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cond wife, making in all seventeen. I remember to have seen thirteen feated together at his table, who all arrived to years of maturity, and were married. I was the laft of the fons, and the youngest child, excepting two daughters. I was born at Bofton in new England. My mother, the fecond wife, was Abiah Folger, daughter of Peter Folger, one of the firft colonifts of New England, of whom Cotton Mather makes honourable mention, in his Ecclefiaftical Hiftory of that province, as "a pious and learned Englishman," if I rightly recollect his expreffions. I have been told of his having written a variety of little pieces; but there appears to be only one in print, which I met with many years ago. It was published in the year 1675, and is in familiar verfe, agreeably to the tafte of the times and the country. The author addreffes himself to the governors for the time being, fpeaks for liberty of confcience, and in favour of the anabaptifts, quakers, and other fectaries, who had fuffered perfecution. To this perfecution he attributes the wars with the natives, and other calamities which afflicted the country, regarding them as the judgments of God in punishment of fo odious an offence, and he exhorts the government to the repeal of laws fo contrary to charity. The poem appeared to be written with a manly freedom and a pleafing fimplicity. I recollect the fix concluding lines, though I have forgotten the order of words of the two firft; the fenfe of which was, that his cenfures were dictated benevolence, and that, of confequence, he wifhed to be known as the author; becaufe, faid he, I hate from my very foul diffimulation:
From Sherburne, where I dwell,
PETER FOLGER. * Town in the Island of Nantucket.
My brothers were all put apprentice to different trades. With refpect to myfelf, I was fent, at the age of eight years, to a grammar fchool. My father deftined me for the church, and already regarded me as the chaplain of the family. The promptitude with which from my infancy I had learned to read, for I do not remember to have been ever without this acquirement, and the encouragement of his friends, who affured him that I fhould one day certainly become a man of letters, confirmed him in this defign. My uncle Benjamin approved alfo of the fcheme, and promised to give me all his volumes of fermons, written, as I have faid, in the fhort-hand of his invention, if I would take the pains to learn it.
I remained however fcarcely a year at the grammar fchool, although, in this fhort interval, I had rifen from the middle to the head of my clafs, from thence to the clafs immediately above, and was to pass, at the end of the year, to the one next in order. But my father, burthened with a numerous family, found that he was incapable, without fubjecting himself to difficulties, of providing for the expence of a collegiate edu cation; and confidering befides, as I heard him fay to his friends, that perfons fo educated were often poorly provided for, he renounced his firft intentions, took me from the grammar fchool, and fent me to a school for writing and arithmetic, kept by a Mr. George Brownwel, who was a skilful mafter, and fucceeded very well in his profeffion by employing gentle means only, and fuch as were calculated to encourage his fcholars. Under him I foon acquired an excellent hand; but I failed in arithmetic, and made thereih no fort of progress.
At ten years of age, I was called home to affift my father in his occupation, which was that of foap-boiler and tallow-chandler; a business to which he had ferved no apprenticeship, but which he embraced on his arrival in New Eng land, because he found his own, that of a dyer, in too little request to enable him to maintain his family. I was accordingly employed in cutting the wicks, filling the moulds, taking care of the fhop, carrying meffages, &c.
This bufinefs difpleafed me, and I felt a strong inclination for a fea life; but my father fet his face against it. The vicinity of the water, however, gave me frequent opportunities of venturing myself both upon and within it, and I foon acquired the art of swimming, and of managing a boat. When embarked with other children, the helm was commonly deputed to me, particularly on difficult occafions; and, in every other project, I was almoft always the leader of the troop, whom I fometimes involved in embarraffments. Ifhall give an inftance of this, which demonftrates an early difpofition of mind for public enterprises, though the one in question was not conducted by juftice.
The mill-pond was terminated on one fide by a marfh, upon the borders of which we were accustomed to take our stand, at high water, to angle for fmall fifh. By dint of walking, we had converted the place into a perfect quagmire. My propofal was to erect a wharf that fhould afford us firm footing; and I pointed out to my companions a large heap of ftones, intended for the building a new houfe near the marfh, and which were well adapted for our purpose. Accordingly, when the workmen retired in the evening, I affembled a number of my playfellows, and by labouring diligently, like ants, fometimes
four of us uniting our ftrength to carry a fingle ftone, we removed them all, and conftructed our little quay. The workmen were surprised the next morning at not finding their stones, which had been conveyed to our wharf. Enquiries were made refpecting the authors of this conveyance; we were discovered; complaints were exhibited against us; many of us underwent correction on the part of our parents; and though I ftrenuoufly defended the utility of the work, my father at length convinced me, that nothing which was not ftrictly honeft could be ufeful.
It will not, perhaps, be uninterefting to you to know what fort of a man my father was. He had an excellent conftitution, was of a middle fize, but well made and ftrong, and extremely active in whatever he undertook. He defigned with a degree of neatnefs, and knew a little of mufic. His voice was fonorous and agreeable; fo that when he fung a pfalm or hymn, with the accompaniment of his violin, as was his frequent practice in an evening, when the labours of the day were finished, it was truly delightful to hear him. He was verfed alfo in mechanics, and could, upon occafion, ufe the tools of a variety of trades. But his greatest excellence was a found underftanding and folid judgment, in matters of prudence, both 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 profeffion. But I very well remember, that the leading men of the place ufed frequently to come and afk his advice refpecting affairs of the town, or of the church to which he belonged, and that they paid much deference to his opinion. Individuals were also in
the habit of confulting him in their private affairs, and he was often chofen arbiter between contending parties.
He was fond of having at his table, as often as poffible, fome friends or well-informed neighbours capable of rational converfation, and he was always careful to introduce ufeful or ingenious topics of discourse, which might tend to form the minds of his children. By this means he early attracted our attention to what was juft, prudent, and beneficial in the conduct of life. He never talked of the meats which appeared upon the table, never difcuffed whether they were well or ill dreffed, of a good or bad flavour, high-feafoned or otherwife, preferable or inferior to this or that difh of a fimilar kind. Thus accuftomed, from my infancy, to the utmost inattention as to thefe objects, I have always been perfectly regardless of what kind of food was before me; and I pay fo 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, Į have particularly experienced the advantage of this habit; for it has often happened to me to be in company with perfons, who, having a more delicate, because a more exercised tafte, have fuffered in many cafes confiderable inconvenience; while, as to myfelf, I have had nothing to defire.
My mother was likewife poffeffed of an ex, cellent conftitution. She fuckled all her ten children, and I never heard either her or my father complain of any other disorder than that of which they died: my father at the age of eightyfeven, and my mother at eighty-five. They are buried together at Bofton, where, a few years ago, I placed a marble over their grave, with this infcription: