Quotation by Judith K. Shklar

What strikes one about the Autobiography is its complete lack of sentimentality. Franklin had a pronounced character which he presented very acutely, but he did not think of himself as primarily a unique inner self. He was all his many roles, although he put the first above all others, as he wrote in his testament: "I, Benjamin Franklin, of Philadelphia, printer, late Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the court of France, now President of Pennsylvania." There is much pride of achievement in this, but no vanity at all. It is also a wholly social ego.... The distance between Franklin and Hawthorne is immense. Franklin was the sum of his actions, while Hawthorne and we have romantic egos that cannot bear the notion that one's manner of acting one's roles measures true character. For Hawthorne there was a private self that was one's true, supreme, and most honest part. That is why he thought it important to take the "private and domestic view of public men," and why the discrepancy between the two made him so bitter. For Franklin the domestic self was one among several. No remnants of an immortal soul bothered him, and he needed no replacement for it. His private affections were not politically relevant.
Judith K. Shklar (b. 1928), Latvian–born U.S. political scientist, educator. Ordinary Vices, ch. 2, Harvard University Press (1984).
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