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MANY of the papers which compose this volume, have been long known to the public ; but several, particularly of the concluding papers, now first appear in the name of their author. To this latter class of the papers, notes are prefixed shewing the means by which they were obtained, and ascertained to have been the writings of Dr. Franklin.
It may require explanation why some of the papers of a literary and moral cast, and some two or three of a date subsequent to the revolution, should be comprehended in a volume which professes to give political papers before the revolution.
Perhaps it arose from the Editor's own idea of politics, which he deems inseparable from morals; that the papers of this description are placed here. The Editor has always from his youth been accustomed to consider Dr. Franklin, as having by his writings and his influence for a long course of years, shaped and formed the American character, to that firm calmness, that deliberative activity, that patient frugality, that constancy of temper which were so necessary and appeared so conspicuous at the critical and trying period of the revolution. His ethical as well as his economical writings had all these moral tendencies; and this volume exhibits memorials of the vastness of his conceptions, and his intuitive sagacity. The Albany union papers of 1754, exhibit a striking anticipation of those proud events which were realised thirty years afterwards; while the Almanac of Poor Richard, which carried its amusement and its morals to the fire side of the American farmer, laid the foundation of correct thinking and economy, so congenial with the comparatively infant and rude state of society at the period in which they appeared ; that happy method of reasoning which took up society in its first elements, and taught the exact use and value of every thing it handled ; which subdued the vanities, and reconciled men to privations; which excited industry, and established habits of contentment, in the midst of the wilderness which through this culture was one day destined to bloom with the fruits of liberty and civilization.
His examinations before the House of Commons and Privy Council, afford astonishing evidences of firmness, sagacity, intelligence, and collection of mind; while his essay entitled Plain Truth, written so early as 1744, illustrates the same character of mental energy and public spirit, twenty years preceding. His Canada pamphlet, and Causes of the American Discontents, are conspicuous for their political matter, and their chaste simplicity of style. Even his essays on Discoveries, and on the Usefulness of the Mathematics, have all the same bearing, the promotion of knowlege to the bettering of human society. His essay on Public Men, p. 401, perhaps had some personal allusion ; but it is one of those happy strokes of genius, which is calculated for all times, for the age of Socrates and Athens, as well as for that in which it was written, and for the present day.
OF THE FOURTH VOLUME.
POLITICAL PAPERS BEFORE THE REVOLUTION.
Observations on the encrease of mankind and peopling of countries,