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
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
conversation.

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
resolve.

5. FRUGALITY

Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; _i.e._, waste
nothing.

6. INDUSTRY

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

7. SINCERITY

Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently

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SINCERITY.
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| * | * | * | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | R[esolution] | | | * | | | * | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | F[rugality] | | * | | | * | | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | I[ndustry] | | | * | | | | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | S[incerity] | | | | | | | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | J[ustice] | | | | | | | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | M[oderation] | | | | | | | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | C[leanliness] | | | | | | | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | T[ranquillity] | | | | | | | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | C[hastity] | | | | | | | | |----------------+----+----+----+----+----+----+----| | H[umility] | | | | .
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2} 3} Work.
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