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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 240

upon honour, before our next meeting. As we play'd pretty
equally, we thus beat one another into that language. I afterwards with
a little painstaking, acquir'd as much of the Spanish as to read their
books also.

I have already mention'd that I had only one year's instruction in a
Latin school, and that when very young, after which I neglected that
language entirely. But, when I had attained an acquaintance with the
French, Italian, and Spanish, I was surpriz'd to find, on looking over a
Latin Testament, that I understood so much more of that language than I
had imagined, which encouraged me to apply myself again to the study of
it, and I met with more success, as those preceding languages had
greatly smooth'd my way.

From these circumstances, I have thought that there is some
inconsistency in our common mode of teaching languages. We are told that
it is proper to begin first with the Latin, and, having acquir'd that,
it will be more easy to attain those modern languages which are deriv'd
from it; and yet we do not begin with the Greek, in order more easily to
acquire the Latin. It is true that, if you can clamber and get to the
top of a staircase without using the steps, you will more easily gain
them in descending; but certainly, if you begin with the lowest you will
with more ease ascend to the top; and I would therefore offer it to the
consideration of those who superintend the education of our youth,
whether, since many of those who begin with the Latin quit the same
after spending some years without having made any great proficiency, and
what they have learnt becomes almost useless, so that their time has
been lost, it would not have been better to have begun with the French,
proceeding to the Italian, etc.; for, tho', after spending the same
time, they should quit the study of languages and never arrive at the
Latin, they would, however, have acquired another tongue or two, that,
being in modern use, might be serviceable to them in common life.

* * * * *

Our club, the Junto, was found so useful, and afforded such satisfaction
to the members, that several were desirous of introducing their friends,
which could not well be done without exceeding what we had settled as a
convenient number, viz., twelve. We had

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Way to Wealth; or, "Poor Richard Improved"

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58, Holborn-Hill.
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coloured 1 6 Portraits of Curious Characters in London, &c.
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' They joined in desiring him to speak his mind, and, gathering round him, he proceeded as follows: 'Friends,' says he, 'the taxes are indeed very heavy; and, if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us.
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on diseases, absolutely shortens life.
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" And again, "He that by the plow would thrive, Himself must either hold or drive.
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" You may think perhaps, that a little tea, or a little punch now and then, diet a little more costly, clothes a little finer, and a little entertainment now and then, can be no great matter; but remember, "Many a little makes a mickle.
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" And again, "At a great pennyworth pause a while:" he means, that perhaps the cheapness is apparent only, and not real; or the bargain, by straitening thee in thy business, may do thee more harm than good.
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"It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright.
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' * * * * * Thus the old gentleman ended his harangue.