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perfect quagmire. My proposal was to erect a wharf that should afford us firm footing; and I pointed out to my companions a large heap of stones, intended for the building a new house near the marsh, and which were well adapted for our purpose. Accordingly, when the workmen retired in the evening, I assembled a number of my play fellows, and by labouring diligently, like ants, sometimes four of us uni. eing our strength tu carry a single stone, we removed them all, and constructed our little quay.
The workmen were surprised the next morning at not finding their stones, which had been conveyed to our whart, Inquiries were made respecting the authors of this conveyance; we were discovered ; coniplaints were exhibited against us; and
many of us underwent correction on the part of our parents, and though I strenuously defended the utility of the work, my father at length convinced me, that nothing which was not strictly honest could be useful.
It will not, perhaps be uninteresting to you to know what sort of a man my father was. He had an excellent constitution, was of a middle size, but well made and strong, and extremely active in whatever he undertook. He designeri 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 the accompaniment of his violin, as was bis frequent practice in an evening, when the labours 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 pru. dence botli 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 well I remember, that the leading men of the place used frequently to come and ask his advice respecting the affairs of the town, or of the chu ch ta which he belonged, and that they paid much deferenee to his opinion. Individuals were also ia 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 at. tention 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 a good or bad flavour, high-seasoned or otherwise, preferable or inferior to this or that dish of a similar kind. Thus accustomed, from my infancy, to the utmost inattention as to these objects, I have 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 or which they died: my fa. ther 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 "Josias FRANKLIN and Abia his wife: They lived together with reciprocal affection for fifty-nine years “and without private fortune, without lucrative em“ployment, by assiduous labour and honest industry, “decently supported a numerous family, and educa- ted with success,thirteen children,and seven grand
Their youngest son
these visits, derived no small pleasure from seeing of considerable benefit, to have acquired thereby sufficient knowledge to be able to make little things and to construct small machines for my experiments, while the idea I have conceived bas been fresh and
My father at length decided that I should be a cut. my cousin Samuel, son of my uncle Benjamin, who
1, "children. 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,
from a sentiment of filial duty, consecrates this stone to
"their memory.” I perceive, by my rainbling digressions, that I am VW growing old. But we do not dress for a private comEl pany as for a formal ball. This deserves, 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 appren. ticeship in London, having quitted iny father, and being married and settled in business on his own
account at Rhode Island, I was destined to all apos parance, 10 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 iruant and escape to sea ; as, to his extreme mortification, my brother
Josias had done. He therefore took me sometimes to see masons, coopers, braziers: joiners, and other mechanics.employed at their work; in order to discover the bent of my inclination, and fix it, it he could, upon some occupation that might
retain me on shore. I have since, in consequence of skilful workmen handle their tools; and it has proved for myself, when I have had no mechanic at hand,
on my imagination.
had learned this trade in London, and had established himself at Boston. But the premiuin be 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 money I could procure. I as particularly pleased with accounts of voyages My first acquisition was Bunyan's collection in small separate volumes. These I afterwards sold in order to buy a historical collection by R. Burton, 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 of 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 which I read continually, and I still regard as advantageously employed the time I devoted to them. I found, besides, a work of De Foe's, entitled an Essay on Projects, from which, perhaps, I derived impressions that have since influenced some of the principal events of my life.
My inclination 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 press and types, in order to establishi 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 resnlt from this inclination, my father was impatient to see me engaged with my brother. I hel« back for some time ; at length, however, I suffered 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 grest proficiency in this business, and became very serviceable to my
brother. I had now an opportunity of procuring bet, ter 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.
Atlengih Mr.Matthew Adams, an ingenious tradesman, who had a handsome collection of books, and who frequented our printing house, took notice of me. He invited me to see his library, and had the goodness to lend me any books I was desirous of reading: I then took a strange tancy for poetry, and composed several little pieces. My brother. thinking he might find bis account in it, encouraged me, and engaged me to write two ballads. One, called the Light-houseTragedy, contained an account of the shipwreck of Captain Worthilake and his two daughters; the other was a sailor's song on the capture of the noted pirate called Teach or Black-beard They were wretched verses in point of style, mere blindmen's ditties. When printed, he despatched me about town to sell them. The first had a prodigious run, because the event was recent, and had made a great noise.
My vanity was flattered by this success : but my father checked my exultation, by ridiculing my productions, and telling me that versifiers were always poor. I thus escaped the inisfortune of being a very wretched pvet. But as the faculty of writing prose has been of great service to me in the course of my life, and principally contributed to my advancement, Í shall relate by what means, situated as I was, I acquired the small skill I may possess in that way.
There was in the town another young man, a great lover of books, of the name of Jobn Collins, with whom I was intimately connected. We frequently engaged in dispute, and were indeed so fond of argumentation, that nothing was so agreeable to us as a war of words. This contentious temper, I would observe by the by, is in danger of becoming u very bad habit, and frequently renders a man's company ints