Benjamin Franklin Papers
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https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-03-02-0156

From Benjamin Franklin to George Whitefield, 6 July 1749

To George Whitefield

Reprinted from The Evangelical Magazine, XI (1803), 27–8; also AL (fragment): American Philosophical Society.1

Philadelphia, July 6, 1749

Dear Sir,

Since your being in England, I have received two of your favours, and a box of books to be disposed of.2 It gives me great pleasure to hear of your welfare, and that you purpose soon to return to America.

We have no kind of news here worth writing to you. The affair of the building remains in statu quo, there having been no new application to the Assembly about it, nor any thing done in conesquence of the former.3

I have received no money on your account from Mr. Thanklin,4 or from Boston. Mrs. Read, and your other friends here in general are well, and will rejoice to see you again.

I am glad to hear that you have frequent opportunities of preaching among the great. If you can gain them to a good and exemplary life, wonderful changes will follow in the manners of the lower ranks; for, Ad Exemplum Regis, &c. On this principle Confucius, the famous eastern reformer, proceeded. When he saw his country sunk in vice, and wickedness of all kinds triumphant, he applied himself first to the grandees; and having by his doctrine won them to the cause of virtue, the commons followed in multitudes. The mode has a wonderful influence on mankind; and there are numbers that perhaps fear less the being in Hell, than out of the fashion. Our more western reformations began with the ignorant mob; and when numbers of them were gained, interest and party-views drew in the wise and great. Where both methods can be used, reformations are like to be more speedy. O that some method could be found to make them lasting! He that shall discover that, will, in my opinion, deserve more, ten thousand times, than the inventor of the longtitude.

My wife and family join in the most cordial salutations to you and good Mrs. Whitefield. I am, dear Sir, your very affectionate friend, and most obliged humble servant,

B. Franklin

1Because the surviving MS fragment consists only of a narrow vertical strip of pages 1 and 2, the editors have followed the printed version, with two exceptions: following the MS, they have capitalized the “A” in Ad Exemplum Regis and eliminated an exclamation point after “fashion.”

2Whitefield returned to England, July 1748. Neither the letters nor any reference to the books have been found. A letter “To Mr. F——,” July 7, 1748, announcing his safe arrival, printed in his Select Collection of Letters (London, 1772), II, 147, may have been addressed to BF.

3On the New Building, see below, p. 435.

4Not identified. Possibly the original editor’s error for “Franklin.”

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