The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

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THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES

EDITED BY CHARLES W ELIOT LLD

P F COLLIER & SON COMPANY, NEW YORK (1909)





INTRODUCTORY NOTE


BENJAMIN FRANKLIN was born in Milk Street, Boston, on January 6, 1706.
His father, Josiah Franklin, was a tallow chandler who married twice,
and of his seventeen children Benjamin was the youngest son. His
schooling ended at ten, and at twelve he was bound apprentice to his
brother James, a printer, who published the "New England Courant." To
this journal he became a contributor, and later was for a time its
nominal editor. But the brothers quarreled, and Benjamin ran away,
going first to New York, and thence to Philadelphia, where he arrived
in October, 1723. He soon obtained work as a printer, but after a few
months he was induced by Governor Keith to go to London, where, finding
Keith's promises empty, he again worked as a compositor till he was
brought back to Philadelphia by a merchant named Denman, who gave him
a position in his business. On Denman's death he returned to his former
trade, and shortly set up a printing house of his own from which he
published "The Pennsylvania Gazette," to which he contributed many
essays, and which he made a medium for agitating a variety of local
reforms. In 1732 he began to issue his famous "Poor Richard's Almanac"
for the enrichment of which he borrowed or composed those pithy
utterances of worldly wisdom which are the basis of a large part of his
popular reputation. In 1758, the year in which he ceases writing for
the Almanac, he printed in it "Father Abraham's Sermon," now regarded
as the most famous piece of literature produced in Colonial America.

Meantime Franklin was concerning himself more and more with public
affairs. He set forth a scheme for an Academy, which was taken up
later and finally developed into the University of Pennsylvania; and he
founded an "American Philosophical Society" for the purpose of enabling
scientific men to communicate their discoveries to one another. He
himself had already begun his electrical researches, which, with other
scientific inquiries, he called on in the intervals of money-making and
politics to the end of his life. In 1748 he sold his business in order
to get leisure for study, having now acquired comparative wealth; and
in a few years he had made discoveries that gave him a reputation with
the learned throughout Europe. In politics he proved very able both as
an administrator and as a controversialist; but his record as an
office-holder is stained

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Text Comparison with 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

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42 On Luxury, Idleness, and Industry 45 On Truth and Falsehood 50 Necessary Hints to those that would be Rich 53 The Way to make Money plenty in every Man's Pocket 54 The Handsome and Deformed Leg 55 On Human Vanity 58 On Smuggling, and its various Species 62 Remarks concerning the Savages of North America 66 On Freedom of Speech and the Press 71 On the Price of Corn and the Management of the Poor 82 Singular Custom among the Americans, entitled Whitewashing .
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It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth part of their time, to be employed in its service; but idleness taxes many of us much more; sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely shortens life.
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--AUTHOR.
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He that idly loses five shillings' worth of time, loses five shillings, and might as prudently throw five shillings into the sea.
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The young swarm of Hypanians, who may be advanced one hour in life, approach his person with respect, and listen to his improving discourse.
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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.
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The misfortune is, that the sole object is to make things clean; it matters not how many useful, ornamental, or valuable articles are mutilated or suffer death under the operation; a mahogany chair and carved frame undergo the same discipline; they are to be made _clean_ at all events, but their preservation is not worthy of attention.
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But there is supposed to be another reason at bottom, which they intimate, though they do not plainly express it, to wit, that it is of the nature of an _internal tax_ laid on them by Parliament, which has no right so to do.
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Grenville.
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S.
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"In your last, you also express yourself in vague terms when you desire to be informed whether you may expect '_d'etre recu d'une maniere cenvenable_'[21] in our troops.
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"This inscription, which you find to be Phoenician, is, I think, near _Taunton_ (not Jannston, as you write it).
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During the greatest part of the time I lived in the same house with my dear deceased friend your mother; of course you and I saw and conversed with each.
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It is now more than sixty years since I left Boston, but I remember well both your father and grandfather, having heard them both in the pulpit, and seen them in their houses.
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"I send you with this the two volumes of our Transactions, as I forget whether you had the first before.
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If men are so wicked _with religion_, what would they be if _without it_? I intend this letter itself as a _proof_ of my friendship, and, therefore, add no _professions_ to it; but subscribe simply yours, B.
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But to come nearer to the point.
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He adds, that though the abyss be liable to those commotions in all parts, yet the effects are nowhere very remarkable except in those countries which are mountainous, and, consequently, stony or cavernous underneath; and especially where the disposition of the strata is such that those caverns open the abyss, and so freely admit and entertain the fire which, assembling therein, is the cause of.
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1703_, has an express discourse to prove, that on the foot of the new experiments of the weight and spring of the air, a moderate degree of heat may bring the air into a condition capable of causing earthquakes.
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_ ON THE SALTNESS OF SEAWATER.