Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 41

he, "that Franklin had been capable of such a
performance; such painting, such force, such fire! He has even
improved the original. In his common conversation he seems to have no
choice of words; he hesitates and blunders; and yet, good heavens! how
he writes!" When we next met, Ralph discovered the trick we had played
him, and Osborne was a little laughed at.

This transaction fixed Ralph in his resolution of becoming a poet. I
did all I could to dissuade him from it, but he continued scribbling
verses till Pope cured him.[59] He became, however, a pretty good
prose writer. More of him hereafter. But, as I may not have occasion
again to mention the other two, I shall just remark here that Watson
died in my arms a few years after, much lamented, being the best of
our set. Osborne went to the West Indies, where he became an eminent
lawyer and made money, but died young. He and I had made a serious
agreement that the one who happened first to die should, if possible,
make a friendly visit to the other, and acquaint him how he found
things in that separate state. But he never fulfilled his promise.

The governor, seeming to like my company, had me frequently to his
house, and his setting me up was always mentioned as a fixed thing. I
was to take with me letters recommendatory to a number of his friends,
besides the letter of credit to furnish me with the necessary money
for purchasing the press and types, paper, etc. For these letters I
was appointed to call at different times, when they were to be ready;
but a future time was still named. Thus he went on till the ship,
whose departure, too, had been several times postponed, was on the
point of sailing. Then, when I called to take my leave and receive the
letters, his secretary, Dr. Baird, came out to me and said the
governor was extremely busy in writing, but would be down at Newcastle
before the ship, and there the letters would be delivered to me.

Ralph, though married, and having one child, had determined to
accompany me on this voyage. It was thought he intended to establish a
correspondence, and obtain goods to sell on commission; but I found
afterward that, through some discontent with his wife's relations, he
proposed to leave her on their hands, and never return again. Having
taken leave of my friends, and interchanged some promises with Miss
Read, I left Philadelphia in the ship, which anchored at Newcastle.
The governor was there;

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Text Comparison with Benjamin Franklin and the First Balloons

Page 0
It is certainly remarkable that Franklin, in the midst of diplomatic and social duties, could have found time to investigate personally this new invention of which he at once appreciated the possibilities.
Page 1
Montgolfier, of Annonay, was repeated by M.
Page 2
With great Respect, I am, Sir, Your most obedient and most humble Servant B.
Page 3
It contains 50,000 cubic Feet, and is supposed to have Force of Levity equal to 1500 pounds weight.
Page 4
The appearance of the light diminished gradually till it appeared no bigger than one of the Stars, and in about twenty minutes I lost sight of it entirely.
Page 5
With great esteem and respect, for yourself and the Society; I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient & most humble Servant, B.
Page 6
but there was at the same time a good deal of Anxiety for their Safety.
Page 7
_ That is, in plain English, _burning more straw_; for tho' there is a little Mystery made, concerning the kind of Air with which the Balloon is filled, I conceive it to be nothing more than hot Smoke or common Air rarify'd, tho' in this I may be mistaken.
Page 8
It may be attended with important Consequences that no one can foresee.
Page 9
1, 1783.
Page 10
Between One & Two aClock, all Eyes were gratified with seeing it rise majestically from among the Trees, and ascend gradually above the Buildings, a most beautiful Spectacle! When it was about 200 feet high, the brave Adventurers held out and wav'd a little white Pennant, on both Sides their Car, to salute the Spectators, who return'd loud Claps of Applause.
Page 11
Page 12
Bigelow omits paragraph ten beginning "It is said.
Page 13
_ Smyth states that he reproduced this letter from my press-copy but he omits the capital letters and the contractions in spelling, as well as the references "A" and "B," which are given by Bigelow with the remark that the drawings were not found.
Page 14
11, added a missing comma after "Robert" in "Mess^rs.