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PREFACE

TO

THE FIRST EDITION

OF THE

PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE.

Familiar letters have been usually considered as exhibiting a portraiture of the human mind; and though perhaps they are not always to be so regarded, especially in the intercourse of public men upon subjects involving particular interests and questions, of national policy; yet even from these documents the most valuable materials of history are drawn, and the secret springs of great events are disclosed. Hence it is, that a deserved importance has ever been attached to the correspondence of persons who have figured with dis

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tinction in political revolutions, and the foundation of new states : for hereby are unfolded the motives of individuals, and the influence of parties; from whose pertinacity and intrigues proceed conflicts, projects, and establishments which the agitators never contemplated, and which the most sagacious observers of human nature could not have anticipated.

Among the changes that have taken place in the condition of political society, the separation of the American colonies from the parent country has been by far the most prolific and extensive in its effects of any in the history of modern ages.

It is presumed, therefore, that little need be said on the value of the correspondence of DR. FRANKLIN, whose extraordinary abilities as a statesman were felt and acknowledged in both countries, and by persons of opposite sentiments. But what renders his letters on the public concerns in which he was engaged peculiarly interesting, is the spirit of candour that runs through the whole of thein, and the style of simplicity by which they are recommended as models of epis

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PREFACE:

tolary composition, and stamped beyond all questioü as authorities of the first character; though certainly not written with a view to publication, Here will be seen to equal advantage, the philosopher and the man of business, the moralist and negociator, the profound legislator, and the familiar friend, who opens his mind and delivers his sentiments with the same ingenuousness on matters of science and policy, the conduct of private life and the interests of nations. The correspondence contained in this collection, is indeed a store of the soundest lessons of practical wisdom upon subjects of universal moment, and it is also a repository of information which will afford the best instruction to politicians, and will prove a sure guide to the future historian, who shall undertake the task of recording the several stages that have led to the establishment of American Independence, with the consequences of that event upon the states of Europe. The MEMOIRS and CORRESPONDENCE of DR. FRANKLIN will shew much more clearly the great chain on which the fate of nations depends, than the debates of senates, the cabals of cabinets, or the details of battles : - and to an Englishman, the Letters, now for the first time published, will be curious and important in a very high degree, as throwing a strong light upon the early part of the present reign, and upon the characters of those persons who had a principal share in the counsels which produced the dismemberment of the British empire, and the creation of a power, which, from being a dependent state, has become its most formidable rival.

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