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About this poet

Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston on January 17, 1706. While he is best known for his scientific and political endeavors, he was also an accomplished writer and poet, beginning with several articles he published in the New England Courant under the pseudonym “Silence Dogood.” He created the Philadelphia Gazette in 1730 as a platform for his writing, and in 1732, he began publishing Poor Richard’s Almanac, an annual pamphlet offering advice, information, and the occasional poem. He went on to write several books and pamphlets, including Experiments and Observations on Electricity (Philadelphia, 1751). He was a pioneering scientist, an accomplished inventor, and a pivotal figure in securing American independence. He died on April 17, 1790, in Philadelphia.

On the Freedom of the Press

While free from Force the Press remains,
Virtue and Freedom chear our Plains,
And Learning Largesses bestows,
And keeps unlicens’d open House.
We to the Nation’s publick Mart
Our Works of Wit, and Schemes of Art,
And philosophic Goods, this Way,
Like Water carriage, cheap convey.
This Tree which Knowledge so affords,
Inquisitors with flaming Swords
From Lay-Approach with Zeal defend,
Lest their own Paradise should end.

The Press from her fecundous Womb
Brought forth the Arts of Greece and Rome;
Her Offspring, skill’d in Logic War,
Truth’s Banner wav’d in open Air;
The Monster Superstition fled,
And hid in Shades her Gorgon Head;
And lawless Pow’r, the long kept Field,
By Reason quell’d, was forc’d to yield.

This Nurse of Arts, and Freedom’s Fence,
To chain, is Treason against Sense:
And Liberty, thy thousand Tongues
None silence who design no Wrongs;
For those that use the Gag’s Restraint,
First rob, before they stop Complaint.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin, born in Boston in 1706, was an accomplished writer and poet, beginning with several articles he published in the New England Courant under the pseudonym “Silence Dogood.”

by this poet

poem
PRECEPT I.

In Things of moment, on thy self depend,
Nor trust too far thy Servant or thy Friend:
With private Views, thy Friend may promise fair,
And Servants very seldom prove sincere.

PRECEPT II.

What can be done, with Care perform to Day,

poem
BUSINESS, thou Plague and Pleasure of my Life,
Thou charming Mistress, thou vexatious Wife;
Thou Enemy, thou Friend, to Joy, to Grief,
Thou bring'st me all, and bring'st me no Relief,
Thou bitter, sweet, thou pleasing, teazing Thing,
Thou Bee, that with thy Honey wears a Sting;
Some Respite, prithee do, yet do