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Loose Thoughts on an Universal Fluid . .
MY DEAR SOX,
I HAVE amused myself with collecting sorao linie anecdotes of my family. You may rememeber the inquiries I made, when you were with me m Eng land, among such of my relations as were then liv. ing; and the journey I undertook for that purpose. To be acquainted with the particulars of my parentage and life, many of which are unknown to you, I flatter myself will afford the same pleasure to you as to me. I shall relate them upon paper: it will he an agreeable employment of a week's uninterrupted leisure, which I promise myself during my piesent retirement in the country. There are also other moSives which induce me to the undertaking. From the bosom of poverty and obscurity, in which I drew my first breath, and spent my earliest years, I have raised myself to a state of opulence, and to some degree of celebrity in the world. A constant good fortune has attended me through every period o life to my present advanced age; and my descendants niay be desirous of learning what were the means of which I made use, and which, thanks to the assisting band of Providence, have proved so eminently successful.a.
They may also, should they ever be placed in a si milar situation, derive some advartage from my carrative.
When I reflect, as I frequently do, upon the felicity I have enjoyed, I sometimes say to myself, that were the offer made true I would engage to run again, from
beginning to end, the same career of life. AB I would ask, should be the privilege of an author, to correct, in a second edition, certain errors of the first. I could wish, likewise, if it were in my power, to change some trivial incidenis and events for others more favourable. Were this, however, denied me, still would I not decline the offer. But since a re. petition of life cannot take place, there is nothing which, in my opinion, so bearly resembles it, as to Gall to mind all its circumstances, and, to render their remembrance more durable, commit them to writing. By uus emp'oying inyself, I shall yield to the inclination, so natural in old men, to talk of themselves and their exploits, and may freely foilow my borong without being tiresome to those who, from respect to my age, might think themselves obliged to listen to me; as they will be at liberty to read mc or not as they please. In fineand I may as well arow it, since nobody wuuld believe me were I to deny it I shall, perlaps, by this employinent, gratify my vaniy. Scarcely, indeed, have I ever heard or read the introductory plirase, " I may say without vanity," hut somo striking and characteristic instance of vanity has immediately followed. The generality of men hate vanity in others, however strongly they inay be tinctured with it themselves : for myself, I pay obeisance to it wherever I meet with it, persuaded that it is advantagevus, as well to the individual whom it governs, as to those who are within the sphere of its influence. Of consequence, it would, in many cases, not be wholly absurd, that a man should count his vanity among the other sweets of life, and give thanks to Providence for the blessing.
And here let me with all humility acknowledge that to Divine Providence I am indebted for the felicity I llave hitherto enjoyed. It is that power alone whicla has furnished me with the means I have employed, and that has crowned them with success. My faith, in this respect, leads me to hopo, though I cannot count upon it, that the Divine goodness will still be exercised towards ino, either by prolonging the dura. gian cs my happiness to the ciose of life, or by giving une fortitude to support any melancholy reverse, which may happen to me, as to so many others. My future fortune is unknown but to Him in whose hand is our destiny, and who can make our very afflictions subservient to our benefit.
One of my uncles, desirous, like myself, of collecting anecdotes of our family, gave me some notes, from which I have derived many particulars respecting our ancestors. From these I learn, that they had lived in the same village (Eaton, in Northamptonshire,) upon a freehold of about thirty acres, for the space at least of three hundred years. How long they had resided there, prior to that period, my uncle had been unable to discover; probably ever since the institution of surnames, when they took the appellation of Franklin, which had formerly been the name of a particular order of individuals.*
This petty estate would not have sufficed for their subsistence, had they not added the trade of black
* As a proof that Franklin was anciently the common name of an order or rank in England, see Judge Fortesque, De laudibus legum Anglie, written about the year 1412, in wbich is the following passage, to show that good juries might easily be formed in any part of Eng.and :
a Regio etiam illa, ita respersa refertaque est possessoribus terrarum et agrorum, quod in ea villula tam parva reperiri non poterit, in quo non est miles, armiger, vel pater-familias, qualis ibidem franklin vulgaritur auncupatnr, magnis ditatus possessionibus, nec non libere tenentes et alii valecti plurimi, suis patrimoniis sufficientes, ad faciendum juratam, in forma prænotata."
“Moreover, the same country is so filled and replenished with landed menne, that therein so small a thorre cannot be found wherein dwelleth not a knight, an esquire, or such & householder as is there commonly called a franklin, enriched with great possessions; and also other freeholders and many yeomen, able for their livelihood to make a jury in form aforementioned.''
Old Translation. Chaucer tom, calls his country-gentleman a franklin; and, after describing his good housekeeping, thus characterizes him:
This worthy franklin bore a purse of silk