Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 109

retaliating his refusal,
while postmaster, to permit my papers being carried by the riders.
Thus he suffer'd greatly from his neglect in due accounting; and I
mention it as a lesson to those young men who may be employ'd in
managing affairs for others, that they should always render accounts,
and make remittances, with great clearness and punctuality. The
character of observing such a conduct is the most powerful of all
recommendations to new employments and increase of business.




XI

INTEREST IN PUBLIC AFFAIRS


I began now to turn my thoughts a little to public affairs, beginning,
however, with small matters. The city watch was one of the first
things that I conceiv'd to want regulation. It was managed by the
constables of the respective wards in turn; the constable warned a
number of housekeepers to attend him for the night. Those who chose
never to attend, paid him six shillings a year to be excus'd, which
was suppos'd to be for hiring substitutes, but was, in reality, much
more than was necessary for that purpose, and made the constableship a
place of profit; and the constable, for a little drink, often got such
ragamuffins about him as a watch, that respectable housekeepers did
not choose to mix with. Walking the rounds, too, was often neglected,
and most of the nights spent in tippling. I thereupon wrote a paper to
be read in Junto, representing these irregularities, but insisting
more particularly on the inequality of this six-shilling tax of the
constables, respecting the circumstances of those who paid it, since a
poor widow housekeeper, all whose property to be guarded by the watch
did not perhaps exceed the value of fifty pounds, paid as much as the
wealthiest merchant, who had thousands of pounds' worth of goods in
his stores.

On the whole, I proposed as a more effectual watch, the hiring of
proper men to serve constantly in that business; and as a more
equitable way of supporting the charge, the levying a tax that should
be proportion'd to the property. This idea, being approv'd by the
Junto, was communicated to the other clubs, but as arising in each of
them; and though the plan was not immediately carried into execution,
yet, by preparing the minds of people for the change, it paved the way
for the law obtained a few years after, when the members of our clubs
were grown into more influence.

About this time I wrote a paper (first to be read in Junto, but it was
afterward publish'd) on the different accidents and carelessnesses by
which houses were set on fire, with cautions against them,

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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 4
, but some vain thing immediately followed.
Page 6
I found several of his notes in the margins.
Page 15
Now it was that, being on some occasion made ashamed of my ignorance in figures, which I had twice failed learning when at school, I took _Cocker's_.
Page 20
" Philadelphia was one hundred miles farther; I set out, however, in a boat for Amboy, leaving my chest and things to follow me round by sea.
Page 26
Read's, before mentioned, who was the owner of his house; and my chest of clothes being come by this time, I made rather a more respectable appearance in the eyes of Miss Read than I had done when she first happened to see me eating my roll in the street.
Page 32
He accepted, and promised to remit me what he owed me out of the first money he should receive; but I never heard of him after.
Page 65
My grandfather was a smith also, and settled at Ecton, in Northamptonshire, and he was imprisoned a year and a day on suspicion of his being the author of some poetry that touched the character of some great man.
Page 67
" The foregoing letter, and the minutes accompanying it, being shown to a friend, I received from him the following: _From Mr.
Page 76
This was accordingly done, and for some time contented us: finding the advantage of this little collection, I proposed to render the benefit from the books more common, by commencing a public subscription library.
Page 77
We have an English proverb that says, "He that would thrive Must ask his wife.
Page 98
Our articles of agreement obliged every member to keep always in good order and fit for use a certain number of leathern buckets, with strong bags and baskets (for packing and transporting goods), which were to be brought to every fire; and we agreed about once a month to spend a social evening together in discoursing and communicating such ideas as occurred to us upon the subject of fires as might be useful in our conduct on such occasions.
Page 117
" The house, however, by the management of a certain member, took it up when I happened to be absent (which I thought not very fair), and reprobated it without paying any attention to it at all, to my no small mortification.
Page 122
FRANKLIN.
Page 127
He being at Philadelphia on his retreat, or, rather, flight, I applied to him for the discharge of the servants of three poor farmers of Lancaster county that he had enlisted, reminding him of the late general's orders on that head.
Page 155
Franklin was appointed to present this address, as agent for the province of Pennsylvania, and departed from America in June, 1757.
Page 165
Adams, and Mr.
Page 182
WRITINGS OF FRANKLIN.
Page 192
_ Would it not have the effect of excessive usury? _A.
Page 197
_ The people will pay no internal tax; and I think an act to oblige the assemblies to make compensation is unnecessary; for I am of opinion that, as soon as the present heats are abated, they will take the matter into consideration, and, if it is right to be done, they will.
Page 209
He relates, that a New-England sloop, trading there in 1752, left their second mate, William Murray, sick on shore, and sailed without him.