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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 242

of the nights spent in tippling. I thereupon wrote a paper to be
read in Junto, representing these irregularities, but insisting more
particularly on the inequality of this six-shilling tax of the
constables, respecting the circumstances of those who paid it, since a
poor widow housekeeper, all whose property to be guarded by the watch
did not perhaps exceed the value of fifty pounds, paid as much as the
wealthiest merchant, who had thousands of pounds' worth of goods in his

On the whole, I proposed as a more effectual watch, the hiring of proper
men to serve constantly in that business; and as a more equitable way of
supporting the charge, the levying a tax that should be proportion'd to
the property. This idea, being approv'd by the Junto, was communicated
to the other clubs, but as arising in each of them; and though the plan
was not immediately carried into execution, yet, by preparing the minds
of people for the change, it paved the way for the law obtained a few
years after, when the members of our clubs were grown into more

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. This was much spoken of as a useful piece,
and gave rise to a project, which soon followed it, of forming a company
for the more ready extinguishing of fires, and mutual assistance in
removing and securing of goods when in danger. Associates in this scheme
were presently found, amounting to thirty. Our articles of agreement
oblig'd every member to keep always in good order, and fit for use, a
certain number of leather buckets, with strong bags and baskets (for
packing and transporting of goods), which were to be brought to every
fire; and we agreed to meet once a month and spend a social evening
together, in discoursing and communicating such ideas as occurred to us
upon the subject of fires, as might be useful in our conduct on such

The utility of this institution soon appeared, and many more desiring to
be admitted than we thought convenient for one company, they were
advised to form another, which was accordingly done; and this went on,
one new company being formed after another, till they became so numerous
as to include most of the inhabitants who were men of property; and now,
at the time of my writing this, tho' upward of fifty years since its
establishment, that

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Text Comparison with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 4
The account we received of his life and character from some old people at Ecton, I remember, struck you as something extraordinary, from its similarity to what you knew of mine.
Page 24
Then I turned and went down Chestnut-street and part of Walnut-street, eating my roll all the way, and, coming round, found myself again at Market-street wharf, near the boat I came in, to which I went for a draught of the river water; and, being filled with one of my rolls, gave the other two to a woman and her child that came down the river in the boat with us, and were waiting to go farther.
Page 29
A friend of his, one Vernon, having some money due to him in Pensilvania, about thirty-five pounds currency, desired I would receive it for him, and keep it till I had his directions what to remit it in.
Page 41
Sir Hans Sloane heard of it, came to see me, and invited me to his house in Bloomsbury Square, where he show'd me all his curiosities, and persuaded me to let him add that to the number, for which he paid me handsomely.
Page 46
She look'd pale, but was never sick; and I give it as another instance on how small an income life and health may be supported.
Page 52
I objected my want of money.
Page 70
This is an advantage attendant upon a various character, and which brings all that belongs to it into greater play; and it is the more useful, as perhaps more persons are at a loss for the means of improving their minds and characters, than they are for the time or the inclination to do it.
Page 76
As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other.
Page 80
And like him who, having a garden to weed, does not attempt to eradicate all the bad herbs at once, which would exceed his reach and his strength, but works on one of the beds at a time, and, having accomplish'd the first, proceeds to a second, so I should have, I hoped, the encouraging pleasure of seeing on my pages the progress I made in virtue, by clearing successively my lines of their spots, till in the end, by a number of courses, I should be happy in viewing a clean book, after a thirteen weeks' daily examination.
Page 82
Page 84
Order, too, with regard to places for things, papers, etc.
Page 85
What reverses may attend the remainder is in the hand of Providence; but, if they arrive, the reflection on past happiness enjoy'd ought to help his bearing them with more resignation.
Page 88
In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride.
Page 102
, which are attended often with breach of friendship and of the connection, perhaps with lawsuits and other disagreeable consequences.
Page 106
When the hour for business arriv'd it was mov'd to put the vote; he allow'd we might then do it by the rules, but, as he could assure us that a number of members intended to be present for the purpose of opposing it, it would be but candid to allow a little time for their appearing.
Page 112
Spence's apparatus, who had come from England to lecture here, and I proceeded in my electrical experiments with great alacrity; but the publick, now considering me as a man of leisure, laid hold of me for their purposes, every part of our civil government, and almost at the same time, imposing some duty upon me.
Page 116
"That I will readily do," said I; "and, in the first place, I advise you to apply to all those whom you know will give something; next, to those whom you are uncertain whether they will give any thing or not, and show them the list of those who have given; and, lastly, do not neglect those who you are sure will give nothing, for in some of them you may be mistaken.
Page 137
I gave them each a gun with suitable ammunition.
Page 154
One man builds the hull, another rigs her, a third lades and sails her.
Page 158
They alledg'd that the act was intended to load the proprietary estate in order to spare those of the people, and that if it were suffer'd to continue in force, and the proprietaries who were in odium with the people, left to their mercy in proportioning the taxes, they would inevitably be ruined.