The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 124

and confuting people are generally unfortunate in their affairs. They
get victory sometimes, but they never get good will, which would be of
more use to them. We parted, he going to Philadelphia, and I to Boston.

In returning, I met at New York with the votes of the Assembly, by
which it appear'd that, notwithstanding his promise to me, he and the
House were already in high contention; and it was a continual battle
between them as long as he retain'd the government. I had my share of
it; for, as soon as I got back to my seat in the Assembly, I was put on
every committee for answering his speeches and messages, and by the
committees always desired to make the drafts. Our answers, as well as
his messages, were often tart, and sometimes indecently abusive; and,
as he knew I wrote for the Assembly, one might have imagined that, when
we met, we could hardly avoid cutting throats; but he was so
good-natur'd a man that no personal difference between him and me was
occasion'd by the contest, and we often din'd together.

One afternoon, in the height of this public quarrel, we met in the
street. "Franklin," says he, "you must go home with me and spend the
evening; I am to have some company that you will like;" and, taking me
by the arm, he led me to his house. In gay conversation over our wine,
after supper, he told us, jokingly, that he much admir'd the idea of
Sancho Panza, who, when it was proposed to give him a government,
requested it might be a government of blacks, as then, if he could not
agree with his people, he might sell them. One of his friends, who sat
next to me, says, "Franklin, why do you continue to side with these
damn'd Quakers? Had not you better sell them? The proprietor would
give you a good price." "The governor," says I, "has not yet blacked
them enough." He, indeed, had labored hard to blacken the Assembly in
all his messages, but they wip'd off his coloring as fast as he laid it
on, and plac'd it, in return, thick upon his own face; so that, finding
he was likely to be negrofied himself, he, as well as Mr. Hamilton,
grew tir'd of the contest, and quitted the government.

[13]These public quarrels were all at bottom owing to the
proprietaries, our hereditary governors, who, when any expense was to
be incurred for the defense of their province, with

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My time for these exercises and for reading was at night, after work or before it began in the morning, or on Sundays, when I contrived to be in the printing-house alone, evading as much as I could the common attendance on public worship which my father used to exact of me when I was under his care, and which indeed I still thought a duty, thought I could not, as it seemed to me, afford time to practise it.
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At his house I lay that night, and the next morning reach'd Burlington, but had the mortification to find that the regular boats were gone a little before my coming, and no other expected to go before Tuesday, this being Saturday; wherefore I returned to an old woman in the town, of whom I had bought gingerbread to eat on the water, and ask'd her advice.
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This was another of the great errata of my life, which I should wish to correct if I were to live it over again.
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[62] Mrs.
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We had left the alehouse, where we first met, and hired a room to hold our club in.
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of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it; as those who aim at perfect writing by imitating the engraved copies, tho' they never reach the wish'd-for excellence of those copies, their hand is mended by the endeavour, and is tolerable while it continues fair and legible.
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Benezet was removed to Germantown.
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This latter station was the more agreeable to me, as I was at length tired with sitting there to hear debates, in which, as clerk, I could take no part, and which were often so unentertaining that I was induc'd to amuse myself with making magic squares or circles, or anything to avoid weariness; and I conceiv'd my becoming a member would enlarge my power of doing good.
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No drivers of waggons, or persons taking care of the hired horses, are on any account to be called upon to do the duty of soldiers, or be otherwise employed than in conducting or taking care of their carriages or horses.
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After dinner, when the company, as was customary at that time, were engag'd in drinking, he took me aside into another room, and acquainted me that he had been advis'd by his friends in England to cultivate a friendship with me, as one who was capable of giving him the best advice, and of contributing most effectually to the making his administration easy; that he therefore desired of all things to have a good understanding with me, and he begged me to be assured of his readiness on all occasions to render me every service that might be in his power.
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I set out immediately, with my son, for London, and we only stopt a little by the way to view Stonehenge[116] on Salisbury Plain, and Lord Pembroke's house and gardens, with his very curious antiquities at Wilton.