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master of that, proceeded to the next, and so on. He had arranged them in the order he thought would most facilitate their gradual acquisition, beginning with temperance and proceeding to silence; for the mastery of those which were easiest would help him to attain the more difficult. He has, therefore, left us at liberty to judge which were his most persistent sins.
He had a little book with a page for each virtue, and columns arranged for the days of the week, so that he could give himself marks for failure or suc
He began by devoting a week to each virtue, by which arrangement he could go through the complete course in thirteen weeks, or four courses in a year.
His intense moral earnestness and introspection were doubtless inherited from his New England origin. But when he was in the midst of all this creed- and code-making, he records of himself:
“That hard to be governed passion of youth had hurried me frequently into intrigues with low women that fell in my way, which were attended with some expense and great inconvenience, besides a continual risk to my health by a distemper, which of all things I dreaded, though by great good luck I escaped it.”
His biographer, Parton, reminds us that his liturgy has no prayer against this vice, and that about a year after the date of the liturgy his illegitimate son Wil
m was born. The biographer then goes on to say that Franklin was “too sincere and logical a man to go before his God and ask assistance against a fault which he had not fully resolved to overcome.”
There is, however, a prayer in the liturgy against lasciviousness. He had not yet paid Mr. Vernon the money he had embezzled, although he was the author of a prayer asking to be delivered from deceit and fraud, and another against unfaithfulness in trust.*
It is obvious that this inconsistency is very like human nature, especially youthful human nature. There is nothing wonderful in it. It was simply the struggle which often takes place in boys who are both physically and mentally strong. The only thing unusual is that the person concerned has made a complete revelation of it.
Such things are generally deeply concealed from the public. But that curious frankness which was mingled with Franklin's astuteness has in his own case opened wide the doors,
It has been commonly stated in his biographies that he had but one illegitimate child, a son; but from a manuscript letter in the possession of the Pennsylvania Historical Society, written by John Foxcroft, February 2, 1772, and never heretofore printed, it appears that he had also an illegitimate daughter, married to John Foxcroft:
“ PHILAD: Feby 20, 1772. “ DEAR SIR
“I have the happiness to acquaint you that your Daughter was safely brot to Bed the 20th ulto and presented me with a sweet little girl, they are both in good spirits and are likely to do very well.
“ I was seized with a Giddyness in my head the Day before yesterday wch alarms me a good deal as I had 20 oz of blood taken
* Some years afterwards, when he had become prosperous, he restored the money to Mr. Vernon, with interest to date.
from me and took physick wch does not seem in the least to have relieved me.
“I am hardly able to write this. Mrs F joins me in best affections to yourself and compts to Mrs Stevenson and Mr and Mrs Huson.
“I am Dr Sir
“John FoxcroFT. “Mrs Franklin, Mrs Bache, little Ben & Family at Burlington are all well. I had a letter from ye Goyr yesterday J. F.”
Among the Franklin papers in the State Department at Washington there are copies of a number of letters which Franklin wrote to Foxcroft, and in three of them-October 7, 1772, November 3, 1772, and March 3, 1773-he sends “ love to my daughter." There is also in Bigelow's edition of his works * a letter in which he refers to Mrs. Foxcroft as his daughter. The letter I have quoted above was written while Franklin was in England as the representative of some of the colonies, and is addressed to him at his Craven Street lodgings. Foxcroft, who was postmaster of Philadelphia, seems to have been on friendly terms with the rest of Franklin's family.
Mrs. Bache, whom Foxcroft mentions in the letter, was Franklin's legitimate daughter, Sarah, who was married. The family at Burlington was the family of the illegitimate son, William, who was the royal governor of New Jersey. This extraordinarily mixed family of legitimates and illegitimates seems to have maintained a certain kind of harmony.
* Vol. v. p. 201.