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LANDMARKS OF WISDOM.
But what madness must it be to run in debt for these superfluities ! We are offered by the terms of a sale six months' credit, and that, perhaps, has induced some of us to attend it, because we cannot spare the ready money, and hope now to be fine without it. But, ah! think what you do when you run in debt.
You give to another power over your liberty. If you cannot pay at the time, you will be ashamed to see your creditor; you will be in fear when you speak to him ; you will make poor, pitiful, sneaking excuses, and by degrees come to lose your veracity, and sink into base, downright lying. " The second vice is lying; the first is running in debt.” " Lying rides upon Debt's back;" whereas a free-born Englishman ought not to be ashamed nor afraid to speak to any man living. “ Creditors [Poor Richard tells us] have better memories than debtors, and are a superstitious sect, great observers of set days and times.” The day comes round before you are aware, and the demand is made before you are prepared to satisfy it. Time will seem to have added wings to his heels as well as at his shoulders.
66 Those have a short Lent (saith Poor Richard] who owe money to be paid at Easter.” Then since, as he says, " The borrower is a slave to the lender, and the debtor to the creditor,” disdain the chain, preserve your freedom, and maintain your independency ; be industrious and free ; be frugal and free. At present, perhaps, you may think yourselves in thriving circumstances, and that you can bear a little extravagance without injury ; but,
“For age and want save while you may,
No morning sun lasts a whole day,”
may be temporary and uncertain ; but ever while you live expense is constant and certain ; and " It is easier to build two chimneys than to keep one in fuel.', So “ Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt.”
“Get what you can, and what you get hold
'Tis the stone that will turn all your lead into gold."
LANDMARKS OF WISDOM.
And when you have got the philosopher's stone, sure you will no longer complain of bad times, or the difficulty of paying taxes.
This doctrine, my friends, is reason and wisdom ; but, after all, do not depend too much upon your own industry, and frugality, and prudence, though excellent things, for they may be profitless, without the blessing of Heaven ; and therefore ask that blessing humbly, and be not uncharitable to those that at present seem to want it, but comfort and help them. Remember Job suffered, and was afterwards prosperous.
And now, to conclude, “ Experience keeps a dear school ; but fools will learn in no other, and scarce in that; for it is true, we may give advice, but we cannot give conduct,” as Poor
However, remember this, “ They that will not be counselled cannot be helped,” and, further, that “ If you will not hear Reason, she will surely rap your knuckles.”
mo The plain common-sense truthfulness and sterling worth of this epitome of human nature struck a chord of intelligence whose vibrations echoed through the civilized world. “Poor Richard” was translated into various languages, and appreciated as rules for life and self-government. Though the style is quaint, contrasted with the literature of the present day, the legacy that Franklin bequeathed to the world in the aphorisms of Poor Richard still retains its pristine value, and the sound sense which these maxims embody will prove landmarks of wisdom for generations to come.
THE GOVERNMENT OF LIFE. --VOYAGE OF LIFE.
HE wisdom of the ancients as to the government of life was made up of precepts
- pointing out what to do, and what ought not to be done, in accordance with the laws of REASON.
Precepts refresh the memory and bring us to a more distinct view of the parts which we saw but confusedly in the whole-we carry away the tincture of good whether we will or not; and, when impressed upon the faithful mind, the imprint is deep and lasting.
"To perfect oneself,” says Seneca, “is not a thing of chance, but is approached by industry and labour. As we are all inclined to evil before we are good, we must unlearn iniquity and study virtue, and the difficulty lies in beginning the enterprise, for a weak mind is afraid of new experiments—it loves procrastination, which is the bane of slothfulness.” Speaking of his friend and the virtue of true friendship, Seneca says, “ It is a kindness, that you call upon me to keep a strict account of my time--that nothing less than a diary of my life will satisfy you; for I take it as a mark both of your good opinion and of your friendship in believing that I do nothing which I care to conceal. I will hereafter set a watch upon myself."
Difficulties strengthen the mind as labour does the body. The pusillanimous say, 6. This is a hard lesson, and we cannot go through with it.” We could if we would endeavour; but WE CANNOT, because we take it for granted that we CANNOT without trying whether we can or no.
The reason is that we are of a SICKLY HUMOUR, pleased with our vices, and allow ourselves to be mastered by them-resort to an excuse rather
GOVERNMENT OF LIFE.
than cast thein off. We will not, under pretence that we CANNOT ; and we subrait to error for the INDOLENCE of it.
Some people embrace good things as soon as they hear them, while others require quickening by admonition and precept. A word to one is sufficient; to a second, admonition ; a third, example and precept.
"A few precepts,” says Socrates, “at hand, are more useful, and do more towards a happy life, than whole volumes of cautions that we know not where to find.” Precepts are the RULES by which we ought to square our lives; for they appeal to the affections, invigorate the mind, and stimulate to virtuous actions. When given with kindness and respect (for a blessing attends counsels that flow from the heart), they impress us with our duty; for they appeal to reason, and explain why we are to do this, and why refrain from doing that. Our understandings are so weak that we require help to expound to us what is good and what is EVIL.
Precepts teach us to cherish virtue—to love to give and to follow good counsels. If they do not lead us to honesty, they at least prompt us to be honest.
A precept that has taken root in the heart may change the whole current of a man's life.
Allegories are founded on precept— they waylay the youthful mind, and gently lead it from the labyrinths of roinance into the dome of truth and reason.
The beautiful allegory of Addison, the
VOYAGE OF LIFE,
was suggested by one of Seneca's precepts.
"Life,' says Seneca, “is a voyage, in the progress of which we are perpetually changing our scenes : we first leave childhood behind us, then youth, then the years of ripened manhood, then the better or more pleasing part of old age.'— The perusal of this passage having excited in me a train of reflections on the state of man, the incessant fluctuation of his wishes, the
gradual change of his disposition to all external objects, and the thoughtlessness with which he floats along the stream of time, I sunk into a slumber amidst my meditations, and, on a sudden, found my ears filled with the tumult of labour, the shouts of alacrity, the shrieks of alarm, the whistle of winds, and the dash of waters.
“My astonishment for a time repressed my curiosity; but soon recovering myself so far as to inquire whither we were going, and what was the cause of such clamour and confusion, I was told that they were launching out into the ocean of Life; that we had already passed the straits of infancy, in which multitudes had perished, some by the weakness and fragility of their vessels, and more by the foily, perverseness, or negligence, of those who undertook to steer them; and that we were now on the main sea, abandoned to the winds and billows, without any other means of security than the care of the pilot, whom it was always in our power to choose, among great numbers that offered their direction and assistance.
“I then looked round with anxious eagerness ; and first turning my eyes behind me, saw a stream flowing through flowery islands, which every one that sailed along seemed to behold with pleasure ; but no sooner touched, than the current, which, though not noisy or turbulent, was yet irresistible, bore him away. Beyond these islands all was darkness, nor could any of the passengers describe the shore at which he first embarked.
“Before me, and on either side, was an expanse of waters violently agitated, and covered with so thick a mist, that the most perspicacious eyes could see but a little way. It appeared to be full of rocks and whirlpools, for many sank unexpectedly while they were courting the gale with full sails, and insulting those whom they had left behind. So numerous, indeed, were the dangers, and so thick the darkness, that no caution could confer security. Yet there were many, who, by false intelligence, betrayed their followers into whirlpools, or by violence pushed those whom they found in their way against the rocks.