Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 90

my faults in it
vexed me so much, and I made so little progress in amendment, and had
such frequent relapses, that I was almost ready to give up the
attempt, and content myself with a faulty character in that respect,
like the man who, in buying an ax of a smith, my neighbour, desired to
have the whole of its surface as bright as the edge. The smith
consented to grind it bright for him if he would turn the wheel; he
turn'd, while the smith press'd the broad face of the ax hard and
heavily on the stone, which made the turning of it very fatiguing. The
man came every now and then from the wheel to see how the work went
on, and at length would take his ax as it was, without farther
grinding. "No," said the smith, "turn on, turn on; we shall have it
bright by-and-by; as yet, it is only speckled." "Yes," says the man,
"_but I think I like a speckled ax best_." And I believe this may have
been the case with many, who, having, for want of some such means as I
employ'd, found the difficulty of obtaining good and breaking bad
habits in other points of vice and virtue, have given up the struggle,
and concluded that "_a speckled ax was best_"; for something, that
pretended to be reason, was every now and then suggesting to me that
such extream nicety as I exacted of myself might be a kind of foppery
in morals, which, if it were known, would make me ridiculous; that a
perfect character might be attended with the inconvenience of being
envied and hated; and that a benevolent man should allow a few faults
in himself, to keep his friends in countenance.

[Illustration: "The smith consented to grind it bright for him if he
would turn the wheel"]

[70] Professor McMaster tells us that when Franklin was
American Agent in France, his lack of business order was
a source of annoyance to his colleagues and friends.
"Strangers who came to see him were amazed to behold
papers of the greatest importance scattered in the most
careless way over the table and floor."

In truth, I found myself incorrigible with respect to Order; and now I
am grown old, and my memory bad, I feel very sensibly the want of it.
But, on the whole, tho' I never arrived at the perfection I had been
so ambitious

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 5
Page 7
Although he lived in a century notable for the rapid evolution of scientific and political thought and activity, yet no less a keen judge and critic than Lord Jeffrey, the famous editor of the _Edinburgh Review_, a century ago said that "in one point of view the name of Franklin must be considered as standing higher than any of the others which illustrated the eighteenth century.
Page 8
Franklin was the first American author to gain a wide and permanent reputation in Europe.
Page 12
, but some vain thing immediately followed.
Page 23
A question was once, somehow or other, started between Collins and me, of the propriety of educating the female sex in learning, and their abilities for study.
Page 27
[22] Alexander Pope (1688-1744), the greatest English poet of the first half of the eighteenth century.
Page 36
I endeavour'd to put his press (which he had not yet us'd, and of which he understood nothing) into order fit to be work'd with; and, promising to come and print off his Elegy as soon as he should have got it ready, I return'd to Bradford's, who gave me a little job to do for the present, and there I lodged and dieted.
Page 38
I was not a little surprised, and Keimer star'd like a pig poison'd.
Page 39
I was better dress'd than ever while in his service, having a genteel new suit from head to foot, a watch, and my pockets lin'd with near five pounds sterling in silver.
Page 68
Hugh Meredith, Stephen Potts, and George Webb I have characteriz'd before.
Page 96
X POOR RICHARD'S ALMANAC AND OTHER ACTIVITIES In 1732 I first publish'd my Almanack, under the name of _Richard Saunders_; it was continu'd by me about twenty-five years, commonly call'd _Poor Richard's Almanac_.
Page 109
Walking the rounds, too, was often neglected, and most of the nights spent in tippling.
Page 121
I told him this had always been the case with new sects, and that, to put a stop to such abuse, I imagin'd it might be well to publish the articles of their belief, and the rules of their discipline.
Page 134
It then appeared that several of the commissioners had form'd plans of the same kind.
Page 148
The Indians had burned Gnadenhut,[103].
Page 159
He said much to me, also, of the proprietor's good disposition towards the province, and of the advantage it might be to us all, and to me in particular, if the opposition that had been so long continu'd to his measures was dropt, and harmony restor'd between him and the people; in effecting which, it was thought no one could be more serviceable than myself; and I might depend on adequate acknowledgments and recompenses, etc.
Page 161
This of course the governor pass'd, and I was then at liberty to proceed on my voyage.
Page 167
Accordingly, all the sail was set that we could possibly make, and the wind being very fresh and fair, we went right before it, and made great way.
Page 174
_Sloth, like Rust, consumes faster than Labor wears; while the used key is always bright, as Poor Richard says.
Page 185
other Stationary Ware.