It was old John Mistletoe, we think, in his “Book of Deplorable Facts,” discussing the congenial topic of “Going to Bed” (or was it in his essay on “The Concinnity of Washerwomen?”) said something like this:
Life passes by with deplorable rapidity. Post commutatorem sedet horologium terrificum, behind the commuter rideth the alarm clock, no sooner hath he attained to the office than it is time for lunch, no sooner hath lunch been dispatched than it is time to sign those dictated letters, no sooner this accomplished, ’tis time to hasten trainward. The essential thing, then, is not to let one’s experiences flow irrevocably past like a river, but to clutch and hold them, thoughtfully, long enough to examine and, in a manner, sieve them, to halt them in the mind for meditation. The relentless fluidity of life, the ease with which it vanisheth down the channel of the days, is the problem the thoughtful man must deal with. The urgent necessity is to dam the stream here and there so we can go swimming in it.
Time is a breedy creature: the minutes propagate hours, the hours beget days, the days raise huge families of months, and before we know it we are crowded out of this sweet life by mere surplus of Time’s offspring. This is a brutish Malthusianism which must be adamantly countered. Therefore it is my counsel that every man, ere he retire for the night and commit his intellect to inscrutable nothingness, do let it hop abroad for a little freedom. Life must be taken with a grain of saltation: let the spirit dance a measure or two ere it collapse. For this purpose it is my pleasure, about the hour of midnight, to draw a jug of cider from the keg and a book from the shelf. I choose some volume ill written and stupidly conceived, to set me in conceit with myself. I read a few pages, and then apply myself to the composition of verses. These done, I burn them, and go to bed with a cheerful spirit.