The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

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poet, most probably a very bad one; but as prose
writing had been of great use to me in the course of my life, and was a
principal means of my advancement, I shall tell you how, in such a
situation, I acquired what little ability I have in that way.

There was another bookish lad in the town, John Collins by name, with
whom I was intimately acquainted. We sometimes disputed, and very fond
we were of argument, and very desirous of confuting one another, which
disputatious turn, by the way, is apt to become a very bad habit,
making people often extremely disagreeable in company by the
contradiction that is necessary to bring it into practice; and thence,
besides souring and spoiling the conversation, is productive of
disgusts and, perhaps enmities where you may have occasion for
friendship. I had caught it by reading my father's books of dispute
about religion. Persons of good sense, I have since observed, seldom
fall into it, except lawyers, university men, and men of all sorts that
have been bred at Edinborough.

A question was once, somehow or other, started between Collins and me,
of the propriety of educating the female sex in learning, and their
abilities for study. He was of opinion that it was improper, and that
they were naturally unequal to it. I took the contrary side, perhaps a
little for dispute's sake. He was naturally more eloquent, had a ready
plenty of words; and sometimes, as I thought, bore me down more by his
fluency than by the strength of his reasons. As we parted without
settling the point, and were not to see one another again for some
time, I sat down to put my arguments in writing, which I copied fair
and sent to him. He answered, and I replied. Three or four letters of
a side had passed, when my father happened to find my papers and read
them. Without entering into the discussion, he took occasion to talk
to me about the manner of my writing; observed that, though I had the
advantage of my antagonist in correct spelling and pointing (which I
ow'd to the printing-house), I fell far short in elegance of
expression, in method and in perspicuity, of which he convinced me by
several instances. I saw the justice of his remark, and thence grew
more attentive to the manner in writing, and determined to endeavor at

About this time I met with an odd volume of the Spectator. It was the

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Text Comparison with Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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Agent of Pennsylvania in London 296 Appendix Electrical Kite 327 The Way to Wealth 331 The Whistle 336 A Letter to Samuel Mather 34O Bibliography 343 ILLUSTRATIONS Franklin at the Court of Louis XVI _Frontispiece_ "He was therefore, feasted and invited to all the court parties.
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My uncle Benjamin, too, approved of it, and proposed to give me all his short-hand volumes of sermons, I suppose as a stock to set up with, if I would learn his character.
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This was the second governor who had done me the honour to take notice of me; which, to a poor boy like me, was very pleasing.
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He was lively, witty, good-natur'd, and a pleasant companion, but idle, thoughtless, and imprudent to the last degree.
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We had scarce opened our letters and put our press in order, before George House, an acquaintance of mine, brought a countryman to us, whom he had met in the street inquiring for a printer.
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In order to secure my credit and character as a tradesman, I took care not only to be in _reality_ industrious and frugal, but to avoid all appearances to the contrary.
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I had hitherto continu'd to board with Godfrey, who lived in part of my house with his wife and children, and had one side of the shop for his glazier's business, tho' he worked little, being always absorbed in his mathematics.
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The bringing all these scatter'd councils thus into a focus enabled them to make greater impression.
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I experienced, too, the truth of the observation, "_that after getting the first hundred pound, it is more easy to get the second_," money itself being of a prolific nature.
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Not one of his opposing friends appear'd, at which he express'd great surprize; and, at the expiration of the hour, we carri'd the resolution eight to one; and as, of the twenty-two Quakers, eight were ready to.
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I told him this had always been the case with new sects, and that, to put a stop to such abuse, I imagin'd it might be well to publish the articles of their belief, and the rules of their discipline.
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The Moravian happen'd not to please his colleagues, and on his death they resolved to have no other of that sect.
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cordial and affectionate friendship.
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In conversation with him one day, he was giving me some account of his intended progress.
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[115] A wager ensu'd between the two captains, to be decided when there should be sufficient wind.
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They then by his advice put the paper into the hands of the Attorney and Solicitor-General for their opinion and counsel upon it, where it lay unanswered a year wanting eight days, during which time I made frequent demands of an answer from the proprietaries, but without obtaining any other than that they had not yet received the opinion of the Attorney and Solicitor-General.
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[First page of _The New England Courant_.