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voking as the story was, the party whom it most affected, and whose interests it was designed to injure, felt too much of the mens conscia recti to do other than treat the ridiculous invention with contempt, from a persuasion that the refutation of an improbable falsehood is beneath the dignity of truth. He therefore endured the opprobrium without complaint, and even suffered it to be repeated without being goaded into an explanation; contentedly waiting for the time when he might best fulfil his duty, and shame his calumniators. That period has at length arrived, and the world will now see whether an enlightened government could be weak enough to be frightened by the posthumous works of a philosopher; or whether a man of integrity, bred under FRANKLIN, bearing his name, and entrusted with his confidence, could be bribed into an act of treachery to his memory.
Of the present work it remains to be observed that the only portion which has hitherto appeared in any form, is the first fasciculus of the Memoirs of Dr. FRANKLIN, extending from his birth to the year 1731, forming only Part I. of the
present volume. But even what has forinerly been printed of this fragment can scarcely lay any claim to originality, since the English edition is no more than a translation from the French, which of itself is a professed version of a transcription; so that the metamorphoses of this interesting piece of biography may be said to resemble the fate of Milton's Epic Poem, which a French Abbé paraphrased into inflated prose, which an English writer, ignorant of its origin, turned back again under the same double disguise into its native language.
Admitting, however, that the small portion of the memoir as already given to the world, is substantially correct in the narrative, the present publication of it must be infinitely more estimable by being printed literally from the original autograph.
It is much to be regretted that DR. FRANKLIN was not enabled, by his numerous avocations and the infirmities of old age, to complete the narrative of his life in his own inimitable manner. That he intended to have done this is certain, from his correspondence, as well as from the parts in continuation of the memoir which are now for the first time communicated to the world. But the convulsed state of things during the American revolution, the lively concern which he had in that memorable event, and his multiplied public engagements after contributing to the establishment of the independence of his country, prevented him from indulging his own inclinations and complying with the earnest desire of bis numerous friends.
Upon the editor, therefore, has devolved the task of filling up the chasms in the best manner that he could from the letters and other papers of his revered relative; and where these documents failed in giving adequate information, by supplying the deficiencies from Stuber's CONTINUATION OF THE LIFE OF DR. FRANKLIN, and other sources upon the fidelity of which any dependence could be placed for the accuracy of what they imparted. In executing this part of his trust, the editor is sensible how much reason he has to solicit the indulgence of the reader; but though fully conscious that no talent short of Dr. FRANKLIN's own could render his private and public history equally instructive and entertaining with what he drew up himself; yet he may justly claim the merit of having scrupulously adhered to the verity of what he has related, and of endeavoring to keep as closely as possible in that track of simplicity which was the distinguished characteristic of this truly moral and political philosopher.
W. T. F.
DR. FRANKLIN'S MEMOIRS
Consist altogether of Six Volumes. They are divided into Three Parts; each Part being published and sold separately; viz.
Vols. 1 and 2. Containing the Life.
Select Works, most of which are
now published for the first time. * Double Titles for the Private Correspondence are printed with the Life, in order that the Work may be bound in six uniform Volumes : and the Boarder is requested to place them at the end of the second Volume.
To WILLIAM FRANKLIN, Esq. GOVERNOR Of New-JERSEY, North America.
Twyford, at the Bishop of St. Asaph's,' 1771.
DEAR Son, I HAVE ever had a pleasure in obtaining any little anecdotes of my ancestors. You may remember the inquiries I made among the remains of my relations, when you were with me in England, and the journey I undertook for that purpose. Imagining it may be equally agreeable to you to learn
' Dr. Shipley.