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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 27

a copy of
the _Optics_, presented by Newton himself. After the schism of 1715/6
the collection was moved to New Haven, at the time of Johnson's election
to a tutorship. It was then, writes Johnson, that the trustees
"introduced the study of Mr. Locke and Sir Isaac Newton as fast as they
could and in order to this the study of mathematics. The Ptolemaic
system was hitherto as much believed as the Scriptures, but they soon
cleared up and established the Copernican by the help of Whiston's
Lectures, Derham, etc."[i-40] Johnson studied Euclid, algebra, and conic
sections "so as to read Sir Isaac with understanding." He gloomily
reviews the "infidelity and apostasy" resulting from the study of the
ideas of Locke, Tindal, Bolingbroke, Mandeville, Shaftesbury, and
Collins. That Newtonianism and even deism made progress at Yale is the
tenor of Johnson's backward glance. About 1716 Samuel Clarke's edition
of Rohault was introduced at Yale: Clarke's Rohault[i-41] was an attack
upon this standard summary of Cartesianism. Ezra Stiles was not certain
that Clarke was honest in heaping up notes "not so much to illustrate
Rohault as to make him the Vehicle of conveying the peculiarities of the
sublimer Newtonian Philosophy."[i-42] This work was used until 1743 when
'sGravesande's _Natural Philosophy_ was wisely substituted. Rector
Thomas Clap used Wollaston's _Religion of Nature Delineated_ as a
favorite text. That there was no dearth of advanced natural science and
philosophy, even suggestive of deism, is fairly evident.

Measured by the growth of interest in science in the English
universities, Harvard's awareness of new discoveries was not especially
backward in the seventeenth century. Since Copernicanism at the close of
the sixteenth century had few adherents,[i-43] it is almost startling to
learn that probably by 1659 the Copernican system was openly avowed at
Harvard.[i-44] In 1786 Nathaniel Mather wrote from Dublin: "I perceive
the Cartesian philosophy begins to obteyn in New England, and if I
conjecture aright the Copernican system too."[i-45] John Barnard, who
was graduated from Harvard in 1710, has written that no algebra was then
taught, and wistfully suggests that he had been born too soon, since
"now" students "have the great Sir Isaac Newton and Dr. Halley and some
other mathematicians for their guides."[i-46] Although Thomas Robie and
Nathan Prince are thought to have known Newton's physics through
secondary sources,[i-47] and, as Harvard tutors, indoctrinated their
charges with Newtonianism, it was left to Isaac Greenwood[i-48] to
transplant from London the popular expositions of Newtonian philosophy.
A Harvard graduate in 1721, Greenwood continued his theological studies
in London where he attended Desaguliers's lectures on experimental
philosophy, based essentially on Newtonianism. From Desaguliers
Greenwood learned how

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

Page 10
The whole appeared to me as written with a good deal of decent plainness and manly freedom.
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Page 19
" This habit, I believe, has been of great advantage to me when I have had occasion to inculcate my opinions, and persuade men into measures that I have been from time to time engaged in promoting; and, as the chief ends of conversation are to inform or to be informed, to please or to persuade, I wish well-meaning, sensible men would not lessen their power of doing good by a positive, assuming manner, that seldom fails to disgust, tends to create opposition, and to defeat every one of those purposes for which speech was given to us,--to wit, giving or receiving information or pleasure.
Page 28
I had made many a meal on bread, and, inquiring where he got it, I went immediately to the baker's he directed me to, in Second Street, and asked for biscuit, intending such as we had in Boston; but they, it seems, were not made in Philadelphia.
Page 36
same house with me and at my expense.
Page 37
"Then," says he, "when there you may make acquaintances, and establish correspondences in the bookselling and stationery way.
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On this it was proposed that we should each of us, at our next meeting, produce a piece of our own composing, in order to improve by our mutual observations, criticisms, and corrections.
Page 43
We arrived in London the 24th of December, 1724.
Page 53
He seemed a little ashamed at seeing me, but passed without saying anything.
Page 60
Being answered in the affirmative, he said he was sorry for me, because it was an expensive undertaking, and the expense would be lost; for Philadelphia was a sinking place, the people already half bankrupts, or near being so, all appearances to the contrary, such as new buildings and the rise of rents, being to his certain knowledge fallacious; for they were, in fact, among the things that would soon ruin us.
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Hugh Meredith, Stephen Potts, and George Webb I have characterized before.
Page 70
We had left the alehouse where we first met, and hired a room to hold our club in.
Page 78
This and the next, Order, I expected would allow me more time for attending to my project and my studies.
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_Question.
Page 134
I said nothing, however, to him of my intention, but wrote the next morning to the committee of the Assembly who had the disposition of some public money, warmly recommending the case of these officers to their consideration, and proposing that a present should be sent them of necessaries and refreshments.
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The Assembly, however, continued firm, believing they had justice on their side, and that it would be giving up an essential right if they suffered the governor to amend their money bills.
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as possible.
Page 163
] [Footnote 202: Of the sun's altitude in order to calculate the latitude (see Note 2, p.
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" The other letter, from Mr.