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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 298

birth, that I have not only
a faculty of discovering the actions of persons, that are absent
or asleep, but even of the devil himself, in many of his secret
workings, in the various shapes, habits, and names of men and women:
and having travelled and conversed much, and met but with a very few
of the same perceptions and qualifications, I can recommend myself
to you as the most useful man you can correspond with. My father's
father's father (for we had no grandfathers in our family) was
the same John Bunyan that writ that memorable book, The Pilgrim's
Progress, who had, in some degree, a natural faculty of second sight.
This faculty (how derived to him our family memoirs are not very
clear) was enjoyed by all his descendants, but not by equal talents.
It was very dim in several of my first cousins, and probably had
been nearly extinct in our particular branch, had not my father
been a traveller. He lived, in his youthful days, in New England.
There he married, and there was born my elder brother, who had so
much of this faculty, as to discover witches in some of their occult
performances. My parents transporting themselves to Great Britain,
my second brother's birth was in that kingdom. He shared but a small
portion of this virtue, being only able to discern transactions about
the time of, and for the most part after, their happening. My good
father, who delighted in the Pilgrim's Progress, and mountainous
places, took shipping, with his wife, for Scotland, and inhabited in
the Highlands, where myself was born; and whether the soil, climate,
or astral influences, of which are preserved divers prognosticks,
restored our ancestor's natural faculty of second sight, in a greater
lustre to me, than it had shined in through several generations, I
will not here discuss. But so it is, that I am possessed largely
of it, and design, if you encourage the proposal, to take this
opportunity of doing good with it, which I question not will be
accepted of in a grateful way by many of your honest readers, though
the discovery of my extraction bodes me no deference from your great
scholars and modern philosophers. This my father was long ago aware
of, and lest the name alone should hurt the fortunes of his children,
he, in his shiftings from one country to another, wisely changed it.

"Sir, I have only this further to say, how I may be useful to you,
and as a reason for my not making myself more known in the world:
by virtue of this

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| ** | * | * | | * | * | * | +----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+ | R.
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note_.
Page 122
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Page 160
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In my opinion, we might all draw more good from it than we do, and suffer less evil, if we would take care not to give too much for whistles.