Benjamin Franklin’s Idea of Public Library
Benjamin Franklin was in love with books ever since he was a kid. “FROM a child I was fond of reading, and all the little money that came into my hands was ever laid out in books.” (FRANKLIN, Chapter 2). Benjamin spent what ever money he could on books, and often sold his old books to buy new ones. Eventually he found others who were deeply into his hobby like he was.
Together they formed a club where they would often refer books to each other, and there Benjamin got the idea to make a public library.
At first each party had agreed but in the end the number of books they got wasn’t as high as they expected so they disbanded and took their respective books home.
Franklin however wasn’t discouraged and took it upon himself to finish this dream. He started a subscription based library so the fees can pay for new books for the library. At the time there weren’t too many readers in Philadelphia and the majority of them were poor so Benjamin couldn’t find more than fifty subscribers.
Soon this utility showed to be quite useful and was replicated in many other towns. Each library was supported by donations and reading became more popular. There were very few amusements to distract people from their reading and in no time people were more intelligent compared to other people in other countries.
Benjamin Franklin had a quest to obtain moral perfection. He wanted to always do the right thing and never do anything “evil”. But soon he realized how difficult it would be to actually attain it. “But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined.” (FRANKLIN, Chapter 9). Although Benjamin knew what was right and wrong and knew he wanted to avoid any fault, sometimes a random habit that he wasn’t paying attention to would catch him by surprise.
To get a better understanding of each moral virtue he decided to break each one down and giving a great explanation for each one. He also did this because some of these words had different meaning to others. Franklin also made a little book that had charts of each virtue marking any comments that he had on any day. ” I might mark, by a little black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue upon that day.” (FRANKLIN, Chapter 9). This allows him to notice his own behaviors and note how to be able to not do those behaviors anymore.
Benjamin had no idea he was so full of faults. “I was surpris’d to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined” (FRANKLIN, Chapter 9). The book helped him note so many bad habits from himself, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Because he was able to notice his faults it allowed him to slowly work on each one and get rid of these habits. Some were easy to get rid of, while others took a lot more work and time.
It took several years for him to get rid of all his faults, but even through thick and thin, he always carried the little book with him and never stopped working on his faults. Order was the hardest virtue for him to work on. It was so hard for him and he had such frequent relapses, that he was ready to just give up on it. As he grew old he found himself incompatible with order but found himself really wanting it. Still he found himself a lot happier with himself since he had attempted to get it compared to if he didn’t even try.
Benjamin had a story about a “speckled ax is best” which basically tells about how a customer wanted a smith to make him the shiniest ax ever. The smith agreed as long as the customer turned the grinder. The smith presses the ax hard against the grinder it makes the customer excerpt more force and become more tired quickly.
The man would look at how the ax is turning out and say it’s okay I’ll just take the ax as how it is, even though the smith is still urging him on. The moral of this story is that people always want things but are not always willing to put the necessary work to getting what they want. Getting a shiny ax is possible but it requires a lot of work, and a lot of people settle for just a speckled ax and quit before they reach the perfect shiny ax.
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