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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 307

I have shewed you what 'tis not; it is not sensual, but 'tis
rational and moral Good. It is doing all the Good we can to others, by
Acts of Humanity, Friendship, Generosity, and Benevolence: This is that
constant and durable Good, which will afford Contentment and
Satisfaction always alike, without Variation or Diminution. I speak to
your Experience now, _Horatio_! Did you ever find yourself weary of
relieving the Miserable? or of raising the Distressed into Life or
Happiness? Or rather, don't you find the Pleasure grow upon you by
Repetition, and that 'tis greater in the Reflection than in the Act
itself? Is there a Pleasure upon Earth to be compared with that which
arises from the Sense of making others happy? Can this Pleasure ever be
absent, or ever end but with your Being? Does it not always accompany
you? Doth not it lie down and rise with you? live as long as you live?
give you Consolation in the Article of Death, and remain with you in
that gloomy Hour, when all other Things are going to forsake you, or you
them?

_Hor._ How glowingly you paint, _Philocles_! Methinks _Horatio_ is
amongst the Enthusiasts. I feel the Passion: I am enchantingly
convinced; but I don't know why: Overborn by something stronger than
Reason. Sure some Divinity speaks within me; but prithee, _Philocles_,
give me cooly the Cause, why this rational and moral Good so infinitely
excels the meer natural or sensual.

_Phil._ I think, _Horatio_! that I have clearly shewn you the Difference
between merely natural or sensual Good, and rational or moral Good.
Natural or sensual Pleasure continues no longer than the Action itself;
but this divine or moral Pleasure continues when the Action is over,
and swells and grows upon your Hand by Reflection: The one is
inconstant, unsatisfying, of short Duration, and attended with
numberless Ills; the other is constant, yields full Satisfaction, is
durable, and no Evils preceding, accompanying, or following it. But, if
you enquire farther into the Cause of this Difference, and would know
why the moral Pleasures are greater than the sensual; perhaps the Reason
is the same as in all other Creatures, That their Happiness or chief
Good consists in acting up to their chief Faculty, or that Faculty which
distinguishes them from all Creatures of a different Species. The chief
Faculty in a Man is his Reason; and consequently his chief Good; or that
which may be justly called his Good, consists not merely in Action, but
in reasonable Action. By reasonable Actions, we understand those Actions
which are preservative of the human Kind, and

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

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" [Illustration: Published by W.
Page 1
Virtue and Innocence, a Poem 1 0 The Economy of Human Life 1 0 Old Friends in a New Dress, or Selections from Esop's Fables, in Verse, 2 parts, plates 2 0 Little Jack Horner, in Verse, plain 1s.
Page 2
Judge, then, how much I must have been gratified by an incident I am going to relate to you.
Page 3
"Industry need not wish, and he that lives upon hope will die fasting.
Page 4
"Fly pleasures and they will follow you.
Page 5
" You may think perhaps, that a little tea, or a little punch now and then, diet a little more costly, clothes a little finer, and a little entertainment now and then, can be no great matter; but remember, "Many a little makes a mickle.
Page 6
" And again, "At a great pennyworth pause a while:" he means, that perhaps the cheapness is apparent only, and not real; or the bargain, by straitening thee in thy business, may do thee more harm than good.
Page 7
" And, after all, of what use is this pride of appearance, for which so much is risked, so much is suffered? It cannot promote health, nor ease pain; it makes no increase of merit in the person, it creates envy, it hastens misfortune.
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'This doctrine, my friends, is reason and wisdom; but, after all, do not depend too much upon your own industry, and frugality, and prudence, though excellent things; for they may all be blasted without the blessing of Heaven; and therefore, ask that blessing humbly, and be not uncharitable to those that at present seem to want it, but comfort and help them.
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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.