Page images

this enquiry shall occasionally have subjected him to the charge of a style in any respect bald or low : to imitate the admirable fimplicity of the author, is no easy task.

The Erays, which are now, for the first time, brought together from various resources, will be found to be more miscellaneous than any of Dr. Franklin's that have for. merly been collected, and will therefore be more generally amusing. Dr. Franklin tells us, in his Life, that he was an assiduous imitator of Addison ; and from fone of these papers it will be admitted that he was not an unhappy une. The public will be amused with following a great philosopher in his relaxations, and observing in what reipects philosophy tends to elucidate and improve the most common subjects. The editor has purposely avoided such Papers as, by their scientifical nature, were less adapted for general peruial. These he may probably hereafter poblih in a volume by themselves.

He subjoins a letter from the late celebrated and amia. ble Dr. Price, to a gentleman in Philadelphia, upon the iubject of Dr. Franklin's memoirs of his own life.

Hackney, June 19, 1790. - DEAR SIR, " I AM hardly able to tell you how kindly I take the letters with which you favour me. Your last, containing an account of the death of our excellent friend Dr. Frank lin, and the circumstances attending it, deserves my par. ticular gratitude. The account which he has left of his life will ihow, in a striking example, how a man, by ta. lents, industry, and integrity, may rise from obfcurity to the first erninence and consequence in the world; but it brings his history no lower than the year 1757, and I understand that since he sent over the copy, which I have read, he has been able to make no additions to it. It is with a melancholy regret I think of his death ; but to death we are all bound by the irreversible order of nature, and in looking forward to it, there is comfort in being a

ble to reflect-that we have not lived in vain, and that all the useful and virtuous shall meet in a better country beyond the grave.

" Dr. Franklin, in the last letter I received from him, after mentioning his age and infirmities, observes, that it has been kindly ordered by the Author of nature, that, as we draw nearer the conclusion of life, we are furnished with more helps to wean us from it, among which one of the strongest is the loss of dear friends. I was delighted with the account you gave in your letter of the honour 'fhewn to his memory at Philadelphia, and by Congress;

and yesterday I received a high'addicional pleasure, by being informed that the National Assembly of France had determined to go in mourning for him.-- What a glorious scene is opened there! The annals of the world furnish no parallel to it. One of the honours of our departed friend is, that he has contributed much to it,' .

I am, with great respect,
Your obliged and very
humble Tervant,


[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

T HAVE amused myself with collecting some lit|tle anecdotes of my family. You may remember the enquiries I made, when you were with me in England, among such of my relations as were then. living; and the journey I undertook for that purpose. To be acquainted with the particulars of my parentage and life, many of which are unknown to you, I flatter myself, will afford the same pleasure to you as to me. I shall relate them upon pa. per: it will be an agreeable employment of a week's uninterrupted leisure, which I promise myself during my present retirement in the country. There are also other motives which induce me to the un. dertaking. From the bofom of poverty and obscurity, in which I drew my first breath and spent my. earliest years, I have raised myself to a state of opu. lence and to some degree of celebrity in the world. A constant good fortune has attended me through

every period of life to my present advanced age; and my descendants may be defirous of learning what were the means of which I made use, and which, thanks to the assisting hand of providence, have proved so eminently successful. They may also, should they ever be placed in a similar fituation, derive fome advantage from my narrative.

When I reflect, as I frequently do, upon the felicity I have enjoyed, I sometimes say to myself, that, were the offer made me, I would engage to run again, from beginning to end, the fame career of lite. All I would ask would be the privilege of an author, to correct in a second edition, certain errors of the first. I could with, likewise, if it were in my power, to change fome trivial incidents and events for others more favourable. Were this however denied me, still would I not decline the offer. But since a repetition of life cannot take place, there is nothing which, in my opinion, so nearly resembles it, as to call to mind all its circumstances, and, to render their remenabrance more durable, commit them to writing. By thus employing myself, I shall yield to the inclination, fo natural to old men, to talk of themselves and their exploits, and may freely follow my bent, without being tiresome to those who, from respect to my age, might think themselves obliged to liften to me; as they will be at liberty to read me or not as they please. In fine--and I niay well avoiv it, fince nobody would believe me were I to deny it--I shall perhaps, by this employment, gratify my yanity. Scarcely indeed have I ever heard or read the introductory phrase,«.I may say without VAR 19, but foine striking and characteristic intan

« PreviousContinue »