Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 96

postponing the
further prosecution of it at that time; and my multifarious
occupations, public and private, induc'd me to continue postponing, so
that it has been omitted till I have no longer strength or activity
left sufficient for such an enterprise; though I am still of opinion
that it was a practicable scheme, and might have been very useful, by
forming a great number of good citizens; and I was not discourag'd by
the seeming magnitude of the undertaking, as I have always thought
that one man of tolerable abilities may work great changes, and
accomplish great affairs among mankind, if he first forms a good plan,
and, cutting off all amusements or other employments that would divert
his attention, makes the execution of that same plan his sole study
and business.



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_.[74] I endeavour'd to make it both
entertaining and useful, and it accordingly came to be in such demand,
that I reap'd considerable profit from it, vending annually near ten
thousand. And observing that it was generally read, scarce any
neighborhood in the province being without it, I consider'd it as a
proper vehicle for conveying instruction among the common people, who
bought scarcely any other books; I therefore filled all the little
spaces that occurr'd between the remarkable days in the calendar with
proverbial sentences, chiefly such as inculcated industry and
frugality, as the means of procuring wealth, and thereby securing
virtue; it being more difficult for a man in want, to act always
honestly, as, to use here one of those proverbs, _it is hard for an
empty sack to stand upright_.

[74] The almanac at that time was a kind of periodical as
well as a guide to natural phenomena and the weather.
Franklin took his title from _Poor Robin_, a famous
English almanac, and from Richard Saunders, a well-known
almanac publisher. For the maxims of Poor Richard, see
pages 331-335.

These proverbs, which contained the wisdom of many ages and nations, I
assembled and form'd into a connected discourse prefix'd to the Almanack
of 1757, as the harangue of a wise old man to the people attending an
auction. The bringing all these scatter'd councils thus into a focus
enabled them to make greater impression. The piece, being universally
approved, was copied in all the newspapers of the Continent; reprinted

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Text Comparison with Benjamin Franklin and the First Balloons

Page 0
None of the letters appear in Sparks' edition of Franklin's Works, and while all but one are included in the collections compiled by Bigelow and Smyth, there are numerous inaccuracies, some of which will be specified hereafter.
Page 1
And presently the Globe was seen to rise, and that as fast as a Body of 12 feet Diameter, with a force only of 39 Pounds, could be suppos'd to move the resisting Air out of its Way.
Page 2
It is suppos'd to have burst by the Elasticity of the contain'd Air when no longer compress'd by so heavy an Atmosphere.
Page 3
Montgolfier, is to go up, as is said, from Versailles, in about 8 or 10 Days; It is not a Globe but of a different Form, more convenient for penetrating the Air.
Page 4
It has been even fancied that in time People will keep such Globes anchored in the Air, to which by Pullies they may draw up Game to be preserved in the Cool & Water to be frozen when Ice is wanted.
Page 5
It is to carry up a Man.
Page 6
in passing thro' this Flame rose in the Balloon, swell'd out its sides, and fill'd it.
Page 7
But the Expence of this Machine, Filling included, will exceed, it is said, 10,000 Livres.
Page 8
If we do a foolish thing, we are the first to laugh at it ourselves, and are almost as much pleased with a _Bon Mot_ or a good _Chanson_, that ridicules well the Disappointment of a Project, as we might have been with its Success.
Page 9
Balloon we now inhabit.
Page 10
Charles, Professor of Experimental Philosophy, & a zealous Promoter of that Science; and one of the Messieurs Robert, the very ingenious Constructors of the Machine.
Page 11
I suppose it may have been an Apprehension of Danger in straining too much the Balloon or tearing the Silk, that induc'd the Constructors to throw a Net over it, fix'd to a Hoop which went round its Middle, and to hang the Car to that Hoop, as you see in Fig.
Page 12
Le Taffetas etoit roussi aux deux Extremites.
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les deux tiers de leur Approvisionement.