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 47

[3] Truth is brighter than light.

A friend of mine was the other day cheapening some trifles at a
shopkeeper's, and after a few words they agreed on a price. At the tying
up of the parcels he had purchased, the mistress of the shop told him
that people were growing very hard, for she actually lost by everything
she sold. How, then, is it possible, said my friend, that you can keep
on your business? Indeed, sir, answered she, I must of necessity shut my
doors, had I not a very great trade. The reason, said my friend (with a
sneer), is admirable.

There are a great many retailers who falsely imagine that being
_historical_ (the modern phrase for lying) is much for their advantage;
and some of them have a saying, _that it is a pity lying is a sin, it is
so useful in trade_; though if they would examine into the reason why a
number of shopkeepers raise considerable estates, while others who have
set out with better fortunes have become bankrupts, they would find that
the former made up with truth, diligence, and probity, what they were
deficient of in stock; while the latter have been found guilty of
imposing on such customers as they found had no skill in the quality of
their goods.

The former character raises a credit which supplies the want of fortune,
and their fair dealing brings them customers; whereas none will return
to buy of him by whom he has been once imposed upon. If people in trade
would judge rightly, we might buy blindfolded, and they would save, both
to themselves and customers, the unpleasantness of _haggling_.

Though there are numbers of shopkeepers who scorn the mean vice of
lying, and whose word may very safely be relied on, yet there are too
many who will endeavour, and backing their falsities with asseverations,
pawn their salvation to raise their prices.

As example works more than precept, and my sole view being the good and
interest of my countrymen, whom I could wish to see without any vice or
folly, I shall offer an example of the veneration bestowed on truth and
abhorrence of falsehood among the ancients.

Augustus, triumphing over Mark Antony and Cleopatra, among other
captives who accompanied them, brought to Rome a priest of about sixty
years old; the senate being informed that this man had never been
detected in a falsehood, and was believed never to have told a lie, not
only restored him to liberty, but made him a high priest, and caused a
statue to be erected to his honour.

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Text Comparison with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 2
And, lastly (I may.
Page 26
At this time he did not profess any particular religion, but something of all on occasion; was very ignorant of the world, and had, as I afterward found, a good deal of the knave in his composition.
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a pint between breakfast and dinner, a pint at dinner, a pint in the afternoon about six o'clock, and another when he had done his day's work.
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George Webb, an Oxford scholar, whose time for four years he had likewise bought, intending him for a compositor, of whom more presently; and David Harry, a country boy, whom he had taken apprentice.
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He had conceiv'd a great regard for me, and was very unwilling that I should leave the house while he remain'd in it.
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My friends lamented.
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My friends there, who conceiv'd I had been of some service, thought fit to reward me by employing me in printing the money; a very profitable jobb and a great help to me.
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Franklin should leave his friends and the world deprived of so pleasing and profitable a work; a work which would be useful and entertaining not only to a few, but to millions? The influence writings under that class have on the minds of youth is very great, and has nowhere appeared to me so plain, as in our public friend's journals.
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Brockden, the scrivener, said to us, "You are young men, but it is scarcely probable that any of you will live to see the expiration of the term fix'd in the instrument.
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Tho' I seldom attended any public worship, I had still an opinion of its propriety, and of its utility when rightly conducted, and I regularly paid my annual subscription for the support of the only Presbyterian minister or meeting we had in Philadelphia.
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By hearing him often, I came to distinguish easily between sermons newly compos'd, and those which he had often preach'd in the course of his travels.
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David Hume, too, who was some years after secretary to Lord Hertford, when minister in France, and afterward to General Conway, when secretary of state, told me he had seen among the papers in that office, letters from Braddock highly recommending me.
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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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Page 152
At length, just before my departure, he told me he had, on better consideration, concluded not to mix his accounts with those of his predecessors.
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--ED.
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from Yale and Harvard.