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tabit 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 ingenious topics of discourse, which might tend to form the minds of his children. By this means he early attracted our at tention to what was just, prudent, and beneficial in he conduct of life. He never talked of the meats which appeared upon the tal·le, never discussed whether they were well or ill-dressed, of a good or bad favour, high-seasoned or ctherwise, preferable or inferior to this or that dish of a similar kind. Thus accustomed, from my infancy, to the utmost inattention as to these objects, I have 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 ine to recollect, a few hours after 1 had dined, of what my dinner had consisted. When travelling, I have particularly experienced the ailvan. tage of this habit; for it has often happened to me to be in coinpany with persons, who, having a inora delicate, because a more exerciseid taste, have suffered in many cases considerable inconvenience; while, as to myself, I have had nothing to (lesire.
My mother was likewise possessed of an excellent constitution. She suckled all her ten children, anrl } never neaid either her or my father coniplain of any other disorder than that of which they died: my fa ther at the age of eighty-seven, ana my mother a: eighty-five. They are buried together at Boston, where, a few years ago, I placed a marble over theis grave, with this inscription :
“ Here lie " JogjaS FRANKLIN and Abiah his wife: They lived
* together with reciprocal affection for fifty-nine years: “and without private fortune, without sucrative em: "ployment, by assiduous labour and honest industry, * decently supported a numerous family, and educa w ted 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,
“ Slie discreet and virtuous. • Their youngest son, from a sentiment of filial duty,
" consecrates this stone to
« their memory."
I perceive, by my rambling digressions, that I an growing old. But we do not dress for a prirate come pany as for a formal ball. This deserves, perhaps, the name of negligence.
To return. I thus continued einployed in my fa. ther's trade for the space of two years; that is to say, till I arrived at twelve years of age. About this time my brother John, who had served his apprenliceship in London, having quitted my 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 contiruing, my father was apprehensive, that, if a more
ble, one were not offered me, I might play the truant and escape to sea; as, tu his extreme mortifi. cation, my brother Josias had done. He therefore tock me sometimes to sve masons, cocpers, braziers, 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 miglit retain me on shore. I have since, in consequence of these visits, derived ro small pleasure from seeing akilful workmen handle their tools; and it has proved es considerable benefit, to have acquired thereby sufficient knowledge to be able to make little tings for myself, when I have had no mechanic at hand, and to construci small machines for my experimente, while the idea I have conceived has been fresh and strongly impressed on my imagination.
My father at length decided that I should be a cutler, and I was placed for some days upon trial with ny cousin Samuel, son of my uncle Benjamin, waa
had learned this trade in London, and had established himself at Boston. But the premium he required for my apprenticeship displeasing my father, I was recalled home.
From my earliest years I had been passionately fond of reading, and I laid out in booss all the money I could procure. I was particularly pleased with accounts of voyages. My first acquisition was Bun. yan's collection in small separate volumes. These I afterwards sold in crder to buy a historical collection by R. Burton, which consisted of small cheap volumes, aniounting in all to about forty or fifty. My father's little library was principally made up of books of practical and polemical theology. I read the greatest part of them. I have since often regretted, that at a time when I had so great a thirst for knowledge, more eligible books had not falien into my hands, as it was then a point decided that I should not be edu. cated for the church. There was also among my father's books, Plutarch's Lives, in which I read continually, and I still regard as advantagcously em ployed the time I devoted to them. I found besides, a work of De Foe's, entitled an Essay on Projects, from which, perhaps, I derived impressions that have since influenced some of the principal events of my life.
My inclination for books at last determined my father to make me a printer, though he had aiready a son in that profession. My brother had returned trom England in 1717, with a press and types, intorJer to establish a printing-house at Boston. This business pleased me much better than that of my father, though I had still a predilection for the sea. To prevent the effects which might result from this inclination, my father was impatient to sce me engaged with my brother. held back for some time; at length, however, I stiffered myself to be persuaded, and signed my indentures, being then only twelve years of age. It was agreed that I should serve as ar. apprentice to the age of twenty-one, and should receive journeyınan's wages only during the last year.
In a very short time I made great proficiency in this business, and became very serviceable to my
brother. I had now an opportunity of procuring better books. The acquaintance I necessarily formed with booksellers' apprentices, enabled me to borrow a volume now and then, which I never failed to return punctually and without injury. How often has it happened to me to pass the greater part of the night in reading by my bed-side, when the book had been lent me in the evening, and was to be returned the next morning, lest it might be missed or wanted.
At length Mr. Matthew Adams, an ingenious trades man, who had a handsome collectior, of books, and who frequented our printing-house, touk notice of me. He invited me to see his library, and had the goodness to lend me any books I was desirous of reading, I then took a strange fancy for poetry, and composed several little pieces. My brother, thinking he might find his account in it, encouraged ine, and engaged me to write two ballads. One,called the Light-house Tragedy, contained an account of the shipwreck of Cape tain Wortnilake and his two daughters; the other was a sailor's song on the capture of the noted pirate called Teach, or Black-beard. They were wretched verses in point of style, mere blindmen's ditties. When printed, he despatched me about town to sell them. The first had a prodigious run, because the event was recent, and had made a great poise.
My vanity was flattered by this success; but my father checked iny exultation, by ridiculing my productions, and telling me that versiñers were always poor. I thus escaped the misfortune of being a very wretched poet. But as the faculty of writing prose has been of great service to me in the course of my life, and principally coatributed to my advancement, I shall relate by what means, situated as I was, I &c. quired the small skill I may possess in that way. ✓ There was in the town another young man, a gnat lover of books, of the name of John Collins, with whom I was intimately connected. We frequently engaged in dispute, and were indeed so fond of argumentation, that nothing was so agreeable to us as a war of words. This contentious temper, I would observe by the by, is in danger of becoming a very bad habit, and frequently renders a man's company insupportable, as being no otherwise capable of indul geace than by an indiscriminate contradiction. Indeper.dently of tlie acrimony and discord it introduces into conversation, and is often productive of dislike, and even hatred, between persons to whom friend. ship is indispensably necessary. I acquired it by reading, while I lived with my father, books of religious controversy. I have since remarked, that men of sense seldom fail into this error; lawyers, tellows of universitie", and persons of every profession edus cated at Edinburgh, excepted.
Collins and I fell one day into an argument, rela. tive to the education of women; namely, whether it was proper to instruct them in the sciences, and whether they were competent to the study. Collins supported the negative, and affirmed that the task was beyond their capacity. I maintained the opposite opinion, a little perhaps for the pleasure of disputing. He was naturally more eloquent than I; words flowed copiously from his lips; and frequently I thought myselt vanquished, more by his volubility than by the force of his arguments.
We separated without coming to an agreement upon this point, and as we were not to see each other again for some time, I committed my thoughts to paper, made a fair copy, and sent it to him. He answered, and I replied. Three or four letters had been writern by each, when my father chanced to light upon my papers and read them. Without entering into the merits of the cause, he embraced the opportunity of speaking to me upon iny manner of writing. He observed, that though I had the advantage of my adversary in correct spell. ing and pointing, which I owed to my occupation, 1 was greatly his inferior in elegance of expression, in arrangement, and perspicuity. Of this he convinced me ny several examples. I felt the justice of his remarks, became more attentive to language, and resolved to make every effort to improve my style.
Amidst these resolves an odd volume of the Spro. tator fell into my hands. This was a publication I had never seen.
I bought the voluine, and read it agair and again. I was enchanted with it, thought the style excellent, and wished it were in my power