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FRANKLIN’s personal celebrity has so eclipsed his literary fame, that justice has hardly been done to him as a writer and an essayist; and yet he has himself confessed that he was indebted mainly to his pen for his advancement in public life. He was singularly indifferent, however, to any reputation or profit that might accrue from his writings, and left it to his friends to collect and republish them as they might please. The consequences of this indifference are manifest even to the present time, in the absence of any cheap popular edition of his select works. He has been posthumously fortunate, however, in having so able an editor as Mr. Sparks, whose ten volumes of the Works of Franklin, with a memoir and notes, leave nothing to be desired in the way of an ample and accurate collection.
But Franklin's is a name so eminently and intimately popular, that the want of a collection of his best works, more generally accessible in respect to size and cost, has long been experienced; and to supply this want the present edition is offered. In the introductory memoir, the editor has been indebted for some new facts to the French memoirs by Mignet and Sainte-Beuve; and the works of John Adams, recently published, have supplied many interesting details, not embraced in any other biographical account. All Franklin's purely literary productions of merit are contained in the present collection, with liberal specimens of his philosophical writings, and the choicest of his letters. Much that he wrote was of merely local and temporary interest, designed to affect provincial legislation; and, though valuable to the historian, is unprofitable to the general reader of a subsequent time. The fine portrait, forming the frontispiece, is from the painting in the gallery of Versailles, and is now, it is believed, engraved for the first time. It is supposed to have been taken some eight years before that by Duplessis, a copy of which, cut on wood, is placed in juxtaposition.
IX. — A Memorial — Death of Mrs. Franklin — Husband and Wife —
XII. — Welcomes — President of Pennsylvania — Delegate to the Conven-