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born. The recital that was made us of his life and character, by some aged persons of the village, struck you, I remember, as extraordinary, from its alialogy to what you knew of myself. “Had he died,” said you, "just four years later, one might have supposed a transmigration of souls."
John, to the best of my belief, was brought up to the trade of a wooi-dier.”
Benjamin served his apprenticeship in London to silk-dier. He was an industrious man: I remember him well; for, while I was a child, he joined my father at Boston, and lived for some years in the house with us. A particular affection had always subsisted between my father and him; and I was his god-son. He arrived to a great age. He left behind him two quarto volumes of poems in manuscript, consisting of little fugitive pieces addressed in his friends. He had invented a short-hand, which he taught me, but, have ing never made use of it, I have now forgotten it. He was a man of piety, and a constant attendant on the best preachers, whose sermons he took a pleasure in writing down according to the expeditory method he had devised. Many volumes were thus collected by him. He was also extremely fond of politics; too much so, perhaps, for his situation. I lately found in London a collection which he had made of all the principal pamphlets relative to public affairs, from the year 1641 to 1717. Many volumes are wanting, as appears by the series of numbers; but there still remain eight ir. folio, and twenty-four in quarto and octavo. The collection had fallen inte the hands of a second-hand bookseller, who, knowing me by hav. ing sold me some books, brought it to me. My uncle, it seems, had left it iehind on his departure for America, about fifty years ago. I found various notes of his writing in the margins. His grandson, Samuel, is aow living at Boston.
Onur humble family had early embraced the Refor. mation. They remained faithfully attached during the reign of Queen Mary, when they were in danger of being molested on account of their zeal against po. pery. "They liad an Engiish Bible, and, to conceal it we more securely, they conceived the project of
fastening it, open, with pack-threads across the leaves, on the inside of the lid of the close-stool. When my great-grandfather wished to read to his family, fe re. versed the lid of the close-stool upon his knces, and passed the leaves from one side to the other, which were held down on each by the pack-thread. Cho of the children was stationed at the door, to give no tice if he saw the proctor (an officer of the spiritual court) make his appearance: in that case, the lid was restored to its place, with the Bible concealed under it as before. I had this anecdote from my uncle Benjamin
The whole family preserved its attachment to the Church of England till towards the close of the reign of Charles II. when certain ministers, who had been rejected as nonconformists, having held conventicles in Northamptonshire, they were joined by Benjanin and Josias, who adhered to them ever after. The rest of the faniily continued in the episcopal church.
My father, Josias, married early in life. He went, with his wife and three children, to New-England, about the year 1632. Couvent.cles being at that time Jirohibited by law, and frequently disturbed, some considerable persons of his acquaintance determined to go to America, where they hoped to enjoy the free exercise of their religion, and my father was prevailed on to accompany ti:ch.
My father had also, by the same wife, four children born in America, and ten others by a second wife, making in all seventeen. I remeniber to have seen thirteen seated together at his table, who all arrived at years of maturity, and were married. I was the last of the sons, and the youngest child, excepting two daughters. I was born at Boston, in New-Eng. hand. My motier, the second wife, was Abiah Fol. ger, daughter of Peter Folger, one of the first colonists of Near-England, of whom Cotton Mather makes hon. ourable mention, in his Ecclesiastical History of that province, as "a pious and learned Englishman,' if I rightly recollect his expression. I have been told of ois having written a variety of little pieces; but thero appears to be only one in print, which I met with many years ago. It was pubiished in the year 1675.
and is in faniiliar verse, agreeably to the taste of the times and the country. The author addresses himself to the governors for the time being, speaks for liberty of conscience, and in favour of tha anabaptists, quakers, and other sectaries, who had suffered persecution. To this persecution he attributes the wars with the natives, and other calamities which afflicted the coun. try, regarding them as the judgments of God in pun. ishment of so odious an offence, and he exhorts the government to the repeal of laws so contrary to enarity. The poein appeared to be written with a manly freedom and a pleasing simplicity. I recollect the six concluding lines, though I have forgotten the order of words of the two first; the sense of which was, that his censures were dictated by benevolence, and that, of consequence, he wished to be known as the author; because, said he, I hate from my very soul dissimulation.
From Sherburn,* where I dwell,
I therefore put my name,
My brothers were all put apprentices to different trades. With respect to myself, I was sent, at the sege of eight years, to a grammar-school. My father destined me for the church, and already regarded me as the chaplain of my family. The promptitude with which, from my infancy, I had leared to read, for I do not remember to have been ever without this! acquirement, and the encouragement of his frienas, wlio assured him that I should one day certainly become a man of letters, confirmed him in this design. My uncle Benjamin approved also of the scherre, and prorised to give me all his volumes of sermons, writien, as I have said, in the short-hand of his finven tion, if I would take the pains to learn it.
I remained, however, scarcely a year at the grammar-school, althongh, in this short interval, I had rised from the middle to the head of my class, froin thence
• Town in the island of Nantucket.
to the class immediately above, and was to pass, at the end of the year, to the one next in order. But iny father, burdened with a numerous far.ily, found that he was incapable, without subjecting himself to difficulties, of providing for the expenses of a colie giate education ; and considering, besides, as I heara hiin say to his friends, that persons so educated were often poorly provided for, he renounced his first inten. tions, took me from the grammar-school, and sent me 10 d school for writing and arithmetic, kept by a Mc George Brownwell, who was a skilful master, and succeeded very well in his profession by ernploying; gentle means only, and such as were calculated to encourage his scholars. Under him, I soon acquired an excellent hand; but I failed in arithmetic, and made therein no sort of progress.
At ten years of age, I was called home to assist mx father in nissoccupation, which was that of soap-boiler and tallow-chandler; a business to which he liad served no apprenticeship, but which he embraced on his arrival in New England, because he found his own, that of dier, in too little request to enable him i maintain his family. I was accordingly entployed in cutting the wicks, 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 faoe against it. The viciniiy of the water, however, gave me frequent opportunities of' venturing myself both upon and within it, and I soon acquired the art of swimming and of nialiaging a boat. When embark. ed with other children, the helm was commonly de. puted to me, particularly on difficult occasions; and, in every other project, I was almost always the lead. er of the troop, whom I sometimes involved in em. barrassments. I shall give an instance of this, which demonstrates an early disposition of mind for public enterprises, though the one in question was not con. ducted by justice.
The mill-pond was terminate on one side by a mare, upon the borders of which we were wcustomed to take our stand, at high water, to a me for small fish. By dint of walking, we had converted
perfect quagmire. My proposal was to erect a wharf What should afford us firm footing; and I pointed out to my companions a large heap of stones, intended for the building a new house near the marsh, and which were well adapted for our purpose. Accord ingly, when the workmen retired in the evening, I Assembled a number of my play-fellows, and by la. bouring diligently, like ants, sometimes four of us uni ting our strength to carry a single stone, we remove] hem ail, and constructed our little quay. The work men were surprised the next inorning at not finding their stones, which had been conveyed to our whars. Inquiries were mado respecting the authors of this conveyance; we were discovered; complaints were exhibited against us: and many of us underwent correction on the part of our parents; and though I 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 ex. cellent 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 sang a psalm 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 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, ndeeá, he never engaged, because his numerous family, and the inediocrity of his fortune, kept him unre. mittingly employed in the duties of his profession. But I well remember, that the leading men of the place used frequently to come and ask his advice respectir.g the affairs of the town, or of the church 10 which he belonged, and that they paid much defer. mice to his opinion. Individuals were also in the