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WRITTEN BY HIMSELF.
NOW FIRST EDITED FROM ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS
AND FROM HIS PRINTED CORRESPONDENCE
AND OTHER WRITINGS,
"Plurimæ consentiunt gentes populi primarium fuisse virum."
CICERO DE SENECTUTE (Catonis), 2 61.
ا ا ، لا .ای را می زنی
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by
The memoirs of his own life, which Dr. Franklin began but never finished, terminated with his arrival in England, in 1757, as agent of the Colony of Pennsylvania. He was then fifty-one years of age, and just entering upon that part of his public career in which his marvellous talents appear to the greatest advantage. From this time until 1785 he resided abroad, as agent of the colonies or as minister plenipotentiary of the United States; his two brief visits to his native land, in 1762 and in 1775, scarcely constituting an interruption of his protracted foreign service.
During this long period of twenty-eight years, he was, of course, in constant correspondence, officially, with the governments he represented, and unofficially with prominent public men, and with his family and friends, both at home and abroad.
During the five years that elapsed between his final return from Europe, in 1785, and his death, he naturally maintained an active correspondence with his numerous
friends in the Old World, among whom he had spent the most useful and perhaps the happiest years of his life.
To this protracted expatriation we owe the fact that there is scarcely an important incident of Franklin's life which is not described by himself in his memoirs, or in his correspondence; and it is to this vast treasury of sterling English, which seems to have been almost miraculously preserved from incalculable perils by sea and by land, that the legion of his biographers have been indebted for whatever has most contributed to render their works attractive.
I am not aware that any other eminent man has left so complete a record of his own life. The part of it which, from the nature of things, could not be preserved in correspondence-his youth and early manhood; his years of discipline and preparation-has been made as familiar as household words to at least three generations, in those imperishable pages which, in the full maturity of his faculties and experience, he prepared at the special instance of his friends Le Veillard, Rochefoucault, and Vaughan. From the period when that fragment closes until his death, we have a continuous, I might almost say daily record of his life, his labors, his anxieties, and his triumphs, from his own pen, and written when all the incidents and emotions they awakened were most fresh and distinct in his mind.
If I may judge by the unexampled popularity and influence of his memoirs of the early part of his life, I am not mistaken in supposing that the world will be more interested in reading his own account of those more eventful years which followed, than in what any other person has said or can say about them. However we may prize the judgments of discriminating biographers of Franklin, their interest must always be subordinate to that which we feel in his own; and the pleasure, be it never so great, which we experience in reading other versions of the incidents of his varied and picturesque career only increases our curiosity to read the account which he gave of them at the time, to his government and friends, in his own pure, limpid, and sparkling English.
It is under the impulse of such convictions that the work which is now submitted to the public has been prepared. I have aimed to condense Franklin's own memorials of his entire life, hitherto scattered through many bulky volumes and yet more bulky manuscript collections, into a single compact work, and to give them the convenient order and attractiveness of a continuous narrative. To this end I have taken from his writings and correspondence whatever was autobiographical, and presented it in a strictly chronological order. I have not attempted to give all his letters, nor more of any letter or other document than furthered the central and controlling purpose of the work,-to