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Benjamin Franklin; Self-Revealed, Volume II (of 2) A Biographical and Critical Study Based Mainly on his own Writings   By:

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First Page:

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

SELF REVEALED

A BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL STUDY BASED MAINLY ON HIS OWN WRITINGS

BY

WILLIAM CABELL BRUCE

IN TWO VOLUMES

VOLUME II

G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS NEW YORK AND LONDON The Knickerbocker Press 1917

COPYRIGHT, 1917 BY W. CABELL BRUCE

The Knickerbocker Press, New York

CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. FRANKLIN'S PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS 1

II. FRANKLIN AS A MAN OF BUSINESS 26

III. FRANKLIN AS A STATESMAN 95

IV. FRANKLIN AS A MAN OF SCIENCE 350

V. FRANKLIN AS A WRITER 423

INDEX 531

Benjamin Franklin

Self Revealed

CHAPTER I

Franklin's Personal Characteristics

The precise explanation of the great concourse of friends that Franklin drew about him, at the different stages of his long journey through the world, is to be found partly in his robust, honorable character and mental gifts. The sterner virtues, which are necessarily the foundations of such esteem as he enjoyed, he possessed in an eminent degree. An uncommonly virile and resolute spirit animated the body, which was equal in youth to the task of swimming partly on and partly under water from near Chelsea to Blackfriars, and of exhibiting on the way all of Thevenot's motions and positions as well as some of its own, and which shortly afterwards even sported about the becalmed Berkshire in the Atlantic almost with the strength and ease of one of the numerous dolphins mentioned by Franklin in his Journal of his voyage on that ship from England to America. He hated cruelty, injustice, rapacity and arbitrary conduct. It was no idle or insincere compliment that Burke paid him when he spoke of his "liberal and manly way of thinking." How stoutly his spirit met its responsibilities in Pennsylvania, prior to the Declaration of Independence, we have seen. The risks incident to the adoption of that declaration it incurred with the same fearless courage. Of all the men who united in its adoption, he, perhaps, was in the best position to know, because of his long residence in England, and familiarity with the temper of the English monarch and his ministry, what the personal consequences to the signers were likely to be, if the American cause should prove unsuccessful. He had a head to lose even harder to replace than that of his friend Lavoisier, he had a fortune to be involved in flame or confiscation, the joy of living meant to him what it has meant to few men, and more than one statement in his writings affords us convincing proof that, quite apart from the collective act of all the signers in pledging their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to the "glorious cause," he did not lose sight of the fact that the Gray Tower still stood upon its ancient hill with its eye upon the Traitor's Gate, and its bosom stored with instruments of savage vengeance. Indeed, it was the thought that his son had been engaged against him in a game, in which not only his fortune but his neck had been at stake, that made it so difficult for him, forgiving as he was, to keep down the bile of violated nature. But, when the time came for affixing his signature to the Declaration, he not only did it with the equanimity of the rest, but, if tradition may be believed, with a light hearted intrepidity like that of Sir Walter Raleigh jesting on the scaffold with the edge of the axe. "We must all hang together," declared John Hancock, when pleading for unanimity. "Yes," Franklin is said to have replied, "we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."

The inability of old age, partly from sheer loss of animal vigor, and partly from the desire for peace, produced by the general decline in vividness of everything in a world, that it is about to quit, to assert itself with the force of will and temper, that belongs to us in our prime, is one of the most noticeable phenomena of the later stages of human existence... Continue reading book >>




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