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than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish. To avoid the trouble of renewing now and then my little book, which by scraping out the marks on the paper of old faults to make room for new ones in a new course, became full of holes, I transformed my tables and precepts to the ivory leaves of a memorandum book, on which the lines were drawn with red ink, that made a durable stain; and on those lines I marked my faults with a black lead pencil; which marks I could easily wipe out with a wet sponge. After a while I went through one course only in a a year; and afterwards only one in several years; till at length I omitted them entirely, being employed in voyages and bu. siness abroad, with a multiplicity of affairs, that interfered; but I always carried my little book with me. My scheme of Order gave me the most trouble; and I found that though it might be practicable where aman's business was such as to leave him the disposition of his time, that of a journeyman printer for instance, it was not possible to be exactly observed by a master, who must mix with the world, and often receive people of business at their own hours. Order too, with regard to places for things, papers, &c. I found extremely difficult to acquire. I had not been early accustomed to method, and having an exceeding good memory, I was not so sensible of the inconvenience attending want of method. This article therefore cost me much painful attention, and my faults in it vexed me so much, and I wade so little progress in amend. ment, and had such frequent relapses, that I was almost ready to give up the attempt, and content myself with a faulty character in that respect. Like the man who in buying an axe of a smith my neighbor, desired to have the whole of its surface as bright as the edge: the smith consented to grind it bright for him if he would turn the wheel: he turned while the smith pressed the broad face of the axe hard and heavily on the stone, which made the turning of it very fatiguing.
? This also is in the possession of the editor, W. T. Franklin.
The man came every now and then from the wheel to how the work went on; and at length would take his axe as it was, without further grinding. No, said the smith, turn on, turn on, we shall have it bright by and by; as yet 'tis only speckled. Yes, said the man, but “ I think I like a speckled axe best.” And I believe this may have been the case with many, who having for want of some such means as I employed, found the difficulty of obtaining good and breaking bad habits in other points of vice and virtue, have given up the struggle, and concluded that " a speckled axe was best." For something, that pretended to be reason, was every now and then suggesting to me, that such extreme nicety as I exacted of myself might be a kind of foppery in morals, which if it were known, would make me ridiculous; that a perfect character might be attended with the inconvenience of being envied and hated; and that a benevolent man should allow a few faults in himself, to keep his friends in countenance. In truth I found myself incorrigible with respect to Order; and now I am 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 endeavor, 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 endeavor, 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 his 79th year, in wbich 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 long continued health, and what is still left to him of a good constitution. To Industry and Frugality, the early easiness of his circumstances, and acquisition of his fortune,
with all that knowlege that enabled him to be an useful citizen and obtained for him some degree of reputation among the learned. To Sincerity and Justice, the confidence of his country, and the honorable 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 bave 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 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 bitherto 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 na. ture 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 endeavored 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 virtucs contained at first but twelve: but a qua, ker 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 endeavor to cure myself if Į 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 yirtue, 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 even forbid myself, agreeably to the old laws of our Junto, the use of every word or expression in the language that importer 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, or so; or it so appears to me at present. When another asserted some thing 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 op VOL. I.
circumstances, his opinion would be right, but in the present ease 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 morti. fication 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 fifty years past 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 in public councils, when I became a member: for I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject to much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly correct in language, and yet I generally carried my point.
In reality there is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as Pride; disguise it, struggle with it, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it perhaps often in this history. For even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.
[Here concludes what was written at Passy, near Paris.]
MEMORANDUM. I am now about to write at home (Philadelphia), August 1788, but cannot have the help expected from my papers, many of them being lost in the war. I have however found the following;
Having mentioned a great and extensive project which I had conceived, it seems proper, that some account should be