The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 1 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 111

a remarkably good one. He had been little
subject to disease, except an attack of the gout occasionally, until
about the year 1781, when he was first attacked with symptoms of the
calculous complaint, which continued during his life. During the
intervals of pain from this grievous disease, he spent many cheerful
hours, conversing in the most agreeable and instructive manner. His
faculties were entirely unimpaired, even to the hour of his death.

His name, as president of the abolition society, was signed to the
memorial presented to the house of representatives of the United
States, on the 12th of February, 1789, praying them to exert the full
extent of power vested in them by the constitution, in discouraging
the traffic of the human species. This was his last public act. In
the debates to which this memorial gave rise, several attempts were
made to justify the trade. In the Federal Gazette of March 25th,
there appeared an essay, signed Historicus, written by Dr. Franklin,
in which he communicated a speech, said to have been delivered in
the Divan of Algiers, in 1687, in opposition to the prayer of the
petition of a sect called _Erika_, or purists, for the abolition of
piracy and slavery. This pretended African speech was an excellent
parody of one delivered by Mr. Jackson, of Georgia. All the arguments
urged in favour of negro slavery, are applied with equal force to
justify the plundering and enslaving of Europeans. It affords, at
the same time, a demonstration of the futility of the arguments in
defence of the slave trade, and of the strength of mind and ingenuity
of the author, at his advanced period of life. It furnished too, a no
less convincing proof of his power of imitating the style of other
times and nations, than his celebrated parable against persecution.
And as the latter led many persons to search the scriptures with a
view to find, it, so the former caused many persons to search the
book-stores and libraries, for the work from which it was said to be

In the beginning of April following, he was attacked with a fever
and complaint of his breast, which terminated his existence. The
following account of his last illness was written by his friend and
physician, Dr. Jones.

"The stone, with which he had been afflicted for several years, had
for the last twelve months confined him chiefly to his bed; and
during the extremely painful paroxysms, he was obliged to take large
doses of laudanum to mitigate his tortures--still, in the intervals
of pain, he not only amused himself with reading and conversing

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Way to Wealth; or, "Poor Richard Improved"

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half bound 1 0 Wonders of the Horse, recorded in Anecdotes, Prose and Verse, by Joseph Taylor 2 6 Tales of the Robin & other Small Birds, in Verse, by Joseph Taylor 2 6 Instructive Conversation Cards, consisting .
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I stopped my horse, lately, where a great number of people were collected at an auction of merchants' goods.
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[Illustration: The Sun shone yesterday, and I would not work, to-day it rains and I cannot work.
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" [Illustration: Published by W.
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These are not the necessaries of life; they can scarcely be called the conveniences: and yet only because they look pretty, how many want to have them?--By these, and other extravagancies, the genteel are reduced to poverty, and forced to borrow of those whom they formerly despised, but who, through industry and frugality, have maintained their standing; in which case it appears plainly, that "A ploughman on his legs is higher than a gentleman on his knees," as Poor Richard says.
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"It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright.
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'This doctrine, my friends, is reason and wisdom; but, after all, do not depend too much upon your own industry, and frugality, and prudence, though excellent things; for they may all be blasted without the blessing of Heaven; and therefore, ask that blessing humbly, and be not uncharitable to those that at present seem to want it, but comfort and help them.
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--I found the good man had thoroughly studied my Almanacks, and digested all I had dropt on those topics during the course of twenty-five years.