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for the last twelve months! How a man pretending to religion could reconcile it to himself to make so hard a bargain with a younger brother, is strange But perhaps it was permitted of God, that Ben should learn his ideas of oppression, not from reading but from suffering. The deliverers of mankind have all been made perfect through suffering. And to the galling sense of this villanous oppression, which never ceased to rankle on the mind of Franklin, the American people owe much of that spirited resistance to British injustice, which eventuated in their liberties. But Master James had no great cause to boast of this selfish treatment of his younger brother Benjamin; for the old adage "fout play never thrives," was hardly ever more remarkably illustrated than in this affair, as the reader will in due season ve brought to understand.
Ben in clover-Turns a Rhymer- Makes a prodigious
noise in Boston-Bit by the Poetic tarantula- Luckily cured by his father.
BEN is now happy. He is placed by the side of the press, the very mint and coining place of his beloved books; and animated by that delight which he takes in his business, he makes a proficiency equally surprising and profitable to his brother. The field of his reading too is now greatly enlarged. From the bookseller's boys he makes shift, every now and then, to borrow a book, which he never fails to return at the promised time: though to accomplish this he was often obliged to sit up till midnight, reading by his bed side, that he might be as good as his word.
Such an extraordinary passion for learning soon commended him to the notice of his neighbours, among whoin was an ingenious young man, a tradesman, named Matthew Adams, who invited him to his house, shewed him
all his books, and offered to lend him any that he wished to read.
About this time, which was somewhere in his thirteenth year, Pen took it into his head that he could write poetry; and actually composed several little pieces. These, after some hesitation, he shewed to his brother, who pronounced them excellent; and thinking that money might be made by Ben's poetry, pressed hi'n to cultivate his wonderful talent, as he called it; and even gave him a couple of subjects to write on. which was to be called the LIGHT-HOUSE TRAGEDY, was to narrate the late shipwreck of a sea captain and his two daughters: and the other was to be a sailor's song on the noted pirate Blackbeard, who had been recently killed on the coast of North Carolina, by Captain Maynard, of a British sloop of war.
Ben accordingly fell to work, and after burning out several candles, for his brother could not afford to let him write poetry by daylight, he produced his two po•
His brother extolled them to the skies, and in all haste had them put to the type and struck off; to expedite matters, fast as the sheets could be snatched from the press, all hands were set to work, folding and stitching them ready for market; while nothing was to be heard throughout the office but constant calls on the boys at press—"more sheets ho! more Light-house tragedy more Blackbeard!” But who can tell what Ben felt when he saw his brother and all his journeymen in such a bustle on his account-and when he saw, whereever he cast his eyes, the splendid trophies of his genius scattered on the floor and tables; some in common paper for the multitude; and others in snow-white foolscap, for presents to the GREAT PEOPLE, such as "His ExCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR."--The Hon. THE SECRETARY
STATE.-"The WORSHIPFUL THE MAYOR"-"The ALDERMEN, and GENTLEMEN of the COUNCIL.”_"The reverend the clergy, &c.” Ben could never tire of zing at them; and as he gazed his heart would leap for joy.” “O you precious little verses,” he would say to himself, “Ve first warblings of my youthful harp! I'll soon have you abroad, delighting every company, and filling all mouths with my name!" Accordingly, his two poems being ready, Ben, who had been both poet
and printer, with a basket full of each on his arm, set out in high spirits to sell them through the town, which he did by singing out as he went, after the manner of the London cries
“Choice Poetry! Choice Po-e-try!
The people of Boston having never heard any su cry as that before, were prodigiously at a loss to know what he was selling. But still Ben went on singing out as before,
“Choice Poetry! Choice Poetry!
Come, buy my choice Poetry! I wonder now, said one with a stare, if it is not poultry that that little boy is singing out so stoutly yonder. O no, I guess not, said a second. Well then, cried a third, I vow but it must be pastry. At length Ben was called up and interrogated. "Pray, my little man, and whats that that you are Grying there so bravely?”
Ben told them it was poetry. "0!-aye! poetry!” said they; "poetry! that's a sort of something or other in metre-like the old version, is n't it?»
“O yes, to be sure," said they all, “it must be like the old version, if it is poetrys" and thereupon they stared at him, marvelling hugely that a "little curly headed boy like him should be selling such a wonderful thing! This made Ben hug himself still more on account of his poetry
I have never been able to get a sight of the ballad of the Light-house Tragedy, which must no doubt have been a great curiosity: but the sailor's song on Blackbeardt runs thus
"Come all you jolly sailors,
You all so stout and brave;
What happen'd on the wave.
I'm gomg new for to tell;
With a down, down, down derry down.
The reader will, I suppose, agree with Ben in his criticism, many years afterwards, on this poetry, that it was "wretched stuff; mere blind men's ditties.” But fortunately for Ben, the poor people of Boston were at that time no judges of poetry. The silver-tongued Watts had not, as yet, snatched the harp of Zion, and poured his divine songs over New-England. And having never been accustomed to any thing better than an old version of David's Psalms, running in this way
“Ye monsters of the bubbling deep,
Your Maker's praises spout!
And wag your tails about.”
The people of Boston pronounced Ben's poetry mighty fine, and bought them up at a prodigious rate; especially the LIGHT-HOUSE TRAGEDY.
A flood of success so sudden and unexpected, would in all probability, have turned Ben's brain and run him stark mad with vanity, had not his wise old father timely stepped in and checked the rising fever, But highly as Ben honoured his father, and respected his judgment, he could hardly brook to hear him attack his beloved poetry, as he did, calling it “mere Grub street.” And he even held a stiff argument in defence of it. Buton reading a volume of Pope, which his father, who well knew the force of contrast, put into his hand for that purpose, he never again opened his mouth in behalf of his “blind men's ditties.” He used to laugh and say, that after reading Pope, he was so mortified with his Light house Tragedy and Sailor's Song, which he had once thought so fine, that he could not bear the sight of them, but constantly threw into the fire every copy that fell in bis way. Thus was he timely saved, as he ingenuously confesses, from the very great misfortune of being, per. haps, a miserable jingler for life.
But I cannot let fall the curtain on this curious chapter, without once more feasting my eyes on Ben, as, with a little basket on his arm, he trudged along the streets of Boston crying his poetry.
Who that saw the youthful David coming up fresh from his father's sheep-cots, with his locks wet with the dews of the morning, and his cheeks ruddy as the opening rose-buds, would have dreamed that this was he who should one day, single handed, meet the giant Goliah, in the war darkened valley of Elah, and wipe off reproach from Israel. In like manner, who that saw this "curly headed child," at the tender age of thirteen, selling his "blind men's ditties,” among the wonder-struck Jonathans and Jeinimas of Boston, would have thought that this was he, who, single handed, was to meet the British ministry at the bar of their own house of Commons, and by the solar blaze of his wisdom, utterly disperse all their dark designs against his countrymen, thus gaining for himself a name lasting as time, and dear to liberty as the name of Washington. O you time-wasting, brain-starving young men, who
never be at ease unless you have a cigar or a plug of tobacco in your mouths, go on with your puffing and champing-yoon with your filthy smoking and
your still more filthy spitting, keeping the cleanly house-wives in constant terror for their nicely waxed floors, and their shining carpets-go on I say; but remember it was not in this way that our little Ben became the GREAT DR. FRANKLIN.
T'IS the character of a great mind never to despair. Though glory may not be gained in one way it may in another. As a river, if it meet a mountain in its course, does not halt and poison all the country by stagnation, but rolls its gathering forces around the obstacle, urging its precious tides and treasures through distant lands. So it was with the restless genius of young Franklin. Finding that nature had never cut him out for a poet,