Benjamin Franklin autobiography

This was another one from DailyLit — in just 75 five-minute emails, I read this. Sometimes this is a good method, and sometimes not. When I’m really busy, it is actually hard to find 5 minutes to read an email. And then they stack up, and at some point I have to catch up. However, most of the time, it is a good motivation. I think I’ll start Dante’s Divine Comedy next.

On to the actual book. In some ways it is a bit odd, and strung together. There are a couple of long breaks where he didn’t write anything — long as in many years. And it doesn’t always flow that well. There are some sections that go into minute details on things that don’t seem that relevant to his life, and sometimes there is barely any mention of things that, to me, seem of great importance to his life. So in some ways, I feel like I need to read an actual biography now, to kind of tie it together in a neutral 3rd party kind of way.

On to some quotes:

  • I believe I have omitted mentioning that, in my first voyage from Boston, being becalm’d off Block Island, our people set about catching cod, and hauled up a great many. Hitherto I had stuck to my resolution of not eating animal food, and on this occasion consider’d, with my master Tryon, the taking every fish as a kind of unprovoked murder, since none of them had, or ever could do us any injury that might justify the slaughter. All this seemed very reasonable. But I had formerly been a great lover of fish, and, when this came hot out of the frying-pan, it smelt admirably well. I balanc’d some time between principle and inclination, till I recollected that, when the fish were opened, I saw smaller fish taken out of their stomachs; then thought I, “If you eat one another, I don’t see why we mayn’t eat you.” So I din’d upon cod very heartily, and continued to eat with other people, returning only now and then occasionally to a vegetable diet.

  • So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.

  • In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I had compleatly overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.

  • Was this the beginning of “open source?” 🙂

    Thomas was so pleas’d with the construction of this stove, as described in it, that he offered to give me a patent for the sole vending of them for a term of years; but I declin’d it from a principle which has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz., That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.

1 thought on “Benjamin Franklin autobiography

  1. Pingback: A post worth a read…. « 2sparrows

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