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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 211

to what was
intended by them: For the Arguments of the Deists which were quoted to
be refuted, appeared to me much Stronger than the Refutations. In short
I soon became a thorough Deist. My Arguments perverted some others,
particularly Collins and Ralph: but each of them having afterwards
wrong'd me greatly without the least Compunction and recollecting
Keith's Conduct towards me, (who was another Freethinker) and my own
towards Vernon and Miss Read, which at Times gave me great Trouble, I
began to suspect that this Doctrine tho' it might be true, was not very
useful.--My London Pamphlet, which had for its Motto these Lines of

_Whatever is, is right. Tho' purblind Man
Sees but a Part of the Chain, the nearest Link,
His Eyes not carrying to the equal Beam,
That poises all, above._

And from the Attributes of God, his infinite Wisdom, Goodness and Power
concluded that nothing could possibly be wrong in the World, and that
Vice and Virtue were empty Distinctions, no such Things existing:
appear'd now not so clever a Performance as I once thought it; and I
doubted whether some Error had not insinuated itself unperceiv'd, into
my Argument, so as to infect all that follow'd, as is common in
metaphysical Reasonings.--I grew convinc'd that _Truth_, _Sincerity_ and
_Integrity_ in Dealings between Man and Man, were of the utmost
Importance to the Felicity of Life, and I form'd written Resolutions,
(w^ch still remain in my Journal Book) to practice them everwhile I
lived. Revelation had indeed no weight with me as such; but I
entertain'd an Opinion, that tho' certain Actions might not be bad
_because_ they were forbidden by it, or good _because_ it commanded
them; yet probably those Actions might be forbidden _because_ they were
bad for us, or commanded _because_ they were beneficial to us, in their
own Natures, all the Circumstances of things considered. And this
Persuasion, with the kind hand of Providence, or some guardian Angel, or
accidental favourable Circumstances and Situations, or all together,
preserved me (thro' this dangerous Time of Youth and the hazardous
Situations I was sometimes in among Strangers, remote from the Eye and
Advice of my Father) without any _wilful_ gross Immorality or Injustice
that might have been expected from my Want of Religion. I say _wilful_,
because the Instances I have mentioned, had something of _Necessity_ in
them, from my Youth, Inexperience, and the Knavery of others. I had
therefore a tolerable Character to begin the World with, I valued it
properly, and determin'd to

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 1 [of 3]

Page 1
We hoped to have been enabled to add, what would have been equally new, and still more acceptable, a genuine copy of the Life of our author, as written by himself; but in this hope we are disappointed, and we are in consequence obliged to content ourselves with a translation, which has been already before the public, from a copy in the French language, coming no farther down than the year 1731; and a continuation of his history from that period, by the late Dr.
Page 11
Page 33
He conducted me to the Crooked-billet, in Water-street.
Page 35
I had a brother-in-law, of the name of Robert Holmes, master of a trading sloop from Boston to Delaware.
Page 36
Towards the end of April 1724, a small vessel was ready to sail.
Page 64
In a word, I soon became a perfect deist.
Page 65
Upon my answering in the affirmative, he said he was very sorry for me, as it was an expensive undertaking, and the money that had been laid out upon it would be lost, Philadelphia being a place falling into decay; its inhabitants having all, or nearly.
Page 79
The example was soon followed by others; and there are now numerous fire companies in the city and liberties.
Page 106
They still insisted upon their right to tax the colonies; and, at the same time that the stamp-act was repealed, an act was passed, declaring the right of parliament to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever.
Page 153
We know that common matter has near as much as it can contain, because, when we add a little more to any portion of it, the additional quantity does not enter, but forms an electrical atmosphere.
Page 154
So that A will have a redundance of this fluid, which forms an atmosphere round, and B an exactly equal deficiency.
Page 160
a wire that has one end fastened to the leads, he holding it by a wax handle; so the sparks, if the rod is electrified, will strike from the rod to the wire, and not affect him.
Page 165
Page 190
--But now, when I approached the wire of the charged phial to the rod, instead of the usual stream that I expected from the wire to the rod, there was no spark; not even when I brought the wire and the rod to touch; yet the bells continued ringing vigorously, which proved to me, that the rod was then _positively_ electrified, as well as the wire of the phial, and equally so; and, consequently, that the particular cloud then over the rod was in the same positive state.
Page 212
A person so struck, sinks down doubled, or folded together as it were, the joints losing their strength and stiffness at once, so that he drops on the spot where he stood, instantly, and there is no previous staggering, nor does he ever fall lengthwise.
Page 222
Then I considered the separate particles of water as so many hard spherules, capable of touching the salt only in points, and imagined a particle of salt could therefore no more be wet by a particle of water, than a globe by a cushion; that there might therefore be such a friction between these originally constituent particles of salt and water, as in a sea of globes and cushions; that each particle of water on the surface might obtain from the common mass, some particles of the universally diffused, much finer, and more subtle electric fluid, and forming to itself an atmosphere of those particles, be repelled from the then generally electrified surface of the sea, and fly away with them into the air.
Page 247
West's house from damage by a stroke of lightning, would give me great pleasure.
Page 260
Page 266
is held in the hand, and rise in the other as a jet or fountain; when it is all in the other, it begins to boil, as it were, by the vapour passing up through it; and the instant it begins to boil, a sudden coldness is felt in the ball held; a curious experiment, this, first observed and shown me by Mr.
Page 312