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be still further improved by using paper and ink not quite so near of a color?" For all these reasons, I cannot but wish that our American printers would in their editions avoid these fancied improvements, and thereby render their works more agreeable to foreigners in Europe, to the great advantage of our bookselling commerce.

Further, to be more sensible of the advantage of clear and distinct printing, let us consider the assistance it affords in reading well aloud to an auditory. In so doing the eye generally slides forward three or four words before the voice. If the sight clearly distinguishes what the coming words are, it gives time to order the modulation of the voice to express them properly. But if they are obscurely printed or disguised, by omitting the capitals and long s's or otherwise, the reader is apt to modulate wrong; and finding he has done so, is obliged to go back and begin the sentence again, which lessens the pleasure of the hearers. This leads me to mention an old error in our mode of printing. We are sensible, that when a question is met with in reading, there is a proper variation to be used in the management of the voice. We have therefore a point called an interrogation, affixed to the question, in order to distinguish it. But this is absurdly placed at its end; so that the reader does not discover it till he finds he has wrongly modulated his voice, and is therefore obliged to begin again the sentence. To prevent this the Spanish printers, more sensibly, place an interrogation at the beginning as well as at the end of a question. We have another

error of the same kind in printing plays, where something often occurs that is marked as spoken aside.

But the word aside is placed at the end of the speech, when it ought to precede it, as a direction to the reader, that he may govern his voice accordingly. The practice of our ladies in meeting five or six together to form a little busy party, where each is employed in some useful work while one reads to them, is so commendable in itself, that it deserves the attention of authors and printers to make it as pleasing as possible, both to the reader and hearers.

After these general observations, permit me to make one that I imagine may regard your interest. It is that your spelling-book is miserably printed here, so as in many places to be scarcely legible, and on wretched paper. If this is not attended to, and the new one lately advertised as coming out should be preferable in these respects, it may hurt the future sale of yours.

I congratulate you on your marriage, of which the newspapers inform me. My best wishes attend you; being with sincere esteem, sir, your most obedient and most humble servant, B. FRANKLIN.


Philadelphia, March 9, 1790.

I am glad you have at length received the portrait of Governor Yale from his family, and deposited it in the college library. He was a great and good man, and had the merit of doing infinite service to your country by his munificence to that institution. The honor you propose doing me, by placing mine in the same room with his, is much too great for my deserts; but you always had a partiality for

me, and to that it must be ascribed. I am however too much obliged to Yale College, the first learned

society that took notice of me and adorned me with its honors, to refuse a request that comes from it through so esteemed a friend. But I do not think any one of the portraits you mention as in my possession, worthy of the situation and company you You have an excellent artist propose to place it in. If he will undertake to make one

lately arrived.*

for you, I shall cheerfully pay the expense: but he must not delay setting about it, or I may slip through his fingers; for I am now in my 85th year, and very infirm.


I send with this a very learned work as it seems to me, on the ancient Samaritan coins, lately printed in Spain, and at least curious for the beauty of the impression. Please to accept it for your college library. I have subscribed for the encyclopedia now printing here, with the intention of presenting it to the college. I shall probably depart before the work is finished, but shall leave directions for its continuance to the end. With this you will receive some of the first numbers.

You desire to know something of my religion. It is the first time I have been questioned upon it. But I cannot take your curiosity amiss, and shall endeavor in a few words to gratify it. Here is my creed: I believe in one God, the creator of the universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting


Supposed to be STUART, an eminent portrait-painter, then just returned from Europe to his native country.


its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them.* to JESUS OF NAZARETH, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is like to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatise upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as probably it has, of making his doctrines more respected and more observed; especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss by distinguishing the believers, in his government of the world, with any peculiar marks of his displeasure. I shall only add respecting myself, that having experienced the goodness of that Being in conducting me prosperously through a long life, I have no doubt of its continuance in the next, though without the smallest conceit of meriting such goodness. My sentiments on this head you will see in the copy of an old letter enclosed,† which I wrote in answer to one from an old religionist whom I had relieved in a paralytic case by electricity, and who being afraid


"For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight,
His can't be wrong whose life is in the right."

+ Supposed to be the Letter to George Whitfield, dated June 6, 1753, p. 1.

I should grow proud upon it, sent me his serious, though rather impertinent, caution. I send you also the copy of another letter,* which will show something of my disposition relating to religion. With great and sincere esteem and affection, I am, &c. B. FRANKLIN.

P.S.-Had not your college some present of books from the king of France? Please to let me know if you had an expectation given you of more, and the nature of that expectation. I have a reason for the inquiry.

I confide that you will not expose me to criticisms and censures, by publishing any part of this communication to you. I have ever let others enjoy their religious sentiments without reflecting on them for those that appeared to me unsupportable or even absurd. All sects here, and we have a great variety, have experienced my good-will in assisting them with subscriptions for the building their new places of worship; and as I have never opposed any of their doctrines, I hope to go out of the world in peace with them all.




(Without date.)

I have read your manuscript with some attention. By the argument it contains against a particular Providence, though you allow a general Providence, you strike at the foundation of all religion. For without the belief of a Providence that takes cognizance of, guards and guides, and may favor particular persons, there is no motive to wor

* Uncertain: perhaps the following one.

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