Page images
[merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small]



DR. FRANKLIN. In the memoirs of every distinguished person there are incidents which always excite curiosity, and generally, afford improvement; there is something also to admire, and something to imitate; butin a task, like the present, of tracing the course of a life, marked in it's origin by obscurity, to it's advancement as a legislator; of pursuing the gradations of genius from a state unaided by scientific tuition to that of ranking with the first of philosophers; to mark the means and the good fortune by which an individual emerged from poverty to opulence and fame; to contemplate an instance of the successful efforts of industry, economy, and perseverance, accompanied by inflexi. ble integrity, unostentatious manners, strong talents, and true benevolence of mind, is one of the most pleas. ing and interesting of employments.

The subject of this memoir has left a printed account of his life to his twenty-fifth year, which is fraught with incidents and observations of an extraordinary and valuable kind. It is to this that we are indebted for a considerable portion of the following account.

Benjamin Franklin was born at Boston, in New England, Jan, 6, 1706. He was the son of Josias Franklin, a tallow-chandler, descended from an ancient English family, who had resided upwards of three centuries at Eaton, in Northamptonshire, pos. sessing a small freehold estate of thirty acres, the eldest son of which had uniformly been bred up to the trade of a blacksmith. This family had early embraced the principles of the reformation, and were in danger of suffering for them, under the bloody reign of Queen Mary. They had an English Bible, and, to conceal it the more securely, they fastened it, open, with packthreads across the leaves, on the inside of the lid of a close-stool. The lid of the closestool was turned upon the knees of our author's great grand-father, when he wanted to read, while one of the children was stationed at the door, to give notice if he saw the proctor (an officer of the spiritual court) make his appearance. Benjamin was the youngest son of the youngest branch of this family. His father had joined the nonconformists, and on the prohibition of conventicles under Charles 11, emigrated, with his wife and family, to New England, in 1682; where, on the death of his first wife, he married Abiah Folger, daughter of Peter Folger, a descendent of one of the first colonists in that prove ince, who was author of several tracts on liberty of conscience. She bore him in all ten children. Ben. jamin very readily acquired reading and writing, but made no progress in arithmetic. His father had destined him for the church, but owing to the de. mands of his numerous family, he found the expens. es of a college education would subject him to difficulties, and he abandoned this intention. From ten to twelve years of age young Franklin wrought at his father's business. In this employment he continued for two years, but growing much dissat. isfied with it, his father wished to discover the natural bias of his disposition in the choice of a trade. He therefore took him to see masons, coopers, joiners, and other mechanics, while employed at their work. He was then sent on trial to a cutler. Discover

« PreviousContinue »