Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 86

a good constitution; to industry and frugality, the
early easiness of his circumstances and acquisition of his fortune,
with all that knowledge that enabled him to be a useful citizen, and
obtained for him some degree of reputation among the learned; to
sincerity and justice, the confidence of his country, and the
honorable employs it conferred upon him; and to the joint influence of
the whole mass of the virtues, even in the imperfect state he was able
to acquire them, all that evenness of temper and that cheerfulness in
conversation which makes his company still sought for, and agreeable
even to his younger acquaintance. I hope, therefore, that some of my
descendants may follow the example and reap the benefit.

It will be remarked that, though my scheme was not wholly without
religion, there was in it no mark of any of the distinguishing tenets
of any particular sect. I had purposely avoided them; for, being fully
persuaded of the utility and excellency of my method, and that it
might be serviceable to people in all religions, and intending some
time or other to publish it, I would not have anything in it that
should prejudice any one, of any sect, against it. I purposed writing
a little comment on each virtue, in which I would have shown the
advantages of possessing it, and the mischiefs attending its opposite
vice; and I should have called my book "The Art of Virtue,"[114]
because it would have shown the means and manner of obtaining virtue,
which would have distinguished it from the mere exhortation to be
good, that does not instruct and indicate the means, but is like the
apostle's man of verbal charity, who only, without showing to the
naked and hungry how or where they might get clothes or victuals,
exhorted them to be fed and clothed. (James ii. 15, 16.)

But it so happened that my intention of writing and publishing this
comment was never fulfilled. I did, indeed, from time to time, put
down short hints of the sentiments, reasonings, etc., to be made use
of in it, some of which I have still by me; but the necessary close
attention to private business in the earlier part of my life, and
public business since, has occasioned my postponing it; for, it being
connected in my mind with a great and extensive project, that required
the whole man to execute, and which an unforeseen succession of
employs prevented my attending to, it has hitherto remained unfinished.

In this piece it was my design to explain and enforce this doctrine,
that vicious actions are not

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 2
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 felicity, the conducing means I made use of, which with the blessing of God so well succeeded, my posterity may like to know, as they may find some of them suitable to their own situations, and therefore fit to be imitated.
Page 9
They lie buried together at Boston, where I some years since placed a marble over their grave, with this inscription: JOSIAH FRANKLIN, and ABIAH his Wife, lie here interred.
Page 16
This habit, I believe, has been of great advantage to me when I have had occasion to inculcate my opinions, and persuade men into measures that I have been from time to time engag'd in promoting; and, as the chief ends of conversation are to inform or to be informed, to please or to persuade, I wish well-meaning, sensible men would not lessen their power of doing good by a positive, assuming manner, that seldom fails to disgust, tends to create opposition, and to defeat every one of those purposes for which speech was given to us, to wit, giving or receiving information or pleasure.
Page 28
I was better dress'd than ever while in his service, having a genteel new suit from head to foot, a watch, and my pockets lin'd with near five pounds sterling in silver.
Page 31
His drinking continu'd, about which we sometimes quarrell'd; for, when a little intoxicated, he was very fractious.
Page 41
Page 44
So I went on now very agreeably.
Page 48
For the incidents of the voyage, I refer you to my journal, where you will find them all minutely related.
Page 57
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, every thing being studied in our rules which might prevent our disgusting each other.
Page 97
Walking the rounds, too, was often neglected, and most of the nights spent in tippling.
Page 98
Associates in this scheme were presently found, amounting to thirty.
Page 104
Meanwhile, Colonel Lawrence, William Allen, Abram Taylor, Esqr.
Page 109
, That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of.
Page 113
Their dark-colour'd bodies, half naked, seen only by the gloomy light of the bonfire, running after and beating one another with firebrands, accompanied by their horrid yellings, form'd a scene the most resembling our ideas of hell that could well be imagin'd; there was no appeasing the tumult, and we retired to our lodging.
Page 116
Unwilling to make myself disagreeable to my fellow-citizens by too frequently soliciting their contributions, I absolutely refus'd.
Page 117
After some time I drew a bill for paving the city, and brought it into the Assembly.
Page 118
, to communicate flame more suddenly to the wick by a little flax hanging down thro' them, the other use, of letting in air, seems not to have been thought of; and therefore, after the lamps have been lit a few hours, the streets of London are very poorly illuminated.
Page 132
This guard being disordered, the general hurried the troops up to their assistance, which was done in great confusion, thro' waggons, baggage, and cattle; and presently the fire came upon their flank: the officers, being on horseback, were more easily distinguish'd, pick'd out as marks, and fell very fast; and the soldiers were crowded together in a huddle, having or hearing no orders, and standing to be shot at till two-thirds of them were killed; and then, being seiz'd with a panick, the whole fled with precipitation.
Page 153
commission for my service, "O, sir," says he, "you must not think of persuading us that you are no gainer; we understand better those affairs, and know that every one concerned in supplying the army finds means, in the doing it, to fill his own pockets.
Page 159
He, however, having done it at the instance of the General, and for His Majesty's service, and having some powerful interest at court, despis'd the threats and they were never put in execution.