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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 333

for preventing a national calamity. Then
I would press the rest of the judges; and, opening the red book,
I would press every civil officer of government from 50_l._ a year
salary, up to 50,000_l._ which would throw an immense sum into our
treasury: and these gentlemen could not complain, since they would
receive twenty-five shillings a month, and their rations; and this
without being obliged to fight. Lastly, I think I would impress ****


[92] These notes are taken from the periodical publication mentioned
in p. 424 of the present Vol. _Editor._


_On the criminal Laws, and the Practice of Privateering._

_March 14, 1785._


Among the pamphlets you lately sent me, was one, entitled, Thoughts
on Executive Justice. In return for that, I send you a French one on
the same subject, Observations concernant l'Exécution de l'Article
II, de la Déclaration sur le Vol. They are both addressed to the
judges, but written, as you will see, in a very different spirit. The
English author is for hanging _all_ thieves. The Frenchman is for
proportioning punishments to offences.

If we really believe, as we profess to believe, that the law of Moses
was the law of God, the dictate of divine wisdom, infinitely superior
to human; on what principles do we ordain death as the punishment of
an offence, which, according to that law, was only to be punished
by a restitution of fourfold? To put a man to death for an offence,
which does not deserve death, is it not a murder? And, as the French
writer says, _Doit on punir un délit contre la societé, par un crime
contre la nature?_

Superfluous property is the creature of society. Simple and mild laws
were sufficient to guard the property that was merely necessary. The
savage's bow, his hatchet, and his coat of skins, were sufficiently
secured, without law, by the fear of personal resentment and
retaliation. When, by virtue of the first laws, part of the society
accumulated wealth and grew powerful, they enacted others more
severe, and would protect their property at the expence of humanity.
This was abusing their power, and commencing a tyranny. If a savage,
before he entered into society, had been told,--"Your neighbour, by
this means, may become owner of an hundred deer; but if your brother,
or your son, or yourself, having no deer of your own, and being
hungry, should kill one, an infamous death must be the consequence:"
he would probably have preferred his liberty, and his common right
of killing any deer, to all the advantages of

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Text Comparison with Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 13
The notes one of my uncles (who had the same kind of curiosity in collecting family anecdotes) once put into my hands, furnished me with several particulars relating to our ancestors.
Page 34
into that city, that you may in your mind compare such unlikely beginnings with the figure I have since made there.
Page 38
Keimer ran down immediately, thinking it a visit to him; but the governor inquir'd for me, came up, and with a condescension and politeness I had been quite unus'd to, made me many compliments, desired to be acquainted with me, blam'd me kindly for not having made myself known to him when I first came to the place, and would have me away with him to the tavern, where he was going with Colonel French to taste, as he said, some excellent Madeira.
Page 40
The sloop putting in at Newport, Rhode Island, I visited my brother John, who had been married and settled there some years.
Page 47
Ralph only made some criticisms, and propos'd some amendments; but I defended my text.
Page 71
Meredith's father, who was to have paid for our printing-house, according to the expectations given me, was able to advance only one hundred pounds currency, which had been paid; and a hundred more was due to the merchant, who grew impatient, and su'd us all.
Page 78
We had left the alehouse, where we first met, and hired a room to hold our club in.
Page 81
I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian; and though some of the dogmas of that persuasion, such as the _eternal decrees of God_, _election_, _reprobation_, _etc.
Page 109
Thus he suffer'd greatly from his neglect in due accounting; and I mention it as a lesson to those young men who may be employ'd in managing affairs for others, that they should always render accounts, and make remittances, with great clearness and punctuality.
Page 114
I experienced, too, the truth of the observation, "_that after getting the first hundred pound, it is more easy to get the second_," money itself being of a prolific nature.
Page 116
[Illustration: "I regularly took my turn of duty there as a common soldier"] My activity in these operations was agreeable to the governor and council; they took me into confidence, and I was consulted by them in every measure wherein their concurrence was thought useful to the association.
Page 127
My allegation on the contrary, that it met with such approbation as to leave no doubt of our being able to raise two thousand pounds by voluntary donations, they considered as a most extravagant supposition, and utterly impossible.
Page 130
[90] See votes.
Page 139
The general and all the officers were surpris'd, declar'd the expedition was then at an end, being impossible, and exclaim'd against the ministers for ignorantly landing them in a country destitute of the means of conveying their stores, baggage, etc.
Page 144
" Having before revolv'd in my mind the long line his army must make in their march by a very narrow road, to be cut for them thro' the woods and bushes, and also what I had read of a former defeat of fifteen hundred French, who invaded the Iroquois country, I had conceiv'd some doubts and some fears for the event of the campaign.
Page 157
[108] A celebrated French naturalist (1707-1788).
Page 158
le Roy, of the Royal Academy of Sciences, took up my cause and refuted him; my book was translated into the Italian, German, and Latin languages; and the doctrine it contain'd was by degrees universally adopted by the philosophers of Europe, in preference to that of the abbe; so that he lived to see himself the last of his sect, except Monsieur B----, of Paris, his _eleve_ and immediate disciple.
Page 164
Shirley, tho'.
Page 171
What it was when they did receive it I never learnt, for they did not communicate it to me, but sent a long message to the Assembly drawn and signed by Paris, reciting my paper, complaining of its want of formality, as a rudeness on my part, and giving a flimsy justification of their conduct, adding that they should be willing to accommodate matters if the Assembly would send out _some person of candour_ to treat with them for that purpose, intimating thereby that I was not such.
Page 183
Whoever secures the.