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 57

load of our public debt, and the heavy expense of
maintaining our fleets and armies to be ready for our defence on
occasion, makes it necessary not only to continue old taxes, but often
to look out for new ones, perhaps it may not be unuseful to state this
matter in a light that few seem to have considered it in.

The people of Great Britain, under the happy constitution of this
country, have a privilege few other countries enjoy, that of choosing
the third branch of the legislature, which branch has alone the power of
regulating their taxes. Now, whenever the government finds it necessary
for the common benefit, advantage, and safety of the nation, for the
security of our liberties, property, religion, and everything that is
dear to us, that certain sums shall be yearly raised by taxes, duties,
&c., and paid into the public treasury, thence to be dispensed by
government for those purposes, ought not every _honest man_ freely and
willingly to pay his just proportion of this necessary expense? Can he
possibly preserve a right to that character, if by fraud, stratagem, or
contrivance, he avoids that payment in whole or in part?

What should we think of a companion who, having supped with his friends
at a tavern, and partaken equally of the joys of the evening with the
rest of us, would nevertheless contrive by some artifice to shift his
share of the reckoning upon others, in order to go off scot-free? If a
man who practised this would, when detected, be deemed and called a
scoundrel, what ought he to be called who can enjoy all the inestimable
benefits of public society, and yet, by smuggling or dealing with
smugglers, contrive to evade paying his just share of the expense, as
settled by his own representatives in parliament, and wrongfully throw
it upon his honest and, perhaps, much poorer neighbours? He will,
perhaps, be ready to tell me that he does not wrong his neighbours; he
scorns the imputation; he only cheats the king a little, who is very
able to bear it. This, however, is a mistake. The public treasure is the
treasure of the nation, to be applied to national purposes. And when a
duty is laid for a particular public and necessary purpose, if, through
smuggling, that duty falls short of raising the sum required, and other
duties must therefore be laid to make up the deficiency, all the
additional sum laid by the new duties and paid by other people, though
it should amount to no more than a halfpenny or a farthing

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

Page 0
Darton, Junr.
Page 1
Virtue and Innocence, a Poem 1 0 The Economy of Human Life 1 0 Old Friends in a New Dress, or Selections from Esop's Fables, in Verse, 2 parts, plates 2 0 Little Jack Horner, in Verse, plain 1s.
Page 2
However, let us hearken to good advice, and something may be done for us; "God helps them that help themselves," as Poor Richard says.
Page 3
[Illustration: Published by W.
Page 4
It is true, there is much to be done, and, perhaps, you are weak-handed: but stick to it steadily, and you will see great effects; for "Constant dropping wears away stones; and by diligence and patience the mouse ate in two the cable; and little strokes fell great oaks.
Page 5
1, 1805.
Page 6
For, in another place, he says, "Many have been ruined by buying good pennyworths.
Page 7
" And, after all, of what use is this pride of appearance, for which so much is risked, so much is suffered? It cannot promote health, nor ease pain; it makes no increase of merit in the person, it creates envy, it hastens misfortune.
Page 8
'This doctrine, my friends, is reason and wisdom; but, after all, do not depend too much upon your own industry, and frugality, and prudence, though excellent things; for they may all be blasted without the blessing of Heaven; and therefore, ask that blessing humbly, and be not uncharitable to those that at present seem to want it, but comfort and help them.
Page 9
The frequent mention he made of me must have tired any one else; but my vanity was wonderfully delighted with it, though I was conscious that not a tenth part of the wisdom was my own, which he ascribed to me; but rather the gleanings that I had made of the sense of all ages and nations.