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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 306

gold and silver and other valuable metals, and many have
been ruined by it. A sea-captain of my acquaintance used to blame
the English for envying Spain their mines of silver, and too much
despising or overlooking the advantages of their own industry
and manufactures. For my part, says he, I esteem the banks of
Newfoundland to be a more valuable possession than the mountains
of Potosi; and when I have been there on the fishing account, have
looked upon every cod pulled up into the vessel as a certain quantity
of silver ore, which required only carrying to the next Spanish port
to be coined into pieces of eight; not to mention the national profit
of fitting out and employing such a number of ships and seamen. Let
honest Peter Buckram, who has long, without success, been a searcher
after hidden money, reflect on this, and be reclaimed from that
unaccountable folly. Let him consider, that every stitch he takes
when he is on his shop board is picking up part of a grain of gold,
that will in a few days time amount to a pistole; and let Faber think
the same of every nail he drives, or every stroke with his plane.
Such thoughts may make them industrious, and of consequence in time
they may be wealthy. But how absurd is it to neglect a certain profit
for such a ridiculous whimsey: to spend whole days at the George, in
company with an idle pretender to astrology, contriving schemes to
discover what was never hidden, and forgetful how carelessly business
is managed at home in their absence: to leave their wives and a
warm bed at midnight (no matter if it rain, hail, snow, or blow a
hurricane, provided that be the critical hour) and fatigue themselves
with the violent exercise of digging for what they shall never find,
and perhaps getting a cold that may cost their lives, or at least
disordering themselves so as to be fit for no business beside for
some days after. Surely this is nothing less than the most egregious
folly and madness.

I shall conclude with the words of my discreet friend, Agricola, of
Chester County, when he gave his son a good plantation:--"My son,"
says he, "I give thee now a valuable parcel of land; I assure thee
I have found a considerable quantity of gold by digging there; thee
mayst do the same; but thee must carefully observe this, Never to dig
more than plow-deep."


[174] These are the "humorous pieces" mentioned by Dr. Franklin
in his Memoirs, page 86. We are indebted for them

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

Page 4
_ To wear their.
Page 8
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 15
To prevent the apprehended effect of such an inclination, my father was impatient to have me bound to my brother.
Page 28
[42] The latter I gave the people of the boat for my passage, who at first refused it, on account of my rowing; but I insisted on their taking it, a man being sometimes more generous when he has but a little money than when he has plenty, perhaps through fear of being thought to have but little.
Page 53
] [Footnote 76: Don Saltero had been a servant to Sir Hans Sloane, and had learned from him to treasure curiosities.
Page 62
Andrew's, in Scotland) gave a contrary opinion: "For the industry of that Franklin," says he, "is superior to anything I ever saw of the kind; I see him still at work when I go home from club, and he is at work again before his neighbors are out of bed.
Page 63
My hopes of success, as I told him, were founded on this: that the then only newspaper, printed by Bradford, was a paltry thing, wretchedly managed, no way entertaining, and yet was profitable to him; I therefore thought a good paper would scarcely fail of good encouragement.
Page 75
] [Footnote 106: Mrs.
Page 104
Most of them did well, being enabled at the end of our term, six years, to purchase the types of me and go on working for themselves, by which means several families were raised.
Page 105
I had prepared a number of printed copies, and provided pens and ink dispersed all over the room.
Page 107
By our rules no money could be disposed of till the next meeting after the proposal.
Page 109
Page 120
This was at nine o'clock; at twelve she came for the shilling.
Page 122
William Hunter, to succeed him, by a commission from the postmaster-general in England.
Page 128
The orders were immediately printed, and I was one of the committee directed to sign and dispose of them.
Page 135
"After taking Fort Duquesne,"[172] says he, "I am to proceed to Niagara; and, having taken that, to Frontenac, if the season will allow time, and I suppose it will, for Duquesne can hardly detain me above three or four days; and then I see nothing that can obstruct my march to Niagara.
Page 138
They amounted to near twenty thousand pounds, which to pay would have ruined me.
Page 143
In the dormitories I observed loopholes, at certain distances all along just under the ceiling, which I thought judiciously placed for change of air.
Page 155
" So he never obtained leave, though detained afterward from day to day during full three months.
Page 165
" The other letter, from Mr.