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LIFE AND WRITINGS
L. L. D. F. R. S.
FROM THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO THE COURT OF FRANCE,
AND FOR THE TREATY OF PEACE AND INDEPENDENCE
WITH GREAT BRITAIN, &c.
WRITTEN BY HIMSELF, TO A LATE PERIOD,
AND CONTINUED TO THE TIME OF HIS DEATH
BY HIS GRANDSON,
WILLIAM TEMPLE FRANKLIN.
NOW FIRST PUBLISHED
FROM THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT,
THE PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE & PUBLIC NEGOTIATIONS
TOGETHER WITH THE WHOLE OF HIS
POLITICAL, PHILOSOPHICAL, & MISCELLANEOUS WORKS.
EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA, TO WIT:
BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the tenth day of July, in the forty third year of the independence of the United States of America, A. D. 1818, WILLIAM DUANE, of the said district hath deposited in this office, the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as joint proprietor, with WILLIAM TEMPLE FRANKLIN, Esq. Legatee, in the words following, to wit: "Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Benjamin Franklin, L. L. D. & F. R. S. Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States of North America, at the court of France, and for the treaty of peace and independence, &c. with Great Britain. Written by himself to a late period, and continued to the time of his death, by his grandson, William Temple Franklin. Now first published, from the original manuscript, comprising the Private Correspondence and Public Negociations of Dr. Franklin: together with the whole of his Political, Philosophical, and Miscellaneous Works."
In conformity to an Act of the Congress of the United States, entituled "An Act for the encouragemeut of learning, by securing the copies of maps eharts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned." And also to the Act entitled "An Act supplementary to an Act entitled "An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the tmes therein mentioned," and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."
Clerk of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
BY W. T. FRANKLIN.
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, be 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 em
ployment, 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 necessitated by circumstances, ought to cease with the occasion, and yield to the spirit of philanthropy. Even amidst the din of war and the contention of faction, it was the constant aim of this excellent man, to promote a conciliatory disposition, and to correct the accrbity of controversy. Though no one could feel more sensibly for the wrongs of his country, or have more enlarged ideas on the subject of general liberty, his powerful efforts to redress the one and extend the other, were always connected with the paramount object of social improvement, in the recommendation of those habits which tend most effectually to unite men together in the bonds of amity. Happening, however, to live himself in a turbulent period, and called upon to take a leading part in those scenes which produced a new empire in the western world; much of his latter memoirs and correspondence will be found to exhibit his undisguised thoughts upon the public men and occurrences of his day. These sketches, anecdotes, and reflections will now be read by men of opposite sentiments, without awakening painful