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grown old, and my memory bad, I feel very sensibly the want of it. But on the whole, though I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it; as those who aim at perfect writing by imitating the engraved copies, though they never reach the wished-for excellence of those copies, their hand is mended by the endeavour, and is tolerable, while it continues fair and legible.

It may be well my posterity should be informed, that to this little artifice, with the blessing of God, their ancestor owed the constant felicity of his life down to the seventy-ninth year, in which this is written. What reverses may attend the remainder is in the hand of Providence; but if they arrive, the reflection on past happiness enjoyed ought to help his bearing them with more resignation. To Temperance he ascribes his longcontinued health, and what is still left him of a good constitution. To Industry and Frugality, the early easiness of his circumstances and acquisition of his fortune, with all that knowledge that enabled him to be a useful citizen, and obtained for him some degree of reputation among the

learned. To Sincerity and Justice, the confi. dence of his country, and the honourable employs it conferred upon him: and to the joint influence of the whole mass of the virtues, even in the imperfect state he was able to acquire them, all that evenness of temper and that cheerfulness in conversation which makes his company still sought for, and agreeable even to his young acquaintance. I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow the example, and reap the benefit.

It will be remarked that though my scheme was not wholly without religion, there was in it no mark of any of the distinguishing tenets of any particular sect: I had purposely avoided them; for, being fully persuaded of the utility and excellency of my method, and that it might be serviceable to people in all religions, and intending some time or other to publish it, I would not have any thing in it that should prejudice any one of any sect against it. I proposed writing a little comment on each virtue, in which I would have shewn the advantages of possessing it, and the mischiefs attending its opposite vice. I should have called my book The Art of Virtue, because it would have shewn 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 shewing the naked and hungry how or where they might get clothes and 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 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 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 in. terest 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 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 shewed 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 my own. I even forbade myself, agreeably to the old laws of our Junto (a club formed by Franklin at Philadelphia), the use of every word or expression in the language that imported a fixed opinion; such as certainly, undoubtedly, &c. and I adopted instead of them, I conceive, I

apprehend, or I imagine a thing to be so and so; or it so appears to me at present. When another asserted something that I thought an error, I denied myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of shewing immediately some absurdity in his proposition; and in answering I began by observing that, in certain cases or circumstances, his opinion would be right, but in the present case there appeared or seemed to me some difference, &c. I soon found the advantage of this change in my manners; the conversations I engaged in went on more pleasantly. The modest way in which I proposed my opinions procured them a readier reception and less contradiction; I had less mortification when I was found to be in the wrong, and I more easily prevailed with others to give up their mistakes, and join with me when I happened to be in the right. And this mode, which I at first put on with some violence to natural inclination, became at length easy and so habitual to me, that perhaps for the last fifty years no one has ever heard a dogmatical expression escape me. And to this habit (after my character of integrity) I think it principally owing that I had early so much weight with my fellow-citizens, when I proposed new institutions, or alterations in the old; and so much influence

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