Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 11

manuscript, written during the
last year of Franklin's life. Mr. Bigelow republished the
_Autobiography_, with additional interesting matter, in three volumes
in 1875, in 1905, and in 1910. The text in this volume is that of Mr.
Bigelow's editions.[2]

[2] For the division into chapters and the chapter
titles, however, the present editor is responsible.

The _Autobiography_ has been reprinted in the United States many
scores of times and translated into all the languages of Europe. It
has never lost its popularity and is still in constant demand at
circulating libraries. The reason for this popularity is not far to
seek. For in this work Franklin told in a remarkable manner the story
of a remarkable life. He displayed hard common sense and a practical
knowledge of the art of living. He selected and arranged his material,
perhaps unconsciously, with the unerring instinct of the journalist
for the best effects. His success is not a little due to his plain,
clear, vigorous English. He used short sentences and words, homely
expressions, apt illustrations, and pointed allusions. Franklin had a
most interesting, varied, and unusual life. He was one of the greatest
conversationalists of his time.

His book is the record of that unusual life told in Franklin's own
unexcelled conversational style. It is said that the best parts of
Boswell's famous biography of Samuel Johnson are those parts where
Boswell permits Johnson to tell his own story. In the _Autobiography_
a no less remarkable man and talker than Samuel Johnson is telling his
own story throughout.

F. W. P.

The Gilman Country School,
Baltimore, September, 1916.

[Illustration: Pages 1 and 4 of The Pennsylvania Gazette, the first
number after Franklin took control. Reduced nearly one-half.
Reproduced from a copy at the New York Public Library.]

[Transcriber's note: Transcription of these pages are given at the end
of the text.]




Twyford,[3] _at the Bishop of St. Asaph's_, 1771.

Dear son: I have ever had pleasure in obtaining any little anecdotes
of my ancestors. You may remember the inquiries I made among the
remains of my relations when you were with me in England, and the
journey I undertook for that purpose. Imagining it may be equally
agreeable to you to know the circumstances of my life, many of which
you are yet unacquainted with, and expecting the enjoyment of a week's
uninterrupted leisure in my present country retirement, I sit down to
write them for you. To which I have besides some other inducements.
Having emerged from the poverty and obscurity in which I was born and
bred, to a

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Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 3 [of 3]

Page 22
cannot so well be executed by two unions as by one.
Page 50
A father and his family, the latter united by interest and affection, the former to be revered for the wisdom of his institutions and the indulgent use of his authority, was the form it was at first presented in.
Page 70
--As to the _third_ kind of security, that we shall not, in a few years, have all we have now done, to do over again in America, and be obliged to employ the same number of troops, and ships, at the same immense expence, to defend our possessions there, while we are in proportion weakened here: such forts I think, cannot prevent this.
Page 88
While our strength at sea continues, the banks of the Ohio (in point of easy and expeditious conveyance of troops) are nearer to London, than the remote parts of France and Spain to their respective capitals; and much nearer than Connaught.
Page 100
3,767,841 12 11 Difference, 3,646,215 11 4 --------------- £.
Page 108
The middle colonies have not this advantage; nor have they tobacco; which in Virginia and Maryland answers the same purpose.
Page 120
" This was in their answer to the representation of the assembly [Votes, December, 1754, p.
Page 122
" Such is the imperfection of our language, and perhaps of all other languages, that, notwithstanding we are furnished with dictionaries innumerable, we cannot precisely know the import of words, unless we know of what party the man is that uses them.
Page 131
At the next meeting many of these petitions were delivered to the house with that.
Page 142
--But as wisdom shows itself not only in doing what is right, but in confessing and _amending_ what is wrong, I recommend the latter particularly to your present attention; being persuaded of this consequence, that though you have been mad enough to sign such a petition, you never will be fools enough to present it.
Page 186
_ I am not much acquainted with the West Indies; but the duty of four and a half per cent on sugars exported was, I believe, granted by their own assemblies.
Page 225
Permit us humbly to suggest to your majesty, that your subjects here have been inclined to believe, that the grievances which they have suffered, and still continue to suffer, have been occasioned by your majesty's ministers and principal servants being, unfortunately for us, _misinformed_ in certain facts of very interesting importance to us.
Page 248
Vaillant and Pochard; whom, if I could serve upon your recommendation, it would give me great pleasure.
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_ granted for life out of the _four and a half_ per cent.
Page 292
And because I would encourage all wit of our own growth and produce, I hereby promise, that whoever shall send me a little essay on some moral or other subject, that is fit for public view in this manner, (and not basely borrowed from any other author) I shall receive it with candour, and take care to place it to the best advantage.
Page 303
And I appeal to the more generous part of the world, if I have, since I appeared in the character of the Busy-Body, given an instance of my siding with any party more than another, in the unhappy divisions of my country; and I have, above all, this satisfaction in myself, that neither affection, aversion, or interest, have biassed me to use any partiality towards any man, or set of men; but whatsoever I find nonsensical, ridiculous, or immorally dishonest, I have, and shall continue openly to attack, with the freedom of an honest man, and a lover of my country.
Page 346
--This is therefore most.
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earnestly to recommend to every one of you, that in case the said ship, which is now expected to be soon in the European seas on her return, should happen to fall into your hands, you would not consider her as an enemy, nor suffer any plunder to be made of the effects contained in her, nor obstruct her immediate return to England, by detaining her or sending her into any other part of Europe or America, but that you would treat the said captain Cook and his people with all civility and kindness, affording them, as common friends to mankind, all the assistance in your power, which they may happen to stand in need of.
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