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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 323

Twopence clear,
A Pin a Day is a Groat a Year.


Philadelphia, April 13, 1738.


I have your favours of the 21st of March, in which you both seem
concerned lest I have imbibed some erroneous opinions. Doubtless I have
my share; and when the natural weakness and imperfection of human
understanding is considered, the unavoidable influence of education,
custom, books, and company upon our ways of thinking, I imagine a man
must have a good deal of vanity who believes, and a good deal of
boldness who affirms, that all the doctrines he holds are true, and all
he rejects are false. And perhaps the same may be justly said of every
sect, church, and society of men, when they assume to themselves that
infallibility, which they deny to the Pope and councils.

I think opinions should be judged of by their influences and effects;
and, if a man holds none that tend to make him less virtuous or more
vicious, it may be concluded he holds none that are dangerous; which I
hope is the case with me.

I am sorry you should have any uneasiness on my account; and if it were
a thing possible for one to alter his opinions in order to please
another, I know none whom I ought more willingly to oblige in that
respect than yourselves. But, since it is no more in a man's power to
_think_ than to _look_ like another, methinks all that should be
expected from me is to keep my mind open to conviction, to hear
patiently and examine attentively, whatever is offered me for that end;
and, if after all I continue in the same errors, I believe your usual
charity will induce you to rather pity and excuse, than blame me. In the
mean time your care and concern for me is what I am very thankful for.

My mother grieves, that one of her sons is an Arian, another an
Arminian. What an Arminian or an Arian is, I cannot say that I very well
know. The truth is, I make such distinctions very little my study. I
think vital religion has always suffered, when orthodoxy is more
regarded than virtue; and the Scriptures assure me, that at the last day
we shall not be examined what we _thought_, but what we _did_;

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Text Comparison with Benjamin Franklin and the First Balloons

Page 0
Smyth states that he printed one letter from my copy, and he noted how the other copies differed from the drafts in the University of Pennsylvania.
Page 1
The Champ de Mars being surrounded by Multitudes, and vast Numbers on the opposite Side of the River.
Page 2
I thought it my Duty, Sir, to send an early Account of this extraordinary Fact, to the Society which does me the honour to reckon me among its Members; and I will endeavour to make it more perfect, as I receive farther Information.
Page 3
to forward the Transactions, as well as to the Council for so readily ordering them on Application.
Page 4
It has been even fancied that in time People will keep such Globes anchored in the Air, to which by Pullies they may draw up Game to be preserved in the Cool & Water to be frozen when Ice is wanted.
Page 5
This Paper was drawn up hastily, and may in some Places appear to you obscure; therefore I shall add a few explanatory Observations.
Page 6
Multitudes in Paris saw the Balloon passing; but did not know there were Men with it, it being then.
Page 7
Robert, two Brothers, very ingenious Men, who have made it in concert with Mr.
Page 8
Thus the great Bulk of one of these Machines, with the short duration of its Power, & the great Expence of filling the other will prevent the Inventions being of so much Use, as some may expect, till Chemistry can invent a cheaper light Air producible with more Expedition.
Page 9
Dear Sir, In mine of yesterday, I promis'd to give you an Account of Mess^rs.
Page 10
I shall inclose one of the Tickets of Admission, on which the Globe was represented, as originally intended, but.
Page 11
Tuesday Evening.
Page 12
_ The hand-writing is in a more flowing style than the subsequent letters.
Page 13
_Letter of November 30.
Page 14
" "Aiant encor" might be "Ayant encore", as printed in the "Journal des scavans" of January 1784, but was not corrected here; p.