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MS Record, Boston Births, V , 113: City Registry, Boston Benjamen Son     of Josiah Frankling & Abiah his     Wife    born 6 Janry 1706 This entry is taken from an official compilation, made at some later time, from the original book of record. The clerk used the year dates of the New Style calendar (adopted by Great Britain in 1752), recording the year of BF ’s birth as a simple 1706 instead...
MS Baptismal Records of the Clerk of Old South Church in Boston [1705/6] Jan. 6.   Benjamin, of Josiah & Abiah Franklin Printed in facsimile in Col. Soc. Mass., Pubs. , X (1907), facing p. 228.
MS Commonplace Book of Benjamin Franklin (the Elder): American Antiquarian Society Benjamin Franklin’s uncle Benjamin Franklin (1650–1727), born at Ecton in Northamptonshire, was for many years a silk-dyer in London. After years of sickness and adversity, he settled at Boston in October 1715, He lived four years in Josiah Franklin’s household, then in November 1719 moved to the house of his...
MS Commonplace Book of Benjamin Franklin (the Elder): American Antiquarian Society Sent To B.F. in N. E. 15 July 1710
MS Commonplace Book of Benjamin Franklin (the Elder): American Antiquarian Society To My Name 1713. Edward Cocker (1631–1675), author of several arithmetical works, of poems and distichs, and of a number of quaintly titled books on calligraphy. DNB. When he was 16, “asham’d of my Ignorance in Figures,” BF took Cocker’s Arithmetic and went through the whole book “with great Ease.” This...
6The Lighthouse Tragedy, 1718 (Franklin Papers)
Not found As a lad of twelve or thirteen Franklin “took a Fancy to Poetry, and made some little Pieces.” One of these was a ballad he remembered as “the Light House Tragedy ,” inspired by the drowning on November 3, 1718, of George Worthylake, keeper of the light on Beacon Island, with his wife and daughter. (In the autobiography he remembered it incorrectly as Worthylake and his two...
Not found The second ballad which Franklin wrote and hawked through the streets of Boston was “a Sailor Song on the Taking of Teach or Blackbeard the Pirate.” This may have been written in March 1719, after the Boston News-Letter carried a full account of the last fight and death of Captain Edward Teach on November 22, 1718. In the middle of the nineteenth century the Boston physician George...
Copy: University of Pennsylvania Library The University of Pennsylvania acquired in 1934 an eighty-six line “Elegy on my Sister Franklin,” undated but written in an eighteenth-century hand, and signed “B.F.” The Elegy opens as follows: The manuscript is a sheet of four pages and appears to be a copy of an earlier version, for the penman inadvertently skipped lines 35 and 36, but put them in at...
Printed in The New-England Courant , April 2, 1722. The first issue of James Franklin’s New-England Courant appeared on August 7, 1721, at the height of the inoculation controversy in Boston. Because the Mathers supported inoculation, the Courant opposed it; and the paper’s lively, combative essays and verses were soon directed also against the clergy, the magistrates, the postmaster, Harvard...
Printed in The New-England Courant , April 16, 1722. Histories of Lives are seldom entertaining, unless they contain something either admirable or exemplar: And since there is little or nothing of this Nature in my own Adventures, I will not tire your Readers with tedious Particulars of no Consequence, but will briefly, and in as few Words as possible, relate the most material Occurrences of...
Printed in The New-England Courant , April 30, 1722. It is undoubtedly the Duty of all Persons to serve the Country they live in, according to their Abilities; yet I sincerely acknowledge, that I have hitherto been very deficient in this Particular; whether it was for want of Will or Opportunity, I will not at present stand to determine: Let it suffice, that I now take up a Resolution, to do...
Printed in The New-England Courant , May 14, 1722. An sum etiam nunc vel Graecè loqui vel Latinè docendus? Cicero. Discoursing the other Day at Dinner with my Reverend Boarder, formerly mention’d, (whom for Distinction sake we will call by the Name of Clericus,) concerning the Education of Children, I ask’d his Advice about my young Son William, whether or no I had best bestow upon him...
Printed in The New-England Courant , May 28, 1722. Mulier Mulieri magis congruet. Ter. I shall here present your Readers with a Letter from one, who informs me that I have begun at the wrong End of my Business, and that I ought to begin at Home, and censure the Vices and Follies of my own Sex, before I venture to meddle with your’s: Nevertheless, I am resolved to dedicate this Speculation to...
Printed in The New-England Courant , June 11, 1722. Quem Dies videt veniens Superbum, Hunc Dies vidit fugiens jacentem. Seneca. Among the many reigning Vices of the Town which may at any Time come under my Consideration and Reprehension, there is none which I am more inclin’d to expose than that of Pride . It is acknowledg’d by all to be a Vice the most hateful to God and Man. Even those who...
Printed in The New-England Courant , June 25, 1722. It has been the Complaint of many Ingenious Foreigners, who have travell’d amongst us, That good Poetry is not to be expected in New-England . I am apt to Fancy, the Reason is, not because our Countreymen are altogether void of a Poetical Genius, nor yet because we have not those Advantages of Education which other Countries have, but purely...
Printed in The New-England Courant , July 9, 1722. On June 11 the Courant had insinuated that the Massachusetts authorities were not making proper exertions to capture a pirate vessel reported to be off the coast. Exasperated by this “High Affront,” the latest of many, the General Court the next day ordered James Franklin to be confined in jail for the remainder of the legislative session....
Printed in The New-England Courant , July 23, 1722. Corruptio optimi est pessima. It has been for some Time a Question with me, Whether a Commonwealth suffers more by hypocritical Pretenders to Religion, or by the openly Profane? But some late Thoughts of this Nature, have inclined me to think, that the Hypocrite is the most dangerous Person of the Two, especially if he sustains a Post in the...
Printed in The New-England Courant , August 13, 1722. Optimè societas hominum servabitur. Cic. Discoursing lately with an intimate Friend of mine of the lamentable Condition of Widows, he put into my Hands a Book, wherein the ingenious Author proposes (I think) a certain Method for their Relief. I have often thought of some such Project for their Benefit my self, and intended to communicate my...
Printed in The New-England Courant , August 20, 1722. Neque licitum interea est meam amicam visere. From a natural Compassion to my Fellow-Creatures, I have sometimes been betray’d into Tears at the Sight of an Object of Charity, who by a bear [ sic ] Relation of his Circumstances, seem’d to demand the Assistance of those about him. The following Petition represents in so lively a Manner the...
Printed in The New-England Courant , September 10, 1722. Quod est in cordi sobrii, est in ore ebrii. It is no unprofitable tho’ unpleasant Pursuit, diligently to inspect and consider the Manners and Conversation of Men, who, insensible of the greatest Enjoyments of humane Life, abandon themselves to Vice from a false Notion of Pleasure and good Fellowship . A true and natural Representation of...
Printed in The New-England Courant , September 24, 1722. In Persons of a contemplative Disposition, the most indifferent Things provoke the Exercise of the Imagination; and the Satisfactions which often arise to them thereby, are a certain Relief to the Labour of the Mind (when it has been intensely fix’d on more substantial Subjects) as well as to that of the Body. In one of the late pleasant...
Printed in The New-England Courant , October 8, 1722. Earum causarum quantum quaeque valeat, videamus. Cicero. It often happens, that the most zealous Advocates for any Cause find themselves disappointed in the first Appearance of Success in the Propagation of their Opinion; and the Disappointment appears unavoidable, when their easy Proselytes too suddenly start into Extreams, and are...
Franklin’s contributions to the New-England Courant were not limited to the fourteen letters of Mrs. Silence Dogood. After he had revealed himself as their author and “began to be considered a little more by my Brother’s Acquaintance,” he was doubtless occasionally invited or emboldened to do another piece. When James Franklin was in prison, Franklin “had the Management of the Paper,” which...
Printed in The New-England Courant , February 11, 1723. Arrest and imprisonment had not intimidated James Franklin. Probably encouraged by the refusal of the House of Representatives to concur in the Council’s proposal to reestablish press censorship, he printed, July 30, Chapter XXIX of Magna Carta, with glosses, on the freeman’s right to trial by jury according to the law. On September 17,...
Printed in The New-England Courant , February 18, 1723. Mero meridie si dixerit illi tenebras esse, credit. There is nothing in which Mankind reproach themselves more than in their Diversity of Opinions. Every Man sets himself above another in his own Opinion, and there are not two Men in the World whose Sentiments are alike in every thing. Hence it comes to pass, that the same Passages in the...
DS : Historical Society of Pennsylvania I Promise to Pay or Cause to be paid unto John Phillips Bookseller The Just Sum of Three pounds Three Shilling In money by January next as witness my hand John Phillips (1701–1763), opened a bookshop on the south side of Boston Town House, 1723. He was subsequently deacon of Brattle Street Church, colonel of the Boston Regiment, captain and treasurer of...
A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain. London: Printed in the Year MDCCXXV . (Yale University Library) As a journeyman in Samuel Palmer’s printing house in Bartholomew’s Close Franklin worked on the third edition of William Wollaston’s The Religion of Nature Delineated . Some of the author’s arguments “not appearing ... well-founded,” he composed “a little metaphysical...
ALS : British Museum Having lately been in the Nothern Parts of America, I have brought from thence a Purse made of the Stone Asbestus, a Piece of the Stone, and a Piece of Wood, the Pithy Part of which is of the same Nature, and call’d by the Inhabitants, Salamander Cotton. As you are noted to be a Lover of Curiosities, I have inform’d you of these; and if you have any Inclination to purchase...
29Plan of Conduct, 1726 (Franklin Papers)
MS not found; reprinted from Robert Walsh, “Life of Benjamin Franklin,” Delaplaine’s Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished Americans (Philadelphia, 1815–17), II , 51–2. “Perhaps the most important Part” of the foregoing Journal, Franklin wrote in his autobiography, was “the Plan to be found in it which I formed at Sea, for regulating my future Conduct in Life.” The plan does...
30Journal of a Voyage, 1726 (Franklin Papers)
MS not found; reprinted from WTF, Memoirs , 4to edit., I , Appendix, i-xix; also transcript: Library of Congress. The transcript of this Journal was made from Franklin’s manuscript, and from it William Temple Franklin printed the text. Thus the transcript is one step closer to the lost original. The printed text is followed here, however, because of the mutilated state and uncertain...
MS not found; reprinted from Duane, Works , VI , 3. I am highly pleased with the account captain Freeman gives me of you. I always judged by your behaviour when a child that you would make a good, agreeable woman, and you know you were ever my peculiar favourite. I have been thinking what would be a suitable present for me to make, and for you to receive, as I hear you are grown a celebrated...
32Epitaph, 1728 (Franklin Papers)
Autograph MS : Yale University Library; another autograph MS : Richard Gimbel, New Haven, Conn. (1959); facsimile printed in Charles John Smith, Historical and Literary Curiosities (London, 1840). Three autograph texts of the Epitaph are known—two in manuscript, one a facsimile of the now lost Upcott holograph. Each differs from the other two, and all vary, significantly or in details, from...
Autograph MS : Library of Congress; also transcript: Library of Congress Franklin mentioned this private liturgy in his autobiography. Though he had had a conventional religious upbringing and contributed to the support of the Presbyterian meeting in Philadelphia, he seldom attended public worship, preferring to use Sundays for his own studies. Once, however, persuaded to go to church, he went...
Printed in The American Weekly Mercury , January 28, 1728/9. When Samuel Keimer forestalled Franklin’s plan to publish a newspaper by announcing that he would publish one of his own, Franklin expressed his resentment through the satirical essays of The Busy-Body (see below, p. 113). The Busy-Body, however, was not the first to ridicule Keimer. Plodding methodically through the alphabet of...
Printed in The American Weekly Mercury , February 4, 1728/9. Franklin and Hugh Meredith decided in 1728 to start a newspaper in opposition to Bradford’s American Weekly Mercury . Samuel Keimer learned of this plan from George Webb, to whom Franklin incautiously revealed it when the former applied for employment as a journeyman, and forestalled the new printing firm by publishing, October 1,...
Printed in The American Weekly Mercury , February 11, 1728/9. All Fools have still an Itching to deride; And fain would be upon the laughing Side.     Pope. Monsieur Rochefocaut tells us somewhere in his Memoirs, that the Prince of Conde delighted much in Ridicule; and us’d frequently to shut himself up for Half a Day together in his Chamber with a Gentleman that was his Favourite, purposely...
Printed in The American Weekly Mercury , February 18, 1728/9. Non vultus instantis Tyranni Mente quatit solida—neque Auster Dux inquieti turbidus Adriae, Nec fulminantis magna Jovis manus.     Hor. It is said that the Persians in their ancient Constitution, had publick Schools in which Virtue was taught as a Liberal Art or Science; and it is certainly of more Consequence to a Man that he has...
Printed in The American Weekly Mercury , February 25, 1728/9. Nequid nimis. In my first Paper I invited the Learned and the Ingenious to join with me in this Undertaking; and I now repeat that Invitation. I would have such Gentlemen take this Opportunity, (by trying their Talent in Writing) of diverting themselves and their Friends, and improving the Taste of the Town. And because I would...
Printed in The American Weekly Mercury , March 4, 1728/9. Vos, O Patricius sanguis, quos vivere fas est Occipiti caeco, posticae occurrite sannae.     Persius. This Paper being design’d for a Terror to Evil-Doers, as well as a Praise to them that do well, I am lifted up with secret Joy to find that my Undertaking is approved, and encourag’d by the Just and Good, and that few are against me but...
Printed in The American Weekly Mercury , March 27, 1729. ——Quid non mortalia Pectora cogis Auri sacra Fames! Virgil. One of the greatest Pleasures an Author can have is certainly the Hearing his Works applauded. The hiding from the World our Names while we publish our Thoughts, is so absolutely necessary to this Self-Gratification, that I hope my Well-wishers will congratulate me on my Escape...
A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper-Currency. Philadelphia: Printed and Sold at the New Printing-Office, near the Market. 1729. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania) Pennsylvania’s first experience with paper currency came in 1723 with the passage of two acts which provided for issues of bills of credit totaling £45,000. Except for £7,500 allocated to governmental agencies...
Printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette , October 2 to December 30, 1729. The Pennsylvania Gazette usually printed several columns of intelligence, from out-of-town and foreign newspapers or from private letters; and essays, which might be reprinted from English periodicals, contributed by a member of the Junto or a reader, or written by Franklin himself. But every issue carried local news,...
Printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette , October 2, 1729. The attacks of the Busy-Body, Keimer’s business incompetence, the flatness of his paper plodding doggedly through the letter A of Chambers’ Cyclopaedia , all combined to keep the Universal Instructor in all Arts and Sciences from getting either subscribers or advertisers. Keimer’s creditors, growing apprehensive, had him seized in June,...
Printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette , October 9, 1729. His Excellency Governor Burnet died unexpectedly about two Days after the Date of this Reply to his last Message: And it was thought the Dispute would have ended with him, or at least have lain dormant till the Arrival of a new Governor from England, who possibly might, or might not be inclin’d to enter too rigorously into the Measures of...
Printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette , October 23, 1729. The Publishers of this Paper meeting with considerable Encouragement, are determined to continue it; and to that End have taken Measures to settle a general Correspondence, and procure the best and earliest Intelligence from all Parts. We shall from time to time have all the noted Publick Prints from Great Britain, New-England, New-York,...
Printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette , November 20, 1729. Affairs of Ireland The English Papers have of late been frequent in their Accounts of the unhappy Circumstances of the Common People of Ireland; That Poverty, Wretchedness, Misery and Want are become almost universal among them; That their Lands, being now turn’d to raising of Cattle, the Tilling of which formerly employ’d great Numbers...
Printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette , December 16, 1729. I send you here an Answer to a Query in your last Paper. It is there said A Man by Night shot a trespassing Horse in his Corn-field, taking the Horse for a Deer . Then it is queried Whether he ought to pay for the same, since it was by Mistake, and the Horse a Trespasser . I Answer, the Man who kill’d the Horse ought to pay for the same,...
Printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette , January 6 to December 29, 1730. About the End of next Month, a Course of Papers of Speculation and Amusement will begin to be inserted in this Gazette , for the Entertainment of our Readers. Those Gentlemen and others, who may be inclined to divert themselves or their Friends by trying their Hands in some little Performance of that Nature, are hereby...
Printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette , March 13, 1729/30. Printerum est errare. As your last Paper was reading in some Company where I was present, these Words were taken Notice of in the Article concerning Governor Belcher, [ After which his Excellency, with the Gentlemen trading to New-England , died elegantly at Pontack’s ]. The Word died should doubtless have been dined , Pontack’s being a...
ALS : American Philosophical Society Your kind and affectionate Letter of May the 15th, was extreamly agreeable to me; and the more so, because I had not for two Years before, receiv’d a Line from any Relation, my Father and Mother only excepted. I am glad to hear your Family are got well thro’ the Small Pox, and that you have your Health continu’d to you. I sold your Husbands Watches for...