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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 42

will be
remembered, sought to express _la connaissance de l'homme en general_.
With no aspirations to become an original genius, Franklin, both in his
prose style and his yearning for perfection, sought the guidance of
models, which he conceived as embodying universal reason. Had he been a
writer of epics[i-150] he would with Pope have acquired "from ancient
rules a just esteem"--when the rules were, in his mind, "according to

Likewise Franklin is representative of the Enlightenment in his
description of the province of the imagination. It is an axiom that "the
belief that the imagination ought to be kept in check by reason,
pervades the critical literature of the first half of the eighteenth
century."[i-151] Franklin observes that poetasters above all need
instruction on how to govern "Fancy [Imagination] with
Judgement."[i-152] He implies that imagination is a power lending an air
of unreality to a creation, often like "the Effect of some melancholy
Humour."[i-153] He feared that the unchecked fancy would vitiate his
ideals of simplicity and correctness, and a sober and practical

Posing as no original genius independent of the wisdom of the
ages,[i-154] confessing that "from a child" he "was fond of reading" and
that as a youth "reading was the only amusement" he allowed himself,
Franklin was not backward in cataloguing many of the authors who helped
to motivate his thought. He seems to have been acquainted with portions
of Plato, Aesop, Pliny, Xenophon, Herodotus, Epictetus, Vergil, Horace,
Tacitus, Seneca, Sallust, Cicero, Tully, Milton, Jeremy Taylor, Bacon,
Dryden, Tillotson, Rabelais,[i-155] Bunyan, Fenelon, Chevalier de
Ramsay,[i-156] Pythagoras, Waller, Defoe, Addison and Steele, William
Temple, Pope, Swift, Voltaire, Boyle, Algernon Sidney, Trenchard and
Gordon,[i-157] Young, Mandeville, Locke, Shaftesbury, Collins,
Bolingbroke, Richardson, Whiston, Watts, Thomson, Burke, Cowper, Darwin,
Rowe, Rapin, Herschel, Paley, Lord Kames, Adam Smith, Hume, Robertson,
Lavoisier, Buffon, Dupont de Nemours, Whitefield, Pemberton, Blackmore,
John Ray, Petty, Turgot, Priestley, Paine, Mirabeau, Quesnay, Raynal,
Morellet, and Condorcet, to suggest only the more prominent.[i-158] Such
a catalogue tends to discredit the all too common idea that the
untutored tradesman was torpid to the information and wisdom found in

If his prose style shows none of the delicate rhythms and haunting
imagery of the prose born of the romantic movement, it is nevertheless
far from pedestrian. If it seems devoid of imaginative splendor, it is
not lacking in force and persuasion.[i-159] After one has noted
Franklin's canon of simplicity and order, his insistence on
correctness, his assumed role as _Censor Morum_, his acceptance of the
doctrine of imitation and the use of imagination guided by reason, one
returns to the question of the degree to which the ideals of rhetoric
fostered by the

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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
Besides, there are some other inducements that excite me to this undertaking.
Page 11
Perhaps it is only negligence.
Page 27
told me in Boston, but I knew as yet nothing of it; when one day, Keimer and I being at work together near the window, we saw the governor and another gentleman (who proved to be Colonel French, of Newcastle, in the province of Delaware), finely dressed, come directly across the street to our house, and heard them at the door.
Page 67
Not that I think the work would have no other merit and use in the world; far from it: but the first is of such vast importance, that I know nothing that can equal it.
Page 77
If it remains a while uncertain to whom the merit belongs, some one more vain than yourself will be encouraged to claim it, and then even envy will be disposed to do you justice, by plucking those assumed feathers and restoring them to their right owner.
Page 104
In order of time, I should have mentioned before, that having, in 1742, invented an open stove for the better warming of rooms, and, at the same time, saving fuel, as the fresh air.
Page 107
The governor put me into the commission of the peace; the corporation of the city chose me one of.
Page 116
Mine happened to be preferred, and, with a few amendments, was accordingly reported.
Page 122
Seven days' pay is to be advanced and paid in hand by me to the owner of each wagon and team, or horse, at the time of contracting, if required; and the remainder to be paid by General Braddock, or by the paymaster of the army, at the time of their discharge; or from time to time, as it shall be demanded.
Page 135
Page 145
The captain said she had once gone at the rate of thirteen knots, which is accounted thirteen miles per hour.
Page 155
And perhaps we have more reason to be surprised that a practice, however rational, which was proposed about forty years ago, should in that time have been adopted in so many places, than that it has not universally prevailed.
Page 160
Among other means of collecting information on the disposition of the people to submit to it, Dr.
Page 174
My share in the Library.
Page 179
At the end of the second hundred years, I would have the disposition of the four millions and sixty-one thousand pounds divided between the inhabitants of the city of Philadelphia and the government of Pennsylvania, in the same manner.
Page 184
_ The balance is paid by our produce carried to the West Indies (and sold in our own islands, or to the French, Spaniards, Danes, and Dutch); by the same produce carried to other colonies in North America (as to New-England, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Carolina, and Georgia); by the same, carried to different parts of Europe (as Spain, Portugal, and Italy).
Page 198
_ They do not consider it as such, as they have an advantage from persons travelling with the post.
Page 203
Fifty of them, armed as before, dismounting, went directly to the workhouse, and by violence broke open the door, and entered with the utmost fury in their countenances.
Page 214
They have been hurried from place to place for safety, now concealed in corners, then sent out of the province, refused a passage through a neighbouring colony, and returned, not unkindly, perhaps, but disgracefully, on our hands.
Page 216
A father and his family, the latter united by interest and affection, the former to be revered for the wisdom of his institutions and the indulgent use of his authority, was the form it was at first presented in.