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BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, LL.D.
FROM THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, AT THE COURT OF FRANCE,
AND FOR THE TREATY OF PEACE AND INDEPENDENCE WITH GREAT BRITAIN,
Private Correspondence and Public Megotiations of Dr. Franklin,
PRINTED FOR HENRY COLBURN,
BRITISH AND FOREIGN PUBLIC LIBRARY, CONDUIT STREET.
AN apology for presenting to the Republic of Letters the authentic memorials of BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, illustrative of his Life and Times, written almost entirely with his own hand, would be at once superfluous and disrespectful. If any observation be at all requisite in the shape of explanation, it must be in answer to the inquiry, why such interesting documents have been so long withheld from public view? To this the Editor has no hesitation in replying, that were he conscious of having neglected a solemn trust by disobeying a positive injunction; or could he be convinced that the world has sustained any real injury by the delay of the publication, he certainly should take shame to himself for not having sooner committed to the press, what at an earlier
period, would have been much more to his pecuniary advantage. But aware, as he is, of the deference due to the general feeling of admiration for the illustrious dead, he is no less sensible that there are times and seasons when prudence imposes the restriction of silence in the gratification even of the most laudable curiosity.
It was the lot of this distinguished character above most men, to move, in the prominent parts of his active life, within a sphere agitated to no ordinary degree of heat by the inflammatory passions of political fury; and he had scarcely seated himself in the shade of repose, from the turmoil of public employment, when another revolution burst forth with far more tremendous violence; during the progress of which his name was adduced by anarchists as a sanction for their practices, and his authority quoted by dreaming theorists in support of their visionary projects. Whether, therefore, the publication of his Memoirs and other papers amidst such a scene of perturbation would have been conducive to the desirable ends of peace, may be a matter of question; but at all events the sober and inquisitive part of mankind can have no cause to regret the suspension of what might have suffered from the perverted talents of designing partizans and infuriated zealots. It may fairly be observed that the writings of DR. FRANKLIN are calculated to serve a far more important purpose than that of ministering to the views of party, and keeping alive national divisions which, however