Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 61

more queries on any point of morals,
politics, or natural philosophy, to be discussed by the company; and
once in three months produce and read an essay of his own writing, on
any subject he pleased. Our debates were to be under the direction of
a president, and to be conducted in the sincere spirit of inquiry
after truth, without fondness for dispute or desire of victory; and,
to prevent warmth, all expressions of positiveness in opinions, or
direct contradiction, were after some time made contraband, and
prohibited under small pecuniary penalties.[n]

The first members were: Joseph Breintnal, a copier of deeds for the
scriveners, a good-natured, friendly, middle-aged man, a great lover
of poetry, reading all he could meet with, and writing some that was
tolerable; very ingenious in many little knick-knackeries, and of
sensible conversation. Thomas Godfrey, a self-taught mathematician,
great in his way, and afterward inventor of what is now called
Hadley's Quadrant.[94] But he knew little out of his way, and was not
a pleasing companion; as, like most great mathematicians I have met
with, he expected universal precision in everything said, or was
forever denying or distinguishing upon trifles, to the disturbance of
all conversation. He soon left us. Nicholas Scull, a surveyor,
afterward surveyor general, who loved books, and sometimes made a few
verses. William Parsons, bred a shoemaker, but loving reading, had
acquired a considerable share of mathematics, which he first studied
with a view to astrology that he afterward laughed at. He also became
surveyor general. William Maugridge, a joiner, a most exquisite
mechanic, and a solid, sensible man. Hugh Meredith, Stephen Potts, and
George Webb I have characterized before. Robert Grace, a young
gentleman of some fortune, generous, lively, and witty; a lover of
punning and of his friends. And William Coleman, then a merchant's
clerk, about my age, who had the coolest, clearest head, the best
heart, and the exactest morals of almost any man I ever met with. He
became afterward a merchant of great note, and one of our provincial
judges. Our friendship continued without interruption to his death,
upward of forty years; and the club continued almost as long, and was
the best school of philosophy, morality, and politics that then
existed in the province; for our queries, which were read the week
preceding their discussion, put us upon reading with attention upon
the several subjects, that we might speak more to the purpose; and
here, too, we acquired better habits of conversation, everything being
studied in our rules which might prevent our disgusting each other.
From hence the long continuance of the club, which I shall

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 3 [of 3]

Page 10
_ B.
Page 20
Particular colonies are so interested in the trade as not to be willing to admit such a regulation as might be best for the whole; and therefore it was thought best under a general direction.
Page 126
This particular, therefore, was no more than another requisition of greater _clearness_ and precision; and by no means a foundation for the charge of fundamentally wrong and unjust.
Page 138
At least it was not that particular in our constitution (the proprietary power of appointing a governor) which attracted them, that single particular, which alone is now in question, which our venerable founder first, and now the assembly, are endeavouring to change.
Page 157
If it is thought proper to carry the trading part of this plan into execution, would it not be well to _try it first in a few posts_, to which the present colony laws for regulating the Indian trade do not reach; that by experience its utility may be ascertained, or its defects discovered and amended, before it is made general, and those laws repealed to make way for it?--If the Indians find by experience, that they are better used in their trade at the posts, under these regulations, than at other places, may it not make them desirous of having the regulations extended to other places; and when extended, better satisfied with them upon reflection and comparison[74]? FOOTNOTES: [72] The plan remarked upon was under the consideration of ministry before the close of the year 1766, and (as I am inclined to think) after the commencement of 1765.
Page 180
Page 209
No statutes made _since_ the establishment of said colonies and plantations (_except_ as above described in articles 3 and 4) do extend to and operate within said colonies and plantations.
Page 219
and from other equitable laws made by their parliaments, or from instructions given by their princes, or from resolutions of both houses, entered into for the good government of their _own colonies in Ireland and America_.
Page 246
I shall communicate your letter to Mr.
Page 249
But we wish to know, whether any one of them, from principles of humanity, is disposed magnanimously to step in for the relief of an oppressed people, or whether, if, as it seems likely to happen, we should be obliged to break off all connection with Britain, and declare ourselves an independent people, there is any state or power in Europe, who would be willing to enter into an alliance with us for the benefit of our commerce, which amounted, before the war, to near seven millions sterling per annum, and must continually increase, as our people increase most rapidly.
Page 261
But _against this it was alleged_, that injuries from ministers should not be revenged on merchants; that the credit was in consequence of private contracts, made in confidence of good faith; that these ought to be held sacred and faithfully complied with; for that, whatever public utility might be supposed to arise from a breach of private faith, it was unjust, and would in the end be found unwise--honesty being in truth the best policy.
Page 295
The bristly idol soon receives the reverence done to it, and so greedily takes in and incorporates the gummy steam, that it retains the savour of it, and may serve for a nosegay a good while after.
Page 299
" I conceal this correspondent's name, in my care for his life and safety, and cannot but approve his prudence, in chusing to live obscurely.
Page 320
If it should be said, that people are apt to be obstinately attached to old customs, and that it will be difficult to induce them to rise.
Page 352
Dux hostium cum exercitu supra caput est.
Page 355
--Not so far from Zidon, however, as Pensylvania is from Britain; and yet we are, if possible, more _careless_ than the people of Laish! As the scriptures are given for our reproof, instruction and warning, may we make a due use of this example, before it be too late! And is our _country_, any more than our city, altogether free from danger? Perhaps not.
Page 357
But to refuse defending one's self, or one's country, is so unusual a thing among mankind, that possibly they may not believe it, till by experience, they find they can come higher and higher up our river, seize our vessels, land and plunder our plantations and villages, and retire with their booty unmolested.
Page 373
It will be a pleasure to him to hear that my malady does not grow sensibly worse, and that is a great point: for it has always been so tolerable, as not to prevent my enjoying the pleasures of society, and being cheerful in conversation.
Page 374
William Smith, of Philadelphia[204].
Page 383