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■T DM1 SON,
I !!avb aroused myself with collecting some little anecdotes of ray family. You may remember the inquiries I made, when vou were with me in England, among such of my relaticns as were then living; and the journey f 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 t'.inr.t.poii p;.pe:: It will he an afjreeaUo employment ;of a v;eeVs 'jfhmterrup'Bd leisure, which I prnn'iis^-3nysSu*,tiurtng mir „paif.err retirement in the country... T^hetd jre also other rhdtives which induc<: me to lbs unrUjrta'ring.' JPtom the bosom of poverty and ol/Bwirity^n'iuhjcKPdrew my first breath, and spent my earliest years,! tiavrfraised myself to a state of oj/ulencei tttidjo sbme tJegree of celebrity in tho world. - A^oiistSnt gjofl fortuae has attended me through every period bf life to my present advanced age; and my descendants may be 6asirous of learning what were the means of which I made use, and which, thanks to the assisting hand of Proridence, have proved so eminently successful.— They may also, should they ever be placed in a similar situation, derive some advantage from my narrative.
When I reflect, as I frequently do, upon the felicity I hare 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, tp correct, m a second edition, certam errors of the first. I could wish, likewise, if it were m my power, to change some trivial incidents and events for other* 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 nearly resembles it, as to call to mind all its circumstances, and, to reunet their remembrance more durable, commit them to writing. By thus emv/'oying myself, I shall yield to the inclination, so natural in old men, to talk of themselves and their exploits, and may freely ioilow my bunt, without being tiresome to those who, from respect to my age, might think themselves obliged to listen tc me; as they will be at liberty to read me ot not as they please. In fine—and I may as well avow it, 6ince nobody wou\d believe me were I to deny it— I shall, perhaps, by this employment, gratify my vanity. Scarcely, indeed, have I ever heard or read the introductory phrase, "/ may jay without vanity," but sopm striking ;and, chaActeristic; instance of vanity
• fia*. fctynetliate;y fpjar>«ed.'tTiie generality of men
• tjafe Jnmity in others, liou'ever strongly they may be tmctunjd with it themselves;: for myself; I pay obeisance To'kjwhel'eVeJ t irteVtjvith it, persuaded that it is advaii/agqjjiCvas" ?vell to the individual whom it governs? as to .those wheiare ^"ithin the sphere of its influence.' # O/ poufSqVerioe, i» would, in many cases, not tt wholly Rbjuid, that a'man should count bis vanity among the other sweets of life, and give thanks to Providence &r the Messing.
And here let me with all humility acknowledge that to Divine Providence I am indebted for the felicity I have hitherto enjoyed. It is that power alone which lias furnished me with the means I have employed, and that has crowned them with success. My faith, in this respect, leads me to hope, though I cannot count upon it, that the Divine goodness will still be exercised towards mo, either by prolonging the duration of my happiness to the close of life, or by giving sis 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 oui destinv, and who can make our very afflictions sublervient to our benefit.
One of my uncles, desirous, like myself, of collect, big anecdotes of our family, gave me some notes, from which I have derived many particulars respecting out ancestors. From those 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 toojr. the appellation of Franklin, which had fonnerly been the name of a particular order of individuals.*
Tins petty estate would not have sufficed for their subsistence, bad they not added the trade of black
• As a proof that Franklm was ancientlv the common name of an order or rank in Kngland, tee Judge Fortesque, De laudibui Ugvm .Unglia, wri'.lcn ab-jut.the. year I4I2. in which ii the followmg; passage" tor llHrw Ant good Jtirlei might easily be forme.'! m atty.partiof Eng'.and: i '^ i
M Regio etiam ilia,ilarespersareferlaque estp'cseiJOrtirJ Urrarwm et agrorum, quod io eajyilluh tam parva, reperiri Don potent, m qua non est m -Its, flr-rV.g-e.-, Vel p^tir-familias, qnaiis ibidem/ranfcim vulgarilur nun^or|atijr, ira^nis ditatus possessicnibni, nee non libere tenentesetaijiwotecctplurimi, suis palrmiouiis sufficients, ad yaVlena jm jferatiro,tn forma
prienolBtR." J ,; ."', J*„ 1 ° f- ,~'. . ,
"Moreover, the same eoun'.ris its" Oiled ani. replenished wirtt landed menne. thnt therem so small a thorpe cannot ha found wherein dwellelh not a knight, an esquire, or such a householder as is tkere commonly called a franklm, en riched vilh great possessions; nnd also other freeholders ana many yeomen, able for their livelihood to make a jury in form aforementioned.'' Old Translation.
Chaucer ton. calls his country-gentleman B franklm; and, after describmg his good housekeepmg, lbui cbaracteriaas aim:
This worthy franklm bore a purse of silk
imith, which was perpetuated in the family down t• my uncle's time, the eldest son having been uniformly brought up to this employment: a custom which both he and my father observed with respect to their i*ldest sons.
In the researches I made at Eaton, I found no account of their births, marriages, and deaths, earlier than the year I555; the parish register not extending farther back than that period. This registt i iiiformea me, that I was the youngest son of ttie youngest branch of the family, counting live generauons. My grandfather, Thomas, was born in i598, lived at Eaton till he was too old to continue his trade, when he retired to Banbury, in Oxfordshire, where his son John, who was a dier, resided, and with whom my father was apprenticed. He diea, and was buried there: we saw his monument in I758. His eldest son lived in the family house at Eaton, which he bequeathed, with the laiid belonging to it, to his only daughter, who, in concert with her husband, Mr. Fisher, of Wellingborough, afterwards sold it to Mr. Estead, the present
t proprietor. '
'• Jflj gra1)dYa,ther-hJtl 'ous *Sr,vJving sons, Thomas, •Xuh'nj Tjjenjamin, ai\d-,Josial "IlsnaU give you such "particulars of them as my,memory will furnish, not having tnvlpapenilieife, in, which i'ou will find a mora minute ac4eunt,--iftihey are not lost during my absence.' •' • ••'•• _. Thqfwrs" hsfd lftatrfe'r> the Jrade of a blacksrnlto * under/hfyfjithet; "mitt* possessing a good natural understanding,- he improve"! It by study, at the solicitation of a gentleman of the name of Palmer, who was at that time the principal inhabitant of the village, and who encouraged, in like manner, all my uncles to cultivate their minds. Thomas thus rendered himself competent to the functions of a country attorney; soon became Mi essentie.1 personage in the affairs of the village; and was one of the chief movers of every public enterprise, as well relative to the county as ths i*inn of Noithampton. A variety of remarkable in»*4•n is were told us of him at Eaton. After enjoying the ekteem and patronage of Lord Halifax, he died January 6, IT02, precisely four years before I was