« ZurückWeiter »
INCLUDING A SKETCH OF
THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF THE WAR
THE VARIOUS NEGOCIATIONS AT PARIS FOR PEACE;
WITH THE HISTORY OP
HIS POLITICAL AND OTHER WRITINGS.
PRINTED FOR HUNT AND CLARKE,
Importance of his life and character. --Family history.-Early destination
and apprenticeship.--Absconds, and arrives at Philadelphia. THE lives of great and useful men have been compared to the course of rivers. They often rise in the most obscure and desolate regions; a child might leap over their sources; and thorns and briars alone appear destined to obey their unregarded progress:
But silently that slighted thing
Shall demonstrate its living spring. The stream widens and deepens ; it becomes the pride of the meadows, and the fertilizer of extensive disa tricts; it arrives within the sweep of tides and the bustle of commerce; conveys prosperity to towns and cities; bears on its bosom the hopes and fortunes of millions, and at length reaches the ocean, the health and hope of a country.
The life of BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, which extends through nearly the whole of the eighteenth century, realized this ancient metaphor in a most remarkable degree. He was at once the humble mechanic, the yet humbler son of a tallow-chandler whose business he hated, and the artificer of his country's independence. He was an oppressed apprentice in the obscure and dingy press-room of a provincial town, and one of the most formidable opponents of
British cabinet measures, and of the whole strength of Britain wielded for indefensible purposes. He had few advantages of education, yet mingled, finally, with the most learned and most polite society in Europe. Inheriting no patrimony but that of a persecuted and honest name, he left to his posterity a handsome fortune realized by his own industry, and claims upon his country's gratitude never fully to be repaid.
Whether considered as a successful tradesman, an experimental philosopher, or a distinguished statesman, his history is full of interesting and important points: we possess, happily, ample details of it, some of the most interesting of them furnished by himself. Let the humblest reader of these pages therefore enter upon them with the assurance of their being calculated to give hope to poverty; to brace the sinews of all industrious men with new energy and perseverance; and to shed the light of contentment and the blessings of temperance, frugality, and peace, on the most humble human lot. Franklin's
's name and family history are to be traced to an early period:—to that period, perhaps, when his name expressed the freedom and independence for which he so conspicuously and so successfully contended *. He became naturally curious, in his prosperity, respecting the early details of his family history; and found that his ancestors were settled at Ecton in Northamptonshire, for three centuries, on a freehold of their own, of about thirty acres. In the parish books of that place he traced, while in England, registers of the marriages and deaths of the family as far back as the books extended (1555). He learnt that, from time immemorial, the eldest son had been brought up a smith, a business which his own elder brother followed.
• Dr. Johnson calls a franklin; a " little gentleman,” but Chaucer and Spenser clearly had more dignified conceptions of his rank in society. Of bis country gentleman the former says,
This worthy FRANKLIN bore a purse of silk,