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Ben Franklin on Hard Work and Virtue

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Ben Franklin said:

“The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his Aid? I never doubted the existence of the Deity, that he made the World, and govern’d it by his Providence; that the most acceptable Service of God was the doing Good to Man; that our Souls are immortal; and that all Crime will be punished and Virtue rewarded here or hereafter.

 

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, if we reckon all that is spent in absolute Sloth, or doing of nothing, with that which is spent in idle Employments or Amusements, that amount to nothing. Sloth, by bringing on Diseases, absolutely shortens Life. Sloth, like Rust, consumes faster than Labour wears, while the used Key is always bright. But dost thou love Life, then do not squander Time, for that’s the Stuff Life is made of. 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. If Time be of all things the most precious, wasting Time must be, the greatest Prodigality, since, 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. Sloth makes all Things difficult, but Industry all easy; and He that riseth late, must trot all Day, and shall scarce overtake his Business at Night. While Laziness travels so slowly, that Poverty soon overtakes him, Drive thy Business, let not that drive thee; and Early to Bed, and early to rise, makes a Man healthy, wealthy and wise.

 

Diligence is the Mother of Goodluck, and God gives all Things to Industry. Then plough deep, while Sluggards sleep, and you shall have Corn to sell and to keep. Work while it is called To-day, for you know not how much you may be hindered To-morrow, One To-Day is worth Two To-morrows; Have you somewhat to do To-morrow, do it To-day. If you were a Servant, would you not be ashamed that a good Master should catch you idle? Are you then your own Master, be ashamed to catch yourself idle. When there is so much to be done for yourself, your Family, your Country, and your gracious King, be up by Peep of Day; Let not the Sun look down and say, Inglorious here he lies. Handle your tools without Mittens; remember that the Cat in Gloves catches no Mice. Tis true there is much to be done, and perhaps you are weak handed, but stick to it steadily, and you will see great Effects, for constant Dropping wears away Stones, and by Diligence and Patience the Mouse ate in two the Cable; and little Strokes fell great Oaks.

 

‘Tis easier to suppress the first Desire, than to satisfy all that follow it.

 

Thirteen virtues:

1. Temperance: Eat not to Dulness. Drink not to Elevation

2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or your self. Avoid trifling Conversation.

3. Order: Let all your Things have their Places. Let each Part of your Business have its Time.

4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality: Make no Expence but to do good to others or yourself: Waste nothing.

6. Industry: Lose no Time.--Be always employ’d in something useful.--Cut off all unnecessary Actions.--

7. Sincerity: Use not hurtful Deceit. Think innocently and justly; and if you speak; speak accordingly.

8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing Injuries or omitting the Benefits that are your Duty.

9. Moderation: Avoid Extreams, Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no Uncleanness in Body, Cloaths or Habitation.--

11. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity: Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring; Never to Dulness, Weakness, or the Injury of your own or another’s Peace or Reputation.

13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Scorates.”




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Source: https://www.amazon.com/Benjamin-Franklin-Autobiography-Related-Documents/dp/B008VQTP8I

Painting: Altarpiece of the three archangels by Marco d'Oggiono

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