The Andrometer: An 18th-Century Measuring Stick for Success in Life


The Works of Sir William Jones

Sir William Jones was a well-known scholar and linguist who's credited with sparking the development of the field of Indo-European studies. After graduating from Oxford, he worked as a tutor for Lord Althorp, the son of the first Earl Spencer. In 1774, when the boy was 16, Jones presented him with the Andrometer, a timeline for him to check in with every so often to make sure his moral and intellectual development was staying on track.

Jones explained that “it will enable you to measure every man’s merit by looking for his age in the scale, and then comparing it with the other side, and seeing to what degree he has risen in arts, sciences, and ornamental qualifications.” Jones had to admit that he himself was a little behind on his “road to Glory,” having spent too much time in his language studies.

Though the Andrometer was meant to be humorous in its too simple and unattainably ambitious formulation, he still saw it as a useful real life reminder of what to shoot for. If Cicero and Demosthenes could do it, why not you?

So how are you doing? Given any speeches in parliament yet? Better get on it, or the “Perfection of Earthly Happiness” coming to you in your 60s may be denied. You do want to have a little fun before you have to start preparing for ETERNITY.