Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 22

out in books. Pleased with the _Pilgrim's
Progress_, my first collection was of John Bunyan's works in separate
little volumes. I afterward sold them to enable me to buy R. Burton's
_Historical Collections_; they were small chapmen's books,[16] and
cheap, 40 or 50 in all. My father's little library consisted chiefly
of books in polemic divinity, most of which I read, and have since
often regretted that, at a time when I had such a thirst for
knowledge, more proper books had not fallen in my way, since it was
now resolved I should not be a clergyman. Plutarch's _Lives_ there was
in which I read abundantly, and I still think that time spent to great
advantage. There was also a book of DeFoe's, called an _Essay on
Projects_, and another of Dr. Mather's, called _Essays to do Good_,
which perhaps gave me a turn of thinking that had an influence on
some of the principal future events of my life.

[16] Small books, sold by chapmen or peddlers.

This bookish inclination at length determined my father to make me a
printer, though he had already one son (James) of that profession. In
1717 my brother James returned from England with a press and letters
to set up his business in Boston. I liked it much better than that of
my father, but still had a hankering for the sea. To prevent the
apprehended effect of such an inclination, my father was impatient to
have me bound to my brother. I stood out some time, but at last was
persuaded, and signed the indentures when I was yet but twelve years
old. I was to serve as an apprentice till I was twenty-one years of
age, only I was to be allowed journeyman's wages during the last year.
In a little time I made great proficiency in the business, and became
a useful hand to my brother. I now had access to better books. An
acquaintance with the apprentices of booksellers enabled me sometimes
to borrow a small one, which I was careful to return soon and clean.
Often I sat up in my room reading the greatest part of the night, when
the book was borrowed in the evening and to be returned early in the
morning, lest it should be missed or wanted.

And after some time an ingenious tradesman, Mr. Matthew Adams, who
had a pretty collection of books, and who frequented our
printing-house, took notice of me, invited me to his library, and
very kindly lent me such books as I chose to read. I now took

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

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] _FRANKLIN'S_ WAY TO WEALTH; OR, "Poor Richard Improved.
Page 1
with Biographical and Interesting Anecdotes 1 6 Watt's Catechism and Prayers, in 1 vol.
Page 2
'It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their time to be employed in its service: but idleness taxes many of us much more; sloth, by bringing.
Page 3
[Illustration] "If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be" as Poor Richard says, "the greatest prodigality;" since, as he elsewhere tells us, "Lost time is never found again; and what we call time enough, always proves little enough.
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" II.
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1, 1805.
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These are not the necessaries of life; they can scarcely be called the conveniences: and yet only because they look pretty, how many want to have them?--By these, and other extravagancies, the genteel are reduced to poverty, and forced to borrow of those whom they formerly despised, but who, through industry and frugality, have maintained their standing; in which case it appears plainly, that "A ploughman on his legs is higher than a gentleman on his knees," as Poor Richard says.
Page 7
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" At present, perhaps, you may think yourselves in thriving circumstances, and that you can bear a little extravagance without injury; but "For age and want save while you may, No morning sun lasts a whole day.
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and T.