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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 70

or Voltaire,"[i-334] it was to be a difficult task to
manipulate a Beaumarchais, a Vergennes, and others, in spite of the
well-known and inveterate economic and political grievances which the
French held for the English. The virtues he stressed in the _Morals of
Chess_ he was able to translate into a diplomatic mien, uniting
"perfect silence" with a "generous civility." As a result, his record as
minister to France is marked by complete success; but for this "it is by
no means certain that American independence would have been achieved
until many years later."[i-335]

Plagued by Frenchmen desiring places in the colonial army, feted by the
_philosophes_, sorely vexed by the need for settling countless maritime
affairs, embracing and embraced by the venerable Voltaire, corresponding
with Hartley concerning exchange of prisoners, shaping alliances and
treaties, conducting scientific experiments, investigating Mesmer,
intrigued by balloon ascensions, made the darling of several salons,
associating in the Lodge of the Nine Sisters with Bailly, Bonneville,
Warville, Condorcet, Danton, Desmoulins, D'Auberteuil, Petion,
Saint-Etienne, Sieyes, and others, all men who helped to give shape (or
shapelessness) to the French Revolution,[i-336] Franklin found little
time to search for that philosophic repose which he had long coveted. It
may be extravagant to say that Franklin was the "Creator of
Constitutionalism in Europe,"[i-337] but we know that in 1783 he printed
the colonial constitutions for continental distribution.[i-338] It has
been suggested that Franklin was an important formative factor in
Condorcet's faith in universal suffrage, a unicameral legislature, and
the liberties guaranteed by constitutional law.[i-339] Then, too,
Franklin had signed the Declaration of Independence--a document which
the French hailed as the "restoration of humanity's title
deeds."[i-340] The Duc de la Rochefoucauld eulogized the unicameral
legislature of Pennsylvania, identifying "this grand idea" and its
"maximum of simplicity" as Franklin's creation.[i-341] Fauchet eulogized
him as "one of the foremost builders of our sacred constitution."[i-342]
Along with Helvetius, Mably, Rousseau, and Voltaire, Franklin was
considered as one who laid the foundations for the French
revolution.[i-343] Franklin's taciturnity, his "art of listening," his
diplomatic reserve, do not suggest a volatile iconoclast doing anything
consciously to bring about a republican France. This did not prevent him
from becoming a symbol of liberty by his mere presence in the land,
stimulating patriots to examine the foundations of the tyrannical
authority which they saw or imagined enslaving them. Holding no brief
for natural equality, Franklin suggested that "quiet and regular
Subordination" is "so necessary to Success."[i-344] Realist that he was,
he became almost obsessed with the innate depravity of men until he was
doubtful whether "the Species were really worth producing or
preserving."[i-345] One would not be considered excessively republican
who inveighed

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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 8
George Brownwell.
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He introduced me to his son, who received me civilly, gave me a breakfast, and told me he did not at present want a hand, being lately supplied with one: but there was another printer in town lately set up, one Keimer, who perhaps might employ me; if not, I should be welcome to lodge at his house, and he would give me a little work to do now and then, till fuller business should offer.
Page 28
Holmes said what he could in favour of the project, but my father was decidedly against it, and at last gave a flat denial.
Page 49
He came up immediately into the printing-house; continued the quarrel; high words passed on both sides; he gave me the quarter's warning we had stipulated, expressing a wish that he had not been obliged to so long a warning.
Page 51
Though purblind man Sees but a part o' the chain, the nearest link, His eye not carrying to that equal beam That poises all above--" and which, from the attributes of God, his infinite wisdom, goodness, and power, concluded that nothing could possibly be wrong in the world; and that vice and virtue were empty.
Page 66
[7] F.
Page 70
"The little private incidents which you will also have to relate, will have considerable use, as we want, above all things, _rules of prudence in ordinary affairs_; and it will be curious to see how you have acted in these.
Page 76
I drew a sketch of the plan and rules that would be necessary, and got a skilful conveyancer, Mr.
Page 108
The year following, a treaty being to be held with the Indians at Carlisle, the governor sent a message to the house, proposing that they should nominate some of their members, to be joined with some members of council, as commissioners for that purpose.
Page 109
Their dark-coloured bodies, half naked, seen only by the gloomy light of the bonfire, running after and beating one another with firebrands, accompanied by their horrid yellings, formed a scene the most diabolical that could well be imagined; there was no appeasing the tumult, and we retired to our lodging.
Page 114
And here let me remark the convenience of having but one gutter in such a narrow street, running down its middle, instead of two, one on each side, near the footway.
Page 124
"After taking Fort Duquesne," said he, "I am to proceed to Niagara; and having taken that, to Frontenac, if the season will allow time, and I suppose it will; for Duquesne can hardly detain me above three or four days; and then I see nothing that can obstruct my march to Niagara.
Page 134
During this short time of my colonelship, being about to set out on a journey to Virginia, the officers of my regiment took it into their heads that it would be proper for them to escort me out of town as far as the lower ferry; just as I was getting on horseback they came to my door, between thirty and forty, mounted, and all in their uniforms.
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_[18] 1766, Feb.
Page 196
* * * _Q.
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Horrid perversion of Scripture and of religion! To father the worst of crimes on the God of peace and love! Even the Jews, to whom that particular commission was directed, spared the Gibeonites on account of their faith once given.
Page 211
hundred years; and that the governing part of those people have had notions of honour, whatever may be the case of the rum-debauched, trader-corrupted vagabonds and thieves on the Susquehanna and Ohio at present in arms against us.
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It is the same with actions.
Page 218
And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.