Benjamin Franklin Representative selections, with introduction, bibliograpy, and notes

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 174

with great Ease. I also read Seller's and Sturmy's Books of
Navigation, and became acquainted with the little Geometry they contain,
but never proceeded far in that Science.--And I read about this Time
Locke on Human Understanding, and the Art of Thinking by Mess^rs du Port

While I was intent on improving my Language, I met with an English
Grammar (I think it was Greenwood's) at the End of which there were two
little Sketches of the Arts of Rhetoric and Logic, the latter finishing
with a Specimen of a Dispute in the Socratic Method. And soon after I
procur'd Xenophon's Memorable Things of Socrates, wherein there are many
Instances of the same Method. I was charm'd with it, adopted it, dropt
my abrupt Contradiction, and positive Argumentation, and put on the
humble Enquirer and Doubter. And being then, from reading Shaftesbury
and Collins, become a real Doubter in many Points of our religious
Doctrine, I found this Method safest for myself and very embarrassing to
those against whom I us'd it, therefore I took a Delight in it,
practis'd it continually and grew very artful and expert in drawing
People even of superior Knowledge into Concessions the Consequences of
which they did not foresee, entangling them in Difficulties out of which
they could not extricate themselves, and so obtaining Victories that
neither myself nor my Cause always deserved.--I continu'd this Method
some few years, but gradually left it, retaining only the Habit of
expressing myself in Terms of modest Diffidence, never using when I
advance any thing that may possibly be disputed, the Words, _Certainly_,
_undoubtedly_; or any others that give the Air of Positiveness to an
Opinion; but rather say, I conceive, or I apprehend a Thing to be so or
so, It appears to me, or I should think it so or so for such and such
Reasons, or I imagine it to be so, or it is so if I am not mistaken.
This Habit I believe has been of great Advantage to me, when I have had
occasion to inculcate my Opinions and persuade Men into Measures that I
have been from time to time engag'd in promoting.--And as the chief Ends
of Conversation are to _inform_, or to be _informed_, to _please_ or to
_persuade_, I wish wellmeaning sensible Men would not lessen their Power
of doing Good by a Positive assuming Manner that seldom fails to
disgust, tends to create Opposition, and to defeat every one of those
Purposes for which Speech was given us, to wit, giving or receiving
Information, or Pleasure: For if you would _inform_,

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Text Comparison with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 0
He soon obtained work as a printer, but after a few months he was induced by Governor Keith to go to London, where, finding Keith's promises empty, he again worked as a compositor till he was brought back to Philadelphia by a merchant named Denman, who gave him a position in his business.
Page 13
He was of opinion that it was improper, and that they were naturally unequal to it.
Page 23
I was in my working dress, my best cloaths being to come round by sea.
Page 33
I balanc'd some time between principle and inclination, till I recollected that, when the fish were opened, I saw smaller fish taken out of their stomachs; then thought I, "If you eat one another, I don't see why we mayn't eat you.
Page 35
As language and expression were what we had in view, we excluded all.
Page 45
The room was clean, but had no other furniture than a.
Page 47
They were not yet come to town, and my stay was uncertain, so I could not undertake it; but, from this incident, I thought it likely that, if I were to remain in England and open a swimming-school, I might get a good deal of money; and it struck me so strongly, that, had the overture been sooner made me, probably I should not so soon have returned to America.
Page 56
were, in fact, among the things that would soon ruin us.
Page 60
I told them I could not propose a separation while any prospect remain'd of the Merediths' fulfilling their part of our agreement, because I thought myself under great obligations to them for what they had done, and would do if they could; but, if they finally fail'd in their performance, and our partnership must be dissolv'd, I should then think myself at liberty to accept the assistance of my friends.
Page 90
The bringing all these scatter'd counsels thus into a focus enabled them to make greater impression.
Page 96
My old competitor's newspaper declin'd proportionably, and I was satisfy'd without retaliating his refusal, while postmaster, to permit my papers being carried by the riders.
Page 97
About this time I wrote a paper (first to be read in Junto, but it was afterward publish'd) on the different accidents and carelessnesses by which houses were set on fire, with cautions against them, and means proposed of avoiding them.
Page 109
" This modesty in a sect is perhaps a singular instance in the history of mankind, every other sect supposing itself in possession of all truth, and that those who differ are so far in the wrong; like a man traveling in foggy weather, those at some distance before him on the road he sees wrapped up in the fog, as well as those behind him, and also the people in the fields on each side, but near him all appears clear, tho' in truth he is as much in the fog as any of them.
Page 112
honest partner, Mr.
Page 114
" And, indeed, if it be the design of Providence to extirpate these savages in order to make room for cultivators of the earth, it seems not improbable that rum may be the appointed means.
Page 117
I did but follow his example, and have only some merit to claim respecting the form of our lamps, as differing from the globe lamps we were at first supply'd with from London.
Page 118
I ask'd who employ'd her to sweep there; she said, "Nobody, but I am very poor and in distress, and I sweeps before gentlefolkses doors, and hopes.
Page 120
" I have since had doubts of the practicability of the latter part of this proposal, on account of the narrowness of some streets, and the difficulty of placing the draining-sleds so as not to encumber too much the passage; but I am still of opinion that the former, requiring the dust to be swept up and carry'd away before the shops are open, is very practicable in the summer, when the days are long; for, in walking thro' the Strand and Fleet-street one morning at seven o'clock, I observ'd there was not one shop open, tho' it had been daylight and the sun up above three hours; the inhabitants of London chusing voluntarily to live much by candle-light, and sleep by sunshine, and yet often complain, a little absurdly, of the duty on candles and the high price of tallow.
Page 154
This is an age of experiments, and I think a set accurately made and combin'd would be of great use.
Page 158
When this act however came over, the proprietaries, counselled by Paris, determined to oppose its receiving the royal assent.