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 64

that he excelled in that
manly accomplishment was high treason. This emperor raised his horse,
the name of which was _Incitatus_, to the dignity of consul; and though
history is silent, I do not question but it was a capital crime to show
the least contempt for that high officer of state! Suppose, then, any
one had called the prime minister a _stupid animal_, the emperor's
council might argue that the malice of the libel was the more aggravated
by its being true, and, consequently, more likely to excite the _family
of this illustrious magistrate_ to a breach of the peace or to acts of
revenge. Such a prosecution would to us appear ridiculous; yet, if we
may rely upon tradition, there have been formerly proconsuls in America,
though of more malicious dispositions, hardly superior in understanding
to the consul _Incitatus_, and who would have thought themselves
libelled to be called by their _proper names_.

_Nero_ piqued himself on his fine voice and skill in music: no doubt a
laudable ambition! He performed in public, and carried the prize of
excellence. It was afterward resolved by all the judges as good law,
that whosoever would _insinuate_ the least doubt of Nero's pre-eminence
in the _noble art of fiddling_ ought to be deemed a traitor to the
state.

By the help of inferences and innuendoes, treasons multiplied in a
prodigious manner. Grief was treason: a lady of noble birth was put to
death for bewailing the death of her _murdered son_: silence was
declared an _overt act_ to prove the treasonable purposes of the heart:
looks were construed into treason: a serene, open aspect was an evidence
that the person was pleased with the calamities that befel the emperor:
a severe, thoughtful countenance was urged against the man that wore it
as a proof of his plotting against the state: _dreams_ were often made
capital offences. A new species of informers went about Rome,
insinuating themselves into all companies to fish out their dreams,
which the priests (oh nefarious wickedness!) interpreted into high
treason. The Romans were so terrified by this strange method of
juridical and penal process, that, far from discovering their dreams,
they durst not own that they slept. In this terrible situation, when
every one had so much cause to fear, even _fear_ itself was made a
crime. Caligula, when he put his brother to death, gave it as a reason
to the Senate that the youth was afraid of being murdered. To be eminent
in any virtue, either civil or military, was the greatest crime a man
could be guilty of. _O virtutes certissemum exitium._[4]

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with Benjamin Franklin Representative selections, with introduction, bibliograpy, and notes

Page 72
This Constitution will be much read and attended to in Europe, and if it should betray a great partiality to the rich--will not only hurt us in the esteem of the most liberal and.
Page 96
_, I, 322.
Page 142
J.
Page 171
The first sold wonderfully, the Event being recent, having made a great Noise.
Page 184
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.
Page 266
_ These two Propositions being allow'd and asserted by People of almost every Sect and Opinion; I have here suppos'd them granted, and laid them down as the Foundation of my Argument; What follows then, being a Chain of Consequences truly drawn from them, will stand or fall as they are true or false.
Page 269
Among the many Things which lie before him to be done, he may, as he is at Liberty and his Choice influenc'd by nothing, (for so it must be, or he is not at Liberty) chuse any one, and refuse the rest.
Page 312
That if they sometimes print vicious or silly things not worth reading, it may not be because they approve such things themselves, but because the People are so viciously and corruptly educated that good things are not encouraged.
Page 341
-- ADVICE TO A YOUNG TRADESMAN [1748] TO MY FRIEND, A.
Page 439
not only proceeds forward, but likewise turns round upon its own Axis, so does the Earth turn once round upon its Axis as it goes along, every twenty-four Hours.
Page 472
That the Earth is of a round, or nearly round Figure, is plain from the Shadow it casts upon the Face of the Moon in a partial Eclipse of the Moon, which is always round, and never of any other Figure.
Page 534
As to _Division_, I say with Brother Paul, _Let there be no Division among ye_.
Page 606
and yet, perhaps, there are people in the world of so little feeling as to think that this would be a good-enough epitaph for poor Mungo.
Page 615
"And whereas there hath been from time to time discovered in the said island of Great Britain, by our colonists there, many mines or beds of iron-stone; and sundry subjects, of our ancient dominion, skilful in converting the said stone into metal, have in time past transported themselves thither, carrying with them and communicating that art; and the inhabitants of the said island, presuming that they had a natural right to make the best use they could of the natural productions of their country for their own benefit, have not only built furnaces for smelting the said stone into iron, but have erected plating-forges, slitting-mills, and steel-furnaces, for the more convenient manufacturing of the same; thereby endangering a diminution of the said manufacture in our ancient dominion;--we do therefore hereby farther ordain, that, from and after the date hereof, no mill or other engine for slitting or rolling of iron, or any plating-forge to work with a tilt-hammer, or any furnace for making steel, shall be erected or continued in the said island of Great Britain: And the Lord Lieutenant of every county in the said island is hereby commanded, on information of any such erection within his county, to order and by force to cause the same to be abated and destroyed; as he shall answer the.
Page 650
We have never asked it of you; we only tell you, that you can have no treaty with us but as an independent state; and you may please yourselves and your children with the rattle of your right to govern us, as long as you have done with that of your King's being King of France, without giving us the least concern, if you do not attempt to exercise it.
Page 661
As to the _Time_ of publishing, of which you ask my Opinion I am not furnish'd with any Reasons, or Ideas of Reasons, on which to form any Opinion.
Page 674
FRANKLIN.
Page 704
the several States, and the Articles of Confederation that bind the whole together for general Purposes, under the Direction of one Assembly, called the Congress.
Page 768
Sleep, when it follows, will be natural and undisturbed; while indolence, with full feeding, occasions nightmares and horrors inexpressible; we fall from precipices, are assaulted by wild beasts, murderers, and demons, and experience every variety of distress.
Page 788
6.