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I remained, however, scarcely a year at the grammar school, although, in this short interval, I had risen from the middle to the head of my class, from thence to the class immediately above, and was to pass, at the end of the year, to the next one in order. But my father, bur. thened with a numerous family, found that he was incapable, without subjecting himself to difficulties, of providing for the expence of a collegiate education, and considering besides, as I heard him say to his friends, that persons so ed. ucated were often poorly provided for, he renounced his first intentions, took me from the grammar school, and sent me to a school for wri. ting and arithmetic, kept by a Mr. George Browowel, who was a skillful master, and succeeded very well in his profession, by employing gende means only, and such as were calculated to encourage his scholars. Under him I soon acquired an excellenthand; but I failed in arithmetic, and made therein no sort of progress.
At ten years of age, I was called home to assist my father in his occupation, which was that of soap-boiler and tallow chandler; a business to which he had served no apprenticeship, but which he had embraced on his arrival in NewEngland, 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 and filling the moulds, taking care of the shop, carrying messages, &c.
This business displeased me, and I felt a strong inclination for a sea life; but my father set his face against it. The vicinity of the waters, however, gave me frequent opportunities of ven
turing myself, both upon and within it, and I soon acquired the art of swimming, and of managing a boat. When embarked with other chil. dren, the helm was commonly deputed to me, particularly on difficult occasions; and, in every other project, I was almost always the leader of the troop, whom I sometimes involved in embarrasment. I shall give an instance of this, which demonstrates an early disposition of mind for public enterprises, though the one in question was not conducted by justice.
The mill pond was terminated on one side by a marsh, upon the borders of which we were accustomed to take our stand, at high water, to angle for small fish. By dint of walking, we had converted the place into a perfect quagmire. My proposal was to erect a wharf that should afford us firm footing; and I pointed ont to my companions a large heap of stones, intended for the building of 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 playfellows, and by labouring diligently, like ants, sometimes four of us uniting our strength to 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 wharf, Inquiries were made respecting 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 | 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 designed 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 accompaniment of his violin, as was his frequent practice in an evening, when the labors 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 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 profession. But I very well remember, that the leading men of the place used frequently to come and ask his advice respecting affairs of the town, or of the church to which he belonged, and that they paid much defference to his opinion. Individuals were also in 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 inger: ious topics of discourse, which might tend to form the minds of his children. By this means, he early attracted our attention 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 good or bad flavour, high seasoned or otherwise, preferable or inferi. or to this or that dish of similar kind. Thus ac. customed, from my insancy to the utmost inattention to these objects, I have always 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 ad 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 of which they died; -my father 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 JOSIAH FRANKLIN and ABIAH bis wife. They lived together with reciprocal affection for fifty-nine years; and without private fortune, without lucrative employment, by assiduous labour and honest industry, decently supported a numerous family, and educated with success, thirteen children, and seven grand-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-she discreet and virtuous.
“Their youngest son, from a sentiment of filial duty consecrates this stone to their memory."
I perceive by my rambling digression, that I am growing old. But we do not dress for a private company 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 year that is to say, till I arrived at twelve years of age.About this time, my brother John, who had served his apprenticeship in London, having quitted his father, and being married and settled in business, on his own account, at Rhode Island, I was destined to all appearance, to 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 truant, and escape to sea; as, to his extreme mortification, my brother Josias had He, therefore, took me sometimes to see masons, coopers, glaziers, joiners, and other mechanics, employed at their work, in order to discover the bent of my inclination and fix it, if he could, upon some occupation that might retain me on shore. “I have since, in consequence of these visits, derived no small pleasure in seeing skillful workmen handle their tools; and it has proved of con. siderable benefit, to have acquired thereby suf