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

By Benjamin Franklin

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all were to engage the minds of this
assiduously curious club. Above all, the members must be "serviceable to
_mankind_, to their country, to their friends, or to themselves."[i-89]
The intensity of the Junto's utilitarian purpose was matched only by its
humanitarian bias. Members must swear that they "love mankind in
general, of what profession or religion soever,"[i-90] and that they
believe no man should be persecuted "for mere speculative opinions, or
his external way of worship." Also they must profess to "love truth for
truth's sake," to search diligently for it and to communicate it to
others. Tolerance, the empirical method, scientific disinterestedness,
and humanitarianism had hardly gained a foothold in the colonies in
1728. On the other hand, the Junto members were urged, when throwing a
kiss to the world, not to neglect their individual ethical
development.[i-91] Franklin's humanitarian neighborliness is associated
with a rigorous ethicism. The members were invited to report "unhappy
effects of intemperance," of "imprudence, of passion, or of any other
vice or folly," and also "happy effects of temperance, of prudence, of
moderation." Franklin reflects sturdily here, and boundlessly elsewhere,
the Greek and English emphasis on the Middle Way. If this is prudential,
it is an elevated prudence.

The Philadelphia Library Company was born of the Junto and became "the
mother of all the North American subscription libraries, now so
numerous."[i-92] The colonists, "having no publick amusements to divert
their attention from study, became better acquainted with books, and in
a few years were observ'd by strangers to be better instructed and more
intelligent than people of the same rank generally are in other
countries."[i-93] It is curious that although many articles have been
written describing the Library Company no one seems to include a study
of the climate of ideas represented in its volumes.[i-94] One must be
careful not to credit Franklin with solely presiding over the ordering
of books. At a meeting in 1732 of the company, Thomas Godfrey, probable
inventor of the quadrant and he who learned Latin to read the
_Principia_, notified the body that "Mr. Logan had let him know he would
willingly give his advice of the choice of the books ... the Committee
esteeming Mr. Logan to be a Gentleman of universal learning, and the
best judge of books in these parts, ordered that Mr. Godfrey should wait
on him and request him to favour them with a catalogue of suitable
books."[i-95] The first order included: Puffendorf's _Introduction_ and
_Laws of Nature_, Hayes upon Fluxions, Keill's _Astronomical Lectures_,
Sidney on Government, Gordon and Trenchard's _Cato's Letters_, the
_Spectator_, _Guardian_, _Tatler_, L'Hospital's _Conic Sections_,
Addison's works, Xenophon's _Memorabilia_, Palladio,

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Text Comparison with Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 1 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 3
DEAR SON,--I have ever had a pleasure in obtaining any little anecdotes of my ancestors.
Page 58
old employment: you may find friends to assist you: if you will take the debts of the company upon you, return to my father the hundred pounds he has advanced, pay my little personal debts, and give me thirty pounds and a new saddle, I will relinquish the partnership, and leave the whole in your hands.
Page 61
But I suspected the motive, resented it, and went no more.
Page 68
"It will, morever, present a table of the internal circumstances of your country, which will very much tend to invite to it settlers of virtuous and manly minds.
Page 89
In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as _pride_; disguise it, struggle with it, stifle it, mortify it as much as you please, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it perhaps often in this history.
Page 90
"That he ought to be worshipped by adoration,.
Page 99
And it being found inconvenient to assemble in the open air, subject to its inclemencies, the building of a house to meet in was no sooner proposed, and persons appointed to receive contributions, than sufficient sums were soon received to procure the ground and erect the building, which was one hundred feet long and seventy broad; and the work was carried with such spirit as to be finished in a much shorter time than could have been expected.
Page 110
a very satisfactory explanation, I not only subscribed to it myself, but engaged heartily in the design of procuring subscriptions from others: previous, however, to the solicitation, I endeavoured to prepare the minds of the people, by writing on the subject in the newspapers, which was my usual custom in such cases, but which Dr.
Page 113
Fothergill,[11] who was among the best men I have known, and a great promoter of useful projects.
Page 116
Secretary Peters, as commissioners to act for Pennsylvania.
Page 141
Going myself one morning to pay my respects, I found in his antechamber one Innis, a messenger of Philadelphia, who had come thence express, with a packet from Governor Denny for the general.
Page 168
"The stone, with which he had been afflicted for several years, had for the last twelve months confined him chiefly to his bed; and during the extreme painful paroxysms, he was obliged to take large doses of laudanum to mitigate his tortures; still, in the intervals of pain, he not only amused himself with reading and conversing cheerfully with his family, and a few friends who visited him, but was often employed in doing business of a public as well as private nature, with various persons who waited on him for that purpose; and in every instance displayed not only that readiness and disposition of doing good which was the distinguishing characteristic of his life, but the fullest and clearest possession of his uncommon mental abilities, and not unfrequently indulged himself in those _jeux d'esprit_ and entertaining anecdotes which were the delight of all who heard him.
Page 172
The incidents that have marked the life of a great man always excite curiosity and often afford improvement.
Page 175
Out of the salary that may remain due to me as president of the state, I do give the sum of two thousand pounds to my executors, to be by them, the survivers or surviver of them, paid over to such person or persons as the legislature of this state, by an act of Assembly, shall appoint to receive the same, in trust, to be employed for making the Schuylkill navigable.
Page 193
_ A great many.
Page 194
It was accordingly recommended to Parliament in the most honourable manner for them.
Page 203
But the wickedness cannot be covered; the guilt will lie on the whole land, till justice is done on the murderers.
Page 207
One article I cannot omit concerning their laws of hospitality, which is, if their greatest enemy comes under their roof for protection, the landlord, of what condition soever, is obliged to keep him safe from all manner of harm or violence during his abode with him, and even to conduct him safely through his territories to a place of security.
Page 208
So that, when there is fear of a war about to break out between England and Spain, an English merchant there, who apprehends the confiscation of his goods as the goods of an enemy, thinks them safe if he can get a Spaniard to take charge of them; for the Spaniard secures them as his own, and faithfully redelivers them,.
Page 211
As a proof of that honour, I shall only mention one well-known recent fact.