« AnteriorContinuar »
MANY of the papers which compose this volume, have been long known to the public ; but several, particularly of the concluding papers, now first appear in the name of their author. To this latter class of the papers, notes are prefixed shewing the means by which they were obtained, and ascertained to have been the writings of Dr. Franklin.
It may require explanation why some of the papers of a literary and moral cast, and some two or three of a date subsequent to the revolution, should be comprehended in a volume which professes to give political papers before the revolution.
Perhaps it arose from the Editor's own idea of politics, which he deems inseparable from morals; that the papers of this description are placed here. The Editor has always from his youth been accustomed to consider Dr. Franklin, as having by his writings and his influence for a long course of years, shaped and formed the American character, to that firm calmness, that deliberative activity, that patient frugality, that constancy of temper which were so necessary and appeared so conspicuous at the critical and trying period of the revolution. His ethical as well as his economical writings had all these moral tendencies; and this volume exhibits memorials of the vastness of his conceptions, and his intuitive sagacity. The Albany union papers of 1754, exhibit a striking anticipation of those proud events which were realised thirty years afterwards; while the Almanac of Poor Richard, which carried its amusement and its morals to the fire side of the American farmer, laid the foundation of correct thinking and economy, so congenial with the comparatively infant and rude state of society at the period in which they appeared ; that happy method of reasoning which took up society in its first elements, and taught the exact use and value of every thing it handled ; which subdued the vanities, and reconciled men to privations; which excited industry, and established habits of contentment, in the midst of the wilderness which through this culture was one day destined to bloom with the fruits of liberty and civilization.
His examinations before the House of Commons and Privy Council, afford astonishing evidences of firmness, sagacity, intelligence, and collection of mind; while his essay entitled Plain Truth, written so early as 1744, illustrates the same character of mental energy and public spirit, twenty years preceding. His Canada pamphlet, and Causes of the American Discontents, are conspicuous for their political matter, and their chaste sim. plicity of style. Even his essays on Discoveries, and on the Usefulness of the Mathematics, have all the same bearing, the promotion of knowlege to the bettering of human society. His essay on Public Men, p. 401, perhaps had some personal allusion ; but it is one of those happy strokes of genius, which is calculated for all times, for the age of Socrates and Athens, as well as for that in which it was written, and for the present day.
OF THE FOURTH VOLUME.
POLITICAL PAPERS BEFORE THE REVOLUTION.
Observations on the increase of mankind and peopling of countries,
Appendix No. I, Royal Proclamation of settlement grants, 7th
No. II. State of King's quit-rents,
On self-denial, (same, Feb. 1734)
BEFORE THE REVOLUTION
Containing, I. Reasons and Motives on which the PLAN OF UNION FOR
THE COLONIES was formed; II. Reasons against partial Unions, IH. And the Plan of Union drawn by Benjamin Franklin, and inani: mously agreed to by the Commissioners from New Hampshire, Massaa chusetts Bay, Rhode Island, New Jerseys Maryland, and Penno sylvania,' met in Congress at Albany, in July 1754, to consider of the best Means of defending the King's Dominions in America, W,
c. a War being then apprehended; with the Reasons or Motives for each Article of the Plan.
Benjamin Franklin, was one of the four commissioners
1 The reader must be informed here, that this plan was intended for all the colonies; but, commissioners from some of them not attending (from causes which are not specified) their consent to it was not, in this respect, 'universally expressed. Governor Pownall, however, says, “ That he had an opportunity of conversing with, and knowing the sentiments of the commissioners appointed by their respective provinces, to attend this congress, to which they were called by the crown; of learning from their experience and judgment, the actual state of the American business and interest; and of hearing amongst them, the grounds and reasons of that American union, which they then had under deliberation, and transmitted the plan of to England ;” and he adds, in another place, “ that the sentiments of our colonies were collected in an au. thentic manner on this subject in the plan proposed by Dr. Franklin, and unanimously agreed to in congress. See Governor Pownall's Administration of the British Colonies. Vol. I. p. 13, Edit. 4, 1974, and Vol. II. p. 86.
2“ Mr. (since Governor) Hutchinson was one of the commissioners for Massachusett's Bay." Governor Pownall as above, Vol.I. II. p. 144. “ Thomas Pownall, Esq. brother to John Pownall, Esq. one of the secretaries to the board of trade, and afterwards Governor of Massachusetts, was upon them spot.” History of the British Empire in North America, p. 26. VOL. IV.