Vie de Franklin, écrite par lui-même - Tome I Suivie de ses œuvres morales, politiques et littéraires

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 125

pour la première fois, avec un homme qui
regardoit plus sa jambe crochue que l'autre, il commençoit à s'en
défier; et si cet homme lui parloit de sa vilaine jambe et ne lui disoit
rien de la belle, il n'en falloit pas davantage pour déterminer le
philosophe à n'avoir plus aucun rapport avec lui.

Tout le monde n'a pas le baromètre à deux jambes. Mais, avec un peu
d'attention, tout le monde peut observer les signes de cette fâcheuse
disposition à chercher des défauts, et on peut prendre la résolution de
fuir la connoissance de ceux qui ont le malheur de l'avoir. J'avertis
donc ces gens pointilleux, chagrins, mécontens, que s'ils veulent être
respectés, aimés et vivre heureux, ils doivent cesser de regarder la
_jambe crochue_.



De Passy, le 15 août 1778.

Vous pouvez vous rappeler, ma chère amie, que lorsque nous passâmes
dernièrement cette heureuse journée dans le délicieux jardin et
l'agréable société du Moulin-Joli, je m'arrêtai dans une allée, et
m'écartai quelque temps de la compagnie.

On nous avoit montré un nombre infini de cadavres d'une petite espèce de
mouche, appelée _éphémère_, dont les générations successives étoient,
nous dit-on, nées et mortes dans le même jour. J'en apperçus, sur une
autre feuille, une compagnie vivante, qui fesoit la conversation.

Vous savez que j'entends le langage de toutes les espèces inférieures à
la nôtre. Ma trop grande application à cette étude, est la meilleure
excuse que je puisse donner du peu de progrès que j'ai fait dans votre
charmante langue. La curiosité m'engagea à écouter ce que

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But my father, in the meantime, from a view of the expense of a college education, which having so large a family he could not well afford, and the mean living many so educated were afterwards able to obtain--reasons that he gave to his friends in my hearing--altered his first intention, took me from the grammar-school, and sent me to a school for writing and arithmetic, kept by a then famous man, Mr.
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This has been a convenience to me in travelling, where my companions have been sometimes very unhappy for want of a suitable gratification of their more delicate, because better instructed, tastes and appetites.
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My father, tho' he did not approve Sir William's proposition, was yet pleas'd that I had been able to obtain so advantageous a character from a person of such note where I had resided, and that I had been so industrious and careful as to equip myself so handsomely in so short a time; therefore, seeing no prospect of an accommodation between my brother and me, he gave his consent to my returning again to Philadelphia, advis'd me to behave respectfully to the people there, endeavor to obtain the general esteem, and avoid lampooning and libeling, to which he thought I had too much inclination; telling me, that by steady industry and a prudent parsimony I might save enough by the time I was one-and-twenty to set me up; and that, if I came near the matter, he would help me out with the rest.
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If this correspondent had known the nature of your reputation as well as I do, he would have said, Your former writings and measures would secure attention to your Biography, and Art of Virtue; and your Biography and Art of Virtue, in return, would secure attention to them.
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On this little fund we began.
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My conduct might be blameable, but I leave it, without attempting further to excuse it; my present purpose being to relate facts, and not to make apologies for them.
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The Governor of Pennsylvania, in sending it down to the Assembly, express'd his approbation of the plan, "as appearing to him to be drawn up with great clearness and strength of judgment, and therefore recommended it as well worthy of their closest and most serious attention.
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" I was conscious of an impropriety in my disputing with a military man in matters of his profession, and said no more.
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As soon as the loss of the waggons and horses was generally known, all the owners came upon me for the valuation which I had given bond to pay.
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Collinson, Fellow of the Royal Society of London, a present of a glass tube, with some account of the use of it in making such experiments.
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commission for my service, "O, sir," says he, "you must not think of persuading us that you are no gainer; we understand better those affairs, and know that every one concerned in supplying the army finds means, in the doing it, to fill his own pockets.
Page 159
They gave me their thanks in form when I return'd.