has completed what is begun, he thinks of something else that he wishes to do; or he grows weary of what he is upon. He lives to no purpose, for he completes nothing; and he might as well do nothing, as to complete nothing.

If you indulge this practice, it will grow upon you, until you will become weak, irresolute, fickle, and good for nothing. To avoid this, begin nothing that is not worth finishing, or that you have not good reason to think you will be able to finish. But when you have begun, resolutely persevere until you have finished. There is a strong temptation, with the young, to abandon an undertaking, because of the difficulties in the way; but, if you persevere, and conquer the difficulties you meet with, you will gain confidence in yourself, and the next time, perseverance in your undertakings will be more easy. You may, however, make a mistake, and begin what you cannot or ought not to perform; in which case, perseverance would only increase the evil.