The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 265

of that arising from the
scenery and dancing. Most tunes of late composition, not having
this natural harmony united with their melody, have recourse to the
artificial harmony of a bass, and other accompanying parts.[64] This
support, in my opinion, the old tunes do not need, and are rather
confused than aided by it. Whoever has heard James Oswald play them
on his violoncello, will be less inclined to dispute this with me.
I have more than once seen tears of pleasure in the eyes of his
auditors; and yet, I think, even _his_ playing those tunes would
please more, if he gave them less modern ornament.

I am, &c.



[64] The celebrated Rousseau in his Dictionnaire de Musique, printed
1768, appears to have similar sentiments of our modern harmony, viz.

"M. Rameau prétend que les dessus d'une certaine simplicité suggerènt
naturellement leur basse, & qu'un homme ayant l'oreille juste & non
exercée, entonnera naturellement cette basse. C'est-là un préjugé
de musicien, démenti par toute expérience. Non seulement celui qui
n'aura jamais entendu ni basse ni harmonie, ne trouvera, de lui-même,
ni cette harmonie ni cette basse; mais elles lui déplairont si on les
lui fait entendre, & il aimera beaucoup mieux le simple unisson.

Quand on songe que, de tous les peuples de la terre, qui tous ont
une musique & un chant, les Européens sont les seuls qui aient une
harmonie des accords, & qui trouvent ce mélange agréable; quand
on songe que le monde a duré tant de siècles, sans que, de toutes
les nations qui ont cultivé les beaux arts, aucune ait connu cette
harmonie; qu'aucun animal, qu'aucun oiseau, qu'aucan être dans la
nature ne produit d'autre accord que l'unisson, ni d'autre musique
que la mélodie; que les langues orientales, si sonores, si musicales;
que les oreilles Grecques, si délicates, si sensibles, exercées avec
tant d'art, n'ont jamais guidé ces peuples voluptueax & passionnés
vers notre harmonie; que, sans elle, leur musique avoits des effets
si prodigieux: qu'avec elle la nôtre en a de si foibles: qu'entin
il étoit réservé à des peuples du Nord, dont les organes durs &
grossiers sont plus touchés de l'éclat & du bruit des voix, que de la
douceur des accens, & de la mélodie des inflexions, de faire cette
grande découverte, & de la donner pour principe à toutes les régles
de l'art; quand, dis-je, on fait attention à tout cela, il est bien
difficile de ne pas soupçonner que toute notre harmonie n'est qu'une
invention gothique & barbare, dont nous ne nous fussions jamais
avisés, si nous fussions été plus sensibles aux

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

Page 13
of the town or of the church he belonged to, and showed a good deal of respect for his judgment and advice; he was also much consulted by private persons about their affairs when any difficulty occurred, and frequently chosen an arbitrator between contending parties.
Page 16
A question was once, somehow or other, started between Collins and me, of the propriety of educating the female sex in learning, and their abilities for study.
Page 22
So I sold some of my books to raise a little money, was taken on board privately, and, as we had a fair wind, in three days I found myself in New York, near three hundred.
Page 30
I endeavored to put his press (which he had not yet used and of which he understood nothing) into order fit to be worked with; and, promising to come and print off his elegy as soon as he should have got it ready, I returned to Bradford's, who gave me a little job to do for the present, and there I lodged and dieted.
Page 43
I picked out six or seven, that, by the handwriting, I thought might be the promised letters, especially as one of them was directed to Basket, the king's printer, and another to some stationer.
Page 48
My lodging in Little Britain being too remote, I found another in Duke Street, opposite to the Romish Chapel.
Page 66
" It was well received by the common people in general; but the rich men disliked it, for it increased and strengthened the clamor for more money, and they, happening to have no writers among them that were able to answer it, their opposition slackened, and the point was carried by a majority in the House.
Page 92
them manifest injustice.
Page 109
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.
Page 113
Writings were accordingly drawn, and on paying the debts the trustees of the academy were put in possession of the premises; and by dividing the great and lofty hall into stories, and different rooms above and below for the several schools, and purchasing some additional ground, the whole was soon made fit for our purpose, and the scholars removed into the building.
Page 114
I purchased all Dr.
Page 122
To do this a variety of improvements were necessary.
Page 141
There was a sawmill near, round which were left several piles of boards, with which we soon hutted ourselves,--an operation the more necessary at that inclement season as we had no tents.
Page 164
"Some time since there fell into my hands, to my great joy, about twenty-three sheets in thy own handwriting, containing an account of the parentage and life of thyself, directed to thy son, ending in the year 1730; with which there were notes, likewise in thy writing; a copy of which I inclose, in hopes it may be a means, if thou continued it up to a later period, that the first and latter part may be put together; and if it is not yet continued, I hope thee will not delay it.
Page 166
Page 169
He means that perhaps the cheapness is apparent only, and not real; or, the bargain, by straitening thee in thy business, may do thee more harm than good.
Page 171
It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright.
Page 172
In a discreet man's mouth a public thing is private.
Page 175
Page 176
Do you think that Emerson's definition of "genius" as given in the first paragraph of his essay on "Self-Reliance" can be justly applied to Franklin? You will be interested in following Franklin's experiments in determining the value of oil in stilling the waves, and also his investigations of the Gulf Stream and of the nature of storms.