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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 323

be prudent,
live within bounds, and preserve what they have gained for their
posterity: others, fond of showing their wealth, will be extravagant,
and ruin themselves. Laws cannot prevent this: and perhaps it is not
always an evil to the public. A shilling spent idly by a fool, may
be picked up by a wiser person, who knows better what to do with
it. It is therefore not lost. A vain silly fellow builds a fine
house, furnishes it richly, lives in it expensively, and in a few
years ruins himself: but the masons, carpenters, smiths, and other
honest tradesmen, have been by his employ assisted in maintaining and
raising their families; the farmer has been paid for his labour, and
encouraged, and the estate is now in better hands. In some cases,
indeed, certain modes of luxury may be a public evil, in the same
manner as it is a private one. If there be a nation, for instance,
that exports its beef and linen, to pay for the importation of claret
and porter, while a great part of its people live upon potatoes,
and wear no shirts, wherein does it differ from the sot, who lets
his family starve, and sells his clothes to buy drink? Our American
commerce is, I confess, a little in this way. We sell our victuals to
the islands for rum and sugar; the substantial necessaries of life
for superfluities. But we have plenty, and live well nevertheless,
though, by being soberer, we might be richer.

The vast quantity of forest land we have yet to clear, and put
in order for cultivation, will for a long time keep the body of
our nation laborious and frugal. Forming an opinion of our people
and their manners, by what is seen among the inhabitants of the
sea-ports, is judging from an improper sample. The people of
the trading towns may be rich and luxurious, while the country
possesses all the virtues, that tend to promote happiness and public
prosperity. Those towns are not much regarded by the country; they
are hardly considered as an essential part of the states, and the
experience of the last war has shown, that their being in the
possession of the enemy did not necessarily draw on the subjection
of the country, which bravely continued to maintain its freedom and
independence notwithstanding.

It has been computed by some political arithmetician, that if every
man and woman would work for four hours each day on something useful,
that labour would produce sufficient to procure all the necessaries
and comforts of life, want and misery would be banished out

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with Benjamin Franklin and the First Balloons

Page 0
The documents which I publish are copies of Franklin's letters, made on thin paper in a copying press (probably the rotary machine invented by Franklin), and all but one bear his signature in ink.
Page 1
The Champ de Mars being surrounded by Multitudes, and vast Numbers on the opposite Side of the River.
Page 2
A little Rain had wet it, so that it shone, and made an agreeable Appearance.
Page 3
It contains 50,000 cubic Feet, and is supposed to have Force of Levity equal to 1500 pounds weight.
Page 4
I was not present, but am told it was filled in about ten minutes by means of burning Straw.
Page 5
a tree, and was torn in getting it down; so that it cannot be ascertained whether it burst when above, or not, tho' that is supposed.
Page 6
_La Machine poussee par le Vent s'est dirigee sur une des Allees du Jardin.
Page 7
The other Method of filling a Balloon with permanently elastic inflammable Air, and then closing it is a tedious Operation, and very expensive; Yet we are to have one of that kind sent up in a few Days.
Page 8
I wish I could see the same Emulation between the two Nations as I see between the two Parties here.
Page 9
BANKS, Bar^t.
Page 10
When it arrived at its height, which I suppose might be 3 or 400 Toises, it appeared to have only horizontal Motion.
Page 11
Charles voulant profiter du peu de Jour qui lui restoit, pour.
Page 12
_ au nomme Bertrand.
Page 13
27th instead of 27^th).
Page 14
14, "Carr" corrected to "Car" in "on both Sides their Car,"; p.