“THE PATRIOT AND PATRIARCH OF AMERICA”: SCARCE FIRST EDITION OF EULOGIUM ON BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, 1792
(FRANKLIN, Benjamin) SMITH, William. Eulogium on Benjamin Franklin… Delivered March 1, 1791, in the German Lutheran Church of the City of Philadelphia, Before the American Philosophical Society. Philadelphia: Printed by Benjamin Franklin Bache, 1792. Slim octavo, period-style full sprinkled sheep gilt, red morocco spine label, uncut and partially unopened; pp. (2), 40, v, (1). $2200.
First edition of this eloquent eulogy to Franklin, delivered in Philadelphia within one year of his death to distinguished members of the American Philosophical Society, President Washington, the Congress of the United States and the Pennsylvania legislature.
This moving eulogy to Benjamin Franklin was delivered in March 1791 at the behest of the American Philosophical Society, the "oldest extant learned society in the United States, founded under the impetus of Franklin," who also served as its first secretary and longtime president (Encyclopaedia Britannica). Here paying tribute to the life and genius of Franklin, who died the previous April, is the Society's Vice-President William Smith, a "minister from Scotland whom Franklin had befriended" and would serve as first provost of another institution spearheaded by Franklin, the University of Pennsylvania (Isaacson, 147). Smith eloquently praises Franklin as a "Citizen of America… a Citizen of the World… the venerable Sage of Pennsylvania, the Patriot and Patriarch of America… [and] a bold Experimenter" in science, philosophy and statesmanship (10, 1, 28). This scarce first edition of Smith's Eulogium also cites from letters by Jefferson, David Rittenhouse and Benjamin Rush, and includes excerpts and correspondence by Franklin on various scientific experiments. Smith delivered the eulogy in Philadelphia to Society members, President Washington, the United States Senate and House of Representatives, and members of the Pennsylvania legislature. The Philosophical Society then authorized its publication in order "to furnish the Society with a Copy of the same." The copy of the Society's future president Thomas Jefferson was among those purchased by Congress following the destruction of the Library of Congress in the War of 1812. OCLC lists nine copies. Evans 24799. Howes S689. Sabin 84602. Sowerby 520.
Minor marginal wormholing, faintest dampstaining to preliminary leaves, only slightest soiling, a bit of wear to fragile edges. An extremely good copy.