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 53

that never outlive the day in which they are born.

To pursue the thought of this elegant writer, let us suppose one of the
most robust of these _Hypanians_, so famed in history, was in a manner
coeval with time itself; that he began to exist at break of day, and
that, from the uncommon strength of his constitution, he has been able
to show himself active in life, through the numberless minutes of ten or
twelve hours. Through so long a series of seconds, he must have acquired
vast wisdom in his way, from observation and experience.

He looks upon his fellow-creatures who died about noon to be happily
delivered from the many inconveniences of old age; and can, perhaps,
recount to his great grandson a surprising tradition of actions before
any records of their nation were extant. The young swarm of Hypanians,
who may be advanced one hour in life, approach his person with respect,
and listen to his improving discourse. Everything he says will seem
wonderful to their short lived generation. The compass of a day will be
esteemed the whole duration of time; and the first dawn of light will,
in their chronology, be styled the great era of their creation.

Let us now suppose this venerable insect, this _Nestor_ of _Hypania_,
should, a little before his death, and about sunset, send for all his
descendants, his friends and his acquaintances, out of the desire he may
have to impart his last thoughts to them, and to admonish them with his
departing breath. They meet, perhaps, under the spacious shelter of a
mushroom, and the dying sage addresses himself to them after the
following manner:

"Friends and fellow-citizens! I perceive the longest life must, however,
end: the period of mine is now at hand; neither do I repine at my fate,
since my great age has become a burden to me, and there is nothing new
to me under the sun: the changes and revolutions I have seen in my
country, the manifold private misfortunes to which we are all liable,
the fatal diseases incident to our race, have abundantly taught me this
lesson, that no happiness can be secure and lasting which is placed in
things that are out of our power. Great is the uncertainty of life! A
whole brood of our infants have perished in a moment by a keen blast!
Shoals of our straggling youth have been swept into the ocean by an
unexpected breeze! What wasteful desolation have we not suffered from
the deluge of a sudden shower! Our strongest holds are not proof against
a storm

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Way to Wealth; or, "Poor Richard Improved"

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" [Illustration: Published by W.
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Proprietors, W.
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However, let us hearken to good advice, and something may be done for us; "God helps them that help themselves," as Poor Richard says.
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"Diligence is the mother of good luck, and God gives all things to industry.
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" [Illustration: Published by W.
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1, 1805.
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For, in another place, he says, "Many have been ruined by buying good pennyworths.
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But, ah! think what you do when you run in debt; you give to another power over your liberty, If you cannot pay at the time, you will be ashamed to see your creditor; you will be in fear when you speak to him; you will make poor pitiful sneaking excuses, and, by degrees, come to lose your veracity, and sink into base, downright lying; for, "The second vice is lying, the first is running in debt," as Poor Richard says; and again, to the same purpose, "Lying rides upon Debt's back:" whereas a free-born Englishman ought not to be ashamed nor afraid to see or speak to any man living.
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IV.
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* * * * * Transcriber's Notes: Only the most obvious and clear punctuation errors repaired.