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This my little book had for its motto these lines from Addison's Cato:
“ Here will I hold. If there's a power above us,
Another from Cicero,
“ O vila 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 honour. 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
“ 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 favours 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.
Goodness! contrive day's busiThe Question. What good 6 } ness, and take the resolution shall I do this day?
of the day; prosecute the present study, and breakfast.
512) Read or look over my accounts,
Put things in their places. Supper. The Question. What good Music or diversion, or con
8 versation. Examination of the 9
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 than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish. To avoid the trouble of renewing now and then my little book, which, by scraping out the marks on the paper of old faults to make room for new ones in a new course, became full of holes, I transformed my tables and precepts to the ivory leaves of a memorandum book, on which the lines were drawn with red ink, that made a durable stain ; and on those lines I marked my faults with a black-lead pencil; which marks I could easily wipe out with a wet sponge. After a while I went through one course only in a year; and afterwards only one in several years; till at length I omitted them entirely, being employed in voyages and business abroad, with a multiplicity of affairs that interfered; but I always carried my little book with
My scheme of Order gave me the most trouble; and I found that though it might be practicable where a man's business was such as to leave him the disposition of his time, that of a journeyman printer, for instance, it was not possible to be exactly observed by a master, who must mix with the world, who often receive people of business at their own hours. Order too, with regard to places for things, papers, &c. I found extremely difficult to acquire. I had not been early accustomed to method, and having an exceeding good memory, I was not so sensible of the inconvenience attending want of method. This article, therefore, cost me so much painful attention, and my faults in it vexed me so much, and I made so little progress in amendment, and had such frequent relapses, that I was almost ready to give up the attempt, and content myself with a faulty character in that respect. Like the man who, in buying an axe of a smith, my neighbour, desired to have the whole of its surface as bright as the edge, the smith consented to grind it for him if he would turn the wheel : he turned, while the smith pressed the broad face of the axe hard and heavily on the stone, which made the turning of it very fatiguing. The man came every now and then from the wheel to see how the work went on; and at length would take the axe as it was, without further grinding. “ No," said the smith, “turn on, turn on, we shall have it bright by and by; as yet 'tis only speckled.” “ Yes," said the man, “but I think I like a speckled axe best.” And I believe this may have been the case with many, who having, for want of some such means as I employed, found the difficulty of obtaining good, and breaking bad habits in other points of vice and virtue, have given up the struggle, and concluded that “a speckled axe is best.” For something, that pretended to be reason, was every now and then suggesting to me, that such extreme nicety as I exacted of myself might be a kind of foppery in morals, which, if it were known, would make me ridiculous; that a perfect character might be attended with the inconvenience of being envied and hated; and that a benevolent man should allow a few faults in himself, to keep his friends in countenance. In truth, I found myself incorrigible with respect to Order ; and now I am