More Haste, Less Speed
This proverb seems at first sight to be a contradiction in terms; for “haste” and “speed” mean the same, namely, swift movement. The saying would seem to mean, the more you hurry the less quickly you will go—which seems absurd. However, the word “speed” has got another shade of meaning, which has now almost gone out of use; but we find it still in such phrases, as “to speed the parting guest” and “God speed you!” In such phrases, “to speed” means to wish a person a quick and prosperous journey, or to give him success in what he undertakes. If we take “speed” here in this meaning, the proverb says-The more you hurry, the less successful you will be; the more anxious you are to finish a piece of work quickly, the less likely you are to do it well.
The proverb is therefore a warning against impatience, and eagerness to get a task done quickly. To do a thing thoroughly and well takes time and thought and patience; and if we hurry matters in our impatience to get them over, we shall fail in our work.
This truth can be illustrated in several ways. I once saw an unfinished house that the local people called “Smith’s Folly”. It was so-called because a certain Mr. Smith began to build himself a fine mansion; but before he had got the walls halfway up, his money was exhausted and he had to leave it as it was, a standing example of undertaking a thing without carefully calculating what it would cost. If he had not been in too great a hurry to begin before counting the cost, he might have succeeded in building and finishing a less pretentious house.
It is a great mistake to make important decisions in a hurry. We should wait and think the matter over thoroughly, and not decide until our minds are quite clear. Second thoughts are the best. If we act in haste, we may regret our decision all the days of our life. “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.”
So in learning and education, hurry defeats its own object. Students sometimes want to fly before they can walk; to get degrees before they are fit for the Matriculation examination. Hurry in learning leads to scamped lessons and superficial knowledge. A thorough education must always be a slow and patient business.