Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 0







Copyright, 1896 and 1910, by


W. P. 12


When Franklin was born, in 1706, Queen Anne was on the English throne,
and Swift and Defoe were pamphleteering. The one had not yet written
"Gulliver's Travels," nor the other "Robinson Crusoe;" neither had
Addison and Steele and other wits of Anne's reign begun the
"Spectator." Pope was eighteen years old.

At that time ships bringing news, food and raiment, and laws and
governors to the ten colonies of America, ran grave chances of falling
into the hands of the pirates who infested the waters of the shores.
In Boston Cotton Mather was persecuting witches. There were no stage
coaches in the land,--merely a bridle path led from New York to
Philadelphia,--and a printing press throughout the colonies was a

Only six years before Franklin's birth, the first newspaper report for
the first newspaper in the country was written on the death of Captain
Kidd and six of his companions near Boston, when the editor of the
"News-Letter" told the story of the hanging of the pirates, detailing
the exhortations and prayers and their taking-off. Franklin links us
to another world of action.

His boyhood in Boston was a stern beginning of the habit of hard work
and rigid economy which marked the man. For a year he went to the
Latin Grammar School on School Street, but left off at the age of ten
to help his father in making soap and candles. He persisted in showing
such "bookish inclination," however, that at twelve his father
apprenticed him to learn the printer's trade. At seventeen he ran off
to Philadelphia and there began his independent career.

In the main he led such a life as the maxims of "Poor Richard"[1]
enjoin. The pages of the Autobiography show few deviations from such a
course. He felt the need of school training and set to work to educate
himself. He had an untiring industry, and love of the approval of his
neighbor; and he knew that more things fail through want of care than
want of knowledge. His practical imagination was continually forming
projects; and, fortunately for the world, his great physical strength
and activity were always setting his ideas in motion. He was
human-hearted, and this strong sympathy of his, along with his
strength and zeal and "projecting

Next Page

Text Comparison with Experiments and Observations on Electricity Made at Philadelphia in America

Page 1
reflections, to a probable cause of those phaenomena, which are at once the most awful, and, hitherto, accounted for with the least verisimilitude.
Page 2
Place it on a non-electric, and touch the wire, you will get it out in a short time; but soonest.
Page 5
A suspended small cork-ball will play between these books 'till the equilibrium is restored.
Page 7
To prove that the electrical fire is _drawn off_ by the point, if you take the blade of the bodkin out of the wooden handle, and fix it in a stick of sealing wax, and then present it at the distance aforesaid, or if you bring it very near, no such effect follows; but sliding one finger along the wax till you touch the blade, and the ball flies to the shot immediately.
Page 9
If they touch while electrising, the equality is never destroy'd, the fire only circulating.
Page 11
Page 13
the bottle by one part, and did not enter in again by another; then, if a man standing on wax, and holding the bottle in one hand, takes the spark by touching the wire hook with the other, the bottle being thereby _discharged_, the man would be _charged_; or whatever fire was lost by one, would be found in the other, since there is no way for its escape: But the contrary is true.
Page 16
If now the picture be moderately electrified, and another person take hold of the frame with one hand, so that his fingers touch its inside gilding, and with the other hand endeavour to take off the crown, he will receive a terrible blow, and fail in the attempt.
Page 20
--Gilding on a new book, though at first it conducts the shock extremely well, yet fails after ten or a dozen experiments, though it appears otherwise in all respects the same, which we cannot account for.
Page 27
An electrical spark, drawn from an irregular body at some distance is scarce ever strait, but shows crooked and waving in the air.
Page 34
For the man, and what he holds in his hand, be it large or small, are connected with the common mass of unelectrified matter; and the force with which he draws is the same in both cases, it consisting in the different proportion of electricity in the electrified body and that common mass.
Page 35
And if the person holding the point stands upon wax, he will be electrified by receiving the fire at that distance.
Page 37
Page 38
The biggest animal we have yet killed or try'd to kill with the electrical stroke, was a well-grown pullet.
Page 44
When the glass has received and, by its attraction, forced closer together so much of this electrified fluid, as that the power of attracting and condensing in the one, is equal to the power of expansion in the other, it can imbibe no more, and that remains its constant whole quantity; but each surface would receive more, if the repellency of what is in the opposite surface did not resist its entrance.
Page 45
Let us now see how it will account for several other appearances.
Page 46
Page 47
Hence we see the.
Page 48
I have try'd another way, which I thought more likely to obtain a mixture of the electrical and other effluvia together, if such a mixture had been possible.
Page 50
For the globe then draws the electrical fire out of the outside surface of the phial, and forces it, through the prime conductor and wire of the phial, into the inside surface.