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By the EDITO R.
THE writings of Dr. Franklin need
no other preface than his character and life. A few words therefore will explain all that is necessary concerning this collection.
To secure the reader from the apprehension of omissions and interpolations, the place whence each piece is taken, is generally expressed; or, if the notes are silent on this head, an original copy is to be understood, to which the editor still retains access.--It was chiefly for these purposes of authentication, that notes were originally provided : But as it was confidered that this work might be read not only by Englishmen and Americans, but by foreigners and posterity; other notes of explanation and anecdote were occafionally added, which will be set aside by
other editors, in proportion as they are judged superfluous or improper.-In the miscellaneous part of the collection however,
these humbler bounds have been considerably exceeded; the temptation for which, will appear in the places in question. The notes in particular, following the “ Conječtures on the Aurora “ Borealis,” were drawn up in consequence of attacks this paper had suffered among the editor's private friends. How far his zeal will justify their insertion here, is left to a candid public. But the conjectures of great men speak a strong language.
“ The matter in question,” they say “ contradicts nothing within their own “ knowledge, and they risque a portion “ of their reputation upon its truth : Proofs sufficient to satisfy their candor and caution, they acknowledge to be wanting; But such hints surely deserve study and respect. Considerable liberties have been taken with the pointing, italics, &c. in these papers; for most of the copies being found imperfect or un
systematic in these particulars, some degree of uniformity was judged allowable, if attended with proper advertisement and apology. The editor may not perhaps at asl times have succeeded in his own intentions; but he conceives that the public will take more exception 'at his interference, than Dr. Franklin. The times appear not
for the editor to give expression to the affection, gratitude, and veneration, he bears to a writer he has so intimately studied : Nor is it wanting to the author; as history lies in wait for him, and the judgment of mankind balances already in his favor. The editor wishes only that other readers may reap that improvement from his productions, which he conceives they have rendered to himself.— Yet perhaps he may be excused for stating one opinion: He conceives that no man ever made larger or bolder guesses than Dr. Franklin from like materials in politics and philosophy, which, after the scrutiny of events and of fact, have been more completely verified.
Can Englishmen read these things, and not sigh at recollecting that the country which could produce their author, was once without controversy their own!—Yet he who praises Dr. Franklin for mere ability, praises him for that quality of his mind, which stands lowest in his own esteem. Reader, whoever you are, and how much soever you think
hate him, know that this great man loves you enough to wish to do you good :
His country's friend, but more of human kind.