GEORGE WHARTON PEPPER, ESQ.
It is timely, I think, to drive home the point that it was what Franklin is that enabled him to accomplish what he did rather than the specific proposals which he made or the instrumentalities which he employed to attain his ends. Franklin, as I understand him, is Personality in Action; and personality, I take it, is the secret of all real influence.
In this respect Franklin does not stand alone. There are at least two other great men to keep him company. It seems to me that the greatest contribution to history made by Washington, Lincoln and Franklin was the contribution of themselves. Other statesmen have accomplished equally great results by diplomacy, by eloquence, by liberal promises, by a thousand devices for securing popular support; but these men when their country's line was wavering brought up reserves of character, threw them into the breach, repelled the assault and turned defeat into victory.
It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of the point just made. We become so accustomed to measuring public men by what they say and the way they say it that we forget to study the man behind the words to determine whether he is steadfast, unselfish and humble. Kipling's poem "If--" gives the specifications for the character of a real man; and there is good reason to believe that it was Washington's character that inspired the poem. The figure of Lincoln as it emerges from Sandburg's volumes is the figure of a man so steadfast, so selfless and so humble that you realize (perhaps for the first time) that in the inspired lines of the Second Inaugural you have the unconscious self-portrait of a man of God.
As I study Franklin's life the significance of his personality impresses me more and more. You may make a catalogue of all his inventions, a compilation of all his writings and a list of all his wise and witty sayings and you will scarcely