DH Lawrence: On Benjamin Franklin


This essay of Lawrence speaks of differences in beliefs. Some writers say that the insights of Lawrence here, are insights of genius, some hyperbolically angry, and some mad. Benjamin Franklin (1706-90, America’s Renaissance, model for the American Dream) barbed himself with a list of virtues, and DH Lawrence (born in Notthinghamshire England) made his list, as well.
Both authors are illustrious and profound, each style and belief has its own suitability and approach to life. Franklin is stiff and Lawrence is aggressive. Franklin seems dull, and Lawrence seems bursting. The other commendable for prudence, and the other commendable for freedom. It’s like having two hands: the right and the left. In parables though, neutrality deems no loyalty, but weakness.
Check and see, that both are talking of almost one thing; only in different contexts like when people have different religions, and different food preferences, among other things. Lawrence points though, that he was just playing: There is my creed. He, who runs may read. He who prefers to crawl, or to go by gasoline can call it rot. Then for a list, it is rather fun to play at Benjamin.
Both authors talked about the following. See the conflict that was aroused in Lawrence’ thought. (1-4 of 13)
1. Temperance
Benjamin Franklin: Eat not to fullness, drink not to elevation.
DH Lawrence: Eat and caroused with Bacchus, or munch dry bread with Jesus, but don’t sit down without one of the gods.
Thought: The first speaks of gluttony like overeating and being drunk as literally taken; the other speaks of happiness together, with who you believe.
2. Silence
BF: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
DHL: Be still when you have nothing to say when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say and say it hot.
Thought: Avoid gossip. The second is silence, but more than silence is bravery of the soul: shout out!
3. Order
BF: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
DHL: Know that you are responsible to the gods inside you and to the men in whom the gods are manifest. Recognize your superiors and your inferiors, according to the gods. This is the root of all order.
Thought: We remember Ecclesiastes, in the old testament here (Holy Bible). There is time for everything. The other looks at responsibility to both bosses and constituents.
4. Resolution
BF: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
DHL: Resolve to abide in your own deepest promptings, and to sacrifice the smaller thing to the greater. Kill when you must, and be killed the same: the must coming from the gods inside you, or from the men you recognize the Holy Ghost.
Thought: Act to succeed. The next one is to face situations squarely.
In any of the lists both involved, an array of thoughts into labyrinths of ideas, an inspiration and a challenge, and stars from above speaking to us.

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