Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 18

Mr. George Brownell, very successful in
his profession generally, and that by mild, encouraging methods. Under
him I acquired fair writing pretty soon, but I failed in the
arithmetic, and made no progress in it. At ten years old I was taken
home to assist my father in his business, which was that of a
tallow-chandler and sope-boiler; a business he was not bred to, but
had assumed on his arrival in New England, and on finding his dyeing
trade would not maintain his family, being in little request.
Accordingly, I was employed in cutting wick for the candles, filling
the dipping mould and the moulds for cast candles, attending the shop,
going of errands, etc.

[13] Tenth.

[14] System of short-hand.

I disliked the trade, and had a strong inclination for the sea, but my
father declared against it; however, living near the water, I was much
in and about it, learnt early to swim well, and to manage boats; and
when in a boat or canoe with other boys, I was commonly allowed to
govern, especially in any case of difficulty; and upon other occasions
I was generally a leader among the boys, and sometimes led them into
scrapes, of which I will mention one instance, as it shows an early
projecting public spirit, tho' not then justly conducted.

There was a salt-marsh that bounded part of the mill-pond, on the edge
of which, at high water, we used to stand to fish for minnows. By much
trampling, we had made it a mere quagmire. My proposal was to build a
wharf there fit for us to stand upon, and I showed my comrades a large
heap of stones, which were intended for a new house near the marsh,
and which would very well suit our purpose. Accordingly, in the
evening, when the workmen were gone, I assembled a number of my
playfellows, and working with them diligently like so many emmets,
sometimes two or three to a stone, we brought them all away and built
our little wharf. The next morning the workmen were surprised at
missing the stones, which were found in our wharf. Inquiry was made
after the removers; we were discovered and complained of; several of
us were corrected by our fathers; and, though I pleaded the usefulness
of the work, mine convinced me that nothing was useful which was not

I think you may like to know something of his person and character. He
had an excellent constitution of body, was of middle stature, but well
set, and very strong; he was

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Text Comparison with Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 2 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 3
To Mrs.
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114 To the same 115 To the same 116 To Miss Stevenson 119 To Lord Kames 120 To the same 121 To the same 128 To John Alleyne .
Page 7
Percival 168 To Sir Joseph Banks 169 To Robert Morris, Esq.
Page 14
Nor will the bailiff or the constable enter; for _Industry pays debts, while despair increaseth them_.
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Page 66
Lord Clarendon, upon this occasion, is pleased to write, "That all men took themselves to be prohibited, under the penalty of censure (the censure of the Star Chamber), which few men cared to incur, so much as to speak of parliaments, or so much as to mention that parliaments were again to be called.
Page 70
), will prepare those who read it for the following paper: "GENTLEMEN,--There is now publishing in France a periodical work, called Ephemeridis du Citoyen,[6] in which several points, interesting to those concerned in agriculture, are from time to time discussed by some able hands.
Page 86
I formed several fine schemes what to do with this same two hundred pounds, and in some measure neglected my business on that account; but, unluckily, it came to pass, that, when the old gentleman saw I was pretty well engaged, and that the match was too far gone to be easily broke off, he, without any reason given, grew very.
Page 102
In packing up my books, I have reserved yours to read on the passage.
Page 103
Enclosed I send you the imperfect account that was taken of that examination; you will there see how.
Page 127
Being at this time one of the most remarkable figures in Paris, even my appearance in the Church of Notre Dame, where I cannot have any conceivable business, and especially being seen to leave or drop any letter to any person there would be a matter of some speculation, and might, from the suspicions it must naturally give, have very mischievous consequences to our credit here.
Page 162
[33] John Hawkesworth, LL.
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A man is not completely born until he be dead.
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_ "Philadelphia, May 31, 1789.
Page 182
Has the question, how came the earth by its magnetism, ever been considered? Is it likely that _iron ore_ immediately existed when this globe was at first formed; or may it not rather be supposed a gradual production of time? If the earth is at present magnetical, in virtue of the masses of iron ore contained in it, might not some ages pass before it had magnetic polarity? Since iron ore may exist without that polarity, and, by being placed in certain circumstances, may obtain it from an external cause, is it not possible that the earth received its magnetism from some such cause? In short, may not a magnetic power exist throughout our system, perhaps through all systems, so that if men could make a voyage in the starry regions, a compass might be of use? And may not such universal magnetism, with its uniform direction, be serviceable in keeping the diurnal revolution of a planet more steady to the same axis? Lastly, as the poles of magnets may be changed by the presence of stronger magnets, might not, in ancient times, the near passing of some large comet, of greater magnetic power than this globe of ours, have been a means of changing its poles, and thereby wrecking and deranging its surface, placing in different regions the effect of centrifugal force, so as to raise the waters of the sea in some, while they were depressed in others? Let me add another question or two, not relating indeed to magnetism, but, however, to the theory of the earth.
Page 197
A small quantity of metal is found able to conduct a great quantity of this fluid.
Page 211
It is this whirling body of air between _a a a a_ and _b b b b_ that rises spirally; by its force it tears buildings to pieces, twists up great trees by the roots, &c.
Page 213
When Dr.
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a hot sunny climate or season as white ones; because in such clothes the body is more heated by the sun when we walk abroad, and are, at the same time, heated by the exercise, which double heat is apt to bring on putrid dangerous fevers? That soldiers and seamen, who must march and labour in the sun, should in the East or West Indies have a uniform of white? That summer hats for men or women should be white, as repelling that heat which gives headaches to many, and to some the fatal stroke that the French call the _coup de soleil_? That the ladies' summer hats, however, should be lined with black, as not reverberating on their faces those rays which are reflected upward from the earth or water? That the putting a white cap of paper or linen _within_ the crown of a black hat, as some do, will not keep out the heat, though it would if placed _without_? That fruit-walls, being blacked, may receive so much heat from the sun in the daytime as to continue warm in some degree through the night, and thereby preserve the fruit from frosts or forward its growth? with sundry other particulars of less or greater importance, that will occur from time to time to attentive minds.
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