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 244

no covering to shelter his head from the dews of night,
rent in twain the proud dominion of England, and lived to be the
ambassador of a commonwealth which he had formed, at the court of the
haughty monarchs of France who had been his allies.

"Then he had been tried by prosperity as well as adverse fortune, and
had passed unhurt through the perils of both. No ordinary apprentice, no
commonplace journeyman, ever laid the foundation of his independence in
habits of industry and temperance more deep than he did, whose genius
was afterward to rank him with the Galileos and the Newtons of the Old
World. No patrician born to shine in courts, or assist at the councils
of monarchs, ever bore his honours in a lofty station more easily, or
was less spoiled by the enjoyment of them, than this common workman did
when negotiating with royal representatives, or caressed by all the
beauty and fashion of the most brilliant court in Europe.

"Again, he was self-taught in all he knew. His hours of study were
stolen from those of sleep and of meals, or gained by some ingenious
contrivance for reading while the work of his daily calling went on.
Assisted by none of the helps which affluence tenders to the studies of
the rich, he had to supply the place of tutors by redoubled diligence,
and of commentaries by repeated perusal. Nay, the possession of books
was to be obtained by copying what the art he himself exercised
furnished easily to others.

"Next, the circumstances under which others succumb, he made to yield
and bend to his own purposes; a successful leader of a revolt that ended
in complete triumph, after appearing desperate for years; a great
discoverer in philosophy, without the ordinary helps to knowledge; a
writer famed for his chaste style, without a classical education; a
skilful negotiator, though never bred to politics; ending as a
favourite, nay, a pattern of fashion, when the guest of frivolous
courts, the life which he had begun in garrets and in workshops.

"Lastly, combinations of faculties, in others deemed impossible,
appeared easy and natural in him. The philosopher, delighting in
speculation, was also eminently a man of action. Ingenious reasoning,
refined and subtile consultation, were in him combined with prompt
resolution and inflexible firmness of purpose. To a lively fancy he
joined a learned, a deep reflection; his original and inventive genius
stooped to the convenient alliance of the most ordinary prudence in
every-day affairs; the mind that soared above the clouds, and was
conversant with the loftiest of human contemplations, disdained not to

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Text Comparison with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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They told me there were eight of them assembled at a tavern just by; that they were determin'd to come and vote with us if there should be occasion, which they hop'd would not be the case, and desir'd we would not call for their assistance if we could do without it, as their voting for such a measure might embroil them with their elders and friends.
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My son, who had in the preceding war been an officer in the army rais'd against Canada, was my aid-de-camp, and of great use to me.
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1788 Retires from public life.