Mr. Franklin: A Selection from His Personal Letters

By Leonard W. Labaree; Benjamin Franklin et al. | Go to book overview

tle; nay, the very Types his own Book is printed with, for he is himself an Author, and yet never discovered this painful Disproportion in them, till he thought they were yours. I am, etc.

B. Franklin


AN OPTIMIST AND HIS ENEMIES

EVERY man in public life must expect criticism and even abuse at some stages of his career. One difference among such men is to be found in how they accept these attacks and how they inwardly react to outward enemies. Franklin was no more immune to verbal assaults and false accusations than any of his contemporaries or successors in politics. Some of his American enemies, for example, sought unjustly to lay on his shoulders responsibility for the passage of the Stamp Act and to put upon his actions in that situation the worst possible interpretation. His sister, Mrs. Mecom, was deeply troubled by these attacks and wrote him a pessimistic letter about the state of the world in which such things could happen. His reply, written when he was sixty-one, expresses a characteristic attitude. He could hit back hard and tellingly when the occasion required, but he could treat personal attacks with philosophic calm.


To Jane Mecom

London, March 2, 1767

Dear Sister

I received your kind Letter of Nov. 8. for which I thank you. It rejoices me to hear that you and your Children continue well. I thank God that I too enjoy a greater Share of Health, Strength and Activity than is common with People of my Years, being now Threescore and one. You mention my Opinion of this being a good sort of World, in which you differ from me. Every one should speak as they find. Hitherto I have found it so, and I

-15-

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Mr. Franklin: A Selection from His Personal Letters
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction xiii
  • Brother and Sister 3
  • The Scientific Spirit 4
  • Family Report 6
  • A Whirlwind For Mr. Franklin 8
  • A Philosopher Looks At Death 10
  • A Lesson In Relativity 12
  • Type For The Connoisseur 13
  • An Optimist And His Enemies 15
  • Pater Familias 17
  • A Pen Has A Sharp Point 20
  • The Arts Move Westward 21
  • Conversation in a Coach 22
  • Prudential Algebra 25
  • A New Use For Madeira Wine 27
  • A Revolt Begins 29
  • How To Pay For A War 34
  • A Scientist Turns Politician 36
  • How To Recommend A Stranger 41
  • Twelve Commandments 42
  • Father Is Not Pleased 44
  • Money Talks 48
  • The Delightful Ladies Of France 50
  • Two Americans 52
  • Miss Virginia 53
  • What Good is a New-Born Baby? 55
  • Independence Has Its Responsibilities 59
  • Farewell 60
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