It would be difficult, and perhaps impossible, to gather from the history and labours of any individual mind, a summary of practical wisdom as rich in varied instruction as the memoirs and writings presented in these volumes will be found to afford. If, on account of the most distinguished public services, the name of Franklin has become inseparably associated with his country's glory, the works which he has left behind him no less justly entitle him to be considered as the benefactor not only of his own country, but of mankind for all coming time. So admirable, indeed, are these productions, that they can only cease being read when the love of beauty and of simplicity, of moral power and of truth, has no longer a place in the hearts of men. "This self-taught American," to quote from the Edinburgh Review of 1806, "is the most rational, perhaps, of all philosophers. He never loses sight of common sense in any of his speculations. No individual, perhaps, ever possessed a juster understanding, or was so seldom obstructed in the use of it by indolence, enthusiasm, or authority. * * * * There are not many among the thoroughbred scholars and philosophers of Europe who can lay claim to distinction in more than one or two departments of science and literature. The uneducated tradesman of America has left writings which call for our attention in natural philosophy, in politics, in political economy, and in general literature and morality." And again: "Nothing can be more perfectly and beautifully adapted to its object than most of the moral compositions of Dr. Franklin. The tone of familiarity, of good-will, and harmless jocularity; the plain and pointed illustrations; the short sentences, made up of short words; and the strong sense, clear information, and obvious conviction of the author himself, make most of his moral exhortations perfect models of popular eloquence, and often the finest specimens of a style which has been too little cultivated in his native country. "The most remarkable thing, however, in these, and indeed in the whole of his physical speculations, is the unparalleled simplicity and facility with which the reader is conducted from one stage of the inquiry to another. The author never appears for a moment to labour or be at a loss. The most ingenious and profound explanations are suggested, as if they were the most natural and obvious way of accounting for the phenomena; and the author seems to value himself so little on his most important discoveries, that it is necessary to compare him with others before we can form a just notion of his merits." While to every age these volumes cannot fail of being deeply interesting, to the young more especially they may be made of invaluable use. What an animating example do they present of the power of industry, and of frugality and temperance, of moral rectitude, and unremitting perseverance, to overcome every difficulty! And what youth, fired with the generous love of knowledge, and an ardent desire of honourable distinction, need ever despair of success after reading the memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; who, from the humble station of a printer's apprentice, without fortune or other extraneous aid, through a manly confidence in his own powers, elevated himself to the highest stations of honour and usefulness. It is from these and other considerations scarcely less interesting, that the publishers feel great confidence and pleasure in presenting this work to the public favour. Great care has been taken in selecting the matter of which these volumes are composed; and, it is believed, that they will be found to comprise nearly all that is most entertaining and useful to the general reader, in the writings of Franklin.