Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 12

sea, but my
father declared against it. However, living near the water, I was much
in and about it, learned early to swim well and to manage boats; and
when in a boat or canoe with other boys I was commonly allowed to
govern, especially in any case of difficulty; and upon other occasions
I was generally a leader among the boys, and sometimes led them into
scrapes, of which I will mention one instance, as it shows an early
projecting public spirit, though not then justly conducted.

There was a salt marsh that bounded part of the mill pond, on the edge
of which, at high water, we used to stand to fish for minnows. By much
trampling we had made it a mere quagmire. My proposal was to build a
wharf there fit for us to stand upon, and I showed my comrades a large
heap of stones which were intended for a new house near the marsh and
which would very well suit our purpose. Accordingly, in the evening,
when the workmen were gone, I assembled a number of my playfellows,
and working with them diligently like so many emmets,[22] sometimes
two or three to a stone, we brought them all away and built our little
wharf. The next morning the workmen were surprised at missing the
stones, which were found in our wharf. Inquiry was made after the
removers; we were discovered and complained of; several of us were
corrected by our fathers; and, though I pleaded the usefulness of the
work, mine convinced me that nothing was useful which was not honest.

I think you may like to know something of his person and character. He
had an excellent constitution of body, was of middle stature, but well
set and very strong. He was ingenious, could draw prettily, was
skilled a little in music, and had a clear, pleasing voice, so that
when he played psalm tunes on his violin and sung withal, as he
sometimes did in an evening after the business of the day was over, it
was extremely agreeable to hear. He had a mechanical genius, too, and
on occasion was very handy in the use of other tradesmen's tools; but
his great excellence lay in a sound understanding and solid judgment
in prudential matters, both in private and public affairs. In the
latter, indeed, he was never employed, the numerous family he had to
educate and the straitness of his circumstances keeping him close to
his trade; but I remember well his being frequently visited by leading
people, who consulted him for his opinion in affairs

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Way to Wealth; or, "Poor Richard Improved"

Page 0
1, 1805.
Page 1
half bound 1 0 Wonders of the Horse, recorded in Anecdotes, Prose and Verse, by Joseph Taylor 2 6 Tales of the Robin & other Small Birds, in Verse, by Joseph Taylor 2 6 Instructive Conversation Cards, consisting .
Page 2
' They joined in desiring him to speak his mind, and, gathering round him, he proceeded as follows: 'Friends,' says he, 'the taxes are indeed very heavy; and, if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us.
Page 3
[Illustration: The Sun shone yesterday, and I would not work, to-day it rains and I cannot work.
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" 'And again, "The eye of the master will do more work than both his hands:" and again, "Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge;" and again, "Not to oversee workmen, is to leave them your purse open.
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1, 1805.
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Remember what poor Richard says, "Buy what thou hast no need of, and ere long thou shalt sell thy necessaries.
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Octr.
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" Gain may be temporary and uncertain; but ever, while you live, expense is constant and certain; and "It is easier to build two chimneys, than to keep one in fuel," as Poor Richard says: so, "Rather go to bed supper-less, than rise in debt," Get what you can, and what you get hold, 'Tis the stone that will turn all your lead into gold.
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[Illustration: FINIS.