« AnteriorContinuar »
We must get over the remainder of this publication more briefly. Pluin Truth, which made a considerable noise at its appearance,-but which was never before published in Dr. Franklin's works.—has been inserted in this edition, upon the authority of the Rev. Dr. William Smith. (p. 221. vol. IV.) The Essay on the Principles of Trade, which occupies nearly thirty pages, is not so clearly Dr. Franklin's. Indeed the Éditor tells us, (p. 155, vol. IV.), that it was originally written by Mr. George Wheatly; but that, as it was submitted, before publication, to the scrutiny of the Doctor,
who rarely ever perused a literary production without correcting, improving, or augmenting its force and value, from his own resources —it was thought proper to give it a place in this collection. Now there is nothing so mawkish and unsatisfactory as this talk about what Dr. Franklin rarely ever' did, without doing something else. It proves nothing; and only serves to expose the weakness of a man's under. standing by showing the strength of his passions. The Editor alludes to an'amicable controversy’between Mr. Wheatly and the Doctor, upon their respective claims to the authorship; but he gives no documents of such a controversy; and even if he had given documents, no reasonable man would have been satisfied, without being told how the Editor came by them.
Dr. Franklin (p. 155) continued to consider Mr. Wheatly as the author; and persisted even to the last in that sentiment; for in a letter of the 24th August, 1784, from Paris, addressed to him in these words “My dear old Friend,” he requests a copy of your excellent little work— “ The Principles of Trade.” Now that the circumstances of the Doctor's “ persisting to the last in considering Mr. Wheatly as the author-of his addressing that gentleman as my dear old friend'-and of his calling the Principles of Trade your excellent little work’-should be deemed proof of its being our philosopher's-is, we confess, beyond what we imagined even this annotator would go. The letter here spoken of is in Mr. Franklin's publication, p. 68; but, as another specimen of the accuracy attending the references of our Philadelphia Editor, we are concerned to state, that it if it does not separate us from you. You will certainly find it more difficult to retain the colonies, than you did Ireland. Ireland is near you, and under your constant inspection; all officers are dependent and removeable at pleasure. The colonies are remote, and the officers generally more disposed to please the people than the king or his representatives. In Ireland you have always the ultima ratio, [a standing army] in the colonies you are either destitute of it or you have no civil magistrate to direct the use of it.
was not written from Paris,' and is not dated the 24th of August 1784.' The real date is, ' Passy, near Paris, Aug. 21, 1784. Upon the whole, we cannot think it at all clear, that Dr. Franklin had enough to do with the composition of The Principles of Trade, to warrant our Editor in giving the Essay a place among that author's works.
He would have still less right to admit the translation of Cicero on Old Age;—an article of no less than 116 pages, which we conceive to have been stuffed into this volume with a clear foreknowledge of its being none of Dr. Franklin's work. Indeed the Editor himself has taken good care to refrain from asserting absolutely that it is his. All he tells us is,—that it was first translated and published, when Dr. Franklin carried on the printing business in this city;' and that it exhibits that character which distinguished his own subsequent life-that strict public virtue, that economy and frugality, that love of liberty and wisdom'—and that half a dozen other things, which have nothing to do with the subject, and which were only intended to amuse us, till the writer could get off the question. He must have known that Dr. Franklin himself disavowed the authorship; and his suppression of the truth on the subject, is something more than disingenuous:-it is dishonest. In an advertisement to the work, the Doctor tells the • Reader' fairly and honestly, who translated the Essay,—how he came by the manuscript, and what induced him to publish it. This advertisement is, in part, copied into the publication we are reviewing; but the name of the person who rendered the treatise into English, is shamefully omitted. We shall place the original side by side with the copy: and our readers will then be able to judge for themselves, how dutifully the Philadelphia Editor has executed his task.
ORIGINAL. M. T. Cicero's Cato MAJOR, or his Discourse of Old Age: With Explanatory Notes. Philadelphia: Printed and Sold by B. FRANKLIN. MDCCXLIV. 8vo. pp. 167.
The Printer to the Reader. This Version of Cicero's Tract de Senectute, was made Ten Years since, by the Honourable and Learned Mr. Logan, of this City; undertaken partly for his own Amusement, (being then in his 60th Year, which is said to be nearly the Age of the Author when he wrote it) but principally for the Entertainment of a Neighbour then in his grand Climactric; and the Notes were drawn up solely on that Neighbour's Account, who was not so well acquainted as himself with the Roman History and Language: Some other Friends,
however, (among whom I had the Honour to be ranked) obtained Copies of it in MS. And, as I believed it to be in itself equal at least, if not far preferable to any other Translation of the same Piece extant in our Language, besides the Advantage it has of so many valuable Notes, which at the same time they clear up the Text, are highly instructive and entertaining; I resolved to give it an Impression, being confident that the Public would not unfavourably receive it.
A certain Freed-man of Cicero's is reported to have said of a medicinal Well, discovered in his Time, wonderful for the Virtue of its Waters in restoring Sight to the Aged, That it was a Gift of the bountiful Gods to Men, to the end that all might now have the Pleasure of reading his Master's Works. As that Well, if still in being, is at too great a Distance for our l'se, I have, Gentle Reader, as thou seest, printed this Piece of Cicero's in a large and fair Character, that those who begin to think on the Subject of OLD-AGE, (which seldom happens till their Sight is somewhat impaired by its Approaches) may not, in Reading by the Pain small Letters give the Eyes, feel the Pleasure of the mind in the least allayed.
I shall add to these few Lines my hearty Wish, that this first Translation of a Classic in this Western World, may be followed with many others, performed with equal Judgment and Success; and be a happy Omen, that Philadelphia shall become the Seat of the American Muses. Philadelphia, Febr. 29.
(No signature.) 1743,4.
Marcus Tullius Cicero's Cato MAJOR, or a Discourse on Old-Age. Addressed to Titus Pomponius Atticus. With Explanatory Notes. By BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, LL. D.
This translation of Cicero's Tract De Senectute, was made several years since, partly for the translator's own amusement, but principally for the entertainment of a neighbour then in his grand climacteric; and the notes were added solely on that gentleman's account, who was not well acquainted with the Roman history and language. Copies in MSS. having been obtained by many, their recommendation and approbation of it, induced the original publication; as they thought it to be in itself at least equal to any translation of the same piece extant in the English language, besides the advantage it has received of so many notes, which at the same time clear up the text, and are highly instructive and entertaining
In the Philadelphia edition* the introduction to the reader eloses with, I shall add to these few lines my hearty wish, that this first translation of a Classic in the Western World, may be followed with many others, and be a happy omen, that Philadelphia shall become the seat of the American muses.
B. FRANKLIN. Philadelphia. The remaining forty pages of this volume consist of Essays which, with the exception of the last, have never before been collected into a book. The authorship seems to be pretty clearly fastened upon Dr. Franklin;-and, indeed, our Editor has here shown a disposition to honest and accurate reference, which sorts but ill with this previous uniformity of error and disingenuousness. He tells us plainly (p. 367)— * that in the two first volumes of the Pennsylvania Gazette, which are in the possession of the Philadelphia Editor, these pieces are noted on the inner side of the cover, in pencil writing, which writing is that of the author_The words are“ Pieces wrtiten by B. F.” and the several articles are there stated by their titles, with a reference to the number of the paper in which each was first published.' In part, this is as it should be;—but why is this same Philadelphia Editor constantly allading to books in Dr. Franklin's library, without telling us how those books came into his possession? Why was it necess
ssary to give us a constant an I repeated impression of his unfair play, by dealing out here and there an obscure hint only of the matter,-by loving darkness rather than light? We have read these eight Pieces with considerable pleasure; but then we could not get rid of the vexation and the doubt which the Editor's half-way information was calculated to produce. The Essays on the Wasteof Life-on Discoveries—and on Earthquakes_are peculiarly good. They breathe a spirit of retrospection and of generalization, along with a cheerfulness and sanguinity about the progress of knowledge--which are the only things that can promote it; and they are written in a liveliness and impetuosity and force of stile, which are very rarely to be
* The Editor then must have seen the Philadelphia Edition; so that he cannot screen himself from exprobation by getting behind a London copy. His information, therefore-thatóan edition of this essay was published in London, in 1778, with some alterations;' and that his own is published from the London edition, and from the copy preserved in Dr. Franklin's library'-can be of very avail. If the facts had been falsified in the London edition—was it his duty to extend the mischief by repeating the falsehood
found in philosophical composition. We have no doubt there are many other interesting essays of the Doctor's in the Pennsylvania Gazette; and we cannot but think it would be an edi fying employment for the Philadelphia Editor, to ascertain how many Numbers of The Plain Dealer, particularly, were the production of his pen.
The fifth volume is wholly occupied with the secret and diplomatic correspondence. And our readers will have a prodigious idea of this Editor's ingenuity, when we tell them, that he has contrived to print the private letters of a man like Dr. Franklin, in such a manner as to destroy, almost completely, the pleasure which would naturally arise from their perusal. As some future Editor may be concerned to know how this thing is done, we think we can prescribe a rule, which, we know from what is achieved in the volume before us, will inevitably produce the desired effect. Particular care should be taken, to print no two letters according to the order in which they were dated; but to insert them one after another as they may occur to our hands; and if possible, to place them in a sort of boustropedal order,--beginning the dates at the end of the volume, and carrying them back to the title-page. If it should be found difficult to disorder them sufficiently by mere slight of hand, they may be confused in a lottery-wheel, and sent to the press as they are drawn out. This, or some other equally ingenious mode, must have been adopted, we think, by the Philadelphia Editor; for we cannot conceive how the art of man, unaided by machinery, could have accomplished such a disarrangement as is here produced. We once undertook, for our own instruction, to pick out the letters and read them according to the order of their dates; but, after a toil of more than two days, we found ourselves lost in a wilderness of Arabic digits, and gave over the enterprise in despair.
The volume comprises Diplomatic Correspondence during the Revolution--Dr. Franklin's Journal--Miscellaneous Correspondence during the Revolution and Political Correspondence and Essays, appertaining to the Revolution, before and after. As it is only in the Doctor's Journal that the Editor has at all apostatized towards accuracy, for indeed he could not well avoid it here,—we shall confine our farther strictures chiefly to that portion of the volume. We shall compare it with the same Journal published from the Original by Mr. Franklin; and, when we have pointed out its manifold variations, our readers will be prepared to estimate the Editor's assertion (p. 293)—that it was derived from