is perhaps impossible to prove, that _being_, or
life itself, has any other value than what is set on it by authority.
A confirmation of this may be derived from the observation, that, in
every country in the universe, happiness is sought upon a different
plan; and, even in the same country, we see it placed by different
ages, professions, and ranks of men, in the attainment of enjoyments
These propositions, as well as others framed upon them, become
habitual by degrees, and, as they govern the determination of the
will, I call them _moral habits_.
There are another set of habits, that have the direction of the
members of the body, that I call therefore _mechanical habits_. These
compose what we commonly call _the arts_, which are more or less
liberal or mechanical, as they more or less partake of assistance
from the operations of the mind.
The _cumulus_ of the moral habits of each individual is the manners
of that individual; the _cumulus_ of the manners of individuals makes
up the manners of a nation.
The happiness of individuals is evidently the end of political
society; and political welfare, or the strength, splendour, and
opulence of the state, have been always admitted, both by political
writers, and the valuable part of mankind in general, to conduce to
this end, and are therefore desirable.
The causes, that advance or obstruct any one of these three objects,
are external or internal. The latter may be divided into physical,
civil, and personal, under which last head I comprehend the moral and
mechanical habits of mankind. The physical causes are principally
climate, soil, and number of subjects; the civil, are government and
laws; and political welfare is always in a ratio composed of the
force of these particular causes; a multitude of external causes,
and all these internal ones, not only control and qualify, but are
constantly acting on, and thereby insensibly, as well as sensibly,
altering one another, both for the better and the worse, and this not
excepting the climate itself.
The powerful efficacy of manners in encreasing a people is manifest
from the instance you mention, the Quakers; among them industry and
frugality multiply and extend the use of the necessaries of life;
to manners of a like kind are owing the populousness of Holland,
Switzerland, China, Japan, and most parts of Indostan, &c. in every
one of which, the force of extent of territory and fertility of soil
is multiplied, or their want compensated by industry and frugality.
Neither nature nor art have contributed much to the production of
subsistence in Switzerland, yet we see frugality preserves and
Here we furnished ourselves with fresh provisions, and refreshments of all kinds; and, after a few days, proceeded on our voyage, running southward until we got into the trade winds, and then with them westward till we drew near the coast of America.Page 5
"I am old and good for nothing," he said, when told of the choice, "but, as the storekeepers say of their remnants of cloth, I am but a fag-end; you may have me for what you please.Page 13
From this instance, reader, Be encouraged to diligence in thy calling, And distrust not Providence.Page 31
" As I seemed at first not to think so ill of them as she did, she mentioned some things she had observed and heard that had escaped my notice, but now convinced me she was right.Page 37
I balanced some time between principle and inclination, till I recollected that, when the fish were opened, I.Page 39
I have since kept several Lents most strictly, leaving the common diet for that, and that for the common, abruptly, without the least inconvenience, so that I think there is little in the advice of making those changes by easy gradations.Page 56
letter founder in America.Page 58
The latter was a shrewd, sagacious old man, who told me that he began for himself, when young, by wheeling clay for the brickmakers, learned to write after he was of age, carried the chain for surveyors, who taught him surveying, and he had now by his industry acquired a good estate; and says he, "I foresee that you will soon work this man out of his business, and make a fortune in it at Philadelphia.Page 59
I had, therefore, a tolerable character to begin the world with; I valued it properly, and determined to preserve it.Page 62
We could not then employ him; but I foolishly let him know, as a secret, that I soon intended to begin a.Page 87
" When another asserted something that I thought an error, I denied myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing immediately some absurdity in his proposition; and in answering I began by observing that in certain cases or circumstances his opinion would be right, but in the present case there "appeared" or "seemed" to me some difference, etc.Page 90
of the virtues, as in the before-mentioned model; that the existence of such a society should be kept a secret till it was become considerable, to prevent solicitations for the admission of improper persons, but that the members should each of them search among his acquaintance for ingenuous, well-disposed youths, to whom, with prudent caution, the scheme should be gradually communicated; that the members should engage to afford their advice, assistance, and support to each other in promoting one another's interests, 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 habit 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 confinement and a species of slavery to his creditors.Page 93
He afterward acknowledged to me that none of those he preached were his own, adding that his memory was such as enabled him to retain and repeat any sermon after one reading only.Page 97
I therefore did not like the opposition of this new member, who was a gentleman of fortune and education, with talents that were likely to give him, in time, great influence in the House; which, indeed, afterward happened.Page 113
At length one mentioned me, with the observation that I was merely an honest man and of no sect at all, which prevailed with them to choose me.Page 149
Besides, it scarce ever happens that a ship is formed, fitted for the sea, and sailed by the same person.Page 164
"MY DEAR AND HONORED FRIEND: I have often been desirous of writing to thee, but could not be reconciled to the thought that the letter might fall into the hands of the British, lest some printer or busybody should publish some part of the contents, and give our friend pain, and myself censure.Page 169
Perhaps they have a small estate left them which they knew not the getting of; they think, It is day and it never will be night; that a little to be spent out of so much is not worth minding; but, Always taking out of the meal tub and never putting in, soon comes to the bottom, as Poor Richard says; and then, When the well is dry, they know.