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MY DEAR SOX,
I Have amused myself with collecting soine iscile anecdotes of my family. You may remember the inquiries I made, when you were with me in Eng. land, among such of my relations as were then lising; and the jouniey I undertook for that purpose. To be acquainted with the particulars of my parent, age and life, many of which are unknown to you, I flatter myees will afford the same pleasure to you as to me. I shall relate their upon papes: it will he an agreeable employment -of a week's 'uiiterrupred leisure, which I proniisă, mysélr turing my pesert retirement in the country. There are also other ind. tives which induce me to the unelertaking. From the boson of poverty and obscurity, in which''
drew my first breatli, and spent my earliest years, I have raised myself 10 a state of opulence, and 10 some degree of celebrity in the world. A coneint ggod fortune has attended me through every period o life to my pre.se ent advanced age; and my descendants niay be de sirous of learning what were the means of which I made use, and which, thanks to the assisting hand of Providence, have proved so eminently successful. 'They may also, should they ever be piaced in a sia milar situation, derive some advantage from my naro ratire.
Whon I reflect, as I frequently do, upon the felicity I hare enjoyed, I sometimes say to myself, that were the offer made true I would engage to run again, from
beginning to end, the same career of life. An " would ask, should be the privilege of an author, te correct, in a second edition, certain errors of the first I could wish, likewise, if it were in my power, lo change some trivial incidents and events for othors more favourable. , Were this, however, denied me, still would I not decline the offer. But since a repetition of life cannot take place, there is nothing which, in my opinion, so heariy resembles it, as to call tó mind all its circumstances, and, to render their renyembrance more durable, comnit them to writing. By thus empoying myself, I shall yield to the inclination, so natural in old men, to talk of themselves and their exploits, and may freely silow my bemin, without being tiresome to those who, from respect to my age, might think themselves obliged to listen to me; as they will be at liberty to read me or not as they please. In finaand I nay as well avow it, since nobody would believe me were I to deny itI shall
, perhaps, by this employment, gratify my vani. 19. Scarcely, indeed, have I ever heard or riau the introductory phrase, “ I may say without vanity," but some striking and characteristic instance of vanity
ben immediately followed.: The generality of men ::tate yanary in others, however strongly they may be
tinctured with it themselvese: for myself, I pay obejsance to it:wheltvei 1 meet with it, persuaded that it is arivandagers, as well to the individual whom it governs, as to those who are within the sphere of its infuence of consequenoe, iš would, in many cases, at BS wholly absurd, that a 'man should count his vanity aihong the other sweets of life, and give thanks to Providence for the blessing.
And here let ne with all humility acknowledge that to Divine Providence I am indebted for the felicity! bave hitherto enjoyed. It is that power alone w bich has fumished me with the means I have employed, and that has crowned thom with success. My faith, in this respect, leads me to hope, though I cannot count upon it, that the Divine goudness will still be exercised towards me, either by prolonging the dura. con of my happiness to the close of life, or by giving ole fortituido to support any melancholy reverse, which
may happen to me, as to so many others. My future fortune is unknown but to Him in whose hand is our destiny, and who can make our very afflictions sube servient to our benefit.
Ore of my uncles, desirous, like myself, of collect ing anecdutes of our family, gave me some notes, from which I have derived many particulars respecto ing our ancestors. From these I learn, that they had lived in the same village (Eaton, in Northamptonshire,) upon a freehold of about thirty acres, for the space at least of three hundred years. How long they had resiced there, prior to that period, my unclo had been unable to discover; probably ever since the institutior: of sumames, when they took the appellation of Franklin, which had forinerly been the name of a particular order of individuals. *
This petty estate would not have sufficed for their shsistenice, had they not added the trade of black.
* As a proof that Franklin was anciently the common uame of an order or rank in England, see Judge Fortesque, De laudibus legum Angliæ, written about the year 1412, ia which is the following passage to sl:0, chat good juries might easily be formed in any part of Eng'and :
« Regio etiam illa, ila respersa referiaque est possessoribus terrarum et agrorum, quod in ea villula tam parvą reperiri non poterit, in qua non est mlis, a rörige?, vel pater-familias, qualis ibidem franklin vulgaritur nuncupatur, magnis ditatus possessionibus, nec non libere tenentes et alii valecti plurimi, suis patrimoniis suficientes, ad faciendum jaretam, in forma prænotata."
“ Moreover, the same coun'ry is sn Gled api replenished with landed menne, that therein so small a thorre cadnot be found wherein dwelleth not a kuighi, an esquire, or such a bouseholder as is there commonly called a franklin, en riched with great possessions; and also other freeholders and many yeomen, able for their livelihoud to make a jury in form aforementioned."
Old Translation. Chaucer ton, calls his country-gentleman a franklin; anch alter describing his good housekeeping, thus characterizos
This worthy franklin bore a purse of silk
smith, which was perpetuated in the family down to my uncle's time, the ellest son having been unitormly brought up to this employınent: a custom which both he and iny father observed with respect to their oldest sons.
In the researches I made at Eaton, I found no account of their births, marriages, and deaths, earlier than the year 1555; the parish register noi extending farther back than that period. This register informed me, that I was the youngest son of the youngest branch of ine family, counting five generations. My grandfather, Thomas, was born in 1598, lived at Eaton till he was too old to continue his trade, when he retired to Banbury, in Oxfordshire, where his son John, who was a dier, resided, and with whom my father was apprentice... He dica, and was buried there: we saw his monument in 1758. His eldest son lived in the family house at Eaton, which he bequeathed, with the land belonging to it, to his only daughter; who, in concert with her husband, Mr. Fisher, of Wellingo borough, afterwards sold it to Mr. Estead, the present proprietor.
My grabdfather had four süçyiving sons, Thornas, ..Jubin Benjamin, and Josja ishall give you such
particulars of them as mv. memory will furnish, not having my papers lieve, in which you will find a moro minute account, if they are not lost during any ab
Thames had learntea the grade of a blackstatt under his fathet; ohit, possessing a good natural un. derstanding; he improven it by study, at the solicitation of a gentleman of the name of Palmer, who was at that time the principal inhabitant of the village, and who encouraged, in like manner, all my uncles to -cultivate their minds. Thoinas thus rendered him self conpetent to the functions of a country attomey; Buon became an essentiel personage in the affairs of the village; and was one of the chief movers of every public enterprise, as well relative to the county as the spoon of Northampton. A variety of remarkable in piden 18 were told us of him at Eaton. After enjoying the ealeem and patronage of Lorá Halifax, he died Jangary 6, 1702, precisely four ycars before I was