Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 1 of 2] With His Most Interesting Essays, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings; Familiar, Moral, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, Selected with Care from All His Published Productions, and Comprising Whatever Is Most Entertaining and Valuable to the General Reader

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 88

_The Art of Virtue_, because it would have shown the
means and manner of obtaining virtue, which would have distinguished it
from the mere exhortation to be good, that does not instruct and
indicate the means; but is like the apostle's man of verbal charity,
who, without showing to the naked and hungry how or where they might get
clothes or victuals, only exhorted them to be fed and clothed James
ii., 15, 16.

But it so happened that my intention of writing and publishing this
comment was never fulfilled. I had, indeed, from time to time, put down
short hints of the sentiments, reasonings, &c., 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 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 remained unfinished.

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 wished
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 are so likely to make a
poor man's fortune as those of _probity_ and _integrity_.

My list of virtues contained at first but twelve: but a Quaker friend
having kindly informed me that I was generally thought proud; that my
pride showed 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 convinced me by mentioning several
instances), I determined to endeavour 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
mine own. I

Last Page Next Page

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

Page 0
" _This Day is Published, Price 5s.
Page 1
with Biographical and Interesting Anecdotes 1 6 Watt's Catechism and Prayers, in 1 vol.
Page 2
COURTEOUS READER, I HAVE heard that nothing gives an author so great pleasure, as to find his works respectfully quoted by others.
Page 3
[Illustration: The Sun shone yesterday, and I would not work, to-day it rains and I cannot work.
Page 4
.
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
got together to this sale of fineries and nick-nacks.
Page 7
Octr.
Page 8
" However, remember this, "They that will not be counselled cannot be helped;" and farther, that "If you will not hear Reason, she will surely rap your knuckles," as Poor.
Page 9
--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.