Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

made more important discoveries, nor has enriched philosophy with more, or more ingenious solutions of the phenomena of nature. We have supposed, Mr. Rittenhouse second to no astronomer living; that in genius he must be the first, because he is selftaught," &c.

In philosophy, England can boast of a Bacon the most eminent professor in this science the world has ever produced. The Essays of this great writer is one of the best proofs we can adduce of his transcendent abilities; and America claims the enlightened FRANKLIN, a man who has not left his equal behind him, and whose Life and Writings are the subject of the following sheets.

To say more in this place of our Author, would be anticipating what is hereafter mentioned: it will therefore only be necessary to add that due attention has been paid in the selection of such of his productions as may be adapted to general perusal.

LIFE

OF

DR. FRANKLIN.

MY DEAR SON,

I HAVE amused myself with collecting some little anecdotes of my family. You may remember the inquiries 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 paper: 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 undertaking. From the bosom of poverty and obscurity, in which I drew my first breath, and spent my earliest years, I have raised myself to a state of opulence, 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 desirous 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 situation, derive some 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 true, I would engage to run again, from

beginning to end, the same career of life. All I would ask, should be the privilege of an author, to correct, in a second edition, certain errors of the first. I could wish, likewise, if it were in my power, to change some 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 remembrance more durable, commit them to writing. By thus employing myself, I shall yield to the inclination, so natural in 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 listen to me; as they will be at liberty to read me or not as they please. In fine, and I may as well avow it, since nobody would believe me were I to deny it— I shall, perhaps, by this employment, gratify my vanity. Scarcely, indeed, have Lever heard or read the introductory phrase, “I may say without vanity," but some striking and characteristic instance of vanity has immediately followed. The generality of men hate vanity in others, however strongly they may be tinctured with it themselves: for myself, I pay ubeisance to it wherever I meet with it, persuaded that it is advantageous, as well to the individual whom it governs, as to those who are within the sphere of its influence. Of consequence, it would, in many cases, not be wholly absurd, that a man should count his vanity among the other sweets of life and give thanks to Providence for the blessing.

And here let me with all humility acknowledge that to Divine Providence I am indebted for the felicity I have hitherto enjoyed. It is that power alone which has furnished me with the means I have employed, and that has crowned them with success. My faith, in this respect, leads me to hope, though I cannot count upon it, that the Divine goodness will still be exercised towards me, either by prolonging the duration of my happiness to the close of life, or by giving me fortitude to support any melancholy reverso,

« AnteriorContinua »