« ZurückWeiter »
which was not strictly honest could be aseful.
It will not, perhaps, be uninteresting to your to know what sort of a man my father was.He had an excellent constitution, was of a mid-dle size, but well made and strong, and extremely active in whatever he undertook. He designed with a degree of neatness, and knew a little of music. His voice was sonorous and agreeable; so that when he sung a psalm or hymn with accompaniment of his violin, as was his frequent practice in an evening, when the labors of the day were finished, it was truly delightful to hear him. He was versed also. in mechanics; and could, upon occasion, use the tools of a variety of trades. But his greatest excellence was a sound understanding, and solid judgment in matters of prudence, both in public and private life. In the former, indeed, he never engaged, because his numerous family, and the mediocrity of his fortune, kept him unremittingly employed in the duties of his profession. But I very welf remember, that the leading men of the place ased frequently to come and ask his advice respecting affairs of the town, or of the church to which he belonged, and that they paid much defference to his opinion. Individuals were also in the habit of consulting him in their private affairs; and he was often chosen arbiter between contending parties.
He was fond of having at his table, as often as possible, some friends, or well informed neighbours, capable of rational conversation; and he was always careful to introduce useful or ingenious topics of discourse, which might tend to form the minds of his children. By this means, he
early attracted our attention to what was just, prudent, and beneficial in the conduct of life. He never talked of the meats which appeared upon the table, never discussed whether they were well or ill dressed, of good or bad favour, high seasoned or otherwise, preferable or inferior to this or that dish of similar kind. Thus accustomed, from my infancy to the utmost inattention to these objects, I have always been perfectly regardless of what kind of food was before me; and I pay so little attention to it, even now, that it would be a hard matter for me to recollect, a few hours after I had dined, of what my dinner had consisted. When travelling, I have particularly experienced the advantage of this habit; for it has often happened to me to be in company with persons, who, having a more delicate, because a more exercised taste, have suffered in many cases considerable inconvenience; while as to myself, I have had nothing to desire.
My mother was likewise possessed of an excellent constitution. She suckled all her ten children, and I never heard either her or my father complain of any other disorder than that of which they died;-my father at the age of eighty-seven, and my mother at eighty-five.They are buried together at Boston, where a few years ago I placed a marble over their grave with this inscription:
“Here lie Josiah FRANKLIN and ABIAH his wife. They lived together with reciprocal affection for fifty-nine years; and without private fortune, without lucrative employment, by assiduous labour and honest industry, decently supported a numerous family, and educated with
success, thirteen children, and seven grand-chil. dren. Let this example, reader, encourage thee diligently to discharge the duties of thy calling, and to rely on the support of Divine Providence. He was pious and prudent--she discreet and virtuous.
“Their youngest son, from a sentiment of filial duty consecrates this stone to their memory.”
I perceive by my rambling digression, that I am growing old. But we do not dress for a private company as for a formal ball. This desérves, perhaps, the name of negligence.
To return. I thus continued employed in my father's trade for the space of two years; that is to say, till I arrived at twelve years of age.About this time, my brother John, who had served his apprenticeship in London, having quitted his father, and being married and settled in business, on his own account, at Rhode Island, I was destined to all appearance, to supply his place and be a candle-maker all my life; but my dislike of this occupation continuing, my father was apprehensive, that, if a more agreeable one were not offered me, I might play the truant, and escape to sea; as, to his extreme mortification, my brother Josias had done. He, therefore, took me sometimes to see masons, coopers, glaziers, joiners, and other mechanics, employed at their work, in order to discover the bent of my inclination and fix it, if he could, upon some occupation that might retain me on shore. have since, in consequence of these visits, derived no small pleasure in seeing skillful workmen handle their tools; and it has proved of considerable benefit, to have acquired thereby suf
ficient knowledge to be able to make little things for myself, when I have had no mechanic at hand, and to construct small machines for my experiments, while the idea I have conceived has been fresh and strongly impressed on my imagination.
My father at length decided that I should be a cutler, and I was placed for some days upon trial with my cousin Samuel, son of my uncle Benjamin, who had learned his trade in London, and had established himself at Boston. But the premium he required for my apprenticeship displeasing my father, I was recalled home.
From my earliest years I had been passionately fond of reading, and I laid out in books all the little money I could procure. I was particularly pleased with accounts of voyages. My f rst acquisition was Bunyan's collection in small reperate volumes. These I afterwards sold in order to buy an historical collection by R. Buron, which consisted of small cheap volumes, amounting in all to about forty or fifty. My father's little library was principally made up
of books practical and polemical theology, I read the greatest part of them.' I have since often regretted, that at a time when I had so great a thirst for knowledge, more eligible books had not fallen into my hands, as it was then a point decided, that I should not be educated for the church. There was also among my father's books, Plutarch's Lives, in wbich I read continually, and I still regard as advantageously employed the time I devoted to them. I found be. sides a work of de Foe's entitled, An Essay on Projects, from which, perhaps, I derived impres
sions that have since influenced some of the principal events of my life.
Myinclination for books at last determined my father to make me a printer, though he had already a son in that profession. My brother had returned from England' in 1717' with a press and types, in order to establish a printing house at Boston. This business pleased me much better than that of my father, though I had still a predilection for the sea. To prevent the effects which might result from this inclination, my father was anxious to see me engaged with my brother. I held back for some time; at length, however I sufferd myself to be persuaded, and signed my indentures, being then only twelve years of age. It was agreed that I should serve as an apprentice to the age of twenty-one, and should receive journeyman's wages only during the last year.
In a very short time I made great proficiency in this buisness, and became very serviceable to my brother. I had now an opportunity of procuring better books. The acquaintance I necessarily formed with booksellers apprentices, enabled me to borrow a volume now and then, which I never failed to return punctually and without injury. How often has it happened to me to pass the greater part of the night in reading, by my bed side, when the book had been lent me in the evening, and was to be returned the next morning, lest it might be missed or wanted.
At length Mr. Matthew Adams, an ingenious tradesman, who had a handsome collection of hooks, and who frequented our printing house,