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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 79

his discourses were chiefly either
polemic arguments, or explications of the peculiar doctrines of our
sect, and were all to me very dry, uninteresting, and unedifying, since
not a single moral principle was inculcated or enforced. I had some
years before composed a little liturgy or form of prayer for my own
private use (viz., in 1728), entitled _Articles of Belief and Acts of
Religion_. I returned to the use of this, and went no more to the public
assemblies. My conduct might be blameable, but I leave it without
attempting farther to excuse it; my present purpose being to relate
facts, and not to make apologies for them.

It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of
arriving at _moral perfection_; I wished to live without committing any
fault at any time, and to conquer all that either natural inclination,
custom, or company might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew,
what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not _always_ do the
one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had undertaken a task of
more difficulty than I had imagined: while my attention was taken up,
and care employed in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised
by another; habit took the advantage of inattention; inclination was
sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded, at length, that the mere
speculative conviction, that it was our interest to be completely
virtuous, was not sufficient to prevent our slipping; and that the
contrary habits must be broken, and good ones acquired and established,
before we can have any dependance on a steady, uniform rectitude of
conduct. For this purpose I therefore tried the following method.

In the various enumerations of the _moral virtues_ I had met with in my
reading, I found the catalogue more or less numerous, as different
writers included more or fewer ideas under the same name. _Temperance_,
for example, was by some confined to eating and drinking; while by
others it was extended to mean the moderating of every other pleasure,
appetite, inclination, or passion, bodily or mental, even to our avarice
and ambition. I proposed to myself, for the sake of clearness, to use
rather more names, with fewer ideas annexed to each, than a few names
with more ideas; and I included, under thirteen names of virtues, all
that at that time occurred to me as necessary or desirable, and annexed
to each a short precept, which fully expressed the extent I gave to its

These names of _virtues_, with their precepts, were,

1. TEMPERANCE.--Eat not

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Text Comparison with Experiments and Observations on Electricity Made at Philadelphia in America

Page 3
But here we have a bottle containing at the same time a _plenum_ of electrical fire, and a _vacuum_ of the same fire; and yet the equilibrium cannot be restored between them but by a communication _without_! though the _plenum_ presses violently to expand, and the hungry vacuum seems to attract as violently in order to be filled.
Page 4
Page 6
For example: Place an iron shot of three or four inches diameter, on the mouth of a clean dry glass bottle.
Page 11
_ sufficiently.
Page 13
But the spring.
Page 15
remain in the first bottle.
Page 20
--Gilding on a new book, though at first it conducts the shock extremely well, yet fails after ten or a dozen experiments, though it appears otherwise in all respects the same, which we cannot account for.
Page 22
Friction between a non-electric and an electric _per se_, will produce electrical fire; not by _creating_, but _collecting_ it: for it is equally diffused in our walls, floors, earth, and the whole mass of common matter.
Page 24
Page 27
When it passes thro' dense bodies 'tis unseen.
Page 28
Page 30
So is the case between the electrical and common matter.
Page 31
Suspend them by silk lines from the ceiling.
Page 33
Between F, A, H, there is a larger portion that has yet a less surface to rest on and to attract it; here therefore you can get it away still more easily.
Page 34
Page 39
I send you enclosed two little pieces of glass with these metallic stains upon them, which cannot be removed without taking part of the glass with them.
Page 42
I know it is commonly thought that it easily pervades glass, and the experiment of a feather suspended by a thread in a bottle hermetically sealed, yet moved by bringing a nibbed tube near the outside of the bottle, is alledged to prove it.
Page 45
--Glass, a body extremely elastic (and perhaps its elasticity may be owing in some degree to the subsisting of so great a quantity of this repelling fluid in its pores) must, when rubbed, have its rubbed surface somewhat stretched, or its solid parts drawn a little farther asunder, so that the vacancies in which the electrical fluid resides, become larger, affording room for more of that fluid, which is immediately attracted into it from the cushion or hand rubbing, they being supply'd from the common stock.
Page 46
But thus it may: after every stroke, before you pass your hand up to make another, let the second person apply his finger to the wire, take the spark, and then withdraw his finger; and so on till he has drawn a number of sparks; thus will the inner surface be exhausted, and the outer surface charged; then wrap a sheet of gilt paper close round the outer surface, and grasping it in your hand you may receive a shock by applying the finger of the other hand to the wire: for now the vacant pores in the inner surface resume their quantity, and the overcharg'd pores in the outer surface discharge that overplus; the equilibrium being restored through your body, which could not be restored through the glass.
Page 54
When the prime conductor is apply'd to take it off the glass, the back crescent disappears.