Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 10

story. Franklin took up the work at Passy in 1784 and
carried the narrative forward a few months. He changed the plan to
meet his new purpose of writing to benefit the young reader. His work
was soon interrupted and was not resumed until 1788, when he was at
home in Philadelphia. He was now old, infirm, and suffering, and was
still engaged in public service. Under these discouraging conditions
the work progressed slowly. It finally stopped when the narrative
reached the year 1757. Copies of the manuscript were sent to friends
of Franklin in England and France, among others to Monsieur Le
Veillard at Paris.

The first edition of the _Autobiography_ was published in French at
Paris in 1791. It was clumsily and carelessly translated, and was
imperfect and unfinished. Where the translator got the manuscript is
not known. Le Veillard disclaimed any knowledge of the publication.
From this faulty French edition many others were printed, some in
Germany, two in England, and another in France, so great was the
demand for the work.

In the meantime the original manuscript of the _Autobiography_ had
started on a varied and adventurous career. It was left by Franklin
with his other works to his grandson, William Temple Franklin, whom
Franklin designated as his literary executor. When Temple Franklin
came to publish his grandfather's works in 1817, he sent the original
manuscript of the _Autobiography_ to the daughter of Le Veillard in
exchange for her father's copy, probably thinking the clearer
transcript would make better printer's copy. The original manuscript
thus found its way to the Le Veillard family and connections, where it
remained until sold in 1867 to Mr. John Bigelow, United States
Minister to France. By him it was later sold to Mr. E. Dwight Church
of New York, and passed with the rest of Mr. Church's library into the
possession of Mr. Henry E. Huntington. The original manuscript of
Franklin's _Autobiography_ now rests in the vault in Mr. Huntington's
residence at Fifth Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street, New York City.

When Mr. Bigelow came to examine his purchase, he was astonished to
find that what people had been reading for years as the authentic
_Life of Benjamin Franklin by Himself_, was only a garbled and
incomplete version of the real _Autobiography_. Temple Franklin had
taken unwarranted liberties with the original. Mr. Bigelow says he
found more than twelve hundred changes in the text. In 1868,
therefore, Mr. Bigelow published the standard edition of Franklin's
_Autobiography_. It corrected errors in the previous editions and was
the first English edition to contain the short fourth part,
comprising the last few pages of the

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Way to Wealth; or, "Poor Richard Improved"

Page 0
It is certainly better calculated to convey a general idea of the subject, than any attempt of the kind which has yet fallen under our observation.
Page 1
Proprietors, W.
Page 2
of 32 Biographical Sketches of Eminent British Characters 1 6 Ditto, containing a Description of the most distinguished Places in England 1 6 *** Just published, The Mice & their Pic Nic; a good Moral Tale, price with neat coloured plates 1 0 THE WAY TO WEALTH.
Page 3
" Nor will the bailiff or the constable enter, for "industry pays debts, while despair increaseth them.
Page 4
It is true, there is much to be done, and, perhaps, you are weak-handed: but stick to it steadily, and you will see great effects; for "Constant dropping wears away stones; and by diligence and patience the mouse ate in two the cable; and little strokes fell great oaks.
Page 5
" Here you are all.
Page 6
For, in another place, he says, "Many have been ruined by buying good pennyworths.
Page 7
" And, after all, of what use is this pride of appearance, for which so much is risked, so much is suffered? It cannot promote health, nor ease pain; it makes no increase of merit in the person, it creates envy, it hastens misfortune.
Page 8
When you have got your bargain, you may, perhaps, think little of payment; but, as Poor Richard says, "Creditors have better memories than debtors; creditors are a superstitious sect, great observers of set days and times.
Page 9
--I am, as ever, thine to serve thee, RICHARD SAUNDERS.