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

By Benjamin Franklin

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rapturous assiduity."[i-81] Mather in his
_Essays to do Good_ proposed:

That a proper number of persons in a neighborhood, whose
hearts God hath touched with a zeal to do good, should form
themselves into a society, to meet when and where they shall
agree, and to consider--"what are the disorders that we may
observe rising among us; and what may be done, either by
ourselves immediately, or by others through our advice, to
suppress those disorders?"[i-82]

Since Franklin's father was a member of one of Mather's "Associated
Families" and since Franklin as a boy read Mather's _Essays_ with rapt
attention,[i-83] and since his _Rules for a Club Established for Mutual
Improvement_ are amazingly congruent with Mather's rules proposed for
his neighborly societies, it is not improbable that Franklin in part
copied the plans of this older club. One also wonders whether Franklin
remembered Defoe's suggestions in _Essays upon Several Projects_ (1697)
for the formation of "Friendly Societies" in which members covenanted to
aid one another.[i-84] In addition, M. Fay has observed that the "ideal
which this society [the Junto] adopted was the same that Franklin had
discovered in the Masonic lodges of England."[i-85] Then, too, in London
during the period of Desaguliers, Sir Hans Sloane, and Sir Isaac Newton,
he would have heard much of the ideals and utility of the Royal Society.
Many of the questions discussed by the Junto are suggestive of the
calendar of the Royal Society:

Is sound an entity or body?

How may the phenomena of vapors be explained?

What is the reason that the tides rise higher in the Bay of
Fundy, than the Bay of Delaware?

How may smoky chimneys be best cured?

Why does the flame of a candle tend upwards in a spire?[i-86]

The Junto members, like Renaissance gentlemen, were determined to
convince themselves that nothing valuable to the several powers of life
should be alien to them. They were urged to communicate to one another
anything significant "in history, morality, poetry, physic, travels,
mechanic arts, or other parts of knowledge."[i-87] Surely a humanistic
catholicity of interest! Schemes for getting on materially, suggestions
for improving the laws and protecting the "just liberties of the
people,"[i-88] efforts to aid the strangers in Philadelphia (an
embryonic association of commerce), curiosity in the latest remedies
used for the sick and wounded:

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

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" [Illustration: Published by W.
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half bound 1 0 Wonders of the Horse, recorded in Anecdotes, Prose and Verse, by Joseph Taylor 2 6 Tales of the Robin & other Small Birds, in Verse, by Joseph Taylor 2 6 Instructive Conversation Cards, consisting .
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' They joined in desiring him to speak his mind, and, gathering round him, he proceeded as follows: 'Friends,' says he, 'the taxes are indeed very heavy; and, if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us.
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[Illustration] "If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be" as Poor Richard says, "the greatest prodigality;" since, as he elsewhere tells us, "Lost time is never found again; and what we call time enough, always proves little enough.
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Handle your tools without mittens: remember, that "The cat in gloves catches no mice," as Poor Richard says.
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Octr.
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For, in another place, he says, "Many have been ruined by buying good pennyworths.
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Octr.
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And when you have got the Philosopher's stone, sure you will no longer complain of bad times, or the difficulty of paying taxes.
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