Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 109

purposes. They were unwilling to offend government, on the
one hand, by a direct refusal, and their friends, the body of the
Quakers, on the other, by a compliance contrary to their principles;
hence a variety of evasions to avoid complying, and modes of
disguising the compliance when it became unavoidable. The common mode
at last was to grant money under the phrase of its being "for the
King's use," and never to inquire how it was applied.

But if the demand was not directly from the Crown, that phrase was found
not so proper, and some other was to be invented. As, when powder was
wanting (I think it was for the garrison at Louisburg[135]), and the
government of New England solicited a grant of some from Pennsylvania,
which was much urged on the House by Governor Thomas, they could not
grant money to buy powder, because that was an ingredient of war; but
they voted an aid to New England of three thousand pounds, to be put
into the hands of the governor, and appropriated it for the purchasing
of bread, flour, wheat, or other grain. Some of the council, desirous of
giving the House still further embarrassment, advised the governor not
to accept provision, as not being the thing he had demanded; but he
replied: "I shall take the money, for I understand very well their
meaning; 'other grain' is gunpowder," which he accordingly bought, and
they never objected to it.

It was in allusion to this fact that, when in our fire company we
feared the success of our proposal in favor of the lottery, and I had
said to my friend Mr. Syng, one of our members: "If we fail, let us
move the purchase of a fire engine with the money; the Quakers can
have no objection to that; and then, if you nominate me and I you as a
committee for that purpose, we will buy a great gun, which is
certainly a fire engine,"--"I see," says he, "you have improved by
being so long in the Assembly; your equivocal project would be just a
match for their 'wheat or other grain.'"

These embarrassments that the Quakers suffered from having established
and published it as one of their principles that no kind of war was
lawful, and which, being once published, they could not afterward,
however they might change their minds, easily get rid of, reminds me
of what I think a more prudent conduct in another sect among us, that
of the Dunkers.[136] I was acquainted with one of its founders,
Michael Welfare, soon after it appeared. He

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Moody with his commonplace talks, and Sankey with his songs, call out greater crowds and have more admirers than the most profound Bible instructor in the world.
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rises, thundering, “_It may be true, after all_.
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But there is one trouble in writing or publishing any thing for that class.
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This brings him to one o’clock.
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Now, the idea of our fixing our eye upon a few talented men, paying them large salaries, and wholly neglecting these, is manifestly wrong.