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preserve your freedom, and maintain your independency. industrious and free; be frugal and free. At present, perhaps, you may think yourself in thriving circumstances, and that you can bear a little extravagance without injury; but
For age and want, save while you may,
No morning sun lasts a whole day.
As Poor Richard says, gain may be temporary and uncertain; but ever, while you live, expense is constant and certain; and 'Tis 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.
Get what you can, and what you get hold;
'Tis the stone that will turn all your lead into gold,
as Poor Richard says; and, when you have got the Philosopher's stone, sure, you will no longer complain of bad times, or the difficulty of paying taxes.
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.
And now, to conclude, Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other, and scarce in that; for it is true, We may give advice, but we cannot give conduct, as Poor Richard says. However, remember this, They that won't be counselled can't be helped, as Poor Richard says; and further, that, If you will not hear reason she'll surely rap your knuckles.
Thus the old gentleman ended his harangue. The people heard it, and approved the doctrine; and immediately practiced the contrary, just as if it had been a common sermon. For the vendue opened, and they began to buy extravagantly, notwithstanding all his cautions, and their own fear of taxes. I found the good man had thoroughly studied my Almanacs, and digested all I had dropped on those topics during the course of five-and-twenty years. The frequent mention he made of me must have tired any one else; but my vanity was wonderfully delighted with it, though I was conscious that not
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a tenth part of the wisdom was my own which he ascribed to me, but rather the gleanings that I had made of the sense of all ages and nations. However, I resolved to be the better for the echo of 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, RICHARD SAUNDERS.
July 7, 1757.
[A letter to Madam Brillon, a French friend.]
I RECEIVED my dear friend's two letters, one for Wednesday, one for Saturday. This is again Wednesday. I do not deserve one for to-day, because I have not answered the former. But, indolent as I am, and averse to writing, the fear of having no more of your pleasing epistles if I do not contribute to the correspondence, obliges me to take up my pen; and as Mr. B. has kindly sent me word that he sets out to-morrow to see you, instead of spending this Wednesday evening, as I have done its namesakes, in your delightful company, I sit down to spend it in thinking of you, in writing to you, and in thinking over and over again your letters.
I am charmed with your description of Paradise, and with your plan of living there; and I approve much of your conclusion, that in the mean time we should draw all the good we can from this world. In my opinion, we might all draw more good from it than we do, and suffer less evils, if we would take care not to give too much for whistles. For to me it seems that most of the unhappy people we meet with are become so by neglect of that caution.
You ask what I mean? You love stories, and will excuse my telling one of myself.
When I was a child of seven years old, my friends on a holiday filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children; and, being charmed with the sound of a whistle that I met by the way in the hands
of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers and sisters and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money, and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.
This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind, so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don't give too much for the whistle: and I saved my money.
As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.
When I saw one too ambitious to court favor, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, This man gives too much for his whistle.
When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs and ruining them by that neglect, He pays, indeed, said I, too much for his whistle.
If I knew a miser, who gave up any kind of a comfortable living, all the pleasures of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth, Poor man, said I, you pay too much for your whistle.
When I met with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporal sensations, and ruining his health in their pursuit, Mistaken man, said I, you are providing pain for yourself instead of pleasure; you give too much for your whistle.
If I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in a prison, Alas! say I, he has paid dear, very dear for his whistle.
When I see a beautiful, sweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured brute of a husband, What a pity, say I, that she should pay so much for a whistle!
In short, I conceive that great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.
Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people, when I consider, that with all this wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain things in the world so tempting, for example, the apples of King John, which happily are not to be bought; for if they were put up to sale by auction, I might very easily be led to ruin myself in the purchase, and find that I had once more given too much for the whistle.
Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me ever yours, very sincerely and with unalterable affection.
PASSY, November 10, 1779.
VOLTAIRE AND HIS WORK.
[JOHN MORLEY, English man of letters and affairs, was born in Lancashire in 1838; educated at Lincoln College, Oxford; trained as a lawyer. His chief work, however, has been as editor (Fortnightly Review, 1867-1882, Pall Mall Gazette, 1880-1883, Macmillan's Magazine, 1880-1883), and philosophic and historic biographer: notably of the great literary precursors of the French Revolution (Voltaire, 1872; Rousseau, 1876; Diderot and the Encyclopædists, 1878); also Burke, 1867; Cobden, 1881; Emerson, 1884; Walpole, 1889; and other works and many articles collected in 1871, 1874, and 1891. He has likewise taken high rank as a Liberal politician, being in Mr. Gladstone's last two cabinets, a warm supporter of Home Rule, and Chief Secretary for Ireland from 1886 to 1895.]
WHEN the right sense of historical proportion is more fully developed in men's minds, the name of Voltaire will stand out like the names of the great decisive movements in the European advance, like the Revival of Learning, or the Reformation. The existence, character, and career of this extraordinary person constituted in themselves a new and prodigious era. The peculiarities of his individual genius changed the mind and spiritual conformation of France, and in a less degree of the whole of the West, with as far-spreading and invincible an effect as if the work had been wholly done, as it was actually aided, by the sweep of deep-lying collective forces. A new type of belief, and of its shadow, disbelief, was stamped by the impression of his character and work into the intelligence and feeling of his own and the following times. We may think of Voltairism in
France somewhat as we think of Catholicism or the Renaissance or Calvinism. It was one of the cardinal liberations of the growing race, one of the emphatic manifestations of some portion of the minds of men, which an immediately foregoing system and creed had either ignored or outraged.
Christianity originally and generically at once awoke and satisfied a spiritual craving for a higher, purer, less torn and fragmentary being, than is permitted to sons of men on the troubled and corrupt earth. It disclosed to them a gracious, benevolent, and all-powerful being, who would one day redress all wrongs and recompense all pain, and who asked no more from them meanwhile than that they should prove their love of him whom they had not seen, by love of their brothers whom they had seen. Its great glory was to have raised the moral dignity and self-respect of the many to a level which had hitherto been reached only by a few. Calvin, again, like some stern and austere step-son of the Christian God, jealous of the divine benignity and abused open-handedness of his father's house, with word of merciless power set free all those souls that were more anxious to look the tremendous facts of necessity and evil and punishment full in the face, than to reconcile them with any theory of the infinite mercy and loving-kindness of a supreme creator. Men who had been enervated or helplessly perplexed by a creed that had sunk into ignoble optimism and self-indulgence, became conscious of new fiber in their moral structure, when they realized life as a long wrestling with unseen and invincible forces of grace, election, and fore-destiny, the agencies of a being whose ways and dealings, whose contradictory attributes of unjust justice and loving vindictiveness, it was not for man, who is a worm and the son of a worm, to reconcile with the puny logic of human words, or the shallow consistency of human ideas. Catholicism was a movement of mysticism, and so, in darker regions, was the Calvinism which in so many important societies displaced it. Each did much to raise the measure of worth and purify the spiritual self-respect of mankind, and each also discouraged and depressed the liberal play of intelligence, the cheerful energizing of reason, the bright and many-sided workings of fancy and imagination. Human nature, happily for us, ever presses against this system or that, and forces ways of escape for itself into freedom and light. The scientific reason urgently seeks instruments and a voice; the creative imagination unconsciously takes form to