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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 232

for things, papers, etc., I found
extreamly difficult to acquire. I had not been early accustomed to it,
and, having an exceeding good memory, I was not so sensible of the
inconvenience attending want of method. This article, therefore, cost me
so much painful attention, and 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.

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 of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the
endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been
if I had not attempted it; as those who aim at perfect writing by
imitating the engraved copies, tho' they

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Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

Page 40
But it seems necessary to mention something I then forgot.
Page 54
Page 64
Hence what is called _warmth_ in wool, and its preference on that account, to linen; wool not being so good a conductor: and hence all the natural coverings of animals, to keep them warm, are such as retain and confine the natural heat in the body, by being bad conductors, such as wool, hair, feathers, and the silk by which the silk-worm, in its tender embrio state, is first cloathed.
Page 152
Page 179
Having heard it remarked, that drowned flies were capable of being revived by the rays of the sun, I proposed making the experiment upon these: they were therefore exposed to the sun upon a sieve, which had been employed to strain them out of the wine.
Page 187
(v) The front plate is arched on the under side, and ornamented with foliages, &c.
Page 220
It is to be hoped, that in another century or two we may all find out, that it is not bad even for people in health.
Page 258
The spindle, which is of hard iron, lies horizontally from end to end of the box within, exactly in the middle, and is made to turn on brass gudgeons at each end.
Page 260
" Perhaps this is speaking rather too positively, if there be, as I think there are, some other mediums that will convey it farther and more readily.
Page 261
--I wish you would repeat these experiments now you are upon the subject, and add your own observations.
Page 270
It is an excellent work, and will be greatly useful in turning the thoughts of our countrymen to correct writing.
Page 280
Page 302
That this is more owing to luxury than mere want appears from what I have said of Scotland, and more plainly from parts of England remote from London, in most of which the necessaries of life are nearly as dear, in some dearer than London, yet the people of all ranks marry and breed up children.
Page 305
But such is the human frame, and the world is so constituted, that it is a hard matter to possess ones self of a benefit, without laying ones self open to a loss on some other side; the improvements of manners of one sort often deprave those of another: thus we see industry and frugality under the influence of commerce, which I call a commercial spirit, tend to destroy, as well as support, the government it flourishes under.
Page 330
His employments and service are not the same.
Page 333
The savage's bow, his hatchet, and his coat of skins, were sufficiently secured, without law, by the fear of personal resentment and retaliation.
Page 335
"It at once illustrates," says he, "the true grounds and reasons of all capital punishments whatsoever, namely, that every man's property, as well as his life, may be held sacred and inviolate.
Page 345
If therefore, some of its reasonings are to be found in his eloquent speech, it may only show, that men's interests operate, and are operated on, with surprising similarity, in all countries and climates, whenever they are under similar circumstances.
Page 356
visited by Franklin, 147.
Page 395
These are valid references; the book printer inserted pages 543*-556* between pages 542 and 543 in Vol iii.