Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 87

hurtful because they are forbidden, but
forbidden because they are hurtful, the nature of man alone considered;
that it was, therefore, every one's interest to be virtuous who wished
to be happy even in this world; and I should, from this circumstance,
(there being always in the world a number of rich merchants, nobility,
states, and princes, who have need of honest instruments for the
management of their affairs, and such being so rare,) have endeavored to
convince young persons that no qualities were so likely to make a poor
man's fortune as those of probity and integrity.

My list of virtues contained at first but twelve; but a Quaker friend
having kindly informed me that I was generally thought proud; that my
pride showed itself frequently in conversation; that I was not content
with being in the right when discussing any point, but was overbearing
and rather insolent, of which he convinced me by mentioning several
instances,--I determined endeavoring to cure myself, if I could, of
this vice or folly among the rest, and I added Humility to my list,
giving an extensive meaning to the word.

I cannot boast of much success in acquiring the reality of this
virtue, but I had a good deal with regard to the appearance of it. I
made it a rule to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiments
of others, and all positive assertion of my own. I even forbade
myself, agreeably to the old laws of our Junto, the use of every word
or expression in the language that imported a fixed opinion, such as
"certainly," "undoubtedly," etc., and I adopted, instead of them, "I
conceive," "I apprehend," or "I imagine" a thing to be so or so; or
"it so appears to me at present." When another asserted something that
I thought an error, I denied myself the pleasure of contradicting him
abruptly, and of showing immediately some absurdity in his
proposition; and in answering I began by observing that in certain
cases or circumstances his opinion would be right, but in the present
case there "appeared" or "seemed" to me some difference, etc. I soon
found the advantage of this change in my manner: the conversations I
engaged in went on more pleasantly; the modest way in which I proposed
my opinions procured them a readier reception and less contradiction;
I had less mortification when I was found to be in the wrong; and I
more easily prevailed with others to give up their mistakes and join
with me when I happened to be in the right.

And this mode, which I at first put

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Text Comparison with Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 1 of 2] With His Most Interesting Essays, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings; Familiar, Moral, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, Selected with Care from All His Published Productions, and Comprising Whatever Is Most Entertaining and Valuable to the General Reader

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IN TWO VOLUMES.
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Stuber 191 Extracts from Franklin's Will 227 WRITINGS OF FRANKLIN.
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" This, however, I should submit to better judgments.
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"Paris, January 31, 1783.
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| * | * | * | | * | * | * | +------+------+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+ | Res.
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After a while I went through one course only in a year; and afterward only one in several years; till at length I omitted them entirely, being employed.
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"No," said the smith, "turn on, we shall have it bright by-and-by; as yet 'tis only speckled.
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The design in building not being to accommodate any particular sect, but the inhabitants in general.
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Another stroke of his oratory made me ashamed of that, and determined me to give the silver; and he finished so admirably, that I emptied my pocket wholly into the collector's dish, gold and all! At this sermon there was also one of our club, who, being of my sentiments respecting the building in Georgia, and suspecting a collection might be intended, had, by precaution, emptied his pockets before he came from home; towards the conclusion of the discourse, however, he felt a strong inclination to give, and applied to a neighbour who stood near him to lend him some money for the purpose.
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In the introduction to these proposals, I stated their publication not as an act of mine, but of some _public-spirited gentleman_; avoiding as much as I could, according to my usual rule, the presenting myself to the public as the author of any scheme for their benefit.
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I had observed that the streets, when dry, were never swept, and the light dust carried away; but it was suffered to accumulate till wet weather reduced it to mud; and then, after lying some days so deep on the pavement that there was no crossing but in paths kept clean by poor people with brooms, it was with great labour raked together and thrown up into carts open above, the sides of which suffered some of the slush at every jolt on the pavement to shake out and fall; sometimes to the annoyance of foot-passengers.
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On this occasion, however, they, to their surprise, found it adopted by but a few.
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He answered, Three days.
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Guericke first observed the repulsive power of electricity, and the light and noise produced by it.
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These were terms which could not be accepted, and the object of the commissioners could not be obtained.
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These, as they are stated in my great folio leger E, I bequeath to the contributors of the Pennsylvania Hospital, hoping that those debtors, and the descendants of such as are deceased, who now, as I find, make some difficulty of satisfying such antiquated demands as just debts, may,.
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_ No, never, unless compelled by force of arms.
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_ If the stamp-act should be repealed, would not the Americans think they could oblige the Parliament to repeal every external tax-law now in force? _A.
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" This treaty has been since frequently renewed, and the chain brightened, as they express it, from time to time.
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" From the Saracens this same custom obtained.