Benjamin Franklin Representative selections, with introduction, bibliograpy, and notes

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 225

to the public assemblies.
My conduct might be blameable, but I leave it, without attempting
further to excuse it; my present purpose being to relate facts, and not
to make apologies for them.

It was about this time I conceiv'd the bold and arduous project of
arriving at moral perfection. I wish'd to live without committing any
fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclination,
custom, or company might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew,
what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the
one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had undertaken a task of
more difficulty than I had imagined. While my care was employ'd in
guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another; habit took
the advantage of inattention; inclination was sometimes too strong for
reason. I concluded, at length, that the mere speculative conviction
that it was our interest to be completely virtuous, was not sufficient
to prevent our slipping; and that the contrary habits must be broken,
and 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.

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

These names of virtues, with their precepts, were:


Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.


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


Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business
have its time.


Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you


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.


Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

Page 1
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Page 25
I have since found that it has been translated into most of the languages of Europe, and suppose it has been more generally read than any other book, except, perhaps, the Bible.
Page 30
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Godfrey managed our little treaty.
Page 77
Page 80
| * | * | * | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | R[esolution] | | | * | | | * | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | F[rugality] | | * | | | * | | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | I[ndustry] | | | * | | | | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | S[incerity] | | | | | | | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | J[ustice] | | | | | | | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | M[oderation] | | | | | | | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | C[leanliness] | | | | | | | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | T[ranquillity] | | | | | | | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | C[hastity] | | | | | | | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | H[umility] | | | | .
Page 83
2} 3} Work.
Page 90
I therefore filled all the little spaces that occurred between the remarkable days in the calendar with proverbial sentences,[118] chiefly such as inculcated.
Page 92
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Page 106
"I approve," says I, "of his rule, and will practice it with a small addition: I shall never ask, never refuse, nor ever resign an office.
Page 108
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Page 114
I purchased all Dr.
Page 117
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Page 136
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Page 139
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Page 145
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Page 174
He said that he had "a trick for doing a deal of good with a little money.