Abbildungen der Seite


EVERY civilized nation on the globe has, at one period or other, produced distinguished individuals, whose actions have excited the admiration of their contemporaries, and rendered them worthy of being handed down as examples to posterity. The Memoirs of Dr. Franklin are interesting in a high degree, and worthy the perusal of every friend to science or humanity.

Mr. Jefferson, the President of the United States of America, in his 'Notes on Virginia,' thus speaks in answer to the assertion of the Abbe Raynal, that 'America has not yet produced one good poet, one able mathematician, one man of genius, in a single art, or a single science.'-'When we shall have existed as a nation,' says Mr. J. as long as the Greeks did before they produced a Homer, the Romans a Virgil, the French a Racine and Voltaire, the English a Shakspeare and Milton, should this reproach be still true, we will inquire from what unfriendly causes it has proceeded, that the other countries of Europe and quarters of the earth shall not have inscribed any name in the roll of poets. In war we have produced a Washington, whose memory will be adored while liberty shall have votaries; whose name will triumph over time, and will in future ages assume its just station among the most celebrated worthies of the world, when that wretched philosophy shall be forgotten which would arrange him among the degeneracies of nature. In physics we have produced a FRANKLIN, than whom no one of the present age has made more important discoveries, nor has enriched philosophy with more, or more ingenious solutions of the phenomena of nature. We have supposed Mr. Rittenhouse second to no astronomer living; that in genius he must be the first, because he is self-taught,' &c.

In philosophy, England can boast of a Bacon, whose Essays is one of the best proofs we can adduce of his tran

scendent abilities; and America claims the enlightened FRANKLIN, Whose Life and Writings are the subject of the following sheets.

It will only be necessary to add, that due attention has been paid in the selection of such of his productions as may be adapted to general perusal. The following letter from the celebrated Dr. Price to a gentleman in Philadelphia, respecting Dr. Franklin, will not, it is presumed, be deemed inapplicable :


Hackney, June 19, 1790.

'1 AM hardly able to tell you how kindly I take the letters with which you favour me. Your last containing an account of the death of our excellent friend, Dr. Franklin, and the circumstances attending it, deserves my peculiar gratitude. The account which he has left of his life will show, in a striking example, how a man, by talents, industry, and integrity, may rise from obscurity to the first eminence and consequence in the world; but it brings his history no lower than the year 1757, and I understand that since he sent over the copy which I have read, he has been able to make no additions to it. It is with a melancholy regret that I think of his death; but to death we are all bound by the irrevocable 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 shall 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 conclusion of life, we are furnished with more helps to wean us from it, amongst which one of the strongest is the loss of dear friends. I was delighted with the account you gave in your letter of the honour shown to his memory at Philadelphia, and by congress; and yesterday I received a high additional pleasure by being informed that the National Assembly of France had determined to go into mourning for him.-What a glorious scene is opened there! The annals of the world furnish no parallel to it. One of the honours of our departed friend is, that he has contributed much to it.

I am, with great respect,

Your obliged and very humble servant,






I HAVE amused myself with collecting some little anecdotes of my family. You may remember the inquiries I made when you were with me in England, among such of my relations as were then living: To and the journey I undertook for that purpose. be acquainted with the particulars of my parentage and life, many of which are unknown to you, I flatter myself will afford the same pleasure to you as to me. I shall relate them on paper: it will be an agreeable employment of a week's uninterrupted leisure, which I promise myself during my present retirement in the country. There are also other motives which induce me to the undertaking. From the bosom of poverty and obscurity in which I drew my first breath, and spent my earliest years, I have raised myself to a state of opulence and to some deA constant good gree of celebrity in the world. fortune has attended me through every period of life to my present advanced age; descendants may be desirous of learning what were the means of which I made use, and which, thanks to the assisting hand of Providence, have proved so eminently successful. They may, also, should they ever be placed in a similar situation, derive some advantage from my narrative.



« ZurückWeiter »