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

Part II

The Vain Man

236. But a Vain Man is a Nauseous Creature: He is so full of himself that he has no Room for any Thing else, be it never so Good or Deserving.

237. ’T is I at every turn that does this, or can do that. And as he abounds in his Comparisons, so he is sure to give himself the better of every Body else; according to the Proverb, All his Geese are Swans.

238. They are certainly to be pity’d that can be so much mistaken at Home.

239. And yet I have sometimes thought that such People are in a sort Happy, that nothing can put out of Countenance with themselves, though they neither have nor merit other Peoples.

240. But at the same Time one would wonder they should not feel the Blows they give themselves, or get from others, for this intolerable and ridiculous Temper; nor shew any Concern at that which makes others blush for, as well as at them, (viz.) their unreasonable Assurance.

241. To be a Man’s own Fool is bad enough, but the Vain Man is Every Body’s.

242. This silly Disposition comes of a Mixture of Ignorance, Confidence, and Pride; and as there is more or less of the last, so it is more or less offensive or Entertaining.

243. And yet perhaps the worst Part of this Vanity is its Unteachableness. Tell it any Thing, and it has known it long ago; and out-runs Information and Instruction, or else proudly puffs at it.

244. Whereas the greatest Understandings doubt most, are readiest to learn, and least pleas’d with themselves; this, with no Body else.

245. For tho’ they stand on higher Ground, and so see farther than their Neighbors, they are yet humbled by their Prospect, since it shews them something, so much higher and above their Reach.

246. And truly then it is, that Sense shines with the greatest Beauty when it is set in Humility.

247. An humble able Man is a Jewel worth a Kingdom: It is often saved by him, as Solomon’s Poor Wise Man did the City.

248. May we have more of them, or less Need of them.