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

Part II

Of Praise or Applause

103. We are too apt to love Praise, but not to Deserve it.

104. But if we would Deserve it, we must love Virtue more than That.

105. As there is no Passion in us sooner moved, or more deceivable, so for that Reason there is none over which we ought to be more Watchful, whether we give or receive it: For if we give it, we must be sure to mean it, and measure it too.

106. If we are Penurious, it shows Emulation; if we exceed, Flattery.

107. Good Measure belongs to Good Actions; more looks Nauseous, as well as Insincere; besides, ’t is a Persecuting of the Meritorious, who are out of Countenance to hear, what they deserve.

108. It is much easier for him to merit Applause, than hear of it: And he never doubts himself more, or the Person that gives it, than when he hears so much of it.

109. But to say true, there needs not many Cautions on this Hand, since the World is rarely just enough to the Deserving.

110. However, we cannot be too Circumspect how we receive Praise: For if we contemplate our selves in a false Glass, we are sure to be mistaken about our Dues; and because we are too apt to believe what is Pleasing, rather than what is True, we may be too easily swell’d, beyond our just Proportion, by the Windy Compliments of Men.

111. Make ever therefore Allowances for what is said on such Occasions, or thou Exposest, as well as Deceivest thy self.

112. For an Over-value of our selves, gives us but a dangerous Security in many Respects.

113. We expect more than belongs to us; take all that ’s given us though never meant us; and fall out with those that are not as full of us as we are of our selves.

114. In short, ’t is a Passion that abuses our Judgment, and makes us both Unsafe and Ridiculous.

115. Be not fond therefore of Praise, but seek Virtue that leads to it.

116. And yet no more lessen or dissemble thy Merit, than over-rate it: For tho’ Humility be a Virtue, an affected one is none.