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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 241

from the beginning made it a
rule to keep our institution a secret, which was pretty well observ'd;
the intention was to avoid applications of improper persons for
admittance, some of whom, perhaps, we might find it difficult to refuse.
I was one of those who were against any addition to our number, but,
instead of it, made in writing a proposal, that every member separately
should endeavour to form a subordinate club, with the same rules
respecting queries, etc., and without informing them of the connection
with the Junto. The advantages proposed were, the improvement of so many
more young citizens by the use of our institutions; our better
acquaintance with the general sentiments of the inhabitants on any
occasion, as the Junto member might propose what queries we should
desire, and was to report to the Junto what pass'd in his separate club;
the promotion of our particular interests in business by more extensive
recommendation, and the increase of our influence in public affairs, and
our power of doing good by spreading thro' the several clubs the
sentiments of the Junto.

The project was approv'd, and every member undertook to form his club,
but they did not all succeed. Five or six only were compleated, which
were called by different names, as the Vine, the Union, the Band, etc.
They were useful to themselves, and afforded us a good deal of
amusement, information, and instruction, besides answering, in some
considerable degree, our views of influencing the public opinion on
particular occasions, of which I shall give some instances in course of
time as they happened.

* * * * *

I began now to turn my thoughts a little to public affairs,[16]
beginning, however, with small matters. The city watch was one of the
first things that I conceiv'd to want regulation. It was managed by the
constables of the respective wards in turn; the constable warned a
number of housekeepers to attend him for the night. Those who chose
never to attend, paid him six shillings a year to be excus'd, which was
suppos'd to be for hiring substitutes, but was, in reality, much more
than was necessary for that purpose, and made the constableship a place
of profit; and the constable, for a little drink, often got such
ragamuffins about him as a watch, that respectable housekeepers did not
choose to mix with. Walking the rounds, too, was often neglected, and

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Text Comparison with Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 2 of 2] With his Most Interesting Essays, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings; Familiar, Moral, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, Selected with Care from All His Published Productions, and Comprising Whatever Is Most Entertaining and Valuable to the General Reader

Page 15
But with our industry we must likewise be steady, settled, and careful, and oversee our own affairs with our own eyes, and not trust too much to others; for, as Poor Richard says, _I never saw an oft-removed tree, Nor yet an oft-removed family, That throve so well as those that settled be.
Page 48
The priest thus honoured was an Egyptian, and an enemy to Rome, but his virtue removed all obstacles.
Page 58
Mean as this practice is, do we not daily see people of character and fortune engaged in it for trifling advantages to themselves? Is any lady ashamed to request of a gentleman of her acquaintance, that, when he returns from abroad, he would smuggle her home a piece of silk or lace from France or Flanders? Is any gentleman ashamed to undertake and execute the commission? Not in the least.
Page 82
May not one be the deficiency of justice and morality in our national government, manifested in our oppressive conduct to subjects, and unjust wars on our neighbours? View the long-persisted-in, unjust, monopolizing treatment of Ireland, at length acknowledged! View the plundering government exercised by our merchants in the Indies; the confiscating war made upon the American colonies; and, to say nothing of those upon France and Spain, view the late war upon Holland, which was seen by impartial Europe in no other light than that of a war of rapine and pillage; the hopes of an immense and easy prey being its only apparent,.
Page 85
[11] This offer having been accepted by the late king of Prussia, a treaty of amity and commerce was concluded between that monarch and the United States, containing the following humane, philanthropic article, in the formation of which Dr.
Page 125
The body of our people are not merchants, but humble husbandmen, who delight in the cultivation of their lands, which, from their fertility and the variety of our climates, are capable of furnishing all the necessaries of life without external commerce; and we have too much land to have the slightest temptation to extend our territory by conquest from peaceable neighbours, as well as too much justice to think of it.
Page 126
That this pretended right is indisputable, as you say, we utterly deny.
Page 128
It bears the stamp of British court intrigue, and the signature of your king.
Page 135
If any Phoenicians arrived in America, I should rather think it was not by the accident of a storm, but in the course of their long and adventurous voyages; and that they coasted from Denmark and Norway, over to Greenland, and down southward by Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, &c.
Page 148
"The Marquis de Lafayette, who loves to be employed in our affairs, and is often very useful, has lately had several conversations with the ministers and persons concerned in forming new regulations respecting the commerce between our two countries, which are not yet concluded.
Page 161
"The English have not yet delivered up the posts on our frontier agreeable to treaty; the pretence is, that our merchants here have not paid their debts.
Page 164
We could not all conveniently start together; and why should you and I be grieved at this, since we are soon to follow, and know where to find him? "Adieu, B.
Page 186
Page 192
The shake was so violent that it threw people down on their knees or their faces, as they were running about for shelter.
Page 195
Experiments afterward made on lightning obtained from the clouds by pointed rods, received into bottles, and subjected to every trial, have since proved this suspicion to be perfectly well founded; and that, whatever properties we find in electricity, are also the properties of lightning.
Page 197
The rod may be fastened to the wall, chimney.
Page 200
As soon as any of the thunder-clouds come over the kite, the pointed wire will draw the electric fire from them, and the kite, with all the twine, will be electrified, and the loose filaments of the twine will stand out every way, and be attracted by an approaching finger.
Page 216
These northeast storms are generally very violent, continue sometimes two or three days, and often do considerable damage in the harbours along the coast.
Page 227
'Tis a kind of audacity to call such general opinions in question, and may subject one to censure.
Page 240
But, as I said before, I would not advise you or any one to depend on having this presence of mind on such an occasion, but learn fairly to swim, as I wish all men were taught to do in their youth; they would, on many occurrences, be the safer for having that skill, and on many more the happier, as freer from painful apprehensions of danger, to say nothing of the enjoyment in so delightful and wholesome an exercise.