Imprudence is Selfishness.—I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.” Here is a saying worth pondering in an age when Prudence is not a popular grace. Young people confound rashness with generosity, and therefore hold Prudence in disfavour; when, of all cunning and injurious forms of selfishness, Imprudence is perhaps the most disastrous. Prudence is to be ranked among the K.C.s who instruct conscience concerning the affairs of the House of Body, because this virtue is exhibited for the most part in connection with material matters, and these all affect the body, directly or indirectly.

          Prudence in Affairs.—We know the description of the virtuous woman; and, for virtuous, we might read prudent. It is Prudence who seeketh wool and flax and worketh diligently with her hands, who bringeth her food from afar. It is she who riseth early and giveth meat to her household, who considereth a field and buyeth it, who girdeth her loins with strength and strengtheneth her arms, who
stretcheth out her hands to the poor, who is able to enrich her household, and to keep her place in the world with peace and honour.
          Joseph was prudent. He looked ahead, and took measures for the advancement of his adopted country and the service of Pharaoh. Our own King Alfred was eminently prudent. Every great commander wins his battles as much through his prudence as his courage.

In fact, he considered the discipline of Socrates as a provision from heaven for the preservation and benefit of youth. Thus, despising himself, admiring his friend, adoring his wisdom, and revering his virtue, he insensibly formed in his heart the image of love, or rather came under the influence of that power, who, as Plato says, secures his votaries from vicious love.”
          Here we have a fine example of prudence in the choice of a friend and mentor, and well had it been for Alcibiades had his constancy been equal to his prudence.

[1] Plutarch’s Life of Alcibiades.

[2] Plutarch’s Life of Alexander.

[3] Plutarch’s Live of Alexander.

[4] Plutarch’s Life of Lycurgus.

[5] Plutarch’s Life of Phocion.

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