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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 335

stolen." The man's
answer, if candidly examined, will, I imagine, appear reasonable,
as being founded on the eternal principle of justice and equity,
that punishments should be proportioned to offences; and the judge's
reply brutal and unreasonable, though the writer "wishes all judges
to carry it with them whenever they go the circuit, and to bear
it in their minds, as containing a wise reason for all the penal
statutes, which they are called upon to put in execution. "It at
once illustrates," says he, "the true grounds and reasons of all
capital punishments whatsoever, namely, that every man's property,
as well as his life, may be held sacred and inviolate." Is there
then no difference in value between property and life? If I think
it right, that the crime of murder should be punished with death,
not only as an equal punishment of the crime, but to prevent other
murders, does it follow, that I must approve of inflicting the same
punishment for a little invasion on my property by theft? If I am
not myself so barbarous, so bloody-minded, and revengeful, as to
kill a fellow-creature for stealing from me fourteen shillings and
three-pence, how can I approve of a law that does it? Montesquieu,
who was himself a judge, endeavours to impress other maxims. He must
have known what humane judges feel on such occasions, and what the
effects of those feelings; and, so far from thinking that severe and
excessive punishments prevent crimes, he asserts, as quoted by our
French writer, that

"_L'atrocité des loix en empêche l'exécution._

"_L'orsque la peine est sans mesure, on est souvent obligé de lui
préférer l'impunité._

"_La cause de tous les relâchemens vient de l'impunité des crimes, et
non de la modération des peines._"

It is said by those who know Europe generally, that there are more
thefts committed and punished annually in England, than in all the
other nations put together. If this be so, there must be a cause
or causes for such depravity in our common people. May not one be
the deficiency of justice and morality in our national government,
manifested in our oppressive conduct to subjects, and unjust wars
on our neighbours? View the long-persisted in, unjust, monopolizing
treatment of Ireland, at length acknowledged! View the plundering
government exercised by our merchants in the Indies; the confiscating
war made upon the American colonies; and, to say nothing of those
upon France and Spain, view the late war upon Holland, which was
seen by impartial Europe in no other light than that of a war of
rapine and pillage; the hopes of an immense and easy prey

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Text Comparison with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 1
The first five chapters of the Autobiography were composed in England in 1771, continued in 1784-5, and again in 1788, at which date he brought it down to 1757.
Page 12
To prevent the apprehended effect of such an inclination, my father was impatient to have me bound to my brother.
Page 17
Hearing their conversations, and their accounts of the approbation their papers were received with, I was excited to try my hand among them; but, being still a boy, and suspecting that my brother would object to printing anything of mine in his paper if he knew it to be mine, I contrived to disguise my hand, and, writing an anonymous paper, I put it in at night under the door of the printing-house.
Page 26
At this time he did not profess any particular religion, but something of all on occasion; was very ignorant of the world, and had, as I afterward found, a good deal of the knave in his composition.
Page 44
So I went on now very agreeably.
Page 60
These two friends were William Coleman and Robert Grace.
Page 65
We ventured, however, over all these difficulties, and I took her to wife, September 1st, 1730.
Page 67
And considering the eagerness with which such information is sought by them, and the extent of your reputation, I do not know of a more efficacious advertisement than your biography would give.
Page 76
While my care was employ'd in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another; habit took the advantage of inattention; inclination was sometimes too strong for reason.
Page 89
--B.
Page 104
by subscriptions among themselves, provided silk colors, which they presented to the companies, painted with different devices and mottos, which I supplied.
Page 110
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Page 120
With these sentiments I have hazarded the few preceding pages, hoping they may afford hints which some time or other may be useful to a city I love,.
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Thomas Penn and Mr.
Page 126
My son accompanied me on this journey.
Page 130
but, that sum being insufficient, I advanc'd upward of two hundred pounds more, and in two weeks the one hundred and fifty waggons, with two hundred and fifty-nine carrying horses, were on their march for the camp.
Page 137
On this occasion, however, they, to their surprise, found it adopted by but a few.
Page 142
During this short time of my colonelship, being about to set out on a journey to Virginia, the officers of my regiment took it into their heads that it would be proper for them to escort me out of town, as far as the Lower Ferry.
Page 148
In behalf of the Assembly, I urg'd all the various arguments that may be found in the public papers of that time, which were of my writing, and are printed with the minutes of the Assembly; and the governor pleaded his instructions; the bond he had given to observe them, and his ruin if he disobey'd, yet seemed not unwilling to hazard himself if Lord Loudoun would advise it.
Page 158
Accordingly they petition'd the king in Council, and a hearing was appointed in which two lawyers were employ'd by them against the act, and two by me in support of it.