Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 77

was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of
arriving at moral perfection. I wished 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 employed 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 proposed to myself, for the sake of clearness,
to use rather more names, with fewer ideas annexed to each, than a few
names with more ideas; and I included under thirteen names of virtues
all that at that time occurred to me as necessary or desirable, and
annexed to each a short precept, which fully expressed the extent I
gave to its meaning.

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 employed in something useful; cut off all
unnecessary actions.


Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak,
speak accordingly.


Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your


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



Last Page Next Page

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

Page 73
It is true, the accession of the large territory claimed before the war began (especially if that be secured by the possession of Canada) will tend to the increase of the British subjects faster, than if they had been confined within the mountains: yet the increase within the mountains only would evidently make the comparative population equal to that of Great Britain much sooner than it can be expected, when our people are spread over a country six times as large.
Page 91
By this means you may keep the colonies to their present size.
Page 110
The 6th and last reason is, "_That in the middle colonies, where the paper-money has been best supported, the bills have_ never kept to their nominal value _in circulation; but have constantly depreciated to a certain degree, whenever the quantity has been increased_.
Page 172
The _repeal_ would fill them with joy and gratitude, re-establish their respect and veneration for parliament, restore at once their ancient and natural love for this country, and their regard for every thing that comes from it; hence the trade would be renewed in all its branches; they would again indulge in all the expensive superfluities you supply them with, and their own new assumed home industry would languish.
Page 174
Thus Ireland was forbid the woollen manufacture and remains poor: but this has given to the French the trade and wealth Ireland might have gained for the British empire.
Page 177
Pensylvania, in particular, disbursed about 500,000_l.
Page 179
_ But can you name any act of assembly, or public act of any of your governments, that made such distinction? _A.
Page 183
The assemblies, every year during the war, voted considerable sums, and formed bills to raise them.
Page 196
_ I brought them with me, when I came to England, about fifteen months since.
Page 210
Hence also it is, that all the _executive offices_ (from the supreme civil magistrate, as locum tenens to the king, down to that of constable and head-borough) must of right be established with all and the like powers, neither more nor less than as defined by the constitution and law, as in fact they are established.
Page 228
Page 232
Remote provinces must have governors and judges, to represent the royal person and execute every where the delegated parts of his office and authority.
Page 252
Adams, and E.
Page 255
My consolation under that groundless and malevolent treatment was, that I retained the friendship of many wise and good men in that country; and among the rest, some share in the regard of lord Howe.
Page 287
Page 296
There are little follies in the behaviour of most men, which their best friends are too tender to acquaint them with; there are little vices and small crimes which the law has no regard to or remedy for: there are likewise great pieces of villany sometimes so craftily accomplished, and so circumspectly guarded, that the law can take no hold of the actors.
Page 325
" This advice, thus beat into my heart, has frequently been of use to me: and I often think of it, when I see pride mortified, and misfortunes brought upon people by their carrying their heads too high.
Page 349
Franklin, which induces us to give them a place here.
Page 354
_ Verse 10, _when ye go, ye shall come to a people_ SECURE; [that is, a people that apprehend no danger, and therefore have made no provision against it; great encouragement this!] _and to a large land, and a place where there is no want of any thing_.
Page 411
letter from, on an equal communication of rights to America, 243.