Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 2 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 241

and, consequently, it should seem that the consuming of the
coals would rather be checked than augmented by such contraction. And
this will also be the case when both the opening _before_ the fire and
the funnel _above_ the fire are contracted, provided the funnel above
the fire is more contracted in proportion than the opening before the
fire. So, you see, I think you had the best of the argument; and as you,
notwithstanding, gave it up in complaisance to the company, I think you
had also the best of the dispute. There are few, though convinced, that
know how to give up even an error they have been once engaged in
maintaining; there is, therefore, the more merit in dropping a contest
where one thinks one's self right; it is at least respectful to those we
converse with. And, indeed, all our knowledge is so imperfect, and we
are, from a thousand causes, so perpetually subject to mistake and
error, that positiveness can scarce ever become even the most knowing;
and modesty in advancing any opinion, however plain and true we may
suppose it, is always decent, and generally more likely to procure
assent. Pope's rule,

To speak, though sure, with seeming diffidence,

is therefore a good one; and if I had ever seen in your conversation the
least deviation from it, I should earnestly recommend it to your
observation. I am, &c.,


* * * * *

_To M. Dubourg._


* * Your observations on the causes of death, and the experiments which
you propose for recalling to life those who appear to be killed by
lightning, demonstrate equally your sagacity and your humanity. It
appears that the doctrines of life and death, in general, are yet but
little understood.

A toad buried in sand will live, it is said, till the sand becomes
petrified: and then, being enclosed in the stone, it may still live for
we know not how many ages. The facts which are cited in support of this
opinion are too numerous and too

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Text Comparison with Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 4
171 "I regularly took my turn of duty there as a common soldier" 204 "In the evening, hearing a great noise among them, the commissioners walk'd out to see what was the matter" 224 "Our axes .
Page 8
His scientific discoveries were explained in language at once so simple and so clear that plow-boy and exquisite could follow his thought or his experiment to its conclusion.
Page 13
The notes one of my uncles (who had the same kind of curiosity in collecting family anecdotes) once put into my hands, furnished me with several particulars relating to our ancestors.
Page 14
Thomas was bred a smith under his father; but, being ingenious, and encouraged in learning (as all my brothers were) by an Esquire Palmer, then the principal gentleman in that parish, he qualified himself for the business of scrivener; became a considerable man in the county; was a chief mover of all public-spirited undertakings for the county or town of Northampton, and his own village, of which many instances were related of him; and much taken notice of and patronized by the then Lord Halifax.
Page 23
Persons of good sense, I have since observed, seldom fall into it, except lawyers, university men, and men of all sorts that have been bred at Edinborough.
Page 43
Had it been known that I depended on the governor, probably some friend, that knew him better, would have advis'd me not to rely on him, as I afterwards heard it as his known character to be liberal of promises which he never meant to keep.
Page 87
{ } Contrive day's _Question.
Page 103
Now, many of our printers make no scruple of gratifying the malice of individuals by false accusations of the fairest characters among ourselves, augmenting animosity even to the producing of duels; and are, moreover, so indiscreet as to print scurrilous reflections on the government of neighboring states, and even on the conduct of our best national allies, which may be attended with the most pernicious consequences.
Page 109
About this time I wrote a paper (first to be read in Junto, but it was afterward publish'd) on the different accidents and carelessnesses by which houses were set on fire, with cautions against them,.
Page 114
His writing and printing from time to time gave great advantage to his enemies; unguarded expressions, and even erroneous opinions, delivered in preaching, might have been afterwards explain'd or qualifi'd by supposing others that might have accompani'd them, or they might have been deny'd; but _litera scripta manet_.
Page 120
body of the Quakers, on the other, by compliance contrary to their principles; hence a variety of evasions to avoid complying, and modes of disguising the compliance when it became unavoidable.
Page 122
And this is not the only instance of patents taken out for my inventions by others, tho' not always with the same success, which I never contested, as having no desire of profiting by patents myself, and hating disputes.
Page 137
[Illustration: "One afternoon, in the height of this public quarrel, we met in the street"] One afternoon, in the height of this public quarrel, we met in the street.
Page 147
They amounted to near twenty thousand pound, which to pay would have ruined me.
Page 149
The armed brethren, too, kept watch, and reliev'd as methodically as in any garrison town.
Page 155
I forget now the advice I gave; but I think it was, that Dunbar should be written to, and prevail'd with, if possible, to post his troops on the frontiers for their protection, till, by reinforcements from the colonies, he might be able to proceed on the expedition.
Page 159
After dinner, when the company, as was customary at that time, were engag'd in drinking, he took me aside into another room, and acquainted me that he had been advis'd by his friends in England to cultivate a friendship with me, as one who was capable of giving him the best advice, and of contributing most effectually to the making his administration easy; that he therefore desired of all things to have a good understanding with me, and he begged me to be assured of his readiness on all occasions to render me every service that might be in his power.
Page 163
Pitt[113] gave it as one reason for removing this general, and sending Generals Amherst and Wolfe, _that the minister never heard from him, and could not know what he was doing_.
Page 172
" I answer'd, "None at all.
Page 180