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On presenting the second volume of the National Portrait GalLERY of Distinguished Americans to the public, the conductors find themselves in a position again to express their thanks for the encouragement they have continually received from every section of the Union; and also for the valuable assistance which has been offered to them by the talented contributors to the literary portion of the work.
It is unnecessary here to speak of the unwearied exertions which have been used in collecting and arranging the materials of which this volume is composed; a moment's reflection, and a glance at the extensive range of our subjects, will show that the labor has not been light; but it is proper to state, and we feel justified in saying, that as conductors of a national work, we have never lost sight of our responsibility to the public, but have faithfully endeavored to fulfil every pledge given at the commencement.
We only ask this to be borne in mind, that the publication of so extensive a series of portraits, in the same space of time, had never before been attempted in this country, and that in general, the talents of our Engravers had to be trained to this particular branch of the art upon this work. How well they have succeeded, every one will judge from the evidence submitted. Thus far, then, the Portrait Gallery has been a school for the best talent of the country: no Artist of respectable qualifications has been refused employment, and every one employed has been encouraged to strive for the mastery, by his best exertions being rewarded according to his own estimate of their value.
For the future, we cannot promise greater efforts, but greater success we confidently anticipate, from the increased means which have been developed and improved.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME II.
David Hosack, M. D., F. R. S.,
LL. D., F. R. S.
Dr. Franklin was unquestionably a very remarkable man; one who, in any age or country, would, by the mere force of his native talents, have made a respectable figure in life. It is probable, however, that had his lot thrown him in an older or more refined community than America was in his youth, he would not have been contemplated as the sun of the system. He, like many other distinguished characters, was much indebted to circumstance. It must be admitted, too, that he had many conceits, or fancies; that he was by no means without his foibles; and that, in his own phrase, he committed some great errors in the early part of his career.
This is not said with any view of detracting from the eminent merit of Dr. FRANKLIN, but as his own and the candid opinion of posterity; when he looked back upon his errors, he freely confessed them, pointing out to others the rocks and quicksands on which he struck, or into which his passions or his inclinations had plunged him. Most of his mistakes seem to have been the effect of constitution, or at least constitutional organization favored their growth. His passions were not violent; his affections were rather steady than
his sensibilities rather correct than acute. It has been ascertained that the Franklin family were settled at the village of Ecton, in Northamptonshire, England, on a freehold estate, of about thirty acres, more than three hundred years ago; the eldest sons generally having been blacksmiths. “Our humble family,” observes FRANKLIN, in the admirable memoir which he wrote of his own life, “early embraced the reformed religion. Our forefathers continued protestants through the reign of Mary, when they were sometimes in danger of persecution, on account of their zeal against popery."
The family preserved its attachment to the Church of England, till towards the close of the reign of Charles II., when some of its members, amongst whom was Josias the father of BENJAMIN, the subject