Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

14

THE THREE RULES OF LIFE.

a long practice and reiterated meditations. And this is, in my opinion, the source of that boasted equanimity of those philosophers, who, amidst the greatest sufferings of the body, under the pressure of poverty, professed themselves to be happy. For having constantly present in mind that nature has put certain limits to our powers, they were so strongly persuaded that everything, except their thoughts, is out of their power, that they wished for nothing more, and, by dint of meditation upon that truth, they were so schooled to keep down their will, that they were well entitled to consider themselves as the wealthiest, the most powerful, and happy. For man, not strengthened by such convictions, will never meet with such a happy destiny as to have all his longings and wishes accomplished."

Franklin, following the example of Descartes, from the books which he states were the companions of his boyhood, formed a guide for his own life-illustrating the words of his old master Seneca, who says that he who lays down precepts for the governing of our lives and the moderating our passions obligės human nature, not only in the present, but in all succeeding generations. “Poor Richard " was the basis of the structure of worldly knowledge which Franklin erected for the glory of himself and the benefit of mankind, thus surpassing his master, who was the father of Precept; but the modern philosopher did

He rendered a still greater benefit to posterity ; he showed that the precepts were practicable, and changed the philosopher's dreams into practicable realities. He practised the precepts, and changed them into LIVING EXAMPLES, for the better guidance of mankind.

Immediately after publication, “Poor Richard” startled the thinking world, for Franklin had compressed into a short interesting story a volume of “Life's Maxims,” showing at once great ingenuity and discrimination in devising the means for the improvement of the youthful mind.

So much was Pamphilius and an old schoolfellow struck with it, when reading

more.

LANDMARKS OF WISDOM,

15

the "Life of Franklin,” that they committed to memory the aphorisms contained in the story, and in the rugged paths of life these landmarks of wisdom came fresh to their memory, and by their means, in the midst of shoals, both steered safely on their onward course.

As such “truisms” should not only be read, but imprinted on the memory of youth, we take the liberty of borrowing from

Poor RICHARD.

(Landmarks of Wisdom, from the Portfolio of Pamphilius.) " Sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely shortens life. Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labour wears; while the key often used is always bright,” as Poor Richard says.

“ Dost thou love life? Then do not squander TIME, for that's the stuff LIFE is made of."

[What a volume of thought is compressed into these few words!

How much more than is necessary do we spend in sleep, forgetting that “the sleeping fox catches no poultry, and that there will be sleeping enough in the grave.” If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality ; since “lost time is never found again ; and what we call time enough always proves little enough.” Let us, then, up and be doing, and doing to the purpose; so by diligence shall we do more with less perplexity. “Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all easy,” and, “ he that riseth late must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night; while laziness travels so slowly, that poverty soon overtakes him." “ Drive thy business, let not that drive thee;' and, “ Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."

[Yes ; Seneca-sloth makes a LONG BEING with a SHORT LIFE! Do with time as the wise man does with the torrent-use it, for it soon passes away.]

What signify WISIIING and HOPING for better times ? 16

LANDMARKS OF WISDOM.

We make these times better if we bestir ourselves. “ Industry needs not wish,” and “ He that lives upon hope will die fasting."

[Seneca again! The greatest loss of time is delay and expectation. He that trusts to the future loses the present, which is his own, by looking forward to that which depends upon Fortune.]

“ There are no gains without pains; then help, hands, for I have no lands; or if I have, they are smartly taxed;" “ He that hath a trade, hath an estate, and he that hath a calling, bath an office of profit and honour;" but then the trade must be worked at, and the calling well followed, or neither the estate nor the office will enable us to pay our taxes. If we are industrious, we shall never starve; " At the working man's house, hunger looks in, but dares not enter;" nor will the bailiff or the constable enter : for “ Industry pays debts, but despair increaseth them.” What though you have found no treasure, nor has any rich relation left you a legacy: “Diligence is the mother of good luck,” and “ God gives all things to industry ; then plough deep while sluggards sleep, and you will have corn to sell and to keep.” Work while it is called to-day, for you know not how much you may be hindered to-morrow; to-day is worth two to-morrows;" and, farther, somewhat to do to-morrow? do it to-day.” “If you were a servant, would you not be ashamed that a good master should catch

you idle? Are you, then, your own master ? Be ashamed to catch yourself idle.” When there is so much to be done for yourself, be up by peep of day : 6. Let not the sun look down, and say, “Inglorious here he lies !'" Methinks I hear some of you say,

16 Must a man afford himself no leisure ?” I will tell thee, my friend, “ Employ thy time well, if thou meanest to gain leisure ; and since thou art not sure of a minute, throw not away an hour.” Leisure is time for doing something useful; this leisure the diligent man will obtain, but the lazy man never ; so that “ A life of leisure

66 One 6. Have you

LANDMARKS OF WISDOM.

17

and a life of laziness are two things.” Do you imagine that sloth will afford you more comfort than labour ? No; " Troubles spring from idleness, and grievous toils from needless ease ; many without labour would live by their own wits only; but they break for want of stock;" whereas industry gives comfort, and plenty, and respect. “ Fly pleasures, and they follow you ; the diligent spinner has a large shift ; and, now I have a sheep and a cow, everybody bids me good-morrow."

But with our industry, we must likewise be steady, and settled, and careful, and oversee our own affairs with our own eyes, and not trust too much to others;

I never saw an oft-removed tree,
Nor yet an oft-removed family,

That throve so well as one that settled be.” And, again, “ Three removes are as bad as a fire ;" and again, “Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee;" and again, “ If you would have your business done, go; if not, send.” And again,

[ocr errors]

" He that by the plough would thrive,

Himself must either hold or drive."

Once more,

6. The eye of the master will do more work than both his hands !" and again, “Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge;" and again, “ Not to oversee workmen is to leave them your purse open.” Trusting too much to others' care is the ruin of many; as the Almanack says, “ in the affairs of the world, men are saved not by faith, but by the want of it;" but a man's own care is profitable ; for, saith Poor Dick, “Learning is to the studious, and riches to the careful, as well as power to the bold, and heaven to the virtuous.” And farther, “ If you would have a faithful servant, and one that you like, serve yourself.” And again, he adviseth to circumspection and care, even in the smallest matters, because sometimes “a little neglect may breed great mischief;" adding, " For want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the

18

LANDMARKS OF WISDOM.

66

horse was lost ; and for want of a horse the rider was lost," being overtaken and slain by the enemy, all for want of care about a horse-shoe nail.

So much for industry, my friends, and attention to one's own business ; but to these we must add frugality, if we would make our industry more certainly successful. A man may, if he knows not how to save as he gets, keep his nose all his life to the grindstone, and die not worth a groat at last.”

16 A fat kitchen makes a lean will," as Poor Richard says; and,

“Many estates are spent in the getting;

Since women for tea forsook spinning and knitting,

And men for punch forsook hewing and splitting.” “Pride is as loud a beggar as Want, and a great deal more saucy."

“Fond pride of dress is sure a very curse :

Ere fancy you consult, consult your purse." When you have bought one fine thing, you must buy ten more, that your appearance may be all of a piece ; but Poor Dick says, “ It is easier to suppress the first desire, than to satisfy all that follow it.” And it is as truly folly for the poor to ape the rich, as the frog to swell in order to equal the ox.

“ Vessels large may venture more,

But little boats should keep near shore.” 'Tis, however, a folly soon punished ; for “ Pride that dines on vanity sups on contempt.” And, in another place, “Pride breakfasted with Plenty, dined with Poverty, and supped with Infamy.” And, after all, of what use is this pride of appearance, for which so much is risked, so much is suffered ? It cannot promote health, or ease pain ; it makes no increase of merit in the person; it creates envy; it hastens misfortune.

“What is a butterfly? At best,

He's but a caterpillar dressed;

The gaudy fop's his picture just," as Poor Richard says.

« ZurückWeiter »