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have endeavored to convince young persons that no qualities are so likely to make a poor man's fortune as those of probity and integrity.
36 My list of virtues contained, at first, but twelve: But a Quaker friend having kindly informed me that I was generally thought proud; that my pride showed itself frequently in conversation; that I was not content with being in the right when discussing any point, but was overbearing and rather insolent, (of which he convinced me by mentioning several instances,) I determined to endeavor to cure myself if I could, of this vice or folly among the rest; and I added humility to my list, giving an extensive meaning to the word.
37 I cannot boast of much success in acquiring the reality of this virtue, but I had a good deal with regard to the appearance of it. I made it a rule to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiments of others, and all positive assertion of my own. I soon found the advantage of this change in my manners; the conversations I engaged in went on more pleasantly.
38 The modest way in which I proposed my opinions, procured them a readier reception and less contradiction; I had less mortification when I was found to be in the wrong, and I more easily prevailed with others to give up their mistakes and join with me when I happened to be in the right. And this mode, which I at first put with some violence to natural inclination, became at length easy, and so habitual to me, that, perhaps, for the fifty years past no one has ever heard a dogmatical expression escape me.
39 And to this habit (after my character of integrity) I think it principally owing that I had early so much weight with my fellow-citizens when I proposed new institutions, or alterations in the old, and so much influence in public councils, when I became a member; for I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject to much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly correct in language, and yet I generally carried my point.
40 In reality there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride; disguise it, struggle with it, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you. will see it perhaps often in this history. For even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility. I
(Here concludes what was written at. Passy, near Paris. ]
SECTION IV. Franklin's extensive project of ruising a united party to
MEMORANDUM. I am now about to write at home, (Philadelphia,) August, 1788, but cannot have the help expected from my papers, many of them being lost in the war. I have however found the following:
1 Having mentioned a great and extensive project which I had conceived, it seems proper, that some account should be here given of that project and its object. Its first rise in my mind appears in a little paper accidentally preserved, viz. “ 06servations on my reading history, in library, May 9, 1731. 2 “ That the great affairs of the world,
revolutions, &c. are carried on and affected by parties. That the view of these parties is their present general interest; or what they take to be such. That the different views of these different parties occasion all confusion. That while a party is carrying on a general design, each man has his particular private object in view."
3 “ That as soon as a party has gained its general point, each member becomes intent upon his particular interest, which thwarting others, breaks that party into divisions and occasions more confusion.
4 " That few in public affairs act from a mere view of the good of others, whatever they may pretend; and though their actings bring real good to their country, yet men primarily considered, that their own and their country's interest were united, and so did not act from a principle of benevolence. That fewer still, in public affairs, act with a view to the good of mankind.
5 “ There seems to me at present to be great occasion for raising a United party to Virtue, by forming the virtuous and good men of all nations into a regular body, to be governed by suitable good and wise rules, which good and wise men may probably be more unanimous in their obedience to, than common people are to common laws.
6 “I at present think, that whoever attempts this aright, and is well qualified, cannot fail of pleasing God, and of meeting with success.
B. F." 7 Revolving this project in my mind, as to be undertaken hereafter, when my circumstances should afford me the necessary leisure, I put down from time to time, on pieces of
paper, such thoughts as occurred to me respecting it. Most of these are lost.
8 My ideas at that time were, that the sect should be begun and spread at first, among young and single men only, that each person to be initiated, should have exercised himself with the thirteen weeks' examination and practice of all the virtues, as in the beforementioned model; that the existence of such a society should be kept a secret, till it had become considerable, to prevent solicitations for the admission of im proper members; but that the members should each of them search among his acquaintance for ingenious, well-disposed youths, to whom, with prudent caution, the scheme should be gradually communicated.
9 That the members should engage to afford their advice, assistance, and support to each other, in promoting one another's interest, business, and advancement in life. That for distinction, we should be called The Society of the Free and Easy. Free, as being by the general practice and habits of the virtues, free from the dominion of vice; and particularly by the practice of industry and frugality, free from debt, which exposes a man to constraint, and a species of slavery to his creditors.
10 I communicated the project in part to two young men, who adopted it with enthusiasm : but my then narrow circumstances, and the necessity I was under of sticking close to my business, occasioned my postponing the further prosecution of it at that time, and my multifarious occupations, public and private, induced me to continue postponing, so that it has been omitted, till I have no longer strength or activity left, sufficient for such an enterprise.
11 Though I am still of opinion it was a practicable scheme, and might have been very useful, by forming a great number of good citizens : and I was not discouraged by the seeming magnitude of the undertaking, as I have always thought that one man of tolerable abilities, may work great changes, and accomplish great affairs among mankind, if he first forms a good plan; and cutting off all amusements and other employments that would divert his attention, makes the execution of that same plan, his whole study and business.
12 In 1732, I first published my almanac, under the name of Richard Sanders; it was continued by me about twentyfive years, and commonly called Poor Richard's Almanac. I endeavored to make it both entertaining and useful, and it accordingly came to be in such demand that I reaped considerable profit from it; vending annually, near ten thousand.
13 And observing that it was generally read, (scarce any neighborhood in the province being without it.) I considered it a proper vehicle for conveying instruction among the common people, who bought scarcely any other books. I therefore filled all the little spaces that occurred between the remarkable days in the calendar, with proverbial sentences, chiefly such as inculcated industry and frugality, as the means of procuring wealth, and thereby securing virtue; it being more difficult for a man in want to act always honestly, as (to use here one of those proverbs,) “it is hard for an empty sack to stand upright.” 14 These proverbs which contained the wisdom of many ages and nations, I assembled and formed into a connected discourse prefixed to the Almanac of 1757, as the harangue of a wise old man to the people attending an auction: the bringing all these scattered counsels thus into 'a focus, enabled them to make greater impression. 15 The piece being universally approved, was copied in all the newspapers of the American Continent, reprinted in Britain on a large sheet of paper, to be stuck up in houses; two translations were made in France, and great numbers bought by the clergy and gentry, to distribute gratis among their poor parishioners and tenants. 16 In Pennsylvania, as it discouraged useless expense in foreign superfluities, some thought it had its share of influence in producing that growing plenty of money which was observable for several years after its publication. 17 I considered my newspaper as another means of communicating instruction, and in that view frequently reprinted in it extracts from the Spectator, and other moral writers, and sometimes published little pieces of mine own, which had been first composed for reading in our Junto. 18 Of these are a Socratic dialogue, tending to prove, that whatever might be his parts and abilities, a vicious man could not properly be called a man of sense: and a discourse on self-denial, showing that virtue was not secure till its practice became a habitude, and was free from the opposition of contrary inclinations: these may be found in the papers about the beginning of 1735. 19. In the conduct of my newspaper I carefully excluded all libelling and personal abuse, which is of late years become so disgraceful to our country. 20 After ten years’ absence from Boston, and having become easy in my circumstances, I made a journey thither 2
to visit my relations, which I could not sooner afford. In returning I called at Newport, to see my brother James, then settled there with his printing house: our former differences were forgotten, and our meeting was very cordial and affectionate : he was fast declining in health, and requested of me that in case of his death, which he apprehended not far distant, I would take home his son, then but twelve years of age, and bring him up to the printing business.
21 This I accordingly performed, sending him a few years to school before I took him into the office. His mother car, ried on the business till he was grown up, when I assisted him with an assortment of new types, those of his father being in a manner worn out. Thus it was that I made my brother ample amends for the service I had deprived him of . by leaving him so early.
CHAPTER 3. ABRIDGMENT OF CICERO'S DISCOURSE ON OLD AGE; AD
DRESSED TO TITUS POMPONIUS ATTICUS. TRANSLATED BY DR. FRANKLIN.
SECTION 1. Essentiul requisites to a happy old age; a well spent life;
pursuit of useful knowledge; virtue; cxercise, and temperance; purity of conscience and conduct.
1 The subject I have now chose to write on, is OLD AGE; which, as it is advancing on us both, and in a little time must unavoidably seize us, I would look out and endeavor to find the best and surest means, to make the burden of it sit as easy on us as possible.
2 I must own, the thoughts that flowed on me from the subject, in composing it, proved so entertaining and delightful to me, while about it, that they have not only divested the prospect of old age, now before us, of every thing shocking or frightful, but they have rendered my expectations of it even agreeable and comfortable.
3 Which leads me to say, we can never sufficiently adinire the excellency of philosophy, to whose dictates whoever submits, he will never find himself at a loss in any stage or condition of life, to render it not only supportable but easy. But on other philosophical subjects I have already wrote several tracts, and shall continue to write. This on old age (as I said) comes to you.