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“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 confin’d to Eating & 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 & Ambition. I propos’d to myself, for the sake of Clearness, to use rather more Names with fewer Ideas; and I included under Thirteen Names of Virtues all that at that time occurr’d to me as necessary or desirable, and annex’d to each a short Precept, which fully express’d the Extent I gave to its Meaning.—
These Names of Virtues with their Precepts were
1. TEMPERANCE.
Eat not to Dulness
Drink not to Elevation.
2. SILENCE.
Speak not but what may benefit others or your self. Avoid trifling Conversation.
3. ORDER.
Let all your Things have their Places. Let each Part of your Business have its Time.
4. RESOLUTION.
Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
5. FRUGALITY.
Make no Expence but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
6. INDUSTRY.
Lose no Time.—Be always employ’d in something useful.—Cut off all unecessary Actions.—
7. SINCERITY.
Use no hurtful Deceit.
Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak; speak accordingly.
8. JUSTICE.
Wrong none, by doing Injuries or omitting the Benefits that are your Duty.
9. MODERATION.
Avoid Extreams. Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. CLEANLINESS.
Tolerate no Uncleanness in Body, Cloaths, or Habitation.—
11. TRANQUILITY
Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12. CHASTITY.
Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring; Never to Dulness, Weakness, or the Injury of your own or another’s Peace or Reputation.—
13. HUMILITY
Imitate Jesus and Socrates.—
– Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography

Published inBenjamin FranklinEconomicsPolitics & LawThe American Constitution

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