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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 79

by books and languages, are liable to the common and
natural obscurities and difficulties incident to words;
methinks it would become us to be more careful and diligent
in observing the former, and less magisterial, positive, and
imperious, in imposing our own sense and interpretations of
the latter.[i-407]

In addition Franklin may have been influenced by Locke's implied
Newtonianism; he would suspect the subtleties of the Old South Church
when he read: "For the visible marks of extraordinary wisdom and power
appear so plainly in all the works of the creation, that a rational
creature, who will but seriously reflect on them, cannot miss the
discovery of a Deity."[i-408] Like Newton, Locke inferred an infinite
and benevolent Geometrician from "the magnificent harmony of the
universe."

Franklin also read Shaftesbury's _Characteristics_, which Warburton
quotes Pope as saying "had done more harm to revealed religion in
England than all the works of infidelity put together."[i-409] Although
he may have pondered over Shaftesbury's "virtuoso theory of
Benevolence," he was not one to be readily convinced of the innate
altruism of man. His Puritan heritage linked with an empirical realism
prevented him from becoming prey to Shaftesbury's a priori optimism. He
was aware of the potential danger of a complacent trust in natural
impulses, which often lead to

The love of sweet security in sin.

To what extent did Franklin's nascent humanitarianism--mildly provoked
by the neighborliness of Mather and Defoe--receive additional sanction
from Shaftesbury's doctrine that "compassion is the supreme form of
moral beauty, the neglect of it the greatest of all offenses against
nature's ordained harmony"?[i-410] Identifying self-love and social,
Shaftesbury saw the divine temper achieved through affection for the
public, the "universal good."[i-411] Born among men who were convinced
of the supremacy of scripture, Franklin would at first be astonished
(then perhaps liberated) upon reading in the _Characteristics_ that
"Religion excludes only perfect atheism."[i-412] From such a piece as
Shaftesbury's _An Inquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit_ Franklin learned
that not all men preserved a union between theology and ethics,
scripture and religion. Although Shaftesbury occasionally indicated a
reverence for sacred scriptures, the totality of his thought was cast in
behalf of natural religion. He was convinced that the "Deity is
sufficiently revealed through natural Phenomena."[i-413] Extolling the
apprehension of the Deity through man's uniform reason, Shaftesbury
urbanely lampooned enthusiasm, that private revelation which threatened
to prevail against the _consensus gentium_.

By 1725 Franklin had divorced theology from morality and morality from
conscience, having punctuated his youth with faunish "errata."[i-414]
Although he was as

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

Page 15
412 The Lord's Prayer (1779?), 414 The Levee (1779?), 417 Proposed New Version of the Bible (1779?), 419 To Joseph Priestley (February 8, 1780), 420 To George Washington (March 5, 1780), 421 To Miss Georgiana Shipley (October 8, 1780), 422 To Richard Price (October 9, 1780), 423 Dialogue between Franklin and the Gout (1780), 424 The Handsome and Deformed Leg (1780?), 430 To Miss Georgiana Shipley (undated), 432 To David Hartley (December 15, 1781), .
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II.
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.
Page 148
" Franklin "thoroughly represents his age in its practicality, in its devotion to science, in its intellectual curiosity, in its humanitarianism, in its lack of spirituality, in its calm self-content--in short, in its exaltation of prose and reason over poetry and faith.
Page 174
--I continu'd this Method some few years, but gradually left it, retaining only the Habit of expressing myself in Terms of modest Diffidence, never using when I advance any thing that may possibly be disputed, the Words, _Certainly_, _undoubtedly_; or any others that give the Air of Positiveness to an Opinion; but rather say, I conceive, or I apprehend a Thing to be so or so, It appears to me, or I should think it so or so for such and such Reasons, or I imagine it to be so, or it is so if I am not mistaken.
Page 188
--When we arriv'd at New York, they told me where they liv'd, and invited me to come and see them: but I avoided it.
Page 282
--Praised be thy name for Ever! 2.
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If I now and then insert a Joke or two, that seem to have little in them, my Apology _is_ that such may have their Use, since perhaps for their Sake light airy Minds peruse the rest, and so are struck by somewhat of more Weight and Moment.
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AMERICANUS.
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| +----+-------+--------+---------+-------+-------+---------+----------+ | D.
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5 | +----+-------+--------+---------+-------+-------+---------+---------+ [Illustration] +----+----------+----------+----+------+ | D.
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This Pleasure I have seldom enjoyed; for tho' I have been, if I may say it without Vanity, an _eminent Author_ of Almanacks annually now a full Quarter of a Century, my Brother Authors in the same Way, for what Reason I know not, have ever been very sparing in their Applauses; and no other Author has taken the least Notice of me, so that did not my Writings produce me some solid _Pudding_, the great Deficiency of _Praise_ would have quite discouraged me.
Page 570
" The Suitors of _Penelope_ are by the same ancient Poet described as a sett of lawless Men, who were _regardless of the sacred Rites of Hospitality_.
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She is sensible that she is more in fault than her Daughter.
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Remember me affectionately to all the good family, and believe me ever, Your affectionate friend, B.
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_] _America to Britain.
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[J] They enter'd and rais'd Contributions in Saxony.
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_Foresight_, which looks a little into futurity, and considers the Consequences that may attend an action; for it is continually occurring to the Player, "If I move this piece, what will be the advantages or disadvantages of my new situation? What Use can my Adversary make of it to annoy me? What other moves can I make to support it, and to defend myself from his attacks?" II.
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TO BENJAMIN VAUGHAN Passy, Nov.
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Here you would know, and enjoy, what Posterity will say of Washington.