« AnteriorContinuar »
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 necessary 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 wbat may benefit others or yourself: avoid trifling conversation.
3. ORDER.-Let all your things bave 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 burtful 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 uncleanliress in body, clothes, or habitation.
11. TRANQUILLITY.Be not disturbed at trifles, nor 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 reputation.
13. HUMILITY.-Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these vir. tues, 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 proVOL. I.
ceed to another; and so on till I should have gone through the thirteen: and as the previous acquisition of 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. Resolutioni once become habitual, would keep me firm in my endeavors 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, daily examination would be necessary; I contrived the following method for conducting that examination.
I made a little book, in which I allotted a page for each of the virtues. I ruled each page with red ink, so as to have seven columns, one for each day of the week, marking each column with a letter for the day. I crossed these columns with thirteen red lines, marking the beginning of cach line with the first letter of one of the virtues; on which line, and in its proper column, I might mark by a little black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue, upon that day.”
P This little book is dated Sunday, 18t July, 1733, and is in the possession of Mr. W. T. Franklin : a copy was also in the possession of the late B. F. Bache.
Form of the pages.
I determined to give a week's strict attention to each of the virtues successively. Thus in the first week, my great guard was to avoid every the least offence against Temperance; leaving the other virtues to their ordinary chance, only marking every evening the faults of the day. Thus, if in the first week I could keep my first line marked T. clear of spots, I supposed the habit of that virtue so much strengthened, and its opposite weakened, that I might venture extending my attention to include the next; and for the following week keep both lines clear of spots. Proceeding thus to the last, I could get through a course complete in thirteen weeks, and four
courses in a year. And like him who having a garden to weel, does not attempt to eradicate all the bad herbs at once, (which would exceed his reach and his strength,) but works on one of the beds at a time, and having accomplished the first, proceeds to a second; so I should have (I hoped) the encouraging pleasure, of seeing on my pages the progress made in virtue, by clearing successively my lines of their spots; till in the end, by a number of courses, I should be happy in viewing a clean book, after a thirteen weeks' daily examination.
This my little book bad for its motto, these lines from Addison's Cato:
66 Hers will I hold: if there's a power above us,
And that which he delights in must be happy."
“ O vitæ philosophia dux! O virtutum indagatrix expultrixque vitiorum!. Unus Dies bene, et ex præceptis tuis actus, peccanti immortalitati est anteponendus."
Another from the Proverbs of Solomon, speaking of wisdom or virtue:
" Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”
And conceiving God to be the fountain of wisdom, I thought it right and necessary to solicit his assistance for obtaining it; to this end I formed the following little prayer, which was prefixed to my tables of examination, for daily use.
“ O powerful goodness! bountiful father! merciful guide! Increase in me that wisdom which discovers my truest interest: Strengthen my resolution to perform what that wisdom dictates: Accept my kind offices to thy other children, as the only return in my power for thy continual favors to me.”
I used also sometimes a little prayer, which I took from Thomson's Poems, viz.
“Father of light and life, thou God supreme!
Sacred, substantial, never-fading bliss!" The precept of Order, requiring that every part of my business should have its allotted time, one page in my little book contained the following scheme of employment for the twenty-four hours of a natural day.
Rise, wash, and address Powerful Goodness! The Ques. What contrive day's business, and take the resolution good shall I do this of the day; prosecute the present study, and day?
I entered upon the execution of this plan for self-examination, and continued it with occasional intermissions for some time. I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of faults