The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 2

Bishop of St. Asaph's,[0] 1771.

[0] The country-seat of Bishop Shipley, the good bishop,
as Dr. Franklin used to style him.--B.

DEAR SON: I have ever had pleasure in obtaining any little anecdotes
of my ancestors. You may remember the inquiries I made among the
remains of my relations when you were with me in England, and the
journey I undertook for that purpose. Imagining it may be equally
agreeable to[1] you to know the circumstances of my life, many of which
you are yet unacquainted with, and expecting the enjoyment of a week's
uninterrupted leisure in my present country retirement, I sit down to
write them for you. To which I have besides some other inducements.
Having emerged from the poverty and obscurity in which I was born and
bred, to a state of affluence and some degree of reputation in the
world, and having gone so far through life with a considerable share of
felicity, the conducing means I made use of, which with the blessing of
God so well succeeded, my posterity may like to know, as they may find
some of them suitable to their own situations, and therefore fit to be

[1] After the words "agreeable to" the words "some of" were
interlined and afterward effaced.--B.

That felicity, when I reflected on it, has induced me sometimes to say,
that were it offered to my choice, I should have no objection to a
repetition of the same life from its beginning, only asking the
advantages authors have in a second edition to correct some faults of
the first. So I might, besides correcting the faults, change some
sinister accidents and events of it for others more favorable. But
though this were denied, I should still accept the offer. Since such a
repetition is not to be expected, the next thing most like living one's
life over again seems to be a recollection of that life, and to make
that recollection as durable as possible by putting it down in writing.

Hereby, too, I shall indulge the inclination so natural in old men, to
be talking of themselves and their own past actions; and I shall
indulge it without being tiresome to others, who, through respect to
age, might conceive themselves obliged to give me a hearing, since this
may be read or not as any one pleases. And, lastly (I may

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Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

Page 17
Seas, lakes, and great bodies of water, agitated by the winds, continually change surfaces; the cold surface in winter is turned under by the rolling of the waves, and a warmer turned up; in summer, the warm is turned under, and colder turned up.
Page 30
As the whirl weakens, the tube may (in appearance) separate in the middle; the column of water subsiding, and the superior condensed part drawing up to the cloud.
Page 34
Page 39
Since thunder-clouds sometimes encrease greatly while it rains very hard.
Page 40
_) to fall, because all the lower rarefied air is ascended, whence the whirlwind must cease, and its burden drop; I cannot agree to this, unless the air be observed on a sudden to have grown much colder, which I cannot learn has been the case.
Page 52
By the leaves it was now filled with, I could plainly perceive that the current of air they were driven by moved upwards in a spiral line; and when I saw the passing whirl continue entire, after leaving the trunks and bodies of large trees which it had enveloped, I no longer wondered that my whip had no effect on it in its smaller state.
Page 62
There is a certain quantity of this fluid called fire, in every living human body, which fluid, being in due proportion, keeps the parts of the flesh and blood at such a just distance from each other, as that the flesh and nerves are supple, and the blood fit for circulation.
Page 129
By the accounts we have of her, she answered well the purpose of her construction, making several voyages; and though wrecked at last by a storm, the misfortune did not appear owing to her particular construction, since many other vessels of the common form were wrecked at the same.
Page 131
It is remarkable, that the people we consider as savages have improved the art of sailing and rowing-boats in several points beyond what we can pretend to.
Page 182
The large open fire-places used in the days of our fathers, and still generally in the country, and in kitchens.
Page 198
If there is no wood in the breast, you may arch over and close even with the lower part of the breast.
Page 223
I believe you have seen in use with me, the contrivance of a sliding-plate over the fire, seemingly placed to oppose the rising of the smoke, leaving but a small passage for it, between the edge of the plate and the back of the chimney.
Page 239
But to be certain of your proper time, hold a flame over the air-hole at the top.
Page 261
Whether, as the particles of air themselves are at a distance from each other, there must not be some medium between them, proper for conveying sound, since otherwise it would stop at the first particle? 3.
Page 264
They were composed by the minstrels of those days to be played on the harp accompanied by the voice.
Page 309
Catt or bark, from the coal trade, £ of 350 tons, estimated at about 2000 Extra expences, stores, boats, &c.
Page 319
A very good thing, you will say.
Page 321
several points, interesting to those concerned in agriculture, are from time to time discussed by some able hands.
Page 331
Page 159.
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