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
"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.
H. & B.
_New-York, Sept., 1839_.
THE FIRST VOLUME.
The documents which I publish are copies of Franklin's letters, made on thin paper in a copying press (probably the rotary machine invented by Franklin), and all but one bear his signature in ink.Page 1
The letter dated November 30, appears never to have been printed and whereas Smyth reproduced the letter of November 21 from the University of Pennsylvania draft, this or another draft (or possibly this copy) was in the possession of the French aeronaut, Gaston Tissandier, about 1887.Page 2
But possibly it may pave the Way to some Discoveries in Natural Philosophy of which at present we have no Conception.Page 3
It contains 50,000 cubic Feet, and is supposed to have Force of Levity equal to 1500 pounds weight.Page 4
So vast a Bulk when it began to rise so majestically in the Air struck the spectators with surprise and Admiration.Page 5
This Balloon was larger than that which went up from Versailles and carried the Sheep, &c.Page 6
in passing thro' this Flame rose in the Balloon, swell'd out its sides, and fill'd it.Page 7
It was well that in the hurry of so hazardous an Experiment, the Flame did not happen by any accidental Mismanagement to lay hold of this Straw; tho' each had a Bucket of Water by him, by Way of Precaution.Page 8
A few Months since the Idea of Witches riding thro' the Air upon a Broomstick, and that of Philosophers upon a Bag of Smoke, would have appeared equally impossible and ridiculous.Page 9
I send you herewith a Paper in which you will see what was proposed by Mess^rs Robert who constructed the Machine; and some other Papers relative to the same Subject, the last of which is curious, as containing the Journal of the first Aerial Voyage performed by Man.Page 10
Means were used, I am told, to prevent the great Balloon's rising so high as might indanger its Bursting.Page 11
_ The hand-writing is in a more flowing style than the subsequent letters.Page 13
There are two occurences of "&c" for "&c.