Benjamin Franklin Representative selections, with introduction, bibliograpy, and notes

By Benjamin Franklin

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Even as Voltaire had his liberal tendencies stoutly reinforced by
contact with English rationalism and deism,[i-18] so were the other
French _philosophes_, united in their common hatred of the Roman
Catholic church, also united in their indebtedness to exponents of
English liberalism, dominated by Locke and Newton. If, as Madame de
Lambert wrote in 1715, Bayle more than others of his age shook "the Yoke
of authority and opinion," English free thought powerfully reinforced
the native French revolt against authoritarianism. After 1730 English
was the model for French thought.[i-19] Nearly all of Locke's works had
been translated in France before 1700. Voltaire's affinity for the
English mind has already been touched on. D'Alembert comments, "When we
measure the interval between a Scotus and a Newton, or rather between
the works of Scotus and those of Newton, we must cry out with Terence,
_Homo homini quid praestat_."[i-20]

Any doctrine was intensely welcome which would allow the Frenchman to
regain his natural rights curtailed by the revocation of the Edict of
Nantes, by the inequalities of a state vitiated by privileges, by an
economic structure tottering because of bankruptcy attending
unsuccessful wars and the upkeep of a Versailles with its dazzling
ornaments, and by a religious program dominated by a Jesuit rather than
a Gallican church.[i-21] Economic, political, and religious abuses were
inextricably united; the spirit of revolt did not feel obliged to
discriminate between the authority of the crown and nobles and the
authority of the altar. Graphic is Diderot's vulgar vituperation: he
would draw out the entrails of a priest to strangle a king!

Let us now turn to the American backgrounds. The bibliolatry of colonial
New England is expressed in William Bradford's resolve to study
languages so that he could "see with his own eyes the ancient oracles of
God in all their native beauty."[i-22] In addition to furnishing the new
Canaan with ecclesiastical and political precedent, Scripture provided
"not a partiall, but a perfect rule of Faith, and manners." Any dogma
contravening the "ancient oracle" was a weed sown by Satan and fit only
to be uprooted and thrown in the fire. The colonial seventeenth century
was one which, like John Cotton, regularly sweetened its mouth "with a
piece of Calvin." One need not be reminded that Calvinism was
inveterately and completely antithetical to the dogma of the
Enlightenment.[i-23] Calvinistic bibliolatry contended with "the sacred
book of nature." Its wrathful though just Deity was unlike the
compassionate, virtually depersonalized Deity heralded in the eighteenth
century, in which the Trinity was dissolved. The redemptive Christ
became the amiable philosopher. Adam's universally contagious guilt was
transferred to social institutions, especially the

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Way to Wealth; or, "Poor Richard Improved"

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& T.
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I stopped my horse, lately, where a great number of people were collected at an auction of merchants' goods.
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Darton, Junr.
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is worth two to-morrows," as Poor Richard says, and farther, "Never leave that till to-morrow, which you can do to-day.
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A fat kitchen makes a lean will;" and, "Many estates are spent in the getting, Since women for tea forsook spinning and knitting, And men for punch forsook hewing and splitting.
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"If you would know the value of money, go and try to borrow some; for he that goes a borrowing, goes a sorrowing," as Poor Richard says; and, indeed, so does he that lends to such people, when he goes to get it in again.
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" [Illustration: Published by W.
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When you have got your bargain, you may, perhaps, think little of payment; but, as Poor Richard says, "Creditors have better memories than debtors; creditors are a superstitious sect, great observers of set days and times.
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[Illustration: FINIS.