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Title: The Printer Boy. - Or How Benjamin Franklin Made His Mark. An Example for Youth.
Author: Thayer, William M. (William Makepeace), 1820-1898
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Transcriber's Note: Every effort has been made to replicate this text
as faithfully as possible, including obsolete and variant spellings
and other inconsistencies. Text that has been changed to correct an
obvious error is noted at the end of this ebook.]










    [Illustration: Medallion of Benjamin Franklin.]




[Illustration: "How much did you give for your whistle!"--See page 4.]


This book is designed to illustrate the familiar maxim, that "THE BOY
IS FATHER TO THE MAN." The early life of Franklin is sketched from his
childhood to the time he was established in business, thus showing
what he was in boyhood and youth; and the achievements of his manhood
are summed up in a closing chapter, to substantiate the truth of the
above proverb.

The author believes that the lives of distinguished men may be
incorporated into a story, uniting narrative and dialogue so as to be
more attractive to the young. John Bunyan was the first to adopt this
style, and his inimitable Pilgrim's Progress charms the young reader,
not only by its graphic imagery, but also by its alternation of
narrative and dialogue. Since his day, others have adopted a similar
style, particularly in works of fiction, with success. Why may not
truth appear in such a dress as successfully as fiction? Why may not
_actual_ lives be presented in this manner as vividly as _imaginary_
ones? The young mind will seize upon a truth or fact that is conveyed
in a story, when it will remain wholly indifferent to it as it appears
in a simple statement. So the life of an eminent man may engage the
attention of this class, if he is made to speak and act for himself,
when they would not be interested in it, if it were presented to them
in a plain summary of facts.

In this volume, the actual, early life of Franklin is wrought into a
story. The imagination has done no more than weave the facts of his
boyhood and youth into a "tale of real life." It makes Benjamin and
his associates speak and do what biographers say they spoke and did.
It simply paints the scenes and acts of which other writers have

A conspicuous place is given in the work to the maxims of Franklin,
for the purpose of conveying important lessons in regard to the
formation of character, and thus stimulating the young in the path of
well-doing. Whole volumes of meaning are condensed into many of his
wise and pithy sayings.

                                                  W. M. T.




  The Holiday--The Coppers in Benjamin Franklin's Pocket--Inquiry--
  Bounding Out--The Toy-Shop Then and Now--The Boy and his
  Whistle--Resolved to Purchase--The Bargain--Going Home--Making
  Music--Discussion about the Price--A Pocketful of Good Things--
  Benjamin crying over his Whistle--A Benefit--What Franklin said
  of it Sixty Years after--Boys do not Learn from the Past--Other
  Ways of paying too dear for a Whistle--Deceit and Falsehood--
  Tippling--Worldly Pleasure                            1-8



  Talk about School--Brothers at Trades--Benjamin for the Church--
  Early learned to Read--Long Process of Preparation for the
  Ministry--"Uncle Benjamin's" Remarks and Offer--Who is "Uncle
  Benjamin"--A Hundred Years Ago--When Benjamin was Born--Baptized on
  Same Day he was Born--The Record--Description of his Birthplace--
  Early Love of Books--His Father's Violin--Poor but Industrious--
  Seventeen Children--Decision to Enter School--Where it was, and by
  Whom kept--His Rapid Progress--Mr. Franklin's Trust in Providence--
  At the Head of his Class--The Boy Father to the Man--Daniel
  Webster--David Rittenhouse and George Stephenson--Hopes of
  Benjamin                                                     9-18



  Conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Franklin--Decision to Remove
  Benjamin from School--Trials of Ministers--Bread before
  Learning--Subject opened to Benjamin--His Feelings--Character of
  Schools then--Mr. Brownwell's Writing-school--Benjamin's
  Obedience--His Father Strict--Keeping the Sabbath--Lore and Respect
  for his Father--Rebuking the Inquisitive Landlord--Erecting Marble
  Stone to the Memory of his Parents--The Stone replaced by Citizens
  of Boston--Obedience of the Peel Boys--Harry Garland--Stephenson's
  Noble Act to his Parents--The Eight Brothers at Inauguration of the
  Franklin Statue--Progress in Penmanship--Beloved by Teacher    19-28



  Put to Candle-making at Ten Years of Age--His Father a Tallow-
  chandler--Benjamin opposed to it--Importance of Industry--His
  Father's Hive without Drones--Benjamin's Maxims about Industry in
  Later Life--"The used key always bright."--"Diligence the Mother of
  Good Luck"--Bad Luck--Bible View--No Schooling after Ten Years of
  Age--Cutting Candle-wicks--Where was the Shop--Benjamin desires to
  go to Sea--His Mother's Veto--An Older Brother went to Sea--Talk
  with his Father--His Father's Veto--Promise of another Pursuit--
  Respect for a Paternal "No"--His Sports on the Water--No Prospect
  of Fame--Giotti Marking in the Sand--Webster's Pocket-handkerchief--
  Roger Sherman at his Bench--Boys not excused from School by these
  Examples--Benefit of a Little Knowledge--Saved Benjamin Russell
  in Thunder-storm--How Stephenson felt for his Son              29-43



  "All Abroad"--The Quagmire--Proposal to build a Wharf--The Heap of
  Stones--Plan to steal them--Time set in the Evening--The Plan
  executed--The Wharf done--Keeping the Secret--Benjamin's Father
  finds him out--Benjamin in a tight place--Promises to do better--How
  the Boys were found out--Benjamin's Reading Habits--What Books
  liked--Mather's "Essays to Do Good"--Letter to Mather's Son--Boys
  should be at Home in Evenings--Advantage of Reading--Letter to a
  Girl on the Subject                                            44-54



  Interview with a Friend--His Ancestors--Their Hardships--Denied
  Liberty of Conscience--The Bible under the Stool--Leaving the Church
  of England--Emigration for Religious Freedom--Conversation on Useful
  Themes at Table--No Complaints allowed about Food--Guests introduced
  and sensible Remarks made--Effect on Benjamin--The Washburne
  Family--Benefit of Good Conversation--His Father's Remarks about
  Food--Benjamin Temperate in Eating and Drinking--"The Water-
  American"--No Temperance Societies then--Table Talk now--A
  Table Scene                                                    55-63



  Still Opposed to Candle-making--A Dirty, Simple Business--Wants to
  do something that requires Ingenuity--His Father and Mother
  conferring together--"A rolling stone gathers no moss"--Afraid he
  will go to Sea--Benjamin's Views and Maxims--Opportunity to choose a
  Trade--Going to see different Trades--Devotes a Day to it--Joiners',
  Turners', and Bricklayers' Work--Cutlery Shop, his Cousin's--Which
  Trade he chose--His Father's Decision--Arrangement to learn to make
  Cutlery--Wise to Consult Taste and Tact of Benjamin--Handel the
  Musician--Sir Joshua Reynolds--Father of John Smeaton--Opposing a
  Child's Bent of Mind                                           64-75



  Taken Away from Cousin Samuel--His Brother's Return from  England--
  Setting Up the Printing Business--Proposal to Benjamin--A Long
  Apprenticeship--Benjamin disposed to turn Printer-boy--His Brother's
  Offer to Teach Him the Art of Printing--Borrowing Books to read,
  and sitting up at Night--Mr. Adams's Library and his Kindness--
  Going to it for Books--Scarcity of Books--Compared with now--Two
  and a half Books made in a Minute--No Libraries then--Their
  enormous Size now--Habit of Reading made him punctual--Example of
  Lord Brougham                                                  76-84



  A Piece of Poetry--Pronounced Good--Proposition to Print his
  Articles--"The Lighthouse Tragedy"--A Sailor's Song--Printing
  them--Selling them in the Streets--A Successful Enterprise--His
  Father opposes--Condemns Poetry in general and Benjamin's in
  particular--A severe Rebuke--Crestfallen--Conference with James--
  His Father's Censure a Benefit--Practice of writing Composition
  excellent--How it Benefited Benjamin, even Pecuniarily--The Farmer's
  Son and Minister                                               85-92



  Dispute with John Collins--A Bookish Fellow--The Education of
  Girls--The Controversial Correspondence--His Father finds the
  Letters--His Criticisms--Collins _versus_ Benjamin--Bought a Copy of
  the Spectator and studied it laboriously--Sorry that he did not
  continue to write Poetry--His Father's Counsel--His Economy of
  Time--A Book always by his side--His Maxims on this Subject--
  Violating the Sabbath to gain Time for Study--Useful Conversation
  and Talking Nonsense--Hundreds ruined by a similar cause--Walter
  Scott hiding Novels from his Father--Pope going to the Theatre--
  Exceptions to the General Rule                                93-103



  Proposition to board Himself--Became a Vegetarian by Reading Tryon's
  Book--Why he did it--How much Money he saved by doing it--Spent it
  for Books--How much Time saved also--Cocker's Arithmetic--Other
  Books read at odd moments--His Plan to save Time--His Maxims on
  saving Time--Aim to be Useful--The English Grammar--Shaftesbury's
  Works--Benjamin a Doubter--Makes known his Doubts to Collins--Danger
  of Reading Attacks upon the Gospel                           104-113



  Starting the Third Newspaper in America--Opposition to it--Number of
  Newspapers now--Forty Million Sheets from Eight Presses--Seventy-one
  Miles a day of Newspapers from One Office--Almost enough to reach
  around the Earth in a Year--Weigh these Papers--Four Million Pounds
  in a Year--Two Thousand Two-Horse Loads--The New England Courant
  started--Printer, News-carrier, and Collector--The Club--Incited to
  write an Article--Tucks it under Printing-office Door--Hears it
  favourably commented on--Writes other Articles--This an Incident
  that decides his Career--Canning at Eton and the
  "Microcosm"--Similar Paper in Seminaries now                 114-122



  Eager to Own the Pieces--Discloses the Authorship to James--
  Interview with the Club--Surprise that Benjamin wrote them--
  Treated with Attention by the Club--Oppressed by James--Trouble
  with him--Benjamin resolves to leave him--The Printing-office
  furnishes many Scholars--A New England Divine--Benjamin directed
  in the Path to which his Native Endowments pointed--So of Lord
  Nelson--Anecdote of him--Buxton, Wilberforce, and Others--Example
  of the Author of the "Optic Library"                         123-129



  Action of General Court to Arrest James Franklin for Libel--The
  Legislative Order--James imprisoned four weeks, and Benjamin
  arrested, but discharged--The immediate Cause of the Arrest--Meeting
  of the Club--Decision to publish the Paper in Benjamin's Name--
  Shrewd Evasion--Youngest Conductor of a Paper who ever lived--His
  Thrusts at the Government--Benjamin born in troublous Times--
  Attacks and Massacres by the Savages--Prepared thereby to act
  in achieving Independence--Bears in Boston                   130-136



  A Quarrel--Asserting his Freedom--Statement of the Case--Appeal to
  his Father--His Father's Decision--Leaves his Brother--Fails to get
  Work--Charged with being an Infidel--Plans to run away--Conference
  with Collins--His Plan to get away--Collins's Talk with the Captain
  of a New York Sloop, and his Base Lie--Benjamin Boards the
  Sloop--Arrival in New York--His lonely Condition--Guilt of a
  Runaway--Quarrel between Brothers painful--Case of William
  Hutton--Lines of Dr. Watts                                   137-147



  Calls on Printer Bradford in New York--No Work--Recommended to go to
  Philadelphia--Arranges for the Trip--Starts for Philadelphia--The
  Drunken Dutchman--His wet Volume and Bottle--Struck by a Squall--A
  sad Night off Long Island--Benjamin's Feelings--The next morning--
  Storm subsides--Next night on shore--Advantage of a little Reading--
  Boys lose nothing by spending leisure Hours in Reading--The Young
  Man in Maine--Discipline of the Mind--Case of Gibbon--What
  Boys say--Sir Walter Scott in Boyhood, and his warning Words--
  Benjamin leaving Amboy--Fifty Miles on Foot--Suspected of
  being a Runaway--Reaches the Quack Doctor's Tavern--Arrival at
  Burlington--The Gingerbread Woman--The Boat gone--Going back to the
  Gingerbread Woman--His Walk--The unexpected Boat and his Passage--In
  Cooper's Creek at Midnight--Reached Philadelphia on Sunday
  Morning--The Shilling--The Boy and his Loaf--Going up Market Street
  with a Baker's Loaf under each Arm--Miss Read--Asleep in a Quaker
  Church--Suspected again of being a Runaway--First Night in
  Philadelphia                                                 148-166



  Call upon Andrew Bradford--His Surprise--Disappointment--Directed to
  Keimer--The Interview--Advantage of Thoroughness--Benjamin did
  things well--Bradford's Talk with Keimer--Keimer ensnared--Benjamin
  makes a Disclosure--Keimer astonished--Repairing a Printing-press--
  At work for Keimer--Goes to Board at Mr. Read's--His Power of
  Observation--Stephenson like him--William Hutton again and
  his Dulcimer--Perseverance--Not proud--How many Boys would have
  done--Maxims                                                 167-175



  The Unexpected Letter--Benjamin's Reply--Governor Keith calls to see
  him--Surprise of Keimer--Invites him to the Tavern--Advises him to
  set up Business for Himself--Benjamin's Objections overruled--Decides
  to return to Boston to ask his Father's Assistance--How the Governor
  learned of Benjamin--His Return to Boston--Joy at Home--His
  gentlemanly appearance--Goes to his Brother's Printing-office--
  Cold Reception--Interview with the Workmen--Exhibition of his Silver
  Coin--His Watch--The Dollar "Treat"--James incensed--Interview with
  his Mother--Stating Business to his Father, and giving him the
  Governor's Letter--His Father's Talk with Captain Homes--His
  Father's Denial--Collins returns with him                    176-178



  Sails for New York--Stops at Newport and visits his Brother--The New
  Passengers--The Old Quaker Lady's Attention--A Narrow Escape--Arrival
  in New York--Collins there first and intoxicated--Makes a Confession
  to Benjamin--Owns that he gambles--Loses all his Money--Message from
  Governor Burnet--Benjamin goes to see him--Trip to Philadelphia--
  Collects Vernon's Debt--Takes Collins to board with him--Throws
  Collins into the River Delaware--The Fate of Collins--Interview
  with Governor Keith--The Governor promises to set him up in
  Business.                                                    188-195



  The Three Associates--Their Characters--Discussion about Poets and
  Poetry--A Proposition to Paraphrase the Eighteenth Psalm--Osborne's
  Prejudice, and how to prove him--Benjamin reads Ralph's Piece as his
  own--The Success of the Ruse--Subsequent Interview of Benjamin and
  Ralph--Their Delight over the Result--The Exposure of Osborne at the
  next Meeting--His Mortification--Fate of Watson and Osborne--
  Advantage of such Literary Clubs                             196-203



  Interview with Governor Keith--Arrangements to go to England in the
  Annis--Only one vessel a year to sail--Still works for Keimer--The
  latter a singular Man--Experiment of a Vegetable Diet--Keimer's
  Abhorrence of it--Eats the whole of a Pig at last--How Benjamin came
  to relinquish a Vegetable Diet--Courting Miss Read--Her Mother
  objects to Engagement--Ralph resolves to go with him--Four or Five
  Printing-offices then, and Two or Three Thousand now--The Governor's
  Letters--Set Sail--Arrival in London--Discovers that his Letters are
  Worthless--The Governor a Deceiver--Tells his Story to Denham--Goes
  to Work in a Printing-office--An Advantage of written Composition--
  His "Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain"--Won
  him Fame--Bargain with a Bookseller--Beer-drinking in the Office--
  Benjamin's Opposition to it--He wrought a Reform--His Firmness and
  Independence--Swimming--Drawn a Mile by his Kite on the Water--
  Advised to open a Swimming-School--Decides on Returning to
  America--A Scene forty years after                           204-219



  Arrival in Philadelphia--Calls on Keimer--Meets Governor Keith in
  the Street--Interview with Miss Read--His want of Fidelity--Denham
  opened a Store, and Benjamin was his Clerk--The Sickness of
  both--Denham dies--Benjamin thrown out of Business--Returns to his
  Trade, and works for Keimer--Legacy from Denham--His Fidelity always
  pleased his Employers--Many Youth do not care for the Employer's
  Success--Fidelity one Secret of Benjamin's Success--The Oxford
  Student--Dangers of Theatrical Amusements and Bad Company--Trouble
  with Keimer--Refuses to work for him--Arrangements to go into
  Business with Meredith                                       220-229



  The Inventory--Keimer's Message--At Burlington--Friends made
  there--Interview with the Surveyor-general--Opening his Office--
  Samuel Mickle--His Croaking--The Result--Poetical Notice in  the
  Printing-office--His Resolution in the Outset--His Industry--
  Prophecies about Failure--The Every-Night Club--The Lounger
  rebuked--Franklin never above his Business--Case of Judge
  Marshall--Economy--How he began to Keep House--Maxims--
  Integrity--The Slanderer turned away--Socrates and  Archelaus--
  Business prosperous--Hopes and Fears--Coleman and Grace, and
  their Offer--Talk with Meredith, and the Latter leaves       230-243



  A Literary Club--What Franklin said of it--A New Proposition for a
  Library--Scarcity of Books--Franklin the Father of Circulating
  Libraries--Size of the First Library now--Questions asked by the
  "Junto"--Their Practical Character--Questions Discussed--Members
  limited to Twelve--No Improvement on the "Junto"--Franklin's Hand
  seen in it--All but one or two Members became Respectable, and most
  of them distinguished Men--Studying French, Italian, and Spanish--
  Playing Chess--Studying Latin--The "Junto" Copied in England--
  Canning--Franklin begins to think more of Religion--Doubting his
  Doubts--A Minister calls upon him--Goes to Meeting--The Fatal
  Sermon--Power of Conscience--Prays, and his Form of Prayer--
  His Book of Goodness--Rules of Conduct, and what they
  show                                                         244-253



  The Printer Boy and Man--His Brother reconciled to him--Rears his
  Nephew--Holds important Offices--Refuses Patent of a Stove--Gift to
  English Clergyman--Improves Street Lamps--Forms Fire-Company--
  Organizes Militia--A Schedule of the Offices he filled and the
  Honours he Won--Honoured in France, and all Europe--Societies
  and Towns named after him--A Library Presented to the Town of
  Franklin, Mass.--His Remark about more Sense than  Sound--
  Washington's Praise of him--Action of Congress--Demonstrations
  of Respect in France--A Benjamin truly, and not a Ben-Oni--
  Regretting his early disregard of Religion--His Benevolence--
  Emptied his Pockets for Whitefield--His Humanity, and Words of
  a Biographer--His Reverence for God in High Places--Proposed the
  First Fast--Advocates Prayers in the National Convention--The
  Young Man at his Death-bed--His Last Words for the Bible     254-264


  "HOW MUCH DID YOU GIVE FOR YOUR WHISTLE?"             _Frontispiece_

  MEDALLION OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN                      _Vignette Title_

  THE ROGUE'S WHARF                                          _Page_ 44

  THE MYSTERIOUS CONTRIBUTOR                                       123

  FRANKLIN SAVING THE DUTCHMAN                                     149







It was a bright, welcome holiday to little Benjamin Franklin, when his
kind parents put some coppers into his pocket, to spend as he saw fit.
Possibly it was the first time he was ever permitted to go out alone
into the streets of Boston with money to spend for his own pleasure;
for he was now but seven years old.

"Can I have more coppers when these are gone?" he inquired.

"No," replied his mother, "you have quite as many now as will be for
your welfare, I think. You must be a good boy, and keep out of

"What are you going to buy?" asked an older brother; and without
waiting for a reply, he answered the question himself, by saying,
"Candy, of course."

"Lay out your money wisely," added his mother; "I shall want to see
how much wisdom you display in your purchases. Remember 'all is not
gold that glitters.'"

His mother had scarcely ceased speaking, when Benjamin bounded out of
the house, eager to enjoy the anticipated pleasures of the day. Like
other boys, on such occasions, his head was filled with bewitching
fancies, and he evidently expected such a day of joy as he never had
before. First in his thoughts stood the toy-shop, into the windows of
which he had often looked wistfully, although it was a small affair
compared with the Boston toy-shops of the present day. Every article
in it could have been examined in one or two hours, while now it would
take as many days to view all the articles in one of these
curiosity-shops. It is almost wonderful, and even fabulous, this
multiplication of playthings for the children. There seems to be no
end to them, and many a girl and boy have been put to their "wits'
end" to know what to choose out of the thousands of articles arranged
on the shelves.

Benjamin had not proceeded far before he met a boy blowing away upon,
a new-bought whistle, as if its music were sweeter than the voice of
lark or nightingale. He could scarcely help envying him the happiness
of owning so valuable a treasure. He stopped and looked at him with an
expression of delight, and they exchanged glances that showed a
genuine sympathy springing up between them. At once he resolved to
possess a similar musical instrument, as I suppose it may be called;
and away he hastened to the toy-shop, knowing that it must have been
purchased there.

"Any whistles?" he inquired.

"Plenty of them," answered the proprietor, with a smile, as he brought
forth a number, to the amazement of his little customer.

"I will give you all the money I have for one," said Benjamin, without
waiting to inquire the price, so enthusiastic was he to become the
possessor of such a prize.

"Ah! all you have?" responded the merchant. "Perhaps you have not so
much as I ask for them. You see these are very nice whistles."

"I know it," added Benjamin, "and I will give you all the money I have
for one," still more afraid that he should not be able to obtain one.

"How much money have you?"

Benjamin told him honestly just how much he had, and the merchant
agreed to give him a whistle in exchange for it.

Never was a child more delighted than he, when the bargain was made.
He tried every whistle, that he might select the one having the most
music in it; and when his choice was settled, he turned his steps
towards home. He thought no more of other sights and scenes, and cared
not for sweetmeats and knick-knacks, now that he owned this wonderful
thing. He reached home and hurried into the house, blowing his
whistle lustily as he went, as if he expected to astonish the whole
race of Franklins by the shrillness, if not by the sweetness, of his

"What have you there, Benjamin?" inquired his mother.

"A whistle," he answered, hardly stopping his blowing long enough to
give a reverent reply.

"You got back quick, it seems to me," she continued. "Have you seen
all that is to be seen?"

"All I want to see," he answered; which was very true. He was so
completely carried away with his whistle that he had lost all his
interest in everything else belonging to the holiday. His cup of
delight was running over now that he could march about the house with
musical sounds of his own making.

"How much did you give for your whistle?" asked one of his cousins,
who was present.

"All the money I had," he replied.

"What!" exclaimed his brother, "did you give all your money for that
little concern?"

"Yes, every cent of it."

"You are not half so bright as I thought you were," continued his
brother. "It is four times as much as the whistle is worth."

"You should have asked the price of it, in the first place," said his
mother. "Some men will take all the money they can get for an
article. Perhaps he did not ask so much as you gave for it."

"If you had given a reasonable price for it," said his brother, "you
might have had enough left to have bought a pocketful of good things."

"Yes," added his cousin, "peppermints, candy, cakes, and more perhaps;
but it is the first time he ever went a shopping on a holiday."

"I must confess you are a smart fellow, Ben" (as he was familiarly
called by the boys), "to be taken in like that," continued his
brother, rather deridingly. "All your money for that worthless thing,
that is enough to make us crazy! You ought to have known better.
Suppose you had had twice as much money, you would have given it all
for the whistle, I suppose, if this is the way you trade."

"Perhaps he would have bought two or three of them in that case," said
his cousin, at the same time looking very much as if he intended to
make sport of the young whistler.

By this time Benjamin, who had said nothing in reply to their taunts
and reproofs, was running over with feeling, and he could hold in no
longer. He burst into tears, and made even more noise by crying than
he had done with his whistle. Both their ridicule and the thought of
having paid so much more than he ought for the article, overcame him,
and he found relief in tears. His mother came to the rescue, by

"Never mind, Benjamin, you will understand better next time. We must
all live and learn. Perhaps you did about as well as most boys of your
age would."

"I think so, too," said his cousin; "but we wanted to have a little
sport, seeing it is a holiday. So wipe up, 'Ben,' and we will have a
good time yet."

On the whole, it was really a benefit that Benjamin paid too much for
his whistle. For he learned a lesson thereby which he never forgot. It
destroyed his happiness on that holiday, but it saved him from much
unhappiness in years to come. More than sixty years afterwards, when
he was in France, he wrote to a friend, rehearsing this incident of
his childhood, and said--

"This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing
on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary
thing, I said to myself, _Don't give too much for the whistle_; and I
saved my money.

"As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I
thought I met with many, very many who _gave too much for the

"When I saw one too ambitious of court favour, sacrificing his time in
attendance on levées, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and,
perhaps, his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, _This man
gives too much for his whistle_.

"When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself
in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by
that neglect, _He pays, indeed_, said I, _too much for his whistle_.

"If I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes, fine houses, fine
furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he
contracts debts, and ends his career in a prison, _Alas!_ say I, _he
has paid dear, very dear for his whistle_.

"When I see a beautiful, sweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured
brute of a husband, _What a pity_, say I, _that she should pay so much
for a whistle!_

"In short, I conceive that great part of the miseries of mankind are
brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value
of things, and by their _giving too much for their whistle_."

Thus Benjamin made a good use of one of the foolish acts of his
boyhood, which tells well for both his head and heart. Many boys are
far less wise, and do the same foolish thing over and over again. They
never learn wisdom from the past. Poor, simple, pitiable class of

Let the reader prove himself another Benjamin Franklin in this
respect. Remember that there is more than one way _to pay too dear for
a whistle_, and he is wisest who tries to discover them all.

When a boy equivocates, or deceives, to conceal some act of
disobedience from his parents or teachers, and thereby lays the
foundations for habitual untruthfulness, he pays too dear for the
whistle; and he will learn the truth of it when he becomes older, and
cannot command the confidence of his friends and neighbours, but is
branded by them as an unreliable, dishonest man.

In like manner, the boy who thinks it is manly to smoke, and fill the
wine-cup, will find that he has a very expensive whistle, when he
becomes "hail fellow well met" among a miserable class of young men,
and is despised and discarded by the virtuous and good.

So, in general, the young person who is fascinated by worldly
pleasure, and supposes that wealth and honour are real apples of gold
to the possessor, thinking less of goodness and a life of piety than
he does of mere show and worldliness, will find that he has been
playing with a costly whistle, when age and his last sickness comes,
and death confronts him with its stern realities.



"Well, Benjamin," said his father, laying down his violin, upon which
he was wont to play in the evening, for his own and children's
amusement, "how should you like to go to school and qualify yourself
to be a minister? You are as fond of your books as James is of
printing, or John of making candles!"

"I should like to go to school well enough," replied Benjamin, after
some hesitation; "but I don't know about the rest of it."

"You are old enough now," continued his father, "to think about a
trade or profession. Your elder brothers have their trades, and,
perhaps, you ought to give your service to the Church. You like to
study, do you not?"

"Yes, sir; the best of anything I do." A very correct answer, since he
began to read so young, that he could not remember the time when he
could not read his Bible.

"It will cost a good deal to keep you at school and educate you, and
perhaps I shall not be able to do it with so large a family to
support. I have to be very industrious now to make my ends meet. But
if you are diligent to improve your time, and lend a helping hand at
home, out of school hours, I may be able to do it."

"When shall I begin, if you decide to let me go?"

"Immediately. It is a long process to become qualified for the
ministry, and the sooner you begin the better."

"Uncle Benjamin," as he was called in the family, a brother of our
little hero's father, sat listening to the conversation, and, at this
point, remarked, "Yes, Benjamin, it is the best thing you can do. I am
sure you can make very rapid progress at school; and there ought to be
one preacher in the family, I think."

"So many people have told me," added his father. "Dr. Willard (his
pastor) said as much to me not long ago, and I am fully persuaded to
make the trial."

"It won't be a severe trial, either," said Uncle Benjamin. "The thing
can be accomplished more easily than at first appears. I tell you what
it is, Benjamin," addressing himself to the boy, "when you are
qualified for the office, I will give you my large volume of
short-hand sermons, and the reading of these will improve your manner
of sermonizing."

This uncle had recently come over from England, and was boarding in
the family. He was a very intelligent man, quite a literary character
for the times, and had been accustomed to take down the sermons to
which he listened, in short-hand, until he had preserved a large
manuscript volume of them, which he valued highly. It was this volume
which he promised to bequeath to his nephew when he should become
qualified to enter the ministry.

This interview occurred almost one hundred and fifty years ago,
between Benjamin Franklin, who paid too much for the whistle, and his
father, whose Christian name was Josiah. The lad was eight years old
at the time, a bright, active, intelligent boy, who was more fond of
reading than any other child in the family. He was born in Boston, on
Sunday, January 6 (Old Style, corresponding to January 17, New Style),
1706, and on the same day was carried into the Old South Church, and
there baptized. Both his father and mother were members of that

If you ask how it is known that he was born and baptized on the same
day, we answer, that on the "Old Boston Town Records of Births," under
the heading, "Boston Births, entered 1708," is the following:--

     "Benjamin, son of Josiah Franklin, and Abiah, his wife, Born 6
     Jan. 1706."

By some oversight or negligence the birth was not recorded until two
years after Benjamin was born; yet it shows that he was born on Jan.
6, 1706.

Then we turn to the records of the Old South Church, and find among
the baptism of infants the following:--

     "1706, Jan. 6, Benjamin, son of Josiah and Abiah Franklin."

Putting these two records together, they establish beyond doubt the
fact that Benjamin Franklin was born and baptized on the same day. It
has generally been said that we do not know by whom he was baptized,
although the rite must have been performed either by Dr. Samuel
Willard, or Rev. Ebenezer Pemberton, who were then pastors of the Old
South Church. But the fact that the record is made in the handwriting
of Dr. Willard would indicate that he baptized him. He was born in
Milk Street, opposite the church, so that he had only to be carried
across the street to receive the ordinance of baptism.

A picture of the old house in which he was born has been preserved,
and it stood on the spot where now rises a lofty granite warehouse,
bearing, in raised letters beneath the cornice, the inscription,
"BIRTHPLACE OF FRANKLIN." The house measured twenty feet in width, and
was about thirty feet long. It was three stories high in appearance,
the third being the attic. On the lower floor of the main house there
was only one room, which was about twenty feet square, and served the
family for the triple purpose of parlour, sitting-room, and
dining-hall. It contained an old-fashioned fireplace, so large that
an ox might have been roasted before it. The second and third stories
originally contained but one chamber each, of ample dimensions, and
furnished in the plainest manner. The attic was an unplastered room,
where probably some of the elder children lodged. This house stood
about a hundred years after the Franklins left it, and was finally
destroyed by fire, on Saturday, Dec. 29, 1810.

He was named after the aforesaid uncle, and this circumstance alone
was well suited to beget a mutual interest and attachment between
them. His love of books early attracted the attention of his parents
and others, and they regarded him as a precocious child. On this
account the remark was often volunteered, "that he ought to be sent to

We have said that Mr. Franklin was playing upon his violin on the
evening of the aforesaid interview. He was very fond of music, was a
good singer, and performed well upon the violin. He was wont to gather
his family around him during the leisure hours of evening, and sing
and play. Many cheerful and happy seasons were passed in this way at
the fireside, the influence of which was excellent upon his children.

That it would be doubtful whether he could meet the expense of sending
Benjamin to college, must appear to the reader, when he learns that
he was a labouring man, and had a family of seventeen children,
thirteen of whom sat around his table together at one time. Fourteen
were older than Benjamin, and two were younger. To support so large a
family must have taxed the energies of the father to the utmost, even
though no one of them was destined for a learned profession.

It was arranged that Benjamin should immediately enter school, and
enjoy the best literary advantages which the poverty of his father
could provide. He acceded to the plan with hearty good-will, and
commenced his studies with a zeal and enthusiasm such as few scholars

The school was taught by Mr. Nathaniel Williams, successor of the
famous Boston teacher, Mr. Ezekiel Cheever, who was instructor
thirty-five years, and who discontinued teaching, as Cotton Mather
said, "only when mortality took him off." The homely old wooden
school-house, one story and a half high, stood near by the spot on
which the bronze statue of Franklin is now seen, and there was the
"school-house green," where "Ben" and his companions sported together.
It was probably the only free grammar-school which Boston afforded at
that time; for it was only a little village compared with its present
size. It then contained only about ten thousand inhabitants, and now
it has more than fifteen times that number. There were no stately
public buildings at that time, like the State-house, Court-house,
Custom-house, Athenæum, Public Library, etc. Such splendid granite
blocks of stores as we now behold on almost every business street,
were then unknown; and no shops could be found, as now, filled with
the fabrics of every land. There were no costly houses of worship, the
"Old South Meeting-house," then about half its present size, being the
oldest one in existence at the time.

When Benjamin was born, the streets of Boston were not named. This was
not done until the year after, when there were but one hundred and ten
of them in number. Now there are a thousand streets, courts, and
places. Thus it will be seen that the Boston of that day resembled the
present Boston little more than Benjamin Franklin blowing his whistle
resembled Benjamin Franklin the great statesman and philosopher.

"I have seen the teacher to-day," said Mr. Franklin to his wife, two
or three months after his son entered school, "and he says that he is
making rapid progress, and will soon stand first in his class,
although others have enjoyed much better advantages."

"I am glad to hear it," answered Mrs. Franklin, with a satisfied air,
such as mothers are likely to betray when they know that their
children are doing well; "I think he will make a good scholar if he
can have the opportunity, though I scarcely see how you will be able
to educate him."

"I can hardly see how myself," said her husband; "yet I trust that God
will provide a way. At any rate, I hope for the best."

"It will be more and more expensive every year to support him," added
Mrs. Franklin, "since his clothes will cost more as he advances in
years. The least expense in educating him we are having now."

"That is very true, and I have looked at the matter in this light, all
the while not being able to see my way quite clear, yet trusting to
Providence for a happy issue."

"It is well to trust in Providence if it is not done blindly, for
Providence sometimes does wonders for those who trust. It is quite
certain that He who parted the waters of the Red Sea for the children
of Israel to pass, and fed them with manna from the skies, can provide
a way for our Benjamin to be educated. But it looks to me as if some
of his bread would have to drop down from heaven."

"Well, if it comes, that is enough," responded Mr. Franklin, rather
drily. "If God does anything for him, he will do it in his own time
and way. I shall be satisfied to see him qualified for usefulness in
the service of the Church."

Within a few months after Benjamin entered school, he had advanced
from the middle to the head of his class. He was so apt to learn, and
gave so close attention to his lessons, that his teacher spoke of him
as a boy of uncommon promise. He did not stand at the head of his
class long, however, before he was transferred to a higher one. He so
far outstripped his companions that the teacher was obliged to advance
him thus, otherwise his mental progress would have been injuriously
retarded. His parents were highly gratified with his diligent
improvement of time and opportunities, and other relatives and friends
began to prophesy his future eminence.

It is generally the case that such early attention to studies, in
connection with the advancement that follows, awakens high hopes of
the young in the hearts of all observers. Such things foreshadow the
future character, so that people think they can tell what the man will
be from what the boy is. So it was with young Benjamin Franklin. So it
was with Daniel Webster,--his mother inferred from his close attention
to reading, and his remarkable progress in learning, that he would
become a distinguished man, and so expressed herself to others. She
lived to see him rise in his profession, until he became a member of
Congress, though she died before he reached the zenith of his renown.
The same was true of David Rittenhouse, the famous mathematician. When
he was but eight years old he constructed various articles, such as a
miniature water-wheel, and at seventeen years of age he made a clock.
His younger brother relates that he was accustomed to stop when he was
ploughing in the field, and solve problems on the fence, and sometimes
cover the plough-handles over with figures. The highest expectations
of his friends were more than realized in his after life. The peculiar
genius which he exhibited in his boyhood gave him fame at last. Again,
George Stephenson, the great engineer, the son of a very poor man, who
fired the engine at the Wylam Colliery, began his life labour when a
mere boy. Besides watching the cows, and barring the gates at night
after the coal waggons had passed, at twopence a day, he amused
himself during his leisure moments in making clay engines, in
imitation of that which his father tended. Although he lived in such
humble circumstances that he was almost entirely unnoticed, yet it
would have been apparent to any observer, that his intense interest
in, and taste for, such mechanical work, evinced what the future man
would be.

It was quite natural, then, for the parents and friends of Benjamin
Franklin to be encouraged by his love of books, and diligent
attention, especially when so much intellectual brightness was also
manifest. The sequel will prove whether their hopes were wisely



Benjamin had not been in school quite a year, when his father saw
plainly that he would not be able to defray the expense of educating

"I might keep him along for the present," said he to his wife, "but I
am satisfied that I cannot carry him through. My family expenses are
now very great, and they will be still larger. It will make
considerable difference in my expenses whether Benjamin is kept at
school, or assists me by the labour of his hands."

"I am not surprised at all at your conclusion," replied Mrs. Franklin.
"It is no more than I have expected, as I have before intimated.
Parents must be better off than we are to be able to send a son to

"If they have as many children to support, you might add," said Mr.
Franklin. "I could easily accomplish it with no larger family on my
hands than some of my neighbours have."

"Do you intend to take Benjamin away from school at once?"

"Yes! I have very reluctantly come to the conclusion that I must. It
is contrary to all my desires, but necessity compels me to do it."

"I am sorry for Benjamin," continued Mrs. Franklin, "for he has become
much interested in his school, and it will be a great disappointment
to him."

"I thought of that much before coming to my present decision; but
there is no alternative. Providence seems to indicate, now, the course
I should take, and I am the more willing to follow, because the times
do not hold out so much encouragement to those who would enter the
service of the Church. There are many trials and hardships to be met
in the work, and at the present day, they seem to be peculiar."

"There are trials almost anywhere in these times," said Mrs. Franklin,
"and I suppose we ought to bear them with fortitude. So far as that is
concerned, I think Benjamin will not escape them, let him follow what
business he may."

"True, very true, and I trust that I desire to place him where God
would have me; but he has certainly hedged up his way to the

This subject was very thoroughly considered before it was opened to
Benjamin. His father was too anxious to educate him to change his
purpose without much patient thought and circumspection. Nothing but
absolute necessity induced him to come to this decision. The hard hand
of poverty was laid upon him, and he must have "bread before learning"
for his children.

One evening, as the school term was drawing to a close, Mr. Franklin
said to Benjamin--

"I think I shall be under the necessity of taking you away from school
at the close of the term. The times are so hard, that I find, with my
best exertions, I can do little more than supply you with food and

"And not go to school any more?" anxiously inquired Benjamin.

"Perhaps not. Such appears to be your prospect now, though I cannot
say that God may not open a way hereafter; I hope he will. You are but
nine years old, and there is time yet for a way to be provided."

"Why can I not attend school till I am old enough to help you?"

"You are old enough to help me now. I could find a plenty for you to
do every day, so that you could make yourself very useful."

In those days boys were put to work much earlier than they are now.
They had very small opportunities for acquiring knowledge, and the
boys who did not go to school after they were ten years old were more
in number than those who did. Besides, the schools were very poor in
comparison with those of the present age. They offered very limited
advantages to the young. It was not unusual, therefore, for lads as
young as Benjamin to be made to work.

"But I do not intend to set you to work immediately," continued Mr.
Franklin. "You ought to give some attention to penmanship and
arithmetic, and I shall send you to Mr. Brownwell's writing-school for
a season."

"I shall like that, for I want to know how to write well. Some of the
boys no older than I am have been to his school some time."

"It is equally important that you learn to cipher, and Mr. Brownwell
is an excellent teacher of arithmetic. It will not take you many
months to become a good penman under his tuition, and to acquire
considerable knowledge of numbers."

"I care more about writing than I do about arithmetic," said Benjamin.
"I don't think I shall like arithmetic very well."

"Boys have to study some things they don't like," responded his
father. "It is the only way they can qualify themselves for
usefulness. You would not make much of an appearance in the world
without some acquaintance with numbers."

"I know that," said Benjamin; "and I shall try to master it, even if I
do not like it. I am willing to do what you think is best."

"I hope you will always be as willing to yield to my judgment. It is a
good sign for a boy to accept cheerfully the plans of his father, who
has had more experience."

Benjamin was generally very prompt to obey his parents, even when he
did not exactly see the necessity of their commands. He understood
full well that obedience was a law of the household, which could not
be violated with impunity; therefore he wisely obeyed. His father was
a religious man, puritanical and even severe in his views and habits;
a walk was never allowed on Sunday, and "going to meeting" was one of
the inexorable rules of the family.

Benjamin was reared under such family regulations. He was expected to
regard them with becoming filial respect. Nor did he grow restless and
impatient under them, nor cherish less affection for his father in
consequence. We have no reason to believe that he sought to evade
them; and there is no doubt that the influence of such discipline was
good in forming his character. He certainly loved and respected his
father as long as he lived. Many years thereafter, when his father was
old and infirm, he was wont to perform frequent journeys from
Philadelphia to Boston, to visit him. It was on one of these journeys
that he rebuked the inquisitiveness of a landlord, by requesting him,
as soon as he entered his tavern, to assemble all the members of his
family together, as he had something important to communicate. The
landlord proceeded to gratify him, and as soon as they were brought
together in one room, he said, "My name is Benjamin Franklin; I am a
printer by trade; I live, when at home, in Philadelphia; in Boston I
have a father, a good old man, who taught me, when I was a boy, to
read my book, and say my prayers; I have ever since thought it was my
duty to visit and pay my respects to such a father, and I am on that
errand to Boston now. This is all I can recollect at present of myself
that I think worth telling you. But if you can think of anything else
that you wish to know about me, I beg you to out with it at once, that
I may answer, and so give you an opportunity to get me something to
eat, for I long to be on my journey that I may return as soon as
possible to my family and business, where I most of all delight to
be." This was a keen rebuke to a landlord who was disposed to be
inquisitive, and interrogate his guests in an ungentlemanly way. But
we have cited the incident to show that the filial love and respect
which Benjamin had for his parents continued as long as they lived.
The last act of affection and reverence that he could possibly perform
to them was cheerfully made. It was the erection of a marble stone
over their remains in Boston, bearing the following inscription:--

                     "JOSIAH FRANKLIN
                       ABIAH his wife
                     Lie here interred.
          They lived lovingly together in wedlock
                     Fifty-five years;
     And without an estate, or any gainful employment,
          By constant labour, and honest industry
                   (With God's blessing)
           Maintained a large family comfortably;
  And brought up thirteen children and seven grandchildren
                From this instance, reader,
         Be encouraged to diligence in thy calling,
                And distrust not Providence.
              He was a pious and prudent man,
             She a discreet and virtuous woman.
                    Their youngest son,
             In filial regard to their memory,
                     Places this stone.
            J. F. born 1645; died 1744. Æt. 89.
            A. F. born 1667; died 1752. Æt. 85."

This stone had become so dilapidated in 1827, that the citizens of
Boston supplied its place with a granite obelisk, on which the
foregoing inscription may still be read.

It is good for boys, who are very likely to want their own way, to be
obliged to obey exact rules in the family. It is a restraint upon
their evil tendencies that tells well upon their riper years. It was
to such an influence that Sir Robert Peel felt much indebted for his
success in life. As an illustration of the obedience he was obliged to
practise, in common with his brothers, he relates, that, in his
youth, a comrade called one day to solicit their company upon some
excursion. He was a young man of handsome address, intelligent, smart,
and promising, though quite accustomed to enjoy much pastime. He was a
fashionable young man for the times, wearing "dark brown hair, tied
behind with blue ribbon; clear, mirthful eyes; boots which reached
above his knees; a broad-skirted, scarlet coat, with gold lace on the
cuffs, the collar, and the skirts; and a long waistcoat of blue silk.
His breeches were buckskin; his hat was three-cornered, set jauntily
higher on the right than on the left side." His name was Harry
Garland. To his request that William, Edmund, and Robert might go with
him, their father replied, "No, they cannot go out." Although the boys
earnestly desired to go, they dared say nothing against their father's
emphatic "No." He had work for them to do, and he never allowed
pleasure to usurp the time for labour. The result is recorded on the
page of English history. The three brothers of the Peel family became
renowned in their country's brilliant progress. Harry Garland, the
idle, foppish youth, became a ruined spendthrift. In this way the
language of inspiration is verified. "Honour thy father and mother
(which is the first commandment with promise), that it may be well
with thee." The providence of God appears to make it well with the
children who obey the commandment. Not the least of their reward is
the respect and confidence of mankind which their obedience secures.
Men universally admire to witness deeds that are prompted by true
filial love. Such an act as that of the great engineer, George
Stephenson, who took the first thirty pounds he possessed, saved from
a year's wages, and paid off his blind old father's debts, and then
removed both father and mother to a comfortable tenement at
Killingworth, where he supported them by the labour of his hands,
awakens our admiration, and leads us to expect that the Divine
blessing will rest upon the author.

When the statue of Franklin was inaugurated, in 1856, a barouche
appeared in the procession that carried eight brothers, all of whom
received Franklin medals at the Mayhew School in their boyhood, sons
of the late Mr. John Hall. They were all known to fame for their worth
of character and wide influence. As the barouche in which they rode
came into State Street, from Merchants' Row, these brothers all rose
up in the carriage, uncovered their heads, and thus remained while
passing a window at which their excellent and revered mother sat,--an
act of filial regard so impressive and beautiful as to fill the hearts
of beholders with profound respect for the affectionate sons.

Benjamin was taken away from school, agreeably to his father's
decision, and sent to Mr. Brownwell, to perfect himself in arithmetic
and penmanship. Less than a year he had attended the grammar-school,
with little or no prospect of returning to his studies. But the
disappointment was somewhat alleviated by the advantages offered at
Mr. Brownwell's writing class. Here he made rapid progress in
penmanship, though he failed in mastering the science of number. He
had more taste, and perhaps tact, for penmanship than he had for
arithmetical rules and problems, and this may account for the
difference of his improvement in the two branches.

We should have remarked that Benjamin endeared himself to his teacher
while he was a member of the public school, and it was with regret
that the latter parted with his studious pupil. His close attention to
his duties, and his habitual good deportment, in connection with his
progress, made him such a scholar as teachers love.



When Benjamin was ten years old he had acquired all the education his
father thought he could afford to give him. He could write a very good
hand, and read fluently, though his knowledge of arithmetic was very
limited indeed.

"Are you about ready, Benjamin, to come into the shop and help me?"
inquired his father, at the dinner table.

"Am I not going to Mr. Brownwell's school any longer?" he asked,
instead of replying to his father's question,--a Yankee-like way of
doing things, truly.

"I think the close of this term will complete the education I am able
to give you," replied his father. "You will fare, then, better than
your brothers, in respect to schooling."

"I had rather not go into the shop," said Benjamin. "I think I shall
not like to make candles, and I really wish you would engage in some
other business."

"And starve, too," said his father. "In such times as these we must be
willing to do what will insure us a livelihood. I know of no other
business that would give me a living at present, certainly none that I
am qualified to pursue."

Mr. Franklin was a dyer by trade, in England, and designed to continue
it when he removed to America, about the year 1685. But he found, on
arriving at Boston, that it would be quite impossible for him to
support his family at this trade. The country was new, and the habits
of the people were different from those of the English, so that the
dyeing business could receive but little patronage. The next pursuit
that presented itself, with fair promises of success, was that of
"tallow-chandler and soap-boiler;" not so cleanly and popular a
business as some, but yet necessary to be done, and very useful in its
place; and this was enough for such a man as Mr. Franklin to know. He
cared very little whether the trade was popular, so long as it was
indispensable and useful. To him no business was dishonourable, if the
wants of society absolutely demanded it.

"Well, I should rather make soap and candles than starve," said
Benjamin; "but nothing else could make me willing to follow the

"One other thing ought to make you willing to do such work," added his
father. "You had better do this than do nothing, for idleness is the
parent of vice. Boys like you should be industrious, even if they do
not earn their bread. It is better for them to work for nothing than
not to work at all."

"I think they may save their strength till they can earn something,"
said Benjamin. "People must like to work better than I do, to work for

"You do not understand me," continued Mr. Franklin. "I mean to say, it
is so important for the young to form industrious habits, that they
had better work for nothing than to be idle. If they are idle when
they are young, they will be so when they become men, and idleness
will finally be their ruin. 'The devil tempts all other men, but idle
men tempt the devil,' is an old and truthful proverb, and I hope you
will never consent to verify it."

Mr. Franklin had been a close observer all his life, and he had
noticed that industry was characteristic of those who accomplished
anything commendable. Consequently he insisted that his children
should have employment. He allowed no drones in his family hive. All
had something to do as soon as they were old enough to toil. Under
such influences Benjamin was reared, and he grew up to be as much in
love with industry as his father was. Some of his best counsels, and
most interesting sayings, when he became a man, related to this
subject. The following are among the maxims which he uttered in his
riper years:--

     "Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labour wears; while the
     used key is always bright."

     "But dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is
     the stuff life is made of."

     "If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be
     the greatest prodigality."

     "Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all easy; and he
     that ariseth late must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake
     his business at night; while laziness travels so slowly, that
     poverty soon overtakes him."

     "At the working man's house hunger looks in, but dares not

     "Diligence is the mother of good luck, and God gives all things
     to industry."

     "One to-day is worth two to-morrows."

     "Drive thy business, let not thy business drive thee."

     "God helps them that help themselves."

These are very beautiful and expressive sentences, and they show that
Benjamin Franklin thought as much of industry in his manhood as his
father did a quarter of a century before. Take the first, in which he
compares slothfulness to rust, which will consume iron tools or
machinery faster than their constant use will. As the use of a hoe or
a spade keeps it polished, so the habitual exercise of the powers of
human nature preserves them in a good condition. A key that is cast
aside soon rusts, and is spoiled, but "the used key is always
bright." It is more fit for use because it has been used.

How true it is that "hunger dare not enter the working-man's house!"
By the sweat of his brow he earns his daily bread, and his children do
not cry with hunger. It is the lazy man's table that has no bread. His
children rise up hungry, and go to bed supperless. God himself hath
said, "If any would not work, neither should he eat."

"Diligence is the mother of good luck." Another gem of wisdom that
commands our acquiescence. How common for the indolent to complain of
"bad luck!" Their families need the necessaries of life, as both a
scanty table and rent apparel bear witness, and they cast the blame
upon "ill luck," "misfortune," "unavoidable circumstances," or
something of the kind. Many men whose faces are reddened and blotched
by intemperance, begotten in the barroom where they have worse than
idled away days and weeks of precious time, are often heard to lament
over their "bad luck," as if their laziness and intemperance were not
the direct cause of their misery. But it is not often that the
diligent experience "bad luck." They receive a reward for their
labours, and thrift and honour attend their steps, according as it is
written in the Bible: "The soul of the sluggard desireth, and _hath_
nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat. Seest thou a
man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall
not stand before mean men."

But we need not enlarge upon these sayings of Franklin. They are all
charged with wisdom, and might be expanded into volumes. The more we
study them, the more beauty we perceive.

It was settled that Benjamin should assist his father in the
manufacture of candles, notwithstanding his disinclination to engage
in the business. His prospects of more schooling were thus cut off at
ten years of age, and now he was obliged to turn his attention to hard
work. It was rather an unpromising future to a little boy. No more
schooling after ten years of age! What small opportunities in
comparison with those enjoyed by nearly every boy at the present day!
Now they are just beginning to learn at this early age. From ten they
can look forward to six or eight years of golden opportunities in the
school-room. Does the young reader appreciate the privileges which he

"To-morrow for the work-shop, Benjamin!" exclaimed Mr. Franklin, with
a tone of pleasantry, on the evening before he was initiated into the
mysteries of making candles. "I am full of business, and need another
hand very much at present."

"You can't expect much help from me," said Benjamin, "till I learn how
to do the work. So I am thinking you will continue to be hurried for
a while, unless you have another hand besides me."

"You can do what I shall set you about just as well as a boy, or even
a man, who had worked at the business for a year."

"I wonder what that can be, that is so easy!" added Benjamin, with
some surprise.

"You can cut the wicks, fill the moulds for cast-candles, keep the
shop in order, run hither and thither upon errands, and do other
things that will save my time, and thus assist me just as much as a
man could in doing the same things."

"I am sure," said Mrs. Franklin, who had been listening to the
conversation attentively, "that is inducement enough for any boy, but
a lazy one, to work. You can make yourself about as useful to your
father as a man whom he would have to pay high wages."

"You will aid me just as much in going errands," said his father, "as
in doing anything else. I have a good deal of such running to do, and
if you do it, I can be employed in the more important part of my
business, which no one else can attend to. Besides, your nimble feet
can get over the ground much quicker than my older and clumsier ones,
so that you can really perform this part of the business better than I
can myself."

Benjamin made no reply to these last remarks, although he was more
favourably impressed, after hearing them, with the tallow-chandler's
calling. On the following day he entered upon his new vocation, and,
if "variety is the spice of life," then his first day in the shop had
a plenty of spice. The shop was situated at the corner of Hanover and
Union Streets, having the sign of a large blue ball, bearing the

          1698 JOSIAS
              FRANKLIN 1698.

He cut wicks, filled moulds, performed errands, and played the part of
general waiter, in which there was much variety. And this was his work
for successive weeks, very little of his time running to waste. Do you
ask how he likes it? The following conversation with his mother will

"I don't like it at all, mother,--no better than I thought I should,"
he said. "I wish I could do something else."

"What else is there for you to do, Benjamin?" replied his mother.
"What would you like to do?"

"I would like to go to sea."

"Go to see what?" she inquired, as if she did not understand him at

"Go on a voyage to Europe, or the East Indies."

"What!" exclaimed his mother, exhibiting surprise, for she had not
dreamed that her son had any inclination to go to sea. "Want to be a
sailor? What put that into your head?"

"I have always thought I should like to go to sea," he answered; "and
I am so tired of making candles that I want to go now more than ever."

"I am astonished, Benjamin. You might know that I should never give my
consent to that. I should almost as lief bury you. And how can you
want to leave your good home, and all your friends, to live in a ship,
exposed to storms and death all the time?"

"It is not because I do not love my home and friends, but I have a
desire to sail on a voyage to some other country. I like the water,
and nothing would suit me so well as to be a cabin-boy."

"There, Benjamin, you must never say another word about it," continued
his mother; "and you must not think any more about going; for I shall
never give my consent, and I know _your father never will_. It was
almost too much for me when your brother broke away from us, and went
to sea. I could not pass through another such trial. So you must not
persist in your wish, if you would not send me down to the grave." And
here his mother alluded to one of the most bitter experiences of her
life, when a son older than Benjamin became restless at home, and
would not be persuaded from his purpose of going to sea. It caused
her many unhappy hours.

Benjamin had said nothing about this matter to his father, and this
prompt veto of his mother put a damper on his hopes, so that he
continued to work at the shop, with all his dislike for the business.
His parents talked over the matter, and his father was led thereby to
watch him more carefully, that he might nip the first buddings of
desire for the sea. At length, however, Benjamin ventured to make
known his wishes to his father.

"I have thought," said he, "that I should like to go to sea, if you
are willing;" and there he stopped, evidently expecting to be refused.

"What has happened to lead you to desire this?" inquired his father.

"Not anything," he answered. "I always thought I should like
it,--though I have had a stronger desire lately."

"I see how it is," continued his father. "You have been to the water
with the boys frequently of late, and I have noticed that you loved to
be in a boat better than to make candles. I am afraid that your sports
on the water are making you dissatisfied with your home, and that here
is the secret of your wanting to go to sea."

"No, father; I think as much of my home as I ever did, and I like a
boat no better now than I did the first time I got into one."

"Perhaps it is so; but boys don't always know when they are losing
their attachment to home. You need not say another syllable, however,
about going to sea, for I shall never consent to it. You may as well
relinquish at once all thought of going, since I strictly forbid your
laying any such plans. If you do not wish to be a tallow-chandler, you
may try some other business. I shall not insist upon your working with
me, though I shall insist upon your following some calling."

"I shall not want to go to sea against your wishes," said Benjamin. "I
only thought I would go if you and mother were perfectly willing. I
can work at this dirty trade, too, if you think it is best, though I
can never like it."

"I am glad to see that you have so much regard for your parents'
wishes," said his father. "If your brother had been as considerate, he
never would have become a sailor. Children should always remember that
their parents know best, as they have had more experience and time to
observe. I say again, if you will abandon all thoughts of a seafaring
life, I will try to find you a situation to learn some trade you may
choose for yourself."

Benjamin was not disposed to enter upon a sailor's life contrary to
his parents' counsels, and he submitted to his father's decision with
as much cheerfulness and good feeling as could be expected in the
circumstances. He knew that it was little use to tease his father when
he said "no" to a project. His emphatic "no" usually put an end to all

There is little doubt that Benjamin had been somewhat influenced by
his frolics in and on the water. For some time, as opportunity
offered, he had been down to the water both to bathe and take
boat-rides. He had become an expert swimmer in a very short time, and
not one of the boys so readily learned to manage a boat. He exhibited
so much tact in these water feats, that he was usually regarded as a
leader by the boys, and all matters of importance were referred to his
judgment. It was not strange that he should be more in love with an
ocean life after such pastimes with his comrades. Whether he admitted
it or not, it is probable that his desire to go to sea was greatly
increased by these pleasant times in and on the water.

It was certainly a poor prospect that was before the young
tallow-chandler. It was not a trade to call into exercise the higher
and nobler faculties of the mind and heart. On that account, no one
could expect that Benjamin would rise to much distinction in the
world; and this will serve to awaken the reader's surprise as he
becomes acquainted with the sequel. A little fellow, ten or twelve
years of age, cutting the wicks of candles, and filling the moulds,
does not promise to become a great statesman and philosopher. Yet
with no more promise than this some of the most distinguished men
commenced their career. Behold Giotti, as he tends his father's flock,
tracing the first sketches of the divine art in the sand with a clumsy
stick,--a deed so unimportant that it foreshadowed to no one his
future eminence. See Daniel Webster, the great expounder of the
American Constitution, sitting, in his boyhood, upon a log in his
father's mill, and studying portions of that Constitution which were
printed upon a new pocket-handkerchief; a trivial incident at the
time, but now bearing an important relation to that period of his life
when his fame extended to every land. Recall the early life of Roger
Sherman, bound as an apprentice to a shoemaker in consequence of his
father's poverty, with little education and no ancestral fame to
assist him,--how exceeding small the promise that his name would yet
be prominent in his country's history! In like manner, the little
candle-making lad of Boston, in 1717, scarcely appears to be related
to the philosopher and statesman of the same name, in 1775. But the
hand of God is in the lives of men as really as in the history of

The reader should not make use of the fact that Franklin, and other
eminent men, enjoyed small opportunities to acquire knowledge, as a
plea that he himself need not be kept in school for a series of
years. It is true that a little mental improvement may work wonders
for a person in some circumstances, and it should lead us to inquire,
if a little will accomplish so much, what will greater advantages do
for him? A very little knowledge of electricity once saved the life of
Benjamin Russell in his youth. He was an eminent citizen of Boston,
born in the year 1761, and in his younger years he had learned from
the writings of Franklin, who had become a philosopher, that it was
dangerous to take shelter, during a thunder-shower, under a tree, or
in a building not protected with lightning-rods. One day, in company
with several associates, he was overtaken by a tempest, and some of
the number proposed that they should take shelter under a large tree
near by, while others advised to enter a neighbouring barn. But young
Russell opposed both plans, and counselled going under a large
projecting rock as the safest place. The result showed that a little
knowledge of electricity was of great service to him; for both the
barn and the tree were struck by lightning. But neither Benjamin
Russell, nor any one else, from that day to this, would think of
saying that there is no need of knowing much about electricity, since
a little knowledge of it will do so much good. They might say it as
reasonably, however, as a youth can say that there is no need of much
schooling, since Benjamin Franklin, and others, became honoured and
useful though they did not go to school after ten or twelve years of
age. The deep regret of all this class of influential men ever has
been, that their early advantages were so limited. George Stephenson,
who did not learn to read until he was eighteen years old, felt so
keenly on this point, that, when his own son became old enough to
attend school, he sat up nights and mended the shoes and clocks of his
neighbours, after having completed his day's labour, to obtain the
means of educating him.

[Illustration: The Rogue's Wharf.--See page 44.]



"All aboard!" exclaimed Benjamin, and so saying he bounded into the
boat that lay at the water's edge. "Now for a ride: only hurry up, and
make the oars fly;" and several boys leaped in after him from the
shaking, trampled quagmire on which they stood.

"We shall be heels over head in mud yet," said one of the number,
"unless we try to improve the marsh. There is certainly danger that we
shall go through that shaky place, and I scarcely know when we shall
stop, if we begin to go down."

"Let us build a wharf," said Benjamin, "and that will get rid of the
quagmire. It won't be a long job, if all take hold."

"Where will you get your lumber?" inquired John.

"Nowhere. We don't want any lumber, for stones are better," answered

"It is worse yet to bring stones so far, and enough of them," added
John. "You must like to lift better than I do, to strain yourself in
tugging stones here."

"Look there," continued Benjamin, pointing to a heap of stones only a
few rods distant. "There are stones enough for our purpose, and one or
two hours is all the time we want to build a wharf with them."

"But those stones belong to the man who is preparing to build a house
there," said Fred. "The workmen are busy there now."

"That may all be," said Benjamin, "but they can afford to lend them to
us awhile. They will be just as good for their use after we have done
with them."

"Then you expect they will lend them to you, I perceive; but you'll be
mistaken," answered Fred.

"My mode of borrowing them is this,--we will go this evening, after
the workmen have gone home, and tug them over here, and make the wharf
long before bedtime;" and Benjamin looked queerly as he said it.

"And get ourselves into trouble thereby," replied another boy. "I will
agree to do it if you will bear all the blame of stealing them."

"Stealing!" exclaimed Benjamin. "It is not stealing to take such
worthless things as stones. A man couldn't sell an acre of them for a

"Well, anyhow, the men who have had the labour of drawing them there
won't thank you for taking them."

"I don't ask them to thank me. I don't think the act deserves any
thanks," and a roguish twinkle of the eye showed that he knew he was
doing wrong. And he added, "I reckon it will be a joke on the workmen
to-morrow morning to find their pile of stones missing."

"Let us do it," said John, who was taken with the idea of playing off
a joke. "I will do my part to carry the thing through."

"And I will do mine," said another; and by this time all were willing
to follow the example of Benjamin, their leader. Perhaps all were
afraid to say "No," according to the dictates of conscience, now that
the enterprise was indorsed by one or two of their number. Boys are
too often disposed to go "with the multitude to do evil." They are
often too cowardly to do what they know is right.

The salt marsh, bounding a part of the millpond where their boat lay,
was trampled into a complete quagmire. The boys were accustomed to
fish there at high water, and so many feet, so often treading on the
spot, reduced it to a very soft condition. It was over this miry marsh
that they proposed to build a wharf.

The evening was soon there, and the boys came together on their
rogue's errand. They surveyed the pile of stones, and found it ample
for their purpose, though it looked like a formidable piece of work to
move them.

"Some of them are bigger than two of us can lift," said Fred.

"Then three of us can hitch to and carry them," said Benjamin. "They
must all be worked into a wharf this evening. Let us begin,--there is
no time to lose."

"The largest must go first," said John. "They are capital ones for the
foundation. Come, two or three must take hold of this," at the same
time laying hold of one of the largest.

So they went to work with decided perseverance (the only commendable
thing about the transaction), sometimes three or four of them working
away at one stone, lifting and rolling it along. Benjamin was never
half so zealous in cutting candle-wicks as he was in perpetrating this
censurable act. He was second to no one of the number in cheerful
active service on this occasion.

The evening was not spent when the last stone was carried away, and
the wharf was finished,--a work of art that answered their purpose
very well, though it was not quite so imposing as Commercial Wharf is
now, and was not calculated to receive the cargo of a very large
Liverpool packet.

"What a capital place it makes for fishing!" exclaimed Fred. "It is
worth all it cost for that."

"Perhaps it will cost more than you think for before we get through
with it," said John. "We can tell better about that when the workmen
find their stones among the missing."

"I should like to hear what they will say," responded Benjamin, "when
they discover what we have done, though I hardly think they will pay
us much of a compliment. But I must hurry home, or I shall have
trouble there. Come on, boys, let us go."

At this they hastened to their homes, not designing to make known the
labours of the evening, if they could possibly avoid interrogation.
They knew that their parents would disapprove of the deed, and that no
excuse could shield them from merited censure. It was not strange,
then, that they were both afraid and ashamed to tell of what they had
done. But we will let twenty-four hours pass. On the following
evening, when Mr. Franklin took his seat at his fireside, Benjamin had
taken his book and was reading.

"Benjamin," said his father, "where was you last evening?"

Benjamin knew by his father's anxious look that there was trouble. He
imagined that he had heard of their enterprise on the previous
evening. After some hesitation, he answered, "I was down to the

"What was you doing there?"

"We were fixing up a place for the boat."

"See that you tell the truth, Benjamin, and withhold nothing. I wish
to know what you did there."

"We built a wharf."

"What had you to build it with?"

"We built it of stones."

"And where did you get your stones?"

"There was a pile of them close by."

"Did they belong to you?"

"I suppose not."

"Did you not know that they belonged to the man who is building the

"Yes, sir."

"Then you deliberately resolved to steal them, did you?"

"It isn't stealing to take stones."

"Why, then, did you take them in the evening, after the workmen had
gone home? Why did you not go after them when the workmen were all

Benjamin saw that he was fairly caught, and that, bright as he was, he
could not get out of so bad a scrape unblamed. So he hung his head,
and did not answer his father's last question.

"I see plainly how it is," continued his father; "it is the
consequence of going out in the evening with the boys, which I must
hereafter forbid. I have been willing that you should go out
occasionally, because I have thought it might be better for you than
so much reading. But you have now betrayed my confidence, and I am
satisfied more than ever that boys should be at home in the evening,
trying to improve their minds. You have been guilty of an act that is,
quite flagrant, although it may have been done thoughtlessly. You
should have known better, after having received so much good
instruction as you have had at home."

"I did know better," frankly confessed Benjamin.

"And that makes your guilt so much the greater," added his father. "Do
you think you will learn a lesson from this, and never do the like

"I will promise that I never will."

Thus frankly did Benjamin confess his wrong, and ever after look upon
that act with regret. In mature age he referred to it, and called it
one of the first evil acts of his life. It was the second time he
_paid too dear for his whistle_.

If seems that the workmen missed their stones, when they first reached
the spot in the morning, and they soon discovered them nicely laid
into a wharf. The proprietor was indignant, and exerted himself to
learn who were the authors of the deed, and in the course of the day
he gained the information, and went directly, and very properly, to
their parents, to enter complaint. Thus all the boys were exposed, and
received just rebuke for their misdemeanor. Benjamin was convinced, as
he said of it many years afterwards, "that that which is not honest,
could not be truly useful."

We have referred to Benjamin's habit of reading. It had been his
custom to spend his evenings, and other leisure moments, in reading.
He was much pleased with voyages, and such writings as John Bunyan's.
The first books he possessed were the works of Bunyan, in separate
little volumes. After becoming familiar with them, he sold them in
order to obtain the means to buy "Burton's Historical Collections,"
which were small, cheap books, forty volumes in all. His father, also,
possessed a good number of books for those times, when books were
rare, and these he read through, although most of them were really
beyond his years, being controversial writings upon theology. His love
of reading was so great, that he even read works of this character
with a degree of interest. In the library, however, were three or four
books of somewhat different character. There was "Plutarch's Lives,"
in which he was deeply interested; also Defoe's "Essay on Projects."
But to no one book was he more indebted than to Dr. Mather's "Essay
to do Good." From this he derived hints and sentiments which had a
beneficial influence upon his after life. He said, forty or fifty
years afterwards, "It gave me a turn of thinking that had an influence
on some of the principal future events of my life." And he wrote to a
son of Cotton Mather, "I have always set a greater value on the
character of a doer of good, than on any other kind of reputation; and
if I have been, as you seem to think, a useful citizen, the public
owes the advantage of it to that book." Some of the sentiments of the
book which particularly impressed him were as follows: "It is possible
that the wisdom of a poor man may start a proposal that may save a
city, save a nation." "A mean (humble) mechanic,--who can tell what an
engine of good he may be, if humbly and wisely applied unto it?" "The
remembrance of having been the man that first moved a good law, were
better than a statue erected for one's memory." These, and similar
thoughts, stimulated his mind to action, and really caused him to
attempt what otherwise would have been impossible.

If Benjamin had been engaged as usual, in reading, on that unfortunate
evening, he would have escaped the guilt of an act that turned out to
be a serious matter rather than a joke. The habit of spending leisure
hours in poring over books, has saved many boys from vice and ruin.
Many more might have been saved, if they had been so fond of books as
to stay at home evenings to read. It is an excellent habit to form,
and tends to preserve the character unsullied, while it stores the
mind with useful knowledge.

We shall see, as we advance, that Benjamin became very systematic and
economical in the use of his time, that he might command every moment
possible to read. The benefit he derived from the exercise when he was
young caused him to address the following letter, many years
thereafter, to a bright, intelligent girl of his acquaintance. The
letter, being devoted to "_Advice on Reading_," is a valuable one to
young persons now.

     "I send my good girl the books I mentioned to her last night. I
     beg of her to accept of them as a small mark of my esteem and
     friendship. They are written in the familiar, easy manner for
     which the French are so remarkable, and afford a good deal of
     philosophic and practical knowledge, unembarrassed with the dry
     mathematics used by more exact reasoners, but which is apt to
     discourage young beginners.

     "I would advise you to read with a pen in your hand, and enter in
     a little book short hints of what you find that is curious, or
     that may be useful; for this will be the best method of
     imprinting such particulars on your memory, where they will be
     ready either for practice on some future occasion, if they are
     matters of utility, or, at least, to adorn and improve your
     conversation, if they are rather points of curiosity; and, as
     many of the terms of science are such as you cannot have met with
     in your common reading, and may therefore be unacquainted with, I
     think it would be well for you to have a good dictionary at hand,
     to consult immediately when you meet with a word you do not
     comprehend the precise meaning of.

     "This may, at first, seem troublesome and interrupting; but it is
     a trouble that will daily diminish, as you will daily find less
     and less occasion for your dictionary, as you become more
     acquainted with the terms; and, in the meantime, you will read
     with more satisfaction, because with more understanding. When any
     point occurs in which you would be glad to have further
     information than your book affords you, I beg that you would not
     in the least apprehend that I should think it a trouble to
     receive and answer your questions. It will be a pleasure and no
     trouble. For though I may not be able, out of my own little stock
     of knowledge, to afford you what you require, I can easily direct
     you to the books where it may most readily be found. Adieu, and
     believe me ever, my dear friend,

                                                  "B. FRANKLIN."



"Yes," replied Mr. Franklin, to the inquiry of a friend who was dining
with him; "my ancestors were inured to hardships, and I myself am not
altogether a stranger to them. I had but little opportunity of going
to school, and have always had to work hard for a livelihood."

"So much the better for you now," replied his friend; "for in this new
country, and these hard times, you cannot find the support of a large
family an easy matter."

"That is true; but I have never regretted coming to this country. The
liberty of worshipping God according to the dictates of conscience, is
one of the richest blessings, and more than compensates for the trial
of leaving my native land."

"Then you experienced the rigours of intolerance there, in some
measure, did you?"

"Oh yes; my forefathers adhered to the Protestant faith through the
reign of Mary, and were often in great danger from the bitter hatred
of the Papists. I sometimes wonder that they did not forfeit their
lives in those days of persecution."

"I can relate to you one interesting fact," interrupted Uncle
Benjamin, addressing himself to the guest. "Our ancestors possessed an
English Bible, which they valued highly, of course; but there was
danger of losing it, through the craftiness and hostility of the Papal
powers. They held the Protestant Bible in absolute contempt. So, to
conceal their Bible, at the same time they could enjoy the reading of
it, they 'fastened it open with tapes under and within the cover of a
joint-stool.' When our great-grandfather desired to read it to his
family, according to his daily custom, 'he placed the joint-stool on
his knees, and then turned over the leaves under the tapes.' While he
was reading, one of the children was stationed at the door to give the
alarm if he should see 'the apparitor coming, who was an officer of
the spiritual court.' If the officer was seen approaching, the stool
was immediately set down upon its feet, and the Bible in this way was
concealed from view. For a considerable time they were obliged to read
the Scriptures in this secret manner."

"But your father was not thus persecuted, was he?" inquired the

"He was not persecuted to such a degree," answered Uncle Benjamin,
"though he had some experience of this kind; and even brother Josias
and myself did not escape. Our father's family continued in the Church
of England till about the end of Charles the Second's reign, when
Josias and I joined the Nonconformists, and subjected ourselves to
much contempt."

"And that is the reason I am in this country now," said Mr. Franklin.
"We enjoyed few privileges, and frequently our religious meetings were
disturbed, as they were forbidden by law. On this account some of my
acquaintances resolved to remove to this country, and I decided to
join them."

"How long ago was that?"

"It was about 1685, so that you will perceive I am one of the old
settlers of America. I have been here long enough to witness many
changes, and have no desire to return to my native country. My
children can scarcely appreciate how much they enjoy, in comparison
with the experience of their ancestors."

Benjamin had often heard the last remark, as a reminder of his
obligations to be good and useful. Indeed, this whole tale of
persecution he had listened to over and over, and had heard his Uncle
Benjamin tell the story of the Bible and stool a number of times. He
had come to the conclusion that he was faring better than his father
did, although he did not think his own lot remarkably flattering.

This conversation at the dinner-table was a specimen of what
frequently occurred there in the way of remark. Mr. Franklin was
gratified to have some intelligent friend at his table with him, that
they might converse upon some useful topics, for the benefit of his
children. When he had no guest at his table, he would call the
attention of his children to some subject calculated to improve their
minds, thinking, at the same time, that it would serve to draw off
their attention from their humble fare. Children are apt to find fault
with the food set before them, and perhaps the reader himself has more
than once fretted over an unpalatable dish, and murmured for something
else. Sometimes they beg for an article of food that is not on the
table, declining to eat what is furnished for the family. It was not
so at Mr. Franklin's table. He did not allow one of his children to
complain of the food, however simple it might be; and his principal
method of calling off their attention from the quality of their
victuals was, as we have said, to converse upon some sensible theme.
Their attention being directed to other things, they were seldom
troubled about their food, and became almost indifferent to what was
placed on the table. Benjamin said, in his manhood, on referring to
this subject: "I am so unobservant of it, that to this day I can
scarcely tell, a few hours after dinner, of what dishes it consisted.
This has been a great convenience to me in travelling, where my
companions have been sometimes very unhappy for the want of a
suitable gratification of their more delicate, because better
instructed tastes and appetites."

The guests of Mr. Franklin being usually intelligent, their
conversation was instructive to the children, who acquired thereby
many valuable items of information. The condition and prospects of the
country, the oppressive measures of the English government, and the
means of future prosperity, were among the topics which they heard
discussed. Although it seems like a small, unimportant influence to
bring to bear upon tender childhood, yet it left its mark upon their
characters. They had more interest in the public questions of the day,
and more general intelligence in consequence.

It is related of the Washburne family, of which four or five brothers
occupy posts of political distinction in the United States, that in
their early life their father's house was open to ministers, and was
sometimes called "the minister's hotel." Mr. Washburne was a great
friend of this class, and enjoyed their society much. At all times
nearly, some one of the ministerial fraternity would be stopping
there. His sons were thus brought into their society, and they
listened to long discussions upon subjects of a scientific, political,
and religious character, though public measures received a large share
of attention. The boys acquired some valuable information by
listening to their remarks, and this created a desire to read and
learn more; and so they were started off in a career that bids fair to
reflect honour both upon themselves and their country. Their early
advantages were few, but the conversation of educated men, upon
important subjects, laid the foundation of their eminence in public

"You must give heed to little things," Mr. Franklin would frequently
say to his sons, when they appeared to think that he was too
particular about some things, such as behaviour at the table,
"although nothing can really be considered small that is important. It
is of far more consequence how you behave, than what you wear."

Sometimes, if the meal was unusually plain (and it was never
extravagant), he would say, "Many people are too particular about
their victuals. They destroy their health by eating too much and too
rich food. Plain, simple, wholesome fare is all that nature requires,
and young persons who are brought up in this way will be best off in
the end."

Such kind of remarks frequently greeted the ears of young Benjamin; so
that, as we have already seen, he grew up without caring much about
the kind of food which he ate. Perhaps here is to be found the origin
of those rigidly temperate principles in both eating and drinking, for
which he was distinguished all through his life. In his manhood, he
wrote and talked upon the subject, and reduced his principles to
practice. When he worked as a printer in England, his fellow-labourers
were hard drinkers of strong beer, really believing that it was
necessary to make them competent to endure fatigue. They were
astonished to see a youth like Benjamin able to excel the smartest of
them in the printing-office, while he drank only cold water, and they
sneeringly called him "the Water-American."

The temperate habits which Benjamin formed in his youth were the more
remarkable, because there were no temperance societies at that time,
and it was generally supposed to be necessary to use intoxicating
drinks. The evils of intemperance were not viewed with so much
abhorrence as they are now, and the project of removing them from
society was not entertained for a moment. Reformatory movements, in
this respect, did not commence until nearly one hundred years after
the time referred to. Yet Benjamin was fully persuaded in his youth
that he ought to be temperate in all things. Probably there was not
one of his associates who believed as he did on the subject. But he
began early to think for himself, and this, with the excellent
discipline of his wise and sagacious father, caused him to live in
advance of those around him. It is not probable that he adopted the
principle of total abstinence, and abstained entirely from the use of
intoxicating drinks; but he was not in the habit of using it as a
daily, indispensable beverage.

That the practice of Benjamin's father, to allow no finding fault with
the food at the table, and to lead the way in profitable conversation,
was a good one, we think no one can deny. It was very different,
however, from much of the table-talk that is heard in families.
Conversation is frequently brisk and lively, but it often runs in this

"I don't want any of that, I don't like it," exclaimed Henry. "I
should think you might have a better dinner than this."

"What would you have if you could get it,--roast chicken and plum
pudding?" inquires his mother, laughing, instead of reproving him for
his error.

"I would have something I can eat. You know I don't like that, and
never did."

"Well, it does boys good, sometimes, to eat what they don't like,
especially such particular ones as you are," says his father.

"I shan't eat what I don't like, at any rate," continues Henry, "I
shall go hungry first."

"There, now," added his father, "let me hear no more complaint about
your food. You are scarcely ever suited with your victuals."

"May I have some ----?" calling for some article not on the table.

"If you will hold your tongue, and get it yourself, you can have it."

"And let me have some, too!" shouts James, a younger brother; "I don't
like this, neither. May I have some, father?"

"And I too," said Jane, setting up her plea. "I must have some if they

In this way the table-talk proceeds, until fretting, scolding, crying,
make up the sum total of the conversation, and family joys are
embittered for the remainder of the day. Finding fault with food is
the occasion of all the unhappiness.

Let the reader ask himself how much he has contributed to make
conversation at the table proper and instructive. Has he thought more
of the quality of his food than of anything else at the family board?
If the review of the past reveals an error in this respect, let him
learn a valuable lesson from this part of Benjamin Franklin's life.
Though it may seem to be an unimportant matter, accept the testimony
of Benjamin himself, and believe that it leaves its impress upon the
future character.



"You will have to be a tallow-chandler, after all, when your brother
gets married and goes away," said one of Benjamin's associates to him.
He had heard that an older son of Mr. Franklin, who worked at the
business with his father, was about to be married, and would remove to
Rhode Island, and set up business for himself.

"Not I," replied Benjamin. "I shall work at it no longer than I am
obliged to do."

"That may be, and you be obliged to work at it all your life. It will
be, as your father says, till you are twenty-one years old."

"I know that; but my father does not desire to have me work in his
shop against my wishes--only till I can find some other suitable
employment. I would rather go to sea than anything."

"Are your parents not willing that you should go to sea?"

"No; they won't hear a word about it. I have talked with them till it
is of no use. They seem to think that I should be shipwrecked, or
that something else would happen, to prevent my return."

"Then, if you can't go to sea, and you won't be a tallow-chandler,
what can you do?"

"I hardly know myself; but almost anything is preferable to this
greasy business. If people had no more light than the candles I should
make, unless I was obliged, they would have a pretty dark time of it."

"I don't think it is a very disagreeable business," continued his
companion. "It is quite easy work, certainly,--much more to my liking
than sawing wood, and some other things I could name."

"It may be easy," replied Benjamin; "but it is dirty and simple. It
requires no ingenuity to do all that I do. Almost any simpleton could
cut wicks and fill candle-moulds. A fellow who can't do it couldn't
tell which side his bread is buttered. _I_ prefer to do something that
requires thought and ingenuity."

"There is something in that; but I guess it will take all your
ingenuity to work yourself out of the tallow-chandler's business,"
responded his friend, rather dryly.

This conversation occurred one day in the shop, when Mr. Franklin was
out. But just at this point he returned, and soon after the young
visitor left. Benjamin was not acquainted with all his father's plans,
and he had actually proceeded further than he was aware of towards
introducing him into another calling, as the following conversation
with Mrs. F., on the previous evening, will show--

"I have resolved to find some other employment for Benjamin at once,"
said he; "as John is to be married so soon, he will be able to render
me but little more assistance, and I must have some one to take his

"Are you satisfied," inquired Mrs. Franklin, "that Benjamin cannot be
prevailed upon to take the place of John in your shop?"

"Oh, yes! he is so dissatisfied with the business, that I fear he will
yet go to sea, unless his attention is soon turned to some other
pursuit. Then, if he has a taste for any other honourable pursuit, I
am willing that he should follow it. He would not accomplish much at
candle-making with his present feelings."

"Have you anything in view for him to do?" asked Mrs. F.

"Not positively. I want to learn, if I can, whether he has taste and
tact for any particular business. If he has, he will accomplish more
in that. I don't believe in compelling a boy to follow a pursuit for
which he has no relish, unless it is where nothing else offers."

"I think it is very necessary for boys to have a definite trade," said
Mrs. F.; "they are more likely to succeed than those who are changing
often from one thing to another. 'A rolling stone gathers no moss,' is
an old saying."

"That is the principal reason for my plan to introduce him into some
other business soon. No one feels the importance of this more than I
do, and I have pretty thoroughly imbued the mind of Benjamin with the
same views. I think he has a desire to follow a definite calling,
though now his taste seems to draw him towards a seafaring life."

Benjamin could have appreciated this last remark, if it had been
uttered in his hearing. For he had listened to so much counsel upon
this point, that he had no desire to run from one thing to another.
And he continued to cherish this feeling. When he became a man, he
wrote the following maxims, among the many of which he was the

     "He that hath a trade hath an estate."

     "He that hath a calling hath an office of honour."

Here he taught the same lesson that he received from the lips of his
father and mother when he was young. A trade is the assurance of a
livelihood, however hard the times may be. As a general rule, they who
follow trades secure a living, when they who have none come to want
and suffer.

But to return. Mr. Franklin rather surprised Benjamin by saying, after
his associate left the shop, "I have decided on finding some other
business for you immediately, if possible. I hope to find some opening
for your learning an agreeable trade."

"Where shall you go to find one?" inquired Benjamin, scarcely
expecting to have his wishes gratified so early. "Have you any
particular trade in view?"

"No; I want to consult your tastes about the matter first; and I
propose to go to-morrow with you, to see what we can find."

"And I go with you, did you say?"

"Yes; I wish to have you witness some things to which I shall call
your attention, and decide for yourself what calling to follow."

"Where will you go?" inquired Benjamin, deeply interested in the plan,
as well he might be.

"I shall not go out of town. Boston furnishes good examples of the
different trades, and we shall not be under the necessity of extending
our researches beyond its limits. So to-morrow I think we will start."

Benjamin was delighted with the prospect of being delivered soon from
the tallow-chandler's shop, and he anticipated the morrow with
considerable impatience. He rejoiced when the light of the next
morning came in at his chamber window, and brighter and earlier he was
up to await his father's bidding. Suitable preparations were made, and
directly after breakfast they set forth upon their important errand.
The first shop they visited was that of a joiner, where he saw the
plane and hammer used to advantage. He had witnessed such labour
before, and also seen other employments to which his father called his
attention on that day; but he never observed these different trades
with the object which now brought him to the shops. Having spent some
time at the joiner's bench, he next went to a turner's place of
business, where he saw different articles turned to order, in so rapid
a manner as to surprise him. He was more interested in the
turning-lathe, and its rapid movement, than he was in the use of
joiner's tools. Passing through a prominent street, after leaving the
turner's, they came to an unfinished structure, on which bricklayers
were employed. Here another trade was on exhibition, and Benjamin's
attention was called to it, and the various kind of labour which this
class of toilers were obliged to perform were explained to him. In
this way they visited other work-shops, until they had seen the
practical operations of the different trades, and Benjamin understood
what kind of toil each required. One of the last shops they visited
was that of Samuel Franklin, a son of Uncle Benjamin, and, of course,
a cousin of Benjamin. He learned the trade of cutler in London, and
had just come over and established himself in Boston. The business of
a cutler is to make knives and other cutting instruments, in some
respects a very interesting and attractive trade. Benjamin was
evidently more pleased with this kind of business than any he had seen
on that day. Whether it grew out of boyish love for jack-knives, or
was the consequence of closely observing the ingenious modes of
manufacturing cutlery, we need not say. It is enough to know that he
was partially captivated by the trade, and before they reached home
his father was well satisfied which trade he would select, though he
had not questioned him at all on this point.

"What trade have you decided to follow, Benjamin?" inquired his
mother, as they sat at the tea-table; and she let fall a most loving
smile upon her boy.

"I think any of them are better than making candles," he replied,
"although I like Samuel's trade the best of all."

"That is just what I expected," said his father, laughingly. "I saw
that you fell in love with his work, and I think myself that it is a
very pleasant and promising business."

"So you will decide to take that trade, will you?" said his mother.

"In preference to all the trades I have seen yet," said Benjamin.

"He is after a pocket knife," interrupted John, who sat at the table,
speaking in a vein of pleasantry. "I see clearly what has taken _his_

"I suppose John will never care more about a knife, now he is going
to have a wife," added Mr. Franklin, addressing his remark to
Benjamin, in order to help him out of the predicament into which
John's remark had placed him. "But did you not like the brazier's

"Yes, sir; I liked it very well, but not so well as I do the cutler's
trade. If I can have my choice I shall choose that, and will begin
to-morrow, if you are willing."

"I shall make no objection, if that is your decision," replied his
father. "I want you should weigh the matter carefully, however, and
not be hasty in choosing."

"It remains to be seen whether Samuel will take him as an apprentice,"
said Mrs. Franklin. "Perhaps he may not want one. He has just
commenced, and cannot be doing much business yet."

"Father can easily learn that," said Benjamin. "He can see cousin
Samuel to-morrow, and decide the matter at once."

"I will see him to-morrow," said his father, "and arrange for you to
go into his shop if possible."

On the following day, Mr. Franklin called upon Samuel, his nephew, and
made known the wishes of Benjamin. Although it was a new and
unexpected subject, yet he received it favourably, and finally decided
that Benjamin might come immediately, and try his hand at this new
business. He thought it was best for both parties that no definite
agreement or bargain should be made until Benjamin had tried the work,
to which his father assented.

Accordingly, Benjamin entered upon his new trade immediately, and was
much pleased with it. It was so different from the work of
candle-making, and required so much more thought and ingenuity, that
he was prepared to pronounce it "first rate." It was with a light and
cheerful heart that he went to each day's task.

Mr. Franklin acted wisely in consulting the inclination of his son
about a trade. A boy may have more qualifications for one pursuit than
another; and this will generally be made manifest in the bent of his
mind. He will exhibit a degree of tact for one calling, while he may
be a blunderer at almost anything else. This characteristic is more
remarkable with some boys than with others, and a disregard of it
often entails unhappiness upon a whole family. When Handel, the
distinguished musician, was a child, his father strictly forbade his
listening to a note of music, or indulging his talent for the art.
Although he exhibited remarkable musical abilities, his father paid no
regard to the fact, but was determined to rear him to the profession
of law. He ordered all musical instruments to be carried out of the
house, and made it as difficult as possible for his son to gratify his
taste for sweet sounds. But through the assistance of a servant, the
boy obtained an instrument, which he kept in the garret; and there,
when opportunity offered, with the strings of his "clavichord" so
covered with pieces of cloth as to deaden the sound, he practised
music until he became a proficient in harmony. It was not, however,
until his father took him on a visit to see an elder brother, who was
in the family of the Prince of Saxe-Weisenfels, that he became
acquainted with the progress he had made in his loved art. While there
he happened to go into the royal chapel just as the service was
closing, when he glided up to the organ, unperceived, and commenced
playing. The Prince was on the point of retiring; but he stopped, and
inquired who was playing. He was told that it was young Handel, only
seven years old; whereupon the Prince ordered the boy and his father
to be summoned into his presence. The result of the interview was,
that the Prince arranged for Handel to be placed for tuition under the
organist of Halle Cathedral, where he soon became renowned. Posterity
has not failed to condemn the unwise discipline of his father, in
disregarding his inclination for a given pursuit.

When Sir Joshua Reynolds was a boy, he was inclined to embrace every
opportunity to gratify his taste for drawing. His father had no
sympathy with him in thus spending his time, and he sought to repress
his aspirations of this kind. One day he discovered that Joshua had
disfigured his exercise-book with a number of well-executed drawings;
but, instead of encouraging his talents in this line, he sharply
rebuked him, and wrote underneath the sketches, "_Done by Joshua out
of pure idleness._" His father was anxious that he should become a
physician, and therefore he looked with no favour upon his propensity
for drawing. But for the irrepressible power of genius, his unwise
father would have deprived the world of one of its most gifted

The father of John Smeaton pursued a like censurable course in the
discipline of his son. He frowned upon those early developments of
genius that foreshadowed the renowned engineer that he became. When
only four or five years of age, he was often seen dividing circles and
squares. He rejected the toys that other children used, preferring
tools with which he could construct machines. When only six or seven
years of age, he was discovered on the roof of the barn, much to the
consternation of his father and mother, fixing up a windmill of his
own construction. Soon afterwards having seen some men repairing a
pump, he procured from them a piece of bored pipe, he made one of his
own, with which he could raise water. At fourteen years of age he made
an engine to turn rose-work, and many were his presents of boxes of
wood and ivory turned by himself. He made all his tools for working
wood, ivory, and metals. He also invented a lathe for cutting a
perpetual screw in brass. And yet his father was determined to make a
lawyer of him, and thus spoil the mechanic. He actually disregarded
all these proofs of mechanical genius, and sent him to London to be
educated for the bar; and it was not until his father began to see the
impossibility of making a good attorney of him, that he consented to
let him follow the profession which the bent of his genius plainly
marked out.

The father of Benjamin Franklin acted more wisely in the first place,
and resolved to educate him in that pursuit for which nature had best
qualified him.



After Benjamin had worked at cutlery a suitable time, his father went
to close the bargain, and make out the papers for his apprenticeship.
But, to his surprise, his nephew demanded such conditions that Mr.
Franklin could not think of accepting his proposition; and the result
was, that he took Benjamin away, much to his disappointment. The boy
submitted to his father's decision, however, with true filial
obedience, evidently believing that he had good reasons for taking
such a stand. Now he was neither a tallow-chandler nor a cutler,
though not destined to be long without employment.

Just before this juncture, as if Providence ordered events on
Benjamin's account, his brother James returned from England, where he
learned the printer's trade. He brought with him a good press, and
type, in order to establish himself in Boston.

"How would you like to learn the printer's trade with your brother
James?" inquired Mr. Franklin of Benjamin. "I have been thinking that
it was a good thing you did not continue the cutlery business, because
you have superior qualifications for this."

"What qualifications have I for this that I have not for the cutler's
trade?" asked Benjamin.

"You are a good reader, and have an intellectual turn, being fond of
books, and such things belonging to mental improvement as the trade of
printer offers."

"I think I should like the business very well," added Benjamin.
"Perhaps I should have a better opportunity to read than I should with
cousin Samuel."

"Of course you would. For the very matter you may be required to put
into type may be as interesting and profitable as anything you could
find in a book. All that you read in books went through the printer's
hand first."

"I had not thought of that before. I think I should like the business
better than almost anything I know of. How long will it take to learn
the trade?"

"It will take some time," answered Mr. Franklin. "You are now twelve
years of age, and you can certainly acquire the best knowledge of the
business by the time you are twenty-one years old."

"That is a long time," said Benjamin; "but I shall do what you think

"I want _you_ should think it is best, too," said his father. "If you
have no inclination to be a printer, I do not wish to have you
undertake it. I have no confidence that you will succeed in any
business for which you have no taste."

"Well, I think better of this business now than I do of any other,"
replied Benjamin, "and I should like to try it."

"I will speak with James about it," said his father, "and see what
arrangements can be made. The prospects of the business are not very
flattering at present, but I think the day is coming when it will

Mr. Franklin lost no time in consulting James, who favoured the plan
without any reserve. He proposed to take Benjamin as an apprentice, to
serve until he was twenty-one years of age, having only his board and
clothes until the last year, when he would receive journeyman's wages.
This was a good opportunity on the whole, for printing was in its
infancy in America at that time. It is probable that not more than six
or eight persons had been in the business in Boston before James
Franklin commenced, in the year 1717. The demand for printing must
have been very small indeed.

When Mr. Franklin first made known to Benjamin the conditions on which
James would receive him into the printing-office, and that he would be
expected to sign the indenture, and leave his father's roof for such a
boarding-place as his brother might provide, he hesitated about
taking the step. He stated his objections frankly and fully to his
father, who removed them without much difficulty, so that the writings
were drawn up, and Benjamin placed his signature to them and was
henceforth a "Boston printer's boy."

He had not laboured long at the business before he was quite
fascinated with it. He liked it better even than he expected. He
exhibited, too, a good degree of tact for it, and his progress in
learning the art was rapid. His brother was highly gratified with his
close attention to his business, and commended him for the use he made
of his leisure moments in reading. He was introduced now to another
class of acquaintances, so that his opportunities for getting books to
read were more favourable. The printing-office was frequented by
booksellers' apprentices, whose employers necessarily wanted jobs of
printing done. Through them Benjamin was made acquainted with the
limited stock of books the market afforded.

"I will lend you that book to-night," said one of these apprentices to
him, "if you will return it clean in the morning," alluding to a
certain volume which Benjamin was looking over in the book-store.

"I should be glad to read it," answered Benjamin; "I think I can read
it through before I go to bed, and so return it in the morning when I
go to the office."

"You won't have much time left for sleep, if you read that book
through before you go to bed," said the apprentice.

"Perhaps not; but I can afford to make a short night's rest of it, if
I can have the reading of this book. I shall not mind that, and I can
return it without a blemish."

"The book is for sale," continued the apprentice, "and we might have a
call for it to-morrow, or I would let you keep it longer. If you do
not read it all to-night, and we do not sell it to-morrow, you can
take it home with you again to-morrow night. I frequently read a
volume through, a little at a time, before we have a chance to sell

"You may be sure of having this in the morning, safe and sound," said
Benjamin, as he left the store, thanking his friend for the kind

He went home, and sat up most of the night to read the book, being
more deeply interested in its contents than he was in pleasant dreams.
A short nap, after the volume was finished, was all that time could
afford him; and the bookseller got his book, and the printing-office
its apprentice, in good season.

This was but a single instance of the favours he received in this way
from his new acquaintances in the book business. Many nights he stole
from sleep, that he might read volumes which he must return in the
morning. In this way his mind was much improved, so that he began to
be noticed in the office as a boy of great promise. One day Mr.
Matthew Adams, a merchant of rank and influence, who had been
attracted by Benjamin's appearance, said to him: "Do you find time to
read any, with all the work you have to perform?"

"Yes, sir," replied Benjamin; "I read in the evenings, and
occasionally find a little time during the day."

"It is an excellent plan for boys to improve their minds," said Mr.
Adams; "you will never regret spending your time in this way. I should
be glad to show you my library, and to lend you any books you may be
interested to read."

"That is what I should like," said Benjamin, evidently delighted with
this unexpected offer; "I find it difficult to get all the books I

"It would afford me great pleasure to assist you what little I can in
this respect," repeated Mr. Adams. "Boys who are not privileged to go
to school need such help, and I am glad to see that you are disposed
to accept of it."

Benjamin thanked him for his kindness, and assured him that he should
embrace the first opportunity to call at his house. He redeemed his
promise at his earliest convenience, and Mr. Adams received him with
genuine cordiality. He showed him his library, and allowed him to
select any book he preferred to carry home, and invited him to come as
often as he pleased for others. This was a brimful cup of kindness to
Benjamin, and the reader may be sure that he thought highly of Mr.
Adams. Nor was he backward in availing himself of the privilege
offered, but went often to gratify his thirst for knowledge.

The reader can scarcely appreciate the value of this privilege to
Benjamin, unless he understands that books were far from being
abundant then. The bookstores, instead of being furnished with
thousands of volumes to suit every taste in the reading world, offered
only a meagre collection of volumes, such as would hardly be noticed
at the present time. There were no large publishing houses,
manufacturing many books in a year, and scattering them over the land,
as is the case to-day. Neither were there any libraries at that time.
The idea of a collection of books to lend for the public good had not
entered the minds of men,--a striking contrast with this feature of
society now, when a city like Boston opens its splendid Public Library
of seventy-five thousand volumes, free to all her citizens, and
smaller towns and villages throughout the land furnish reading matter
for old and young in similar proportion; whilst private libraries of
five, ten, twenty, and thirty thousand volumes are not unusual. Now,
the trouble with boys is not how they can possibly get books to read,
but what they shall select from the vast number that load the shelves
of libraries and bookstores.

The habit of reading which Benjamin had thus early formed served to
make him punctual. In order to command the more time, he was promptly
at his work, and efficiently discharged every duty. He was seldom, if
ever, caught in tardiness. It was this well-formed habit of
punctuality that made him so reliable in the printing-office. His
brother knew that he would be there at such a time, and that he would
remain just so many hours. This fact won his confidence, as it does
the confidence of every one. There is no quality that does more to
gain a good name for an individual, and inspire the confidence of his
fellow-men, than this one of punctuality. It is so generally found in
company with other excellent traits of character, that it seems to be
taken for granted, usually, that the punctual person is worthy in
other respects. This quality contributed to the renown and influence
of Lord Brougham, of whom it is said, that, when he was in the zenith
of his glory, presiding in the House of Lords and the Court
of Chancery, he found time to manage eight or ten public
associations,--one of which was the Society for the Diffusion of
Useful Knowledge,--and he was a pattern of punctuality in every place,
being always in the chair when the hour for meeting arrived.



"What have you there?" inquired James, one day, looking over
Benjamin's shoulder at some composition which he held in his hand.
"Ay! poetry, is it? Then you are a poet, are you? Let me read it."

Benjamin rather hesitated to exhibit the first attempts of his muse to
fly, but James was determined to read it, and so he gave it up to him,
saying, "I was only seeing what I could do."

The fact was, Benjamin had been reading poetry, and, having a little
of its spirit in his own nature, he was tempted to try his ability at
writing some.

"That is really good," said James, after he had read it; "not quite
equal to Virgil or Homer, but very good for a printer-boy to write.
Have you any other pieces?"

"Two or three more," answered Benjamin, somewhat encouraged by his
brother's commendation; "but they are not worth reading."

"Produce them," said James, "and I will tell you what they are worth."
Whereupon Benjamin took two or three more from his pockets, which
James read with evident satisfaction.

"I tell you what it is, Benjamin," said James after having read them
all, "you can write something worth printing if you try; and if you
will undertake it, you may print and sell a sheet in the streets. I
have no doubt that it would sell well."

"I will see what I can do," replied Benjamin, "though I suspect my
poetry won't read very well in print."

Benjamin was not long in producing two street ballads, better,
perhaps, than anything he had written before, but still susceptible of
very great improvement. One was entitled "The Lighthouse Tragedy," and
was founded on the shipwreck of Captain Worthilake and his two
daughters. The other was a sailor's song, on the capture of the famous
"Teach," or "Bluebeard," the pirate. James read them with approbation.

"Now," said he, "you shall put them into type, and sell them about the
town, if you are willing. I have no doubt that a good number of them
may be disposed of."

"How many copies of them would you print?" inquired Benjamin.

"We can print a few to begin with, and let the type remain standing
until we see how they go. Then we shall run no risk."

"Shall I do it immediately?"

"As soon as you can," answered James. "The quicker the better."

Benjamin was not long in printing the two ballads, and having them
ready for sale. Under the direction of his brother, he went forth, in
due time, to offer them about the town. Whether he cried them about
the streets, as the newsboys do the daily papers now, we have no means
of knowing. But he met with very good success, particularly in the
sale of the first, "The Lighthouse Tragedy." That commemorated an
event of recent occurrence, and which excited much public feeling and
sympathy at the time, so that people were quite prepared to purchase.
It sold even beyond his expectations, and his success inflated his
vanity somewhat. It caused him to believe, almost, that he was a
genuine poet, and that distinction and a fortune were before him. If
he had not been confronted by his father on the subject, it is
possible that the speculation might have proved a serious injury to
him. But his father learned of his enterprise, and called him to an
account. Perhaps he stepped into his shop, as he was selling them
about town, and gave him a copy. At any rate, his father learned the
fact, and the following interview will show what he thought of it.

"I am ashamed to see you engaged in such a business, Benjamin," said

"Why so, father?"

"Because it is not an honourable business. You are not a poet, and
can write nothing worthy of being printed."

"James approved of the pieces," said Benjamin, "and proposed that I
should print and sell them."

"James is not a judge of poetry," replied his father. "It is wretched
stuff, and I am ashamed that you are known as the author. Look here,
let me show you wherein it is defective;" and here Mr. Franklin began
to read it over aloud, and to criticise it. He was a man of sound
sense, and competent to expose the faults of such a composition. He
proceeded with his criticisms, without sparing the young author's
feelings at all, until Benjamin himself began to be sorry that he had
undertaken the enterprise.

"There, I want you should promise me," said his father, "that you will
never deal in such wares again, and that you will stick to your
business of setting up type."

"Perhaps I may improve by practice," said Benjamin, "so that I may yet
be able to write something worthy of being read. You couldn't expect
me to write very well at first."

"But you are not a poet," continued Mr. Franklin. "It is not in you,
and, even if it was, I should not advise you to write it; for poets
are generally beggars,--poor, shiftless members of society."

"That is news to me," responded Benjamin. "How does it happen, then,
that some of their works are so popular?"

"Because a true poet can write something worthy of being read, while a
mere verse-maker, like yourself, writes only doggerel, that is not
worth the paper on which it is printed. Now I advise you to let
verse-making alone, and attend closely to your business, both for your
own sake and your brother's."

Mr. Franklin was rather severe upon Benjamin, although what he said of
his verses was true. Still, it was a commendable effort in the boy to
try to improve his mind. Some of the best poets who have lived wrote
mere doggerel when they began. Many of our best prose-writers, too,
were exceedingly faulty writers at first. It is a noble effort of a
boy to try to put his thoughts into writing. If he does not succeed in
the first instance, by patience, energy, and perseverance he may
triumph at last. Benjamin might not have acted wisely in selling his
verses about town, but his brother, so much older and more experienced
than himself, should bear the censure of that, since it was done by
his direction.

The decided opposition that Mr. Franklin showed to verse-making put a
damper upon Benjamin's poetical aspirations. The air-castle that his
youthful imagination had built, in consequence of the rapid sale of
his literary wares, tumbled to ruin at once. He went back to the
office and his work quite crest-fallen.

"What has happened now?" inquired James, noticing that Benjamin looked
somewhat less smiling.

"Father doesn't think much of my printing and selling verses of my
own," replied Benjamin. "He has been giving me a real lecture, so that
I am almost ashamed of myself."

"How is that," said James, "does he dislike your pieces?"

"Yes; and he will not allow that they have any merit. He read them
over in his way, and counted faults enough to show that there is very
little poetry in me. A beggar and a poet mean about the same thing to

"He ought to remember that you are young," answered James, "and may
improve wonderfully in future. You can't expect to write either prose
or poetry well without beginning and trying."

"All the trying in the world can do nothing for me, I should judge
from father's talk," added Benjamin, rather seriously.

Perhaps it was a good thing for Benjamin to meet with this obstacle in
his path to success. According to his own confession, his vanity was
inflated by the sale of his ballads, and he might have been puffed up
to his future injury, had not his father thus unceremoniously taken
the wind out of his sails. There was little danger now, however.
After such a severe handling, he was not likely to overrate his
poetical talents. It had the effect also to turn his attention to
prose writing, which is more substantial and remunerative than poetry,
and in this he became distinguished, as we shall see hereafter.

The practice of writing down one's thoughts, called in our schools
"composition," is excellent, and ought not to be so generally
neglected by the young as it is. It proved a valuable exercise to
Benjamin, even before he became renowned in the service of his
country. In several instances, while he was yet a youth, it enabled
him to secure business, when otherwise he might have been in extreme
want. It gave him the ability to conduct his brother's paper, when
only sixteen years of age, at a time when the government of the
Province incarcerated James, so that the paper would have been crushed
but for the ability of Benjamin. When he first commenced business in
Philadelphia, also, it enabled him to produce articles for the
"Pennsylvania Gazette," which attracted general notice, and opened the
way for his becoming both proprietor and editor of the same. And a
little later he was able to write a pamphlet on the "_Nature and
Necessity of a Paper Currency_," proposing a measure that was carried
through the legislature, because the opponents of it had no writer in
their ranks competent to answer it. These are only a few examples of
the many advantages he derived from early training himself to write,
even before he had passed the dew of his youth. In age he referred to
this practice of his boyhood with much pleasure, and regarded it as
one of the fortunate exercises that contributed to his eminent

Many such facts as the following might be cited upon this subject. A
farmer's son began, at fourteen years of age, to write something every
day, after his work was done, in a blank-book which he kept for the
purpose. He persevered in the practice for several years, and acquired
a facility in composition before he thought of having a liberal
education. The consequence was, that his friends became earnest to
have him educated, and he was sent to college, where he ranked high as
a writer; and he is now about entering the ministry, under very
flattering circumstances. Few young men have more ease and power of
writing at the commencement of their ministerial work; and it all
results from his early self-discipline in the exercise of



Benjamin was intimate, at this time, with a youth by the name of John
Collins. He was intelligent, sprightly, and fond of books, so that he
was a very agreeable companion. They differed somewhat in their
opinions upon various subjects, and frequently found themselves
engaged in earnest disputation. When other boys were accustomed to
spend their time in foolish talking and jesting, Benjamin and John
were warmly discussing some question of importance, well suited to
improve the mind. One day their conversation related to the education
of the sexes.

"It would be a waste of money," said John, "to attempt to educate
girls as thoroughly as boys are educated; for the female sex are
inferior to the male in intellectual endowment."

"Pshaw!" exclaimed Benjamin; "you know better than that. The girls are
not so simple as you think they are. I believe that women are not a
whit inferior to men in their mental qualities."

"I should like to know where you discover the evidence of it?" replied
John. "There is no proof of it in the works they have written."

"That may be true, and still they stand upon an equality in respect to
intellect. For not half so much is done to educate them as there is to
educate the male sex. How can you tell whether they are mentally
inferior or not, until they are permitted to enjoy equal advantages?"

"As we tell many other things," answered John. "Women do not need so
high mental endowments as men, since they are not required to lead off
in the different branches of business, or to prosecute the sciences. I
can see no wisdom in bestowing talents upon them which they never use,
and it is often said that 'nothing is made in vain.'"

"Well, I must go," said Benjamin, "but I think you have a weak cause
to defend. If I had the time I could make out a case."

"A poor one, I guess," quickly added John. "We will see, the next time
we meet, who can make out a case."

"It will be some time before we meet again," responded Benjamin, "and
our ardour will be cooled before that time, I am thinking. But it will
do us no harm to discuss the subject."

"If we keep our temper," said John, tacking his sentence to the last
word of Benjamin's reply. And so saying, they parted.

After Benjamin had revolved the subject still more in his mind, he
became anxious to commit his argument to writing. Accordingly, with
pen and paper in hand, he sat down to frame the best argument he could
in favour of educating the female sex. He wrote it in the form of a
letter, addressed to his friend Collins, and, after having completed,
he copied it in a fair hand, and sent it to him. This brought back a
long reply, which made it necessary for Benjamin to pen an answer. In
this way the correspondence continued, until several letters had
passed between them, and each one had gained the victory in his own

One day Benjamin's father met with these letters accidentally, and he
read them over, and was somewhat impressed with their character.

"What are these, Benjamin," he inquired, at the same time holding up
the letters.

Benjamin smiled, and rather hesitated to reply.

"So it seems you have been engaged in a controversy with John,"
continued Mr. Franklin. "You have both done very well, though I think
there is some chance of improvement yet."

"Have you read them all?" inquired Benjamin.

"I have, and must say that, in some respects, John has the advantage
of you."

"In what has he the advantage?" asked Benjamin, with some anxiety.

"Well, John writes in a more finished style than you do," answered Mr.
Franklin. "His expressions are more elegant, and there is more method
and perspicuity in his composition."

"I rather think you are prejudiced," said Benjamin, with a smile.

"_I_ rather think not," answered his father. "You have the advantage
of John in correct spelling, and in pointing your sentences, which is
the consequence of working in the printing-office. But I can convince
you that less method and clearness characterize your letters than

"I am ready to be convinced," added Benjamin. "I hardly expect I have
attained perfection in writing yet."

His father then proceeded to read from the letters of each, with the
design of showing that John's writing was more perspicuous, and that
there was more method in his argument. Nor was it a very difficult

"I am convinced," said Benjamin, before his father had read all he
intended to read. "I can make improvement in those points without much
trouble. There is certainly a good chance for it."

"That is what I want you should see," rejoined his father, "I am
really pleased with your letters, for they show me that you have
talents to improve. My only object in calling your attention to these
defects is to aid you in cultivating your mental powers."

This kind, paternal criticism was a very happy thing for Benjamin. It
had the effect to make him more careful in his compositions, and to
beget within him both a desire and resolve to improve. Not long after,
he met with an old volume of the Spectator, in a bookstore; and
knowing that it would be a good model by which to form the style, he
determined to purchase it. He bought it at a low price, and began to
study it with reference to improving the style of his composition. The
method which he adopted to discipline himself, by the aid of this
work, is proof of his patience, perseverance, and desire to excel. In
the first place, he read it over and over, until he became very well
acquainted with its contents. Then he took some of the papers it
contained, and made short hints of the sentiments of each sentence,
and laid them by for a few days; and then, without referring to the
book, he proceeded to put those thoughts into sentences, and thus went
through each paper,--a long and laborious work. When he had completed
a paper in this way, he carefully compared his Spectator with the
original, and was able thereby to discover and correct many errors in
his style. He found that he was very deficient in the command of

"If you had not discouraged me in writing poetry," said he to his
father, "I should have found it of much service now."

"How so?" inquired Mr. Franklin.

"If I had continued to write poetry, I should have been obliged to
select words that would rhyme, and this would have made me familiar
with a larger number of words, and the choicest ones too. I am greatly
troubled now to find words to express my thoughts."

"I should have had no objections to your writing poetry with such an
object in view; but to print and sell it about town was carrying the
thing a little too far," replied Mr. Franklin. "It is not too late to
begin now. I rather think you have discovered an important defect in
your writing. John evidently has a better command of language than you
have, hence his style is more polished. But you are at work, now, in
the right way to improve. Perseverance will accomplish the thing."

"I am going to do this," said Benjamin; "I shall take some of the
tales in the book and put them into verse, and then, after a while,
change them back again."

"That will be a good exercise," answered his father, much pleased with
his son's desire to improve. "If your patience holds out, you will be
amply rewarded, in the end, for all your labour."

This last purpose, Benjamin executed with much zeal, and thus divided
his time between putting tales into poetry, and then turning them into
prose. He also jumbled his collection of hints into confusion, and so
let them lie for some weeks, when he would again reduce them to order,
and write out the sentences to the end of the subject.

For a printer-boy to accomplish so much, when he must work through the
day in the office, seemed hardly possible. But, at this period,
Benjamin allowed no moments to run to waste. He always kept a book by
him in the office, and every spare moment was employed over its pages.
In the morning, before he went to work, he found some time for reading
and study. He was an early riser, not, perhaps, because he had no
inclination to lie in bed, but because he had more to improve his
mind. He gained time enough in the morning, by this early rising, to
acquire more knowledge than some youths and young men do by constantly
going to school. In the evening, he found still more time for mental
improvement, extending his studies often far into the night. It was
his opinion that people generally consume more time than is necessary
in sleep, and one of his maxims, penned in early manhood, was founded
on that opinion. The maxim is, "The sleeping fox catches no poultry."

It is not strange that a boy who subjected himself to such close
discipline for a series of years should write some of the best maxims
upon this subject when he became a man. Take the following, in
addition to those cited in a former chapter:--

"There are no gains without pains; then help hands, for I have no

"Industry pays debts, while despair increaseth them."

"Never leave that till to-morrow which you can do to-day."

"Leisure is time for doing something useful."

"A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things."

"Fly pleasures, and they will follow you. The diligent spinner has a
large shift, and, now I have a sheep and a cow, every one bids me

"Be ashamed to catch yourself idle."

"Handle your tools without mittens; remember that the cat in gloves
catches no mice."

"There is much to be done, and perhaps you are weak-handed: but stick
to it steadily, and you will see great effects, for constant dropping
wears away stones; and by diligence and patience the mouse ate in two
the cable; and little strokes fell great oaks."

    "Early to bed, and early to rise
    Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."

Here is the genuine gold of thought,--whole volumes of counsel worked
down into single flashing lines of truth,--just such utterances as we
might expect from the lips of one who was early taught to walk in the
ways of wisdom. All along in the future of Benjamin's life, we shall
see these maxims illustrated, proving that they are living and bright

In order to prosecute his purposes, Benjamin took a step, at this
period, for which he censured himself long after. Being away from his
father's house, in a boarding-place provided by his brother, he
violated the Sabbath day by devoting its sacred hours to mental
improvement. At home, his parents had ever required that he should
attend public worship; but now he neglected the house of God, that he
might command the more time for study. It was a grave breach of a
divine commandment, and a disregard of parental authority, which he
afterwards deeply regretted. At the time, he was obliged to hold long
parleys with conscience, which told him that he ought still to visit
the sanctuary, and devote Sabbath hours to sacred duties. Yet his
great thirst for knowledge overcame his regard for holy time.

It must appear quite evident to the reader by this time, that Benjamin
derived much benefit from his conversation with John Collins upon a
useful topic. A large majority of boys, of their age, spend their
leisure moments in vain and useless talking. They think not of
self-improvement, and scarcely desire to be benefited in this way.
The most unmeaning and thoughtless words escape from their lips, and a
sound, sensible, valuable conversation they seldom, if ever, attempt.
What an excellent example is that of young Franklin and Collins,
discussing a question of importance, instead of wasting their breath
in meaningless chatter! It stimulated the former to consult the best
models of style in composition, and was the real occasion of his
adopting a most critical and thorough plan of self-culture. All this
the consequence of conversing properly, instead of spending leisure
moments in boyish antics, or uttering nonsense!

The reader need not infer that violation of the Sabbath, and disregard
of parental counsels, are less heinous sins than some would grant,
since Benjamin was guilty of both, and yet he did not go to ruin. For
ten boys who do the same things that he did are ruined thereby, where
one is saved. The father of Walter Scott forbade his reading
fictitious works, yet he concealed them in a sly place, and read them
when his father's eye was not upon him; and they served to stimulate
his mind to pursue a most brilliant literary career. In like manner,
Pope, the distinguished poet, strolled into the theatre in his
boyhood, when he was away from his parents at school, and there the
first aspiration of his soul for that sphere of mental effort in which
he became distinguished, was begotten. But these examples cannot be
cited in favour of novel-reading and theatre-going; for they are
exceptions to a general rule. The great mass of the youth who allow
themselves to be fascinated by the novel and theatre make shipwreck of
their hopes.



"How much will you allow me a week if I will board myself?" inquired
Benjamin of James. "It costs you now more than you need to pay." James
was still boarding Benjamin in a family near by, being himself yet

"Then you think I am paying more a week for your board than it is
worth?" replied his brother.

"No more than you will be obliged to pay in any other family, but more
than I shall ask you," answered Benjamin.

"Then you think of opening a boarding-house for the special
accommodation of Benjamin Franklin?" which was treating his request
rather lightly.

"I propose to board myself," said Benjamin. "I do not eat meat of any
kind, as you know, so that I can do it very easily, and I will agree
to do it, if you will pay me half the money weekly which you pay for
my board."

"Agreed," replied James. "The bargain is made. When will you begin?"

"To-morrow," was Benjamin's laconic reply.

Benjamin had been reading a work on "vegetable diet," by one Tryon,
and it was this which induced him to discard meat as an article of
food. Mr. Tryon, in his work, gave directions for cooking vegetables,
and such dishes as a vegetarian might use, so that the matter of
boarding was made quite simple. Benjamin really thought that this mode
of living was best for health and strength, though his chief object in
proposing to board himself was to obtain money to purchase books. He
had been trying a vegetable diet for some time in the family where he
and his brother had boarded, and had often been both ridiculed and
censured for his oddity. Perhaps he wanted to get away where he could
eat as he pleased, with no one to say, "Why do ye so?" But most of all
he wanted to command more money, that he might gratify his thirst for

James was very willing to accept the proposition, as it would bring a
little more money into his pocket. He was an avaricious and penurious
young man, who thought mainly of making money in his business, and it
was of little consequence to him whether he made it out of his brother
or some one else.

"How much do you make by boarding yourself, Ben?" inquired James, some
weeks after the experiment was commenced.

"I save just half of the money you pay me," answered Benjamin, "so
that it costs me just one quarter as much as you paid for my board."

"You understand economy, I must confess," said his brother. "However,
I have no fault to find if you are satisfied."

"The money I save is not the best part of it," continued Benjamin. "I
save about a half-hour every noon for reading. After I have eaten my
meal, I usually read as long as that before you return from dinner."

"Not a very sumptuous meal I reckon," said James dryly;
"sawdust-pudding, perhaps, with cold-water sauce!"

"Nothing so difficult to procure as that," responded Benjamin. "A
biscuit or a slice of bread, with a tart or a few raisins, and a glass
of water, make a good dinner for me; and then my head is all the
lighter for study."

"I should think you might have a light head with such living," added
James, "and your body will be as light before many weeks I prophesy."

"I will risk it. I am on a study now that requires a clear head, and I
am determined to master it."

"What is that?"

"It is Cocker's Arithmetic."

"Begin to wish you knew something about arithmetic by this time,"
added James sarcastically. "Making up for misspent time, I see!" Here
was a fling at Benjamin's dislike of arithmetic when he was sent to
school. We have seen that he accomplished nothing in figures, either
at the public school or when he was under Mr. Brownwell's tuition.
Liking some other studies better, he neglected this, and now, as is
generally the case, he regretted his error, and applied himself to
acquire that which he might have acquired before. It was a difficult
task for him, but his patience and perseverance, together with his
economy of time, and temperance in eating and drinking, enabled him to
accomplish his object. Then he read a work on Navigation, and made
himself particularly familiar with the geometry which it contained.
"Locke on the Understanding," and "The Art of Thinking," were two
other works that he read closely while he was living on a vegetable
diet. All these works were difficult to be mastered by a boy not yet
fourteen years of age. Yet he was not discouraged by this fact; it
rather seemed to arouse him to greater efforts.

"You calculate time as closely as a miser does his money, Ben," said

"As little as I have for myself requires that I should calculate
closely," was his reply. "Time is money to you, or else you would
allow me a little more to myself; and it is more than money to me."

"How so?" inquired James.

"It enables me to acquire knowledge, which I cannot buy with money.
Unless I was saving of my time, I should not be able to read or study
at all, having to work so constantly."

Perhaps, at this time, Benjamin laid the foundation for that economy
which distinguished him in later life, and about which he often wrote.
Among his wise sayings touching this subject are the following:--

"If you would be wealthy, think of saving, as well as of getting."

"What maintains one vice would bring up two children."

"Many a little makes a mickle."

"A small leak will sink a ship."

"At a great pennyworth pause awhile."

"Silks and satins, scarlet and velvets, put out the kitchen fire."

"Always taking out of the meal-tub, and never putting in, soon comes
to the bottom."

    "For age and want save while you may,--
    No morning sun lasts a whole day."

"It is easier to build two chimneys than to keep one in fuel."

"A penny saved is a penny earned."

    "A penny saved is twopence clear;
    A pin a day is a groat a year."

"He that wastes idly a groat's worth of his time per day, one day with
another, wastes the privilege of using one hundred pounds each day."

To a young tradesman he wrote, in the year 1748:--

     "Remember that time is money. He that can earn ten shilling a day
     by his labour, and goes abroad or sits idle one half that day,
     though he spend but sixpence during his diversion or idleness,
     ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent,
     or rather thrown away, five shillings besides....

     "In short, the way to wealth, if you desire it, is as plain as
     the way to market. It depends chiefly on two words, _industry_
     and _frugality_; that is, waste neither _time_ nor _money_, but
     make the best use of both. Without industry and frugality nothing
     will do, and with them everything. He that gets all he can
     honestly, and saves all he gets (necessary expenses excepted),
     will certainly become _rich_,--if that Being who governs the
     world, to whom all should look for a blessing on their honest
     endeavours, doth not, in his wise providence, otherwise

In these excellent sayings, time and money are spoken of together,
because time is money; and Franklin was never more economical of one
than of the other. All that he says of frugality in respect to
property applies equally to time, and _vice versâ_. In his boyhood,
when he adopted a vegetable diet, he had no money to save, so that the
most of his economy related to time. It being to him as valuable as
gold, he was prompted to husband it as well. To some observers he
might have appeared to be penurious, but those who knew him saw that
he reduced another of his own maxims to practice: "We must save, that
we may share." He never sought to save time or money that he might
hoard the more of worldly goods to enjoy in a selfish way. He was ever
generous and liberal, as we shall see hereafter. The superficial
observer might suppose that a niggardly spirit prompted him to board
himself,--that he adopted a vegetable diet for the sake of mere lucre.
But nothing could be wider from the truth than such a view. We cannot
discover the least desire to _hoard_ the money he saved. He laid it
out in books, and such things as aided him in self-improvement. He
believed in temperate eating, as we have already said, and the
following maxims of his show the same thing:--

     "Who dainties love, shall beggars prove."

     "Fools make feasts, and wise men eat them."

     "Buy what thou hast no need of, and ere long thou shalt sell thy

He saw that he could never possess the books he needed, or command the
time, if his appetite for luxuries was gratified. In his
circumstances, the most marked self-denial was necessary, to gain his
object. At the same time, he believed it would make him more healthy
to be abstemious. There was not an iota of stinginess in his habitual

Economy of time or money is praiseworthy only when it is done to
command the means of being useful,--which was true of Franklin. When
it is practised to gratify a sordid love of money, it is ignoble and

About this time, Benjamin and John Collins had another
interview,--differing somewhat from the one already described, as the
following dialogue will show:--

"What book is this, Ben?" inquired John, taking up one from the table.

"It is an old English Grammar which I came across the other day,"
answered Benjamin. "It has two chapters, near the close, on Rhetoric
and Logic, that are valuable."

"Valuable to you, perhaps, but not to me," said John. "What shall I
ever want of Rhetoric or Logic?"

"Everybody ought to know something about them," answered Benjamin.
"They have already helped me, in connection with the works of
Shaftesbury, to understand some things about religion better. I have
believed some doctrines just because my parents taught me so."

"Then you do not believe all that you have been taught about religion,
if I understand you?"

"No, I am free to say that I do not. There is neither reason nor
wisdom in portions of the creed of the Church."

"Why, Ben, you surprise me. You are getting to be quite infidel for a
boy. It won't do for you to read Logic and Shaftesbury any more, if
you are so easily upset by them."

"Made to understand better by them what is right and what is wrong,"
answered Benjamin. "The fact is, very few persons think for
themselves. They are religious because they are so instructed. They
embrace the religion of their parents without asking themselves what
is true or false."

"There is not much danger that you will do that," said John. "Present
appearances rather indicate that the religious opinions of your father
will be blown sky-high,"--though John did not mean quite so much as
his language denotes.

"You do not understand me. I respect my parents and their religious
opinions, though I doubt some of the doctrines they have taught, and
which I never carefully examined until recently."

"I must go," said John; "at another time, I will hear more;"--and he
hurried away to his business, which was waiting for him.

Benjamin had read carefully the works of Collins and Shaftesbury,
which were well suited to unsettle his religious belief. At the time
of this interview, he was really a doubter, though not avowedly
opposed to religion. The fact shows the necessity of using care in
selecting books to be read, and the danger of tampering with those
that speak lightly of the Gospel. Even a mind as strong as that of
Benjamin was warped by the sophistries of such a book, and it was some
years before he recovered wholly from the sad effects of such reading.
His early religious culture, however, and his disposition and ability
to perceive the truth, finally saved him from the abyss of infidelity,
as will appear more evident in the pages that follow.



On the seventeenth day of January, 1721, James Franklin began to issue
a newspaper, called "THE NEW ENGLAND COURANT." It was the third one at
the time in the whole country. The first paper--"THE BOSTON
NEWSLETTER"--was established in 1704, two years before the birth of
Benjamin. It was only a half-sheet of paper, about the size of an
eight by twelve inch pane of glass, "in two pages folio, with two
columns on each page." Consequently, it could not have contained more
printed matter than is now compressed into half a page of one of the
Boston dailies. Yet it was considered a very important undertaking for
the times.

When James Franklin proposed to start the third paper in America, some
of his friends thought it was a wild project, and endeavoured to
dissuade him from it. They saw nothing but ruin before him, and used
every persuasion to lead him to abandon the enterprise. They thought
that two newspapers, such as would now excite a smile by their
inferior size, were quite enough for the country. Take this fact, in
connection with the present abundance of papers, and the contrast
presents a striking view of the progress of America since that day. At
that time there was not a daily paper in the land. Now there are eight
in the city of Boston alone, having an aggregate daily circulation of
about _one hundred and twenty-five thousand_, which would amount to
nearly FORTY MILLION sheets in a year,--more than enough to furnish
every man, woman, and child in the country with one sheet each. All
this from the daily press of Boston, where, one hundred and forty
years ago, it was thought that a third weekly newspaper, scarcely
large enough to wrap a baker's loaf in, could not be supported! Bind
them into volumes, containing one hundred sheets each, and we have an
enormous library of daily newspapers, numbering _four hundred thousand
volumes_, the annual production of the Boston daily press in 1860! And
this only the aggregate of eight different papers, while Boston alone
now has _one hundred and forty_ papers and periodicals of all sorts,
and the State of Massachusetts nearly _three hundred_! How marvellous
the change since Franklin was a poor printer-boy!

But look at these eight daily papers of Boston again. Suppose they
measure a yard each in width, upon an average, when opened;--here we
have one hundred and twenty-five thousand yards of newspapers
emanating daily from only eight presses of Franklin's native city;
which is equal to _seventy-one miles_ per day, and _four hundred and
twenty-six_ miles per week, and _twenty-two thousand one hundred and
fifty-two_ miles in a year! This is truly surprising. Almost paper
enough from the eight daily presses of Boston alone, every year, to
reach around the earth!

Or, suppose we weigh these papers. If ten of them weigh a single
pound, then each day's issue weighs _twelve thousand five hundred
pounds_, each week's issue amounts to _seventy-five thousand pounds_,
which swells the annual aggregate to about _four million pounds_. Load
this yearly production upon waggons, one ton on each, and we have _two
thousand and two horse loads of newspapers_ from these eight presses
in a year! Again, we say, how marvellous the change!

If eight daily papers of Boston throw off this vast amount of
reading-matter in a year, what immense quantities are supplied by all
the presses in the land! Could the actual statistics be laid before us
in round numbers, doubtless the most credulous even would be amazed at
the result.

But to return. James decided to issue his paper, notwithstanding the
advice of some of his friends to the contrary, and he thus opened the
subject to Benjamin:--

"I have resolved to issue a paper, and it will require our united
exertions to make it go. No doubt I shall meet with opposition, and
perhaps shall fail in the attempt, but I have determined to fail

"What particular service can I render?" inquired Benjamin.

"Aside from your usual work of type-setting, you are qualified to look
after the composition and spelling of the articles in each number, and
a part of your work shall be to deliver the paper to subscribers from
week to week."

"And be collector, too, I suppose," added Benjamin, rather fancying
the idea of issuing a paper from the office.

"As you like about that," answered his brother, "though it may be
convenient, often, to have you render such a service."

"I suppose you don't mean to make me editor also?" he added, rather
jestingly; probably not dreaming that he should ever conduct the

"I think not at present," was his brother's reply. "Printer,
news-carrier, and collector, will be as much honour as you can
withstand at once;" and he had as little idea of the part Benjamin
would play in the work as the boy had himself.

Accordingly the paper was issued at the appointed time, creating quite
a stir in the community, and provoking remarks _pro_ and _con_
concerning its appearance, character, and prospects. Agreeably to the
arrangement, Benjamin delivered the numbers to subscribers, and
perhaps he sold the paper about the streets, thus acting as one of the
first newsboys on this western continent.

Among the friends of James Franklin, and the patrons of his paper,
were several men who possessed considerable talent for writing, and
they were accustomed to assemble at the printing-office, and discuss
questions connected with the circulation of the paper. Benjamin's ears
were usually open to their conversation,--and he heard the merits of
different articles set forth, and learned that certain ones were quite
popular, and elicited favourable remarks from readers generally. This
excited his ambition, and he earnestly desired to try his own ability
in writing for the paper. He feared, however, that his composition
would not be regarded favourably, if it were known who was the author;
so he hit upon this expedient. He resolved to write an anonymous
article, in his very best style, and get it into his brother's hand so
as not to awaken his suspicion. Accordingly, the article was prepared,
and at night it was tucked under the printing-office door, where James
found it in the morning. As usual, several of his writers came in
about their usual time, and Benjamin had the happiness of hearing the
following discussion:--

"Here is a good article, that I found under the door this morning,"
said James, at the same time holding it up.

"Who is the author of it?" inquired one.

"It is anonymous," replied James, "and I have not the least idea who
wrote it."

"What is the subject?" asked another; and the subject was announced.

"Let us hear it read," proposed a third. "You read it aloud to us,
James." So James proceeded to read the article aloud, while all
listened with deep interest. All the while Benjamin was busily
employed at his work, though his ears were never more willing to hear.
You may be sure that he felt rather queerly while his composition was
undergoing this test, and a close observer might have observed a sly,
comical twinkle of his eye. The reading went on without one of the
company dreaming that the author stood at their elbow.

"Capital!" exclaimed one, as the last line was read. "Who can the
author be?"

"As a general thing," said James, "I shall not insert articles from
persons unknown to me, but this is so good that I shall publish it."

"By all means," said one of the company. "We shall soon find out the
author; it is a difficult matter to keep such things secret for a long

"The author is evidently a person of ability," added another; "every
sentence in that article is charged with thought. I should judge that
he wanted only culture to make him a writer of the first class."

"Publishing the article will be as likely as anything to bring out the
author," said James.

It was decided to print the article, all having approved of the same,
much to the satisfaction of Benjamin, who awaited the decision with
some anxiety. Now he scarcely knew how to act in regard to the piece,
whether to father it at once, or still conceal its parentage. On the
whole, however, he decided to withhold its authorship for the present,
and try his hand again in the same way. Much encouraged by the success
of his first effort, Benjamin was prepared to produce even a better
article on the second trial, which was discussed and approved in the
same way as the first. Thus he wrote, and put under the door at night,
a number of articles, all of which were pronounced good by James and
his friends. It was a time of much interest and excitement to
Benjamin, since he was the "unknown character" so much extolled by the
patrons of the "Courant." To hear his own articles remarked upon and
praised, when no one dreamed that a boy like himself could be the
author, was well suited to stir up his feelings, if not to inflate his
vanity. Many persons in like circumstances would be allured into
indiscretions and improprieties. But Benjamin wisely kept his own
secrets, while he industriously continued to set up types, fearing
that disclosure at the present time might knock all his plans into

There is no doubt that this was one of the incidents of Benjamin's
boyhood that decided his future eminent career. It was a good thing to
bring out his talents as a writer thus early, and it evidently
fostered his love of an exercise that was of the first importance in
the improvement of his mind. From the time that he wrote the first
article which he put under the door of the printing-office, he did not
cease to write more or less for the public eye. He had written before,
as we have seen, but his father had rather put a damper on his
composing for the public to read, and, besides, the newspaper was a
channel of communicating with readers altogether new to him. It was
well suited to awaken deep interest in his heart, and to incite him to
put forth his noblest efforts.

The great English statesman, CANNING, was sent to school at Eton, at
twelve years of age, where he originated a mimic House of Commons
among his schoolmates. Here they established a boy periodical, called
the "Microcosm." It was a weekly publication, and issued from Windsor.
It was conducted "after the plan of the 'Spectator,' the design being
to treat the characteristics of the boys at Eton as Addison and his
friends had done those of general society." In this paper several
members of the school figured with credit to themselves, though no one
was more earnest to sustain it than young Canning. It became one of
the prominent influences that decided his future course, bringing out
his talents, and stimulating his mind to labour in this honourable
way. It also exerted a decided influence upon the character of another
boy, named Frere, who afterwards shone as a writer in the pages of the

At the present day, in many seminaries and village lyceums, several
literary enterprises are sustained, to the no small advantage of the
young who become personally interested in it. Every youth who desires
to cultivate his mental faculties ought to hail such enterprises with
joy, and pledge his noblest efforts to sustain them. It may be that it
is discouragingly difficult for him to write at first; but let him
persevere, with patience and firm resolve, and he will prove to
himself that "practice makes perfect." There is no better exercise for
his mind than this, and none better adapted to inspire him with a
dauntless resolve to acquire knowledge.

[Illustration: The Mysterious Contributor.--See page 123.]



Benjamin was so highly gratified with the favourable remarks he heard
about his articles, and especially that different persons, in guessing
who the author might be, usually guessed some writer of distinction,
that he could keep the secret no longer. He was eager to make the fact
known, that the much talked of essays emanated from his own pen; and
soon "the cat was let out of the bag."

Having a good opportunity, in reply to some remark of James about "the
last article found under the door," he said, "I know who the author

"You know?" exclaimed James with surprise. "Why have you not disclosed
it before?"

"Because I thought it was not wise. It is not best to tell all we know

"But you have heard us discuss this matter over and over, and take
measures to discover the author, and yet you have never intimated that
you knew anything about it."

"Well, the author did not wish to be known, until the right time
came, and that is a good reason for keeping the matter secret, I

"Will you tell me who the author is now?" asked James, impatient to
obtain the long-sought information.

"Perhaps I will, if you are very anxious to know."

"You know that I am. Who is it?"

"It is Benjamin Franklin."

"What!" exclaimed James, astonished almost beyond measure by the
disclosure; "do you mean to say that you wrote those articles?"

"Certainly I do."

"But it is not your handwriting."

"I disguised my hand in order to conceal the authorship."

"What could possibly be your object in doing so?"

"That the articles might be fairly examined. If I had proposed to
write an article for your paper, you would have said that I, a
printer-boy, could write nothing worthy of print."

Here the conversation dropped, and James appeared to be abstracted in
thought. He said but little about the matter to Benjamin, neither
commending nor censuring, until his literary friends came in again.

"I have discovered the author of those articles," said James.

"You have? who can it be?" one asked.

"No one that you have dreamed of," answered James.

"Do tell us who it is, and put an end to our anxiety," said one of the
number, who could hardly wait for the desired information.

"There he is," replied James, pointing to Benjamin, who was setting up
types a little more briskly than usual. The whole company were amazed.

"Can it be?" cried out one; "you are joking."

Now Benjamin had to speak for himself; for they all turned to him with
their inquiries, as if they thought there must be some mistake or
deception about the matter. But he found little difficulty in
convincing them that he was the real author of the pieces; whereupon
they commended him in a manner that was rather perilous to one who had
the smallest share of pride in his heart.

From that time Benjamin was a favourite with the literary visitors at
the office. They showed him much more attention than they did James,
and said so much in his praise, as a youth of unusual promise, that
James became jealous and irritable. He was naturally passionate and
tyrannical, and this sudden and unexpected exaltation of Benjamin
developed his overbearing spirit. He began to find fault seriously and
unreasonably with him, and a disposition to oppress him was soon
apparent. He went so far as to beat him severely with a rod, on
several occasions, reconciling the matter with his conscience by
saying that he was master, and Benjamin was his apprentice. His whole
conduct towards his younger brother was unjust and cruel, and the
latter became restive and discontented under it. He made known his
grievances to his father, who censured James for his conduct, and took
the part of Benjamin. But the best efforts of his father to reconcile
matters proved abortive, because James's manifest opposition was so
aroused against his brother, on account of his sudden rise to
comparative distinction. Other causes might have operated to awaken
James's hostility, but this was evidently a prominent one.

Benjamin was so dissatisfied with his treatment that he resolved to
leave his brother as soon as possible. He was indentured to him, as we
have seen, so that it was difficult for him to get away. Being bound
to him until he became twenty-one years of age, the law held him
firmly there, notwithstanding the injustice he experienced. Still, for
the present, he laboured on in the office, and the paper continued to
be issued.

We are reminded that the printing-office has furnished many eminent
scholars to the world. Young men have there come in contact with
printed matter that has aroused their intellects to action, and caused
them to press onward, with new resolves, in paths of usefulness and

In the case of Benjamin, the circumstance of his connection with the
office just at the time a new paper was established called out a
certain kind of talent he possessed, and thus helped to make him what
he became. Success depends in a great measure in early directing the
young in the path to which their natural endowments point. Thus Lord
Nelson, who distinguished himself in the service of his country, was
early placed in just those circumstances that appealed to his
fortitude and other heroic attributes. That he possessed by nature
remarkable courage and determination, in connection with other
qualities that usually accompany these, is evident from an incident of
his childhood. One day he strayed from home with a cow-boy in search
of birds' nests, and being missed at dinner-time, and inquiries made
for him, the startling suspicion was awakened that he had been carried
off by gipsies. The alarm of his parents was great, and a careful
search was instituted, when he was found sitting on the banks of a
stream which he could not cross, unconcerned and happy.

"I wonder, child," said his grandmother, when he was brought back in
safety to the family, "that hunger and fear did not drive you home."

"Fear!" exclaimed the heroic lad, "I never saw fear,--what is it?"

He was taken by his uncle into the naval service while he was yet a
boy, where the scenes of every day were suited to develop and
strengthen the heroic qualities of his nature. He became known to the
world, not merely for his victories at Trafalgar and on the Nile, but
for other essential service rendered to his native land.

The same was true of Buxton, Wilberforce, Pascal, Handel, Canova, Dr.
Chalmers, and many others. Providence opened before them the path to
which their native qualities directed.

We have spoken of the advantage of occasionally writing compositions,
as Benjamin was wont to write, and another fact illustrating this
point has just come to our notice. It is an incident belonging to the
history of the Boston Young Men's Temperance Society. In addition to
its being a temperance organization, it was sustained for mutual
mental improvement. With other exercises, the members read lectures of
their own preparing at the meetings,--a very important and valuable
arrangement. One evening a member delivered a lecture upon the
character and objects of the society, which was listened to by a young
man who dropped into the hall for the first time. He was so well
pleased with the design of the association, as set forth in the
lecture, that he joined it at the close of the exercises. He began at
once to fulfil the requirements of the society in writing
compositions, and they were so well written that the author of the
aforesaid lecture said to him one evening--

"Why do you not write something for the press? If I possessed your
ability I should do it."

The young man received the compliment with becoming modesty,
expressing some lack of confidence in his abilities; but it set him to
thinking. The result was that he prepared a short article for a Boston
paper, which was accepted; and the way was thereby opened to his
becoming a constant contributor to its columns. The end is not yet,
though he is now the author of the popular "Optic Library." Thus so
small a matter as writing a brief article for a newspaper may herald a
career of literary fame.



"Have you heard what they are doing in the Assembly?" asked Benjamin
one afternoon, as he entered the office under considerable excitement,
addressing his inquiry to James.

"Doing?" answered James; "doing their business, I suppose;"--a reply
that did not indicate precisely his knowledge of the legislative
doings, since he had heard of the business before them, and was
somewhat troubled by it.

"They are certainly going to arrest you for libel, and I heard a
gentleman say, in the street, that they would show you no favour;" and
Benjamin made this revelation with considerable warmth of feeling. The
idea of his brother's arrest and imprisonment excited him in no small

On the same day the following order was passed in the General Court:--

                                           "IN COUNCIL, Jan. 14, 1722.

     "Whereas the paper, called the New England Courant, of this day's
     date, contains many passages in which the Holy Scriptures are
     perverted, and the Civil Government, Ministers, and People of
     this Province highly reflected on,

     _Ordered_, That William Tailer, Samuel Sewell, and Penn Townsend,
     Esqrs., with such as the Honourable House of Representatives
     shall join, be a committee to consider and report what is proper
     for the Court to do thereon."

The House of Representatives concurred, and the committee reported:--

     "That James Franklin, the printer and publisher thereof (the
     Courant), be strictly forbidden by this Court to print or publish
     the New England Courant, or any other pamphlet or paper of the
     like nature, except it be first supervised by the Secretary of
     this Province; and the Justices of his Majesty's Sessions of the
     Peace for the County of Suffolk, at their next adjournment, be
     directed to take sufficient bonds of the said Franklin for twelve
     months' time."

The result was, that James was arrested and confined four weeks in the
"stone gaol," from which he was released by his voluntary pledge to
regard the honour of the Court. Benjamin was arrested, also; but was
discharged on the ground that he acted as an apprentice, and was
obliged to do the bidding of his master.

It appears that there was considerable dissatisfaction in the Province
with the British government, under which the people lived. The
Courant espoused the cause of the dissatisfied party, and, perhaps
unwisely, attacked the government and its officers, together with the
ministers of the Gospel, whose sympathies seemed to be with the
dominant party. It was a time of considerable excitement, so that a
little firebrand thrown into the community was sure to make a great
fire. But the immediate cause of his arrest was the appearance of the
following article in his paper, which was a slur upon the government
for tardiness in fitting out a ship to cruise after a pirate seen off
Block Island. The article purported to be written by a correspondent
in Newport, R. I., and read thus:--

     "We are advised from Boston, that the government of the
     Massachusetts are fitting out a ship to go after the pirates, to
     be commanded by Captain Peter Papillon, and _'tis thought he will
     sail some time this month, wind and weather permitting_."

This well-pointed censure, in connection with the many flings and
attacks that had preceded it, aroused the General Court to act in
their defence without delay.

The club under whose auspices the Courant was conducted, assembled at
the office as soon as they knew the decision of the Court, to consider
what should be done.

"It is certain," said one, "that you cannot continue to issue the
paper against the action of the Court."

"Not in his own name," suggested another. "It may still be published
in the name of another person, and thus the legislative order will be

"How will it do to issue it in Benjamin's name?" inquired James.

"That cannot be done, for he is only an apprentice, as could be very
readily proved," was the reply.

"I can easily meet that difficulty," answered James, who was usually
ready for a shrewd evasion in such a case.

"Pray, tell us how," asked one of the number, who was disposed to
think that the days of the Courant were numbered. "By changing the

"No, I would not change the name. I will return his indenture, with
his discharge upon the back of it, and he can show it in case of
necessity. We can understand the matter between us, while he will be
his own man whenever any trouble may arise about his apprenticeship."

All agreed that this plan would work well, and it was accordingly

"Benjamin Franklin, publisher and proprietor," said one of the club,
rising from his seat and patting Benjamin on the shoulder. "What do
you think of that, my son? Rather a young fellow to undertake such an
enterprise, but a match, I guess, for the General Court of the

Benjamin was quite unprepared to reply to the merriment of the club on
the occasion over his unexpected introduction to an office of which he
did not dream in the morning. He was now to appear before the public
in quite another relation than that of apprentice,--probably the
youngest conductor of a newspaper who ever lived, for he was only
sixteen years of age.

Henceforth the paper appeared in the name of Benjamin Franklin,
occasioning, by all the circumstances, no little excitement in the

James was conveyed to prison, and during his confinement, Benjamin had
the whole management of the paper, in which he took occasion to speak
very plainly and boldly against the government. Notwithstanding the
difficulty that existed between him and his brother, his heart was
stirred with resentment against the Court for sending him to jail, and
he espoused his cause with as much sympathy and good-will, apparently,
as he could have done if no difference had disturbed their
intercourse. This was honourable in Benjamin, and showed that he
possessed a true brother's heart. For three years the paper was
published in his name, although he did not remain with James so long.

We have referred to the time of Benjamin's boyhood as a period of
public excitement and disturbance. Great alarm was frequently
occasioned, for some time before and some time after his birth, by the
depredations of the Indians. The French were hostile to Great Britain;
so they sought to stir up, and ally themselves with, the savages, in
making inroads upon the Colonies. The consequence was, "wars and
rumours of wars," with actual massacres and bloodshed. Benjamin's
ears, in his early life, were often saluted with the harrowing tales
of slaughter and conflagration, an experience that may have qualified
him, in a measure, to act the prominent part he did in achieving the
independence of his country, half a century thereafter. Rev. Dr.
Willard, who baptized him, was driven from the town of Groton by the
Indians in 1675. Later still, only three years before the birth of
Benjamin, the town of Deerfield was attacked and burned by these
savage tribes, instigated and led on by the French,--and "upwards of
forty persons were slain, and more than a hundred were made
prisoners." "When the sun was an hour high, the work was finished, and
the enemy took their departure, leaving the snow reddened with blood,
and the deserted village enveloped in flames." Only two or three years
after his birth, the famous attack upon Haverhill was made, when the
Indians massacred men, women, and children indiscriminately, a few
only escaping their terrible vengeance. The stories of such dreadful
cruelties and sufferings were fresh in Benjamin's boyhood, and their
effect upon the youthful mind was heightened by the frequent reports
of outbreaks and anticipated Indian attacks from different quarters.
Thus born and reared in troublous times, our hero was prepared to work
out his destiny in the most perilous period of American history.

A single item published in the Courant about this time, will show the
young reader that Boston and its environs of that early day did not
much resemble the same city now. The item is the following:--

     "It is thought that not less than twenty bears have been killed
     in about a week's time within two miles of Boston. Two have been
     killed below the Castle, as they were swimming from one island to
     another, and one attempted to board a boat out in the bay, but
     the men defended themselves so well with the boat-hook and oars,
     that they put out her eyes, and then killed her. On Tuesday last
     two were killed at Dorchester, one of which weighed sixty pounds
     a quarter. We hear from Providence that the bears appear to be
     very thick in those parts."



Not long after James was released from prison, a fresh difficulty
arose between Benjamin and himself. In the quarrel they seemed to
forget that they were brothers, who ought to be united by strong ties
of affection. James continued to be passionate and domineering,
treating his brother with harshness, sometimes even beating him,
notwithstanding he was the nominal publisher and editor of a paper.
Benjamin thought he was too old to be treated thus--whipped like a
little boy--and the result was that he asserted his freedom.

"I am my own man from this time," he cried, holding up his indenture
which his brother returned to him, as we saw in a former chapter, in
order to evade the officers of justice. "These papers make me free,
and I shall take advantage of them to leave you," and he fairly shook
them in James's face.

"You know that I never gave them up because I relinquished the bargain
we had made," said James. "If you use them to assert your freedom,
you will be guilty of a base act."

"I _shall_ so use the papers," replied Benjamin defiantly. "I have
borne such treatment long enough, and I shall submit no longer."

"We shall see about that," continued James. "Father will have a word
to say about it, you will find."

"Yes, and he will probably say that you have abused me, and that you
ought to control your temper and treat me better," responded Benjamin.
"He always has decided in my favour, and I have no fears about his
decision now."

It was not fair in Benjamin to take this advantage of his brother, and
he knew it, but his resentment triumphed over his regard for right at
the time. James returned his indenture only that he might be able to
publish the paper unmolested. It was a deceitful arrangement in the
first place, and Benjamin's use of the papers to assert his liberty
was no more unfair and sinful than was James's device to make him the
proprietor of the paper, and thus evade the law. James was paid in his
own coin. He laid a plan to cheat the government, and he got cheated
himself. He was snared in the work of his own hands. This, however,
did not justify Benjamin in his course, as he afterwards saw, and
frankly confessed.

Benjamin persisted in asserting his freedom, and James appealed to his
father. After the latter had examined the affair, all the while
knowing that James was passionate and overbearing, he decided against
Benjamin. The advantage which the latter took of James to gain his
freedom probably influenced Mr. Franklin to decide in favour of the
former. This was unexpected by Benjamin, and was not received with a
very good grace. It did not change his determination, however, and he
was still resolved to be free. He refused to labour any more for his
brother, and went forth to look for employment elsewhere. There were a
number of other printers in the town, to whom he applied for work; but
he found, to his surprise, that his brother had anticipated him, and
been round to persuade them not to hire him.

"He has violated a solemn contract," said he to one, "and he will
violate any contract he will make with you. Besides, if you refuse to
hire him, he will be obliged to return and labour for me."

The printers all sympathized with James, and accordingly refused to
give Benjamin work. He found himself in a very unpleasant situation on
that account, without the means of earning his bread, and, in one
sense, without a home, since he had disregarded his father's counsel
in not returning to his brother. He learned, also, that some good
people considered him no better than an infidel.

"Nothing less than the loosest sceptic," said one good man. "He hates
the truth with all his heart, as much that he writes plainly shows.
His influence in the community is very bad, and it is growing worse
and worse."

Good people thus misjudged Benjamin. Some went so far as to call him
an "atheist." His attacks upon the clergy and government, in his
paper, created so much excitement, that he was understood to mean
worse than he did.

All these things served to wean Benjamin from Boston, and he decided
on seeking his fortune elsewhere. He embraced the first opportunity to
confer with his old friend, John Collins, on the subject.

"John, I am going to New York," he said.

"To New York?" exclaimed John. "What has started you off there?"

"Enough to start anybody. I have been banged about long enough, and
now can get no work at all; so I must go or starve."

"How so?" inquired John, "I don't understand you?"

"The case is just this," said Benjamin. "James has treated me very
harshly for a long time, and I have submitted. But I had a good
opportunity to make myself free, and I have improved it. When James
was put into prison for libel, he returned me my indenture with a
discharge written on the back, to show in case the government
interfered with my publishing the paper. He did not mean, of course,
that I should be released from my obligations to him; but he has
treated me so unmercifully lately that I have taken advantage of the
paper, and broken my engagement with him."

"You have got round him this time, certainly," said John. "How does he
feel about it?"

"He has appealed to father, and father has decided against me, and
advised me to go back; but I am not at all disposed to do it."

"I would work in some other printing-office," added John, "before I
would go to New York."

"But I can get work nowhere else. I have been to every office, and
they all refuse to employ me, because my brother went to them before
me, and told his story, and made them promise not to hire me."

"I suppose he thought by so doing to compel you to come back to him,"
suggested John.

"I suppose so; but he will find himself mistaken. I shall go to New
York as soon as I can get away."

"What does your father say about your going off so far?"

"I have said nothing to him about it, and do not intend to do so. He
would stop my going at once if he knew it."

"How can you get away without letting him know it?"

"That remains to be seen," answered Benjamin. "I shall want some of
your help about it, I guess."

"I am at your service," said John, "though it seems very little that I
can do to hasten your flight;" but he had hardly uttered the last
sentence before a new thought flashed upon his mind, and he added with
great earnestness, "Yes, I can, too; I have seen the captain of that
New York sloop in the harbour, and I can make a bargain with him to
take you there."

"But he will want to know who I am, and will refuse to take me when he
finds that I am a runaway."

"I can manage that, if you will leave it to me," answered John. "I
will pledge you that he will never know that your name is Franklin."

"I agree, then, to commit myself to your care. See that you manage the
affair well, for to New York I must go."

They parted; and John hurried away to see the aforesaid captain.

"Can you take a friend of mine to New York?" he asked.

"That depends on circumstances," answered the captain. "Who is your
friend?"--a very natural inquiry,--precisely such a one as Benjamin
thought would be made.

"He is a young man about my age, a printer, and he is going to New
York to get work," replied John.

"Why don't he get work in Boston?" inquired the captain.

John saw that there was no evading the captain's questions, and so he
suddenly resolved to fabricate a story, in other words, to tell a base

"Well," said John, "if I must tell you the whole story, the case is
this. He is a young fellow who has been flirting with a girl, who
wants to marry him, and now her parents are determined that he shall
marry her, and he is determined that he will not, and he proposes to
remove secretly to New York. He would have come to see you himself,
but it is not safe for him to appear out so publicly, and therefore he
sent me to do the business."

A youth who can fabricate a falsehood so unblushingly as John did this
is a candidate for ruin. The reader will not be surprised to learn,
before the whole story is told, that he became a miserable, wicked
man. This single lie proved that he was destitute of moral principle,
and would do almost anything to carry his project.

For some unaccountable reason, the captain was taken with this device,
and consented to carry Benjamin to New York. He arranged to receive
him clandestinely, and to have him on his way before any suspicion of
his plans was awakened.

John hastened to inform Benjamin of the success of his enterprise, and
to congratulate him upon his fair prospect of getting away.

"Money is the next thing," said Benjamin. "I can't go without money. I
must sell my books for something, though I dislike to part with them."

"They will sell quick enough," said John, "and will bring you a very
pretty sum to start with."

Benjamin lost no time in disposing of his little library for what it
would bring, and he managed to get his clothes together without
exciting suspicion; and, with the assistance of John, he boarded the
sloop privately just before she sailed.

"Good luck to you, Ben," said John, as they shook hands.

"Good bye," answered Benjamin with a heavy heart, just beginning to
feel that he was going away from home. "See that you tell no tales out
of school."

Thus they parted; and the sloop sailed for New York, where she arrived
in three days. Benjamin did not know a person in that city, nor had he
a single letter of recommendation to any one, and the money in his
pocket was but a trifle. It was in October, 1723, that he arrived in
New York. Think of a lad seventeen years of age running away from
home, entering a large city without a solitary acquaintance, and
possessing scarcely money enough to pay for a week's board! He must
have carried some sad, lonely feelings in his heart along those
strange streets, and possibly his conscience sorely upbraided him for
his course.

Benjamin behaved very unwisely and wickedly in this affair. Although
his brother was severely harsh in his treatment of him, it was not
sufficient reason for his running away from home, and he was
thoroughly convinced of this at an early day. Such an act is one of
the most flagrant sins that a youth can commit, although circumstances
may render it less guilty in some cases than in others. In the case of
Benjamin, the unkind treatment which he received at the hand of his
brother mitigated his sin, though it by no means excused it.

There is not a more unpleasant occurrence in the whole life of
Benjamin Franklin than this quarrel with his brother. We charge the
difficulty mainly upon James, of course; but this does not blot out
the unpleasantness of the affair. A quarrel between brothers is always
painful in the extreme, and is discreditable to all parties concerned.
Dr. Watts has very beautifully written, for the admonition of little
children, what older ones may well ponder:--

    "Whatever brawls disturb the street,
      There should be peace at home:
    Where sisters dwell and brothers meet,
      Quarrels should never come.

    "Birds in their little nests agree;
      And 'tis a shameful sight,
    When children of one family
      Fall out, and chide, and fight.

    "Hard names, at first, and threat'ning words,
      That are but noisy breath,
    May grow to clubs and naked swords,
      To murder and to death."

At this crisis of Benjamin's life, it seemed as if he was on the
highway to ruin. There is scarcely one similar case in ten, where the
runaway escapes the vortex of degradation. Benjamin would not have
been an exception, but for his early religious culture and the grace
of God.

The case of William Hutton, who was the son of very poor parents, is
not altogether unlike that of Benjamin Franklin. He was bound to his
uncle for a series of years, but was treated by him so harshly that he
ran away, at seventeen years of age. The record is, that "on the 12th
day of July, 1741, the ill-treatment he received from his uncle, in
the shape of a brutal flogging, with a birch-broom handle of white
hazel, which almost killed him, caused him to run away." A dark
prospect was before him, since "he had only twopence in his pocket, a
spacious world before him, and no plan of operation." Yet he
afterwards became an author of some celebrity, and a most exemplary
and esteemed man. He lived to the age of ninety, his last days being
gladdened by the reflection of having lived a useful life, and the
consciousness of sharing the confidence of his fellow-men.



On arriving at New York, Benjamin applied to a well known printer, Mr.
William Bradford, for work.

"Where are you from?" he inquired.

"From Boston," was Benjamin's reply.

"Used to the printing business?"

"Yes, that is my trade. I have worked at it several years."

"I am sorry I cannot employ you. Just now my business is small, and I
have all the help I need."

"What do you think of the prospect of getting work at some other
office in the town?" inquired Benjamin.

"Not very flattering, I am sorry to say. Dull times, my son, very dull
indeed. But I can tell you where you can find employment, I think. My
son carries on the printing business in Philadelphia, and one of his
men died the other day. I think he would be glad to employ you."

"How far is it to Philadelphia?"

"It is a hundred miles," replied Mr. Bradford, "a much shorter
distance than you have already travelled."

[Illustration: Franklin saving the Dutchman.--See page 149.]

Benjamin looked somewhat disappointed when he found that Philadelphia
was a hundred miles farther; still, he was after work, and he was
determined to find it; so he made inquiries about the mode of
conveyance, and left Mr. Bradford, thanking him for his kindness.
Immediately he engaged a passage in a boat to Amboy, and made
arrangements for his chest to be carried round by sea. He was less
disheartened, probably, on account of the assurance of Mr. Bradford
that his son would employ him. If he could procure work by travelling
a hundred miles more, he would cheerfully do it, although a journey of
a hundred miles then was about equal to one thousand now.

At the appointed time Benjamin went aboard, and the boat started. She
had not proceeded far when a squall struck her, tore her rotten sails
to pieces, and drove her upon Long Island. Before this, however, a
drunken Dutchman, who was also a passenger, fell overboard, and would
have lost his life but for the timely assistance of our printer-boy.
Springing to the side of the boat, Benjamin reached over and seized
him by the hair of his head as he rose, and drew him on board.

"He may thank you for saving his life," exclaimed one of the boatmen.

"He is too drunk for that," answered Benjamin. "It will sober him a
little, however, I think. Halloo, here, you Dutchman!" (turning to the
drunken man) "how do you like diving?"

The Dutchman mumbled over something, and pulling a book out of his
pocket, asked Benjamin to dry it for him, which he promised to do.
Soon the poor, miserable fellow was fast asleep, in spite of the wet
and danger, and Benjamin examined the drenched volume, which proved to
be Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, in Dutch, a favourite book of his a
few years before. It was a very good companion for even a drunken
Dutchman to have; but Benjamin could not but think that its contents
were not so familiar to the unfortunate possessor as the bottle.

On approaching Long Island they found that there was no place to land,
and the beach was very stony; so "they dropped anchor, and swung out
their cable towards the shore." Some men came down to the shore and
hallooed to them, and they returned the shout. Seeing some small boats
lying along the shore, they cried out as loudly as possible, "A boat!
a boat!" and made signs to them to come to their assistance; but the
wind was so boisterous that neither party could understand the other.

After several fruitless attempts on both sides to be heard, and night
coming on, the men on the shore went home, and left Benjamin and the
boatmen to their perils.

"There is only one thing to be done," said the captain, "when we get
into such a predicament."

"What is that?" asked Benjamin.

"To do nothing but wait patiently till the wind abates," answered the
captain, rather coolly.

"Then let us turn in with the Dutchman to sleep," said one of the
boatmen. "It isn't best for him to have all the good things."

All agreed to this, and soon they were crowded into the hatches,
Benjamin among the number. But the spray broke over the head of the
boat so much that the water leaked through upon them, until they were
about as wet as the Dutchman. This was hard fare for Benjamin, who had
been accustomed to a comfortable bed and regular sleep. It was
impossible for him to rest in such a plight, and he had all the more
time _to think_. He thought of home, and the friends he had left
behind, of the comfortable quarters he had exchanged for his present
wet and perilous berth, and he began to feel that he had _paid too
dear for his whistle_. Runaways usually feel thus sooner or later,
since few of them ever realize their anticipations.

The cold, dreary night wore away slowly, and the wind continued to
howl, and the breakers to dash and roar, until after the dawn of the
following morning. Benjamin was never more rejoiced to see daylight
appear than he was after that dismal and perilous night. It was the
more pleasant to him because the wind began to abate, and there was a
fairer prospect of reaching their place of destination. As soon as the
tumult of the wind and waves had subsided, they weighed anchor, and
steered for Amboy, where they arrived just before night, "having been
thirty hours on the water without victuals, or any drink but a bottle
of filthy rum."

In the evening Benjamin found himself feverish, having taken a severe
cold by the exposure of the previous night. With a hot head and a
heavy heart he retired to rest, first, however, drinking largely of
cold water, because he had somewhere read that cold water was good for
fever. This was one of the advantages he derived from his early habit
of reading. But for his taste for reading, which led him to spend his
leisure moments in poring over books, he might never have known this
important fact, which perhaps saved him a fit of sickness. Availing
himself of this knowledge, he drank freely of water before he retired,
and the consequence was, that he sweat most of the night, and arose
the next morning comparatively well. So much advantage from loving

Boys never have occasion to deplore the habit of reading, provided
their books are well chosen. They usually find that they are thrice
paid for all the time spent in this way. Sooner or later they begin to
reap the benefits of so wise a course. A few years since, a young man
was travelling in the State of Maine, procuring subscribers to a
newspaper. On passing a certain farm, he observed some bricks of a
peculiar colour, and he traced them to their clay-bed, and satisfied
himself that the material could be applied to a more valuable purpose
than that of making bricks. He at once purchased the farm for three
hundred pounds, and, on his return to Boston, sold one half of it for
eight hundred pounds. The secret of his success lay in a bit of
knowledge he acquired at school. He had given some attention to
geology and chemistry, and the little knowledge he had gleaned
therefrom enabled him to discover the nature of the clay on the farm.
Thus, even a little knowledge gleaned from a book in a single leisure
half-hour, will sometimes prove the key to a valuable treasure; much
more valuable than the farm which the young man purchased. For this
pecuniary benefit is, after all, the least important advantage derived
from reading. The discipline of the mind and heart, and the refined
and elevated pleasure which it secures, are far more desirable than
any pecuniary good it bestows. A little reading, also, sometimes gives
an impulse to the mind in the direction of learning and renown. It was
the reading of Echard's Roman History, which Gibbon met with while on
a visit to Wiltshire, that opened before him the historic path to

Let the reader consider these things. Never say, as hundred's of boys
do, "I hate books, and wish that I was not obliged to go to school.
There is no use in reading and studying so much; we shall get along
just as well without it." This class of boys usually will have to
regret, under mortifying circumstances, in later life, that they
wasted their early opportunities to acquire knowledge. Sir Walter
Scott, in his boyhood, joined in the tirade of idlers against books;
but in manhood he said: "If it should ever fall to the lot of youth to
peruse these pages, let such readers remember that it is with the
deepest regret that I recollect, in my manhood, the opportunities of
learning which I neglected in my youth; that through every part of my
literary career I have felt pinched and hampered by my own ignorance;
and I would at this moment give half the reputation I have had the
good fortune to acquire, if by so doing I could rest the remaining
part upon a sound foundation of learning and science."

But we have lost sight of Benjamin. We left him at the tavern in
Amboy, after having passed the night in a cold-water sweat, ready for
another start on his journey. Burlington was fifty miles from Amboy,
and there was no public conveyance, so that he was obliged to go on
foot, expecting to find a boat there bound for Philadelphia. It was
raining hard, and yet he started upon the journey, and trudged on
through the storm and the mud, eager to see Burlington. He was
thoroughly drenched before he had travelled five miles, and, in this
condition, he walked on rapidly till noon, when he came to a "poor
inn," and stopped. Being wet and tired, he resolved to remain there
until the next day. The innkeeper's suspicions were awakened by
Benjamin's appearance, and he questioned him rather closely.

"Where are you from, my lad?"

"From Boston, sir."

"Hey! and away off here so far? quite a youngster for such a trip.
What's your name?"

"My name is Benjamin Franklin, and I am going to Philadelphia after

"No work in Boston I 'spose, hey? How long since you left home?"

"About a week. I did not expect to go farther than New York when I
started, but I could get no work there."

"No work, hey? what sort of work are you after that you find it so

"I am a printer by trade, and I hope to get into a printing-office in

"Wall, you are a pretty young one to go so far; I would hardly be
willing that a son of mine should make such a trip alone, printer or
no printer."

Benjamin saw that he was suspected of being a runaway, and he felt
very uncomfortable. He managed, however, to answer all questions
without satisfying the curiosity of the family. He ate and slept
there, and on the following morning proceeded on his journey, and by
night was within eight or ten miles of Burlington. Here he stopped at
an inn kept by one Dr. Brown, "an ambulating quack doctor." He was a
very social and observing man, and soon discovered that Benjamin was a
youth of unusual intelligence for one of his age. He conversed with
him freely about Boston and other places, and gave a particular
account of some foreign countries which he had visited. In this way he
made Benjamin's brief stay with him very pleasant, and they became
friends for life, meeting many times thereafter on friendly terms.

The next morning he reluctantly bade the doctor good bye, and
proceeded to Burlington, where he expected to find a boat. In the
suburbs of the town he bought some gingerbread of an old woman who
kept a shop, and walked on, eating it as he went. To his great
disappointment, on reaching the wharf, he found the boat had gone, and
there would not be another until Tuesday. It was now Saturday, and his
money would not hold out if he should get boarded at a public-house
till then. What should he do? After some reflection, he determined to
go back to the old lady of whom he bought his gingerbread, as he liked
her appearance very well, and ask her advice. So back he went.

"Ah! back again?" said she, as he entered her shop. "Want more
gingerbread I 'spose?"

"No," answered Benjamin. "I was going to take the boat to
Philadelphia, but it has gone, and there is not another to go until

"Dear me!" exclaimed the kind-hearted woman; "if that ain't too bad.
What kin ye du?"

"That is what I want to ask you. Is there any other conveyance to

"No, and all ye has to du is to make the best on't."

"And what is that? That is just what I want to know,--the best thing
for me to do in such a case."

"What ye goin' to Philadelphy for?" inquired the old lady.

"I am going after work. I am a printer, and want to find work in a

"A printer," exclaimed the woman, who had probably never seen one
before. "Dear me, yer fortin is made to set up business in this ere
town. There is nothing of the like here."

"I have nothing to set up the business with here," replied Benjamin.
"I would as lief work here as in Philadelphia, if the way was open."

The woman did not know what was necessary in setting up a printing
establishment. That types and a press were indispensable articles in
such business she did not dream. She thought, doubtless, that he
carried all necessary fixtures with him in his pockets.

"Well, then, I'll lodge ye till Tuesday for ----" (naming the sum).

"I will stay with you, then, and make the best of it," he replied.

He found himself in very good quarters, and his host proved herself to
be very kind and hospitable. He took dinner with her, and remained
about the shop until towards night, when he walked forth to view the
place. In his walk he came round to the river, and as he approached
it, he discovered a boat with several people in it, and he hailed

"Whither bound?"

"To Philadelphia."

"Can you take me in? I was too late for the boat to-day."

"As well as not," a voice replied; and the boat was turned to receive
its additional passenger. There was no wind, so that they were obliged
to depend on rowing for progress. Benjamin now found a rare
opportunity to exercise the skill at rowing which he cultivated in
Boston. He was so elated with the prospect of proceeding on his way to
Philadelphia, that he thought neither of the fatigue of rowing, nor of
the wonder of the old lady in the shop at the unexpected disappearance
of her boarder. He did not mean to treat her disrespectfully, for he
considered her a very clever woman, but the boat could not wait for
him to return and pay her his compliments. Whether she ever learned
what became of him, or that he grew up to be Dr. Franklin, the great
philosopher, we have no means of knowing. Doubtless she concluded that
she had not entertained an "angel unawares," but had rather aided an
undeserving fellow in pursuing a vicious course,--which was not true.

The boat went on. Benjamin rowed with strong resolution, taking his
turn with others, until midnight, when one of the company said: "We
must have passed the city. It can't be that we have been so long
getting to it."

"That is impossible," said another. "We must have seen it, if we had
passed it."

"Well, I shall row no more," added the first speaker. "I know that
Philadelphia is not so far off as this."

"Let us put for the shore," said a third person, "and find out where
we are, if possible."

"Agreed," replied several voices; and so saying they rowed toward the
shore, and entered a small creek, where they landed near an old fence,
the rails of which furnished them with fuel for a fire. They were very
chilly, it being a frosty night of October, and they found the fire
very grateful. They remained there till daylight, when one of the
company knew that the place was "Cooper's Creek," a few miles above
the "City of Brotherly Love." Immediately they made preparations to
continue their journey, which had not been altogether unpleasant, and
they were soon in full view of the city, where they arrived between
eight and nine o'clock on Sunday morning. They landed at Market Street
Wharf. Taking out his money, which consisted of one unbroken dollar,
and a shilling in copper coin, he offered the latter to the boatmen
for his passage.

"Not a cent, my good fellow," said one of them, "you worked your
passage, and did it well, too."

"But you _must_ take it," responded Benjamin. "You are quite welcome
to all the rowing I have done. I am glad enough to get here by rowing
and paying my passage too. But for your coming along to take me in, I
should have been obliged to stay in Burlington until next Tuesday;"
and he fairly forced the shilling into their hands. This manifested a
spirit of generosity, for which Benjamin was always distinguished. He
was no mean, niggardly fellow, not he. Although he was in a stranger
city, and had but a single dollar left on which to live until he could
earn something by daily toil, yet he cheerfully gave the change for
his passage. He felt grateful to them for taking him in, and he gave
expression to his gratitude in this generous way. It was noble, too,
in the boatman to refuse to take the shilling. It was only on his
insisting upon their receiving it, that they consented to take it. A
kind-hearted, generous set of fellows were in that boat, and Benjamin
was not inferior to one of them in that respect. Bidding them good
morning, he walked up Market Street, where he met a boy eating some

"Where did you get your bread, boy?" he inquired.

"Over to the baker's, there," he replied, pointing to a shop that was
near by.

Benjamin was very tired and hungry, having eaten nothing since he
dined with the old shopwoman in Burlington, on the day before; and,
for this reason, the boy's bread was very tempting. Besides, he had
made many a meal of dry bread when he boarded himself in Boston; and
now it was not hard at all for him to breakfast on unbuttered bread,
minus both tea and coffee. He hastened to the bakery, and found it

"Have you biscuit?" he inquired, meaning such as he was accustomed to
eat in Boston.

"We make nothing of the kind," answered the proprietor.

"You may give me a three-penny loaf, then."

"We have none."

Benjamin began to think that he should have to go hungry still, since
he did not know the names or prices of the kinds of bread made in
Philadelphia. But in a moment he recovered himself, and said: "Then
give me three-pennyworth of any sort."

[Illustration: Miss Read's first Glimpse of her future Husband.--See
page 162.]

To his surprise the baker gave him three great puffy rolls, enough to
satisfy half a dozen hungry persons. He looked at it, scarcely knowing
at first what he could do with so much, but, as "necessity is the
mother of invention," he soon discovered a way of disposing of it. He
put a roll under each arm, and taking a third in his hand he proceeded
to eat it, as he continued his way up Market Street.

Let the reader stop here, and take a view of Benjamin Franklin, the
runaway youth, as he made his first appearance in the city of
Philadelphia. See him trudging up Market Street with his worn, dirty
clothes (his best suit having been sent round by sea), his pockets
stuffed out with shirts and stockings, and a "puffy roll" under each
arm, and a third in his hand of which he is eating! A comical
appearance certainly! It is not very probable that this runaway
Benjamin will ever become "Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of
France," or surprise the world by his philosophical discoveries! There
is much more probability that he will live in some obscure
printing-office, and die, "unknown, unhonoured, and unsung." Who
wonders that a young lady, Miss Read, who was standing in the door of
her father's residence as Benjamin passed, thought he made a very
awkward and ridiculous appearance? She little thought she was taking a
bird's-eye view of her future husband, as the youth with the rolls of
bread under his arm proved to be. But just then he cared more for
bread than he did for her; some years after, the case was reversed,
and he cared more for her than he did for bread.

Turning down Chestnut Street he continued to walk until he came round
to the wharf where he landed. Being thirsty, he went to the boat for
water, where he found the woman and child who came down the river with
them on the previous night, waiting to go further.

"Are you hungry?" he inquired of the child, who looked wistfully at
his bread.

"We are both very hungry," answered the woman, speaking for herself
and child.

"I have satisfied my hunger," said Benjamin, "and you may have the
rest of my bread if you would like it," at the same time passing both
rolls to her.

"You are very kind indeed," responded the woman. "I thank you much for
it;"--all of which was as good pay for the bread as Benjamin wanted.
This was another instance of the generosity for which he was
distinguished throughout his whole life. An American statesman said of
him, in a eulogy delivered in Boston: "No form of personal suffering
or social evil escaped his attention, or appealed in vain for such
relief or remedy as his prudence could suggest, or his purse supply.
From that day of his early youth, when, a wanderer from his home and
friends in a strange place, he was seen sharing his rolls with a poor
woman and child, to the last act of his public life, when he signed
that well known memorial to Congress, a spirit of earnest and
practical benevolence runs like a golden thread along his whole

He then walked up the street again, and found well-dressed people
going to church. Joining in the current, notwithstanding his
appearance, he went with them into the large Quaker meeting-house that
stood near the market. He took his seat, and waited for the services
to begin, either not knowing what Quakers did at meeting, or else
being ignorant that he was among this sect. As nothing was said, and
he was weary and exhausted with the labours and watchings of the
previous night, he became drowsy, and soon dropped into a sweet sleep.
His nap might have proved a very unfortunate event for him, but for
the kindness of a wide-awake Quaker. For he did not wake up when the
meeting closed, and the congregation might have dispersed, and the
sexton locked him in, without disturbing his slumbers. But the
kind-hearted Quaker moved his spirit by giving him a gentle rap on the
shoulder. He started up, somewhat surprised that the service was over,
and passed out with the crowd. Soon after, meeting a fine-looking
young Quaker, who carried his heart in his face, Benjamin inquired,
"Can you tell me where a stranger can get a night's lodging?"

"Here," answered the Quaker, "is a house where they receive strangers"
(pointing to the sign of the Three Mariners near which they stood),
"but it is not a reputable one; if thee will walk with me I will show
thee a better one."

"I will be obliged to you for doing so," answered Benjamin. "I was
never in Philadelphia before, and am not acquainted with one person

The Quaker conducted him to Water Street, and showed him the Crooked
Billet,--a house where he might be accommodated. Benjamin thanked him
for his kindness, entered the house, and called for dinner and a room.
While sitting at the dinner-table, his host asked, "Where are you

"I am from Boston?"

"Boston!" exclaimed the host, with some surprise. "How long since you
left home?"

This question being answered, he continued, "Have you friends in

"None at all. I do not know a single person here."

"What did you come here for?"

"I came to get work in a printing-office. I am a printer by trade."

"How old are you?"

"I am seventeen years old, sir," replied Benjamin, just beginning to
perceive that the man suspected him of being a runaway.

"And came all the way from Boston alone?"

"Yes, sir!"

Benjamin closed the conversation as soon as he could conveniently,
after perceiving that his appearance had excited suspicions, and went
to his room, where he lay down and slept till six o'clock in the
evening, when he was called to supper. He went to bed again very
early, and was soon locked in the embrace of "nature's sweet restorer,
balmy sleep."



After a good night's sleep, Benjamin arose and dressed himself as
neatly as he could with his old clothes, and repaired to Andrew
Bradford's printing-office.

"Ah! then you have arrived," said an old gentleman, rising to salute
him as he entered. "I reached here first."

"Oh, it is Mr. Bradford!" exclaimed Benjamin, surprised at meeting the
old printer whom he saw in New York, and who directed him to his son,
Andrew Bradford, of Philadelphia. "I did not expect to meet you here."

"I suppose not. I started off unexpectedly, and came all the way on
horseback. But I am glad that you have reached here safely. This is a
young man from Boston" (addressing his son and introducing Benjamin),
"after work in a printing-office, and I directed him to you. Franklin
is your name, I believe."

"Yes, sir! Benjamin Franklin."

Mr. Bradford received him very cordially, and being about to eat
breakfast, he said: "Come, it is my breakfast hour, and you shall be
welcome to the table. We can talk this matter over at the table;"--and
Benjamin accepted the invitation.

"I told this young man," said the old printer from New York, "that one
of your men died a short time since, and you would want a printer to
take his place."

"That is true," replied Mr. Andrew Bradford. "I did want another hand
to take his place, but I hired one only a few days since. I am sorry
to disappoint this youth who has come so far for work."

"Is there another printing-office here?" asked Benjamin.

"Yes; a man by the name of Keimer has just commenced the business, and
I think he would be glad to employ you."

"I must get work somewhere," added Benjamin, "for I have spent nearly
all my money in getting here."

"If he will not employ you," added Mr. Bradford, kindly, "you may
lodge at my house, and I will give you a little work from time to time
until business is better."

"That will be a great favour to me," answered Benjamin, "for which I
shall be very thankful;" and he really felt more grateful to Mr.
Bradford for the offer than his words indicated.

"I will go with you to see Mr. Keimer," said old Mr. Bradford from
New York. "Perhaps I can be of some service to you in securing a

Benjamin began to think he had fallen into very obliging hands; so he
followed their advice, and went with his aged friend to see the
newly-established printer. On arriving at the office, they met Mr.
Keimer, and old Mr. Bradford introduced their business by saying:
"Neighbour, I have brought to see you a young man of your business;
perhaps you may want such a one."

"That depends on his qualifications," answered Mr. Keimer. "How long
have you worked at the business?" he inquired, turning to Benjamin.

"Several years, sir."

"Do you understand all parts of it so that you can go on with it?"

"I think I do; you can try me and satisfy yourself."

"Take this composing-stick and let me see whether you are competent or
not," said Keimer.

Benjamin proceeded to exhibit his skill at the work, and very soon
satisfied Keimer that he had told the truth.

"Very well done," said Keimer. "I will employ you as soon as I have
sufficient work to warrant such a step. At present I have nothing for
you to do."

Here Benjamin saw the advantage of having attended to his business
closely, so as to learn thoroughly the work he was to do. Some boys
perform their work in just a passable way, not caring particularly
whether it is well done, if they can only "pass muster." But not so
with Benjamin. He sought to understand the business to which he
attended, and to do as well as possible the work he undertook. The
consequence was that he was a thorough workman, and in five minutes he
was able to satisfy Keimer of the fact. This was greatly in his
favour; and such a young man is never long out of business.

Turning to Bradford, Keimer said, supposing him to be a Philadelphian
who wished him well in his new enterprise: "What do you think of my
prospects here, sir? Do you think I shall succeed in my business?"

"That will depend upon your own exertions and business talents," was
Bradford's reply.

"I shall do all in my power to draw the business of the town," added
Keimer; "and I think I can do it."

"But how can you expect to get all the business when there is another
printer here, who has been established some time?"

Keimer answered this last inquiry by disclosing his plans, as Bradford
quietly drew him out on every point, until he learned how he was
calculating to command all the business, and run his son out. Nor did
Keimer dream that he was conversing with the father of the other
printer whom he designed to deprive of his livelihood. All the while
Benjamin stood and listened to their conversation, perceiving that Mr.
Bradford was shrewdly learning Keimer's plans for his son's benefit.

"Did you not know that man?" inquired Benjamin, after Bradford left,
leaving him in the office.

"No; but I thought that he was one of the town's people who wished me
well in my business, and therefore came in to introduce you."

"It is not so," replied Benjamin. "That was the father of Andrew
Bradford, your neighbour, the printer. He carries on printing in New

"It can't be!" exclaimed Keimer, astonished at this bit of news, and
startled at the thought of having made known his plans to a

"It _can_ be," replied Benjamin. "He is certainly Bradford, the New
York printer, and father of Andrew Bradford, the printer of this

"How happened it that he should come here with you?"

"I can tell you in few words," said Benjamin; and he went on and told
him of his going to New York, and how he happened to come to
Philadelphia, and meet Mr. Bradford there, and finally how he found
his way to Keimer's office.

"It will learn me a good lesson," said Keimer. "When I divulge secrets
to another man whom I don't know, I shall not be in my right mind."

Benjamin spent a short time in looking over Keimer's office, and found
that his press was old and damaged, and his fount of English types
nearly worn out. Possessing much more ingenuity than Keimer, and
understanding a printing-press much better, he went to work, and in a
short time put it into decent order for service. Keimer was composing
an Elegy on Aquila Rose, an excellent young man who worked for
Bradford, and who had recently died; and he agreed to send for
Benjamin to print it off when it was ready. With this arrangement,
Benjamin returned to Mr. Bradford to eat and lodge. A few days after
he received a message from Keimer that the Elegy was ready to be
printed. From that time Keimer provided him with work.

"You must have another boarding-place," said Keimer to him one day.
Benjamin was still boarding at Bradford's, and this was not agreeable
to Keimer.

"Just as you please," answered Benjamin; "I am satisfied to board
there or go elsewhere."

"I can get you boarded with an acquaintance of mine, I think, where
you will find it very pleasant. I am confident that you will like it
better there than at Mr. Bradford's."

"I will go there, if you think it is best," added Benjamin. "My chest
has arrived, and I can look a little more respectable now than I could

The result was, that he went to board at Mr. Read's, the father of the
young lady who stood in the door when he passed on the aforesaid
Sunday morning with a roll of bread under each arm. His appearance was
much improved by this time, so that even Miss Read saw that he was an
intelligent promising young man.

We learn one or two things about Benjamin from the foregoing, which
the reader may ponder with benefit to himself. In the first place, he
must have been very observing. He understood the construction of a
printing-press so well, that he could put an old one into running
order, youth as he was, when its proprietor was unable to do it. This
is more remarkable, because he was not obliged to study the mechanism
of a printing-press in order to work it. Doubtless many a person
operates this and other machines without giving any particular
attention to their structure. But a class of minds are never satisfied
until they understand whatever commands their attention. They are
inquisitive to learn the philosophy of things. It was so with
Benjamin, and this characteristic proved a valuable element of his
success. It was the secret of his inventions and discoveries
thereafter. It was so with Stephenson, of whom we have spoken before.
As soon as he was appointed plugman of an engine, at seventeen years
of age, he began to study its construction. In his leisure hours, he
took it to pieces and put it together again several times, in order to
understand it. So of William Hutton, whose name is mentioned in
another place. Encouraged by a couplet which he read in Dyce's

    "Despair of nothing that you would attain,
    Unwearied diligence your end will gain,"

he sought to master everything that he undertook. One day he borrowed
a dulcimer, and made one by it. With no other tools than the
hammer-key, and pliers of the stocking-frame for hammer and pincers,
his pocket-knife, and a one-pronged fork that served as spring, awl,
and gimlet, he made a capital dulcimer, which he sold for sixteen
shillings. Here were both observation and perseverance, though not
more finely developed than they were in the character of young
Benjamin Franklin.

Another important truth is learned from the foregoing, namely, that
Benjamin was not proud. A sight of him passing up Market Street, with
three large rolls of bread, is proof of this; or his appearance in the
street and Quaker church in his everyday garb, because his best suit
was "coming round by sea," is equally significant. How many boys of
his age would have stayed away from church until the "best clothes"
arrived! How many would seek for some concealment of their poverty, if
possible, in similar circumstances! But these were small matters to
Benjamin, in comparison with finding employment and earning a
livelihood. He had a destiny to work out, and in working that he must
do as he could, and not always as he would. He cared not for the
laughs and jeers of those who could dress better and live more
sumptuously than himself, since it was absolutely necessary for him to
dress as he did, in order to "make his ends meet." He might have
followed the example of some young men, and run into debt, in order to
"cut a dash;" but he believed then, as he wrote afterwards, that
"lying rides on debt's back," and that it is "better to go to bed
supperless than to rise in debt;" or, as he expressed himself in other
maxims, "Those have a short Lent who owe money to be paid at Easter,"
and "It is easier to build two chimneys than to keep one in fuel."



Hitherto Benjamin had lived contentedly in Philadelphia, striving to
forget Boston and old familiar scenes as much as possible. No one at
home knew of his whereabouts, except his old friend Collins, who kept
the secret well. One day, however, a letter came to his address,
and the superscription looked so familiar that Benjamin's hand
fairly trembled as he broke the seal. It proved to be from his
brother-in-law, Robert Homes, "master of a sloop that traded between
Boston and Delaware." He came to Newcastle, it seems, about forty
miles from Philadelphia, and, hearing of Benjamin's place of
residence, he sat down and wrote him a letter, telling him of the deep
sorrow into which his departure had plunged his parents, who still
were wholly ignorant of his fate, and exhorting him to return home to
his friends, who would welcome him kindly. The letter was a strong
appeal to his feelings.

Benjamin sat down and replied to the letter, stating his reasons in
full for leaving Boston, giving an account of his present
circumstances and prospects, and closing by expressing kind feelings
for all the loved ones at home, but declining to return.

Not many days after Benjamin wrote and sent his letter, an unusual
scene transpired at the office. He was at work near the window, when,
on looking out, he saw Governor Keith approaching.

"The Governor is coming in," said he to Keimer.

Keimer looked out of the window, and saw that it was so, whereupon he
hurried down to the door, not a little excited by the thought of
waiting upon the Governor, supposing, of course, that he was coming in
to see him.

"Does Benjamin Franklin work for you?" inquired the Governor.

"He does," answered Keimer, both astonished and perplexed by the
inquiry. What he could want of him he could not imagine.

"Can I see him?" asked the Governor.

"Certainly; walk in." The Governor and Colonel French, who was with
him, were ushered into the presence of Benjamin.

"I am happy to make the acquaintance of a young man of your
abilities," he said to him. "I regret that you did not report yourself
to me long ago."

Benjamin was too much astonished at the unexpected interview to be
able to reply; and the Governor went on to say, that "he called to
invite him to an interview at the tavern." Benjamin was more perplexed
than ever, and Keimer stared with amazement. But after some
hesitation, arising from sudden surprise, Benjamin consented to go
with the Governor, and was soon seated with him and Colonel French in
a room of the tavern at the corner of Third Street.

"I called to see you," said the Governor, "respecting the printing
business in this town. I understand that you are well acquainted with
it in all its branches, and, from my knowledge of your abilities, I
think you would succeed admirably in setting up the business for
yourself. Our printers here are ignorant and inefficient, and we must
have more competent men to do the government work."

How the Governor knew so much about his qualifications for the
business, Benjamin could not divine. He replied, however, "I have
nothing to commence business with, and it will require some capital.
My father might assist me if he were disposed; but I have no reason to
think that he would."

"I will write to him upon the subject," said the Governor, "and
perhaps he may be persuaded. I can show him the advantages of such an
enterprise to yourself and the public, so that he cannot doubt the
practicability of the thing."

"There are two printers here already," continued Benjamin; "and a
third one would hardly be supported."

"A third one, who understands the business as you do," responded the
Governor, "would command the chief business of the town in a short
time. I will pledge you all the public printing of the government."

"And I will pledge the same for the government of Delaware," said
Colonel French of Newcastle.

"There can be no doubt on this point," continued Governor Keith. "You
had better decide to return to Boston by the first vessel, and take a
letter from me to your father."

"I will so decide at once, if such is your judgment in the matter,"
replied Benjamin.

"Then it is understood," added his Excellency, "that you will repair
to Boston in the first vessel that sails. In the mean time, you must
continue to work for Mr. Keimer, keeping the object of this interview
a profound secret."

Having made this arrangement, they separated, and Benjamin returned to
the printing-office, scarcely knowing how he should evade the
anticipated inquisitiveness of Keimer respecting the interview; but he
succeeded in keeping the secret. His mind, however, laboured much upon
the question, how Governor Keith should know anything about him, a
poor obscure printer-boy. It was not until he returned to Boston that
this mystery was solved. Then he learned that Keith was present at
Newcastle when his brother-in-law received his (Benjamin's) letter,
and Captain Homes read it aloud to him.

"How old is he?" asked the Governor.

"Seventeen," replied Captain Homes.

"Only seventeen! I am surprised that a youth of that age should write
so well. He must be an uncommon boy."

Captain Homes assured him that he was a very competent youth, and
possessed abilities that qualified him for almost any place. Here was
the secret of Keith's interest in the printer-boy, but of which the
latter knew nothing until he met his brother-in-law in Boston.

Before an opportunity offered for Benjamin to go to Boston, Governor
Keith frequently sent for him to dine with him, on which occasions he
conversed with him in a very friendly and familiar way. It was quite
unusual for a boy of seventeen years to become the frequent guest of a
Governor, and no wonder he was almost bewildered by the unexpected
attention. Some would have become vain and proud in consequence of
such attentions; but Benjamin bore the honours meekly.

About the last of April, 1724, a small vessel offered for Boston.
Benjamin made arrangements to go, took leave of Keimer as if going to
visit his friends, and, with Keith's letter to his father, sailed. The
vessel had a boisterous time at sea, but after a fortnight's voyage
she entered Boston harbour. Benjamin had been absent seven months, and
his parents had not heard a word from him. His brother-in-law had not
returned from Newcastle, nor written to them about his knowledge of
Benjamin. The reader may well imagine, then, that he took them all by
surprise. His poor mother had laid his absence to heart so much, that
it had worn upon her, and his return was to her almost like life from
the dead. She was overjoyed, and no language could express her delight
as she looked into the face of her long-lost Benjamin. His father was
not less rejoiced, although he had a different way of showing it.
Indeed, all the family, except his brother James, gave him a most
cordial and affectionate welcome. He did not return ragged and
penniless, as runaways generally do, but he was clad in a new and
handsome suit, carried a watch in his pocket, and had about five
pounds sterling in silver in his purse. He never looked half so
genteel and neat in his life, and certainly never commanded so much
money at one time before.

Before his brother James heard of his arrival, Benjamin hastened to
the printing-office, and startled him by suddenly standing before him.
James stopped his work, saluted him in rather a reserved manner, and,
after surveying him from head to foot, turned to his work again. It
was rather a cold reception on the whole, but not altogether
unexpected to Benjamin. A brother who had driven him away by his harsh
treatment could hardly be expected to welcome him back with a very
warm heart.

The journeymen were delighted to see him, and they were very

"Where have you been, Ben?" asked one.

"To Philadelphia," he answered.

"What kind of a place is it?"

"It is one of the finest places I ever saw. I like it better than

"Going back?" inquired a second person.

"Yes; and very soon, too," he replied. "That is the place for the
printing business."

"What kind of money do you have there?" inquired Another. There was no
established currency in the country at that time, and his interrogator
wanted to know what they used in Philadelphia.

Instead of replying directly, Benjamin drew the silver from his
pocket, and spread it out before them. It was quite a curiosity to
them, as they used only paper money in Boston; and, besides, it caused
them to think that their old associate had fallen upon lucky days.

"You made a lucky hit, Ben, this time," said one.

"Heavy stuff to carry about," suggested a second. "A man would want a
wheelbarrow if he had much of it."

"Perhaps you would accept of the wheelbarrow and silver together,
rather than have neither," responded Benjamin.

By this time Benjamin's watch was discovered, and there was a general
desire to see it; so he laid it down before them, while his brother
appeared "grum and sullen."

"That is a convenient companion," said Benjamin, as he laid it down.

"And you can afford to have such things," added one of the number,
"because you save your money, and don't spend it for pleasure, drink,
and luxuries."

"Ben has fared so well," said one, "that it belongs to him to treat
the company." As we have said before, the use of intoxicating drinks
was general at that time, and when old friends met, it was common to
signalize the occasion by the use of such beverage. Had Benjamin lived
at this day, with his temperate habits, he would have refused to
pander to their appetite for strong drink, and suggested some other
kind of treat. But, living as he did when there were no temperance
societies, and no alarm at the growing evils of intoxication, he
accepted the proposal in his accustomed generous way.

"There is a dollar," said he, throwing out a dollar in silver, "take
that, and drink what you please for old acquaintance sake." Then,
pocketing his watch and money, he took his leave.

His brother was greatly incensed at this visit, and regarded it in the
light of an insult. His mother endeavoured to bring him to terms of
reconciliation with Benjamin, but in vain.

"You are brothers," said she, "and you ought to behave towards each
other as brothers. It is very painful to me to think of your hostility
to Benjamin, and I do hope that you will forget the past, and be true
to each other in future."

"Never," replied James. "He insulted me so directly before my workmen
the other day, that I shall not forget nor forgive it."

James was mistaken in his view of Benjamin's intention. The latter did
not mean to insult him at the office. He would have been glad of a
cordial welcome from James, and his feelings were such that he would
have rejoicingly blotted out the recollection of his former
ill-treatment, had James met him as a brother.

Benjamin took the first opportunity to make known to his father the
object and circumstances of his visit home, and to hand him the
Governor's letter, which he received with manifest surprise, though he
evidently doubted whether it was genuine. For several days he entered
into no conversation about the matter, as he did not exactly know what
to make of it. Just then Captain Homes returned, and Mr. Franklin
showed him the letter of Governor Keith, and inquired if he knew the

"I have met him," replied Captain Homes, "and was pleased with his
appearance. I think it would be well for Benjamin to follow his

"He cannot be a man of much discretion," continued Mr. Franklin, "to
think of setting up a boy in business who lacks three years of
arriving at his majority. The project does not strike me favourably at

"He was much taken with Benjamin's abilities," added Captain Homes,
"by a letter which I received from him at Newcastle, and which I read
to him, as he was present when I received it."

"His letters may be well enough, for aught I know; but a youth of his
age, though his abilities be good, has not sufficient judgment to
conduct business for himself. I shall not give my consent to such a
wild scheme."

Mr. Franklin replied to Governor Keith's letter, and thanked him
kindly for the patronage he offered his son, but declining to set up a
youth in a business of so much importance.

[Illustration: Anecdote of Dr. Mather and Franklin--Humility "beaten
in!"--See page 186.]

"I am rejoiced," said he to Benjamin, just before the latter started
to go back, "that you have conducted yourself so well as to secure the
esteem of Sir William Keith. Your appearance, too, shows that you have
been industrious and economical, all of which pleases me very much. I
should advise you to go back, and think no more of going into business
for yourself until you are of age. By industry, economy, and
perseverance you will be able to command the means of establishing
business then. As yet you are too young. I should be glad to have you
remain here with your brother, if he could be reconciled to you; but
as it is, you shall have my approbation and blessing in returning to

It was during this visit to Boston that he called upon the celebrated
Dr. Increase Mather, to whose preaching he had been accustomed to
listen. The Doctor received him kindly, and introduced him into his
library, where they chatted in a familiar way for some time. When
Benjamin rose to go out, "Come this way," said the Doctor, "I will
show you a nearer passage out,"--pointing him to a narrow passage,
with a beam crossing it over head. They were still talking, the Doctor
following behind, and Benjamin partly turned around toward him.

"_Stoop! stoop!_" shouted the Doctor.

Benjamin did not understand what he meant, until his head struck
against the beam with considerable force.

"There," said the Doctor, laughing, "you are young, and have the world
before you; stoop as you go through it, and you may miss many hard

Nearly seventy years after, the recipient of this counsel wrote:--

"This advice, thus beaten into my head, has frequently been of use to
me; and I often think of it, when I see pride mortified, and
misfortunes brought upon people by their carrying their heads too

Benjamin's old companion, Collins, was delighted with his account of
Philadelphia, and resolved to accompany him thither on his return. He
was a clerk in the post-office; but he gave up his situation for the
more alluring prospects of a residence in Pennsylvania. He started two
or three days before Benjamin, as he wanted to stop and make a visit
in Rhode Island, having previously gathered up his books, "which were
a pretty collection in mathematics and philosophy," and packed them to
go, with Benjamin's baggage, around by sea to New York, where they
would meet.



On his return, Benjamin sailed in a sloop to New York, where he had
arranged to meet Collins. They put in at Newport on business, where he
had a good opportunity to visit his brother John, who had been married
and settled there some years. He received a very hearty and
affectionate welcome from his brother, who was always kind and true to
him. His stay was short, as he must go when the sloop did, but he made
the most of it, and enjoyed himself much during the short time. Just
before he left Newport, a friend of his brother, a Mr. Vernon,
requested him to collect a debt for him in Pennsylvania, of about
thirty-five pounds currency, and use the money as he pleased until he
should call for it. Accordingly, he gave Benjamin an order to receive

At Newport they took in a number of passengers, among whom was a
Quaker lady and her servants, and two young women. Benjamin was very
attentive in assisting the Quaker lady about her baggage, for which
she was very thankful. He soon became acquainted with the two young
women, and they laughed and chatted together. They were handsomely
attired, appeared intelligent, and were extremely sociable. The
motherly Quaker lady saw that there was a growing familiarity between
them, and she called Benjamin aside, feeling for him somewhat as she
would for a son, and said: "Young man, I am concerned for thee, as
thou hast no friend with thee, and seems not to know much of the
world, or of the snares youth is exposed to; depend upon it, these are
very bad women; I can see it by all their actions; and if thou art not
upon thy guard, they will draw thee into some danger; they are
strangers to thee, and I advise thee, in a friendly concern for thy
welfare, to have no acquaintance with them."

"Indeed," said Benjamin, with much surprise, "I see nothing out of the
way in them. They are intelligent and social; and I am rather
surprised at your suspicions."

"But I have heard them say enough to convince me that my suspicions
are well founded," replied the old lady; and she repeated to him some
of their conversation which she had overheard.

"You are right, then," quickly answered Benjamin, after listening to
her. "I am much obliged to you for your advice, and I will heed it."

Just before they arrived at New York, the young women invited him to
call at their residence, naming the street and number, but he did not
accept their invitation. The next day the captain missed a silver
spoon and other things from the cabin, and suspecting the two girls,
had their residence searched, where the missing articles were found,
in consequence of which the artful thieves were punished. Benjamin
always felt thankful to the old lady for her timely warning, and
considered that following her advice probably saved him from trouble
and ruin.

Collins had been in New York several days when Benjamin arrived. The
latter was astounded to find him intoxicated when they met.

"Can it be," he exclaimed to Collins, "that you are intemperate?"

"I intemperate!" retorted Collins, disposed to resent the accusation.
"Do you call me drunk?"

"No, you are not exactly drunk; but then you are disguised with
liquor, and I am utterly astonished. Once you was as temperate and
industrious as any young man in Boston, and far more respected than
most of them. How did it happen that you formed this evil habit?"

Collins saw that he could not deceive Benjamin; so he made a clean
breast of the matter, and confessed to have formed intemperate habits
soon after Benjamin first left Boston. He said that his appetite for
brandy was strong, and that he had been intoxicated every day since
his arrival in New York.

"I have lost all my money," he said, "and have nothing to pay my

"Lost your money!" exclaimed Benjamin. "How did you lose that?"

"I lost it by gaming," he replied.

"What! a gambler, too?"

"Yes, if you will have it so," answered Collins, somewhat coolly; "and
you must lend me money to pay my bills."

"If I had known this," continued Benjamin, "I would not have persuaded
you to leave Boston. And here let me tell you, that it is impossible
for you to find a situation unless you reform."

"Perhaps so," answered Collins; "but that is not the question now that
interests me. I want to know whether you will lend me money to pay my
bills here and go on my journey?"

"I must, for aught I see," replied Benjamin. "I should not leave you
here without money and friends, of course, for that would be cruel.
But you must try to reform."

Collins was a very clever young man, as we have seen, possessing
marked mathematical talents, and he might have become one of the first
scholars of his day, had he enjoyed the advantages of a course of
study. Some of the clergymen of Boston showed him much attention on
account of his abilities and love of books. But strong drink blasted
his hopes.

In New York, Benjamin received a message from Governor Burnet,
inviting him to call at his house. This was quite as unexpected as the
visit of Governor Keith, and he began to think that governors had a
passionate regard for him. He found, however, that the Governor had
learned from the captain of the sloop, that he had a young man on
board who brought with him a large number of books from Boston. This
interested the Governor, and was the occasion of his sending the
aforesaid invitation to Benjamin.

He accepted the invitation, and would have taken Collins with him if
the latter had been sober. Governor Burnet received him with much
cordiality, showed him his large library, and conversed freely about
books and authors for some time. It was an agreeable interview to
Benjamin, the more so because it was the second time that a Governor
had sought him out, and showed him attention.

They proceeded to Philadelphia. On the way Benjamin collected Vernon's
debt, which proved fortunate, since otherwise his money would not have
carried him through, from having had the bills of two to pay. A good
trip brought them safely to their place of destination, and Collins
boarded with Benjamin, at the latter's expense, waiting for an opening
in some counting-room.

The reader may be curious to learn the fate of Collins, and we will
briefly record it here. He tried to secure a situation, but his
dram-drinking habits frustrated his exertions. Every few days he went
to Benjamin for money, knowing that he had that of Vernon, always
promising to pay as soon as he found business. Benjamin, in the
kindness of his heart, lent him little by little, until he was
troubled to know what he should do if Vernon should call for the
money. Sometimes he lectured Collins severely for his habits, until
their friendship was essentially modified. One day they were in a boat
with other young men, on the Delaware, when Collins refused to row.

"We shall not row you," said Benjamin.

"You _will_ row me, or stay all night on the water, just as you
please," retorted Collins.

"We can stay as long as you can," continued Benjamin. "I shall not row

"Come, Ben, let us row," said one of the young men. "If he don't want
to row let him sit still."

"Row him, if you wish to," replied Benjamin, "I shall not."

"Yes, you will," shouted Collins, starting from his seat. "I will be
rowed home, and you shall help do it, or I will throw you overboard;"
and he hurried to execute his threat. But, as he came up and struck at
him, Benjamin clapped his head under his thighs, and rising, threw
him head over heels into the river. He knew that Collins was a good
swimmer, so that he had no fears about his drowning.

"Will you row now?" he inquired, as Collins swam towards the boat.

"Not a stroke," he answered, angrily; whereupon they sent the boat
forward out of his reach, with one or two strokes of the oar. Again
and again they allowed him to approach the boat, when they repeated
the question: "Will you promise to row?" and as often received an
emphatic "No" for a reply. At length, perceiving that he was quite
exhausted, they drew him in without extorting from him a promise to

This scene closed the intimate relations of Benjamin and Collins. They
scarcely spoke together civilly afterward. Collins sailed for
Barbadoes within a few weeks after, and he was never heard from again.
He probably died there, a miserable sot, and Benjamin lost all the
money he lent him. In later life, Benjamin Franklin referred to this
event, and spoke of himself as having received retribution for his
influence over Collins. For, when they were so intimate in Boston,
Benjamin corrupted his religious opinions by advocating doubts about
the reality of religion, until Collins became a thorough sceptic.
Until that time he was industrious, temperate, and honest. But having
lost his respect for religion, he was left without restraint, and went
rapidly to ruin. Benjamin was the greatest sufferer by his fall, and
thus was rebuked for influencing him to treat religion with contempt.

Benjamin immediately sought an interview with Governor Keith, and told
him the result of his visit home, and gave his father's reasons for
declining to assist him.

"But since he will not set you up," said the Governor, "I will do it
myself. Give me an inventory of the things necessary to be had from
England, and I will send for them. You shall repay me when you are
able; I am resolved to have a good printer here, and I am sure you
must succeed."

This was said with such apparent cordiality that Benjamin did not
doubt that he meant just what he affirmed, so he yielded to his
suggestion to make out an inventory of necessary articles. In the
meantime he went to work for Keimer.



At this point it is necessary to speak of Benjamin's associates. He
was not long in finding new acquaintances in Philadelphia. His
industry and general good habits won the respect and confidence of all
who came in contact with him. Among those who particularly pleased him
were three young men, Charles Osborne, Joseph Watson, and James Ralph,
all lovers of reading. Their literary tendencies no doubt attracted
Benjamin, and caused him to value their companionship more highly. The
first two were clerks of Charles Brockden, an eminent conveyancer of
the town, and the other was a merchant's clerk. Watson was a pious
young man of sterling integrity, while the others were more lax in
their religious opinions and principles. All were sensible young men,
much above the average of this class in intellectual endowments.
Osborne and Ralph were imaginative and poetical, and frequently tried
their talents at verse-making.

Much of their leisure time was spent together, reading to each other,
and discussing what they read. Even their Sundays were often wickedly
devoted to such intellectual pastime on the banks of the Schuylkill,
whither they strolled, instead of visiting the house of God--all
except Watson, who had too much religious principle thus to desecrate
the Sabbath.

"You overrate your talent for poetry," said Osborne to Ralph, at one
of their interviews. "You will never make a poet, if you live to be as
old as Methuselah."

"Much obliged for your compliment," answered Ralph; "but it does not
alter my own opinion. All poets have their faults when they begin. It
is practice that makes perfect."

"It will take something more than practice to make a poet of you,"
continued Osborne. "That piece which you have just read has no poetry
about it. Besides, if you should become a poet, it will not bring you
a fortune, as you seem to think."

"Perhaps not; but I am confident that a poet may easily win both
popularity and a livelihood. At any rate, I am determined to try it,
in spite of your decidedly poor opinion of my abilities."

"Well, I advise you to stick to the business to which you were bred,"
added Osborne, "if you would keep out of the poor-house. A good clerk
is better than a bad poet"--and he cast a particularly roguish glance
at Ralph as he said it.

"You need not set yourself up for a critic," said Benjamin to
Osborne, after hearing these remarks. "I think more of Ralph as a poet
than I do of you as a critic. You are not willing to grant that his
productions have any merit at all; but I think they have. Moreover, it
is a good practice for him to write poetry, to improve himself in the
use of language."

"Fiddlestick!" retorted Osborne; "it is wasting his time, that might
be profitably employed in reading."

"Not half so much as your empty criticisms are wasting your breath,"
said Benjamin, with a smile. "But, look here, I will tell you what we
better do. At our next meeting each one of us shall bring a piece of
poetry, of our own making, and we will compare notes, and criticise
each other."

"I will agree to that," replied Ralph.

"And so will I," added Osborne, "provided you will decide upon the
subject now, so that all shall have fair play."

"We will do that, of course," answered Benjamin. "Have you a subject
to suggest?"

"None, unless it is a paraphrase of the eighteenth Psalm, which
describes the descent of the Deity."

"A capital subject," said Benjamin; "what do you say to taking that,

"I am satisfied with it," replied Ralph; "and more, too,--I rather
like it."

Thus it was agreed that each one should write a poetical paraphrase of
the eighteenth Psalm for their next meeting, and with this
understanding they separated.

Just before the time of their next meeting, Ralph called upon Benjamin
with his piece, and asked him to examine it.

"I have been so busy," said Benjamin, "that I have not been able to
write anything, and I shall be obliged to appear unprepared. But I
should like to read yours;" and he proceeded to examine it.

"That is excellent," said he, after reading it. "You have not written
anything that is equal to this."

"But," said Ralph, "Osborne never will allow the least merit in
anything of mine, but makes a thousand criticisms, out of mere envy.
He will do so with that piece, I have no doubt."

"If he does, it will prove that he is prejudiced against you, or is no
judge of poetry," replied Benjamin.

"I have a plan to test him," continued Ralph. "He is not so jealous of
you; I wish, therefore, you would take this piece and produce it as
yours. I will make some excuse and have nothing. We shall then hear
what he will say to it."

"I will do it," answered Benjamin, who was well convinced that Osborne
was prejudiced against Ralph; "but I must transcribe it, so that it
will appear in my own handwriting."

"Certainly; and be careful that you don't let the secret out."

They met at the appointed time. Watson was the first to read his
performance. Osborne came next, and his piece was much better than
Watson's. Ralph noticed two or three blemishes, but pointed out many
beauties in it.

"I have nothing to read," said Ralph, whose turn came next in order.
"I will try to do my part next time."

"Poets ought to be ready at any time," remarked Osborne jestingly.
"Well, then, Ben, let us have yours."

"I rather think I must be excused," answered Benjamin, feigning an
unwillingness to read.

"No excuse for you," said Osborne. "You have it written, for I saw it
in your hand."

"That is true," replied Benjamin; "but after such fine productions as
we have heard, there is little encouragement for me to read this. I
think I must correct it and dress it up a little before I read it."

"Not a word of it," said Ralph. "There is no excuse for any one who is

So, after much urging, Benjamin proceeded to read the verses, with
seeming diffidence, all listening with rapt attention.

"You must read that again," said Osborne, when the first reading was
finished; which Benjamin consented to do.

"You surprise me, Ben," said Osborne, after the piece was read the
second time. "You are a genuine poet. I had no idea that you could
write like that."

"Nor I," added Watson. "It is better than half the poetry that is
printed. If we had not given out the subject, I should have charged
you with stealing it."

"What do _you_ say, Ralph?" inquired Osborne. "You are a poet, and
ought to be a judge of such matters."

"I don't think it is entirely faultless," responded Ralph. "You have
commended it full as highly as it will bear, in my estimation."

"Well done!" exclaimed Osborne. "Your opinion of that piece proves
that you are destitute of poetical taste, as I have told you before."

Ralph and Benjamin saw that Osborne was fairly caught, and they hardly
dared to exchange glances, lest they should betray themselves. They
succeeded, however, in controlling themselves, and allowed Osborne to
express himself most emphatically.

Ralph walked home with Osborne, and their conversation was upon
Benjamin's poetry.

"Who would have imagined," said Osborne, "that Franklin was capable of
such a performance,--such painting, such force, such fire! In common
conversation he seems to have no choice of words; he hesitates and
blunders; and yet, how he writes!"

"Possibly he may not have written it," suggested Ralph.

"That is the 'unkindest cut of all,'" retorted Osborne, "to charge him
of plagiarism. Franklin would not descend to so mean a thing."

They parted for that night; but Ralph embraced the first opportunity
to call on Benjamin, and have a sort of rejoicing over the success of
their enterprise. They laughed to their hearts' content, and discussed
the point of revealing the secret. They agreed that the real author of
the article should be known at their next meeting.

Accordingly, the affair was so managed as to bring the facts of the
case before their companions at their next gathering. Osborne was
utterly confounded when the revelation was made, and knew not what to
say for himself. Watson shook his whole frame with convulsive laughter
at poor Osborne's expense, and Benjamin joined him with a keen relish.
Never was a fellow in more mortifying predicament than this would-be
critic, since it was now so manifest that he had been influenced by
blind prejudice in his criticisms upon Ralph's poetry. It was certain
now that he had given it his most emphatic indorsement. While Osborne
was brought to confusion and suffered deservedly, the trick played
upon him is not one which can be approved by right-thinking persons.
Deceit is never commendable.

A few years after, Watson died in Benjamin's arms, much lamented by
all his companions, who regarded him as "the best of their set."
Osborne removed to the West Indies, where he became an eminent lawyer,
but was early cut off by death. Of the others we shall have occasion
to speak hereafter.

It is quite evident that this literary way of spending their leisure
time was of great advantage to this group of youths. Doubtless it led
to the cultivation of that taste which most of them who lived
exhibited for literature and science in after life. It is certainly an
example of the wise use of spare moments which the young may safely



At the earliest opportunity, Benjamin presented the Governor with an
inventory of the articles necessary in setting up the printing

"And what will be the probable expense of all these?" inquired the

"About one hundred pounds sterling, as nearly as I can estimate," he

"But would it not prove an advantage for you to be there yourself, to
select the types, and see that everything is good?"

"I suppose it would, though such a thing as going to England is
scarcely possible with me."

"That remains to be seen," continued Governor Keith. "Another
advantage of your being there is, that you could form acquaintances,
and establish correspondence in the bookselling and stationery line."

"That would certainly be an advantage," replied Benjamin.

"Then get yourself ready to go in the Annis," said the Governor. The
Annis was the annual ship that sailed between Philadelphia and
London, and the only one, at that time, which performed this voyage.
Instead of there being scores of vessels sailing between these two
ports, as now, there was only this solitary one, going and returning
once a year.

"It is not necessary to prepare immediately," answered Benjamin,
"since it is several months before the Annis will sail."

"True; I only meant that you should be in readiness when the ship
sails. It will be necessary for you still to keep the matter secret
while you continue to work for Keimer."

Keimer, for whom Benjamin worked, was a singular man in some respects,
and liked to draw him into discussions upon religious subjects. At one
time he thought seriously of originating a new sect, and proposed to
Benjamin to join him, as his masterly powers of argumentation would
confound opponents. He wore his beard long, because it is somewhere
said in the Mosaic Law, "_Thou shalt not mar the corners of thy
beard._" Also, he kept the seventh, instead of the first day of the
week, as a Sabbath. Benjamin opposed him on these points, and their
discussions were frequent and warm. Keimer often exhorted him to
embrace his own peculiar views on these subjects. Finally, Benjamin
replied, "I will do it, provided you will join me in not eating animal
food, and I will adhere to them as long as you will stick to a
vegetable diet."

Benjamin was here aiming at some diversion, since Keimer was a great
eater, and thought much of a savoury dish. Benjamin wanted to starve
him a little, as he thought some of his preaching and practice did not

"I should die," said Keimer, "if I adopt such a diet; my constitution
will not bear it."

"Nonsense!" answered Benjamin. "You will be better than you are now.
So much animal food is bad for any one."

"What is there left to eat when meat is taken away?" inquired Keimer.
"Little or nothing, I should think."

"I will pledge myself to furnish recipes for forty palatable dishes,"
answered Benjamin, "and not one of them shall smell of the flesh-pots
of Egypt."

"Who will prepare them? I am sure no woman in this town can do it."

"Each dish is so simple that any woman can easily prepare it," added

Keimer finally accepted the proposition. He was to become a
vegetarian, and Benjamin was to embrace formally the long-beard
doctrine, and observe the seventh day for a Sabbath. A woman was
engaged to prepare their food and bring it to them, and Benjamin
furnished her with a list of forty dishes, "in which there entered
neither fish, flesh, nor fowl." For about three months Keimer adhered
to this way of living, though it was very trying to him all the
while. Benjamin was often diverted to see his manifest longings for
fowl and flesh, and expected that he would soon let him off from
keeping the seventh day and advocating long beards. At the end of
three months, Keimer declared that he could hold out no longer, and
the agreement was broken. It was a happy day for him; and to show his
gladness, he ordered a roast pig, and invited Benjamin and two ladies
to dine with him. But the pig being set upon the table before his
guests arrived, the temptation was so great that he could not resist,
and he devoured the whole of it before they came, thus proving that he
was a greater pig than the one he swallowed.

It should be remarked here, that for some time Benjamin had not
followed the vegetable diet which he adopted in Boston. The
circumstances and reason of his leaving are thus given by himself:--

     "In my first voyage from Boston to Philadelphia, being becalmed
     off Block Island, our crew employed themselves in catching cod,
     and hauled up a great number. Till then, I had stuck to my
     resolution to eat nothing that had had life; and on this occasion
     I considered, according to my master Tryon, the taking every fish
     as a kind of unprovoked murder, since none of them had nor could
     do us any injury that might justify this massacre. All this
     seemed very reasonable. But I had been formerly a great lover of
     fish, and when it came out of the frying-pan, it smelt admirably
     well. I balanced some time between principle and inclination,
     till recollecting that, when the fish were opened, I saw smaller
     fish taken out of their stomachs; then, thought I, 'If you eat
     one another, I don't see why we may not eat you.' So I dined upon
     cod very heartily, and have since continued to eat as other
     people; returning only now and then to a vegetable diet. So
     convenient a thing it is to be a _reasonable creature_, since it
     enables one to find or make a _reason_ for everything one has a
     mind to do."

The time was now approaching for the Annis to sail, and Benjamin began
to realize the trial of leaving his friends. A new tie now bound him
to Philadelphia. A mutual affection existed between Miss Read and
himself, and it had ripened into sincere and ardent love. He desired a
formal engagement with her before his departure, but her mother

"Both of you are too young," said she,--"only eighteen! You cannot
tell what changes may occur before you are old enough to be married."

"But that need not have anything to do with an engagement," said
Benjamin. "We only pledge ourselves to marry each other at some future

"And why do you deem such a pledge necessary?" asked the good mother.

"Simply because 'a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,'"
replied Benjamin, with his face all wreathed with smiles.

"But I have not quite satisfied myself that it is best to give up my
daughter to a printer," added Mrs. Read.

"How so?" asked Benjamin, with some anxiety.

"Because," she replied, "there are already several printing-offices in
the country, and I doubt whether another can be supported."

"If I cannot support her by the printing business," answered Benjamin,
"then I will do it some other way."

"I have no doubt of your good intentions; but you may not realize the
fulfilment of all your hopes. I think you had better leave the matter
as it is until you return from England, and see how you are

The old lady won the day, and the young couple agreed to proceed no
further at present.

The above reference to the fact that only four or five
printing-offices existed in America at that time, may serve to exhibit
its rapid growth. For in 1840, there were _one thousand five hundred
and fifty-seven_ of them, and now probably there are twice that

"I am going to England with you, Benjamin," said Ralph one day, as
they met. "Don't you believe it?"

"It is almost too good news to believe," replied Benjamin. "But I
should be glad of your company, I assure you."

"It is true," continued Ralph. "I was not jesting when I told you, the
other day, that I meant to go if I could."

"Then you are really in earnest? You mean to go?"

"To be sure I do. I have fully decided to go."

Benjamin did not ask him what he was going for; but, from some remarks
he heard him make previously, he inferred that he was going out to
establish a correspondence, and obtain goods to sell on commission.
Nor did he learn to the contrary until after they arrived in London,
when Ralph informed him that he did not intend to return,--that he had
experienced some trouble with his wife's relations, and he was going
away to escape from it, leaving his wife and child to be cared for by
her friends.

As the time of their departure drew near, Benjamin called upon the
Governor for letters of introduction and credit, which he had
promised, but they were not ready. He called again, and they were
still unwritten. At last, just as he was leaving, he called at his
door, and his secretary, Dr. Baird, came out, and said: "The Governor
is engaged upon important business now, but he will be at Newcastle
before the Annis reaches there, and will deliver the letters to you

As soon as they reached Newcastle, Benjamin went to the Governor's
lodgings for the letters, but was told by his secretary that he was
engaged, and should be under the necessity of sending the letters to
him on board the ship, before she weighed anchor. Benjamin was
somewhat puzzled by this unexpected turn of affairs, but still he did
not dream of deception or dishonesty. He returned to the vessel, and
awaited her departure. Soon after her canvas was flung to the breeze,
he went to the captain and inquired for the letters.

"I understand," said he, "that Colonel French brought letters on board
from the Governor. I suppose some of them are directed to my care."

"Yes," replied the captain, "Colonel French brought a parcel of
letters on board, and they were all put into the bag with others, so
that I cannot tell whether any of them are for you or not. But you
shall have an opportunity, before we reach England, of looking them
over for yourself."

"I thank you," answered Benjamin; "that will be all that is
necessary;" and he yielded himself up to enjoyment for the remainder
of the voyage, without the least suspicion of disappointment and

When they entered the English Channel, the captain, true to his
promise, allowed Benjamin to examine the bag of letters. He found
several on which his name was written, as under his care, and some
others he judged, from the handwriting, came from the Governor. One of
them was addressed to Baskett, the King's printer, and another to a
stationer, and these two, Benjamin was confident, were for him to
take. In all he took seven or eight from the bag.

They arrived in London on the 24th of December, 1724, when Benjamin
lacked about a month of being nineteen years old. Soon after he
landed, he called upon the stationer to whom one of the letters was
directed: "A letter, sir, from Governor Keith, of Pennsylvania,

"I don't know such a person," replied the stationer, at the same time
receiving the letter.

"O, this is from Riddlesden!" said he, on opening it. "I have lately
found him to be a complete rascal, and I will have nothing to do with
him, nor receive any letters from him;" and he handed back the letter
to Benjamin, turned upon his heel, and left to wait upon a customer.

Benjamin was astonished and mortified. He had not the least suspicion
that he was bearing any other than the Governor's letter, and he was
almost bewildered for a moment. The thought flashed into his mind that
the Governor had deceived him. In a few moments his thoughts brought
together the acts of the Governor in the matter, and now he could see
clearly evidence of insincerity and duplicity. He immediately sought
out Mr. Denham, a merchant, who came over in the Annis with him, and
gave him a history of the affair.

"Governor Keith is a notorious deceiver," said Mr. Denham. "I do not
think he wrote a single letter for you, nor intended to do it. He has
been deceiving you from beginning to end."

"He pretended to have many acquaintances here," added Benjamin, "to
whom he promised to give me letters of credit, and I supposed that
they would render me valuable assistance."

"Letters of credit!" exclaimed Denham. "It is a ludicrous idea. How
could he write letters of credit, when he has no credit of his own to
give? No one who knows him has the least confidence in his character.
There is no dependence to be placed upon him in anything. He is
entirely irresponsible."

"What, then, shall I do?" asked Benjamin with evident concern. "Here I
am among strangers without the means of returning, and what shall I

"I advise you to get employment in a printing-office here for the
present. Among the printers here you will improve yourself, and, when
you return to America, you will set up to greater advantage."

There was no alternative left for Benjamin but to find work where he
could, and make the best of it. Again he had "paid too dear for the
whistle," and must suffer for it. He took lodgings with Ralph in
Little Britain, at three shillings and sixpence a week, and very soon
obtained work at Palmer's famous printing-house in Bartholomew Close,
where he laboured nearly a year. Ralph was not so successful in
getting a situation. He made application here and there, but in vain;
and, after several weeks of fruitless attempts at securing a place, he
decided to leave London, and teach a country school. Previously,
however, in company with Benjamin, he spent much time at plays and
public amusements. This was rather strange, since neither of them had
been wont to waste their time and money in this way; and years after,
Benjamin spoke of it as a great error of his life, which he deeply
regretted. But Ralph's departure put an end to this objectionable
pleasure-seeking, and Benjamin returned to his studious habits when
out of the office.

At this time, the ability to compose which he had carefully nurtured
proved of great assistance to him. He was employed in the printing of
Wollaston's "Religion of Nature," when he took exceptions to some of
his reasoning, and wrote a dissertation thereon, and printed it, with
PAIN." This pamphlet fell into the hands of one Lyons, a surgeon,
author of a book entitled "The Infallibility of Human Judgment," and
he was so much pleased with it, that he sought out the author, and
showed him marked attention. He introduced him to Dr. Mandeville,
author of the "Fable of the Bees," and to Dr. Pemberton, who promised
to take him to see Sir Isaac Newton. Sir Hans Sloane invited him to
his house in Bloomsbury Square, and showed him all his curiosities. In
this way, the small pamphlet which he wrote introduced him to
distinguished men, which was of much advantage to him.

While he lodged in Little Britain, he made the acquaintance of a
bookseller, by the name of Wilcox, who had a very large collection of
secondhand books. Benjamin wanted to gain access to them, but he could
not command the means to purchase; so he hit upon this plan: he
proposed to Wilcox to pay him a certain sum per book for as many as he
might choose to take out, read, and return, and Wilcox accepted his
offer. In this transaction was involved the principle of the modern
circulating library. It was the first instance of lending books on
record, and for that reason becomes an interesting fact. It was
another of the influences that served to send him forward in a career
of honour and fame.

When he first entered the printing-house in London, he did press-work.
There were fifty workmen in the establishment, and all of them but
Benjamin were great beer-drinkers; yet he could lift more, and endure
more fatigue, than any of them. His companion at the press was a
notorious drinker, and consumed daily "a pint of beer before
breakfast, a pint at breakfast with his food, a pint between breakfast
and dinner, a pint at dinner, a pint in the afternoon about six
o'clock, and another when he had done his day's work,"--in all six
pints per day. They had an alehouse boy always in attendance upon the

"A detestable habit," said Benjamin to his fellow-pressman, "and a
very expensive one, too."

"I couldn't endure the wear and tear of this hard work without it,"
replied the toper.

"You could accomplish more work, and perform it better, by drinking
nothing but cold water," rejoined Benjamin. "There is nothing like it
to make one strong and healthy."

"Fudge! It may do for a Water-American like you, but Englishmen would
become as weak as babes without it."

"That is false," said Benjamin. "With all your drinking _strong_ beer
in this establishment, you are the weakest set of workmen I ever saw.
I have seen _you_ tug away to carry a single form of type up and down
stairs, when I always carry two. Your beer may be _strong_, but it
makes you _weak_."

"You Americans are odd fellows, I confess," added the beer-swigger;
"and you stick to your opinions like a tick."

"But look here, my good fellow," continued Benjamin. "Do you not see
that the bodily strength afforded by beer can be only in proportion to
the grain or flour of the barley dissolved in the water of which it is
made? There must be more flour in a pennyworth of bread than there is
in a whole quart of beer; therefore, if you eat that with a pint of
water, it will give you more strength than two or three pints of beer.
Is it not so?"

The man was obliged to acknowledge that it appeared to be so.

Benjamin continued: "You see that I am supplied with a large porringer
of hot water-gruel, sprinkled with pepper, crumbled with bread, and a
bit of butter in it, for just the price of a pint of beer,
three-halfpence. Now, honestly, is not this much better for me, and
for you, than the same amount of beer?"

Thus Benjamin thorned his companions with arguments against the
prevailing habit of beer-drinking. Gradually he acquired an influence
over many of them, by precept and example, and finally they abandoned
their old habit, and followed his better way of living. He wrought a
thorough reformation in the printing-office; and the fact shows what
one young man can do in a good cause, if he will but set his face
resolutely in that direction. Benjamin possessed the firmness,
independence, and moral courage to carry out his principles,--just
the thing which many a youth of his age lack, and consequently make
shipwreck of their hopes.

The only amusement which Benjamin seems to have enjoyed as much as he
did literary recreation, was swimming. From his boyhood he delighted
to be in the water, performing wonderful feats, and trying his skill
in various ways. At one time he let up his kite, and, taking the
string in his hand, lay upon his back on the top of the water, when
the kite drew him a mile in a very agreeable manner. At another time
he lay floating upon his back and slept for an hour by the watch. The
skill which he had thus acquired in the art of swimming won him a
reputation in England. On several occasions he exhibited his
remarkable attainments of this kind, and the result was that he was
applied to by Sir William Wyndham to teach his two sons to swim. Some
advised him to open a swimming-school, and make it his profession; but
he very wisely concluded to leave the water to the fish, and confine
himself to the land.

Benjamin had been in London nearly eighteen months, when Mr. Denham,
the merchant of whom we have spoken, proposed to him to return to
Philadelphia, and act in the capacity of bookkeeper for him, and
offered him fifty pounds a year, with the promise to promote him, and
finally establish him in business. Benjamin had a high respect for
Mr. Denham, and the new field of labour appeared to him inviting, so
that he accepted the proposition with little hesitation, and made
preparations to leave England, quitting for ever, as he thought, the
art of printing, which he had thoroughly learned.

Forty years after Benjamin worked in Palmer's printing-office, he
visited England in the service of his country, widely known as a
sagacious statesman and profound philosopher. He took occasion to
visit the old office where he once laboured with the beer-drinkers,
and, stepping up to the press on which he worked month after month, he
said: "Come, my friends, we will drink together. It is now forty years
since I worked, like you, at this press, as a journeyman printer."
With these words, he sent out for a gallon of porter, and they drank
together according to the custom of the times. That press, on which he
worked in London, is now in the Patent-office at Washington.



On the 23rd day of July, 1726, Benjamin sailed for Philadelphia, in
company with Mr. Denham. After a successful and rather pleasant voyage
of nearly three months, they reached Philadelphia, much to the
satisfaction of Benjamin, who always enjoyed his stay there. He was
now twenty years of age.

"Ah! is it you, Benjamin? I am glad to see you back again," said
Keimer, as his old journeyman made his appearance; and he shook his
hand as if his heart was in it. "I began to think you had forsaken

"Not yet," replied Benjamin. "I think too much of Philadelphia to
forsake it yet."

"Want work at your old business, I suppose?" added Keimer. "I have a
plenty of it. You see I have improved things since you were here; my
shop is well supplied with stationery, plenty of new types, and a good

"I see that you have made considerable advance," replied Benjamin. "I
am glad that you prosper."

"And I shall be glad to employ you, as none of my men are complete
masters of the business."

"But I have relinquished my old trade," answered Benjamin. "I----"

"Given up the printing business!" interrupted Keimer. "Why is that?"

"I have made arrangements with Mr. Denham to keep his books, and serve
him generally in the capacity of clerk."

"I am sorry for that, and I think you will be eventually. It is a very
uncertain business."

"Well, I have undertaken it for better or worse," said Benjamin, as he
rose to leave the shop.

As he was going down the street, who should he meet but Governor
Keith, who had been removed from his office, and was now only a common
citizen. The ex-Governor appeared both surprised and ashamed at seeing
him, and passed by him without speaking.

Benjamin was quite ashamed to meet Miss Read, since he had not been
true to his promise. Though he had been absent eighteen months, he had
written her but a single letter, and that was penned soon after his
arrival in London, to inform her that he should not return at present.
His long absence and silence convinced her that he had ceased to
regard her with affection; in consequence of which, at the earnest
persuasion of her parents, she married a potter by the name of
Rogers. He turned out to be a miserable fellow, and she lived with him
only a short time. He incurred heavy debts; ran away to the West
Indies to escape from his creditors, and there died.

Miss Read (she refused to bear the name of Rogers) was disconsolate
and sad, and Benjamin pitied her sincerely, inasmuch as he considered
himself to blame in the matter. He was not disposed to shield himself
from the censure of the family, had they been disposed to administer
any; but the old lady took all the blame upon herself, because she
prevented an engagement, and persuaded her daughter to marry Rogers.

These circumstances rendered his meeting with Miss Read less
unpleasant, so far as his own want of fidelity was concerned. His
intimacy with the family was renewed, and they frequently invited him
there to tea, and often sought his advice on business of importance.

Mr. Denham opened a store in Water Street, and Benjamin entered upon
his new business with high hopes. He made rapid progress in acquiring
knowledge of traffic, and soon became expert in keeping accounts and
selling goods. But in February, 1727, when Benjamin was twenty-one
years of age, both he and his employer were prostrated by sickness.
Benjamin's disease was pleurisy, and his life was despaired of, though
he unexpectedly recovered. Mr. Denham lingered along for some time,
and died. His decease was the occasion of closing the store and
throwing Benjamin out of business. It was a sad disappointment, but
not wholly unlike the previous checkered experience of his life. He
had become used to "ups and downs."

As a token of his confidence and esteem, Mr. Denham left a small
legacy to Benjamin,--a fact that speaks well for the young man's
faithfulness. And here it should be said, that, whatever faults the
hero of our story had, he always served his employers with such
ability and fidelity as won their approbation and confidence. Unlike
many youth, who care not for their employers' interests if they but
receive their wages and keep their places, he ever did the best he
could for those who employed him. He proved himself trustworthy and
efficient; and here is found one secret of his success.

In his disappointment, Benjamin sought the advice of his
brother-in-law, Captain Homes, who happened to be in Philadelphia at
the time.

"I advise you to return to your old business," said he. "I suppose you
can readily get work here, can you not?"

"All I want," Benjamin answered. "Keimer was very anxious to employ me
when I returned from England, and I dare say that he would hire me

"Then I would close a bargain with him at once, were I in your place.
I think you will succeed better at your trade than in any other
business, and perhaps the way will soon be prepared for you to open a
printing-office of your own."

This advice was followed without delay, and Keimer was eager to employ
him. At the outset, he offered him extra wages to take the entire
management of his printing-office, so that he (Keimer) might attend
more closely to his stationer's shop. The offer was accepted, and
Benjamin commenced his duties immediately. He soon found, however,
that Keimer's design in offering him so large wages was, that the
hands he already employed might be improved under his experience, when
it would not be necessary for him to hire so competent a person. The
facts show us that good workmen can command employment and high wages,
when poor ones are obliged to beg their bread.

Among Keimer's workmen was an Oxford student, whose time he had bought
for four years. He was about eighteen years of age, smart and
intelligent. Benjamin very naturally became interested in him, as it
was quite unusual to find an Oxford scholar acting in the capacity of
a bought servant; and he received from him the following brief account
of his life. He "was born in Gloucester, educated at a grammar-school,
and had been distinguished among the scholars for some apparent
superiority in performing his part when they exhibited plays;
belonged to the Wits' Club there, and had written some pieces in prose
and verse, which were printed in the Gloucester newspapers. Thence was
sent to Oxford, where he continued about a year, but not well
satisfied; wishing, of all things, to see London, and become a player.
At length, receiving his quarterly allowance of fifteen guineas,
instead of discharging his debts, he went out of town, hid his gown in
a furze-bush, and walked to London; where, having no friend to advise
him, he fell into bad company, soon spent his guineas, found no means
of being introduced among the players, grew necessitous, pawned his
clothes, and wanted bread. Walking the street, very hungry, not
knowing what to do with himself, a crimp's bill was put into his hand,
offering immediate entertainment and encouragement to such as would
bind themselves to work in America. He went directly, signed the
indentures, was put into the ship, and came over; never writing a line
to his friends, to acquaint them what was become of him."

Such a case has several important lessons for the young. In the first
place, it shows the danger that attends theatrical performances. Youth
often wonder that good people object to them; but here they may see
one reason of their opposition. It was at the school in Oxford that he
imbibed a love for the stage. There he participated in dramatic
plays, which caused him to run away, and seek a residence in London,
where he was ruined. There are hundreds of similar examples, and these
cause good people to condemn theatrical amusements. It is said that
when Lord Jeffrey was a youth, at the college in Glasgow, he was
instrumental in originating a dramatic performance. The play was
selected, and a room of the college designated as a fitting theatre,
when the authorities interfered, and forbade them to perform the play.
Their interference aroused the ire of Jeffrey, who, in his "Notes on
Lectures," denounced their conduct as "the meanest, most illiberal,
and despicable." Many youth cherish similar feelings towards those who
condemn such performances; and, if one of the number shall read these
pages, we would point him to the sad end of the Oxford student.

This case also illustrates the sad consequences of keeping bad
company, as well as the perils of the city. He associated with the
vicious in London, and became really a vagabond in consequence.

As the workmen improved under Benjamin's supervision, Keimer evidently
began to think of discharging him, or cutting down his wages. On
paying his second quarter's wages, he told him that he could not
continue to pay him so much. He became less civil, frequently found
fault, and plainly tried to make Benjamin's stay uncomfortable so that
he would leave. At length a rare opportunity offered for him to make
trouble. An unusual noise in the street one day caused Benjamin to put
his head out of the window to see what was the matter. Keimer happened
to be in the street, and seeing him, he cried out, "Put your head in,
and attend to your business;" and added some reproachful words which
all in the street heard. Then, hastening up into the office, he
continued his insulting language.

"Men who work for me must give better heed to their business," said
he. "If they care more for a noise in the street than for their work,
it is time they left."

"I am ready to leave any time you please," retorted Benjamin, who was
considerably nettled by such treatment. "I am not dependent on you for
a living, and I shall not be treated in this way long, I assure you."

"That, indeed!" exclaimed Keimer. "You would not stay another hour if
it were not for our agreement, in accordance with which I now warn you
that, at the end of a quarter's time, I shall hire you no more."

"You need not regret that you cannot send me away to-day," answered
Benjamin. "I shall work no longer for a man who will treat me thus;"
and, taking his hat, he left. As he passed down, he requested
Meredith, one of the hands, to bring some things which he left behind
to his lodgings.

In the evening Meredith went to see Benjamin, carrying the articles
referred to.

"What shall you do now?" Meredith inquired.

"I shall return to Boston forthwith."

"I wouldn't do that. You can do much better here than you can there."

"What can I do here now?"

"Set up business for yourself."

"I have no money to do it with."

"My father has," said Meredith; "and I will go into company with you
if he will furnish the means. I am not acquainted with the business,
and you are; so I will furnish the capital, and you shall manage the
concern, and we will share the profits equally."

"Your father will never do it," suggested Benjamin.

"I am confident that he will," replied Meredith. "He has a high
opinion of you, and he wants a good opportunity to set me up. I will
ask him, at any rate."

"I would like such an enterprise myself," added Benjamin; "but can we
succeed against Keimer? He will now do all he can to crush me."

"He will be crushed himself before long," answered Meredith. "I happen
to know that he is in debt for all the property in his hands. He keeps
his shop miserably, too; often sells without profit in order to raise
money; and trusts people without keeping accounts. He will fail as
surely as he keeps on in this way."

"I will agree to your plan if you can make it work," said Benjamin.
"See your father immediately, and let me know the result."

Accordingly, Meredith saw his father, and he was ready to furnish the
necessary capital, because of his high regard for Benjamin.

"I am the more ready to do this," said he to Benjamin, afterwards,
"because of your good influence over my son. You have prevailed upon
him to leave off drinking to excess, and I hope he will be persuaded,
by your more intimate connection in business, to reform entirely."

It was settled that they should set up business as soon as they could
procure the necessary articles from England.



Agreeably to the arrangement with Meredith, Benjamin made out an
inventory of articles, which were immediately ordered from England. In
the mean time he expected to find work at Bradford's printing-office,
but was disappointed. It was only a few days, however, before he
received a very civil message from Keimer, in which he said, "that old
friends should not part for a few words, the effect of sudden
passion," and urged him to return. The fact was, he had a prospect of
being employed to print some paper-money in New Jersey, which would
require cuts and various types that Benjamin only could supply, and,
therefore, he wanted to re-engage him. Benjamin was not quite inclined
to accept the proposition at first, but Meredith urged him to do it,
on the ground that he himself would become better acquainted with the
business in consequence; he, therefore, agreed to return.

It was several months before the new types arrived from London, and
Benjamin continued in Keimer's service. Most of the time he spent
with his employer at Burlington, executing the paper-money, and there
made many friends, among whom was Judge Allen, the Secretary of the
Province, several members of the Assembly, and the Surveyor-General,
all of whom were of service to him when he set up business for
himself. They were much pleased with Benjamin's intelligence and
fidelity, so that they frequently invited him to their houses, while
the ignorance and rudeness of Keimer so disgusted them, that they took
little notice of him.

"You are completely master of your business," said the
Surveyor-General to him; "and success is before you."

"I have improved my opportunities," modestly replied Benjamin, "to
become as well acquainted with my business as I could. This half way
of doing things I do not like."

"I commenced business in a very humble way," continued the
Surveyor-General, "without expecting to ever possess such an estate as
I do now."

"What was your business?"

"I wheeled clay for the brick-makers, and had not the opportunity of
going to school at all in my boyhood. I did not learn to write until I
became of age. I acquired my knowledge of surveying when I carried a
chain for surveyors, who were pleased with my desire to learn the
business, and assisted me. By constant industry and close
application, with a good deal of perseverance, I have succeeded in
reaching the place where you now see me."

"That is all the way any one can work his way up to an honourable
position," said Benjamin.

"True, very true, and I am glad to see that you understand it. I am
confident that you will beat this man Keimer at the business, and make
a fortune in it at Philadelphia, if you go on as you have begun."

This example of industry and perseverance was encouraging to Benjamin
in his circumstances. It was exactly suited to confirm him in his very
proper views of industry and fidelity.

Meredith and Benjamin settled with Keimer and left him just before
their types arrived, without letting him into the secret of their
plans. The first intimation he had of their intentions was the opening
of their printing-office near the market.

Many people were taken by surprise, and most of them predicted a
failure, since there were two printers established there already. Not
long after they commenced, an elderly man, whose name was Samuel
Mickle, happened to be passing just as Benjamin came out of his

"Are you the young man," said Mickle, "who has lately opened a new

"I am, sir."

"I am sorry for you," said he, "for it is an expensive undertaking,
and you are throwing away your money."

"How so?"

"Because Philadelphia is degenerating, and half the people are now
bankrupt, or nearly so, and how can they support so many printers?"

"But the appearance of Philadelphia," replied Benjamin, "indicates
thrift. See how many buildings are going up, and how rents are rising
every month. This does not look like going backward."

"These are among the very things that will ruin us," responded Mickle.
"They are not evidence of prosperity, but of extravagance, that will
bring disaster sooner or later."

In this strain, Mickle, who was one of those eccentric and unhappy men
who always look upon the dark side of things, went on, until Benjamin
really began to feel dismayed. But on the whole, he believed that the
evidence of his own senses was to the contrary, and so he soon forgot
the interview. Mickle continued to live there some years, refusing to
buy a house because the town was going to ruin, and at last he
purchased one for five times what he could have had it for at the time
he talked to Benjamin.

In their printing-office, Franklin suspended the following lines,
which he composed:--

    "All ye who come this curious art to see,
    To handle anything must careful be;
    Lest by a slight touch, ere you are aware,
    You may do mischief which you can't repair,
    Lo! this advice we give to every stranger!
    Look on and welcome, but to touch there's danger."

This singular notice attracted some attention, and elicited remarks
from different visitors.

In order to win the confidence of the public, and secure their
patronage, Benjamin resolved at the outset to exhibit to all beholders
several qualities which guarantee success; namely, industry, economy,
integrity, and close application to his business. All of them had
become habits with him, and hence it was easy for him to conduct in
this manner.

In respect to industry, he laboured incessantly. Even some of his
hours that ought to have been devoted to sleep were spent in his
office at hard work.

Mention being made of the new printing-house at the "Merchants'
Every-night Club," "It will prove a failure," said one.

"Of course it will," added another. "Two such young fellows cannot get
business enough to support them, with two established printers here."

This was the general opinion. But Dr. Baird, who was present, said:
"It will prove a success, for the industry of that Franklin is
superior to anything I ever saw of the kind. I see him still at work
when I go home from club, and he is at work again before his
neighbours are out of bed."

This remark was appreciated by the members, and soon after one of them
offered to supply the young printers with stationery, if they desired
to open a shop.

It was his experience, doubtless, that caused him, years afterwards,
to give the following advice to a "young tradesman:"--

     "The most trifling actions that affect a man's credit are to be
     regarded. The sound of your hammer at five in the morning, or
     nine at night, heard by a creditor, makes him easy six months
     longer; but if he sees you at a billiard-table, or hears your
     voice at a tavern, when you should be at work, he sends for his
     money the next day; demands it, before he can receive it, in a

He also wrote: "He that idly loses five shillings' worth of time loses
five shillings, and might as prudently throw five shillings into the

One fine morning, after Meredith and Franklin opened a stationer's
shop and bookstore, a lounger stepped in, and, after looking over the
articles, inquired of the boy in attendance the price of a certain

"One dollar," was the answer.

"One dollar," said the lounger, "can't you take less than that?"

"No indeed; one dollar is the price."

After waiting some time he asked: "Is Mr. Franklin at home?"

"Yes, he is in the printing-office."

"I want to see him," said the lounger.

The shop-boy soon informed Franklin (as we will henceforth call him)
that a gentleman was waiting to see him in the shop.

"Mr. Franklin, what is the lowest you can take for this book?" he
asked, as Franklin came in. At the same time he held up the book at
which he had been looking.

"One dollar and a quarter," was the reply.

"One dollar and a quarter! Why, your young man asked but a dollar."

"True," said Franklin, "and I could have better afforded to take a
dollar then, than to have been taken out of the office."

The lounger looked surprised, and rather concluded that Franklin was
jesting, he said, "Come, now, tell me the lowest you can take for it."

"One dollar and a half."

"A dollar and a half? Why, you offered it yourself for one dollar and
a quarter?"

"Yes," answered Franklin, "and I had better have taken that price
then, than a dollar and a half now."

The lounger paid the price, and went out of the shop, feeling the
severity of the rebuke. Such was the value he attached to his time.

Franklin always ascribed his industrious habits to the frequent
counsels of his father on the subject, which were generally closed by
repeating the text of Scripture, "Seest thou a man diligent in his
calling, he shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before mean
men,"--a prophecy that was singularly fulfilled in his own case, as we
shall see hereafter, for he had the honour of standing before _five_
kings, and even dined with the King of Denmark.

His economy was equal to his industry. He arrayed himself in the
plainest manner, although he aimed to look neat and tidy. His board
was simple and cheap, and everything about his business was graduated
on the most economical principles. In order to save expense, and at
the same time show the public that he was not proud, and above his
business, he wheeled home the paper which he bought. This single act
had its influence in gaining the public confidence. For when a young
man gets above his business, he is quite sure to have a fall. Since
Franklin's day, in the city of Richmond, a young man went to the
market to purchase a turkey. He looked around for some one to carry it
home for him, being too proud to do it himself, and finding no one, he
began to fret and swear, much to the annoyance of bystanders. A
gentleman stepped up to him and said, "That is in my way, and I will
take your turkey home for you." When they came to the house, the
young fop asked, "What shall I pay you?" "O, nothing at all," replied
the gentleman, "it was all in the way, and it was no trouble to me."
As he passed on, the young man turned to a person near by, and
inquired, "Who is that polite old gentleman who brought home my turkey
for me?" "O," replied he, "that was Judge Marshall, Chief Justice of
the United States." "Why did _he_ bring home my turkey?" "He did it to
give you a rebuke, and teach you to attend to your own business," was
the answer.

How contemptible does such a character appear in contrast with
Franklin! It is not strange that the public withhold their confidence
from the fop, and bestow it upon the industrious. Judge Marshall was a
great man, and great men never get above their business. Franklin
became a great man, and one reason of it was, that he never became too
proud to wait upon himself.

After he married Miss Read, and commenced housekeeping, he still
adhered to the same principle of economy. Instead of doing as many
young men do at this era of life, living beyond their income, he
continued frugal. He said of himself and wife, "We kept no idle
servants, our table was plain and simple, our furniture of the
cheapest. For instance, my breakfast was for a long time bread and
milk (no tea), and I ate it out of a twopenny earthen porringer, with
a pewter spoon." Thus he reduced to practice the couplet which he

    "Vessels large may venture more,
    But little boats should keep near shore."

And qualified himself to pen such maxims as the following:--

     "It is easier to suppress the first desire, than to satisfy all
     that follow it."

     "It is as truly folly for the poor to ape the rich, as for the
     frog to swell in order to equal the ox."

     "Pride breakfasts with plenty, dines with poverty, and sups with

His integrity in transacting business was no less marked. Strict
honesty characterized all his dealings with men. An exalted idea of
justice pervaded his soul. His word of honour was as good as his note
of hand. Even his disposition to castigate and censure in his
writings, so manifest in Boston at seventeen years of age, and which
his father rebuked, was overcome. After he set up a paper in
Philadelphia, a gentleman handed him an article for its columns.

"I am very busy now," said Franklin, "and you will confer a favour by
leaving it for my perusal at my leisure."

"That I will do," replied the writer "and call again to-morrow."

The next day the author called. "What is your opinion of my article?"
he asked.

"Why, sir, I am sorry to say that I cannot publish it," answered

"Why not? What is the matter with it?"

"It is highly scurrilous and defamatory," replied Franklin. "But being
at a loss on account of my poverty, whether to reject it or not, I
thought I would put it to this issue. At night, when my work was done,
I bought a twopenny loaf, on which I supped heartily, and then,
wrapping myself in my great coat, slept very soundly on the floor
until morning, when another loaf and mug of water afforded a pleasant
breakfast. Now, sir, since I can live very comfortably in this manner,
why should I prostitute my press to personal hatred or party passion
for a more luxurious living?"

Some writer has said that this incident of Franklin's early life is
akin to Socrates's reply to King Archelaus, who pressed him to give up
preaching in the dirty streets of Athens, and come and live with him
in his costly palace: "_Meal, please your Majesty, is a halfpenny a
peck at Athens, and water I get for nothing._"

Their business prospered well; but Meredith's intemperate habits were
so strong, that he was frequently seen intoxicated in the streets,
which occasioned much gossip about town concerning the prospects of
their success. To add to their embarrassment, Meredith's father was
unable to meet the last payment of a hundred pounds upon the
printing-house, and they were sued. But William Coleman and Robert
Grace, two of Franklin's companions, came to his assistance.

"We will lend you the means to take the business into your own hands,"
said Coleman. "It is much to your discredit to be connected with
Meredith, who is seen reeling through the streets so often."

"But I cannot honourably propose a dissolution of partnership,"
replied Franklin, "while there is any prospect that the Merediths will
fulfil their part of the contract, because I feel myself under great
obligations for what they have done."

"They will not be able to fulfil the contract," said Grace; "that is
out of the question."

"That is my opinion," responded Franklin; "still, I must wait and see
what they do. If they fail to meet their obligations, then I shall
feel at liberty to act otherwise."

The matter was left here for some weeks, when Franklin said to
Meredith, meaning to sound him on the matter of dissolving the
partnership: "Perhaps your father is dissatisfied with the part you
have undertaken in this affair of ours, and is unwilling to advance
for you and I what he would for you alone. If that is the case, tell
me, and I will resign the whole to you, and go about my business."

[Illustration: "Sawdust Pudding"--Anecdote of Franklin's
Independence.--See page 242.]

"No," he answered, "my father has really been disappointed, and is
really unable; and I am unwilling to distress him further. I see this
is a business I am unfit for. I was bred a farmer; and it was folly in
me to come to town, and put myself, at thirty years of age, an
apprentice to learn a new trade. Many of our Welsh people (he was a
Welshman) are going to settle in North Carolina, where land is cheap.
I am inclined to go with them, and follow my old employment; you may
find friends to assist you. If you will take the debts of the company
upon you, return to my father the hundred pounds he has advanced, pay
my little personal debts, and give me thirty pounds and a new saddle,
I will relinquish the partnership, and leave the whole in your hands."

Franklin accepted this proposition, and, with the aid of his two
friends, was soon established in business alone. His patronage
increased rapidly, and he was able to pay off his debts. In a very
short time he commanded the chief printing business of the town, and
Keimer sold out, and removed to Barbadoes. The _Pennsylvania Gazette_,
which he commenced printing before Meredith left him, won the public
favour, and became a source of profit. As an example of his resolution
and firmness, and his economy and prudence, it is said that certain
subscribers to his paper were incensed at an article that appeared in
its columns, and they threatened to "stop their patronage;" whereupon
Franklin invited them to dine with him, and, having set before them a
coarse meal mixture, from which his guests drew back, he remarked:
"Gentlemen, a man who can subsist on _sawdust pudding_ need call no
man _patron_."

Here, in early life, our hero laid the foundation of his fortune; and
the reader need not be at a loss to discover the secret of his
success. He made himself by the sterling elements of character which
he cultivated.



Soon after Franklin returned from England, he was instrumental in
forming his literary associates into a club for mutual improvement,
called the "JUNTO," which met every Friday evening. This club
continued nearly forty years, and Franklin said of it, "It was the
best school of philosophy, morality, and politics, that then existed
in the Province; for our queries, which were read the week preceding
their discussion, put us upon reading with attention on the several
subjects, that we might speak more to the purpose; and here, too, we
acquired better habits of conversation, everything being studied in
our rules which might prevent our disgusting each other."

"I have a proposition to submit," said Franklin, at one of their
meetings, "and it is this. We frequently have occasion to refer to our
books, in our discussions, and I propose that we bring our books
together in this room, and form a library; each having the privilege
of using the books of the other."

"I like the plan much," said Parsons, one of the members. "Nobody but
Franklin would have thought of it."

"I think that every member must subscribe to this measure," said
Coleman. "I hope it will be done at once."

And thus it went round the room, each one expressing his approval of
the plan. The consequence was, that one end of the room was filled
with volumes; and the plan proved profitable to all.

At that time, books were very scarce. "There was not a good
bookseller's shop in any of the Colonies to the southward of Boston."
The readers of Pennsylvania usually sent to England for their books,
which was both troublesome and expensive.

The members of the "JUNTO" derived so much benefit from the plan of
bringing their books together, that Franklin conceived the idea of
establishing a library, and formed his plan, which was successful. He
found fifty persons in town, mostly young tradesmen, who were willing
to pay down forty shillings each, and ten shillings per annum; and
with these the library was commenced. This was the first library ever
established in this country, and it now numbers more than sixty
thousand volumes. Since that day libraries have multiplied rapidly.

The following are some of the questions for the "JUNTO," and they show
that it was really a thorough and valuable organization.

"Have you met with anything, in the author you last read, remarkable,
or suitable to be communicated to the Junto? particularly in history,
morality, poetry, physics, travels, mechanic arts, or other parts of

"Hath any citizen failed in business, and what have you heard of the

"Have you lately heard of any citizen's thriving well, and by what

"Do you know of a fellow-citizen who has lately done a worthy action,
deserving praise and imitation; or who has lately committed an error,
proper for us to be warned against and avoid?"

"What unhappy effects of intemperance have you lately observed or
heard?--of imprudence?--of passion?--or of any other vice or folly?"

"What happy effects of temperance?--of prudence?--of moderation?--or
of any other virtue?"

"Do you think of anything at present in which the Junto may be
serviceable to _mankind_, to their country, to their friends, or to

"Hath any deserving stranger arrived in town since last meeting, that
you have heard of?--and what have you heard or observed of his
character or merits?--and whether, think you, it lies in the power of
the Junto to oblige him, or encourage him as he deserves?"

"Do you know of any deserving young beginner lately set up, whom it
lies in the power of the Junto any way to encourage?"

"Have you lately observed any defect in the laws of your country, of
which it would be proper to move the Legislature for an amendment? or
do you know of any beneficial law that is wanting?"

"Is there any man whose friendship you want, and which the Junto, or
any of them, can procure for you?"

This is a sample of the questions asked at their meetings, and
answered. It is not difficult to see the mind of Franklin in these
inquiries, and many of them were evidently suggested by his own

Some of the questions discussed by the members of the Junto were as

"Is _sound_ an entity or body?"

"How may the phenomena of vapours be explained?"

"Can any one particular form of government suit all mankind?"

"Is the emission of paper money safe?"

"How may smoky chimneys be best cured?"

"Which is least criminal,--a _bad_ action joined with a _good_
intention, or a _good_ action with a _bad_ intention?"

There have been improvements in almost everything in modern times, but
we doubt if there has been much improvement upon the "JUNTO" in
literary organizations for the young. It is not surprising, that, of
the original twelve members (the number was limited to twelve), two
became surveyors-general; one the inventor of a quadrant; one a
distinguished mechanic and influential man; and one "a merchant of
great note and a provincial judge;" and all but one or two,
respectable and honoured men.

At this time, Franklin had commenced the study of the languages,
employing only such leisure moments as he had to master them. It was a
great undertaking, but his application and perseverance were equal to
the task. He began with French, and was soon able to read books in
that language. Then he took Italian. A friend, who was studying it
also, tempted him to play chess. He played a little, and finding that
it consumed time, he refused to play any more, unless on the condition
that "the victor in every game should have a right to impose a task,
either of parts of the grammar to be got by heart, or in translations,
which task the vanquished was to perform upon honour before the next
meeting." In this way, he learned the Italian language. Subsequently
he acquired sufficient knowledge of Spanish to enable him to read
books in that tongue. He studied Latin a year in Boston, before he was
ten years old, but since that time he had neglected it. His
acquaintance now with other languages revived his taste for the
Latin, however, so that he mastered that.

Surely here is literary work enough for a youth who is earning a
livelihood by hard labour, having only snatches of time to devote to
reading and study. There is no work of his whole life that is more
replete with interest than this; for it shows that he possessed
indomitable energy and force of character, together with other
valuable traits. He proved that it was possible for him to be a
scholar while he was a printer.

The "Junto" appears to have been copied in England, half a century
after this period. When the celebrated Canning was in his youth, being
educated at Oxford, a debating society was organized, limited to the
number of six, who met every Thursday evening at the rooms of the
members. At each meeting, before they separated, the subject for the
next meeting was voted and recorded. Here Canning and Jenkinson (who
became Earl of Liverpool) made their first speeches, and here they
received impulses that helped them on to fame.

Franklin began to think more of religion, and to raise some queries
respecting his former doubts, soon after he came back from England.
The two young men whose religious sentiments he corrupted and
unsettled turned out badly, and cheated him out of a sum of money, and
this led him to inquire if it was not because they ignored religious
principle. He witnessed other conduct among those who talked lightly
of religion, which caused him to inquire, whether, after all, his
parents were not in the right. He stayed away from meeting, and
devoted the Sabbath to study, which had a very bad look. Yet, he said,
"I never was without some religious principle. I never doubted the
existence of a Deity; that He made the world and governed it by his
providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good
to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crimes will be
punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter." He also
subscribed something for the support of the only Presbyterian meeting
in Philadelphia, and advocated the importance of sustaining public

The minister called upon him, and counselled him to attend church,
just when he was beginning to think better of it, and it had the
effect to bring him out occasionally. Once he went five Sabbaths in
succession. But the preacher was dull and uninteresting, so that
Franklin was not well pleased; still he continued to attend
occasionally, until, one Sabbath, the preacher took the following
text: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, honest, just,
pure, lovely, or of good report, if there be any virtue, or any
praise, think on these things." The minister was usually doctrinal in
his style of preaching, but now Franklin thought he would have
something practical. Consequently he was sadly disappointed when he
found that the discourse embraced only the following points:--1.
Keeping holy the Sabbath-day. 2. Being diligent in reading the
Scriptures. 3. Attending duly public worship. 4. Partaking of the
Sacrament. 5. Paying a due respect to God's ministers. Franklin
thought that these subjects, though very good, did not belong to such
a text, and he was so dissatisfied with the sermon, that he ceased

Conscience, however, did not slumber. He saw and felt that he was
wrong, and, in order to make himself better, he began to lead a
self-righteous life. He imposed religious duties upon himself. He
returned to the use of a form of prayer which he prepared some time
before, when his thoughts were dwelling upon religious things. In that
prayer, under the head of "Thanks," occurs the following:--

     "For the common benefits of air and light, for useful fire and
     delicious water,--Good God, I thank Thee!

     "For knowledge and literature, and every useful art; for my
     friends and their prosperity, and for the fewness of my
     enemies,--Good God, I thank Thee!

     "For all thy innumerable benefits; for life, and reason, and the
     use of speech; for health, and joy, and every pleasant hour,--My
     good God, I thank Thee!"

He made a little book, in which he wrote down certain virtues that he
ought to cultivate, and prepared a table for the same. The following
were the virtues:--

     "1. Temperance.--Eat not to dulness; drink not to elevation.

     "2. Silence.--Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself;
     avoid trifling conversation.

     "3. Order.--Let all your things have their places; let each part
     of your business have its time.

     "4. Resolution.--Resolve to perform what you ought; perform
     without fail what you resolve.

     "5. Frugality.--Make no expense but to do good to others or
     yourself; that is, waste nothing.

     "6. Industry.--Lose no time; be always employed in something
     useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

     "7. Sincerity.--Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and
     justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

     "8. Justice.--Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the
     benefits that are your duty.

     "9. Moderation.--Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so
     much as you think they deserve.

     "10. Cleanliness.--Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or

     "11. Tranquillity.--Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents,
     common or unavoidable.

     "12. Chastity.

     "13. Humility.--Imitate Jesus Christ and Socrates."

These are very good so far as they go, and they show that he studied
to form a high character, although he had not yet attained to the
height of the true Christian.



We have followed the subject of this volume from the time he paid _too
dear for his whistle_, to the period when he was well established in
business. We have seen what his character was as a PRINTER-BOY, and
hence his promise of success. He was not perfect by any means; on the
other hand, he had marked failings. Yet, underneath the whole, we have
discovered certain qualities that are indispensable to eminence in
one's vocation. And now it remains to see, briefly, whether the
principle we advocate was true in his case, namely, "that the boy is
father of the man." To do this, we shall pass over a series of years,
and take a succinct view of his position and influence in middle and
advanced life.

It should be recorded first, however, that the difficulty between
himself and his brother James was adjusted, ten years after his first
visit to Boston. James had removed and settled in Newport, where he
was fast declining in health, and Benjamin went thither to see him.
Their past differences were forgotten, and their interview was
signalized by mutual forgiveness. It was then that Benjamin promised
to take his brother's little son, ten years old, after the father was
no more, and bring him up to the printing business. This pledge he
fulfilled, doing even more for the lad than he promised, for he sent
him to school two or three years before he took him into the office,
and finally he established him in business. This, certainly, was a
happy termination of a quarrel that was creditable to neither party.
The result was decisive evidence that both parties deplored their
conduct towards each other.

While he was yet a young man, he was promoted to different posts of
distinction. He filled various offices in Philadelphia, and served the
State of Pennsylvania in several public ways, in all of which he did
himself honour. He devoted a portion of his time to philosophical
studies, in which he earned a world-wide fame. His mind was ever busy
in projects to benefit society, and no work was too humble for him to
do for the good of others. At one time he is found inventing a stove
for domestic use, called afterward the Franklin stove, with which
Governor Thomas was so well pleased, that he offered him a patent for
the sole vending of them for a series of years; but Franklin refused
it, on the ground, "_that, as we enjoy great advantages from the
invention of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve_
_others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and
generously_." This was another instance of his remarkable generosity,
and it reminds us of that incident of his life in France, when an
English clergyman asked him for pecuniary assistance. He gave him
liberally, remarking, "Some time or other you may have an opportunity
of assisting with an equal sum a stranger who has equal need of it. Do
so. By that means you may discharge any obligation you may suppose
yourself under to me. _Enjoin him to do the same on occasion._ By
pursuing such a practice, much good may be done with little money. Let
kind offices go round. Mankind are all of a family."

At another time he is engaged in improving the lamps that light the
city, and devising ways of cleaning the streets. Then, again, he is
originating a system of volunteer militia for the defence of his
country. Extinguishing fires, also, is a subject that commands his
thoughts, and he organized the first fire company in the land. Again,
the education of youth demands his time, and he labours to introduce a
system of schools, and finally founds a University. Thus the humblest
acts of a good citizen were performed in connection with the nobler
deeds of the philosopher and statesman.

The following is a brief synopsis of the offices he filled, and the
honours he won:--





















In reading the history of the United States, no name is more
conspicuous than that of Franklin. His agency is everywhere seen and
acknowledged in laying the foundation of her institutions, and
achieving her glories. The memory of no patriot and philosopher has
been more dear to generations that have come and gone since his day.
Abroad, as well as at home, he was honoured. At one time, in France,
"prints, medallion portraits, and busts of Franklin were multiplied
throughout France; and rings, bracelets, canes, and snuff-boxes,
bearing his likeness, were worn or carried quite generally." In
England, and other parts of Europe, similar homage was paid to his
greatness. Since that period his statue has been erected in the halls
of learning and legislation, literary societies have adopted his name
to give them pre-eminence, and numerous towns have been called after
him. The author's native place was named in honour of Franklin, who
afterwards presented the town with a valuable library that is still in
existence. On being informed by a friend that this town had adopted
his name, he inquired what sort of a present would be acceptable to
the inhabitants as an acknowledgment of their respect and homage. The
friend suggested that a _bell_ might prove a timely gift, as they were
erecting a new house of worship. But Franklin thought otherwise, and
decided to present a library. He jocosely remarked, in the letter
which accompanied the books, that he "_supposed a town that would
adopt his name must be more fond of sense than sound_."

It would multiply the pages of this volume beyond its designed limits
to enumerate all the public posts of honour that Franklin adorned, and
all the marks of respect that have been paid to his memory. This brief
reference to the more prominent of these is sufficient to afford the
reader a view of the REMARKABLE MAN, and to illustrate the force of
energy, industry, integrity, and perseverance, in human destiny.

Washington wrote to him: "If to be venerated for benevolence, if to be
admired for talents, if to be esteemed for patriotism, if to be
beloved for philanthropy, can gratify the human mind, you must have
the pleasing consolation to know that you have not lived in vain. And
I flatter myself that it will not be ranked among the least grateful
occurrences of your life to be assured that, so long as I retain my
memory, you will be recollected with respect, veneration, and
affection, by your sincere friend, George Washington."

Congress was in session when Franklin died, and when his death was
announced, on motion of Madison, it was resolved that a badge of
mourning be worn for one month, "as a mark of veneration due to the
memory of a citizen whose native genius was not more an ornament to
human nature than his various exertions of it have been precious to
science, to freedom, and to his country."

In France, Condorcet eulogized him in the Academy of Science, and
Mirabeau in the National Assembly. The latter said: "Antiquity would
have erected altars to this great and powerful genius."

When Rachel was dying, she named her infant son "Ben-oni," which
means, "son of my sorrow," because he was the occasion of her
sufferings and death. But Jacob, his father, called him "Benjamin,"
which signifies "the son of a right hand." There was a time when
Franklin's mother, weeping over her runaway boy, would have called him
"Ben-oni," and it might have appeared to observers that he would turn
out to be such. But the excellent lessons of his early home, and the
good traits of character which he nurtured, caused him to become a
true Benjamin to his parents,--"a son of their right hand." With a
warm, filial heart, he sought to minister to their wants in their
declining years, and, as we have seen, offered the last and highest
tribute of affection in his power, when they were laid in the dust.

In his riper years, Franklin sincerely regretted the doubts of his
youth and early manhood respecting religion. The sentiments that were
poured into his young mind by fond, parental lips, he came to respect
and cherish. He went to the house of God on the Sabbath with great
constancy; and, if recollecting the sin of his youth, he wrote to his
daughter, "_Go constantly to church, whoever preaches._" His own
experience taught him that it was dangerous and wicked to forsake the
sanctuary. He became interested in every good work. His influence and
his purse were offered to sustain Christianity. He appreciated every
benevolent enterprise, and bade them God-speed. On one occasion the
celebrated Whitefield preached in behalf of an orphan asylum, which he
proposed to erect in Georgia. Franklin was not in full sympathy with
the plan, because he thought it should be erected in Pennsylvania, and
the orphans brought there. Still, he listened to the eminent preacher
unprejudiced, and when the collection was taken, at the close of the
meeting, he emptied his pockets of all the money he had, which
consisted of "a handful of copper money, three or four silver dollars,
and five pistoles in gold."

He sympathized deeply with the poor and needy, and espoused the cause
of the oppressed in every land. He was the first President of the
Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, and both his hand and heart were
pledged to the cause of freedom. One of his biographers, summing up
his character in these particulars, says: "He was bold, consistent,
active, and greatly in advance of his age. From his Quaker brethren in
Philadelphia he contracted all their zeal in behalf of humanity,
although in his mind it put on the aspect of plain, practical
beneficence. He was ever foremost in all humane enterprises. He was
never misled, through sympathy with a majority, into the support of
measures which, though popular, were inconsistent with a high-toned
Christian morality. He was the champion of the Indians when to
advocate their cause was to displease many. He was one of the earliest
opponents of the slave-trade and slavery. He omitted no opportunity to
protest against war and its iniquity, and he branded as piracy the
custom of privateering, however sanctioned by international usages. As
a statesman and philosopher his name is imperishable. As an active
benefactor of his race, he is entitled to its lasting gratitude. As
one of the founders of the American Union, he must ever be held in
honourable remembrance by all who prize American institutions. As the
zealous foe to oppression in all its forms, he merits the thankful
regard of good men of all ages and climes."

He carried his reverence for God and his regard for Christianity into
the high places of authority. He proposed the first Day of Fasting and
Prayer ever observed in Pennsylvania, and wrote the proclamation for
the Secretary of State. When the convention to frame the Constitution
of the United States met in Philadelphia, in 1787, he introduced a
motion into that body for daily prayers, which, strange to say, was
rejected. In support of his motion, he made the following memorable
address, which fairly illustrates his usual disposition to recognize
God in all human affairs:--

     "In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were
     sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine
     protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard; and they were
     graciously answered. All of us, who were engaged in the struggle,
     must have observed frequent instances of a superintending
     Providence in our favour. To that kind Providence we owe this
     happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of
     establishing our future national felicity. And have we now
     forgotten that powerful Friend, or do we imagine we no longer
     need his assistance? I have lived, sir, a long time; and the
     longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth,
     _that God governs in the affairs of men_. And, if a sparrow
     cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that
     an empire can arise without his aid? We have been assured, sir,
     in the sacred writings, that, 'except the Lord build the house,
     they labour in vain that build it.' I firmly believe this; and I
     also believe, that, without his concurring aid, we shall succeed
     in this political building no better than the builders of Babel;
     we shall be divided by our little, partial, local interests; our
     projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a
     reproach and a by-word down to future ages. And, what is worse,
     mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of
     establishing government by human wisdom, and leave it to chance,
     war, and conquest. I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth
     prayers, imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on
     our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before
     we proceed to business; and that one or more of the clergy of
     this city be requested to officiate in that service."

His confidence in the Christian religion, and his regard for purity of
conduct, did not diminish as he drew near the grave. On the other
hand, he bore earnest testimony to the faith of his fathers until the
close of his life, and, ere he died, renewed his vindication of the
Scriptures, in the following circumstances.

A young man called to see him, as he lay upon his death-bed, scarcely
able to articulate. Dr. Franklin welcomed him with a benignant look,
which he was wont to cast upon the young, and imparted some good
advice to him.

"What is your opinion with regard to the truth of the Scriptures?"
inquired the young man, who was somewhat sceptical.

Franklin replied, although in a very feeble state, "Young man, my
advice to you is, that you cultivate an acquaintance with, and a firm
belief in, the Holy Scriptures; this is your certain interest."


London: Thomas Harrild, Printer.

[Transcriber's Notes:

Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as
possible, including obsolete and variant spellings and other

The transcriber noted the following issues and made changes as
indicated to the text to correct obvious errors:

   1. p.  ix, Cricticisms --> Criticisms
   2. p.  65, bread his buttered. --> bread is buttered.
   3. p.  86, in print. --> in print."
   4. p.  88, sell them.  --> sell them."
   5. p. 119, Who can the author --> "Who can the author
   6. p. 136, thaI --> that
   7. p. 144, start with. --> start with."
   8. p. 155, sir," --> sir."
   9. p. 209, "The old lady --> The old lady
  10. p. 240, "The next day --> The next day
  11. p. 257, Philantroprist --> Philanthropist
  12. p. 264, your certain interest. --> your certain interest."

End of Transcriber's Notes]

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