A Book of Gems Choice selections from the writings of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 54

that their publications do not circulate,
seeing that they contain such a display of the most elegant literary
taste, not seeming to be aware of the fact, that not one common reader
out of fifty ever perceives the mighty effort at all. Yet there can be
no objection to fine style. The difficulty in that class to which we
refer, is not that they write in fine style, but that there is _nothing
but the style_—neither soul, body, nor spirit.


It may seem strange that a human body, weighing one hundred and fifty
pounds, would be disturbed by a little thorn in it, not an eighth of an
inch long! But, strange as it may appear, _it is a fact_. And you can
not accustom the body to it by piercing the thorn in deeper and deeper,
till the body will become easy and comfortable; but you can in that way
produce irritation, then inflammation, then mortification, and then
death. Death has been produced in this way many times. He is no friend
to the body who continues to push the thorn in deeper and deeper, nor
is he who would excuse him in so doing, or encourage him in it. There
is but one remedy, and that is to _remove the thorn_. Even if you have
to make the wound much larger than it is, the thorn _must be removed_,
or the end will be death.

There are cases in which a thorn might be pierced into the flesh an
inch, and produce no pain or irritation; but they are cases where there
is no _life_ in the flesh. A thorn pierced into a _dead body_ will
produce no pain or irritation. A dead body has no power to resist it,
and will make no effort. This is the reason precisely that a thorn
produces no irritation or pain when pierced into certain bodies. They
are _dead bodies_. It is no indication that the body is not alive and
in healthy condition, to find it resisting foreign matter, and making
an effort to remove obstructions; but when it can not do this, the body
must die. It can not live and the obstruction remain, at least, only
for a short time. But who will permit even a _little thorn_ to remain
in his flesh? We care not how little it may be; it is foreign, it is
irritating, and, unless removed, will produce death.

It was a little thing for Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit. Thomas
Paine inquired, “What harm was there in eating an apple?” This is the

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 1 of 2] With His Most Interesting Essays, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings; Familiar, Moral, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, Selected with Care from All His Published Productions, and Comprising Whatever Is Most Entertaining and Valuable to the General Reader

Page 22
to be some runaway indentured servant, and in danger of being taken up on that suspicion.
Page 24
After dinner, my host having shown me to a bed, I lay myself on it, without undressing, and slept till six in the evening, when I was called to supper.
Page 27
So it was concluded I should return to Boston by the first vessel, with the governor's letter to my father.
Page 37
Hamilton and his son (it was James, since governor) returned from Newcastle to Philadelphia, the father being recalled by a great fee to plead for a seized ship.
Page 46
It is the more remarkable as being formed when I was so young, and yet being pretty faithfully adhered to quite through to old age.
Page 55
put us back.
Page 60
There this apprentice employed his former master as a journeyman; they quarrelled often, and Harry went continually behindhand, and at length was obliged to sell his types and return to country-work in Pennsylvania.
Page 70
"The little private incidents which you will also have to relate, will have considerable use, as we want, above all things, _rules of prudence in ordinary affairs_; and it will be curious to see how you have acted in these.
Page 81
I ruled each page with red ink, so as to have seven columns, one for each day of the week, marking each column with a letter for the day.
Page 93
On his decease the business was continued by his widow, who, being born and bred in Holland, where (as I have been informed) the knowledge of accounts makes a part of female education, she not only sent me as clear a statement as she could find of the transactions past, but continued to account with the greatest regularity and exactness every quarter afterward; and managed the business with such success, that she not only reputably brought up a family of children, but, at the expiration of the term, was able to purchase of me the printing-house and establish her son in it.
Page 114
I then judged that if that feeble woman could sweep such a street in three hours, a strong, active man might have done it in half the time.
Page 115
Thus, if you teach a poor young man to shave himself and keep his razor in order, you may contribute more to the happiness of his life than in giving him a thousand guineas.
Page 120
The general and the officers were surprised; declared the expedition was then at an end, being impossible; and exclaimed against the ministers for ignorantly sending them into a country destitute of the means of conveying.
Page 121
their stores, baggage, &c.
Page 149
The result of their researches astonished.
Page 179
At the end of this second term, if no unfortunate accident has prevented the operation, the sum will be four millions and sixty-one thousand pounds sterling, of which I leave one million and sixty-one thousand pounds to the disposition and management of the inhabitants of the town of Boston, and three millions to the disposition of the government of the state, not presuming to carry my views farther.
Page 186
They remembered, with gratitude, a strong instance of this, when a bill was brought into Parliament, with a clause to make royal instructions laws in the colonies, which the House of Commons would not pass, and it was thrown out.
Page 189
_ A total loss of the respect and affection the people of America bear to this country, and of all the commerce that depends on that respect and affection.
Page 201
Sally, whose Indian name was Wyanjoy, a woman much esteemed by all that knew her, for her prudent and good behaviour in some very trying situations.
Page 205
These sentiments, therefore, influenced the manners of all ranks of people, even the meanest; for we find, that when Ulysses came as a poor stranger to the hut of Eumaeus the swineherd, and his great dogs ran out to tear the ragged man, Eumaeus drove them away with stones; and "'Unhappy stranger!' (thus the faithful swain Began, with accent gracious and humane), 'What sorrow had been mine, if at _my_ gate, Thy reverend age had met a shameless fate! But enter this my homely roof, and see Our woods not void of hospitality.