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William Penn. (1644–1718). Fruits of Solitude.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Part I


309. We must not be concern’d above the Value of the thing that engages us; nor raised above Reason, in maintaining what we think reasonable.

310. It is too common an Error, to invert the Order of Things; by making an End of that which is a Means, and a Means of that which is an End.

311. Religion and Government escape not this Mischief: The first is too often made a Means instead of an End; the other an End instead of a Means.

312. Thus Men seek Wealth rather than Subsistence; and the End of Cloaths is the least Reason of their Use. Nor is the satisfying of our Appetite our End in Eating, so much as the pleasing of our Pallate. The like may also be said of Building, Furniture, &c. where the Man rules not the Beast, and Appetite submits not to Reason.

313. It is great Wisdom to proportion our Esteem to the Nature of the Thing: For as that way things will not be undervalued, so neither will they engage as above their intrinsick worth.

314. If we suffer little Things to have great hold upon us, we shall be as much transported for them, as if they deserv’d it.

315. It is an old Proverb, Maxima bella ex levissimis causis: The greatest Feuds have had the smallest Beginnings.

316. No matter what the Subject of the Dispute be, but what place we give it in our Minds: For that governs our Concern and Resentment.

317. It is one of the fatalest Errors of our Lives, when we spoil a good Cause by an ill Management: And it is not impossible but we may mean well in an ill Business; but that will not defend it.

318. If we are but sure the End is Right, we are too apt to gallop over all Bounds to compass it; not considering that lawful Ends may be very unlawfully attained.

319. Let us be careful to take just ways to compass just Things; that they may last in their Benefits to us.

320. There is a troublesome Humor some Men have, that if they may not lead, they will not follow; but had rather a thing were never done, than not done their own way, tho’ other ways very desirable.

321. This comes of an over-fulness of our selves; and shows we are more concern’d for Praise, than the Success of what we think a good Thing.