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Page 10

Benjamin Franklin

1706-1790

Dr. Franklin had two children, a son and a daughter. The son, under the British government, was appointed governor of New-Jersey. On the occurrence of the revolution, he left America, and took up his residence in England, where he spent the remainder of his life. The daughter was respectably married in Philadelphia, to Mr. William Bache, whose descendants still reside in that city.
   In stature, Dr. Franklin was above the middle size. He possessed a healthy constitution, and was remarkable for his strength and activity. His countenance indicated a serene state of mind, great depth of thought, and an inflexible resolution.

In his intercourse with mankind, he was uncommonly agreeable. In conversation, he abounded in curious and interesting anecdote. A vein of good humor marked his conversation, and strongly recommended him to both old and young, to the learned and illiterate.

As a philosopher, he justly ranks high. In his speculations, he seldom lost sight of common sense, or yielded up his understanding either to enthusiasm or authority. He contributed, in no small degree, to the extension of science, and to the improvement of the condition of mankind. He appears to have entertained, at some periods of his life, opinions which were in many respects peculiar, and which probably were not founded upon a sound philosophy.

Few men have exhibited a more worthy conduct than did Dr. Franklin, through his long life. Through every vicissitude of fortune, he seems to have been distinguished for his sobriety and temperance, for his extraordinary perseverance and resolution. He was not less distinguished for his veracity, for the constancy of his friendship, for his candor, and his fidelity to his moral and civil obligations. In the early part of his life, he acknowledged himself to have been skeptical in religion, but he became in mature years, according to the testimony of his Intimate friend, Dr. William Smith, a believer in divine revelation. The following extract from his memoirs, written by himself, deserves to be recorded: "And here let me with all humility acknowledge, that to Divine Providence I am indebted for the felicity I have hitherto enjoyed. It is that power alone Which has furnished me with the means I have employed, and that has crowned them with success My faith in this respect leads me to hope, though I cannot count upon it, that the divine goodness will still be exercised towards me, either by prolonging the duration of my happiness to the close of life, or by giving me fortitude to support any melancholy reverse which may happen to me as well as to many others. My future fortune is unknown but to Him, in whose hand is our destiny, and who can make our very afflictions subservient to our benefit."

We conclude our notice of this distinguished man and profound philosopher, by subjoining the following epitaph, which was written by himself, many years previously to his death:


The body of
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Printer,
Like the cover of an old book,
its contents torn out,
and stript of its lettering and gilding,
lies here food for worms;
Yet the work itself shall not be lost,
For it will (as he believed) appear once more
in a new and more beautiful edition
Corrected and amended
by the Author.

Source: Rev. Charles A. Goodrich Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856. Pages 261-282. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)

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Last modified January 2, 2004