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The Essays and Letters of Dr. Franklin are introduced here by the editor who first collected and presented them in a regular form to the world. From their instructive nature, it was impossible that, in a series of English classics, they should not constitute a link. Few authors have written in a more pleasing or more impressive style. It is by playing round the head that he reaches the heart. Of a great poet it has been said, that “ he lisp'd in numbers ;" and with equal truth may it be affirmed of our philosopher, that, in the first efforts of his mind, he thought in proverbs, which have been denominated the wisdom of nations. His earliest productions, particularly his Poor Richard, abundantly luxuriant in this respect, may be adduced in proof; and the same quality will be found sparkling here and there through the whole of these little volumes. Like his writings, his life too was eminently instructive. Sober, diligent, studious, he rose from low beginnings (a journeyman printer) to respectable offices in the state, and was at last chosen to represent bis country as ambassador to the court of France. Read him, imitate him, my young friends : you will find it the sure way to wealth, to honours, and to happiness.
ESSAYS AND LETTERS
MORAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL SUBJECTS.
THE BUSY-BODY.No. I. From the American Weekly Dlercury, from Tues
day, Jan. 28, to Tuesday, Feb. 4, 1728--9. MR. ANDREW BRADFORD, I DESIGN this to acquaint you, that I, who have long been one of your courteous readers, have lately entertained some thought of setting up for an author myself: not out of the least vanity, I assure you, or desire of showing my parts, but purely for the good of my country.
I have often observed with concern, that your Mercury is not always equally entertaining. The delay of ships expected in, and want of fresh advices from Europe, make it frequently very dull; and I find the freezing of our river has the same effect on news as trade. With more concern have I conti. nually observed the growing vices and follies of my country folk : and though reformation is properly the concern of every man, that is, every one ought to mend one ; yet it is too true in this case, that what is every body's business is nobody's business, and the business is done accordingly. I therefore, upon mature deliberation, think fit to take nobody's business wholly into my own hands; and, out of zeal for the public good, desigu to erect myself into a kind of censor morum ; purposing, with your allowance, to make use of the Weekly Mercury as a vehicle, in which my remonstrances shall be con, veyed to the world.
I am sensible I have, in this particular, undertaken a very unthankful office, and expect little besides my labour for my pains. Nay, it is probable, I may displease a great number of your readers, who will not very well like to pay ten shillings a year for being told of their faults. But as most people delight in censure, when they themselves are not the objects of it, if any are offended at my publicly exposing their private vices, I promise they shall have the satisfaction, in a very little time, of seeing their good friends and neighbours in the same circumstances.
However, let the fair sex be assured, that I shall always treat them and their affairs with the utmost decency and respect. I intend now and then to de. dicate a chapter wholly to their service; and if my lectures any way contribute to the embellishment of their minds and brightening of their understandings, without offending their modesty, I doubt not of having their favour and encouragement.
It is certain, that no country in the world pro. duces naturally finer spirits thau ours, men of genius for every kind of science, and capable of acquiring to perfection every qualification that is in esteem among mankind. But as few here have the advantage of good books, for want of which,