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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 26

is everywhere so conspicuous, that there can
be nothing more monstrous than to deny the God that is above."[i-33] Sir
Isaac Newton with his mathematical and experimental proof of the sublime
universal order strung on invariable secondary causes, Mather confessed,
is "our perpetual Dictator."[i-34] Conceiving of science as a rebuke to
the atheist, and a natural ally to scriptural theology, Mather, like a
Newton himself, juxtaposed rationalism and faith in one pyramidal
confirmation of the existence, omnipotence, and benevolence of God. Here
were variations from Calvinism's common path which, when augmented by
English and French liberalism, by the influence of Quakerism and the
frontier, were to give rise to democracy, rationalism, and scientific
deism. The Church of England through the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries had "pursued a liberal latitudinarian policy which, as a mode
of thought, tended to promote deism by emphasizing rational religion and
minimizing revelation."[i-35] It was to be expected that in colonies
created by Puritans (or even Quakers), deism would have a less
spectacular and extensive success than it appears to have had in the
mother country. If militant deism remained an aristocratic cult until
the Revolution,[i-36] scientific rationalism (Newtonianism) long before
this, from the time of Mather, became a common ally of orthodoxy. If a
"religion of nature" may be defined with Tillotson as "obedience to
Natural Law, and the performance of such duties as Natural Light,
without any express and supernatural revelation, doth dictate to man,"
then it was in the colonies, prior to the Revolution, more commonly a
buttress to revealed religion than an equivalent to it.

Lockian sensism and Newtonian science were the chief sources of that
brand of colonial rationalism which at first complemented orthodoxy, and
finally buried it among lost causes. The Marquis de Chastellux was
astounded when he found on a center table in a Massachusetts inn an
"Abridgment of Newton's Philosophy"; whereupon he "put some questions"
to his host "on physics and geometry," with which he "found him well
acquainted."[i-37] Now, even a superficial reading of the eighteenth
century discloses countless allusions to Newton, his popularizers, and
the implications of his physics and cosmology. As Mr. Brasch suggests,
"From the standpoint of the history of science," the extent of the vogue
of Newtonianism "is yet very largely unknown history."[i-38]

In Samuel Johnson's retrospective view, the Yale of 1710 at Saybrook was
anything but progressive with its "scholastic cobwebs of a few little
English and Dutch systems."[i-39] The year of Johnson's graduation
(1714), however, Mr. Dummer, Yale's agent in London, collected seven
hundred volumes, including works of Norris, Barrow, Tillotson, Boyle,
Halley, and the second edition (1713) of the _Principia_ and

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Text Comparison with Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 2 of 2] With his Most Interesting Essays, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings; Familiar, Moral, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, Selected with Care from All His Published Productions, and Comprising Whatever Is Most Entertaining and Valuable to the General Reader

Page 11
--Electrical Kite 231 Physical and Meteorological Observations, Conjectures, and Suppositions 232 To Dr.
Page 15
"Methinks I hear some of you say, 'Must a man afford himself no leisure?' I will tell thee, my friend, what Poor Richard says: _Employ thy time well, if thou meanest to gain leisure; and, since thou art not sure of a minute, throw not away an hour_.
Page 22
' "'Tell me, at least,.
Page 26
Thus a thousand beasts out of the flock and the herd have been slain in ten years' time to feed me, besides what the forest has supplied me with.
Page 63
Another for styling Cassius the last of the Romans.
Page 80
That it is better a hundred guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should suffer, is a maxim that has been long and generally approved; never, that I know of, controverted.
Page 93
Even the mixed, imperfect pleasures we enjoy in this world are rather from God's goodness than our merit: how much more such happiness of heaven! For my part, I have not the vanity to think I deserve it, the folly to expect it, nor the ambition to desire it; but content myself in submitting to the will and disposal of that God who made me, who has hitherto preserved and blessed me, and in whose fatherly goodness I may well confide, that he will never make me miserable, and that even the afflictions I may at any time suffer shall tend to my benefit.
Page 95
_ "Easton, Saturday morning, November 13, 1756.
Page 97
I know nothing of that affair but what you write me, except that I think Miss Betsey a very agreeable, sweet-tempered, good girl, who has had a housewifery education, and will make, to a good husband, a very good wife.
Page 99
It is a business that, though ever so uprightly managed, is always liable to suspicion; and if a man is once detected in the smallest fraud it soon becomes public, and every one is put upon their guard against him; no one will venture to try his hands, or trust him to make up their plate; so at once he is ruined.
Page 105
Pennsylvania Assembly has made such a law; New-York Assembly has refused to do it; and now all the talk here is, of sending a force to compel them.
Page 117
"Your suspicion that sundry others besides Governor Bernard 'had written hither their opinions and councils, encouraging the late measures to the prejudice of our country, which have been too much needed and followed,' is, I apprehend, but too well founded.
Page 135
They counter-act the mischief flattery might do us, and their malicious attacks make our friends more zealous in serving us and promoting our interest.
Page 151
But why more than any other workman? The less the salary the greater the honour.
Page 152
The word _general_ puts me in mind of a general, your General Clarke, who had the folly to say in my hearing, at Sir John Pringle's, that with a thousand British grenadiers he would undertake to go from one end of America to the other, and geld all the males, partly by force and partly by a little coaxing.
Page 161
This state is not behindhand in its proportion, and those who are in arrear are actually employed in contriving means to discharge their respective balances; but they are not all equally diligent in the business, nor equally successful; the whole will, however, be paid, I am persuaded, in a few years.
Page 163
Wright to make him a waxwork wife to sit at the head of his table.
Page 203
Its place is supplied by air from northern and southern latitudes, which, coming from parts wherein the earth and air had less motion, and not suddenly acquiring the quicker motion of the equatorial earth, appears an east wind blowing westward; the earth moving from west to east, and slipping under the air.
Page 207
de la Pryme was of the same opinion; for he there describes two spouts, as he calls them, which were seen at different times, at Hatfield, in Yorkshire, whose appearances in the air were the same with those of the spouts at sea, and effects the same with those of real whirlwinds.
Page 219
But it is said that a vessel of water, being placed in another somewhat larger, containing spirit, in such a manner that the vessel of water is surrounded with the spirit, and both placed under the receiver of an airpump; on exhausting the air, the spirit, evaporating, leaves such a degree of cold as to freeze the water, though the thermometer in the open air stands many degrees above the freezing point.