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PREFACE BY THE EDITOR.

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As biography is a species of history which records the lives and characters of remarkable persons, it consequently becomes an interseting subject, and is of general utility. It would be but fair to assert, that almost every civilized nation on the globe has, at one period or other, produced distinguished individuals in various stations of life.

Mr. Jefferson, the President of the United States of America, in his “ Notes on Virginia,” thus speaks in answer to the assertion of the Abbé Raynal, that “ Anierica has not yet produced one good poet, one able mathematician, one inan of genius, in a single art, or a sin. gle science.”_" When we shall have existed as a na.

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 Engiish a Shak. speare and Milton, should this reproach be still true we will inquire from what unfriendly causes it has proceeded, that the other countries of Europeurd quarters of the eart shall not !iave inscried any home in the roll of poetoj In wat voor have produceti & Washington, whose memory will be adored while liberty shall have votaries ;, v hose rame will triumph over time, and will in future 'agos assame sits just station among the most celebrveit, werthies of the world, when that wretched philosophy shall be forgotten which would arra'ıge him’anong the degeneracies of nature. In physics, we nate, proditiced a FRANKLIN, than whom no one of ths prosen: ago 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, the most emient professor in this science the world has ever produced. The Essays of this great writer is one of the best proofs we can adduce of his transcendent abilities; and America claims the enlightened FRANKLIN, a man who has not left his equal behind him, and whose Life and Writings are the subject of the following sheets.

world ;

To say more in this place of our Author would be anticipating what is hereafter mentioned : it will therefore 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 gentlemen in Philadelphia, upon the subject of Dr. Franklin's memoirs of his own lite, will not, it is presumed, be considered inapplicable :

“HACKNEY, JUNE 19, 1790. « Dear Sir,

I am hardly able to tell you how kindly I tare 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 particular gratitude. The account which he has left of his life will show, in a striking example, how a man, by talents, industry, and integrity, Inay rise from obscurity to the first eminence and consequence in the

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 melancholy regret that I think of his death ; but to death we are all bound by the irrevocablu o der of nature, and in looking forward to it, there is comfort in. beirtg able to reflecte that we have not lived in vain, and that all the use al; and virtuous shall meet in a better country beyond the grave.

“ Dr. Franklin, in the das letter I received from him, after mentioning:his &gt að innrøities, observes, that it has been kindly orderedoby che: Author of Nature, that, as we draw nearer the conclusion of life, we are furnished with foreheys to Wean us from it, amongst which one of the strongtes is the loss of dear friends. I was delighted: with the account you gave in your letter of the honour shown to his memory in Philadelphia, and by Congress; and yesterday I received a high additional pleasure, by being informed that the National ssembly of France had determined to go into mournfor him. What a glorious scene is opened there ! annals of the world furnish no parallel to it. One honours of our departed friend is, that he has ited much to it.

with great respect,
our bliged and very humble servant,

“RICHARD PRICE"

LIFE OF FRANKLIN.

MY DEAR Son,

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; and the journey I undertook for that purpose. To be acquainted with the particulars of my parentage and life, many of which are unknown to you, I flatter my. self will afford the same pleasure to you as to me. I shall relate them upon 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 degree of ceiebrity in the world. A constant good fortune has attended me through every period of life to my present advanced age ; and my 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.

When I reflect, as I frequently do, upon the felicity I have enjoyed, I sometimes say to myself, that were the offer made me, I would engage to run again from beginning to end, the same career of life. All I would ask, should be the privilege of an author, to correct, in a second edition, certain errors of the first. I could wish, likewise, if it were in my power, to change some trivial incidents and events for others more favourable. Were this, however, denied me, still would I not decline the offer. But since a rupetition of life cannot vake place, there is nothing which, in my opinion, 60 nearly resembles it, as to call to niind all its circumstances, and, to render their remembrance more duable, coinmit them to writing. By thus employing myself, I shall yield to the inclination, so natural in old mon, to talk of themselves and their exploits, and may freely follow my bent, without being tiresome to those who, from respect to my age, might think themselves obliged to listen to me; as they will be at liberty to read me or not as they please. In fine,-and I may as well avow it, since nobody would believe me were I to deny it--I shall, perhaps, hy this employment, gratify my vanity. Scarcely, indeed bave i ever lıcard or read the introductory phrase “ I may say without vanity,but some striking and characteristic instance of vanity has immediately followed. The generality of menhate vanity in others, however strongly they may be tinctured with it themselves : for myself, I pay obeisance to it wherever I meet with it, persuaded that it is advantageous, as well to the individual whom it governs, as to those who are within the sphere of its influence. Of consequence, it would, in many cases, not be wholly absurd, that a man should count his vanity among the other sweets of life, and give thanks to Providence for the blessing.

And here let me with all humility acknowledge, that to Divine Providence I am indebted for the felicity I have hitherto enjoyed. It is that power alone which has furnished me with the means I have employed, and that has crowned them with success. My faith in this respect, leads me to hope, though I cannot count upon it that the Divine goodness will still be exercised towards me, either by prolonging the duration of my happiness to the close of life, or by giving me fortitude to support any melancholy reverse, which may happen to me, as to so many others. My future fortune is unknown but to Him in whose hand is our destiny, and wlio can make our very aflictions subservient to our benefit.

One of my my uncles, desirous, like myself, of collecting anecdotes of our family, gave me some notes from which I have derived many particulars respecting our ancestors. From these I learn that they had lived in the same village (Eaton in Northamptonshire,) upon a freeholi of about thirty arres, for the space at least of three hundred years. How long they had resided there, prior to thot poriod, my uncle had been unable to discovar; probably ever since the institution of surnames, whon they tock the appellation of Franklin,

which had formerly been the name of a particular order of individuals. *

This petty estate would not have sufficed for their subsistence, had they not added the trade of blacksmith, which was perpetuated in the family down to my uncle's time, the eldest son having been uniformly brought up to this employment: a custom which both he and my father observed with respect to their eldest sons.

In the researches I made at Eaton, I found no account of their births, marriages, and deaths, earlier than the year 1555, the parish register not extending farther back than that period. This register informed me that I was the youngest son of the youngest branch of the family, counting five generations. My grandfather, Thomas, was born in 1598, lived at Eaton till he was too old to continue his trade, when he retired to Banbury, in Oxfordshire, where his son John, who was a dyer, resided, and with whom my father was apprenticed. He dicd, and was buried there: we saw

* As a proof that Franklin was anciently the common name of an order or rank in England, see Judge Fortesque, De laudibus legum Anglia, written about the year 1412, in which is the following passage, to show that good juries might easily be formed in any part of England.

“ Regio etiam illa, ita respersa refertaque est possessoribus terrarum et agrorum, quod in ea, villula tam parva reperiri non poterit, in qua non est est miles, armi. ger, vel pater-familias, qualis ibidem franklin vulgariter nuncupatur, magnisdltatus possessionibus, nec non libere tenentes et alii valecti plurimi, suis patrimoniis sufficientes, ad faciendum juratam, in forma prænotata.”

“ Moreover, the same country is so filled and replenished with landed menne, that therein so small a thorpe cannot be found wherein dwelleth not a knight, an esquire, or such an householder as is there commonly called a franklin enriched with great possessions; and also other freeholders and many yeomen, able for their livelihoods to make a jury in forin aforementioned.”

[old Translation. Chaucer too calls his country gentleman a franklin, and after describing his good housekeeping, thus char. acterises him :

This worthy franklin bore a purse of silk
Fixed to his girdle, white as morning milk;
Knight of the shiré, first justice at the assize,
To help the poor, the doubtful to advise.
In all employments, generous, just be proved
Renown'd för courtesy, by all beloved.

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