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MY RESPECTED FRIENDS,
By the invitation of the committee of arrangements for the Franklin Lectures, I now appear before you to offer some remarks introductory to this course. My principal inducement for so doing is my deep interest in those of my fellow-citizens, for whom these lectures are principally designed. I understood that they were to be attended chiefly by those who are occupied by manual labour; and, hearing this, I did not feel myself at liberty to decline the service, to which I had been invited. I wished by compliance to express my sympathy with this large portion of my race. I wished to express my sense of obligation to those, from whose industry and skill I derive almost all the comforts of life. I wished still more to express my joy in the efforts they are making for their own improvement, and my firm faith in their success. These motives will give a particular character and bearing to some of my remarks. I shall speak occasionally as among those who live by the labour of their hands; but I shall not speak as one separated from them. I belong rightfully to the great fraternity of working men. Happily in this community we are all bred and born to work; and this honourable mark, set on us all, should bind together the various portions of the community.
I have expressed my strong interest in the mass of the people; and this is founded, not on their usefulness to the community, so much as on what they are in themselves. Their condition is indeed obscured; but their importance is not on this account a whit the less. The multitude of men cannot from the nature of the case be distinguished; for the very idea of distinction is, that a man stands out from the multitude. They make little noise and draw little notice in their narrow spheres of action; but still they have their full proportion of personal worth, and even of greatness. Indeed every man, in every condition, is great: it is only our own diseased sight which makes him little. A man is great as a man, be he where or what he may. The grandeur of his nature turns to insignificance all out