Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 40

he had no genius
for poetry, and advised him to think of nothing beyond the business he
was bred to; that, in the mercantile way, though he had no stock, he
might, by his diligence and punctuality, recommend himself to
employment as a factor,[58] and in time acquire wherewith to trade on
his own account. I approved the amusing one's self with poetry now and
then, so far as to improve one's language, but no farther.

On this it was proposed that we should each of us, at our next
meeting, produce a piece of our own composing, in order to improve by
our mutual observations, criticisms, and corrections. As language and
expression were what we had in view, we excluded all considerations of
invention by agreeing that the task should be a version of the
eighteenth Psalm, which describes the descent of Deity. When the time
of our meeting grew nigh, Ralph called on me first, and let me know
his piece was ready. I told him I had been busy, and, having little
inclination, had done nothing. He then showed me his piece for my
opinion, and I much approved it, as it appeared to me to have great
merit. "Now," says he, "Osborne never will allow the least merit in
anything of mine, but makes a thousand criticisms out of mere envy. He
is not so jealous of you; I wish, therefore, you would take this
piece, and produce it as yours; I will pretend not to have had time,
and so produce nothing. We shall then see what he will say to it." It
was agreed, and I immediately transcribed it that it might appear in
my own hand.

We met; Watson's performance was read; there were some beauties in it,
but many defects. Osborne's was read; it was much better; Ralph did it
justice; remarked some faults, but applauded the beauties. He himself
had nothing to produce. I was backward; seemed desirous of being
excused; had not had sufficient time to correct, etc. But no excuse
would be admitted; produce I must. It was read and repeated; Watson
and Osborne gave up the contest, and joined in applauding it. Ralph
only made some criticisms, and proposed some amendments; but I
defended my text. Osborne was against Ralph, and told him he was no
better a critic than poet, so he dropped the argument. As they two
went home together, Osborne expressed himself still more strongly in
favor of what he thought my production, having restrained himself
before, as he said, lest I should think it flattery. "But who would
have imagined," said

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

Page 0
Page 1
with Biographical and Interesting Anecdotes 1 6 Watt's Catechism and Prayers, in 1 vol.
Page 2
'It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their time to be employed in its service: but idleness taxes many of us much more; sloth, by bringing.
Page 3
] "Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labour wears, while the used key is always bright," as Poor Richard says.
Page 4
" And again, "Three removes are as bad as a fire," and again, "Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee:" and again, "If you would have your business done, go; if not, send.
Page 5
" Here you are all.
Page 6
You expect they will be sold cheap, and, perhaps, they may for less than they cost; but, if you have no occasion for them, they must be dear to you.
Page 7
] 'And again, "Pride is as loud a beggar as Want, and a great deal more saucy.
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" The day comes round before you are aware, and the demand is made before you are prepared to satisfy it; or, if you bear your debt in mind, the term, which at first seemed so long, will, as it lessens, appear extremely short: "Time will seem to have added wings to his heels as well as his shoulders.
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' * * * * * Thus the old gentleman ended his harangue.