The 10 rules for the virtuous man according to Captain Francesco Gerolamo Ansaldo

Taken from Francesco Gerolamo Ansaldo’s log book, here are the rules for the virtuous man

In 1901, during his voyage on the steamship, Giava along the Genova-Odessa route, the Master Mariner, Francesco Gerolamo Ansaldo collected in his log book what he considered to be the 10 rules of good behaviour for the virtuous man.

The captain was a very precise man with tidy writing, but here are the ten rules for easy reading.

  • That your senses not be guided by the brain. Avoid any excess and diligently take care of your body. Exercise your muscles, increase your appetite with activity, movement, good company, and entertainment.
  • Do not speak your thoughts. If you speak little people will think you know what you do not, if you speak much everyone will know what you do and do not know. Listen to everyone, but save your voice for the few. Be reserved in giving judgement because often times you cannot know the truth and circumstances and new knowledge will lead you to regret what has been done and said.
  • Avoid satire and badmouthing. Do not be overly witty, as a joke may lead to losing a friend. Listen to other conversations patiently. Be mindful of the yawns from people listening to you. At that point cut it short and leave and you will not be considered tiresome.
  • Keep busy. Work according to your convictions as it will be sincere, and not for others. Work hard and do not overlook the details which will give you a precise criteria of people and things. Take the time you need for each job, put everything in its place, and regulate your work according to an established system.
  • Keep a balanced and pleasant mood. Think, talk and act without getting upset, control the impulse leading to excess. When you have this feeling, take a rest, smoke, chat, then you will become calmer for yourself and for others. When others get excited, remain silent, observe, think, and then reason, you will always gain more consideration. Put off, if you can, to the next day, any important decisions, sleep or smoke on any minor ones.
  • Be courteous and kind but never trust others. Be dignified in dress, clothing and speaking, without being ostentatious, if you want to be respected. The world appreciates the look but it prefers substance. Do not act like a moralist or puritan this is something which causes irritation. Excuse defects and don’t get on other’s nerves unless absolutely necessary. Tact is the science of modern society and savoir faire is the talent of imbeciles.
  • Appreciate your place in the world and you will always be appreciated. First do your duty in order to then make others do theirs. Carefully avoid entering in conflict but if you do, behave in such a way that your adversary avoids you in turn. Forgive but never forget. Do not embitter your enemy as it is useless and dangerous but fight only when certain you can defeat him. Make sure others know what you want, never threaten, punish quickly, praise openly and reward parsimoniously. Be wary of those praising you and listen to those who offend you, the first may be flattering, but the second may be telling the truth.
  • Be precise and careful in business. Be mindful that your fear of loss is always higher than your hunger for earning and you will avoid misery, but fear it not too much otherwise you will be miserable your entire life. In business always use your common sense. Those who calculate too much always do bad business.
  • Do not be bothered by trifles. Give time to time and there will always be something to take advantage of. Find counsel with your wife and you will find new hope.
  • Be modest in your aspirations if you do not wish for bitter disappointment, recognise the merits of your companions and you will be esteemed, lift up your friends and they will lift you. Understand the hard work of your similars, respect human weakness, turn your eyes upon the misery of the poor and you will be loved and happy in your heart. But above all, be honest in your actions and soul, and be truthful with yourself.


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