Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 83

good ones acquired and
established, before we can have any dependence on a steady, uniform
rectitude of conduct. For this purpose I therefore contrived the
following method.

[66] Compare Philippians iv, 8.

In the various enumerations of the moral virtues I had met with in my
reading, I found the catalogue more or less numerous, as different
writers included more or fewer ideas under the same name. Temperance,
for example, was by some confined to eating and drinking, while by
others it was extended to mean the moderating every other pleasure,
appetite, inclination, or passion, bodily or mental, even to our
avarice and ambition. I propos'd to myself, for the sake of clearness,
to use rather more names, with fewer ideas annex'd to each, than a few
names with more ideas; and I included under thirteen names of virtues
all that at that time occurr'd to me as necessary or desirable, and
annexed to each a short precept, which fully express'd the extent I
gave to its meaning.

These names of virtues, with their precepts, were:

1. Temperance.

Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. Silence.

Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling

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

5. Frugality.

Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; _i. e._, waste


Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all
unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity.

Use no 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

9. Moderation.

Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they

10. Cleanliness.

Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.

11. Tranquillity.

Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity.

13. Humility.

Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

My intention being to acquire the _habitude_ of all these virtues, I
judg'd it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the
whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and, when I
should be master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on, till
I should have gone thro' the thirteen; and, as the previous
acquisition of some might facilitate the acquisition of certain
others, I arrang'd them with that view, as they stand above.
Temperance first, as it tends to procure that coolness and clearness
of head, which is so necessary where constant vigilance was to be kept
up, and guard maintained

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Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

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) A is.
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_ _Kensiŋtųn, Septembųr_ 26, 1768.
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this defect of, remedied, 168.
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