This illustrious philosopher, statesman, patriot and philanthropist, is better known throughout the civilized world than any other American, save perhaps Washington, the hero and founder of the Republic. Franklin's experiments and discoveries in natural philosophy, and his useful inventions, induced the great Earl of Chatham to declare in the British Parliament that he ranked with Newton, Boyle, and the greatest names that had ever adorned philosophy. His useful inventions, simple experiments, and grand discoveries in science, have made his name familiar not only to the learned and scientific, but to the intelligent masses of mankind all over the world. The humblest peasant in Europe who never heard of Jefferson, Hamilton or Adams, knows Franklin by his experiments and discoveries in electricity, his lightning rod, and his useful inventions.
The early life of Franklin was written by himself, and is one of the best known and most interesting of all autobiographies. But his modesty prevented his continuing his life after he had achieved his greatness. He was willing to tell the world of his humble origin, the poverty and difficulties of his early life, his laborious industry as a mechanic, his own errors and misfortunes. But that natural unobtrusive modesty, which always belongs to true greatness, would not permit him to tell the honors paid him and the fame awarded him as a patriot, statesman, philosopher and benefactor of mankind. This was unfortunate so far as the reading world is concerned. Autobiography is the most interesting of all histories, and especially so of a great man. He knows his own life, of course, better than any one else,