Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 91

industry and
frugality as the means of procuring wealth, and thereby securing
virtue; it being more difficult for a man in want to act always
honestly, as (to use here one of those proverbs) "it is hard for an
empty sack to stand upright."

These proverbs, which contained the wisdom of many ages and nations, I
assembled and formed into a connected discourse,[119] prefixed to the
Almanac of 1757 as the harangue of a wise old man to the people
attending an auction. The bringing all these scattered counsels thus
into a focus enabled them to make greater impression. The piece, being
universally approved, was copied in all the newspapers of the
Continent, reprinted in Britain on a broadside,[120] to be stuck up in
houses, two translations were made of it in French, and great numbers
bought by the clergy and gentry to distribute gratis among their poor
parishioners and tenants. In Pennsylvania, as it discouraged useless
expense in foreign superfluities, some thought it had its share of
influence in producing that growing plenty of money which was
observable for several years after its publication.

I considered my newspaper, also, as another means of communicating
instruction, and in that view frequently reprinted in it extracts from
the "Spectator," and other moral writers, and sometimes published
little pieces of my own, which had been first composed for reading in
our Junto. Of these are a Socratic dialogue, tending to prove that,
whatever might be his parts and abilities, a vicious man could not
properly be called a man of sense; and a discourse on self-denial,
showing that virtue is not secure till its practice becomes a
habitude, and is free from the opposition of contrary inclinations.
These may be found in the papers about the beginning of 1735.

In the conduct of my newspaper, I carefully excluded all libeling and
personal abuse, which is of late years become so disgraceful to our
country. Whenever I was solicited to insert anything of that kind, and
the writers pleaded, as they generally did, the liberty of the press,
and that a newspaper was like a stagecoach, in which any one who would
pay had a right to a place, my answer was that I would print the piece
separately if desired, and the author might have as many copies as he
pleased to distribute himself, but that I would not take upon me to
spread his detraction; and that, having contracted with my subscribers
to furnish them with what might be either useful or entertaining, I
could not fill their papers with private altercation, in which they
had no concern, without doing

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Text Comparison with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 0
In 1758, the year in which he ceases writing for the Almanac, he printed in it "Father Abraham's Sermon," now regarded as the most famous piece of literature produced in Colonial America.
Page 9
My mother had likewise an excellent constitution: she suckled all her ten children.
Page 11
Plutarch's Lives there was in which I read abundantly, and I still think that time spent to great advantage.
Page 14
This was to teach me method in the arrangement of thoughts.
Page 17
" This, however, I should submit to better judgments.
Page 25
one Keimer, who, perhaps, might employ me; if not, I should be welcome to lodge at his house, and he would give me a little work to do now and then till fuller business should offer.
Page 42
This, however, was not then of much consequence, as he was totally unable; and in the loss of his friendship I found myself relieved from a burthen.
Page 46
I taught him and a friend of his to swim at twice going into the river, and they soon became good swimmers.
Page 72
, etc.
Page 73
in form of articles of agreement to be subscribed, by which each subscriber engag'd to pay a certain sum down for the first purchase of books, and an annual contribution for increasing them.
Page 80
" Another from Cicero, "O vitae Philosophia dux! O virtutum indagatrix expultrixque vitiorum! Unus dies, bene et ex praeceptis tuis actus, peccanti immortalitati est anteponendus.
Page 98
The small fines that have been paid by members for absence at the monthly meetings have been apply'd to the purchase of fire-engines, ladders, fire-hooks, and other useful implements for each company, so that I question whether there is a city in the world better provided with the means of putting a stop to beginning conflagrations; and, in fact, since these institutions, the city has never lost by fire more than one or two houses at a time, and the flames have often been extinguished before the house in which they began has been half consumed.
Page 103
I was call'd upon for the instrument of association, and having settled the draft of it with a few friends, I appointed a meeting of the citizens in the large building before mentioned.
Page 109
This pamphlet had a good effect.
Page 111
The Moravian happen'd not to please his colleagues, and on his death they resolved to have no other of that sect.
Page 148
We met and discuss'd the business.
Page 151
He answer'd, three days.
Page 155
Temple Franklin and his successors.
Page 162
1776 Placed on the committee to draft a Declaration of Independence; chosen president of the Constitutional Committee of Pennsylvania; sent to France as agent of the colonies.
Page 163
His grave is in the churchyard at Fifth and Arch streets, Philadelphia.