Early rising used to be extolled by our grandfathers as if it were in itself a virtue. Young people were exhorted to get up with, or even before the sunrise and sleeping late were condemned as a vice. The old rhyme taught ‘Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’. No doubt it is in general a good thing to get up early, though every young man today thinks that early rising in itself will not make a man either wealthy or wise, however much it only improve his health. But there is no moral vice in getting up late. And early rising cannot be laid down as a general hard and fast rule for everyone. People’s circumstances and bodily and mental constitutions differ too much to make it possible to make a general rule for all.
No doubt the ‘early to bed and early to rise’ rule is a sound one for people who live in the country and whose occupation is farming. And the old proverb was coined when majority of population of England was agricultural. The bulk of farmer’s work must be done in daylight; they cannot plough, irrigate, dig or reap at night. If he would thrive, he must therefore use all the daylight he can get and be up with the sun; for the ‘night cometh when no man can work’. Further a farmer who is engaged in heavy physical work all day, needs more sleep than a clerk, whose occupation is sedentary. The farmer who stays up late will probably get up late and lose the best hours of the day for work.
But the same rule does not applies for town dwellers, whose occupation can be carried on with the help of artificial light as well as night as by day. Some of the most interesting and instructive parts of town life are carried on after the sun sets. The fact is that there in towns there are thousands of people who go to bed late, get up late but are yet ‘healthy, wealthy and wise’. The old proverb; hence is not universally true.