Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 101

so that even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a
missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at
his service.

Mr. Whitefield, in leaving us, went preaching all the way through the
colonies to Georgia. The settlement of that province had lately been
begun, but, instead of being made with hardy, industrious husbandmen,
accustomed to labor,--the only people fit for such an enterprise,--it
was with families of broken shopkeepers and other insolvent debtors,
many of indolent and idle habits, taken out of the jails, who, being
set down in the woods, unqualified for clearing land and unable to
endure the hardships of a new settlement, perished in numbers, leaving
many helpless children unprovided for.[127] The sight of their
miserable situation inspired the benevolent heart of Mr. Whitefield
with the idea of building an orphan house[128] there, in which they
might be supported and educated. Returning northward, he preached up
this charity, and made large collections, for his eloquence had a
wonderful power over the hearts and purses of his hearers, of which I
myself was an instance.

I did not disapprove of the design, but, as Georgia was then destitute
of materials and workmen, and it was proposed to send them from
Philadelphia at a great expense, I thought it would have been better
to have built the house here, and brought the children to it. This I
advised; but he was resolute in his first project, rejected my
counsel, and I therefore refused to contribute. I happened soon after
to attend one of his sermons, in the course of which I perceived he
intended to finish with a collection, and I silently resolved he
should get nothing from me. I had in my pocket a handful of copper
money, three or four silver dollars, and five pistoles in gold. As he
proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give the coppers.
Another stroke of his oratory made me ashamed of that, and determined
me to give the silver; and he finished so admirably that I emptied my
pocket wholly into the collector's dish, gold and all. At this sermon
there was also one of our club, who, being of my sentiments respecting
the building in Georgia, and suspecting a collection might be
intended, had, by precaution, emptied his pockets before he came from
home. Toward the conclusion of the discourse, however, he felt a
strong desire to give, and applied to a neighbor who stood near him,
to borrow some money for the purpose. The application was
unfortunately to perhaps the only man in the company who had the
firmness not

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See his .
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[64] [63] Here the first part of the _Autobiography_, written at Twyford in 1771, ends.
Page 93
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Page 188
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