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LIFE

08
DR. FRANKLIN.

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. ANI 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 incidents and events for others more favourable. Were this, however, denied me, still would I not decline the offer. But since a repetition of life cannot take place, there is nothing which, in my opinion, so Dearly resembles it, as to Gall to mind all its circumstances, and, to render thcir remembrance more durable, commit them to writing. By dius emp'oying inyself, I shall yield to the inclination, so natural in old men, to talk of then selves and their exploits, and may freely foilow my bors without being tiresome to those who, from respect to iny age, might think themselves obliged to listen to me; as they will be at liberty to read mo or not as they please. In fine-and I may as well avow it, since nobody wuuld believe me were I to deny itI shall, verlaps, by this employinent, gratify my vani. W. Scarcely, indeed, have I ever heard or read the introductory plurase, “ I may say without vanity," hut some striking and characteristic instance of vanity has immediately followed. The generality of men liate 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 woud, in many cases, not be wholly absurd, that a man should count his vanity ajnong 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 Biave hitherto epjoyed. It is that power alone which has furnished me with the means I have employed, and that has crowned them with success. My fate, 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. can cf my happiness to the ciose of life, or by giving me 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 afictions 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 Angliæ, written about the year 1412, in which is the following passage, to show that good juries might easily be formed in any part of Eng.and :

Regio etiam illa, ita respersa referta que est possessoribus terrarum et agrorum, quod in ea villula tam parva reperiri non poterit, in qua non est miles, armiger, vel pater-familias, qualis ibidem franklin vulgaritur Quncupatnr, magnis ditatus possessionibus, nec non libere tenentes et alii valecti plurimi, suis patrimoniis sufficientes, ad faciendum juratam, in forma prenotata."

"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 a householder as is there commonly called a franklin, enriched with great possessions, and also other free holders and many yeomen, able for their livelihood to make a jury io 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
Fir'd to his girdle, white as morning milk;
Knight of the shire, first justice at th' assize,
To help the poor, the doubtful to advise.
In all employments, generous, just, he pror'd,
Renown'à for courtesy, by all belor'd.

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