Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 108

The choice was made that year without opposition; but the
year following, when I was again propos'd (the choice, like that of
the members, being annual), a new member made a long speech against
me, in order to favour some other candidate. I was, however, chosen,
which was the more agreeable to me, as, besides the pay for the
immediate service as clerk, the place gave me a better opportunity of
keeping up an interest among the members, which secur'd to me the
business of printing the votes, laws, paper money, and other
occasional jobbs for the public, that, on the whole, were very

I therefore did not like the opposition of this new member, who was a
gentleman of fortune and education, with talents that were likely to
give him, in time, great influence in the House, which, indeed,
afterwards happened. I did not, however, aim at gaining his favour by
paying any servile respect to him, but, after some time, took this
other method. Having heard that he had in his library a certain very
scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire
of perusing that book, and requesting he would do me the favour of
lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I
return'd it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my
sense of the favour. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me
(which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever
after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we
became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death. This
is another instance of the truth of an old maxim I had learned, which
says, _"He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do
you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged."_ And it shows
how much more profitable it is prudently to remove, than to resent,
return, and continue inimical proceedings.

In 1737, Colonel Spotswood, late governor of Virginia, and then
postmaster-general, being dissatisfied with the conduct of his deputy
at Philadelphia, respecting some negligence in rendering, and
inexactitude of his accounts, took from him the commission and offered
it to me. I accepted it readily, and found it of great advantage; for,
tho' the salary was small, it facilitated the correspondence that
improv'd my newspaper, increas'd the number demanded, as well as the
advertisements to be inserted, so that it came to afford me a
considerable income. My old competitor's newspaper declin'd
proportionately, and I was satisfy'd without

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Text Comparison with Benjamin Franklin and the First Balloons

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The recent bi-centenary of Franklin's birth, which coincided with the revival of interest in balloons, makes this a timely topic, especially since Franklin's descriptions of the first balloon ascensions are almost unknown and do not appear among his philosophical papers.
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Charles, Professor of experimental Philosophy at Paris.
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With great Respect, I am, Sir, Your most obedient and most humble Servant B.
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He was complimented on his Zeal and Courage for the Promotion of Science, but advis'd to wait till the management of these Balls was made by Experience more certain & safe.
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I say this in answer to your Question; for I did not indeed write them with a view of their being inserted.
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_ When they were as high as they chose to be, they made less Flame and suffered the Machine to drive Horizontally with the Wind, of which however they felt very little, as they went with it, and as fast.
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But the Expence of this Machine, Filling included, will exceed, it is said, 10,000 Livres.
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This Experience is by no means a trifling one.
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Balloon we now inhabit.
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Means were used, I am told, to prevent the great Balloon's rising so high as might indanger its Bursting.
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_ au nomme Bertrand.
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The plate forming the frontispiece to this volume shows the balloon as seen from Mr.
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unchanged: p.