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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 182

and growing, by degrees, too heavy to be longer supported,
they descend to the Sun, and are burnt over again. Hence the spots
appearing on his face, which are observed to diminish daily in size,
their consuming edges being of particular brightness.

It is well we are not, as poor Galileo was, subject to the
inquisition for _philosophical heresy_. My whispers against the
orthodox doctrine, in private letters, would be dangerous; but your
writing and printing would be highly criminal. As it is, you must
expect some censure, but one heretic will surely excuse another.

I am heartily glad to hear more instances of the success of the
poke-weed, in the cure of that horrible evil to the human body, a
cancer. You will deserve highly of mankind for the communication. But
I find in Boston they are at a loss to know the right plant, some
asserting it is what they call _Mechoachan_, others other things.
In one of their late papers it is publicly requested that a perfect
description may be given of the plant, its places of growth, &c. I
have mislaid the paper, or would send it to you. I thought you had
described it pretty fully[63].

I am, Sir, &c.



[62] Cadwallader Colden. See note, page 250. _Editor._

[63] As the poke-weed, though out of place, is introduced here, we
shall translate and insert two extracts of letters from Dr. Franklin
to M. Dubourg, the French translator of his works, on the same

"LONDON, MARCH 27, 1773.

"I apprehend that our poke-weed is what the botanists term
_phytolacca_. This plant bears berries as large as peas; the skin is
black, but it contains a crimson juice. It is this juice, thickened
by evaporation in the sun, which was employed. It caused great pain,
but some persons were said to have been cured. I am not quite certain
of the facts; all that I know is, that Dr. Colden had a good opinion
of the remedy."

"LONDON, APRIL 23, 1773.

"You will see by the annexed paper by Dr. Solander, that this herb,
poke-weed, in which has been found a specific remedy for cancers, is
the most common species of phytolacca. (Phytolacca decandra L.)"



_New Experiments.--Paradoxes inferred from them.--Difference
in the Electricity of a Globe of Glass charged, and a Globe of
Sulphur.--Difficulty of ascertaining which is positive and which

_Feb. 3, 1752._


I have the following experiments to communicate: I held in

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

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Page 1
& T.
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The hour of the sale not being come, they were conversing on the badness of the times; and one of the company called to a plain, clean, old man, with white locks, 'Pray, Father Abraham, what think you of the times? Will not those heavy taxes quite ruin the country! How shall we be ever able to pay them? What would you advise us to?'----Father Abraham stood up, and replied, 'If you would have my advice, I will give it you in short; "for a word to the wise is enough," as Poor Richard says.
Page 3
Drive thy business, let not that drive thee; and early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise," as Poor Richard says.
Page 4
" [Illustration: Published by W.
Page 5
Page 6
" Again, "It is foolish to lay out money in a purchase of repentance;" and yet this folly is practised every day at auctions, for want of minding the Almanack.
Page 7
" It is, however, a folly soon punished: for, as Poor Richard says, "Pride that dines on vanity, sups on contempt;--Pride breakfasted with Plenty, dined with Poverty and supped with Infamy.
Page 8
" The day comes round before you are aware, and the demand is made before you are prepared to satisfy it; or, if you bear your debt in mind, the term, which at first seemed so long, will, as it lessens, appear extremely short: "Time will seem to have added wings to his heels as well as his shoulders.
Page 9
The people heard it, and approved the doctrine, and immediately practised the contrary, just as if it had been a common sermon; for the auction opened, and they began to buy extravagantly.