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OF THE LATE
DOCTOR BENJAMIN FRANKLIN:
HIS LIFE, WRITTEN BY HIMSELF,
ESSAYS, HUMOROUS, MORAL & LITERARY,
CHIEFLY IN THE MANNER OF
PRINTED FOR P. WOGAN, P. BYRNE, J. MOORE,
AND W. JONES.
I 79 3.
PREFA C E.
THE volume that is here prefented to the Public, confifts of two parts: the Life of Dr. Franklin; and a Collection of Mifcellaneous Effays, the work of that author.
It is already known to many, that Dr. Franklin amufed himself, towards the close of his life, with writing memoirs of his own hiftory. These memoirs were brought down to the year 1757. Together with fome other manuscripts they were left behind him at his death, and were confidered as conftituting a part of his pofthumous property. It is a little extraordinary that, under these circumstances, interefting as they are, from the celebrity of the character of which they treat, and from the critical fituation of the prefent times, they fhould fo long have been with-held from the Public. A tranflation of them appeared in France near two years ago, coming down to the year 1731. There can be no fufficient reason, that what has thus been fubmitted to the perufal of Europe, fhould not be made acceffible to those to whom Dr. Franklin's language is native. The hiftoof his life, as far as page 149 of the prefent volume, is tranflated from that publication.
The ftyle of thefe memoirs is uncommonly pleafing. The story is told with the moft unreserved fincerity, and without any falfe colouring or ornament. We see, in every page, that the author examined his fubject with the eye of a mafter, and related no incidents, the springs and origin of which he did not perfectly understand. It is this that gives fuch exquifite and uncommon perfpicuity to the detail and delight in the review. The tranflator has endeavoured, as he went along, to conceive the probable manner in which Dr. Franklin expreffed his ideas in his English manuscript, and he hopes to be forgiven if this enquiry fhall occafionally have subjected him to the charge of a style in any respect bald or low to imitate the admirable fimplicity of the author, is no easy task.
The Effays, which are now, for the first time, brought together from various refources, will be found to be more mifcellaneous than any of Dr. Franklin's that have formerly been collected, and will therefore be more generally amufing. Dr. Franklin tells us, in his Life, that he was an affiduous imitator of Addison, and from fome of these papers it will be admitted that he was not an unhappy one. The public will be amufed with following a great philofopher in his relaxations, and observing in what respects philosophy tends to elucidate and improve the most common fubjects. The editor has purposely avoided such papers as, by their scientifical nature, were lefs adapted for general perusal. These he may probably hereafter publish in a volume by themselves.
He fubjoins a letter from the late celebrated and amiable Dr. Price, to a gentleman in Philadelphia, upon the fubject of Dr. Franklin's memoirs of his own life.
« Hackney, June 19, 1790.
“I am hardly able to tell you how kindly I take the letters with which you favour me. Your laft, containing an account of the death of our excellent friend Dr. Franklin, and the circumstances attending it, deferves my particular gratitude. The account which he has left of his life will fhow, in a ftriking example, how a man, by talents, industry, and integrity, may rise from obfcurity to the firft eminence and confequence in the world; but it brings his hiftory no lower than the year 1757, and I understand that since he fent over the copy, which I have read, he has been able to make no additions to it. It is with a melancholy regret I think of his death; but to death we are all bound by the irreverfible order of nature, and in looking forward to it, there is comfort in being able to reflect-that we have not lived in vain, and that all the useful and virtuous fhall meet in a better country beyond the grave.
“Dr. Franklin, in the last letter I received from him, after mentioning his age and infirmities, observes, that it has been kindly ordered by the Author of nature, that, as we draw nearer the conclufion of life, we are furnished with more helps to wean us from it, among which one of the ftrongeft is the lofs of dear friends. I was delighted with the account you gave in your letter of the honour fhewn to his memory at Philadelphia, and by