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the limits assigned to it are fortunately un
known to us. “ Men,” says Bacon, “ do not In appear to know their own stock and abilities, but
fancy their possessions greater, and their faculties less than they are.”
Men, and young people in particular, are too frequently deterred from attempting what is good or great by its being represented to them as too difficult, as incompatible with their nature and their weakness. We are weak, because we are not sufficiently aware of our energies, and know not how to employ them. Our power depends more than we suppose on
a generous confidence in our own strength, and in our will.*
* Virtue and happiness, which ought to be the results of the science of employing time duly applied, are not beset with insurmountable obstacles; they are not mere theories and chimeras. Notwithstanding all that may be advanced by the opponents of the system of perfectibility, who, indeed, might easily be shown to contradict themselves, man is not doomed to languish for ever in a stationary condition. The progressive state is imposed on him by his very nature. The individual, like the species, tends essentially to perfect, to improve himself, to increase his happiness. The profound study of the moral and intellectual faculties of man, the opinions of real philosophers, and above all the Christian religion, which exhorts man, formed in the image of God, to strive continually to approach nearer to his divine, model, confirm this cheering doctrine, so dear to the feeling heart and to the lover of humanity.
Alcibiades was a great man, inore particularly because no obstacle or misfortune could surprise or deject him, being persuaded that when minds of a certain order do not accomplish all they would do, the reason is that they have not the courage to attempt so much as they are capable of performing
XXV. OF AN ANCIENT CUSTOM OF THE PYTHAGOREAN SCHOOL,
AND OF A PRACTICE FOLLOWED AND RECOMMENDED BY
The method which we have described was partially adopted in the school of Pythagoras. That philosopher enjoined his disciples to devote a few moments each day to an examination of their hearts, and to ask themselves these questions : -In what manner have I spent this day? Where have I been ? What persons have. I seen? What have I done right? What have I
Another method of the same kind, followed and recommended by Franklin, consists in exercising ourselves in each virtue separately, for the purpose of rendering them all more familiar, by taking one after the other, and applying all the energies of the soul to each during a certain space of time. This preservative method, which perfectly harmonises with ours, may be practised with success. It is peculiarly adapted to that period of life when it is easy to subdue the most unruly passions, or rather to prevent them from springing up, and to sow, cultivate, and mature in the soul, the seeds of all the moral qualities that elevate and distinguish man. *
An eminent French physician, who was an intimate and beloved friend of Franklin's, practised a nearly similar method. He asked himself every morning this question:-“ How did I spend yesterday?" He instituted a kind of selfexamination, and mentally reviewed all that he had done the preceding day, for the purpose of self-reproof and correction. He read, every evening, such sentiments of philosophers as furnish rules of conduct, and was fond of referring, in order to show the benefit that ought to be derived from reading, to this inscription placed over the door of the library of Alexandria :Physic for the Soul, or Moral Medicine.
* See in Note 3 Franklin's own account of the method recommended by him, which may be practised at the same time with ours, when the two systems will be found mutually to assist each other.
XXYI. OF SEVERAL EMINENT MEN WHO HAVE SUCCESSFULLY
PRACTISED THE ART OF EMPLOYING TIME.
A few examples, adduced from the lives of celebrated men, will serve to confirm our doctrine. They will prove that all those who hold a digtinguished place in history acquired the reputation and superiority which they attained, either in science or power, solely by scrupulous attention to make a good use of their time. The science of employing time is not subservient to virtue and happiness alone; it is likewise one of the surest means of acquiring fortune and celebrity, of earning glory, and of succeeding generally in whatever we undertake.
Antiquity offers to us the example of Aristotle, justly surnamed the prince of philosophers. Continually engaged in study, he ate little and slept less. Diogenes Laertius informs us, that, to prevent. his being overcome by sleep, he extended one hand, in which he held a brass ball, from his bed, that, by the noise which it made in falling into a basin of the same metal, he might be kept awake. Aristotle soon surpassed all his fellowstudents. He visited the principal cities of Greece, seeking the acquaintance of all those from whom he could obtain information : his
inquiries extended to the most trifling subjects, and he committed to writing the particulars which he obtained, lest he should forget any useful circumstances. When Alexander the Great had attained his fourteenth year, his father Philip placed him under Aristotle's tuition. The preceptor instructed his pupil in the sciences in which he himself excelled. Alexander, therefore, observed, that if he owed his life to Philip, it was Aristotle who had taught him to make a good use of it. *
The great renown of Alexander served as a spur to the ambition of Cæsar. That Roman, on beholding a statue of the Macedonian hero at Cadiz, shed tears, and exclaimed : “ At my age he had conquered the world, and I have yet done nothing worthy of record!” The extraordinary
* When Alexander had ascended the throne, grateful to the preceptor by whom he had been educated, and wishing to avail himself of his extraordinary genius for the purpose of extending the sphere of human knowledge, he solicited Aristotle, by letter, to compose a history of animals, and sent him eight hundred talents to defray the expense of the undertaking. He furnished him also with fishermen and hunters to facilitate his investigations. Aristotle's work on Natural History is a monument of Alexander's love of the sciences, and one of his most durable titles to renown.