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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 49


Probity and dignity are your characteristics.

May that seat always derive the same lustre from the same qualities!

This at least ought to be our prayer, whether it is or not within our

For the province of Pensylvania, as well as in my own private
capacity, I have the honour to be, with the most profound respect,


your most obedient humble servant,



To obtain an infinite variety of purposes by a few plain principles
is the characteristic of nature. As the eye is affected so is the
understanding: objects at distance strike it according to their
dimensions, or the quantity of light thrown upon them; near,
according to their novelty or familiarity as they are in motion or
at rest. It is the same with actions. A battle is all motion; a hero
all glare: while such images are before us, we can attend to nothing
else. Solon and Lycurgus would make no figure in the same scene with
the king of Prussia; and we are at present so lost in a military
scramble on the continent next us, in which it must be confessed we
are deeply interested, that we have scarce time to throw a glance
towards America, where we have also much at stake, and where, if any
where, our account must be made up at last.

We love to stare more than to reflect, and to be indolently amused
at our leisure, than to commit the smallest trespass on our patience
by winding a painful tedious maze, which would pay us in nothing but

But then as there are some eyes that can find nothing marvellous but
what is marvellously great, so there are others equally disposed to
marvel at what is marvellously little; and who can derive as much
entertainment from this microscope in examining a mite, as Dr. ----
in ascertaining the geography of the moon, or measuring the tail of a

Let this serve as an excuse for the author of these sheets, if he
needs any, for bestowing them on the transactions of a colony, till
of late hardly mentioned in our annals; in point of establishment
one of the last upon the British list, and in point of rank one of
the most subordinate, as being not only subject, in common with the
rest, to the crown, but also to the claims of a _proprietary_, who
thinks he does them _honour_ enough in governing them by _deputy_;
consequently so much further removed from the royal eye, and so much
the more exposed to the pressure of self-interested _instructions_.

Considerable, however,

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It was in favour of Liberty of Conscience, and in behalf of the Baptists, Quakers, and other Sectaries, that had been under Persecution; ascribing the Indian Wars and other Distresses, that had befallen the Country to that Persecution, as so many Judgments of God, to punish so heinous an Offense; and exhorting a Repeal of those uncharitable Laws.
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wrongfully, inasmuch as the Men have not only as great a Share in those Vices as the Women, but are likewise in a great Measure the Cause of that which the Women are guilty of.
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Page 520
He profess'd, that he came not to call the Righteous but Sinners to repentance; which imply'd his modest Opinion, that there were some in his Time so good, that they need not hear even him for Improvement; but now-a-days we have scarce a little Parson, that does not think it the Duty of every Man within his Reach to sit under his petty Ministrations; and that whoever omits them [offends God.
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So much for Industry, my Friends, and Attention to one's own Business; but to these we must add _Frugality_, if we would make our _Industry_ more certainly successful.
Page 585
The _sovereignty of the_ King is therefore easily understood.
Page 587
They added other Reasons, that were no Reasons at all, and made me, as upon a 100 other Occasions, almost wish that Mankind had never been endow'd with a reasoning Faculty, since they know so little how to make use of it, and so often mislead themselves by it, and that they had been furnish'd with a good sensible Instinct instead of it.
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Be so good as to present my sincere respect to that venerable apostle, Dr.
Page 649
My vanity might possibly be nattered by your expressions of compliment to my understanding, if your _proposals_ did not more clearly manifest a mean opinion of it.
Page 650
You think we flatter ourselves, and are deceived into an opinion that England _must_ acknowledge our independency.
Page 668
This whisper against Job had its effect.