Front Page Titles (by Subject) LXXX: TO JARED ELIOT - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. II Letters and Misc. Writings 1735-1753
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LXXX: TO JARED ELIOT - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. II Letters and Misc. Writings 1735-1753 
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. II (Letters and Misc. Writings 1735-1753).
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TO JARED ELIOT
Philadelphia, 12 September, 1751.
I received your favor of last month, with the twelve essays. The Collinson you mention is the same gentleman I correspond with. He is a most benevolent, worthy man, very curious in botany and other branches of natural history, and fond of improvements in agriculture, etc. He will be pleased with your acquaintance. In the late Philosophical Transactions you may see frequently papers of his, or letters that were directed to him, on various subjects. He is a member of the Royal Society.
An ingenious acquaintance of mine here, Mr. Hugh Roberts, one of our most eminent farmers, tells me that it appears by your writings that your people are yet far behind us in the improvement of swamps and meadows. I am persuading him to send you such hints as he thinks may give you farther insight into that matter. But in other respects he greatly esteems your pieces. He says they are preferable to any thing of late years published on that subject in England. The late writers there chiefly copy from one another, and afford very little new or useful; but you have collected experiences and facts, and make propositions, that are reasonable and serviceable. You have taught him, he says, to clear his meadows of elder (a thing very pernicious to banks), which was before beyond the art of all our farmers; and given him several other useful informations.
I am exceedingly obliged to you for the plan and directions concerning ditching. It is very satisfactory, and I hope will be useful here.
Our Academy flourishes beyond expectation. We have now above one hundred scholars, and the number is daily increasing. We have excellent masters at present; and, as we give pretty good salaries, I hope we shall always be able to procure such. We pay the
Our currency is something better than that of New York. The scholars pay each £4 per annum.
The changes of the barometer are most sensible in high latitudes. In the West India Islands the mercury continues at the same height with very little variation the year round. In these latitudes, the alterations are not frequently so great as in England. Thermometers are often badly made. I had three that differed widely from each other, though hung in the same place. As to hygrometers, there is no good one yet invented. The cord is as good as any; but, like the rest, it grows continually less sensible by time, so that the observations of one year cannot be compared with those of another by the same instrument. I will think of what you hint concerning the hydrostatic balance.
What you mention concerning the love of praise is indeed very true; it reigns more or less in every heart; though we are generally hypocrites in that respect, and pretend to disregard praise, and our nice, modest ears are offended, forsooth, with what one of the ancients calls the sweetest kind of music. This hypocrisy is only a sacrifice to the pride of others, or to their envy; both which, I think, ought rather to be mortified. The same sacrifice we make when we forbear to praise ourselves, which naturally we are all inclined to; and I suppose it was formerly the fashion, or Virgil, that courtly writer, would not have put a speech into the mouth of his hero, which now-a-days we should esteem so great an indecency:
One of the Romans, I forget who, justified speaking in his own praise by saying: Every freeman had a right to speak what he thought of himself, as well as of others. That this is a natural inclination appears in that all children show it, and say freely: I am a good boy; Am I not a good girl? and the like, till they have been frequently chid, and told their trumpeter is dead, and that it is unbecoming to sound their own praise, &c. But naturam expellas furcâ, tamen usque recurret. Being forbid to praise themselves, they learn instead of it to censure others, which is only a roundabout way of praising themselves; for condemning the conduct of another, in any particular, amounts to as much as saying: I am so honest, or wise, or good, or prudent, that I could not do or approve of such an action. This fondness for ourselves, rather than malevolence to others, I take to be the general source of censure and backbiting; and I wish men had not been taught to dam up natural currents, to the overflowing and damage of their neighbours’ grounds.
Another advantage, methinks, would arise from freely speaking our good thoughts of ourselves, viz.: if we were wrong in them, somebody or other would readily set us right; but now, while we conceal so carefully our vain, erroneous self-opinions, we may carry them to our grave, for who would offer physic to a man that seems to be in health? And the privilege of recounting freely our own good actions might be an inducement to the doing of them, that we might be enabled to speak of them without being subject to be justly contradicted or charged with falsehood; whereas now, as we are not allowed to mention them, and it is an uncertainty whether others will take due notice of them or not, we are perhaps the more indifferent about them; so that, upon the whole, I wish the out-of-fashion practice of praising ourselves would, like other old fashions, come round into fashion again. But this I fear will not be in our time, so we must even be contented with what little praise we can get from one another. And I will endeavour to make you some amends for the trouble of reading this long scrawl, by telling you that I have the sincerest esteem for you, as an ingenious man and a good one, which together make the valuable member of society. As such, I am with great respect and affection, dear Sir, your obliged humble servant,