Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 67

any
crown I have since earned; and the gratitude I felt toward House has
made me often more ready than perhaps I should otherwise have been to
assist young beginners.

There are croakers in every country, always boding its ruin. Such a
one then lived in Philadelphia; a person of note, an elderly man, with
a wise look and a very grave manner of speaking; his name was Samuel
Mickle. This gentleman, a stranger to me, stopt one day at my door,
and asked me if I was the young man who had lately opened a new
printing-house. Being answered in the affirmative, he said he was
sorry for me, because it was an expensive undertaking, and the expense
would be lost; for Philadelphia was a sinking place, the people
already half-bankrupts, or near being so; all appearances to the
contrary, such as new buildings and the rise of rents, being to his
certain knowledge fallacious; for they were, in fact, among the things
that would soon ruin us. And he gave me such a detail of misfortunes
now existing, or that were soon to exist, that he left me half
melancholy. Had I known him before I engaged in this business,
probably I never should have done it. This man continued to live in
this decaying place, and to declaim in the same strain, refusing for
many years to buy a house there, because all was going to
destruction; and at last I had the pleasure of seeing him give five
times as much for one as he might have bought it for when he first
began his croaking.

I should have mentioned before, that, in the autumn of the preceding
year, I had form'd most of my ingenious acquaintance into a club of
mutual improvement, which was called the Junto;[54] we met on Friday
evenings. The rules that I drew up required that every member, in his
turn, should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals,
Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discuss'd by the company; and
once in three months produce and read an essay of his own writing, on
any subject he pleased. Our debates were to be under the direction of
a president, and to be conducted in the sincere spirit of inquiry
after truth, without fondness for dispute, or desire of victory; and,
to prevent warmth, all expressions of positiveness in opinions, or
direct contradiction, were after some time made contraband, and
prohibited under small pecuniary penalties.

[54] A Spanish term meaning a combination for political
intrigue; here a club or

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

Page 0
Illustrated by twenty-two Cuts on Wood.
Page 1
& T.
Page 2
Judge, then, how much I must have been gratified by an incident I am going to relate to you.
Page 3
"One to-day.
Page 4
"Fly pleasures and they will follow you.
Page 5
'So much for industry, my friends, and attention to one's own business; but to these we must add frugality, if we would make our industry more certainly successful.
Page 6
Many a one, for the sake of finery on the back, have gone with a hungry belly, and half starved their families; "Silks and satins, scarlet and velvets, put out the kitchen fire," as Poor Richard says.
Page 7
But poverty often deprives a man of all spirit and virtue.
Page 8
" However, remember this, "They that will not be counselled cannot be helped;" and farther, that "If you will not hear Reason, she will surely rap your knuckles," as Poor.
Page 9
The frequent mention he made of me must have tired any one else; but my vanity was wonderfully delighted with it, though I was conscious that not a tenth part of the wisdom was my own, which he ascribed to me; but rather the gleanings that I had made of the sense of all ages and nations.