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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 17

venturing myself
both upon and within it, and I soon acquired the art of swimming, and
of managing a boat. When embarked with other children, the helm was
commonly deputed to me, particularly on difficult occasions; and, in
every other project, I was almost always the leader of the troop,
whom I sometimes involved in embarrassments. I shall give an instance
of this, which demonstrates an early disposition of mind for public
enterprises, though the one in question was not conducted by justice.

The mill-pond was terminated on one side by a marsh, upon the borders
of which we were accustomed to take our stand, at high water, to
angle for small fish. By dint of walking, we had converted the place
into a perfect quagmire. My proposal was to erect a wharf that
should afford us firm footing; and I pointed out to my companions
a large heap of stones, intended for the building a new house near
the marsh, and which were well adapted for our purpose. Accordingly,
when the workmen retired in the evening, I assembled a number of my
play-fellows, and by labouring diligently, like ants, sometimes four
of us uniting our strength to carry a single stone, we removed them
all, and constructed our little quay. The workmen were surprised the
next morning at not finding their stones; which had been conveyed
to our wharf. Enquiries were made respecting the authors of this
conveyance; we were discovered; complaints were exhibited against us;
and many of us underwent correction on the part of our parents; and
though I strenuously defended the utility of the work, my father at
length convinced me, that nothing which was not strictly honest could
be useful.

It will not, perhaps, be uninteresting to you to know what a sort of
man my father was. He had an excellent constitution, was of a middle
size, but well made and strong, and extremely active in whatever he
undertook. He designed with a degree of neatness, and knew a little
of music. His voice was sonorous and agreeable; so that when he sung
a psalm or hymn, with the accompaniment of his violin, as was his
frequent practice in an evening, when the labours of the day were
finished, it was truly delightful to hear him. He was versed also in
mechanics, and could, upon occasion, use the tools of a variety of
trades. But his greatest excellence was a sound understanding and
solid judgment, in matters of prudence, both in public and private
life. In the former, indeed, he never engaged, because his numerous
family, and the mediocrity of his fortune,

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

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coloured 1 6 Portraits of Curious Characters in London, &c.
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Judge, then, how much I must have been gratified by an incident I am going to relate to you.
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is worth two to-morrows," as Poor Richard says, and farther, "Never leave that till to-morrow, which you can do to-day.
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" And farther, "What maintains one vice, would bring up two children.
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You expect they will be sold cheap, and, perhaps, they may for less than they cost; but, if you have no occasion for them, they must be dear to you.
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Remember, Job suffered, and was afterwards prosperous.
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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.