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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 234

so happened that my intention of writing and publishing this
comment was never fulfilled. I did, indeed, from time to time, put down
short hints of the sentiments, reasonings, etc., to be made use of in
it, some of which I have still by me; but the necessary close attention
to private business in the earlier part of my life, and public business
since, have occasioned my postponing it; for, it being connected in my
mind with _a great and extensive project_, that required the whole man
to execute, and which an unforeseen succession of employs prevented my
attending to, it has hitherto remain'd unfinish'd.

In this piece it was my design to explain and enforce this doctrine,
that vicious actions are not hurtful because they are forbidden, but
forbidden because they are hurtful, the nature of man alone considered;
that it was, therefore, every one's interest to be virtuous who wish'd
to be happy even in this world; and I should, from this circumstance
(there being always in the world a number of rich merchants, nobility,
states, and princes, who have need of honest instruments for the
management of their affairs, and such being so rare), have endeavoured
to convince young persons that no qualities were so likely to make a
poor man's fortune as those of probity and integrity.

My list of virtues contain'd at first but twelve; but a Quaker friend
having kindly informed me that I was generally thought proud; that my
pride show'd itself frequently in conversation; that I was not content
with being in the right when discussing any point, but was overbearing,
and rather insolent, of which he convinc'd me by mentioning several
instances; I determined endeavouring to cure myself, if I could, of this
vice or folly among the rest, and I added _Humility_ to my list, giving
an extensive meaning to the word.

I cannot boast of much success in acquiring the _reality_ of this
virtue, but I had a good deal with regard to the _appearance_ of it. I
made it a rule to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiments of
others, and all positive assertion of my own. I even forbid myself,
agreeably to the old laws of our Junto, the use of every word or
expression in the language that imported a fix'd opinion, such as
_certainly_, _undoubtedly_, etc., and I adopted, instead of them, _I
conceive_, _I apprehend_, or _I imagine_ a thing to be so or so; or it
_so appears to me at present_. When another asserted something that I
thought an error, I deny'd myself the pleasure of contradicting

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Way to Wealth; or, "Poor Richard Improved"

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Darton, Junr.
Page 1
coloured 1 6 Portraits of Curious Characters in London, &c.
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'It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their time to be employed in its service: but idleness taxes many of us much more; sloth, by bringing.
Page 3
] "Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labour wears, while the used key is always bright," as Poor Richard says.
Page 4
It is true, there is much to be done, and, perhaps, you are weak-handed: but stick to it steadily, and you will see great effects; for "Constant dropping wears away stones; and by diligence and patience the mouse ate in two the cable; and little strokes fell great oaks.
Page 5
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" Again, "It is foolish to lay out money in a purchase of repentance;" and yet this folly is practised every day at auctions, for want of minding the Almanack.
Page 7
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Those have a short Lent, who owe money to be paid at Easter.
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--I found the good man had thoroughly studied my Almanacks, and digested all I had dropt on those topics during the course of twenty-five years.