Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Boreham on Leisure

Specializing in Margins
Advancing the concept that ‘Nature specializes in margins’, Boreham clothed this principle in compelling imagery before offering the punch line. For example, in 1952, he penned: “She [Nature] wants a bird, so a dozen are hatched. She knows perfectly well that eleven out of the twelve are merely margin .… She wants a tree, so she plants a hundred. Ninety-nine are mere margin; but she wants to make sure of one. It is the margin that makes all the difference”.[1]

Broadening the Margins
In an editorial entitled ‘The broadening of the margin’ Boreham stated his argument particularly for politicians and employers that “work must leave us with a reasonable margin” for leisure.[2] In a climate of employment legislation defining reasonable work hours and the wartime measure of the 6 o’clock closing of hotels, Boreham asserted that “leisure is a national asset” which must be valued by society but “as the hours of labour contract ... the imperative need for some force that shall shape the conscience and behaviour of the people becomes greater and greater”.[3] Recognizing the trend towards more free time, Boreham stated (a view also held by Thomas Macaulay)[4] that “one of the highest arts in life is the wise use of leisure. Leisure is the supreme test of character. A man is what he is in his leisure hours”.[5]

If the House were on Fire
As examples of what a person’s leisure hours might contain, Boreham commended “the habit of reading aloud”[6] and watching cricket, the later of which was such an irresistible fascination for Boreham that his wife declared that “if the house were on fire, [Frank] would leave it to burn if there happened to be a cricket match in progress within twenty miles”.[7]

Find Time for Yourself
Commending leisure and exposure to nature, Boreham said to a new minister at his ordination service:

Find time for yourself. Feel it no shame at proper periods to be doing nothing. Make seasons for leisure and for recreation. Climb the hills; scour the valleys; row on the river; stroll along the beach. Cultivate the friendship of the fields and the ferns and the flowers. Laugh with the young folk and romp with little children. Be at your ease. Let the mind swing into an easy balance, a natural poise, an attitude of perfect repose. The restless soul, eternally doing something, never accomplishes anything. It is the man who can sometimes be at rest who produces the finest work in the long run. Find time for yourself![8]

Geoff Pound

Image: “row on the river…”

[1] Boreham, Mercury, 22 March 1952; Boreham, The last milestone, 132-134.
[2] Boreham, Mercury, 10 April 1937; Age, 8 December 1945.
[3] Boreham, Mercury, 7 August 1920; 22 March 1952; The last milestone, 132-134.
[4] Boreham, The luggage of life, 90.
[5] Boreham, When the swans fly high, 192.
[6] Boreham, Mercury, 7 August 1920.
[7] F W Boreham, The drums of dawn (London: The Epworth Press, 1933), 168; also quoted in Who’s who in Australia 8th edition 1933-34, ed. Errol G Knox, (Melbourne: The Herald Press, 1934), 62, which says of F W Boreham that he “never misses a cricket match unless the house happens to be on fire”.
[8] Boreham, The drums of dawn , 62.