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

By Benjamin Franklin

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and that which is universally valid and recognized
by all men, and that art which is aloof to the non-human world, so in
England may Newtonianism (which overthrew Cartesianism) have conditioned
writers to develop a uniform style, purged of tenuous rhetorical
devices. An age characterized by a worship of reason, which was supposed
to be identical in all men, an age deferring to the general mind of man,
would be hostile to the rhetorical caprices of those expressing their
private, idiosyncratic enthusiasms. If the neoclassic apotheosis of
simplicity and freedom from intricacy was the result of a "rationalistic
anti-intellectualism,"[i-134] expressed in terms of hostility to
belabored proof of ideas known to the general will, then it would seem
that one of the factors sturdily conditioning this hostility was
Newtonian science. Admitting that _reason_ leads to uniformitarianism,
one may recall that the processes of science are discoverable by reason,
and that such a cosmologist as Newton illustrated mathematically and
empirically a system, grand in its lucidity, and capable of being
apprehended by all through reason. If the deistic fear of "enthusiasm"
in religion--the individual will prevailing against the _consensus
gentium_--parallels, according to Professor Lovejoy, the neoclassic fear
of feeling and the unrestrained play of imagination in art, then
Newtonian science, as it reinforced deism, was no negligible factor in
discrediting enthusiasm, and hence indirectly militating against
originality, emotion, and the unchecked imagination. Is it not
conceivable that the Newtonian[i-135] cosmology, popularized by a vast
discipleship, challenged the scientists and men of letters alike to
achieve a corresponding order, clarity, and simplicity in poetry and
prose?

After Franklin's return from London, he reinforced his Addison-like
style with the rhetorical implications of science and Newtonianism: in
his _Preface_ (1729) to the _Pennsylvania Gazette_ he observed that an
editor ought to possess a "great Easiness and Command of Writing and
Relating Things clearly and intelligibly, and in few Words."[i-136] Good
writing, in Franklin's opinion, "should proceed regularly from things
known to things unknown [surely the method of all inductive reasoning
and science] distinctly and clearly without confusion. The words used
should be the most expressive that the language affords, provided that
they are the most generally understood. Nothing should be expressed in
two words that can be as well expressed in one; that is, no synonyms
should be used, or very rarely, but the whole should be as short as
possible, consistent with clearness; the words should be so placed as to
be agreeable to the ear in reading; summarily it should be smooth,
clear, and short, for the contrary qualities are displeasing."[i-137]
Like the members of the Royal Society, Franklin would bring the words of
written

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Text Comparison with Vie de Franklin, écrite par lui-même - Tome I Suivie de ses œuvres morales, politiques et littéraires

Page 3
Chacun d'eux fit sa propre éducation et parvint à la plus grande célébrité.
Page 4
Mais il n'a porté ses Mémoires que jusqu'à l'année 1757; et je sais que depuis qu'il a envoyé en Angleterre le manuscrit que j'ai lu, il lui a été impossible d'y rien ajouter.
Page 7
Mon grand-père mourut là et y fut enterré.
Page 21
Mon apprentissage me devint si insupportable que je soupirois sans cesse après l'occasion de l'abréger.
Page 24
Nous avions passé trente heures, sans avoir de quoi manger et sans autre boisson qu'une bouteille de mauvais rhum, l'eau sur laquelle nous fîmes route, étant salée.
Page 25
Il alloit à Philadelphie; et l'on consentit à m'y donner passage.
Page 35
--«Comme il vous plaira, dis-je».
Page 42
Il avoit presque ruiné le père de miss Read,.
Page 44
tout ce que je gagnois.
Page 57
--Il ignoroit, cependant alors, si mon intention étoit de m'établir là ou ailleurs.
Page 63
Beaucoup d'autres suivirent leur exemple; et le nombre de nos abonnés continua à s'accroître.
Page 73
La tyrannie est toujours la compagne de l'ignorance; mais elle fuit devant le flambeau de l'instruction.
Page 91
En conséquence, ils auroient pu aussi établir les impôts, ou mettre les taxes qu'il auroient cru nécessaires, et les moins onéreuses au peuple.
Page 113
Comme ces prêts sont destinés à faciliter l'établissement des jeunes ouvriers qui se marieront, il faut que les administrateurs ne prêtent à une même personne ni plus de soixante livres sterlings, ni moins de quinze.
Page 115
FRANKLIN.
Page 117
Je ne ferai que peu d'usage du privilège qu'ont les vieillards, de donner des avis à leurs jeunes amis.
Page 120
Des évènemens peuvent accroître cette espérance, et occasionner des tentatives dangereuses.
Page 136
C'est une erreur dans laquelle tombent beaucoup de gens, qui ont du crédit.
Page 137
Celui qui dépense inutilement plus de quatre sous par jour, dépense inutilement plus de six livres sterlings dans un an; ce qui est l'intérêt ou le prix de l'usage de cent livres sterlings.
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