Abbildungen der Seite

several years. There was always a particular affection between my father and him, and I was his godson. He lived to a great age. He left behind him two quarto volumes of manuscript, of his own poetry, consisting of fugitive pieces addressed to his friends.* He had invented a short-hand of his own, which he taught me, but, not having practised it, I have now forgotten it. He was very pious, and an assiduous attendant at the sermons of the best preachers, which he reduced to writing according to his method, and had thus collected several volumes of them.

He was also a good deal of a politician; too much so, perhaps, for his station. There fell lately into my hands, in London, a collection he had made of all the principal political pamphlets relating to public affairs, from the year 1641 to 1717. Many of the volumes are wanting, as appears by their numbering, but there still remain eight volumes in folio, and twenty in quarto and in octavo. A dealer in old books had met with them, and knowing me by name, having bought books of him, he brought them to me. It would appear that my uncle must have left them here, when he went to America, which was about fifty years ago. I found several of his notes in the margins. His grandson, Samuel Franklin, is still living in Boston.†

These two volumes have been preserved, and are now before me. They belong to Mrs. Emmons, of Boston, great-granddaughter of Benjamin Franklin, their author. Some further account of them is contained in the APPENDIX, No. 1.- EDITOR.

This grandson of Benjamin Franklin followed the trade of his father, which was that of a cutler. On the father's sign, suspended over the shop door, was painted a crown, with his name, "Samuel Franklin from London." It had also some of the implements of his trade. This sign was retained by Samuel Franklin the younger. At the beginning of the Revolution, the "Sons of Liberty" took offence at this crown, and demanded the removal of the sign; but they finally contented themselves with daubing a coat of paint over the crown, leaving "Samuel

Our humble family early embraced the reformed religion. Our forefathers continued Protestants through the reign of Mary, when they were sometimes in danger of persecution, on account of their zeal against Popery. They had an English Bible, and, to conceal it and place it in safety, it was fastened open with tapes under and within the cover of a joint stool. When my great-grandfather wished to read it to his family, he placed the joint stool on his knees, and then turned over the leaves under the tapes. One of the children stood at the door to give notice if he saw the apparitor coming, who was an officer of the spiritual court. that case the stool was turned down again upon its feet, when the Bible remained concealed under it as before. This anecdote I had from uncle Benjamin. The family continued all of the church of England, till about the end of Charles the Second's reign, when some of the ministers that had been outed for their non-conformity, holding conventicles in Northamptonshire, my uncle Benjamin and my father Josiah adhered to them, and so continued all their lives. The rest of the family remained with the Episcopal church.


My father married young, and carried his wife with three children to New England, about 1685. The conventicles being at that time forbidden by law, and frequently disturbed in the meetings, some considerable men of his acquaintances determined to go to that country, and he was prevailed with to accompany them thither, where they expected to enjoy the exercise of their religion with freedom. By the same wife my

Franklin from London," and the implements of cutlery. Time gradually wore off the paint from the crown, so as to make it faintly visible; and Mather Byles, who was as noted for his loyalty as for his puns, used to lament to Mrs. Franklin, that she should live at the sign of the halfcrown. - EDITOR.

father had four children more born there, and by a second, ten others; in all seventeen; of whom I remember to have seen thirteen sitting together at his table; who all grew up to years of maturity and were married. I was the youngest son, and the youngest of all the children except two daughters. I was born in Boston, in New England.* My mother, the second wife of my father, was Abiah Folger, daughter of Peter Folger, one of the first settlers of New England; of whom honorable mention is made by Cotton Mather in his ecclesiastical history of that country, entitled Magnalia Christi Americana, as "a godly and learned Englishman," if I remember the words rightly. I was informed, he wrote several small occasional works, but only one of them was printed, which I remember to have seen several years since. It was written in 1675. It was in familiar verse, according to the taste of the times and people; and addressed to the government there. It asserts the liberty of conscience, in behalf of the Anabaptists, the Quakers, and other sectaries, that had been persecuted. He attributes to this persecution the Indian wars, and other calamities that had befallen the country; regarding them as so many judgments of God to punish so heinous an offence, and exhorting the repeal of those laws, so contrary to charity. This piece appeared to me as written

* He was born January 6th, 1706, Old Style, being Sunday, and the same as January 17th, New Style, which his biographers have usually mentioned as the day of his birth. By the records of the Old South Church in Boston, to which his father and mother belonged, it appears that he was baptized the same day. In the old public Register of Births, still preserved in the Mayor's office in Boston, his birth is recorded under the date of January 6th, 1706. At this time his father occupied a house in Milk Street, opposite to the Old South Church, but he removed shortly afterwards to a house at the corner of Hanover and Union Streets, where it is believed he resided the remainder of his life, and where the son passed his early years.- EDITOR.


with manly freedom, and a pleasing simplicity. The six last lines I remember, but have forgotten the preceding ones of the stanza; the purport of them was, that his censures proceeded from good will, and therefore he would be known to be the author.

"Because to be a libeller

I hate it with my heart.

From Sherbon Town* where now I dwell,
My name I do put here;

Without offence your real friend,

It is Peter Folger." †

My elder brothers were all put apprentices to different trades. I was put to the grammar school at eight years of age; my father intending to devote me, as the tythe of his sons, to the service of the church.

In the island of Nantucket.

† The poem, if such it may be called, of which these are the closing lines, extends through fourteen pages of a duodecimo pamphlet, entitled, "A Looking-Glass for the Times; or the former Spirit of New England revived in this Generation; by PETER FOLGER." It is dated at the end, "April 23d, 1676.” The lines, which immediately precede those quoted by Dr. Franklin, and which are necessary to complete the sentiment intended to be conveyed by the author, are the following.

"I am for peace, and not for war,

And that's the reason why

I write more plain than some men do,
That use to daub and lie.

But I shall cease, and set my name

To what I here insert,

Because to be a libeller," &c.

The author's muse speaks even in the titlepage, and explains to the reader his design in writing the "Looking Glass for the Times."

"Let all that read these verses know

That I intend something to show
About our war, how it hath been,

And also what is the chief sin,

That God doth so with us contend,

And when these wars are like to end.

Read then in love; do not despise
What here is set before thine eyes."

Additional facts, respecting the Franklin and Folger families, are con

tained in the APPENDIX, No. I. — EDITOR.

[blocks in formation]

My early readiness in learning to read, which must have been very early, as I do not remember when I could not read, and the opinion of all his friends, that I should certainly make a good scholar, encouraged him in this purpose of his. My uncle Benjamin too approved of it, and proposed to give me his shorthand volumes of sermons, to set up with, if I would learn his shorthand. I continued, however, at the grammar school rather less than a year, though in that time I had risen gradually from the middle of the class of that year to be at the head of the same class, and was removed into the next class, whence I was to be placed in the third at the end of the year.

But my father, burdened with a numerous family, was unable without inconvenience to support the expense of a college education. Considering, moreover, as he said to one of his friends in my presence, the little encouragement that line of life afforded to those educated for it, he gave up his first intentions, took me from the grammar school, and sent me to a school for writing and arithmetic, kept by a then famous man, Mr. George Brownwell. He was a skilful master, and successful in his profession, employing the mildest and most encouraging methods. Under him I learned to write a good hand pretty soon; but I failed entirely in arithmetic. At ten years old I was taken to help my father in his business, which was that of a tallowchandler and soap-boiler; a business to which he was not bred, but had assumed on his arrival in New England, because he found that his dyeing trade, being in little request, would not maintain his family. Accordingly, I was employed in cutting wicks for the candles, filling the moulds for cast candles, attending the shop, going of errands, &c.

I disliked the trade, and had a strong inclination to

« ZurückWeiter »