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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 305

France were a
real weakness, opposed to the military manners founded upon poverty
and a rugged disposition, then the character of the English; But it
must be remembered, that at this time the manners of a people were
not distinct from that of their soldiery, for the use of standing
armies has deprived a military people of the advantages they before
had over others; and though it has been often said, that civil wars
give power, because they render all men soldiers, I believe this has
only been found true in internal wars following civil wars, and not
in external ones; for now, in foreign wars, a small army, with ample
means to support it, is of greater force than one more numerous, with
less. This last fact has often happened between France and Germany.

The means of supporting armies, and consequently the power of
exerting external strength, are best found in the industry and
frugality of the body of a people living under a government and laws,
that encourage commerce: for commerce is at this day almost the only
stimulus, that forces every one to contribute a share of labour for
the public benefit.

But such is the human frame, and the world is so constituted, that
it is a hard matter to possess ones self of a benefit, without
laying ones self open to a loss on some other side; the improvements
of manners of one sort often deprave those of another: thus we see
industry and frugality under the influence of commerce, which I
call a commercial spirit, tend to destroy, as well as support, the
government it flourishes under.

Commerce perfects the arts, but more the mechanical than the liberal,
and this for an obvious reason; it softens and enervates the manners.
Steady virtue and unbending integrity are seldom to be found where
a spirit of commerce pervades every thing; yet the perfection of
commerce is, that every thing should have its price. We every day
see its progress, both to our benefit and detriment here. Things,
that _boni mores_ forbid to be set to sale, are become its objects,
and there are few things indeed _extra commercium_. The legislative
power itself has been _in commercio_, and church livings are seldom
given without consideration, even by sincere Christians, and, for
consideration, not seldom to very unworthy persons. The rudeness of
ancient military times and the fury of more modern enthusiastic ones
are worn off; even the spirit of forensic contention is astonishingly
diminished, all marks of manners softening; but luxury and corruption
have taken their places, and seem the inseparable companions of
commerce and the arts.


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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 8
But my father, burdened with a numerous family, was unable, without inconvenience, to support the expense of a college education; considering, moreover, as he said to one of his friends in my presence, the little encouragement that line of life afforded to those educated for it, he gave up his first intentions, took me from the grammar-school, and sent me to a school for writing and arithmetic, kept by a then famous man, Mr.
Page 12
I had now access to better books.
Page 16
In fact,.
Page 27
About the end of April, 1724, a little vessel offered for Boston.
Page 32
Give me an inventory of the things necessary to be had from England, and I will send for them.
Page 48
At length, receiving his quarterly allowance of fifteen guineas instead of discharging his debts he went out of town, hid his gown in a furz bush, and walked to London, where, having no friend to advise him, he fell into bad company, soon spent his guineas, found no means of being introduced among the players, grew necessitous, pawned his clothes, and wanted bread.
Page 86
My scheme of _Order_ gave me the most trouble; and I found that though it might be practicable where a man's business was such as to leave him the disposition of his time, that of a journeyman-printer, for instance, it was not possible to be exactly observed by a master, who must mix with the world, and often receive people of business at their own hours.
Page 87
It may be well my posterity should be informed, that to this little artifice, with the blessing of God, their ancestor owed the constant felicity of his life down to the 79th year, in which this is written.
Page 99
He was at first permitted to preach in some of our churches; but the clergy, taking a dislike to him, soon refused him their pulpits, and he was obliged to preach in the fields.
Page 104
My education in New-England, where a fast is proclaimed every year, was here of some advantage: I drew it in the accustomed style; it was translated into German, printed in both languages, and circulated through the province.
Page 112
All the inhabitants of the city were delighted with the cleanliness of the pavement that surrounded the market, it being a convenience to all, and this raised a general desire to have all the streets paved, and made the people more willing to submit to a tax for that purpose.
Page 125
" He smiled at my ignorance, and replied, "These savages may indeed be a formidable enemy to your raw American militia; but upon the king's regular and disciplined troops, sir, it is impossible they should make any impression.
Page 127
As to rewards from himself, I asked only one, which was, that he would give orders to his officers not to enlist any more of our bought servants, and that he would discharge such as had been already enlisted.
Page 142
We were out five days before we got a letter with leave to part, and then our ship quitted the fleet and steered for England.
Page 152
Collinson, it is said, were refused a place in the Transactions of the Royal Society of London.
Page 164
Franklin had no inconsiderable share at least in furnishing materials for this work.
Page 170
"As a legislator, he affords a bright example of a genius soaring above corruption, and continually aiming at the happiness of his constituents.
Page 190
_ They would certainly object to it, as an excise is unconnected with any service done, and is merely an.
Page 218
Page 219
This act declared that the Americans should have no commerce, make no exchange of property with each other, neither purchase, nor grant, nor recover debts; they shall neither marry nor make their wills, unless they pay such and such sums in _specie_ for the stamps which must give validity to the proceedings.