Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 117

leave was
obtained chiefly on the consideration that the House could throw the
bill out if they did not like it, I drew it so as to make the
important clause a conditional one, namely: "And be it enacted, by the
authority aforesaid, that when the said contributors shall have met
and chosen their managers and treasurer, _and shall have raised by
their contributions a capital stock of ---- value_, (the yearly
interest of which is to be applied to the accommodating of the sick
poor in the said hospital, free of charge for diet, attendance,
advice, and medicines,) _and shall make the same appear to the
satisfaction of the speaker of the Assembly for the time being_, that
_then_ it shall and may be lawful for the said speaker, and he is
hereby required, to sign an order on the provincial treasurer for the
payment of two thousand pounds, in two yearly payments, to the
treasurer of the said hospital, to be applied to the founding,
building, and finishing of the same."

This condition carried the bill through; for the members who had
opposed the grant, and now conceived they might have the credit of
being charitable without the expense, agreed to its passage; and then,
in soliciting subscriptions among the people, we urged the conditional
promise of the law as an additional motive to give, since every man's
donation would be doubled; thus the clause worked both ways. The
subscriptions accordingly soon exceeded the requisite sum, and we
claimed and received the public gift, which enabled us to carry the
design into execution. A convenient and handsome building was soon
erected; the institution has, by constant experience, been found
useful, and flourishes to this day; and I do not remember any of my
political maneuvers the success of which gave me at the time more
pleasure, or wherein, after thinking of it, I more easily excused
myself for having made some use of cunning.

It was about this time that another projector, the Rev. Gilbert
Tennent, came to me with a request that I would assist him in
procuring a subscription for erecting a new meetinghouse. It was to be
for the use of a congregation he had gathered among the Presbyterians
who were originally disciples of Mr. Whitefield. Unwilling to make
myself disagreeable to my fellow-citizens by too frequently soliciting
their contributions, I absolutely refused. He then desired I would
furnish him with a list of the names of persons I knew by experience
to be generous and public-spirited. I thought it would be unbecoming
in me, after their kind compliance with my solicitations, to mark

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were now great objections to our union.
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The governor put me into the commission of the peace; the corporation of the city chose me of the common council, and soon after an alderman; and the citizens at large chose me a burgess to represent them in Assembly.
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The general eagerly laid hold of my words, and said, "Then you, sir, who are a man of interest there, can probably procure them for us; and I beg you will undertake it.
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I.
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Wright, an English physician, when at Paris, wrote to a friend, who was of the Royal Society, an account of the high esteem my experiments were in among the learned abroad, and of their wonder that my writings had been so little noticed in England.
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conversation having a little alarm'd me as to what might be the sentiments of the court concerning us, I wrote it down as soon as I return'd to my lodgings.