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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 212

came too near my prime
conductor: she dropped, but instantly got up again, complaining of
nothing. A person so struck, sinks down doubled, or folded together
as it were, the joints losing their strength and stiffness at once,
so that he drops on the spot where he stood, instantly, and there is
no previous staggering, nor does he ever fall lengthwise. Too great
charge might, indeed, kill a man, but I have not yet seen any hurt
done by it. It would certainly, as you observe, be the easiest of all

The experiment you have heard so imperfect an account of, is merely
this: I electrified a silver pint can, on an electric stand, and then
lowered into it a cork ball, of about an inch diameter, hanging by a
silk string, till the cork touched the bottom of the can. The cork
was not attracted to the inside of the can as it would have been
to the outside, and though it touched the bottom, yet, when drawn
out, it was not found to be electrified by that touch, as it would
have been by touching the outside. The fact is singular. You require
the reason; I do not know it. Perhaps you may discover it, and then
you will be so good as to communicate it to me[67]. I find a frank
acknowledgment of one's ignorance is not only the easiest way to get
rid of a difficulty, but the likeliest way to obtain information,
and therefore I practise it: I think it an honest policy. Those who
affect to be thought to know every thing, and so undertake to explain
every thing, often remain long ignorant of many things that others
could and would instruct them in, if they appeared less conceited.

The treatment your friend has met with is so common, that no man
who knows what the world is, and ever has been, should expect to
escape it. There are every where a number of people, who, being
totally destitute of any inventive faculty themselves, do not readily
conceive that others may possess it: they think of inventions as of
miracles; there might be such formerly, but they are ceased. With
these, every one who offers a new invention is deemed a pretender: he
had it from some other country, or from some book: a man of _their
own acquaintance_; one who has no more sense than themselves, could
not possibly, in their opinion, have been the inventor of any thing.
They are confirmed, too, in these sentiments, by frequent instances
of pretensions to invention, which vanity is daily producing.

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 1 of 2] With His Most Interesting Essays, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings; Familiar, Moral, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, Selected with Care from All His Published Productions, and Comprising Whatever Is Most Entertaining and Valuable to the General Reader

Page 10
This has been a great convenience to me in travelling, where my companions have been sometimes very unhappy for want of a suitable gratification of their more delicate, because better instructed, tastes and appetites.
Page 20
But having another profession, and conceiving myself a pretty good workman, I offered my services to a printer of the place, old Mr W.
Page 35
Ralph was ingenuous, genteel in his manners, and extremely eloquent; I think I never knew a prettier talker.
Page 37
Andrew Hamilton, a celebrated lawyer of Philadelphia, had taken his passage in the same ship for himself and son, with Mr.
Page 45
For the incidents of the voyage I refer you to my journal, where you will find them all minutely related.
Page 52
All our cash was now expended in the variety of particulars we had been obliged to procure, and this countryman's five shillings, being our first fruits, and coming so seasonably, gave me more pleasure than any crown I have since earned; and, from the gratitude I felt towards House, has.
Page 53
This person continued to live in this _decaying place_, and to declaim in the same strain, refusing for many years to buy a house there, because all was going to destruction; and at last I had the pleasure of seeing him give five times as much for one as he might have bought it for when he first began croaking.
Page 100
to labour, the only people fit for such an enterprise, it was with families of broken shopkeepers and other insolvent debtors; many of indolent and idle habits, taken out of the jails, who, being set down in the woods, unqualified for clearing land, and unable to endure the hardships of a new settlement, perished in numbers, leaving many helpless children unprovided for.
Page 102
time to time gave great advantage to his enemies; unguarded expressions, and even erroneous opinions delivered in preaching, might have been afterward explained or qualified, by supposing others that might have accompanied them, or they might have been denied; but _litera scripta manet_--what is written remains: critics attacked his writings violently, and with so much appearance of reason as to diminish the number of his votaries and prevent their increase.
Page 132
I found they worked for a common stock, ate at common tables, and slept in common dormitories, great numbers together.
Page 151
It was not until the summer of 1752 that he was enabled to complete his grand and unparalleled discovery by experiment.
Page 156
he held a conference with the proprietaries who then resided in England, and endeavoured to prevail upon them to give up the long-contested point.
Page 158
After his death some improvements were made upon his plan.
Page 165
Adams, Mr.
Page 173
He was eminently great in common things.
Page 185
Page 194
The colonies were recommended to Parliament.
Page 197
_ How, then, can they think they have a right to levy money for the crown, or for any other than local purposes? _A.
Page 214
Oh Pennsylvania! Once renowned for kindness to strangers, shall the clamours of a few mean niggards about the expense of this public hospitality, an expense that will not cost the noisy wretches sixpence a piece (and what is the expense of the poor maintenance we afford them, compared to the expense they might occasion if in arms against us?), shall so senseless a clamour, I say, force you to turn out of your own doors these unhappy guests, who have offended their own countryfolks by their affection for you; who, confiding in your goodness, have put themselves under your protection? Those whom you have disarmed to satisfy groundless suspicions, will you leave them exposed to the armed madmen of your country? Unmanly men! who are not ashamed to come with weapons against the unarmed, to use the sword against women, and the bayonet against your children, and who have already given such bloody proofs of their inhumanity and cruelty.
Page 216
On the contrary, it is reasonable to think the first workings of power against liberty, and the natural efforts of unbiased men to secure themselves against the first approaches of oppression, must have a captivating power over every man of sensibility and discernment among us.