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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 289

All fools have still an itching to deride,
And fain would be upon the laughing side.

Monsieur de la Rochefoucault tells us somewhere in his Memoirs, that the
Prince of Conde delighted much in ridicule, and used frequently to shut
himself up for half a day together in his chamber, with a gentleman that
was his favorite, purposely to divert himself with examining what was
the foible or ridiculous side of every noted person in the court. That
gentleman said afterwards in some company, that he thought nothing was
more ridiculous in anybody, than this same humour in the Prince; and I
am somewhat inclined to be of this opinion. The general tendency there
is among us to this embellishment, which I fear has too often grossly
imposed upon my loving countrymen instead of wit, and the applause it
meets with from a rising generation, fill me with fearful apprehensions
for the future reputation of my country. A young man of modesty (which
is the most certain indication of large capacities) is hereby
discouraged from attempting to make any figure in life; his
apprehensions of being out-laughed will force him to continue in a
restless obscurity, without having an opportunity of knowing his own
merit himself or discovering it to the world, rather than venture to
oppose himself in a place where a pun or a sneer shall pass for wit,
noise for reason, and the strength of the argument be judged by that of
the lungs.

Among these witty gentlemen let us take a view of Ridentius. What a
contemptible figure does he make with his train of paltry admirers! This
wight shall give himself an hour's diversion with the cock of a man's
hat, the heels of his shoes, an unguarded expression in his discourse,
or even some personal defect; and the height of his low ambition is to
put some one of the company to the blush, who perhaps must pay an equal
share of the reckoning with himself. If such a fellow makes laughing the
sole end and purpose of his life; if it is necessary to his
constitution, or if he has a great desire of growing suddenly fat, let
him eat; let him give public notice where any dull stupid rogue may get
a quart of four-penny

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

Page 5
I know you wish you could see me; but, as you cannot, I will describe myself to you.
Page 14
born 1655, died 1744, aetat[24] 89.
Page 17
I had never before seen any of them.
Page 20
"[32] Now, is not "want of sense" (where a man is so unfortunate as to want it) some apology for his "want of modesty?" and would not the lines stand more justly thus? "Immodest words admit _but_ this defense, That want of modesty is want of sense.
Page 21
[36] He was taken up, censured, and imprisoned for a month, by the Speaker's warrant, I suppose, because he would not discover his author.
Page 40
he had no genius for poetry, and advised him to think of nothing beyond the business he was bred to; that, in the mercantile way, though he had no stock, he might, by his diligence and punctuality, recommend himself to employment as a factor,[58] and in time acquire wherewith to trade on his own account.
Page 46
Lyons, too, introduced me to Dr.
Page 51
Denham among the tradesmen to purchase various articles, and seeing them packed up, doing errands, calling upon workmen to dispatch, etc.
Page 55
Our printing house often wanted sorts, and there was no.
Page 65
The wealthy inhabitants opposed any addition, being against all paper currency, from an apprehension that it would depreciate, as it had done in New England, to the prejudice of all creditors.
Page 66
Our debates possessed me so fully of the subject that I wrote and printed an anonymous pamphlet on it, entitled, "The Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currency.
Page 70
We afterward obtained a charter, the company being increased to one hundred.
Page 107
He allowed 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 108
Being thus secure of a majority, I went up, and after a little seeming hesitation agreed to a delay of another hour.
Page 110
I told him this had always been the case with new sects, and that, to put a stop to such abuse, I imagined it might be well to publish the articles of their belief and the rules of their discipline.
Page 125
We parted, he going to Philadelphia and I to Boston.
Page 138
Page 155
" The general replied: "If you can do it in one day, I give leave; otherwise not; for you must certainly sail the day after to-morrow.
Page 158
and the same vessel, laden by the judgment and orders of one captain, shall sail better or worse than when by the orders of another.
Page 164
Should thine, for instance, when published (and I think it could not fail of it), lead the youth to equal the industry and temperance of thy early youth, what a blessing with that class would such a work be! I know of no character living, nor.