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affrighted you ; so that you decline the trial of what is good, by reason ; and had rather make a bold attack upon Providence, the usual way of you gentlemen of fashion, who, when by living in defiance of the eternal rules of reason, you have plunged yourselves into a thousand difficulties, endeavor to make yourselves easy by throwing the burden upon nature : you are, Horatio, in a very miserable condition indeed; for you say you cannot be happy if you control your passions; and you feel yourself miserable by an unrestrained gratification of them; so that here is evil, irremediable evil, either way.
Hor. That is very true, at least it appears so to me; pray what have you to say, Philocles, in honor of Nature or Providence? methinks I am in pain for her: how do you rescue her, poor lady?
Phil. This; my dear Horatio, I have to say; that what you find fault with and clamor against, as the most terrible evil in the world, self-denial, is really the greatest good, and the highest self-gratification : if indeed you use the word in the sense of some weak moralists, and much weaker divines, you will have just reason to laugh at it; but if you take it, as understood by philosophers and men of sense, you will presently see her charms, and fly to her embraces, notwithstanding her demure looks, as absolutely necessary to produce even your own darling sole good, pleasure : for, selfdenial is never a duty, or a reasonable action, but as it is a natural means of procuring more pleasure than you can taste without it; so that this grave saint-like guide to happiness, as rough and dreadful as she has been made to appear, is in truth the kindest and most beautiful mistress in the world.
Hor. Prithee, Philocles, do not wrap yourself in allegory and metaphor: why do you tease me thus? I long to be satisfied, what is this philosophical self-denial; the necessity and reason of it; I am impatient, and all on fire : explain, therefore, in your beautiful natural easy way of reasoning, what I am to understand by this grave lady of yours, with so forbidding downcast looks, and yet so absolutely necessary to my pleasures; I stand to embrace her, for you know, pleasure I court under all shapes and forms.
Phil. Attend, then, and you will see the reason of this philosophical self-denial. There can be no absolute perfection in any creature; because every creature is derived from something of a superior existence, and dependent on that source for its own existence: no created being can be all-wise, all-good, and all-powerful, because his powers and capacities are finite and limited ; consequently whatever is created must, in its own nature, be subject to error, irregularity, excess, and imperfectness. All intelligent rational agents find in themselves a power of judging what kind of beings they are, what actions are proper to preserve them,
and what consequences will generally attend them, what pleasures they are for, and to what degree their natures are capable of receiving them. All we have to do then, Horatio, is to consider, when we are surprised with a new object, and pas-, sionately desire to enjoy it, whether the gratifying that passion be consistent with the gratifying other passions and appetites equal, if not more necessary to us. And whether it consists with our happiness to-morrow, next week, or next year; for, as we all wish to live, we are obliged by reason to take as much care for our future, as our present happiness, and not build one upon the ruins of the other : but if through the strength and power of a present passion, and through want of attending to consequences, we have erred and exceeded the bounds which nature or reason have set us ; we are then, for our own sakes, to refrain, or deny ourselves a present momentary pleasure for a future, constant, and durable one: so that this philosophical selfdenial is only refusing to do an action which you strongly desire ; because it is inconsistent with health, convenience, or circumstances in the world : or in other words, because it would cost you more than it was worth. You would lose by it, as a man of pleasure. Thus you see, Horatio, that self-denial is not only the most reasonable, but the most pleasant thing in the world.
Hor. We are just coming into town, so that we cannot pursue this argument any farther at pre
sent; you have said a great deal for nature, Providence, and reason : happy are they who can follow such divine guides.
Phil. Horatio, good night; I wish you wise in your pleasures.
Hor. I wish, Philocles, I could be as wise in my pleasures as you are pleasantly wise; your wisdom is agreeable, your virtue is amiable, and your philosophy the highest luxury. Adieu, thou enchanting reasoner!
A SECOND DIALOGUE BETWEEN PHILOCLES AND HORATIO, CONCERNING VIRTUE AND PLEASURE.
From the Pennsylvania Gazette, No. 86, July 9, 1730.
Philocles. Dear Horatio, where hast thou been these three or four months ? What new adventures have you fallen upon since I met you in these delightful all-inspiring fields, and wondered how such a pleasure-hunter as you could bear being alone ?
Horatio. O Philocles ! thou best of friends, because a friend to reason and virtue! I am very glad to see you. Do not you remember, I told you then, that some misfortunes in my pleasures had sent me to philosophy for relief? but now I do assure you I can, without a sigh, leave other pleasures for those of philosophy: I can hear the
OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN word reason mentioned, and virtue praised, without laughing. Do not I bid: fair for conversion, think you ?
Phil. Very fair, Horatio ; for I remember the time when reason, virtue, and pleasure, were the same thing with you: when you counted nothing good but what pleased, nor any thing reasonable but what you gained by: when you made a jest of a mind, and the pleasures of reflection ; and elegantly placed your sole happiness, like the rest of the animal creation, in the gratification of sense.
Hor. I did so: but in our last conversation, when walking upon the brow of this hill, and looking down on that broad rapid river, and yon widely-extended beautifully-varied plain, you taught me another doctrine ; you showed me, that self-denial, which above all things I abhorred, was really the greatest good, and the highest self-gratification, and absolutely necessary to produce even my own darling sole good, pleasure.
Phil. True: I told you that self-denial was never a duty, but when it was a natural means of procuring more pleasure than we could taste with out it: that as we all strongly desire to live, and to live only to enjoy, we should take as much care about our future as our present happiness, and not build one upon the ruins of the other : that we should look to the end, and regard consequences : and if through want of attention we had erred, and exceeded the bounds which nature had set us, we