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Who fixes good on good alone, and owes
1. Be wise to-day; 'tis madness to defer;
2. Of man's miraculous mistakes this bears
'Tis not in folly not to scorn a fool,
And scarce in human wisdom to do more.
3. All promise is poor dilatory man,
And that through every stage. When young indeed,
Unanxious for ourselves, and only wish,
As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise.
At thirty man suspects himself a fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
At fifty chides his infamous delay,
In all the magnanimity of thought,
Resolves, and re-resolves; then dies the same.
4. And why? because he thinks himself immortal.
'Aid the dawning, tongue and pen;
Aid it, hopes of honest men;
Aid it, paper; aid it, type;
Aid it, for the hour is ripe,
And our earnest must not slacken,
Men of thought, and men of action,
XXV. SHUN DEBT
1. Easy to keep out of debt! No, my young friend, it is difficult. Are you rich? The bland tradesman cries, "Pay when you please." Are you poor? Still your character is as yet without stain, and your character is a property on which you can borrow a trifle. But when you borrow on your character, it is your character that you leave in pawn.
2. Young friend, learn to say No. The worst that the "No" can inflict on you is a privation-a want-always short of starvation. No young man with the average health of youth need be in danger of starving. Be contented. Say No! Keep out of peril your honor. Shake hands; we are agreed. You consent to have a horror of debt.
3. Now comes the next danger. You will not incur debt for yourself, but you have a friend. Pythias, your friend, your familiar the man you like best and see most of — says to you, “ Damon, be my security - your name to this bill!" Heaven forbid that I should cry out to Damon, "Pythias means to cheat thee; beware!"
4. But I address to Damon this observation: "Pythias asks thee to guarantee that three, six, or twelve months hence he will pay to another man say to Dionysius many pounds sterling." Here your first duty as an honest man is, not to Pythias, but to Dionysius.
5. Suppose some accident happen. Suppose that the smut or the rain spoil the crops on which Pythias relies; or the cargoes he expects go down to the bottomless seas: Dionysius must come upon you! Can you pay to Diony
sius what you pledge yourself to pay to him in spite of those accidents?
6. If you can, and if you value Pythias more than the money, give the money, and there is an end of it! but if you cannot give the money, do not sign the bill. Do not become what in rude truth you do become, a knave and a liar, if you guarantee to do what you know that you cannot do, should the guarantee be exacted. Whatever you lend, let it be your money, and not your name.
7. With honor, poverty is a Noble; without honor, wealth is a Pauper. But if a usurer knock at your door and show you a bill with your name as a promise to pay, and the bill be dishonored, pray, what becomes of your name? "My name!" falters Damon; "I am but a surety: go to Pythias." "Ah! Pythias has disappeared!" Pay the bill, Damon, or good-by to your honor.
8. Never borrow where there is a chance, however remote, that you may not be able to repay. Never lend what you are not prepared to give. Never guarantee for another what you cannot fulfill, if the other should fail. Guided by these rules, you start in life with this great advantage: whatever you have, be it little or much, is your own. Rich or poor, you start as a freeman, resolved to preserve in your freedom the noblest condition of your being as a man.
"Well, come, my Kate, we will unto your father's
Our purses shall be proud, our garments poor;
And as the sun breaks through the darkest clouds,
XXVI. THE LOVE OF TRUTH
I. The love of truth is the spirit of all lofty converse. The love of truth is the grandest aspiration after the grandest object. By no other spirit can men be more sublimely animated, and in no other spirit can they more humanely come together. Let their opinions, then, be as many and as opposite as may be, there is no danger of illwill. This love of truth is root to all the charities. The tree which grows from it may have thousands of distinct and diverging branches; but good and generous fruit will be on them all. This love of truth is a bow of peace, ready for every concession that is honest, firm against every compromise that is not.
2. This love of truth is the noblest stimulus to inquiry; ardent to seek, yet patient to examine; willing to communicate, but more willing to receive; contemptuous of petty curiosity, but passionate for knowledge. This love of truth is the life of all philosophy; it is that which germinates in meditation, which grows into science, and which brings a new shape of being into the universe in the birth of every discovery.
3. This love of truth is the spirit of all eloquence. Speech without it is but babble. The mere art of rhetoric is more noisy, but less useful, than the tinman's trade. But when the love of truth fires up the passions, and puts its lightning in the brain, then let men give heed, for a prophet is among them.
4. This love of truth is the strength of all heroism. That cause alone is worthy which is eternally right; and he alone is worthy who, in devotion to the right, defends it. It is such a spirit that clothes the martyr with a flame which outshines the blaze that kills him.