Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 103

the curiosity to learn how
far he could be heard, by retiring backward down the street toward the
river; and I found his voice distinct till I came near Front Street,
when some noise in that street obscured it. Imagining then a
semicircle, of which my distance should be the radius, and that it
were filled with auditors, to each of whom I allowed two square feet,
I computed that he might well be heard by more than thirty thousand.
This reconciled me to the newspaper accounts of his having preached to
twenty-five thousand people in the fields, and to the ancient
histories of generals haranguing whole armies, of which I had
sometimes doubted.

By hearing him often, I could distinguish easily between sermons newly
composed and those which he had often preached in the course of his
travels. His delivery of the latter was so improved by frequent
repetitions that every accent, every emphasis, every modulation of
voice, was so perfectly well turned and well placed that, without
being interested in the subject, one could not help being pleased with
the discourse; a pleasure of much the same kind with that received
from an excellent piece of music. This is an advantage itinerant
preachers have over those who are stationary, as the latter cannot
well improve their delivery of a sermon by so many rehearsals.

His writing and printing from time to time gave great advantage to his
enemies. Unguarded expressions and even erroneous opinions, delivered
in preaching, might have been afterward explained or qualified by
supposing others that might have accompanied them, or they might have
been denied; but _litera scripta manet_.[129] Critics attacked his
writings violently, and with so much appearance of reason as to
diminish the number of his votaries and prevent their increase; so
that I am of opinion if he had never written anything, he would have
left behind him a much more numerous and important sect, and his
reputation might in that case have been still growing, even after his
death; as, there being nothing of his writing on which to found a
censure and give him a lower character, his proselytes would be left
at liberty to feign for him as great a variety of excellences as their
enthusiastic admiration might wish him to have possessed.

My business was now continually augmenting, and my circumstances
growing daily easier, my newspaper having become very profitable, as
being for a time almost the only one in this and the neighboring
provinces. I experienced, too, the truth of the observation that
"after getting the first hundred pounds it is more easy to get the

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Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 1 [of 3]

Page 13
Thomas had learned the trade of a blacksmith under his father; but possessing a good natural understanding, he improved it by study, at the solicitation of a gentleman of the name of Palmer, who was at that time the principal inhabitant of the village, and who encouraged, in like manner, all my uncles to cultivate their minds.
Page 14
My uncle, it seems, had left it behind him on his departure for America, about fifty years ago.
Page 36
he said, a young man of very promising talents, and that, of consequence, I ought to be encouraged; that there were at Philadelphia none but very ignorant printers, and that if I were to set up for myself, he had no doubt of my success; that, for his own part, he would procure me all the public business, and would render me every other service in his power.
Page 56
I took leave therefore, as I believed for ever, of printing, and gave myself up entirely to my new occupation, spending all my time either in going from house to house with Mr.
Page 71
The wealthy inhabitants, prejudiced against every sort of paper currency, from the fear of its depreciation, of which there had been an instance in the province of New England, to the injury of its holders, strongly opposed the measure.
Page 74
Godfrey formed a wish of marrying me to the daughter of one of her relations.
Page 79
Franklin early saw the necessity of these; and, about the year 1728, formed the first fire company in this city.
Page 85
basis, is incontestibly due to Franklin.
Page 102
Although Dr.
Page 107
They listened not to his advice.
Page 109
His personal influence was hence very considerable.
Page 120
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9) big enough to contain a man and an electrical stand.
Page 243
It will then, indeed, hang at a less distance from the other, but the full and the half quantities will not appear to attract each other, that is, the balls will not come together.
Page 244
The difference was easily discovered by his cork balls, as he passed out of one room into another.
Page 265
When I was last year in Germany, I met with a singular kind of glass, being a tube about eight inches long, half an inch in diameter, with a hollow ball of near an inch diameter at one end, and one of an inch and half at the other, hermetically sealed, and half filled with water.
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conjectures as to its cause, _ibid.
Page 336
address to the public on the abolition of, iii.