John Byrom (1692-1763), "A Hint to a Young Person, for his Better Improvement by Reading or Conversation," in his Miscellaneous Poems
, Vol. I (Manchester: J. Harrop, 1773), pp. 90-91:
In reading Authors, when you find
Bright Passages that strike your Mind,
And which perhaps you may have Reason
To think on at another Season,
Be not contented with the Sight, 5
But take them down in Black and White;
Such a Respect is wisely shown
That makes another's Sense one's own.
When you're asleep upon your Bed
A Thought may come into your Head, 10
Which may be of good use, if taken
Due Notice of when you're awaken;
Of midnight Thoughts to take no heed,
Betrays a sleepy Soul indeed;
It is but dreaming in the Day 15
To throw our nightly Hours away.
In Conversation, when you meet
With Persons chearful, and discreet,
That speak, or quote, in Prose, or Rhime,
Things or facetious, or sublime, 20
Observe what passes, and anon,
When you come Home think thereupon;
Write what occurs, forget it not,
A good Thing sav'd 's a good Thing got.
Let no remarkable Event 25
Pass with a gaping Wonderment,
A Fool's device—Lord, who would think!
Commit it safe to Pen and Ink
Whate'er deserves Attention now;
For when 'tis pass'd, you know not how, 30
Too late you'll find it, to your Cost,
So much of human Life is lost.
Were it not for the written Letter,
Pray, what were living Men the better
For all the Labours of the Dead, 35
For all that Socrates e'er said?
The Morals brought from Heav'n to Men
He would have carried back again:
'Tis owing to his Short-Hand Youth
That Socrates does now speak Truth. 40
39 Short-Hand: Byrom invented a new system of tachygraphy.