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delphia, and by Congress; and yesterday I re ceived a high additional pleasure by beiog in formed that the National Assembly of France had determined to go into mourning for him. What a glorious scene is opened there! The annals of the world furnish no parallel to it. One of the honors of our departed friend is, that be has contributed much to it.
“ I am, with great respect,
* your obliged and very humble servant,
DR. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.
My Dear Son,
I have amused myself with collecting some little anecdotes of my family. You may rememher the inquiries I made, when you were with me in England, among such of my relations as were then living; and the journey I undertook for that purpose.
To be acquainted with the particulars of my parentage and life, many of which are unknown to you, I flatter myself, will afford the same pleasure to you as to me. I shall relate them upon paper; it will be an agreeable employment of a weeks uninterrupted leisure, which I promise myself during my present retirement in the country. There are also other motives which induce me to the undertaking. From the bosom of poverty and obscurity, in which I drew my first breath and spent my earliest years, I have raised myself to a state of opulence and to some degree of celebrity in the world. A constant good fortune has attended me through every period of life, to my present advanced age; and my descendants may be desirous of learning what
were the means of which I made use, and which, thanks to the assisting hand of Provi. dence, have proved so eminently successful. They may also, should they ever be placed in a similar situation, derive some advantage from my narrative.
When I reflect, as I frequently do, upon the felicity I have enjoyed, I sometimes say to mye self, that, were the offer made me, I would engage to run again, from beginning to end, the same career of life. All I would ask should be the privilege of an author, to correct, in a second edition, certain errors of the first. I could wish, likewise, if it were in my power, to change some trivial incidents and events for others more favorable. Were this, however, denied me, still I would not decline the offer. But since a repetition of life cannot take place, there is nothing which, in my opionin, so nearly resembles it, as to call to mind all the circumstances, and to render their remembrance more durable, commit them to writing. By thus employing myself, I shall yield to the inclination so natural to old men, to talk of themselves and their exploits, and may freely follow my bent, without being tiresome to those, who from respect to my age, might think themselves obliged tolisten to me, as they will be at liberty to read me or not, as they please.
In fine, (and I may well avow it, since nobody would believe me were I to deny it,) I shall, perhaps, by this employment, gratify my vanity, scarcely indeed have I ever heard or read the introductory phrase, “I may say without vanily,” but some striking and characteristic instance
of vanity has immediately followed. The generality of men hate vanity in others, however strongly they may be tinctured with it them selves; for myself, I pay obeisance to it where ever I meet it, persuaded that it is advantageous as well to the individual whom it governs, as to those who are within the sphere of its influ
Of consequence, it would, in many cases, not be wholly absurd, that a man should count his vanity among the other sweets of life, and give thanks to Providence for the blessing
And here let me with all humility acknowledge, that to Divine Providence I am indebted for the felicity I have hitherto enjoyed. It is that power alone which has furnished me with the means I have employed and that has crowned them with success. My faith in this respect leads me to hope, though I cannot count upon it, that the Divine goodness will still be exercised towards me, either by prolonging the duration of my happiness to the close of life, or by giving me fortitude 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 subservient 'to our benefit.
One of my uncles, desirous, like myself, of collecting anecdotes of our family, gave me some notes, from which I have derived many particulars respecting 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 nad resided there prior to that period, my uncle had been unable to discover; probably ever since the institution of surnames, which had former. ly been the name of a particular order of indi. viduals. *
This petty estate would not have sufficed for their subsistence, had they not added the trade of blacksmith, which was perpetuated in the family down to my uncle's time, the eldest son having been uniformly brought up to this employment; a custom which both he and my father observed with respect to their eldest 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 not
* As a proof that Franklin was anciently the common name of an order or rank in England, see Jude Fortesqae, de laudibus legum Angliæ, written about the year 1412, in which is the following passage, to show that good juries might casily be formed in any part of England:
** Regio etiam illa, in respersa refertaque est possessoribus terra. rum et agrorum, quod in ea, villula tam parva reperiri non poterit, in qua non est miles, armiger, vel pater familias. qualis ibidem Franklin vulgariter nuncupatar, magnis dictatus possessionibus, nec non libere tenentes at alii valectit plurimi, suis patrimoniis sufficientes, ad faciendum juratum, in forma prænotata."
“ Moreover, the same country is so filled and replenished with landed menne, that therein so small a thorpe cannot be found wherein dwelleth not a knight, an esquire, or such an householder as is there commonly called a Franklin, enriched with great pos sessions; and also other freeholders and many yeomen, able for their livelihoods to make a jury in form aforementioned."
Old Translation. Chaucer, too, calls his country gentleman a Franklin, and after tescribing his good housekeeping, thus characterizes him;
This worthy Franklin bore a purse of silk,