Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The thirteen virtues

I'm not sure that Ben Franklin really practiced all these, but they're interesting to consider, as we're still charting our route through the new year. I think I may be possibly maybe weak in a few of these areas. Maybe. There's an off chance. How about you!?

These names of virtues, with their precepts, were:

1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; 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 expense 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 unnecessary 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 uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.

11. TRANQUILLITY. 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.

My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these virtues, I judg'd it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and, when I should be master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on, till I should have gone thro' the thirteen; and, as the previous acquisition of some might facilitate the acquisition of certain others, I arrang'd them with that view, as they stand above.


Fe-lady said...

Hmmm- number six worries me as I think my blogging and web searches just MAY fall under this!!!
But come on Ben...everyone deserves some mind-numbing down time!

Wendy said...

I think I kind of like trifling conversation ... and I'm lost when it comes to order!

Julia said...

Since the 1st of the year I've tried to avoid gratuitous gossip...REALLY hard to do. I catch myself at least once a day...

nancytoby said...

oooh, Julia, can I ever relate to that!!!

Diane said...

#14 Become the most boring person on earth.

Steve Toby said...

This excerpt comes from an essay entitled "The Project for Achieving Moral Perfection", or perhaps it was "My" instead of "The". It was indeed written by Franklin. I read it in high school. The best thing about it was the ending (not quoted in this excerpt). In this ending (recalling a 35-year old memory here so it might not be exact) Franklin found, after a few days or weeks, that he could not achieve his objective of "moral perfection," "imitating Jesus and Socrates." In a charming analogy, he tells an anecdote of a man who tries to remove the rust from an axe using a foot-powered grindstone. After several minutes he's sweating bullets and gasping for breath and the axe still has "spleckles" of pits of rust. He turns to the blacksmith from whom he borrowed the grindstone and says, "I think I'll be satisfied with a speckled axe."