Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 6

peeps out under my only coiffure, a fine fur
cap which comes down my forehead almost to my spectacles. Think how this
must appear among the powdered heads of Paris! I wish every lady and
gentleman in France would only be so obliging as to follow my fashion,
comb their own heads as I do mine, dismiss their friseurs, and pay me
half the money they pay to them."

At last, in 1785, he came home, old and broken in health. He was
chosen president, or governor, of Pennsylvania, and the faith of the
people in his wisdom made him delegate to the convention which framed
the Constitution in 1787. He died in 1790, and was buried by his wife
in the graveyard of Christ Church, Philadelphia.

The epitaph which he had written when a printer was not put upon his
tomb:

THE BODY

OF

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN,

PRINTER

(Like the cover of an old book,
Its contents torn out,
And stript of its lettering and gilding,)
Lies here, food for worms.
But the work shall not be lost,
For it will (as he believed) appear once more
In a new and elegant edition,
Revised and corrected
by
The Author.

[Footnote 1: See pp. 198-206.]

[Footnote 2: The time of Braddock's defeat.]

[Footnote 3: When the old duties "upon all rum, spirits, molasses,
syrups, sugar," etc., were renewed, and extended to other articles.]




THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.




Sec. 1. PARENTAGE AND BOYHOOD.


TWYFORD,[4] _at the Bishop of St. Asaph's, 1771_.

Dear Son:[5] I have ever had pleasure in obtaining any little
anecdotes of my ancestors. You may remember the inquiries I made among
the remains of my relations when you were with me in England, and the
journey I undertook for that purpose. Imagining it may be equally
agreeable to you to know the circumstances of my life, many of which
you are yet unacquainted with, and expecting the enjoyment of a week's
uninterrupted leisure in my present country retirement, I sit down to
write them for you. To which I have besides some other inducements.
Having emerged from the poverty and obscurity in which I was born and
bred, to a state of affluence and some degree of reputation in the
world, and having gone so far through life with a considerable share
of

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Keimer wore his beard at full length, because somewhere in the Mosaic law it is said, "Thou shalt not mar the corners of thy beard.
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He now told me he was about to return to Philadelphia, and should carry over a great quantity of goods, in order to open a store there.
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My friend Ralph had kept me poor; he owed me about twenty-seven pounds, which I was now never likely to receive,--a great sum out of my small earnings! I loved him, notwithstanding, for he had many amiable qualities.
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I had heard a bad character of him in London from his wife and her friends, and was not fond of having any more to do with him.
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Their example was followed by many, and our number went on growing continually.
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His paper was thought a better distributer of advertisements than mine, and therefore had many more, which was a profitable thing to him, and a disadvantage to me; for, though I did indeed receive and send papers by post, yet the public opinion was otherwise, for what I did send was by bribing the riders,[104] who took them privately,.
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These things I mention as a caution to young printers, and that they may be encouraged not to pollute their presses and disgrace their profession by such infamous practices, but refuse steadily, as they may see by my example that such a course of conduct will not, on the whole, be injurious to their interests.
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The project was approved, and every member undertook to form his club, but they did not all succeed.
Page 102
He had a loud and clear voice, and articulated his words and sentences so perfectly that he might be heard and understood at a great distance, especially as his auditors, however numerous, observed the most exact silence.
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He said that it had been proposed among them, but not agreed to, for this reason: "When we were first drawn together as a society," says he, "it had pleased God to enlighten our minds so far as to see that some doctrines, which we once esteemed truths, were errors; and that others, which we have esteemed errors, were real truths.
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I gave him a commission, and, parading the garrison, had it read before them, and introduced him to them as an officer who, from his skill in military affairs, was much more fit to command them than myself; and, giving them a little exhortation, took my leave.
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Dr.
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Our new governor, Captain Denny, brought over for me the before-mentioned medal from the Royal Society, which he presented to me at an entertainment given him by the city.
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This gave me some satisfaction, as it showed not only that my instructions were regarded, but discovered likewise some respect for my authority; and I own that, to encourage the practice of remembering and reading those wise sentences, I have sometimes quoted myself with great gravity.