Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 70

took his books home again.

And now I set on foot my first project of a public nature,--that for a
subscription library.[n] I drew up the proposals, got them put into form
by our great scrivener, Brockden, and, by the help of my friends in the
Junto, procured fifty subscribers of forty shillings each to begin with,
and ten shillings a year for fifty years, the term our company was to
continue. We afterward obtained a charter, the company being increased
to one hundred. This was the mother of all the North American
subscription libraries, now so numerous. It is become a great thing
itself, and continually increasing. These libraries have improved the
general conversation of the Americans, made the common tradesmen and
farmers as intelligent as most gentlemen from other countries, and
perhaps have contributed in some degree to the stand so generally made
throughout the colonies in defense of their privileges.[107]


It is some time since I received the above letters,[108] but I have
been too busy till now to think of complying with the request they
contain. It might, too, be much better done if I were at home among my
papers, which would aid my memory, and help to ascertain dates; but my
return being uncertain, and having just now a little leisure, I will
endeavor to recollect and write what I can; if I live to get home, it
may there be corrected and improved.

Not having any copy here of what is already written, I know not
whether an account is given of the means I used to establish the
Philadelphia Public Library, which, from a small beginning, is now
become so considerable, though I remember to have come down to near
the time of that transaction (1730). I will therefore begin here with
an account of it, which may be struck out if found to have been
already given.

At the time I established myself in Pennsylvania there was not a good
bookseller's shop in any of the colonies to the southward of Boston.
In New York and Philadelphia the printers were indeed stationers; they
sold only paper, etc., almanacs, ballads, and a few common
schoolbooks. Those who loved reading were obliged to send for their
books from England; the members of the Junto had each a few. We had
left the alehouse where we first met, and hired a room to hold our
club in. I proposed that we should all of us bring our books to that
room, where they would not only be ready to

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Text Comparison with Benjamin Franklin Representative selections, with introduction, bibliograpy, and notes

Page 7
(1730), 161 An Apology for Printers (1731), 163 Preface to _Poor Richard_ (1733), 169 A Meditation on a Quart Mugg (1733), 170 Preface to _Poor Richard_ (1734), 172 Preface to _Poor Richard_ (1735), 174 Hints for Those That Would Be Rich (1736), 176 To Josiah Franklin (April 13, 1738), 177 Preface to _Poor Richard_ (1739), 179 A Proposal for Promoting Useful Knowledge among the British Plantations in America (1743), 180 Shavers and.
Page 20
"[i-3] The zeal for experiment was equaled only by its miscellaneousness.
Page 39
"[i-131] It is only reasonable to infer that Franklin (as a member of the Royal Society and as founder of the American Philosophical Society) was alive to the movement toward "undefiled plainness" which had for half a century been gathering momentum.
Page 66
of unruly schoolboys.
Page 123
[i-463] Facsimile reprint by W.
Page 149
Page 175
--He had some ingenious Men among his Friends who amus'd themselves by writing little Pieces for this Paper, which gain'd it Credit, and made it more in Demand; and these Gentlemen often visited us.
Page 271
Thus is the Machine set on work; this is Life.
Page 274
Thus are all the Works of the Creator _equally_ us'd by him; And no Condition of Life or Being is in itself better or preferable to another: The Monarch is not more happy than the Slave, nor the Beggar more miserable than _Croesus_.
Page 301
Page 435
23 4 aft.
Page 526
The iron manufacture employs and enriches British subjects, but is it of any importance to the state, whether the manufacturers live at Birmingham, or Sheffield, or both, since they are still within its bounds, and their wealth and persons still at its command? Could the Goodwin Sands be laid dry by banks, and land equal to a large country thereby gained to England, and presently filled with English inhabitants, would it be right to deprive such inhabitants of the common privileges enjoyed by other Englishmen, the right of vending their produce in the same ports, or of making their own shoes, because a merchant or a shoemaker, living on the old land, might fancy it more for his advantage to trade or make shoes for them? Would this be right, even if the land were gained at the expence of the state? And would it not seem less right, if the charge and labour of gaining the additional territory to Britain had been borne by the settlers themselves? And would not the hardship appear yet greater, if the people of the new country should be allowed no representatives in the parliament enacting such impositions? Now I look on the colonies as so many counties gained to Great Britain, and more advantageous to it than if they had been gained out of the seas around its coasts, and joined to its land: For being in different climates, they afford greater variety of produce, and being separated by the ocean, they increase much more its shipping and seamen; and since they are all included in the British empire, which has only extended itself by their means; and the strength and wealth of the parts are the strength and wealth of the whole; what imports it to the general state, whether a merchant, a smith, or a hatter, grow rich in Old or New England? And if, through increase of people, two smiths are wanted for one employed before, why may not the _new_ smith be allowed to live and thrive in the _new_ country, as well as the _old_ one in the _old_? In fine, why should the countenance of a state be _partially_ afforded to its people, unless it be most in favour of those who have most merit? And if there be any difference, those who have most contributed to enlarge Britain's empire and commerce, increase her strength, her wealth, and the numbers of her people, at the risk of their own lives and private fortunes in new.
Page 585
Custom-houses are established in all of them, by virtue of laws made here, and the duties constantly paid, except by a few smugglers, such as are here and in all countries; but internal taxes laid on them by Parliament, are still and ever will be objected to, for the reasons that you will see in the mentioned Examination.
Page 592
This law was not made by the poor.
Page 637
It is impossible we should think of Submission to a Government, that has with the most wanton Barbarity and Cruelty burnt our defenceless Towns in the midst of Winter, excited the Savages to massacre our Peacefull Farmers, and our Slaves to murder their Masters, and is even now bringing foreign Mercenaries to deluge our Settlements with Blood.
Page 651
[94] I had the curiosity to procure the book and read it.
Page 668
For if the Deity himself, being the monarch may for a time give way to calumny, and suffer it to operate the destruction of the best of subjects; what mischief may you not expect from such power in a mere man, though the best of men, from whom the truth is often industriously hidden, and to whom falsehood is often presented in its place, by artful, interested, and malicious courtiers? And be cautious in trusting him even with limited powers, lest sooner or later he sap and destroy those limits, and render himself absolute.
Page 672
But it is my fault.
Page 686
_A blue and white Belt with red Tassels.
Page 758
The Labourers in their own Country are, as I am well informed, worse fed, lodged, and cloathed.