《富蘭克林自傳》今日世界出版－黃正清譯 1975/5th reprinting今日世界出版◎黃正清譯《富蘭克林自傳》 Benjamin Franklin. 本書說，傳主去世10年之後，西洋才有 autobiography 一字。
by Benjamin Franklin, 1775
Benjamin Franklin wrote his Autobiography, which was never completed, at four different periods of his life. The first half, more or less, was written in two weeks during an interval spent with friends at Twyford, England, in 1771. It is in the form, later abandoned, of a letter to his son. At the same time or a little later, Franklin also composed an outline of the rest, or most of the rest, of the work. Subsequent portions were written at Passy, France, in 1784 and at Philadelphia in 1786 and 1788. All but the last were published without authorization in a French edition the year after Franklin died. The first edition of these three parts in English was brought out by William Temple Franklin in 1818. The fourth part was not printed until 1868, when it was recovered by John Bigelow, then American minister to France. The Autobiography has long been a part of American literary history and one of the best-known works of its kind in the world. Five relatively short passages from the Autobiography are reprinted here, dealing with well-known occurrences in Franklin's life. The first two passages were written in 1771 and were brought by Franklin to Philadelphia in 1775; hence the placement of the selection at this point in the volume. The last three selections had been outlined in 1775 but were not actually written out until the 1780s.My brother had, in 1720 or 1721, begun to print a newspaper. It was the second that appeared in America, and was called the New-England Courant. The only one before it was the Boston News-Letter. I remember his being dissuaded by some of his friends from the undertaking as not likely to succeed, one newspaper being, in their judgment, enough for America. At this time (1771) there are not less than five-and-twenty. He went on, however, with the undertaking. I was employed to carry the papers to the customers, after having worked in composing the types and printing off the sheets.
He had some ingenious men among his friends, who amused themselves by writing little pieces for his paper, which gained it credit and made it more in demand; and these gentlemen often visited us. 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. It was found in the morning and committed to his writing friends when they called in as usual. They read it, commented on it in my hearing, and I had the exquisite pleasure of finding it had met with their approbation, and that, in their different guesses at the author, none were named but men of some character among us for learning and ingenuity. I suppose that I was rather lucky in my judges, and they were not really so very good as I then believed them to be.
Encouraged, however, by this attempt, I wrote and sent in the same way to the press several other pieces that were equally approved; and I kept my secret till all my fund of sense for such performances was exhausted, and then discovered it, when I began to be considered with a little more attention by my brother's acquaintance. However, that did not quite please him as he thought it tended to make me too vain. This might be one occasion of the differences we began to have about this time. Though a brother, he considered himself as my master, and me as his apprentice, and, accordingly, expected the same services from me as he would from another, while I thought he degraded me too much in some he required of me, who from a brother required more indulgence. Our disputes were often brought before our father, and I fancy I was either generally in the right, or else a better pleader, because the judgment was generally in my favor. But my brother was passionate and had often beaten me, which I took extremely amiss; and, thinking my apprenticeship very tedious, I was continually wishing for some opportunity of shortening it, which at length offered in a manner unexpected.
Perhaps the harsh and tyrannical treatment of me might be a means of impressing me with the aversion to arbitrary power that has stuck to me through my whole life.
One of the pieces in our newspaper on some political point, which I have now forgotten, gave offense to the Assembly. He was taken up, censured, and imprisoned for a month, by the speaker's warrant, I suppose, because he would not discover the author. I too was taken up and examined before the Council; but, though I did not give them any satisfaction, they contented themselves with admonishing me, and dismissed me, considering me, perhaps, as an apprentice who was bound to keep his master's secrets.
During my brother's confinement, which I resented a good deal notwithstanding our differences, I had the management of the paper; and I made bold to give our rulers some rubs in it, which my brother took very kindly, while others began to consider me in an unfavorable light, as a youth that had a turn for libeling and satire. My brother's discharge was accompanied with an order (a very odd one) that "James Franklin should no longer print the paper called the New-England Courant."
On a consultation held in our printing office among his friends, what he should do in this conjuncture, it was proposed to elude the order by changing the name of the paper; but my brother, seeing inconveniences in this, came to a conclusion, as a better way, to let the paper in future be printed in the name of Benjamin Franklin. And, in order to avoid the censure of the Assembly that might fall on him as still printing it by his apprentice, he contrived and consented that my old indenture should be returned to me, with a full discharge on the back of it, to show in case of necessity. And, in order to secure to him the benefit of my service, I should sign new indentures for the remainder of my time, which was to be kept private. A very flimsy scheme it was; however, it was immediately executed, and the paper was printed, accordingly, under my name for several months.
At length, a fresh difference arising between my brother and me, I took upon me to assert my freedom, presuming that he would not venture to produce the new indentures. It was not fair in me to take this advantage, and this I therefore reckon as one of the first errata of my life; but the unfairness of it weighed little with me, when under the impression of resentment for the blows his passion too often urged him to bestow upon me, though he was otherwise not an ill-natured man - perhaps I was too saucy and provoking.
When he found I would leave him, he took care to prevent my getting employment in any other printing house in town by going round and speaking to every master, who accordingly refused to give me work. I then thought of going to New York, as the nearest place where there was a printer; and I was rather inclined to leave Boston when I reflected that I had already made myself a little obnoxious to the governing party, and, from the arbitrary proceedings of the Assembly in my brother's case, it was likely I might, if I stayed, soon bring myself into scrapes; and, further, that my indiscreet disputations about religion began to make me pointed at with horror by good people as an infidel or atheist.
I concluded, therefore, to remove to New York; but my father now siding with my brother, I was sensible that, if I attempted to go openly, means would be used to prevent me. My friend Collins, therefore, undertook to manage my flight. He agreed with the captain of a New York sloop to take me. I sold my books to raise a little money, was taken on board the sloop privately, had a fair wind, and in three days found myself at New York, near 300 miles from my home, at the age of seventeen, without the least recommendation or knowledge of any person in the place, and very little money in my pocket.
The inclination I had felt for the sea was by this time done away, or I might now have gratified it. But, having another profession, and conceiving myself a pretty good workman, I offered my services to a printer of the place, old Mr. W. Bradford, who had been the first printer in Pennsylvania, but had removed thence in consequence of a quarrel with the governor, General Keith. He could give me no employment, having little to do and hands enough already; but, he said, "My son at Philadelphia has lately lost his principal hand, Aquilla Rose, by death; if you go thither, I believe he may employ you." Philadelphia was 100 miles farther. I set out, however, in a boat for Amboy, leaving my chest and things to follow me round by sea.
In crossing the bay, we met with a squall that tore our rotten sails to pieces, prevented our getting into the Kill, and drove us upon Long Island. In our way, a drunken Dutchman, who was a passenger too, fell overboard; when he was sinking, I reached through the water to his shock pate [thick hair], and drew him up, so that we got him in again. His ducking sobered him a little, and he went to sleep, taking first out of his pocket a book, which he desired I would dry for him. It proved to be my old favorite author, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, in Dutch, finely printed on good paper, copper cuts, a dress better than I had ever seen it wear in its own language. I have since found that it has been translated into most of the languages of Europe, and suppose it has been more generally read than any other book, except perhaps the Bible. Honest John was the first that I know of who mixed narration and dialogue; a method of writing very engaging to the reader, who, in the most interesting parts, finds himself, as it were, admitted into the company and present at the conversation. Defoe has imitated him successfully in his Robinson Crusoe, in his Moll Flanders, and other pieces; and Richardson has done the same in his Pamela, etc.
On approaching the island, we found it was in a place where there could be no landing, there being a great surf on the stony beach. So we dropped anchor and swung out our cable toward the shore. Some people came down to the shore and halloed to us, as we did to them; but the wind was so high and the surf so loud that we could not understand each other. There were some small boats near the shore, and we made signs and called to them to fetch us; but they either did not comprehend us, or it was impracticable, so they went off. Night approaching, we had no remedy but to have patience till the wind abated; and, in the meantime the boatmen and myself concluded to sleep, if we could; and so we crowded into the hatches, where we joined the Dutchman, who was still wet, and the spray breaking over the head of our boat leaked through to us, so that we were soon almost as wet as he. In this manner we lay all night with very little rest; but, the wind abating the next day, we made a shift to reach Amboy before night, having been thirty hours on the water without victuals or any drink but a bottle of filthy rum, the water we sailed on being salt.
In the evening I found myself very feverish and went to bed; but, having read somewhere that cold water drunk plentifully was good for a fever, I followed the prescription and sweat plentifully most of the night. My fever left me, and, in the morning, crossing the ferry, I proceeded on my journey on foot, having fifty miles to Burlington, where I was told I should find boats that would carry me the rest of the way to Philadelphia.
It rained very hard all the day. I was thoroughly soaked, and by noon a good deal tired, so I stopped at a poor inn where I stayed all night, beginning now to wish I had never left home. I made so miserable a figure, too, that I found, by the questions asked me, I was suspected to be some runaway indentured servant and in danger of being taken up on that suspicion. However, I proceeded next day, and got in the evening to an inn within eight or ten miles of Burlington, kept by one Dr. Brown. He entered into conversation with me while I took some refreshment, and, finding I had read a little, became very obliging and friendly. Our acquaintance continued all the rest of his life. He had been, I imagine, an ambulatory quack doctor, for there was no town in England or any country in Europe of which he could not give a very particular account. He had some letters, and was ingenious, but he was an infidel, and wickedly undertook, some years after, to turn the Bible in doggerel verse, as Cotton had done formerly with Virgil. By this means he set many facts in a ridiculous light, and might have done mischief with weak minds if his work had been published; but it never was.
At his house I lay that night, and arrived the next morning at Burlington, but had the mortification to find that the regular boats had gone a little before, and no other expected to go before Tuesday, this being Saturday. Wherefore, I returned to an old woman in the town, of whom I had bought some gingerbread to eat on the water, and asked her advice. She proposed to lodge me till a passage by some other boat occurred. I accepted her offer, being much fatigued by traveling on foot. Understanding I was a printer, she would have had me remain in that town and follow my business, being ignorant what stock was necessary to begin with. She was very hospitable, gave me a dinner of ox-cheek with great goodwill, accepting only of a pot of ale in return; and I thought myself fixed till Tuesday should come.
However, walking in the evening by the side of the river, a boat came by, which I found was going toward Philadelphia, with several people in her. They took me in, and, as there was no wind, we rowed all the way; and, about midnight, not having yet seen the city, some of the company were confident we must have passed it, and would row no farther. The others knew not where we were; so we put toward the shore, got into a creek, landed near an old fence, with the rails of which we made a fire, the night being cold in October, and there we remained till daylight. Then one of the company knew the place to be Cooper's Creek, a little above Philadelphia, which we saw as soon as we got out of the creek, and arrived there about 8 or 9 o'clock on the Sunday morning, and landed at Market Street wharf.
I have been the more particular in this description of my journey, and shall be so of my first entry into that city, that you may in your mind compare such unlikely beginnings with the figure I have since made there. I was in my working dress, my best clothes coming round by sea. I was dirty from my being so long in the boat; my pockets were stuffed out with shirts and stockings; and I knew no one, nor where to look for lodging. Fatigued with walking, rowing, and want of sleep, I was very hungry; and my whole stock of cash consisted in a single dollar and about a shilling in copper coin, which I gave to the boatmen for my passage. At first they refused it on account of my having rowed; but I insisted on their taking it. Man is sometimes more generous when he has little money than when he has plenty, perhaps to prevent his being thought to have but little.
I walked toward the top of the street, gazing about, still in Market Street, where I met a boy with bread, I had often made a meal of dry bread, and, inquiring where he had bought it, I went immediately to the baker's he directed me to. I asked for biscuits, meaning such as we had at Boston; that sort, it seems, was not made in Philadelphia. I then asked for a threepenny loaf, and was told they had none. Not knowing the different prices nor the names of the different sorts of bread, I told him give me threepenny worth of any sort. He gave me, accordingly, three great puffy rolls. I was surprised at the quantity, but took it, and, having no room in my pockets, walked off with a roll under each arm and eating the other. Thus I went up Market Street as far as Fourth Street, passing by the door of Mr. Read, my future wife's father; when she, standing at the door, saw me, and thought I made, as I certainly did, a most awkward, ridiculous appearance. Then I turned and went down Chestnut Street and part of Walnut Street, eating my roll all the way, and coming round, found myself again at Market Street wharf, near the boat I came in, to which I went for a draft of the river water; and, being filled with one of my rolls, gave the other two to a woman and her child that came down the river in the boat with us and were waiting to go farther.
Thus refreshed, I walked again up the street, which by this time had many cleandressed people in it, who were all walking the same way. I joined them, and thereby was led into the great meetinghouse of the Quakers near the market. I sat down among them, and, after looking round awhile and hearing nothing said, being very drowsy through labor and want of rest the preceding night, I fell fast asleep, and continued so till the meeting broke up, when someone was kind enough to rouse me. This, therefore, was the first house I was in, or slept in, in Philadelphia.
I then walked down toward the river, and, looking in the faces of everyone, I met a young Quaker man, whose countenance pleased me, and, accosting him, requested he would tell me where a stranger could get a lodging. We were then near the sign of the Three Mariners. "Here," said he, "is a house where they receive strangers, but it is not a reputable one; if thou wilt walk with me, I'll show thee a better one." And he conducted me to the Crooked Billet in Water Street. There I got a dinner; and, while I was eating, several questions were asked me, as from my youth and appearance I was suspected of being a runaway.
After dinner, my host having shown to a bed, I lay myself on it without undressing, and slept till six in the evening, was called to supper. I went to bed again very early, and slept very soundly till next morning. Then I dressed myself as neat as I could, and went to Andrew Bradford, the printer's. I found in the shop the old man, his father, whom I had seen at New York and who, traveling on horseback, had got to Philadelphia before me. He introduced me to his son, who received me civilly, gave me a breakfast, but told me he did not at present want a hand, being lately supplied with one; but there was another printer in town lately set up, one Keimer, who perhaps might employ me. If not, I should be welcome to lodge at his house, and he would give me a little work to do now and then till fuller business should offer.
The old gentleman said he would go with me to the new printer; and when we found him, "Neighbor," said Bradford, "I have brought to see you a young man of your business; perhaps you may want such a one." He asked me a few questions, put a composing stick in my hand to see how I worked, and then said he would employ me soon, though he had just then nothing for me to do; and taking old Bradford, whom he had never seen before, to be one of the townspeople that had a goodwill for him, entered into conversation on his present undertaking and prospects; while Bradford (not discovering that he was the other printer's father), on Keimer's saying he expected soon to get the greatest part of the business into his own hands, drew him on by artful questions, and starting little doubts, to explain all his views, what influence he relied on, and in what manner he intended to proceed. I, who stood by and heard all, saw immediately that one was a crafty old sophister and the other a true novice. Bradford left me with Keimer, who was greatly surprised when I told him who the old man was.
Keimer's printing house, I found, consisted of an old damaged press, and a small, worn-out font of English types which he was using himself, composing an elegy on Aquilla Rose, before mentioned, an ingenious young man of excellent character, much respected in the town, secretary to the Assembly, and a pretty poet. Keimer made verses, too, but very indifferently. He could not be said to write them, for his method was to compose them in the types directly out of his head; there being no copy but one pair of cases, and the elegy probably requiring all the letter, no one could help him. I endeavored to put his press (which he had not yet used and of which he understood nothing) into order to be worked with; and promising to come and print off his elegy as soon as he should have got it ready, I returned to Bradford's, who gave me a little job to do for the present, and there I lodged and dieted. A few days after, Keimer sent for me to print off the elegy. And now he had got another pair of cases, and a pamphlet to reprint, on which he set me to work.
These two printers I found poorly qualified for their business. Bradford had been bred to it and was very illiterate; and Keimer, though something of a scholar, was a mere compositor, knowing nothing of presswork. He had been one of the French prophets and could act their enthusiastic agitations. 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. He did not like my lodging at Bradford's while I worked with him. He had a house, indeed, but without furniture, so he could not lodge me; but he got me a lodging at Mr. Read's, before mentioned, who was the owner of his house; and my chest and clothes being come by this time, I made rather a more respectable appearance in the eyes of Miss Read than I had done when she first happened to see me eating my roll in the street.
I began now to have some acquaintance among the young people of the town that were lovers of reading, with whom I spent my evenings very pleasantly; and gained money by my industry and frugality. I lived very contented and forgot Boston as much as I could, and did not wish it should be known where I resided, except to my friend Collins, who was in the secret and kept it faithfully.
At length, however, an incident happened that occasioned my return home much sooner than I had intended. I had a brother-in-law, Robert Holmes, master of a sloop that traded between Boston and Delaware. He being at Newcastle, forty miles below Philadelphia, and hearing of me, wrote me a letter mentioning the grief of my relations and friends in Boston at my abrupt departure, assuring me of their goodwill toward me and that everything would be accommodated to my mind if I would return, to which he entreated me earnestly. I wrote an answer to his letter, thanking him for his advice, but stated my reasons for quitting Boston so fully and in such a light as to convince him that I was not so wrong as he had apprehended. ...
About this time , our club, meeting not at a tavern but in a little room of Mr. Grace's set apart for that purpose, a proposition was made by me that, since our books were often referred to in our disquisitions upon the queries, it might be convenient to us to have them all together when we met, that, upon occasion, they might be consulted. And, by thus clubbing our books to a common library, we should, while we liked to keep them together, have each of us the advantage of using the books of all the other members, which would be nearly as beneficial as if each owned the whole. It was liked and agreed to, and we filled one end of the room with such books as we could best spare. The number was not so great as we expected; and, though they had been of great use, yet some inconveniences occurring for want of due care of them, the collection, after about a year, was separated and each took his books home again.
And now I set on foot my first project of a public nature - that for a subscription library. I drew up the proposals, got them put into form by our great scrivener Brockden, and, by the help of my friends in the Junto, procurred fifty subscribers of 40s. each to begin with and 10s. a year for fifty years, the term our company was to continue. We afterward obtained a charter, the company being increased to one hundred. This was the mother of all the North American subscription libraries, now so numerous. It is become a great thing itself and continually goes on increasing. These libraries have improved the general conversation of the Americans, made the common tradesmen and farmers as intelligent as most gentlemen from other countries, and perhaps have contributed in some degree to the stand so generally made throughout the colonies in defense of their privileges. ...
In 1732 I first published my Almanac, under the name of Richard Saunders; it was continued by me about twenty-five years and commonly called Poor Richard's Almanac. I endeavored to make it both entertaining and useful, and it accordingly came to be in such demand that I reaped considerable profit from it, vending annually near 10,000. And observing that it was generally read (scarce any neighborhood in the province being without it), I considered it as a proper vehicle for conveying instruction among the common people, who bought scarcely any other books. I therefore filled all the little spaces that occurred between the remarkable days in the calendar with proverbial sentences, chiefly such as inculcated industry and frugality as the means of procuring wealth, and thereby securing virtue, it being more difficult for a man in want to act always honestly, as (to use here one of those proverbs) "it is hard for an empty sack to stand upright."
These proverbs, which contained the wisdom of many ages and nations, I assembled and formed into a connected discourse prefixed to the Almanac of 1757, as the harangue of a wise old man to the people attending an auction. The bringing all these scattered counsels thus into a focus enabled them to make greater impression. The piece, being universally approved, was copied in all the newspapers of the American continent; reprinted in Britain on a large sheet of paper to be stuck up in houses; two translations were made of it in French; and great numbers bought by the clergy and gentry to distribute gratis among their poor parishioners and tenants. In Pennsylvania, as it discouraged useless expense in foreign superfluities, some thought it had its share of influence in producing that growing plenty of money which was observable for several years after its publication.
I considered my newspaper, also, another means of communicating instruction, and, in that view, frequently reprinted in it extracts from the Spectator and other moral writers; and sometimes published little pieces of mine own, which had been first composed for reading in our Junto. Of these are a Socratic dialogue, tending to prove that, whatever might be his parts and abilities, a vicious man could not properly be called a man of sense; and a discourse on self-denial, showing that virtue was not secure till its practice became a habitude and was free from the opposition of contrary inclinations. These may be found in the papers about the beginning of 1735.
In the conduct of my newspaper, I carefully excluded all libeling and personal abuse, which is of late years become so disgraceful to our country. Whenever I was solicited to insert anything of that kind, and the writers pleaded (as they generally did) the liberty of the press, and that a newspaper was like a stagecoach in which anyone who would pay had a right to a place, my answer was that I would print the piece separately if desired, and the author might have as many copies as he pleased to distribute himself, but that I would not take upon me to spread his detraction; and that, having contracted with my subscribers to furnish them with what might be either useful or entertaining, I could not fill their papers with private altercation, in which they had no concern, without doing them manifest injustice.
Now, many of our printers make no scruple of gratifying the malice of individuals by false accusations of the fairest characters among ourselves, augmenting animosity even to the producing of duels; and are, moreover, so indiscreet as to print scurrilous reflections on the government of neighboring states, and even on the conduct of our best national allies, which may be attended with the most pernicious consequences. These things I mention as a caution to young printers, and that they may be encouraged not to pollute the presses and disgrace their profession by such infamous practices, but refuse steadily, as they may see by my example that such a course of conduct will not, on the whole, be injurious to their interests. ...
In 1737, Colonel Spotswood, late governor of Virginia, and then postmaster general, being dissatisfied with his deputy at Philadelphia, respecting some negligence in rendering and want of exactness in framing his accounts, took from him his commission and offered it to me. I accepted it readily, and found it of great advantage; for, though the salary was small, it facilitated the correspondence that improved my newspaper, [and] increased the number demanded, as well as the advertisements to be inserted, so that it came to afford me a considerable income. My old competitor's newspaper declined proportionally, and I was satisfied without retaliating his refusal, while postmaster, to permit my papers being carried by the riders. Thus he suffered greatly from his neglect in due accounting; and I mention it as a lesson to those young men who may be employed in managing affairs for others, that they should always render accounts and make remittances with great clearness and punctuality. The character of observing such a conduct is the most powerful of all recommendations to new employments and increase of business.
I began now to turn my thoughts to public affairs, beginning, however, with small matters. The city watch was one of the first things that I conceived to want regulation. It was managed by the constables of the respective wards in turn; the constable summoned a number of housekeepers to attend him for the night. Those who chose never to attend, paid him 6s. a year to be excused, which was supposed to go for hiring substitutes, but was, in reality, much more than was necessary for that purpose, and made the constableship a place of profit; and the constable, for a little drink, often got such ragamuffins about him as a watch that respectable housekeepers did not choose to mix with. Walking the rounds, too, was often neglected, and most of the nights spent in tippling. I thereupon wrote a paper, to be read in Junto, representing these irregularities, but insisting more particularly on the inequality of this 6s. tax of the constables, respecting the circumstances of those who paid it, since a poor widow housekeeper, all whose property to be guarded by the watch did not perhaps exceed the value of £ 50, paid as much as the wealthiest merchant, who had thousands of pounds' worth of goods in his stores.
On the whole, I proposed as a more effectual watch, the hiring of proper men to serve constantly in that business; and, as a more equitable way of supporting the charge, the levying of a tax that should be proportioned to the property. This idea, being approved by the Junto, was communicated to the other clubs, but as originating in each of them; and though the plan was not immediately carried into execution, yet, by preparing the minds of people for the change, it paved the way for the law obtained a few years after, when the members of our clubs were grown into more influence.
About this time I wrote a paper (first to be read in Junto, but it was afterward published) on the different accidents and carelessnesses by which houses were set on fire, with cautions against them, and means proposed of avoiding them. This was spoken of as a useful piece, and gave rise to a project, which soon followed it, of forming a company for the more ready extinguishing of fires and mutual assistance in removing and securing of goods when in danger. Associates in this scheme were presently found, amounting to thirty. Our articles of agreement obliged every member to keep always in good order and fit for use a certain number of leather buckets, with strong bags and baskets (for packing and transporting goods), which were to be brought to every fire; and we agreed about once a month to spend a social evening together in discoursing and communicating such ideas as occurred to us upon the subject of fires as might be useful in our conduct on such occasions.
The utility of this institution soon appeared, and many more desiring to be admitted than we thought convenient for one company, they were advised to form another, which was accordingly done; and thus went on one new company after another, till they became so numerous as to include most of the inhabitants who were men of property. And now, at the time of my writing this (though upward of fifty years since its establishment), that which I first formed, called the Union Fire Company, still subsists, though the first members are all deceased but one, who is older by a year than I am. The fines that have been paid by members for absence at the monthly meetings have been applied to the purchase of fire engines, ladders, fire hooks, and other useful implements for each company, so that I question whether there is a city in the world better provided with the means of putting a stop to beginning conflagrations; and, in fact, since these institutions, the city has never lost by fire more than one or two houses at a time, and the flames have often been extinguished before the house in which they began has been half consumed. ...
It had been proposed that we should encourage the scheme for building a battery [cannon] by laying out the present stock, then about £ 60, in tickets of the lottery. By our rules, no money could be disposed of till the next meeting after the proposal. The company consisted of thirty members, of whom twenty-two were Quakers and eight only of other persuasions. We eight punctually attended the meeting; but, though we thought that some of the Quakers would join us, we were by no means sure of a majority. Only one Quaker, Mr. James Morris, appeared to oppose the measure. He expressed much sorrow that it had ever been proposed, as he said Friends were all against it, and it would create such discord as might break up the company. We told him that we saw no reason for that; we were the minority, and if Friends were against the measure and outvoted us, we must and should, agreeably to the usage of all societies, submit. When the hour for business arrived, it was moved to put this to the vote; he allowed we might do it by the rules, but, as he could assure us that a number of members intended to be present for the purpose of opposing it, it would be but candid to allow a little time for their appearing.
While we were disputing this, a waiter came to tell me that two gentlemen below desired to speak with me. I went down and found there two of our Quaker members. They told me there were eight of them assembled at a tavern just by; that they were determined to come and vote with us if there should be occasion, which they hoped would not be the case; and desired we would not call for their assistance if we could do without it, as their voting for such a measure might embroil them with their elders and friends. Being thus secure of a majority, I went up, and, after a little seeming hesitation, agreed to a delay of another hour. This Mr. Morris allowed to be extremely fair. Not one of his opposing friends appeared, at which he expressed great surprise; and, at the expiration of the hour, we carried the resolution eight to one; and as, of the twenty-two Quakers, eight were ready to vote with us and thirteen, by their absence, manifested that they were not inclined to oppose the measure, I afterward estimated the proportion of Quakers sincerely against defense as one to twenty-one only; for these were all regular members of that society, and in good reputation among them, and who had notice of what was proposed at that meeting.
The honorable and learned Mr. Logan, who had always been of that sect, wrote an address to them, declaring his approbation of defensive war and supporting his opinion by many strong arguments. He put into my hands £ 60 to be laid out in lottery tickets for the battery, with directions to apply what prizes might be drawn wholly to that service. He told me the following anecdote of his old master, William Penn, respecting defense. He came over from England when a young man, with that proprietary, and as his secretary. It was wartime, and their ship was chased by an armed vessel, supposed to be an enemy. Their captain prepared for defense; but told William Penn and his company of Quakers that he did not expect their assistance and they might retire into the cabin, which they did, except James Logan, who chose to stay upon deck, and was quartered to a gun. The supposed enemy proved a friend, so there was no fighting; but, when the secretary went down to communicate the intelligence, William Penn rebuked him severely for staying upon deck and undertaking to assist in defending the vessel, contrary to the principles of Friends, especially as it had not been required by the captain. This reprimand, being before all the company, piqued the secretary, who answered, "I, being thy servant, why did thee not order me to come down? But thee was willing enough that I should stay and help to fight the ship when thee thought there was danger."
My being many years in the Assembly, the majority of which were constantly Quakers, gave me frequent opportunities of seeing the embarrassment given them by their principle against war, whenever application was made to them, by order of the Crown, to grant aids for military purposes. They were unwilling to offend government, on the one hand, by a direct refusal; and their friends, the body of the Quakers, on the other, by a compliance contrary to their principles, using a variety of evasions to avoid complying, and modes of disguising the compliance when it became unavoidable. The common mode at last was to grant money under the phrase of its being "for the King's use," and never to inquire how it was applied.
But, if the demand was not directly from the Crown, that phrase was found not so proper, and some other was to be invented. Thus, when powder was wanting (I think it was for the garrison at Louisburg), and the government of New England solicited a grant of some from Pennsylvania, which was much urged on the House by Governor Thomas, they could not grant money to buy powder because that was an ingredient of war; but they voted an aid to New England of £ 3,000 to be put into the hands of the governor, and appropriated it for the purchasing of bread, flour, wheat, or other grain. Some of the Council, desirous of giving the House still further embarrassment, advised the governor not to accept provision as not being the thing he had demanded; but he replied, "I shall take the money, for I understand very well their meaning; other grain is gunpowder," which he accordingly bought, and they never objected to it.
It was in allusion to this fact that, when in our fire company we feared the success of our proposal in favor of the lottery, and I had said to a friend of mine, one of our members, "If we fail, let us move the purchase of a fire engine with the money; the Quakers can have no objection to that; and then, if you nominate me and I you as a committee for that purpose, we will buy a great gun, which is certainly a fire engine."
"I see," said he, "you have improved by being so long in the Assembly; your equivocal project would be just a match for their wheat or other grain."
Those embarrassments that the Quakers suffered from having established and published it as one of their principles, that no kind of war was lawful, being once published, they could not afterward, however they might change their minds, easily get rid of, reminds me what I think a more prudent conduct in another sect among us, that of the Dunkers. I was acquainted with one of its founders, Michael Weffare, soon after it appeared. He complained to me that they were grievously calumniated by the zealots of other persuasions, and charged with abominable principles and practices, to which they were utter strangers. I told him this had always been the case with new sects, and that, to put a stop to such abuse, I imagined it might be well to publish the articles of their belief and the rules of their discipline. He said that it had been proposed among them but not agreed to for this reason:
When we were first drawn together as a society [said he], it had pleased God to enlighten our minds so far as to see that some doctrines, which were esteemed truths, were errors; and that others, which we had esteemed errors, were real truths. From time to time He has been pleased to afford us further light, and our principles have been improving and our errors diminishing. Now we are not sure that we are arrived at the end of this progression and at the perfection of spiritual or theological knowledge; and we fear that, if we should once print our confession of faith, we should feel ourselves as if bound and confined by it, and perhaps be unwilling to receive further improvement, and our successors still more so, as conceiving what their elders and founders had done to be something sacred, never to be departed from.This modesty in a sect is perhaps a singular instance in the history of mankind, every other sect supposing itself in possession of all truth, and that those who differ are so far in the wrong; like a man traveling in foggy weather, those at some distance before him on the road he sees wrapped up in the fog, as well as those behind him, and also the people in the fields on each side, but near him all appear clear, though in truth he is as much in the fog as any of them. To avoid this kind of embarrassment, the Quakers have of late years been gradually declining the public service in the Assembly and in the magistracy, choosing rather to quit their power than their principle.
Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin, New York, 1839, Vol. I, pp. 32-43, 89-90, 118-120, 125-127. The Works of Benjamin Franklin, etc., etc, Jared Sparks, ed., Boston, 1836-1840, Vol. I, pp. 151-156.
"George Washington - the Joshua, who commanded the sun and the moon to stand still, and they obeyed him." — Benjamin Franklin, at an official dinner..
The British Ambassador proposed as a toast: "England - the sun - whose bright beams enlighten and fructify the remotest corners of the earth." The French Ambassador proposed: "France - the moon - whose mild, steady, and cheering rays are the delight of all nations, consoling them in darkness." Franklin then proposed the above toast.
"Oh, very well, Doctor, I had rather relate your stories than other men's truths." — Abbé Raynal, when told by Benjamin Franklin that Polly Baker was a fabrication.
"I succeed Dr. Franklin. No man can replace him." — Thomas Jefferson, at the Court of France when asked if he replaced Franklin as American ambassador. 1785.
As a literary genre, autobiography, narrating the story of one's own life, is a variation of biography, a form of writing that describes the life of a particular individual. From the point of view of psychoanalysis, autobiography is of interest as the story told by the patient to the analyst and to himself.
Autobiography in the modern sense began as a form of confession (Saint Augustine), even though there are memoirs in classical literature (Xenophon's Anabasis, Julius Caesar's Gallic wars). Such introspective works can be considered attempts at self-analysis before the psychoanalytic discovery of the unconscious. In 1925 Freud wrote An Autobiographical Study, in which the story of his own life merges with that of the creation of psychoanalysis. According to Freud, biographical truth does not exist, since the author must rely on lies, secrets, and hypocrisy (letter to Arnold Zweig dated May 31, 1939). The same is true of autobiography. From this point of view, it is interesting that Freud framed his theoretical victory and the birth of psychoanalysis in terms of a psychological novel.
The function of autobiography is to use scattered bits of memory to create the illusion of a sense of continuity that can hide the anxiety of the ephemeral, or even of the absence of the meaning of existence, from a purely narcissistic point of view. This story constitutes a narrative identity (Ricoeur, 1984-1988) but is self-contained. In contrast, the job of analysis is to modify, indeed to deconstruct, this identity through interpretation. Because the analyst reveals repressed content, he is always a potential spoiler of the patient's autobiographic story (Mijolla-Mellor, 1988).
Although autobiography has been of greater interest to literature (Lejeune, 1975) than to psychoanalysis, a number of psychoanalysts (Wilfred Bion and Marie Bonaparte, among others) have written autobiographies, thus confirming the link between the analyst's pursuit of self-analysis and autobiographical reflection.
BibliographyFreud, Sigmund. (1925). An autobiographical study. SE, 20: 1-74.
Lejeune, Philippe. (1974). Le pacte autobiographique. Paris: Seuil.
Mijolla-Mellor, Sophie de. (1988). Suvivreà so passé. In L'autobiographie. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.
——. (1990). Autobiographie et psychanalyse. Le Coq-Héron, 118, pp. 6-14.
Ricoeur, Paul. (1984-1988). Time and narrative (Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer, Trans.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Original work published 1985)