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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 75

he had sought to have the Stamp Act
rescinded) that he had to "take away entirely" his "attention from
philosophical matters, though I have constantly cherished the hope of
returning home where I could find leisure to resume the studies that I
have shamefully put off from time to time."[i-373] Again, in 1779, he
confessed to Beccaria: "I find myself here [Passy] immers'd in Affairs,
which absorb my Attention, and prevent my pursuing those Studies in
which I always found the highest Satisfaction; and I am now grown so
old, as hardly to hope for a Return of that Leisure and Tranquillity so
necessary for Philosophical Disquisitions."[i-374] He longed (in 1782)
to have Congress release him so that he might "spend the Evening of Life
more agreeably in philosophic [devoted to natural science]
Leisure."[i-375] He who, John Winthrop claimed, "was good at starting
Game for Philosophers,"[i-376] acknowledged that he had thrown himself
on the public, which, "having as it were eaten my flesh, seemed now
resolved to pick my bones."[i-377] Reverend Manasseh Cutler visited
Franklin a few months before the patriarch's death. They ardently
discussed botany, Franklin boyish in his eagerness to show the Reverend
Mr. Cutler a massive book, containing "the whole of Linnaeus' Systema
Vegetabilies." "The Doctor seemed extremely fond, through the course of
the visit, of dwelling on Philosophical subjects, and particularly that
of natural History, while the other Gentlemen were swallowed up with
politics."[i-378] In a fictitious (?) conversation between Joseph II of
Austria and Franklin, the Newton of electricity is reported as
explaining that he was early in life attracted by natural philosophy:
"Necessity afterwards made me a politician.... I was Franklin, the
_Philosopher_ to the world, long after I had in fact, become Franklin
the Politician."[i-379] After reviewing the evidence, it seems
incredulous to doubt that, regardless of his achievements in other
fields, Franklin sought his greatest intellectual pleasure in scientific
research and speculation, and that his doctrines of scientific deism
antedated and conditioned his political, economic, and humanitarian

If Franklin's inventions have been justly praised, his affections for
the empirical scientific method and his philosophic interest in Nature's
laws have been unjustly ignored. He observed to Ebenezer Kinnersley
"that a philosopher cannot be too much on his guard in crediting their
["careless observers'"] relations of things extraordinary, and should
never build an hypothesis on any thing but clear facts and experiments,
or it will be in danger of soon falling ... like a house of
cards";[i-380] and to Abbe Soulavie, "You see I have given a loose to
imagination; but I approve much more your method of philosophizing,
which proceeds upon actual observation, makes

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Text Comparison with Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 4
were immediately set to work to cut down trees" 278 "We now appeared very wide, and so far from each other in our opinions as to discourage all hope of agreement" 318 "You will find it stream out plentifully from the key on the approach of your knuckle" 328 Father Abraham in his study 330 The end papers show, at the front, the Franklin arms and the Franklin seal; at the back, the medal given by the Boston public schools from the fund left by Franklin for that purpose as provided in the following extract from his will: "I was born in Boston,.
Page 7
Distinguished as a statesman, he was equally great as a philosopher, thus uniting in himself a rare degree of excellence in both these pursuits, to excel in either of which is deemed the highest praise.
Page 16
The family continued all of the Church of England till about the end of Charles the Second's reign, when some of the ministers that had been outed for non-conformity, holding conventicles[9] in Northamptonshire, Benjamin and Josiah adhered to them, and so continued all their lives: the rest of the family remained with the Episcopal Church.
Page 17
My early readiness in learning to read (which must have been very early, as I do not remember when I could not read), and the opinion of all his friends, that I should certainly make a good scholar, encouraged him in this purpose of his.
Page 26
I was charm'd with it, adopted it, dropt my abrupt contradiction and positive argumentation, and put on the humble inquirer and doubter.
Page 59
Keith was no longer governor, being superseded by Major Gordon.
Page 60
We lodg'd and boarded together; he counsell'd me as a father, having a sincere regard for me.
Page 62
[51] A crimp was the agent of a shipping company.
Page 72
I think this was in or about the year 1729.
Page 85
| W.
Page 90
" In truth, I found myself incorrigible with respect to Order; and now I am grown old, and my memory bad, I feel very sensibly the want of it.
Page 98
6h Ar 4 35 8 20 C Trinity Sund.
Page 119
The suppos'd enemy prov'd a friend, so there was no fighting; but when the secretary went down to communicate the intelligence, William Penn rebuk'd him severely for staying upon deck, and undertaking to assist in defending the vessel, contrary to the principles of _Friends_, especially as it had not been required by the captain.
Page 125
On taking my seat in the House, my son was appointed their clerk.
Page 135
Many objections and difficulties were started, but at length they were all overcome, and the plan was unanimously agreed to, and copies ordered to be transmitted to the Board of Trade and to the assemblies of the several provinces.
Page 141
--My son, William Franklin, is empowered to enter into like contracts with any person in Cumberland county.
Page 162
Ours was the first to be dispatch'd, as having been there longest.
Page 164
[114] This relation illustrates the corruption that characterized English public life in the eighteenth century.
Page 178
The other standard edition is the _Works of Benjamin Franklin_ by John Bigelow (New York, 1887).
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_ The Following is the last.