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possibly sometimes make it prudent to delay entering into that state ; but in general, when nature has rendered our bodies fit for it, the presumption is in nature's favour, that she has not judged amiss in making us desire it. Late marriages are often attended, too, with this further inconvenience, that there is not the same chance that the parents shall live to see their offspring educated. “ Late children,” says the Spanish proverb, are early orphans.” A melancholy reflection to those whose case it may be! With us in America, marriages are generally in the morning of life; our children are therefore educated and settled in the world by noon; and thus, our business being done, we have an afternoon and evening of cheerful leisure to ourselves; such as our friend at present enjoys. By these early marriages we are blessed with more children ; and from the mode among us, founded by nature, of every mother suckling and nursing her own child, more of them are raised. Thence the swift progress of population among us, unparalleled in Europe. In fine I am glad you are married, and congratulate you most cordially upon it.
You are now in the way of becoming a useful citizen;
and you have escaped the unnatural state of celibacy for life-the fate of many here, who never intended it, but who having too long postponed the change of their condition, find, at length, that it is too late to think of it, and so live all their lives in a situation that greatly lessens a man's value. An odd volume of a set of books bears not the value of its proportion to the set: what think you of the odd half of a pair of scissars ? it can't well cut any thing ; it may possibly serve to scrape a trencher.
MORAL ALGEBRA. In the affair of so much importance to you, wherein you ask my advice ; I cannot, for want of sufficient premises, counsel you what to determine: but if you please, I will tell you how. When those difficult cases occur, they are difficult chiefly because, while we have them under consideration, all the reasons pro
con, are not present to the mind at the same time; but sometimes one set present themselves ; and at other times another, the first being out of sight. Hence the various purposes or inclinations that alternately prevail, and the uncertainty that perplexes us. To get over this, my way is, to divide half a sheet of paper by a line into two columns : writing over the one pro, and over the other con : then during three or four days' consideration, I put down under the different heads, short hints of the different motives that at different times occur to me, for or against the measure. When I have thus got them altogether in one view, I endeavour to estimate their respective weights, and where I find two (one on each side) that seem equal, I strike them both out. If I find a reason pro equal to some two reasons con, I strike out the three. If I judge some two reasons con, equal 10 some three reasons pro, I strike out the five ; and thus proceeding, I find at length where the balance lies; and if after a day or two of farther consideration, nothing new that is of importance occurs on either side, I come to a determination accordingly. And though the weight of reason cannot be taken with the precision of algebraic quantities ; yet when each is thus considered sepa. rately and comparatively, and the whole lies before me, I think I can judge better and am less liable to
make a rash step: and in fact I have found great ad. vantage from this kind of equation, in what may be called moral or prudential algebra.
PLAN OF MORAL REFORM. It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wished to live without committing any fault at any time, and to conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or company, might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I imagined: while my atten. tion was taken up, and care employed, in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another : habit took the advantage of inattention; inclination was sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded at length that the mere speculative conviction, that it was our interest to be completely virtuous, was not sufficient to prevent our slipping; and that the contrary habits must be broken, and good ones acquired and established, before we can have any dependence on a steady uniform rectitude of conduct. For this purpose I therefore tried the following method.
In the various enumerations of the moral virtues I had met with in my reading, I found the catalogue more or less numerous, as different writers included more or fewer ideas under the same name. Temperance, for example, was by some confined to eating and drinking; while by others, it was extended to mean the moderating every other pleasure, appetite, inclination, or passion, bodily or mental, even to our avarice and ambition. I proposed to myself, for the
sake of clearness, to use rather more names, with fewer ideas annexed to each, than a few names with more ideas; and I included under thirteen names of virtues, all that at that time occurred to me as ne cessary or desirable ; and annexed to each a short precept, which fully expressed the extent I gave to its meaning.
These names of virtues, with their precepts, were :
1. TEMPERANCE.-Eat not to dulness : drink not to elevation.
2. SILENCE.-Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself : avoid trifling conversation.
3. ORDER.—Let all your things have their places : let each part of your business have its time.
4. RESOLUTION.-Resolve to perform what you ought: perform without fail what you resolve.
5. FRUGALITY.-Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself ; i. e. Waste nothing.
6. INDUSTRY.- Lose no time; be always employed in something useful ; cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. SINCERITY.-Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and if you speak, speak accordingly.
8. JUSTICE.—Wrong none by doing injuries; or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9. MODERATION.--Avoid extremes : forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. CLEANLINESS.–Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
11. TRANQUILLITY.—Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12. CHASTITY.-Rarely use venery, but for health or offspring ; never to dulness or weakness,
or the injury of your own or another's peace or repu. tation.
13. HUMILITY.-Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these virtues, I judged it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and when I should be master of that, then to proceed to another; and so on till I should have gone through the thirteen. And as the previous acquisition some might facilitate the acquisition of certain others, I arranged them with that view as they stand above. Temperance first, as it tends to procure that coolness and clearness of head, which is so necessary where constant vigilance was to be kept up, and a guard maintained against the unremitting attraction of ancient habits, and the force of perpetual temptations. This being acquired and established, Silence would be more easy ; and my desire being to gain knowledge at the same time that I improved in virtue; and considering that in conversation it was obtained, rather by the use of the ear than of the tongue, and therefore, wishing to break a habit I was getting into of prattling, punning, and jesting (which only made me acceptable to trifling company), I gave Silence the second place. This and the next, Order, I expected would allow me more time for attending to my project and my studies. Resolution once become habitual, would keep me firm in my endeavours to obtain all the subsequent virtues ; Frugality and Industry relieving me from my remaining debt, and producing affluence and independence, would make more easy the practice of Sincerity and Justice, &c. &c. Conceiving then, that agreeably to the advice of Pythagoras in his Golden Verses,