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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 41

discourse "as near as possible to the spoken."[i-138] In 1753 he
observed: "If my Hypothesis [concerning waterspouts] is not the Truth
itself it is [at] least as naked: For I have not with some of our
learned Moderns, disguis'd my Nonsense in Greek, cloth'd it in Algebra
or adorn'd it with Fluxions. You have it in puris naturalibus."[i-139]
He briefly summarized his rhetorical ideal, in a letter to Hume: "In
writings intended for persuasion and for general information, one
cannot be too clear; and every expression in the least obscure is a
fault."[i-140]

Unlike Jefferson, "no friend to what is called _purism_, but a zealous
one" to neology, Franklin had an inveterate antipathy toward the use of
colloquialisms, provincialisms, and extravagant innovations.[i-141] In
another letter to Hume, he hoped that "we shall always in America make
the best English of this Island [Britain] our standard."[i-142] If he
did not hold the typical eighteenth-century view that "English must be
subjected to a process of classical regularizing,"[i-143] neither did
he, with his friend Joseph Priestley, espouse the idea of correctness,
dependent only on usage. In general, he seems to have had a tendency
toward purism; it is not unlikely that as a youth he was influenced by
Swift's _Proposal for Correcting, Improving, and Ascertaining the
English Tongue_.[i-144] Striving for correctness, and the avoidance of
"affected Words or high-flown Phrases"[i-145] he approximated the
_curiosa felicitas_ of the neoclassicists.[i-146]

A solid neoclassicist[i-147] in style. Franklin accepted the canon of
imitation as it was imperfectly understood in the eighteenth century. To
the extent, however, that the models were conceived of as approximating
the _consensus gentium_, fragments illustrating universal reason, there
may be little disparity between neoclassic imitation and Aristotle's use
of the term in the sense of imitating a higher ethical reality. His own
life, Franklin thought, (with the exception of a few "errata") was "fit
to be imitated."[i-148] A. H. Smyth notes, perhaps extravagantly,
"Nothing but the 'Autobiography' of Benvenuto Cellini, or the
'Confessions' of Rousseau, can enter into competition with it."[i-149]
This may suggest a clue to the durable nature of Franklin's life-tale.
Cellini, it is true, was tremendously alive to Benvenuto, even as Michel
de Montaigne was interested in his own whims, but neither Cellini, nor
Montaigne, nor Franklin, could have penned the _Confessions_, the thesis
of which is that if Rousseau is not better than other men at least he is
different. Cellini, Montaigne, and Franklin, on the other hand, while
allowing us to see their fancies and singular biases, tended to
emphasize those qualities which they held in common with their age,
nation, and even the continuity of mankind. Montaigne, it

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

Page 9
Remarks on some of the foregoing observations, showing particularly the effect which manners have on population 392 Plan by Messieurs Franklin and Dalrymple, for benefiting distant unprovided countries 403 Concerning the provision made in China against famine 407 Positions to be examined, concerning national wealth 408 Political fragments, supposed either to be written by Dr.
Page 28
page 26.
Page 31
But.
Page 52
Many of the leaves, as they got loose from the upper and widest part, were scattered in the wind; but so great was their height in the air, that they appeared no bigger than flies.
Page 55
In descending, both the drop of water and the grain of ice are augmented by particles of the vapour they pass through in falling, and which they condense by coldness, and attach to themselves.
Page 73
These things doubtless your books make mention of: I can only add a particular late instance which I had from a Swedish gentleman of good credit.
Page 75
--And in such a length as I have mentioned it is low water at F, G, and also at A, B, at or near the same time with its being high water at E; so that the surface of the water in the canal, during that situation, is properly represented by the curve pricked line B, E, G.
Page 83
But first let me mention an experiment you may easily make yourself.
Page 101
_ SIR, The qualities hitherto sought in a hygrometer, or instrument to discover the degrees of moisture and dryness in the air, seem to have been, an aptitude to receive humidity readily from a moist air, and to part with it is as readily to a dry air.
Page 107
_Extract of a Letter from Dr.
Page 160
PM| | | |Varia-| | | | | |---------|---------| | |Dis- |tion | | |Date|Latit.
Page 162
| | 13 |33 17 |33 32| 76| 76 | 78| 77 |N E |W ½ S | 103 | | 77 | 78 | | 14 |33 22 |34 31| 76| 76 | 81| 79 |S S E|W ½ N | 50 | | 81 | 79 | | 15 |33 45 |35 0| 78| 79 | 79| 78 |W N W|SW ¼W | 35 | | 79 | 79 | | 16 |34 14 |35 30| 79| 78 | 81| 80 |West |NW ½N | 38 | | 81 | 80 | | 17 |35 37 |36 4| 80| 79 | 80| 78 |W S W|N N W | 75 | | 80 | 78 | | 18 |36 .
Page 215
Either put an intervening skreen from the wall round great part of the fire-place; or, which is perhaps preferable, shift the hinges of your door, so as it may open the other way, and when open throw the air along the other wall.
Page 237
0 9½ Length of the front plate E, where longest, 0 11 The cover D, square, 0 12 Hole in ditto, diameter, 0 3 Sliding plates Y Y, their length, each, 1 0 ----- ----- ----- their breadth, each, 0 4½ Drawer G, its length, 1 0 ----- ----- breadth, 0 5¾ ----- ----- depth, 0 4 ----- ----- depth of its further end, only, 0 1 Grate H in the vase, its diameter to the extremity of its knobs, 0 5¾ Thickness of the bars at top, 0 0¼ ----- ----- ----- at bottom, less, 0 .
Page 270
_ TO NOAH WEBSTER, JUN.
Page 310
B.
Page 351
ii.
Page 360
proposed overture from, in 1775, iii.
Page 363
fluid, its beneficial uses, 219.
Page 381
_Planking_ of ships, improvement in, ii.