Front Page Titles (by Subject) VI: MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. I Autobiography, Letters and Misc. Writings 1725-1734
Return to Title Page for The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. I Autobiography, Letters and Misc. Writings 1725-1734
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
VI: MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. I Autobiography, Letters and Misc. Writings 1725-1734 
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. I (Autobiography, Letters and Misc. Writings 1725-1734).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Whence does it proceed, that the proselytes to any sect or persuasion generally appear more zealous than those that are bred up in it?
Answer. I suppose that people bred in different persuasions are nearly zealous alike. Then he that changes his party is either sincere or not sincere; that is, he either does it for the sake of the opinions merely, or with a view of interest. If he is sincere, and has no view of interest, and considers, before he declares himself, how much ill-will he shall have from those he leaves, and that those he is about to go among will be apt to suspect his sincerity; if he is not really zealous he will not declare, and therefore must be zealous if he does declare.
If he is not sincere, he is obliged at least to put on an appearance of great zeal, to convince the better his new friends that he is heartily in earnest; for his old ones, he knows, dislike him. And as few acts of zeal will be more taken notice of than such as are done against the party he has left, he is inclined to injure or malign them, because he knows they contemn and despise him. Hence, as the proverb says, One renegado is worse than ten Turks.
Sir:—It is strange that among men who are born for society and mutual solace there should be any who take pleasure in speaking disagreeable things to their acquaintance. But such there are, I assure you; and I should be glad if a little public chastisement might be any means of reforming them. These ill-natured people study a man’s temper, or the circumstances of his life, merely to know what disgusts him, and what he does not care to hear mentioned; and this they take care to omit no opportunity of disturbing him with. They communicate their wonderful discoveries to others, with an ill-natured satisfaction in their countenances; Say such a thing to such a man and you cannot mortify him worse. They delight (to use their own phrase) in seeing galled horses wince, and, like flies, a sore place is a feast to them. Know, ye wretches, that the meanest insect, the trifling musqueto, the filthy bug, have it in their power to give pain to men; but to be able to give pleasure to your fellow creatures requires good nature and a kind and humane disposition, joined with talents to which ye seem to have no pretension.
If a sound body and a sound mind, which is as much as to say, health and virtue, are to be preferred before all other considerations, ought not men, in choosing a business either for themselves or children, to refuse such as are unwholesome for the body, and such as make a man too dependent, too much obliged to please others, and too much subjected to their humors in order to be recommended and get a livelihood?
I am about courting a girl I have had but little acquaintance with. How shall I come to a knowledge of her faults, and whether she has the virtues I imagine she has?
Answer. Commend her among her female acquaintance.
The great secret of succeeding in conversation is to admire little, to hear much; always to distrust our own reason, and sometimes that of our friends; never to pretend to wit, but to make that of others appear as much as possibly we can; to hearken to what is said, and to answer to the purpose.