"THEY WILL NOT FIND A REBELLION: THEY MAY INDEED MAKE ONE": FRANKLIN ON THE COLONIES, STAMP ACT, WEALTH & WEATHER: THE ONLY EDITION OF HIS POLITICAL WRITINGS PRINTED DURING HIS LIFE & WITH HIS CONSENT, 1779, MANY PIECES PRINTED HERE FOR THE FIRST TIME
FRANKLIN, Benjamin. Political, Miscellaneous, and Philosophical Pieces; Arranged under the Following Heads… General Politics; American Politics before the Troubles; American Politics during the Troubles; Provincial or Colony Politics; Miscellaneous and Philosophical Pieces. London: J. Johnson, 1779. Octavo, contemporary full brown tree calf rebacked with original elaborately gilt-decorated spine laid down, red morocco spine label, raised bands. $12,500.
First edition, octavo issue, of this major collection of Franklin's writings, many printed here for the first time, containing his powerful testimony before Parliament in 1766, in which his eloquent answers to questions about the Stamp Act and other incendiary measures made Franklin "the foremost spokesman for the American cause," printed with "substantially the same setting of type" as same year's quarto issue, with frontispiece portrait of Franklin, especially scarce in contemporary calf.
This important work "is the only edition of Franklin's writings (other than his scientific), which was printed during his life time; was done with Franklin's knowledge and consent, and contains an 'errata' [Addenda & Corrigenda] made by him for it" (Ford 342). Edited by his close friend Benjamin Vaughan and published in London while Franklin was serving as America's ambassador, this seminal collection contains many of his writings on the rebellious American colonies and incendiary British measures such as the Stamp Act. Of particular interest is The Examination of Dr. Benjamin Franklin (255-301), a record of his 1766 appearance before Parliament. In Franklin's answers to the over 150 questions posed him in an afternoon of "highly charged testimony, he would turn himself into the foremost spokesman for the American cause" (Isaacson, 229). Responding to a question over how Americans might react to a British army sent to enforce the Stamp Act, Franklin replied that if such an army landed on American shores: "They will not find a rebellion: they may indeed make one" (275-6). In subsequent testimony he soundly declared that Americans saw themselves as fully due "all the privileges and liberties of Englishman… that they are not to be taxed but by their common consent (italics in original, 297). In addition to these and other pivotal writings—including pieces on the "Way to Wealth," language, scientific experiments and observations on the Aurora Borealis—this volume offers first printings of many philosophical pieces that, the editor notes, "are not elsewhere extant in print." Franklin's famous epitaph is printed prior to a lengthy appendix, an index, and Franklin's Addenda and Corrigenda. Preceded the same year by the rarely found quarto issue (Adams 79-38b). With engraved frontispiece portrait of the aged Franklin, three scientific plates (one folding), and folding table of a "reformed" spelling convention. Ford 342. Howes F330. Sabin 25565. Tiny early bookseller notation above title page, tiny remnants of newspaper clipping to verso of front free endpaper.
Text and plates generally fresh with light scattered foxing, minor expert paper repair to top edge of title page, light rubbing to boards. A scarce extremely good copy.