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

By Benjamin Franklin

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Evelyn, Abridgement
of Philosophical Transactions, 'sGravesande's _Natural Philosophy_,
Homer's _Odyssey_ and _Iliad_, Bayle's _Critical Dictionary_, and
Dryden's _Virgil_. As a gift Peter Collinson included Newton's
_Principia_ in the order. The ancient phalanxes were thoroughly routed!
Then there is the MS "List of Books of the Original Philadelphia Library
in Franklin's Handwriting"[i-96] which lends recruits to the modern
battalions. Included in this list are: Fontenelle on Oracles, Woodward's
_Natural History of Fossils_ and _Natural History of the Earth_, Keill's
_Examination of Burnet's Theory of the Earth_, _Memoirs of the Royal
Academy of Surgery at Paris_, William Petty's _Essays_, Voltaire's
_Elements of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophy_, Halley's _Astronomical
Tables_, Hill's _Review of the Works of the Royal Society_,
Montesquieu's _Spirit of Laws_, Burlamaqui's _Principles of Natural Law_
and _Principles of Politic Law_, Bolingbroke's _Letters on the Study and
Use of History_, and Conyer Middleton's _Miscellaneous Works_. From the
volumes owned by the Library Company in 1757 it would have been possible
for an alert mind to discover all of the implications, philosophic and
religious, of the rationale of science. No less could be found here the
political speculations which were later to aid the colonists in unyoking
themselves from England. The Library was an arsenal capable of
supplying weapons to rationalistic minds intent on besieging the
fortress of Calvinism. Defenders of natural rights could find ammunition
to wound monarchism; here authors could discover the neoclassic ideals
of _curiosa felicitas_, perspicuity, order, and lucidity reinforced by
the emphasis on clarity and correctness sponsored by the Royal Society
and inherent in Newtonianism as well as Cartesianism. In short, the
volumes contained the ripest fruition of scientific and rationalistic
modernity. One can only conjecture the extent to which this library
would perplex, astonish, and finally convert men to rationalism and
scientific deism, and release them from bondage to throne and altar.

In 1743 Franklin wrote and distributed among his correspondents _A
Proposal for Promoting Useful Knowledge among the British Plantations in
America_. From a letter (Feb. 17, 1735/6) of William Douglass, one-time
friend of Franklin's brother James, to Cadwallader Colden, we learn that
some years before 1736, Colden "proposed the forming a sort of Virtuoso
Society or rather Correspondence."[i-97] I. W. Riley suggests that
Franklin owes Colden thanks for having stimulated him to form the
American Philosophical Society.[i-98] There remains no convincing
evidence, however, to disprove A. H. Smyth's observation that Franklin's
_Proposal_ "appears to contain the first suggestions, in any _public
form_ [editors' italics] for an American Philosophical Society." P. S.
Du Ponceau has noted with compelling evidence that the philosophical
society formed in 1744 was the direct descendant of Franklin's
Junto.[i-99] That in part the Philadelphia Library

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

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Page 1
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 .
Page 2
' 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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1, 1805.
Page 4
" Leisure is time for doing something useful; this leisure the diligent man will obtain, but the lazy man never; for "A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things.
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" "If you would be wealthy, think of saving, as well as of getting.
Page 6
Perhaps they have had a small estate left them, which they knew not the getting of; they think "it is day, and will never be night:" that a little to be spent out of so much is not worth minding; but "Always taking out of the meal-tub, and never putting in, soon comes to the bottom," as Poor Richard says; and then, "When the well is dry, they know the worth of water.
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1, 1805.
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" The day comes round before you are aware, and the demand is made before you are prepared to satisfy it; or, if you bear your debt in mind, the term, which at first seemed so long, will, as it lessens, appear extremely short: "Time will seem to have added wings to his heels as well as his shoulders.
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The opening single quotes end pages later.