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dowed with gooil sense and a delicate imagination, free from prejudice, may often be the subject of dispute, and be liable to great discussion and inquiry; but that such a character is valuable and estimable will be agreed in by all mankind. Where these doubts occur, men can do no more than in other disputable questions which are submitted to the understanding: they must produce the best arguments that their invention suggests to them ; they must acknowledge a true and decisive standard to exist somewhere, — to wit, real existence and matter of fact; and they must have indulgence to such as differ from them in their appeals to this standard. It is sufficient for our present purpose if wo have proved that the taste of all individuals is not upon an equal footing, and that some men in general, however difficult to be particularly pitched upon, will be acknowledged by universal sentiment to have a preference above others.
But, in reality, the difficulty of finding, even in particulars, the standard of taste, is not so great as it is represented. Though in speculation we may readily allow a certain criterion in science, and deny it in sentiment, the matter is found, in practice, to be much more hard to ascertain in the former case than in the latter. Theories of abstract philosophy, systems of profound theology, have prevailed during one age: in a successive period, these have been universally exploded; their absurdity has been detected; other theories and systems have supplied their place, which again gave place to their successors; and nothing has been experienced more liable to the revolutions of chance and fashion than these pretended decisions of science. The case is not the same with the beauties of eloquence and poetry. Just expressions of passion and nature are sure, after a little time, to gain public applause, which they maintain for ever. Aristotle and Plato and Epicurus and Descartes may successively yield to each other; but Terence and Virgil maintain a universal, undisputed empire over the minds of men. The abstract philosophy of Cicero has lost its credit: the vehemence of his oratory is still the object of our admiration. Though men of delicate taste be rare, they are easily to be distinguished in society by the soundness of their understanding and the superiority of their faculties above the rest of mankind. The ascendant which they acquire gives a prevalence to that lively approbation with which they receive any productions of genius, and renders it generally predominant. Many men, when left to themselves, have but a faint and dubious perception of beauty, who yet are capable of relishing any fine stroke which is pointed out to them. Every convert to the admiration of the real poet or orator is the cause of some new conversion. And, though prejudices may prevail for a time, they never unite in celebrating any rival to the true genius, but yield at last to the force and just sentiment. Thus, though a civilized nation may easily be mistaken in the choice of their admired philosopher, they never have been found long to err in their affection for a favorite epic or tragic author. But notwithstanding all our endeavors to fix a standard of taste, and reconcile the discordant apprehensions of men, there still remain two sources of variation, which are not sufficient, indeed, to confound all the boundaries of beauty and deformity, but will often serve to produce a difference in the degrees of our approbation or blame. The one is the different humors of particular men; the other, the particular manners and opinions of our age and country. The general principles of taste are uniform in human nature: where men vary in their judgments, some defect or perversion in the faculties may commonly be remarked, proceeding either from prejudice, from want of practice, or want of delicacy; and there is just reason for approving one taste, and condemning another. But where there is such a diversity in the internal frame or external situation as is entirely blameless on both sides, and leaves no room to give one the preference above the other, — in that case a certain degree of diversity in judgment is unavoidable, and we seek in vain for a standard by which we can reconcile the contrary sentiments.
Distinguished philosopher and statesman; born in Boston, Mass. He has been called, in an age of great men, " the greatest diplomatist of the eighteenth century." “He never spoke a word too soon; he never spoke a word too late; he never spoke a word too much; he never failed to speak the right word in the right place."
THE WAY TO WEALTI. COURTEOUS reader, I have heard that nothing gives an author so great pleasure as to find his works respectfully quoted by others. Judge, then, how much I must have been gratified by an incident I am going to relate to you. I stopped my horse lately where a great number of people were collected at an auction of merchants' goods. The hour of the sale not being come, they were conversing on the badness of the times; and one of the company called to a plain, clean old man with white locks, “ Pray, Father Abraham, what think you of the times? Will not these heavy taxes quite ruin the country? How shall we ever be able to pay them? What would you advise us to ?” Father Abraham stood up, and replied, “ If you would have my advice, I will give it you in short; for A word to the wise is enough, as Poor Richard says.” They joined in desiring him to speak his mind; and, gathering round him, he proceeded as follows:
“Friends,” said he, “the taxes are indeed very heavy: and, if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them ; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly; and from these taxes the commissioners can not ease or deliver us by allowing an abatement. However, let us hearken to good advice, and something may be done for us. . God helps them that help themselves, as Poor Richard says.
“ It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their time to be employed in its service; but idleness taxes many of us much more. Sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely shortens life. Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears ; while the used key is always bright, as Poor Richard says. But dost thou love life, then do not squander time ; for that is the stuff life is made of, as Poor Richard says. How much more than is necessary do we spend in sleep! forgetting that The sleeping fox catches no poultry, and that There will be sleeping enough in the grave, as Poor Richard says.
“ If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be, as Poor Richard says, the greatest prodigality: since, as he elsewhere tells us, Lost time is never found again ; and what we call time enough always proves little enough. Let us, then, up and be doing, and doing to the purpose : so by diligence shall we do more with less perplexity.
“But with our industry we must likewise be steady, settled, and careful, and oversee our own affairs with our own eyes, and not trust too much to others; for Three removes are as bad as a fire. And again: Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee. And again: If you would have your business done, go; if not, send.
“So much for industry, my friends, and attention to one's own business ; but to these we must add frugality if we would make our industry more certainly successful. A man may, if he knows not how to save as he gets, keep his nose all his life to the grindstone, and die not worth a groat at last. A fat kitchen makes a lean will.
“ Away, then, with your expensive follies, and you will not then have so much cause to complain of hard times, heavy taxes, and chargeable families.
“ And further: What maintains one vice would bring up two children. You may think, perhaps, that a little tea, or a little punch now and then, diet a little more costly, clothes a little finer, and a little entertainment now and then, can be no great matter; but remember, Many a little makes a mickle. Beware of little expenses : A small leak will sink a great ship, as Poor Richard says. And again: Who dainties love shall beggars prove; and, moreover, Fools make feasts, and wise men eat them.
“ Here you are all got together at this sale of fineries and knick-knacks. You call them goods ; but, if you do not take care, they will prove evils to some of you. You expect they will be sold cheap; and perhaps they may for less than they cost: but, if you have no occasion for them, they must be dear to you. Remember what Poor Richard says: Buy what thou hast no need of, and ere long thou shalt sell thy necessaries. And again : At a great pennyworth pause a while. He means that perhaps the cheapness is apparent only, and not real; or the bargain, by straitening thee in thy business, may do thee more harm than good. For in another place he says, Many have been ruined by buying good pennyworths. Again : It is foolish to lay out money in a purchase of repentance ; and yet this folly is practiced every day at auctions for want of minding “The Almanac. Many a one, for the sake of finery on the back, have gone with a hungry belly, and half starved their families. Silks and satins, scarlet and velvets, put out the kitchen-fire, as Poor Richard says.
“But what madness must it be to run in debt for these superfluities! We are offered by the terms of this sale six months' credit; and that, perhaps, has induced some of us to attend it, because we can not spare the ready money, and hope now to be fine without it. But, ah ! think what you do when you run in debt: you give to another power over your liberty. If you can not pay at the time, you will be ashamed to see your creditor ; you will be in fear when you speak to him; you will make poor, pitiful, sneaking excuses, and by degrees come to lose your veracity, and sink into base, downright lying; for The second vice is lying, the first is running in debt, as Poor Richard says. And again, to the same purpose : Lying rides upon debt's back; whereas a free-born Englishman ought not to be ashamed nor afraid to see or speak to any man living. But poverty often deprives a man of all spirit and virtue. It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright.
“ What would you think of that prince, or of that government, who should issue an edict forbidding you to dress like a gentleman or gentlewoman, on pain of imprisonment or servitude ? Would you not say that you were free, have a right to dress as you please, and that such an edict would be a breach of your privileges, and such a government tyrannical ? And yet you are about to put yourself under such tyranny when you run in debt for such dress. Your creditor has authority, at his pleasure, to deprive you of your liberty, or by confining you in jail, till you shall be able to pay him. When you have got your bargain, you may perhaps think little of payment; but, as Poor Richard says, Creditors have better memories than debtors : creditors are a superstitious sect, great observers of set days and times. The day comes round before you are aware; and the demand is made before you are prepared to satisfy it: or, if you bear your debt in mind, the term which at first seemed so long, will, as it lessens, appear extremely short. Time will seem to have added wings to his heels as well as his shoulders. Those have a short Lent who owe money to be paid at Easter. At present, perhaps you may think yourselves in thriving circumstances, and that you can bear a little extravagance without injury: but
For age and want swe while you may;
Gain may be temporary and uncertain; but ever, while you live, expense is constant and certain: and It is easier to build two chimneys than to keep one in fuel, as Poor Richard says; so Rather go to bed supperless than' rise in debt.
“ This doctrine, my friends, is reason and wisdom. But, after all, do not depend too much upon your own industry and frugality and prudence, though excellent things; for they may all be blasted, without the blessing of Heaven: and, therefore, ask that blessing humbly, and be not uncharitable to those that at present seem to want it, but comfort and help them. Remember, Job suffered, and was afterwards prosperous.”
Thus the old gentleman ended his harangue. I resolved to be the better for it; and, though I had at first determined to buy stuff for a new coat, I went away resolved to wear my old one a little longer. Reader, if thou wilt do the same, thy profit will be as great as mine. I am, as ever, thine to serve thee,
A PARABLE AGAINST PERSECUTION.* 1. And it came to pass, after these things, that Abraham sat in the door of his tent about the going-down of the sun.
* The substance of this beautiful parable was not original with Franklin; for Jeremy Taylor gives it as taken from the Jews' Book," and it is traced back centuries farther. The true author is not known; but it never attracted general attention, until, in the hands of Franklin, it assumed the scriptural style. Franklin was in the habit of amusing himself by reading it to divines and others well versed in the Scriptures, and obtaining their opinions upon it, which were sometimes very diverting.