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´╗┐Title: From Boyhood to Manhood: Life of Benjamin Franklin
Author: Thayer, William Makepeace, 1820-1898
Language: English
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FROM BOYHOOD TO MANHOOD

LIFE OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

By William M. Thayer

Author of "From Farm House to White House," "From Log Cabin to White
House," "From Pioneer Home to White House," "From Tannery to White
House," etc., etc.


ILLUSTRATED

1889.



PREFACE

The life of Benjamin Franklin is stranger than fiction. Its realities
surpass the idealities of novelists. Imagination would scarcely venture
to portray such victories over poverty, obscurity, difficulties, and
hardships. The tact, application, perseverance, and industry, that he
brought to his life-work, make him an example for all time. He met with
defeats; but they inspired him to manlier efforts. His successes
increased his desire for something higher and nobler. He was satisfied
only with _going up still higher_. He believed that "one to-day is
worth two to-morrows"; and he acted accordingly, with the candle-shop
and printing office for his school-room, and Observation for his
teacher. His career furnishes one of the noblest examples of success
for the young of both sexes to study. We offer his life as one of the
brightest and best in American history to inspire young hearts with
lofty aims.

The first and principal source of material for this book was Franklin's
"Autobiography." No other authority, or treasure of material, can take
the place of that. Biographies by Sparks, Sargent, Abbott, and Parton
have freely consulted together with "Franklin in France," and various
eulogies and essays upon his life and character.

That Franklin was the real father of the American Union, is the view
which the author of this biography presents. It is the view of
Bancroft, as follows:--

"Not half of Franklin's merits have been told. He was the true father
of the American Union. It was he who went forth to lay the foundation
of that great design at Albany; and in New York he lifted up his voice.
Here among us he appeared as the apostle of the Union. It was Franklin
who suggested the Congress of 1774; and but for his wisdom, and the
confidence that wisdom inspired, it is a matter of doubt whether that
Congress would have taken effect. It was Franklin who suggested the
bond of the Union which binds these States from Florida to Maine.
Franklin was the greatest diplomatist of the eighteenth century. He
never spoke a word too soon; he never spoke a word too much; he never
failed to speak the right word at the right season."

The closing years of Franklin's life were so identified with the Union
of the States, and the election and inauguration of Washington as the
first President, that his biography becomes a fitting companion to the
WHITE HOUSE SERIES.


CONTENTS

I.
FROM OLD ENGLAND TO NEW ENGLAND.

Persecution Driving Franklin and Others Away--Discussion about
Emigrating--Josiah Franklin--His Trade--Benjamin Franklin--Doctor
Franklin's Account of His Ancestors--Meetings of Dissenters Broken
Up--Why Josiah Decided to Go--Account of Their Family Bible--The Final
Decision--The Franklin Family Influential--Thomas Franklin--The
Franklin Poet--Doctor Franklin about His Father--What Boston was Then
and Now--Exploring the Wilderness--Influence of Franklins in Boston.

II.
THE FIFTEENTH GIFT.

Birth of Benjamin Franklin on Sunday--The Fifteenth Child--God's
Gift--Proposition to Baptize Him the Same Day--Discussion over
It--Baptized on That Day by Doctor Willard--The Church Record--House
in Which He was Born--Josiah's Children--Death of Wife and Second
Marriage--The Folger Family--Name for Uncle Benjamin--Personal
Beauty--Words of Parton--Josiah Took Up Trade of Tallow-chandler--The
Business and Place Described--Sons Apprenticed--Josiah a Good
Musician--Condition of the World When Benjamin was Born in 1706.

III.
PAYING TOO DEAR FOR THE WHISTLE.

Seven Years Old--First Money to Spend as He Pleased--Advice Gratis--Boy
with Whistle--Benjamin Buys a Whistle--Going into the Concert
Business--Scene in the Family--Tormented by John for Paying All His
Money--Ben Breaks Down--Father and Mother Takes His Part--The Lesson
He Learned--What He Wrote about It at Seventy-two Years of Age--When
Boys Pay Too Dear for the Whistle--Dickens--Keeping the Secret--How
the Secret Came Out.

IV.
IN SCHOOL.

Uncle Benjamin and His Poetry--His Family--His Letter about Ben--Plans
for School and Doctor Willard--Goes to School at Eight Years of
Age--Description of His Father--Of His Mother--Inscription on Their
Monument--Nathaniel Williams, Teacher--Description of School-house--His
Scholarship High--His Teacher Praises Him--Led the School--Prophecies
about Him--Webster--Rittenhouse--Stephenson.

V.
OUT OF SCHOOL.

Poverty Forces Him to Leave School--His Mother's View--Hard Time for
Ministers--Brownell's School of Penmanship--How Ben Could Help His
Father--Boys Put to Work Young Then--His Obedience--A Well-Disciplined
Boy--Incident of His Manhood to Rebuke a Landlord--Robert Peel and
Harry Garland--The Eight Hall Brothers--His Progress.

VI.
FROM SCHOOL TO CANDLE-SHOP.

Arrival of Uncle Benjamin--Opposed to Taking His Nephew Out of School--
Thinks Ben is Very Talented--Prospects of the Business--Benjamin's
Talk with His Mother--Blessings of Industry--Doctor Franklin's
Proverbs--Became Wiser Than His Father--Tallow-Chandler at Ten Years
of Age--His Father Saw His Dissatisfaction--Josiah, the Runaway Son,
Returns--Wanted to Go to Sea--The Proposition Vetoed--Uncle Benjamin
Against It.

VII.
CHOOSING A TRADE AND STEALING SPORT.

Love of a Trade Necessary to Success--Following "Natural Bent"--Square
Boys in Round Holes--Smeaton--Benjamin Pleased with a New Plan--
Examining Different Trades--The Cutler, Brazier, etc.--Chooses Cutler's
Trade--Enters Shop on Trial--Disagreement on Terms--The Good It Did
Him--Sport on the Water--An Evil Proposition--Stealing Stones--The
Wharf Built--The Thieves Detected--How Benjamin's Father Found Him
Out--Benjamin's Confession and Promise--The End.

VIII.
BECOMING PRINTER-BOY.

James Franklin Returns from England a Printer--His Father's Talk About
Learning That Trade--Benjamin Likes It--Arrangement with James--
Printing in Its Infancy Then--Censorship over Printing--Bound to
His Brother--Form of Indenture--William Tinsley--White Slavery--Poor
Children Sold at Auction--A Printer-boy and How He Liked--Time for
Reading--Budget!--The Printing-office, Where and What--Being on
Time--After a Book Before Breakfast--Washington's Punctuality--
Franklin's Like It.

IX.
TABLE-TALK EDUCATION.

What Franklin Said of Table-talk--What Heard at Table Now--Its
Moulding Influence--That of His Grandfather--The Franklins Good in
Conversation--Extract from Parton--Letter of Franklin to His Wife in
1758--Pythagoras--Cicero--Josiah Franklin--His Wise Counsels--Origin
of His Temperance Principles--No Temperance Cause Then--The Washburne
Family--The Way the Twig is Bent.

X.
LEADER OF SPORTS AND THOUGHTS.

Love of Reading and Fun--The Best Swimmer, etc.--Invention to Promote
Swimming--His Secret of Success--The Trial of the Apparatus--Hard on
the Wrists--Another Experiment Proposed--Swimming Promoted by a
Kite--Delight of the Boys--What Franklin Said of It in Manhood--The
Seed Thought of Drawing Lightning from a Cloud with a Kite--His
Experiment and Joy--What He Wrote about It--Advocate of Liberal Female
Education--Correspondence with Collins--His Father's Opinion--How
Benjamin Tried to Improve--How He Gained Time--Wise Maxims in
Age--Maxims--C.G. Frost and One Hour a Day--What Spare Moments Did
for Benjamin.

XI.
STARTING A NEWSPAPER.

Only Three Newspapers in America--Created a Stir--What Newspaper
Business is in Boston Now--How to Estimate It--Benjamin Manages the
Printing of It--His Interest in It--Its Warm Reception--Proposition
to Board Himself--What He Gained by It--His Object Self-improvement--
James Selfish, Benjamin Generous--Their Talk about the Plan--What His
Bill-of-Fare Was--How Come to Adopt Vegetable Diet--More Maxims--
Cocker's Arithmetic--His Success.

XII.
THE RUSE, AND WHAT CAME OF IT.

What Parton Says of _Courant_--The Knot of Liberals--Ben's First
Anonymous Article, and His Ruse--Discussion over It by the _Courant_
Club--Decided to Publish It--Benjamin Puts It in Type--It Created a
Sensation--The Second Article, Better Than First--Excitement over It
Still Greater--Ben's Exultation--James' Astonishment--Surprise of the
"Knot"--Ben a Favorite Now--How the Autobiography Tells the Story--
Decided Ben's Career--Canning and Microcosm--Examples of Industry,
Tact, etc.--Boy without a Name.

XIII.
BOOKS OF HIS BOYHOOD.

Four Classes of Readers--Ben after Diamonds--Hungry Mind--Words of
Thomas Hood--What Franklin Said--First Book Pilgrim's Progress--Talk
with His Father--What Franklin Said of Narrative--Plutarch's Lives--Easy
to Do Good--What They Were--Incident by Parton--Plan to Buy Burton's
Historical Collections--Describes Them--Boyle's Lectures--Kind Offer
of Matthew Adams--Borrowing Books of Booksellers' Clerks--Great
Favor--Books Very Scarce Then--Greenwood's English Grammar--Talk with
Collins--Other Books Read--Habit of Taking Notes--Letter of Franklin
about It--Professor Atkinson's Words--Garfield Had Same Habit.

XIV.
LEARNING THE ART OF COMPOSITION.

Began to Write Poetry at Seven--Had Practised Putting Thoughts
Together--James Praised His Pieces--Proposition to Write, Print,
and Sell Verses--Wrote Two--Sold Well--His Father's Severe Rebuke--
After-talk with James--Best Writers Deficient at First--Reporting to
James--Benefit to Ben--One of His Verses Preserved--What Franklin
Said of It in Manhood--How He Used the _Spectator_--Determined to
Improve--His Own Description of His Literary Work--How He Acquired
Socratic Method--Rhetoric and Logic--How a Single Book Made Wesley,
Martin, Pope, Casey, Lincoln, and Others What They Were--A Striking
Case.

XV.
THE "COURANT" IN TROUBLE.

The Startling News from the Assembly--A Discussion--A Sarcastic Letter
the Cause--James and Benjamin Summoned before the Council--James
Defiant--Benjamin Dismissed--How Mather Assailed the _Courant_--How
James Answered Him--James in Prison--Benjamin Editing the Paper--
Quotation from Parton--Persecution of Printers in the Old Country--A
Horrible Case--James Released, and Still Defiant--Inoculation a Remedy
for Small Pox--The _Mercury_ Denouncing James' Imprisonment--James
Still for Freedom of the Press--Secured It for All Time.

XVI.
THE BOY EDITOR.

Attacking the Government--The Council Exasperated--Action of the
_Courant_ Club--Plan to Evade Order of the Council--Benjamin, the
Boy-editor--His Address in _Courant_--Quotations from _Courant_ of
January 14, 1723--Not Libelous--Extract from Parton's Life--When
Newspapers Ceased to be Carried Free--How Long Ben Was in Printing
Office--Remarks by Mr. Sparks--What He Says of General Court--How the
Experience Developed Benjamin--Right Boy in Right Place--Extract from
_Courant_ about Bears.

XVII.
THE YOUNG SKEPTIC.

Reading Shaftesbury's Work--Discussion with Collins--Ben's Orthodoxy in
Peril--Benjamin a Thinker--Saying Grace over the Pork Barrel--Reading
from Collins--Several Paragraphs Repugnant to Orthodoxy--Shaftesbury
Attacking Miracles--Ben's Influence over John--Charged with Being
Atheist--His Confession--Letter to His Father--Letter to Sister--Seeing
His Folly--His Prayer--Sad Experience with Infidel Books--Similar to
Lincoln's and Garfield's--Lincoln's Farewell.

XVIII.
HOW HE QUIT BOSTON.

Decision to Leave James--Cruelty of the Latter--The Indenture--
Discussion over It with Collins--Advised to Get Place in Another
Printing Office in Boston--James Had Warned Them against Hiring
Him--Discloses His Decision to James--Unfair Use of Indenture--What
Benjamin Said of It Afterwards--Resolved to Run Away--Planned The
Method With Collins--Why Go by Water--How He Obtained Money--Collins
Engages His Passage--Collins' Deliberate Lie--On the Road to
Ruin--Collins' Report to Benjamin--Final Arrangements--Boarding the
Sloop--Scene off Block Island--Ben Converted to Flesh--Benjamin
Franklin's Experience Like William Hutton's.

XIX.
TRIALS OF A RUNAWAY.

Applies for Work in New York--Bradford's Advice and Kindness--Starts
for Philadelphia--The Drunken Dutch man--Driven on Shore by a Squall--
A Fearful Night--At Amboy--Benjamin Sick--A Young Man Travelling in
Maine--Advantage of Reading--Sir Walter Scott's Advice--Going in
Rain to Burlington--Landlord Suspected He Was a Runaway--At Doctor
Brown's--A Fine Time with the Doctor--Buying Gingerbread of Old
Woman--His Disappointment--Way out of It--Unexpected Deliverance--His
Skill at Rowing Again Useful--Finally Reaches Philadelphia.

XX.
THE WALKING COMEDY.

Meeting a Boy Eating--Buys Three Loaves--His Surprise--A Walking
Comedy--Sees His Future Wife--His Generosity to Mother and Child--A
Trait of His Life--Back to the Boat--On the Street Again and in Quaker
Church--Sleeping in Church--The Kind Quaker--The Crooked Billet--
Suspected of being a Runaway--Meeting the New York Bradford--Interview
with Young Bradford--Interview with Keimer--Showing His Skill at
Type-setting--Senior Bradford's Ruse--Giving Account of His Boston
Life--Doing Things Well--Case of Budgett--What Parton Said to Maydoll.

XXI.
GETTING ON.

Repairing the Old Printing Press--Caution to Keep Secrets--Repairing
for Bradford--Conversation with Bradford about Work in Boston--
Unbelief--Changing Boarding-place--Talk with Boarding-master Read--
Study and Companions There--High Rank of Printing Then--Letter from
Collins--Found by His Brother-in-law, Captain Homes--Letter from
the Captain--Benjamin's Reply--His Letter Read by Governor Keith--His
History Told Keith--The Latter's Promise--Colonel French--Two Traits
of Ben's Character, Observation and Humility.

XXII.
GOING UP HIGHER.

Governor Keith and Colonel French Call on Benjamin--Keimer's
Surprise--Benjamin's Interview with Them--Proposition to Establish
Printing House--Keith Proposed He Should See His Father--Keimer Very
Inquisitive about the Interview--Waiting for Vessel to Boston--Letter
to Collins--How Long Take to Start Printing House--Tells Keimer He is
Going to Boston--Sails for Boston--A Great Storm--Experience in
Reaching Boston.

XXIII.
THE SURPRISE, AND ITS RESULTS.

Hastens to See His Parents--Joyful Meeting--Account of Correspondence
with Homes--Going to See James--Delight of Journeymen--Many Inquiries--
Proposition to Treat Them--Report of James' Treatment to Parents--His
Mother's Counsel--Meets Collins--The Latter Intemperate--Counsels Him
to Let Strong Drink Alone--His Father's Opinion of Keith's Letter--
Arrival of Captain Homes--Approves Plans of Benjamin--Calling on
Friends--Seeing Doctor Mather--An Incident and Its Lesson--Collins
Decides to Go to Philadelphia--Benjamin's Father Declines to Help
Him--About _Courant_--Bidding Parents Farewell and Returning.

XXIV.
HIS RETURN, AND WHAT CAME OF IT.

Leaves Boston for New York--Collins to Meet Him There--Calls at Newport
to See His Brother John--Takes a Debt to Collect--Finds Collins Drunk
in New York--Talk with Landlord--Governor Burnett Sends for Him--
Benjamin's Words about It--Rebukes John Drunk--Arrival in Philadelphia--
Called on Governor Keith--The Governor Proposes to Set Him up--Amusing
Talk with Keimer--Collins Can Not Get Work--Trouble with Collins on
the Delaware--End of Collins--Governor Keith Sends for Him--Going to
England to Buy Outfit.

XXV.
WORKING, READING, AND COURTING.

Keimer's Religious Creed--Argument with Benjamin--Establishing a New
Sect and Foregoing a Good Dinner--Benjamin's Three Literary
Associates--Literary Club Formed--Discussion on Ralph as a
Poet--Benjamin's Views--Each One Writing Poetry--Paraphrase of 18th
Psalm--Benjamin Reading Ralph's--Plan to Outwit Osborne--Its
Success--Osborne's Mortification--The Club a Good One--Benjamin and
Deborah Read--The Result.

XXVI.
A BOGUS SCHEME.

Ralph Going to England with Benjamin--Time to Sail--Governor Keith
Promises Letters--No Suspicion of Keith--Letters Not Ready as
Promised--Second Application for Letters--Final Promise--Bag of Letters
Come on Board--Looked over Letters in English Channel--The Revelation
of Rascality--Benjamin's Situation Alone in London--Ralph Discloses
that He Has Abandoned His Wife--Rebuked by Benjamin--Advice of
Denham--Governor Keith a Fraud--Finds Work at Palmer's Printing
House--Had Ralph to Support--Ralph a Schoolmaster--Accepting Trouble
Philosophically.

XXVII.
"OUR WATER DRINKER."

Letter from Ralph to Benjamin--Ralph's Epic Poem--Assisted Ralph's
Wife--How He and Ralph Separated--Kindness of Wilcox, the Bookseller--
Loaning Books--Benjamin Reviews "Religion of Nature"--Talk with Watts,
and His Opinion of It--Interview with Doctor Lyons--Doctor Pemberton--
Lived to See His Folly--Interview with Sir Hans Sloane--Benjamin's
Attack on Beer Drinking--His Sound Argument--Jake, the Ale Boy--Called
"A Water Drinker"--Discussion with Watts--Refused to Treat the Company--
Visits His Old Press Forty Years After.

XXVIII.
AT HOME AGAIN.

What Became of Ralph--Benjamin Teaching Two Companions to Swim--Who Was
Wygate?--The Excursion to Chelsea--Benjamin Swims Four Miles--Antics in
the Water--Sir W. Wyndham Proposes He Should Open a Swimming School--
Wygate's Proposition to Travel--Denham's Advice--Cheaper Board--Incident
Showing Denham's Character--Denham Offers to Employ Him as Clerk in
Philadelphia--Leaves Printing House for Warehouse--Returns to
Philadelphia.

XXIX.
UPS AND DOWNS OF LIFE.

Visits Keimer's Printing Office--Calls on Deborah Read--Her Marriage to
Rogers, and Divorce--Visit to Deborah Leads to Re-engagement--Now a
Merchant's Clerk--Denham and Benjamin Both Sick--Denham Died and Left
Legacy to Benjamin--Arrival of Captain Homes--Working for Keimer
Again--The Latter Making Trouble--Benjamin Leaves Him--Interview with
Meredith--Proposition to Go into Company in Printing Business--Meredith's
Father Loans Capital.

XXX.
THE LEATHERN APRON CLUB.

Reflecting on His Religious Belief--Rules He Wrote on the _Berkshire_
and Introduction to Them--The Leathern Apron Club--Patterned after
Cotton Mather's--The Questions Asked--Benjamin's Explanation--The
Compact Signed--Bringing in Books They Owned--Establishing the First
Library in the Land--Questions Discussed by the Club--No Improvement
on This Club--Benjamin's View of It in Age--Organizing Other Clubs--
Studying the Languages--Benjamin's Success.

XXXI.
BRIGHTER DAYS.

Proposition from Keimer--Discussion of It with Meredith--Returns to
Keimer--Printing Money for New Jersey at Burlington--The Surveyor
General's Life--His Talk with Benjamin--Starting New Firm, Franklin
and Meredith--The First Job--Predictions of Its Failure by Nickle
and Merchants' Club--Doctor Baird Differed--A Proposition from a
Stationer--Interview with Webb--Plan for Starting a Paper Made Known--
Keimer's Paper--Benjamin's Articles in _Mercury_--Buys Keimer's
Paper--Dissolves Partnership--Rum the Cause--The _Gazette_ a Success.

XXXII.
NO LONGER A SKEPTIC.

Time is Money--The Lounger Rebuked--Maxims--Avoiding Slander and
Abuse--Revising His Religious Belief--Articles of Belief--Code of
Morals Adopted--Creed for "United Party of Virtue "--Letters to
Friends--Proposed Prayers in Congress and Speech--Epitaph for His
Tombstone Written at Twenty-three.

XXXIII.
POOR RICHARD'S ALMANAC.

Publishing an Almanac--Discussion about It--When It Was Started--
Maxims Found in It--Very Popular, and Great Circulation--Franklin's
Fame Spreading--The Junto Pleased--Franklin's Account of Success--
How He Conducted His Paper--The Libeller Suppressed--Success of His
Stationer's Shop--Visit to Boston--Visits His Brother James--
Reconciliation--Takes His Son Home--He Buries a Child--His Defense
of Rev. George Whitefield--Building a House of Worship for Him.

XXXIV.
MORE HONORS AND MORE WORK.

Clerk of the Assembly--Postmaster--Night-watch Discussed in the
Junto--Plan of a Fire Department--Many Fire Companies Formed--Plan
to Pave the Streets--Paper on Smoky Chimneys--Franklin Invents a
Stove--Gives Away the Patent--Franklin Founds the University of
Philadelphia--Its Great Success--Franklin Organized Militia--Influence
of Quakers against It--Eighty Companies Formed--Franklin Secured Fast
Day--Peace.

XXXV.
PHILOSOPHER AND STATESMAN.

Entering into Partnership with Hall--His Large Income--Time for Study
and Research--Rapid Progress in Science--His Fame in Both Hemispheres--
What Mignet Said of His Labors--Kimmersley on His Lightning Rod--
Called Again to Political Life--List of Offices He Filled--Drafting
Declaration of Independence--Hanging Separately--Anecdote--His First
Labors at Court of England--Minister to England--Source of Troubles--
Hatred of Tories--Firm before House of Commons--Death of Mrs. Franklin--
Famous Letter to Strahan--The Eight Years' War--Franklin Author of the
Union--First Name in History--Library and Letters of Franklin, Mass.--
His Death--Bequest to Washington.



BOYHOOD TO MANHOOD.


I.

FROM OLD ENGLAND TO NEW ENGLAND.

"I am tired of so much persecution under the reign of our corrupt king,"
said a neighbor to Josiah Franklin, one day in the year 1685, in the
usually quiet village of Banbury, England, "and I believe that I shall
pull up stakes and emigrate to Boston. That is the most thriving port
in America."

"Well, I am not quite prepared for that yet," replied Franklin. "Our
king is bad enough and tyrannical enough to make us all sick of our
native land. But it is a great step to leave it forever, to live among
strangers; and I could not decide to do it without a good deal of
reflection."

"Nor I; but I have reflected upon it for a whole year now, and the more
I reflect the more I am inclined to emigrate. When I can't worship God
here as my conscience dictates, I will go where I can. Besides, I think
the new country promises much more to the common people than the old in
the way of a livelihood."

"Perhaps so; I have not given the subject much attention. Dissenters
have a hard time here under Charles II, and we all have to work hard
enough for a livelihood. I do not think you can have a harder time in
Boston."

Josiah Franklin was not disposed to emigrate when his neighbor first
opened the subject. He was an intelligent, enterprising, Christian
man, a dyer by trade, was born in Ecton, Leicestershire, in 1655, but
removed to Banbury in his boyhood, to learn the business of a dyer of
his brother John. He was married in Banbury at twenty-two years of age,
his wife being an excellent companion for him, whether in prosperity or
adversity, at home among kith and kin, or with strangers in New
England.

"You better consider this matter seriously," continued the neighbor,
"for several families will go, I think, if one goes. A little colony of
us will make it comparatively easy to leave home for a new country."

"Very true; that would be quite an inducement to exchange countries,
several families going together," responded Franklin. "I should enjoy
escaping from the oppression of the Established Church as much as
you; but it is a too important step for me to take without much
consideration. It appears to me that my business could not be as good
in a new country as it is in this old country."

"I do not see why, exactly. People in a new country must have dyeing
done, perhaps not so much of it as the people of an old country; but
the population of a new place like Boston increases faster than the
older places of our country, and this fact would offset the objection
you name."

"In part, perhaps. If Benjamin could go, I should almost feel that I
must go; but I suppose it is entirely out of the question for him to
go."

Benjamin was an older brother of Josiah, who went to learn the trade of
a dyer of his brother John before Josiah did. The Benjamin Franklin of
this volume, our young hero, was named for him. He was a very pious
man, who rendered unto God the things that are God's with full as much
care as he rendered unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's. He was a
very intelligent, bright man, also quite a poet for that day, and he
invented a style of short-hand writing that he used in taking down
sermons to which he listened. In this way he accumulated several
volumes of sermons, which he held as treasures.

"I have not spoken with your brother about the matter," replied the
neighbor. "I think it would be more difficult for him to arrange to go
than for most of us, at least for the present. I intend to speak with
him about it."

"He will not want me to go if he can not," added Josiah, "and I shall
think about it a good while before I should conclude to go without him.
We have been together most of our lives, and to separate now, probably
never to meet again, would be too great a trial."

"You will experience greater trials than that if you live long, no
doubt," said the neighbor, "but I want you should think the matter
over, and see if it will not be for your interest to make this change.
I will see you again about it."

While plans are being matured, we will see what Doctor Franklin said,
in his "Autobiography," about his ancestors at Ecton:

"Some notes, which one of my uncles, who had the same curiosity in
collecting family anecdotes, once put into my hands, furnished me with
several particulars relative to our ancestors. From these notes I learned
that they lived in the same village, Ecton, in Northamptonshire, on a
freehold of about thirty acres, for at least three hundred years, and
how much longer could not be ascertained. This small estate would not
have sufficed for their maintenance without the business of a smith
[blacksmith] which had continued in the family down to my uncle's
time, the eldest son being always brought up to that employment, a
custom which he and my father followed with regard to their eldest
sons. When I searched the records in Ecton, I found an account of
their marriages and burials from the year 1555 only, as the registers
kept did not commence previous thereto. I, however, learned from it
that I was the youngest son of the youngest son for five generations
back. My grandfather, Thomas, who was born in 1598, lived in Ecton
till he was too old to continue his business, when he retired to
Banbury, Oxfordshire, to the house of his son John, with whom my
father served an apprenticeship. There my uncle died and lies buried.
We saw his grave-stone in 1758. His eldest son, Thomas, lived in the
house at Ecton, and left it with the land to his only daughter, who,
with her husband, one Fisher, of Wellingborough, sold it to Mr. Ioted,
now lord of the manor there. My grandfather had four sons, who grew
up, viz.: Thomas, John, Benjamin, and Josiah."

"I do not know how you like it, but it arouses my indignation to have
our meeting broken up, as it was last week," remarked Josiah Franklin
to the aforesaid neighbor, a short time after their previous interview.
"If anything will make me exchange Banbury for Boston it is such
intolerance."

"I have felt like that for a long time, and I should not have thought
of leaving my native land but for such oppression," replied the
neighbor, "and what is worse, I see no prospect of any improvement;
on the other hand, it appears to me that our rights will be infringed
more and more. I am going to New England if I emigrate alone."

"Perhaps I shall conclude to accompany you when the time comes. There
do not appear to be room in this country for Dissenters and the
Established Church. I understand there is in New England. I may
conclude to try it."

"I am glad to hear that. We shall be greatly encouraged if you decide
to go. I discussed the matter with Benjamin since I did with you, and
he would be glad to go if his business and family did not fasten him
here. I think he would rather justify your going."

"Did he say so?"

"No, not in so many words. But he did say that he would go if his
circumstances favored it as much as your circumstances favor your
going."

"Well, that is more than I supposed he would say. I expected that he
would oppose any proposition that contemplated my removal to Boston.
The more I think of it the more I am inclined to go."

The Franklins, clear back to the earliest ancestors, had experienced
much persecution. Some of them could keep and read their Bible only by
concealing it and reading it in secret. The following, from Franklin's
"Autobiography," is an interesting and thrilling incident:

"They had an English Bible, and, to conceal it and place it in safety,
it was fastened open with tapes under and within the cover of a
joint-stool. When my great-grandfather wished to read it to his family,
he placed the joint-stool on his knees, and then turned over the leaves
under the tapes. One of the children stood at the door to give notice
if he saw the apparitor coming, who was an officer of the spiritual
court. In that case the stool was turned down again upon its feet, when
the Bible remained concealed under it as before. This anecdote I had
from Uncle Benjamin."

The Dissenters from the Established Church loved their mode of worship
more, if any thing, than members of their mother church. But under
the tyrannical king, Charles II, they could not hold public meetings
at the time to which we refer. Even their secret meetings were often
disturbed, and sometimes broken up.

"It is fully settled now that we are going to New England," said the
aforesaid neighbor to Josiah Franklin subsequently, when he called upon
him with two other neighbours, who were going to remove with him; "and
we have called to persuade you to go with us; we do not see how we can
take no for an answer."

"Well, perhaps I shall not say no; I have been thinking the matter
over, and I have talked with Benjamin; and my wife is not at all averse
to going. But I can't say _yes_ to-day; I may say it to-morrow, or
sometime."

"That is good," answered one of the neighbors; "we must have one of
the Franklins with us to be well equipped. Banbury would not be well
represented in Boston without one Franklin, at least."

"You are very complimentary," replied Franklin; "even misery loves
company, though; and it would be almost carrying home with us for
several families to emigrate together. The more the merrier."

"So we think. To escape from the intolerant spirit that pursues
Dissenters here will make us merry, if nothing else does. Home is no
longer home when we can worship God as we please only in secret."

"There is much truth in that," continued Franklin. "I am much more
inclined to remove to New England than I was a month ago. The more I
reflect upon the injustice and oppression we experience, the less I
think of this country for a home. Indeed, I have mentally concluded to
go if I can arrange my affairs as I hope to."

"Then we shall be content; we shall expect to have you one of the
company. It will be necessary for us to meet often to discuss plans and
methods of emigration. We shall not find it to be a small matter to
break up here and settle there."

It was settled that Josiah Franklin would remove to New England with
his neighbors, and preparations were made for his departure with them.

These facts indicate the standing and influence of the Franklins. They
were of the common people, but leading families. Their intelligence,
industry, and Christian principle entitled them to public confidence
and respect. Not many miles away from them were the Washingtons,
ancestors of George Washington, known as "the father of his country."
The Washingtons were more aristocratic than the Franklins, and
possessed more of the world's wealth and honors. Had they been near
neighbors they would not have associated with the Franklins, as they
belonged to a different guild. Such were the customs of those times.

Thomas Franklin was a lawyer, and "became a considerable man in the
county,--was chief mover of all public-spirited enterprises for the
county or town of Northampton, as well as of his own village, of which
many instances were related of him; and he was much taken notice of
and patronized by Lord Halifax." Benjamin was very ingenious, not only
in his own trade as dyer, but in all other matters his ingenuity
frequently cropped out. He was a prolific writer of poetry, and, when
he died, "he left behind him two quarto volumes of manuscript of his
own poetry, consisting of fugitive pieces addressed to his friends." An
early ancestor, bearing the same Christian name, was imprisoned for a
whole year for writing a piece of poetry reflecting upon the character
of some great man. Note, that he was not incarcerated for writing bad
poetry, but for libelling some one by his verse, though he might have
been very properly punished for writing such stuff as he called poetry.
It is nothing to boast of, that his descendant, Uncle Benjamin, was not
sent to prison for producing "two quarto volumes of his own poetry," as
the reader would believe if compelled to read it.

Dr. Franklin said, in his "Autobiography": "My father married young,
and carried his wife with three children to New England about 1685. The
conventicles [meetings of Dissenters] being at that time forbidden by
law, and frequently disturbed in the meetings, some considerable men of
his acquaintance determined to go to that country, and he was prevailed
with to accompany them thither, where they expected to enjoy their
religion with freedom."

Boston was not then what it is now, and no one living expected that it
would ever become a city of great size and importance. It contained
less than six thousand inhabitants. The bay, with its beautiful
islands, spread out in front, where bears were often seen swimming
across it, or from one island to another. Bear-hunting on Long Wharf
was a pastime to many, and twenty were killed in a week when they were
numerous.

In the rear of the town stood the primeval forests, where Red Men and
wild beasts roamed at their pleasure. It is claimed that an Indian or
pioneer might have traveled, at that time, through unbroken forests
from Boston to the Pacific coast, a distance of more than three
thousand miles, except here and there where western prairies stretched
out like an "ocean of land," as lonely and desolate as the forest
itself. That, in two hundred years, and less, sixty millions of people
would dwell upon this vast domain, in cities and towns of surprising
wealth and beauty, was not even thought of in dreams. That Boston would
ever grow into a city of three hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants,
with commerce, trade, wealth, learning, and influence to match, the
wildest enthusiast did not predict. A single fact illustrates the
prevailing opinion of that day, and even later. The town of Boston
appointed a commission to explore the country along Charles River, to
learn what prospects there were for settlers. The commissioners
attended to their duty faithfully, and reported to the town that they
had explored ten miles west, as far as settlers would ever penetrate
the forest, and found the prospects as encouraging as could be
expected.

It was to this Boston that Josiah Franklin emigrated in 1685, thinking
to enjoy liberty of conscience, while he supported his growing family
by his trade of dyer. There is no record to show that he was ever sorry
he came. On the other hand, there is much to prove that he always had
occasion to rejoice in the change. Certainly his family, and their
posterity, exerted great influence in building up the nation. Next to
Washington Josiah's son Benjamin ranked in his efforts to secure
American Independence, and all the blessings that followed.



II.


THE FIFTEENTH GIFT.

"The fifteenth!" remarked Josiah Franklin to a relative, as he took the
fifteenth child into his arms. "And a son, too; he must bear the name
of his Uncle Benjamin."

"Then, we are to understand that his name is Benjamin?" answered the
relative, inquiringly.

"Yes, that is his name; his mother and I settled that some time ago,
that the next son should bear the name of my most beloved brother,
who, I hope, will remove to this country before long."

"Well, a baby is no curiosity in your family," remarked the relative,
laughing. "Some men would think that fifteen was too much of a good
thing."

"A child is God's gift to man, as I view it, for which parents should
be thankful, whether it is the first or fifteenth. Each child imposes
an additional obligation upon parents to be true to the Giver as well
as to the gift. I am poor enough, but no man is poorer for a large
family of children. He may have to labor harder when they are young
and helpless, but in age they are props on which he can lean."

Mr. Franklin spoke out of the depths of his soul. He was a true
Christian man, and took the Christian view of a child, as he did
of any thing else. While some men are annoyed by the multiplicity
of children, he found a source of comfort and contentment in the
possession. The seventeenth child, which number he had, he hailed with
the same grateful recognition of God's providence that he did when the
first was born. Yet he was poor, and found himself face to face with
poverty most of the time. Each child born was born to an inheritance
of want. But to him children were God's gift as really as sunshine or
showers, day or night, the seventeenth just as much so as the first.
This fact alone marks Josiah Franklin as an uncommon man for his day
or ours.

"If more men and women were of your opinion," continued the relative,
"there would be much more enjoyment and peace in all communities. The
most favorable view that a multitude of parents indulge is, that
children are troublesome comforts."

"What do you think of the idea of taking this baby into the house of
God to-day, and consecrating him to the Lord?" Mr. Franklin asked, as
if the thought just then flashed upon his mind. "It is only a few
steps to carry him."

It was Sunday morning, Jan. 6, 1706, old style; and the "Old South
Meeting House," in which Dr. Samuel Willard preached, was on the other
side of the street, scarcely fifty feet distant.

"I should think it would harmonize very well with your opinion about
children as the gift of God, and the Lord may understand the matter so
well as to look approvingly upon it, but I think your neighbors will
say that you are rushing things somewhat. It might be well to let the
little fellow get used to this world before he begins to attend
meeting."

The relative spoke thus in a vein of humor, though she really did not
approve of the proposed episode in the new comer's life. Indeed it
seemed rather ridiculous to her, to carry a babe, a few hours old, to
the house of God.

"I shall not consult my neighbors," Mr. Franklin replied. "I shall
consult my wife in this matter, as I do in others, and defer to her
opinion. I have always found that her judgment is sound on reducing it
to practice."

"That is so; your wife is a woman of sound judgment as well as of
strong character, and you are wise enough to recognize the fact, and
act accordingly. But that is not true of many men. If your wife
approves of taking her baby into the meeting-house for consecration
to-day, then do it, though the whole town shall denounce the act."

There is no doubt his relative thought that Mrs. Franklin would veto
the proposition at once, and that would end it. But in less than a
half hour he reported that she approved of the proposition.

"Benjamin will be consecrated to the Lord in the afternoon; my wife
approves of it as proper and expressive of our earnest desire that he
should be the Lord's. I shall see Mr. Willard at once, and nothing but
his disapproval will hinder the act."

"And I would not hinder it if I could," replied his relative, "if your
wife and Pastor Willard approve. I shall really be in favor of it if
they are, because their judgment is better than mine."

"All the difference between you and me," continued Mr. Franklin, with
a smile playing over his face, "appears to be that you think a child
may be given to the Lord too soon, and I do not; the sooner the
better, is my belief. With the consecration come additional
obligations, which I am willing to assume, and not only willing, but
anxious to assume."

"You are right, no doubt; but you are one of a thousand in that view,
and you will have your reward."

"Yes; and so will that contemptible class of fathers, who can endure
_five_ children, but not _fifteen_,--too irresponsible to see that one
of the most inconsistent men on earth is the father who will not
accept the situation he has created for himself. The Franklins are not
made of that sort of stuff; neither are the Folgers [referring to his
wife's family], whose fervent piety sanctifies their good sense, so
that they would rather please the Lord than all mankind."

Mr. Willard was seen, and he endorsed the act as perfectly proper,
and in complete harmony with a felt sense of parental obligation.
Therefore, Benjamin was wrapped closely in flannel blankets, and
carried into the meeting-house in the afternoon, where he was
consecrated to the Lord by the pastor.

On the "Old Boston Town Records of Births," under the heading, "Boston
Births Entered 1708," is this: "Benjamin, son of Josiah Franklin, and
Abiah, his wife, born 6 Jan. 1706."

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

Then, the records of the "Old South Church," among the baptism of
infants, have this: "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. The
Old South Church had two pastors then, and it is supposed that Dr.
Samuel Willard officiated instead of Rev. Ebenezer Pemberton, because
the record is in the handwriting of Doctor Willard.

We are able to furnish a picture of the house in which he was born. It
measured twenty feet in width, and was about thirty feet long,
including the L. 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
the triple purpose of parlor, sitting-room, and dining-hall. It
contained an old-fashioned fire-place, 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, which might
have been used for lodgings or storing trumpery. The house stood about
one hundred years after Josiah Franklin left it, and was finally
destroyed by fire, on Saturday, Dec. 29, 1810. The spot on which it
stood is now occupied by a granite warehouse bearing the inscription,
"BIRTHPLACE OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN."

Mr. Franklin had three children when he left Banbury, and four more
were given to him during the first four years of his residence in
Boston, one of whom died. Soon after the birth of the seventh child
Mrs. Franklin died.

So young and large a family needed a mother's watch and care, as
Josiah Franklin found to his sorrow. The additional burden laid upon
him by the death of his wife interfered much with his business, and he
saw fresh reasons each day for finding another help-mate as soon as
possible. To run his business successfully, and take the whole charge
of his family, was more than he could do. In these circumstances he
felt justified in marrying again as soon as possible, and, with the
aid of interested friends, he made a fortunate choice of Abiah Folger,
of Nantucket, a worthy successor of the first Mrs. Franklin. He married
her a few months after the death of his first wife. The second Mrs.
Franklin became the mother of ten children, which, added to those
of the first Mrs. Franklin, constituted a very respectable family of
seventeen children, among whom was Benjamin, the fifteenth child. His
"Autobiography" says: "Of the seventeen children I remember to have
seen thirteen sitting together at the table, who all grew up to years
of maturity and were married." Of the second wife it says: "My mother,
the second wife of my father, was Abiah Folger, daughter of Peter
Folger, one of the first settlers of New England, of whom honorable
mention is made by Cotton Mather in his ecclesiastical history of that
country, 'as a godly and learned Englishman.'"

Josiah Franklin was an admirer not only of his wife, Abiah, but of
the whole Folger family, because they were devoutly pious, and as
"reliable as the sun, or the earth on its axis." They were unpolished
and unceremonial, and he liked them all the more for that. He wrote to
his sister in a vein of pleasantry, "They are wonderfully shy. But I
admire their honest plainness of speech. About a year ago I invited
two of them to dine with me; their answer was that they would if they
could not do better. I suppose they did better, for I never saw them
afterwards, and so had no opportunity of showing my miff if I had
any."

We have said that Benjamin was named for his uncle in England, and,
possibly some of the other children were named for other relatives in
the mother country. Certainly there were enough of them to go round
any usual circle of relatives, taking them all in. Uncle Benjamin was
very much pleased with the honor conferred upon him, and he always
manifested great interest in his namesake, though he did not dream
that he would one day represent the country at the court of St. James.
It is claimed that the uncle's interest in his namesake brought him to
this country, a few years later, where he lived and died. Be that as
it may, he ever manifested a lively interest in a protege, and
evidently regarded him as an uncommonly bright boy, who would some day
score a creditable mark for the family.

Benjamin was more than a comely child; he was handsome. From babyhood
to manhood he was so fine-looking as to attract the attention of
strangers. His eye beamed with so much intelligence as to almost
compel the thought, "There are great talents behind them." Mr. Parton
says: "It is probable that Benjamin Franklin derived from his mother
the fashion of his body and the cast of his countenance. There are
lineal descendants of Peter Folger who strikingly resemble Franklin in
these particulars; one of whom, a banker in New Orleans, looks like a
portrait of Franklin stepped out of its frame."

Josiah Franklin did not enter upon the trade of a dyer when he settled
in Boston, as he expected. The new country was very different from the
old in its fashions and wants. There was no special demand for a dyer.
If people could earn money enough to cover their nakedness, they cared
little about the color of their covering. One color was just as good
as another to keep them warm, or to preserve their decency. There was
no room for Josiah Franklin as a dyer. There was room for him, however,
as a "tallow-chandler," and he lost no time in taking up this new but
greasy business. He must work or starve; and, of the two, he preferred
work, though the occupation might not be neat and congenial.

The word "chandler" is supposed to have been derived from the French
_chandelier_, so that a tallow candle-maker was a sort of chandelier
in society at that early day. He furnished light, which was more
necessary than color to almost every one. The prevailing method of
lighting dwellings and stores was with tallow candles. Candles and
whale oil were the two known articles for light, and the latter was
expensive, so that the former was generally adopted. Hence, Josiah
Franklin's business was honorable because it was necessary; and by it,
with great industry and economy, he was able to keep the wolf of
hunger from his door.

The place where he manufactured candles was at the corner of Hanover
and Union streets. The original sign that he selected to mark his
place of business was a blue ball, half as large as a man's head,
hanging over the door, bearing the name "Josiah Franklin" and the date
"1698." The same ball hangs there still. Time has stolen its blue, but
not the name and date. Into this building, also, he removed his family
from Milk street, soon after the birth of Benjamin.

In his "Autobiography," Franklin says: "My elder brothers were all put
apprentices to different trades." Several of them were apprenticed
when Benjamin was born. John worked with his father, and learned the
"tallow-chandler's" trade well, setting up the business for himself
afterwards in Providence. This was the only method that could be
adopted successfully in so large a family, except where wealth was
considerable.

We must not omit the fact that the father of Benjamin was a good
singer and a good player of the violin. After the labors of the day
were over, and the frugal supper eaten, and the table cleared, and the
room put in order for the evening, he was wont to sing and play for
the entertainment of his family. He was sure of a good audience every
night, if his performance opened before the younger children retired.
There is no doubt that this custom exerted a molding influence upon
the household, although the music might have been like Uncle
Benjamin's poetry, as compared with the music of our day.

For the reader, now familiar with the manners, customs, rush of business,
inventions, wealth, and fashion of our day, it is difficult to understand
the state of society at the time of Franklin's birth. Parton says of it:
"1706, the year of Benjamin Franklin's birth, was the fourth of the
reign of Queen Anne, and the year of Marlborough's victory at Ramillies.
Pope was then a sickly dwarf, four feet high and nineteen years of age,
writing, at his father's cottage in Windsor Forest the 'Pastorals'
which, in 1709, gave him his first celebrity. Voltaire was a boy of ten,
in his native village near Paris. Bolingbroke was a rising young member
of the House of Commons, noted, like Fox at a later day, for his
dissipation and his oratory. Addison, aged thirty-four, had written his
Italian travels, but not the 'Spectator' and was a thriving politician.
Newton, at sixty-four, his great work all done, was master of the mint,
had been knighted the year before, and elected president of the Royal
Society in 1703 Louis XIV was king of France, and the first king of
Prussia was reigning. The father of George Washington was a Virginia boy
of ten; the father of John Adams was just entering Harvard College; and
the father of Thomas Jefferson was not yet born."



III.


PAYING TOO DEAR FOR THE WHISTLE.

When Benjamin was seven years old he had not been to school a day.
Yet he was a good reader and speller. In manhood he said: "I do not
remember when I could not read, so it must have been very early." He
was one of those irrepressible little fellows, whose intuition and
observation are better than school. He learned more out of school than
he could or would have done in it. His precocity put him in advance
of most boys at seven, even without schooling. It was not necessary
for him to have school-teachers to testify that he possessed ten
talents,--his parents knew that, and every one else who was familiar
with him.

The first money he ever had to spend as he wished was on a holiday
when he was seven years old. It was not the Fourth of July, when
torpedoes and firecrackers scare horses and annoy men and women, for
Benjamin's holiday was more than sixty years before the Declaration
of Independence was declared, and that is what we celebrate now on
the Fourth of July. Indeed, his holiday was a hundred years before
torpedoes and fire-crackers were invented. It was a gala-day, however,
in which the whole community was interested, including the youngest boy
in the Franklin family.

"See that you spend your money well," remarked his mother, who
presented him with several coppers; "and keep out of mischief."

"And here is some more," added his father, giving him several coppers
to add to his spending money; "make wise investments, Ben, for your
reputation depends upon it"; and the latter facetious remark was made
in a way that indicated his love for the boy.

"What are you going to buy, Ben?" inquired an older brother, who wanted
to draw out some bright answer from the child; "sugar-plums, of
course," he added.

Benjamin made no reply, though his head was crammed with thoughts about
his first holiday.

"I shall want to know how well you spend your money, Ben," said his
mother; "remember that 'all is not gold that glitters'; you've got all
the money you can have to-day."

All the older members of the family were interested in the boy's
pastime, and while they were indulging in various remarks, he bounded
out of the house, with his head filled with bewitching fancies,
evidently expecting such a day of joy as he never knew before. Perhaps
the toy-shop was first in his mind, into which he had looked wistfully
many times as he passed, and perhaps it was not. We say toy-shop,
though it was not such a toy-shop as Boston has to-day, where thousands
of toys of every description and price are offered for sale. But it was
a store in which, with other articles, toys were kept for sale, very
few in number and variety compared with the toys offered for sale at
the present day. Benjamin had seen these in the window often, and, no
doubt, had wished to possess some of them. But there were no toys in
the Franklin family; there were children instead of toys, so many of
them that money to pay for playthings was out of the question.

Benjamin had not proceeded far on the street when he met a boy blowing
a whistle that he had just purchased. The sound of the whistle, and the
boy's evident delight in blowing it, captivated Benjamin at once. He
stopped to listen and measure the possessor of that musical wonder. He
said nothing, but just listened, not only with his ears, but with his
whole self. He was delighted with the concert that one small boy could
make, and, then and there, he resolved to go into that concert business
himself. So he pushed on, without having said a word to the owner of
the whistle, fully persuaded to invest his money in the same sort of a
musical instrument. Supposing that the whistle was bought at the store
where he had seen toys in the window, he took a bee line for it.

"Any whistles?" he inquired, almost out of breath.

"Plenty of them, my little man," the proprietor answered with a smile,
at the same time proceeding to lay before the small customer quite a
number.

"I will give you all the money I have for one," said Benjamin, without
inquiring the price. He was so zealous to possess a whistle that the
price was of no account, provided he had enough money to pay for it.

"Ah! all you have?" responded the merchant; "perhaps you have not as
much as I ask for them. They are very nice whistles."

"Yes, I know they are, and I will give you all the money I have for one
of them," was Benjamin's frank response. The fact was, he began to
think that he had not sufficient money to purchase one, so valuable did
a whistle appear to him at that juncture.

"How much money have you?" inquired the merchant.

Benjamin told him honestly how many coppers he had, which was more than
the actual price of the whistles. The merchant replied:

"Yes, you may have a whistle for that. Take your pick."

Never was a child more delighted than he when the bargain was closed.
He tried every whistle, that he might select the loudest one of all,
and when his choice was settled, he exchanged his entire wealth for the
prize. He was as well satisfied as the merchant when he left the store.
"Ignorance is bliss," it is said, and it was to Benjamin for a brief
space.

He began his concert as soon as he left the store. He wanted nothing
more. He had seen all he wanted to see. He had bought all he wanted to
buy. The whole holiday was crowded into that whistle. To him, that was
all there was of it. Sweetmeats and knick-knacks had no attractions for
him. Military parade had no charm for him, for he could parade himself
now. A band of music had lost its charm, now that he had turned himself
into a band.

At once he started for home, instead of looking after other sights and
scenes. He had been absent scarcely half an hour when he reappeared,
blowing his whistle lustily as he entered the house, as if he expected
to astonish the whole race of Franklins by the shrillness, if not by
the sweetness, of his music.

"Back so quick!" exclaimed his mother.

"Yes! seen all I want to see." That was a truth well spoken, for the
whistle just commanded his whole being, and there was room for nothing
more. A whistle was all the holiday he wanted.

"What have you there, Ben?" continued his mother; "Something to make us
crazy?"

"A whistle, mother," stopping its noise just long enough for a decent
reply, and then continuing the concert as before.

"How much did you give for the whistle?" asked his older brother, John.

"All the money I had." Benjamin was too much elated with his bargain to
conceal any thing.

"What!" exclaimed John with surprise, "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. It is four times as
much as the whistle is worth."

"Did you ask the price of it?" inquired his mother.

"No, I told the man I would give him all the money I had for one, and
he took it."

"Of course he did," interjected John, "and if you had had four times as
much he would have taken it for the whistle. You are a poor trader,
Ben."

"You should have asked the price of it in the first place," remarked
his mother to him, "and then, if there was not enough, you could have
offered all the money you had for the whistle. That would have been
proper."

"If you had paid a reasonable price for it," continued John, "you might
had enough money left to have bought a pocket full of good things."

"Yes, peppermints, candy, cakes, nuts, and perhaps more," added a
cousin who was present, desiring most of all to hear what the bright
boy would say for himself.

"I must say that you are a smart fellow, Ben, to be taken in like
that," continued John, who really wanted to make his seven-year-old
brother feel bad, and he spoke in a tone of derision. "All your money
for that worthless thing, that is enough to make us crazy! You ought to
have known better. If you had five dollars I suppose that you would
have given it just as quick for the whistle."

Of course he would. The whistle was worth that to him, and he bought it
for himself, not for any one else.

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. Evidently he saw his mistake, and he burst into tears, and made
more noise by crying than he did with his whistle. Their ridicule, and
the thought of having paid more than he should for the whistle,
overcame him, and he found relief in tears. His father came to his
rescue.

"Never mind, Ben, you will understand how to trade the next time. We
have to live and learn; I have paid too much for a whistle more than
once in my life. You did as well as other boys do the first time."

"I think so too, Ben," joined in his mother, to comfort him. "John is
only teasing you, and trying to get some sport out of his holiday.
Better wipe up, and go out in the street to see the sights."

Benjamin learned a good lesson from this episode of his early life. He
only did what many grown-up boys have done, over and over again; pay
too much for a whistle. Men of forty, fifty, and sixty years of age do
this same thing, and suffer the consequences. It is one of the common
mistakes of life, and becomes a benefit when the lesson it teaches is
improved as Franklin improved it.

In the year 1779, November 10th, Franklin wrote from Passy, France, to
a friend, as follows:

"I am charmed with your description of Paradise, and with your plan of
living there; and I approve much of your conclusion, that, in the mean
time, we should draw all the good we can from this world. In my
opinion, we might all draw more good from it than we do, and suffer
less evil, if we would take care not to give too much for _whistles_.
For to me it seems that most of the unhappy people we meet with are
become so by neglect of that caution. You ask what I mean? You love
stories, and will excuse my telling one of myself.

"When I was a child of seven years old my friends, on a holiday,
filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they
sold toys for children; and, being charmed with the sound of a
_whistle_, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I
voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home,
and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my _whistle_,
but disturbing all the family. My brothers, sisters, and cousins,
understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times
as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I
might have bought with the rest of the money, and laughed at me so
much for my folly that I cried with vexation, and the reflection gave
me more chagrin than the _whistle_ gave me pleasure.

"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
whistle_.

"When I saw one too ambitious of court favor, sacrificing his time in
attendance on levees, 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 knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all
the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his
fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake
of accumulating wealth, _Poor man_, said I, _you pay too much for your
whistle_.

"When I met with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable
improvement of the mind, or his fortune, to mere corporeal sensations,
and ruining his health in their pursuit, _Mistaken man_, said I, _you
are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure; you give too
much for your 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 whistles_.

"Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people, when I consider
that, with all this wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain
things in the world so tempting,--for example, the apples of King
John, which happily are not to be bought; for, if they were put to
sale by auction, I might very easily be led to ruin myself in the
purchase, and find that I had once more given too much for the
_whistle_."

Thus Benjamin made good use of one of the foolish acts of his boyhood,
which tells well both for 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.

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

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

So, in general, the young person who is fascinated by mere pleasure,
and supposes that wealth and honor are real apples of gold to the
possessor, thinking less of a good character than he does of show and
glitter, will find that he has been blowing a costly whistle when it is
too late to recall his mistake.



IV.


IN SCHOOL.

Uncle Benjamin was so deeply interested in his namesake that he wrote
many letters about him. Nearly every ship that sailed for Boston
brought a letter from him to the Franklin family, and almost every
letter contained a piece of poetry from his pen. One of his letters
about that time contained the following acrostic on Benjamin's name:

   "Be to thy parents an obedient son;
   Each day let duty constantly be done;
   Never give way to sloth, or lust, or pride,
   If free you'd be from thousand ills beside.
   Above all ills be sure avoid the shelf,
   Man's danger lies in Satan, sin and self.
   In virtue, learning, wisdom, progress make;
   Ne'er shrink at suffering for thy Savior's sake.

   "Fraud and all falsehood in thy dealings flee;
   Religious always in thy station be;
   Adore the maker of thy inward part;
   Now's the accepted time; give him thine heart;
   Keep a good conscience, 'tis a constant friend,
   Like judge and witness this thy acts attend,
   In heart, with bended knee, alone, adore
   None but the Three in One for evermore."

The sentiment is better than the poetry, and it shows that the hero of
our tale had a treasure in the uncle for whom he was named. Doubtless
"Uncle Benjamin's" interest was largely increased by the loss of his
own children. He had quite a number of sons and daughters, and one
after another of them sickened and died, until only one son remained,
and he removed to Boston. It was for these reasons, probably, that
"Uncle Benjamin" came to this country in 1715.

Among his letters was one to his brother Josiah, our Benjamin's father,
when the son was seven years old, from which we extract the following:

"A father with so large a family as yours ought to give one son, at
least, to the service of the Church. That is your tithe. From what you
write about Benjamin I should say that he is the son you ought to
consecrate specially to the work of the ministry. He must possess
talents of a high order, and his love of learning must develop them
rapidly. If he has made himself a good reader and speller, as you say,
without teachers, there is no telling what he will do with them. By
all means, if possible, I should devote him to the Church. It will be
a heavy tax upon you, of course, with so large a family on your hands,
but your reward will come when you are old and gray-headed. Would that
I were in circumstances to assist you in educating him."

"He does not know how much thought and planning we have given to this
subject," remarked Mr. Franklin to his wife, when he read this part of
the letter. "I would do any thing possible to educate Benjamin for the
Church, and I think he would make the most of any opportunities we can
give him."

"There is no doubt of that," responded Mrs. Franklin. "Few parents
ever had more encouragement to educate a son for the ministry than we
have to educate him."

"Doctor Willard said as much as that to me," added Mr. Franklin, "and
I think it is true. I do not despair of giving Benjamin an education
yet, though I scarcely see how it ever can be done."

"That is the way I feel about it," responded Mrs. Franklin. "Perhaps
God will provide a way; somehow I trust in Providence, and wait,
hoping for the best."

"It is well to trust in Providence, if it is not done blindly,"
remarked Mr. Franklin. "Providence sometimes does wonders for people
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 drops that is enough," replied Mrs. Franklin. "I shall be
satisfied. If God does any thing for him he will do it in his own time
and way, and I shall be content with that. To see him in the service
of the Church is the most I want."

"Uncle Benjamin's" letter did not introduce a new subject of
conversation into the Franklin family; it was already an old theme
that had been much canvassed. Outside of the family there was an
interest in Benjamin's education. He was the kind of a boy to put
through Harvard College. This was the opinion of neighbors who knew
him. Nothing but poverty hindered the adoption and execution of that
plan.

"Uncle Benjamin's" letter did this, however: it hastened a favorable
decision, though Benjamin was eight years old when his parents decided
that he might enter upon a course of education.

They had said very little to their son about it, because they would
not awaken his expectations to disappoint them. And finally the
decision was reached with several ifs added.

"I do not know how I shall come out," added Mr. Franklin, "he may begin
to study. It won't hurt him to begin, if I should not be able to put
him through a course."

The decision to send him to school was arrived at in this doubtful
way, and it was not laid more strongly than this before Benjamin for
fear of awakening too high hopes in his heart.

"I have decided to send you to school," said his father to him, "but
whether I shall be able to send you as long as I would like is not
certain yet. I would like to educate you for the ministry if I could;
how would you like that?"

"I should like to go to school; I should like nothing better,"
answered Benjamin. "About the rest of it I do not know whether I
should like it or not."

"Well, it may not be best to discuss that," continued his father, "as
I may not be able to carry out my plan to the end. It will cost a good
deal to keep you in school and educate you, perhaps more than I can
possibly raise with so large a family to support. I have to be very
industrious now to pay all my bills. 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."

"I will work all I can out of school, if I can only go," was
Benjamin's cheerful pledge in the outset. "When shall I begin?"

"Begin the next term. It is a long process to become educated for the
ministry, and the sooner you begin the better. But you must understand
that it is not certain I can continue you in school for a long time.
Make the most of the advantages you have, and we will trust in
Providence for the future."

Josiah Franklin's caution was proverbial. He was never rash or
thoughtless. He weighed all questions carefully. He was very
conscientious, and would not assume an obligation that he could not
see his way clear to meet. He used the same careful judgment and
circumspection about the education of his son that he employed in all
business matters. For this reason he was regarded as a man of sound
judgment and practical wisdom, and his influence was strong and wide.
When his son reached the height of his fame, he wrote as follows of
his father:

"I suppose you may like to know what kind of a man my father was. He
had an excellent constitution, was of a middle stature, well set, and
very strong. He could draw prettily and was skilled a little in music.
His voice was sonorous and agreeable, so that when he played on his
violin, and sung withal, as he was accustomed to do after the business
of the day was over, it was extremely agreeable to hear. He had some
knowledge of mechanics, and on occasion was handy with other tradesmen's
tools. But his great excellence was his sound understanding, and his
solid judgment in prudential matters, both in private and public affairs.
It is true he was never employed in the latter, the numerous family he
had to educate, and the straitness of his circumstances, keeping him
close to his trade; but I remember well his being frequently visited
by leading men, who consulted him for his opinion in public affairs,
and those of the church he belonged to; and who showed a great respect
for his judgment and advice. He was also consulted much by private
persons about their affairs, when any difficulty occurred, and
frequently chosen an arbitrator between contending parties."

Of his mother he wrote, at the same time:

"My mother had likewise an excellent constitution; she suckled all her
ten children. I never knew either my father or mother to have any
sickness, but that of which they died--he at eighty-nine, and she at
eighty-five years of age. They lie buried together at Boston, where I
some years since placed a marble over their grave, with this
inscription:

   JOSIAH FRANKLIN
   AND
   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
   LABOR AND HONEST INDUSTRY (WITH GOD'S BLESSING), MAINTAINED A
   LARGE FAMILY COMFORTABLY; AND BROUGHT UP THIRTEEN CHILDREN AND
   SEVEN GRANDCHILDREN REPUTABLY.

   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 1655, DIED 1744, AET. 89.
   A.F., BORN 1667, DIED 1752, AET. 85."

We may say here that the stone which Doctor Franklin erected, as above,
became so dilapidated that in 1827, the citizens of Boston replaced it
by a granite obelisk. The bodies repose in the old Granary cemetery,
beside Park-street church.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was arranged that Benjamin should begin his school-days, 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 such zeal and enthusiasm as few scholars exhibit.

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 played together.
Probably it was the only free grammar school that Boston afforded at
that time; for the town could not have numbered a population of over
eight thousand.

From his first day's attendance at school Benjamin gave promise of
high scholarship. He went to work with a will, improving every moment,
surmounting every difficulty, and enjoying every opportunity with a
keen relish. Mr. Williams was both gratified and surprised. That a lad
so young should take hold of school lessons with so much intelligence
and tact, and master them so easily, was a surprise to him, and he so
expressed himself to Mr. Franklin.

"Your son is a remarkable scholar for one so young. I am more than
gratified with his industry and progress. His love of knowledge is
almost passionate."

"Yes, he was always so," responded Mr. Franklin. "He surprised us
by reading well before we ever dreamed of such a thing. He taught
himself, and a book has always been of more value to him than any
thing else."

"You will give him an education, I suppose?" said Mr. Williams,
inquiringly. "Such a boy ought to have the chance."

"My desire to do it is strong, much stronger than my ability to pay
the bills. It is not certain that I shall be able to continue him long
at school, though I shall do it if possible."

"Such love of knowledge as he possesses ought to be gratified,"
continued Mr. Williams. "He excels by far any scholar of his age in
school. He will lead the whole school within a short time. His
enthusiasm is really remarkable."

Within a few months, as the teacher predicts, Benjamin led the school.
He was at the head of his class in every study except arithmetic. Nor
did he remain at the head of his class long, for he was rapidly
promoted to higher classes. He so far outstripped his companions that
the teacher was obliged to advance him thus, that his mental progress
might not be retarded. Of course, teachers and others were constantly
forecasting his future and prophesying that he would fill a high
position in manhood. 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. These
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
Franklin, and so it was with Daniel Webster. Webster's 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 complete clock. His younger brother declared
that he was accustomed to stop, when he was plowing in the field, and
solve problems on the fence, and sometimes cover the plow handles with
figures. The highest expectations of his friends were more than
realized in his manhood. The peculiar genius which he exhibited in his
boyhood gave him his world-wide fame at last.

Also George Stephenson, the great engineer, the son of a very poor
man, who fired the engine at Wylam colliery, began his life-labor when
a mere boy. Besides watching the cows, and barring the gates after the
coal-wagons had passed, at four cents 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 circumstances so humble
that ordinarily he would have been entirely unnoticed, his intense
interest in, and taste for, mechanical work, attracted the attention
of people and led them to predict his future success and fame.

In like manner, the first months of Benjamin Franklin's school days
foreshadowed the remarkable career of his manhood. Relatives and
friends believed that he would one day fill a high place in the land;
and in that, their anticipations were fully realized.



V.


OUT OF SCHOOL.

Mr. Franklin's finances did not improve. It was clearer every day to
him that he would not be able to keep Benjamin in school. Besides, in
a few months, John, who had learned the tallow-chandler's business of
his father, was going to be married, and establish himself in that
trade in Providence. Some body must take his place. It was quite
impossible for his father to prosecute his business alone.

"I see no other way," remarked Mr. Franklin to his wife; "I shall be
obliged to take Benjamin out of school to help me. My expenses
increase from month to month, and must continue to increase for some
years, so far as I can see. They will increase heavily if I am obliged
to hire a man in John's place."

"I am not surprised at all that you have come to that conclusion,"
replied Mrs. Franklin. "I expected it, as I have intimated to you.
Parents must be better off than we are to be able to send a son to
college."

"If they have as many children to support as we have, you might add. I
could easily accomplish it with no larger family than most of my
neighbors have. Yet I find no fault with the number. I accept all the
Lord sends."

"I am sorry for Benjamin," continued Mrs. Franklin. "He will be
dreadfully disappointed. I am afraid that he will think little of work
because he thinks so much of his school. What a pity that boys who
want an education, as he does, could not have it, and boys who do not
want it should do the work."

"That is the way we should fix it, no doubt, if the ordering were left
to us," said Mr. Franklin; "but I never did have my own way, and I
never expect to have it, and it is fortunate, I suppose, that I never
did have it. If I could have it now, I should send Benjamin to
college."

"It has been my prayer that he might give his life and his services to
the Church," added Mrs. Franklin; "but Providence appears to indicate
now that he should make candles for a livelihood, and it is not in me
to rebel against the ordering. If frustrated in this plan, I mean to
believe that Providence has some thing better in store for him and
us."

"I was never so reluctant to adopt a conclusion as I have been to take
Benjamin out of school," continued Mr. Franklin. "Yet, there has been
one thought that reconciled me in part to the necessity, and that is,
that there is less encouragement to a young man in the Church now than
formerly. It is more difficult to suit the people, and, consequently,
there are more trials and hardships for ministers; and many of them
appear to be peculiar."

"If ministers have a harder time than you do I pity them," rejoined
Mrs. Franklin. "I suppose as that is concerned, we are all in the same
boat. If we meet them with Christian fortitude, as we should, so much
the better for us."

"True, very true, and my uppermost desire is to put Benjamin where
duty points. But it is clear to me now that Providence has blocked his
way to the ministry."

"You will not take him out of school until John leaves, will you?"
inquired Mrs. Franklin.

"I shall have him leave the public school at the close of this term,
and that will give him a full year's schooling. And then I shall put
him into Mr. Brownwell's school for a while to improve him in
penmanship and arithmetic. By that time I must have him in the
factory."

Mr. Brownwell had a private school, in which he taught penmanship and
arithmetic. It was quite a famous school, made so by his success as a
teacher in these departments.

Benjamin had received no intimation, at this time, that he would be
taken out of school. His father shrunk from disclosing his final plan
to him because he knew it would be so disappointing. But as the close
of the school year drew near, he was obliged to open the subject to
him. It was an unpleasant revelation to Benjamin, although it was not
altogether unexpected. For, in the outset, his father had said that
such might be the necessity.

"You are a poor penman and deficient in your knowledge of numbers,"
said his father; "and improvement in these branches will be of great
service to you in my business. You will attend Mr. Brownwell's school
for a while in order to perfect yourself in these studies."

"I shall like that," answered Benjamin; "but why can I not attend
school until I am old enough to help you?"

"You are old enough to help me. There are many things you can do as
well as a man."

"I should like to know what?" said Benjamin, rather surprised that he
could be of any service in the candle business at nine years of age.
"John had to learn the trade before he could help you much."

"You can cut the wicks, fill the moulds for cast-candles, keep the
shop in order, run hither and thither with 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 that is inducement enough for any boy, but a lazy one, to
work," remarked his mother, who had listened to the conversation.
"Your father would have to pay high wages to a man to do what you can
do as well, if I understand it."

"In doing errands you will aid as much, even perhaps more, than in
doing any thing else," added Mr. Franklin. "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 perform that part of the
business better than I can myself."

This was a new view of the case to Benjamin, and he was more favorably
impressed with candle-making by these remarks. He desired to be of
good service to his father, and here was an opportunity--a
consideration that partially reconciled him to the inevitable change.

At that time--about one hundred and seventy-five years ago--boys were
put to hard 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 our day. They offered very slim advantages to the young. It was not
unusual, therefore, for lads as young as Benjamin to be made to work.

Benjamin was somewhat deficient in arithmetic, as his father said, and
he had given little attention to penmanship. He did not take to the
science of numbers as he did to other studies. He allowed his dislike
to interpose and hinder his progress.

"I do not like arithmetic very well," he said to his father.

"Perhaps not; but boys must study some things they do not like," his
father replied. "It is the only way of preparing them for usefulness.
You will not accomplish much in any business without a good knowledge
of arithmetic. It is of use almost everywhere."

"I know that," said Benjamin, "and I shall master it if I can, whether
I like it or not. 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 any boy to accept cheerfully the plans of his father,
who has had more experience."

Benjamin was usually 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
quite rigid in his requirements, a Puritan of the olden stamp, who
ruled his own house. Among other things, he required his children to
observe the Sabbath by abstaining from labor and amusements, reading
the Scriptures, and attending public worship. A walk in the streets, a
call upon a youthful friend, or the reading of books not strictly
religious, on Sunday, were acts not tolerated in his family. A child
might wish to stay away from the house of God on the Sabbath, but it
was not permitted. "Going to meeting" was a rule in the family as
irrevocable as the laws of the Medes and Persians.

It was fortunate for Benjamin that he belonged to such a family; for
he possessed an imperious will, that needed to be brought into
constant subjection. Though of a pleasant and happy disposition, the
sequel will show that, but for his strict obedience, his great talents
would have been lost to the world. Nor did he grow restless and
impatient under these rigid parental rules, nor cherish less affection
for his parents in consequence. He accepted them as a matter of
course. We have no reason to believe that he sought to evade them; and
there can be no doubt that the influence of such discipline was good
in forming his character. He certainly honored his father and mother
as long as he lived. In ripe manhood, when his parents were old and
infirm, and he lived in Philadelphia, he was wont to perform frequent
journeys from that city to Boston, to visit them. It was on one of
these journeys that the following incident is related of him:

Landlords, and other people, were very inquisitive at that time. They
often pressed their inquiries beyond the bounds of propriety. At a
certain hotel the landlord had done this to Franklin, and he resolved,
on his next visit, to administer a sharp rebuke to the innkeeper. So,
on his next visit, Franklin requested the landlord to call the members
of his family together, as he had something important to communicate.
The landlord hastened to fulfill his request, and very soon the family
were together in one room, when Franklin addressed them as follows:

"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 Bible and say my prayers;
I have ever since thought it 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 any thing 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."

A more cutting rebuke was never administered. The landlord took in the
full significance of the act, and learned a good lesson therefrom. It
is doubtful if his inquisitiveness ever ran away with him again. But
the narrative is given here to show that the strict rules of his
father's house did not diminish filial affection, but rather
solidified and perpetuated it.

It is good for boys, who are likely to want their own way, to be
brought under exact rules. Franklin would have gone to ruin if he had
had his way. The evil tendencies of boyhood need constant restraint.
Obedience at home leads to obedience in the school and State.

Sir Robert Peel ascribed his success in life to such a home; and he
related the following interesting incident to illustrate the sort of
obedience that was required and practised in it: A neighbor's son
called one day to solicit his company and that of his brothers upon an
excursion. He was a young man of fine address, intelligent, smart, and
promising, though fond of fun and frolic. He was a fashionable young
man, too; we should call him a _dude_ now. He wore "dark brown hair,
tied behind with blue ribbon; had clear, mirthful eyes; wore boots
that reached above his knees, and a broad-skirted scarlet coat, with
gold lace on the cuffs, the collar, and the skirts; with 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, Henry,
and Robert might go with him, their father replied:

"No, they can not go out. I have work for them to do, and they must
never let pleasure usurp the place of labor."

The boys wanted to go badly, but there was no use in teasing for the
privilege; it would only make a bad matter worse. "Our father's yea
was yea, and his nay, nay; and that was the end of it."

The three brothers of the Peel family became renowned in their
country's brilliant progress. But Harry Garland, the idle, foppish
youth, who had his own way, and lived for pleasure, became a ruined
spendthrift. The fact verifies the divine promise, "Honor thy father
and mother (which is the first commandment with promise), that it may
be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." True
filial love appears to conciliate the whole world by its consistent
and beautiful expression. Such an act as that of the great engineer,
George Stephenson, who took the first one hundred and sixty dollars he
earned, saved from a year's wages, and paid 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 labor of his
hands, awakens our admiration, and leads us to expect that the author
will achieve success.

When the statue of Franklin was unveiled in Boston, in 1856, a
barouche appeared in the procession which carried eight brothers, all
of whom received Franklin medals at the Mayhew school in their
boyhood, sons of Mr. John Hall. All of them were known to fame by
their worth of character and wide influence. As the barouche in which
they rode came into State street, from Merchants' row, these brothers
rose up in the carriage, and stood with uncovered heads while passing
a window at which their aged and revered mother was sitting--an act of
filial regard so impressive and beautiful as to fill the hearts of all
beholders with profound respect for the obedient and loving sons. They
never performed a more noble deed, in the public estimation, than this
one of reverence for a worthy parent.

We have made this digression to show that Franklin's home, with its
rigid discipline, was the representative home of his country, in which
the great and good of every generation laid the foundation of their
useful careers.

       *       *       *       *       *

Benjamin was taken out of school, as his father decided, and was put
under Mr. Brownwell's tuition in arithmetic and penmanship. As he had
endeared himself to Mr. Williams, teacher of the public school, so he
endeared himself to Mr. Brownwell by his obedience, studious habits,
and rapid progress. He did not become an expert in arithmetic, though,
by dint of persistent effort, he made creditable progress in the
study. In penmanship he excelled, and acquired an easy, attractive
style that was of great service to him through life.



VI.


FROM SCHOOL TO CANDLE-SHOP.

While Benjamin was attending Mr. Brownwell's school, his "Uncle
Benjamin," for whom he was named, came over from England. His wife and
children were dead, except his son Samuel, who had immigrated to this
country. He had been unfortunate in business also, and lost what
little property he possessed. With all the rest, the infirmities of
age were creeping over him, so that nearly all the ties that bound him
to his native land were sundered; and so he decided to spend the
remnant of his days in Boston, where Samuel lived.

Samuel Franklin was an unmarried young man, intelligent and
enterprising, willing and anxious to support his father in this
country. But having no family and home to which to introduce his aged
parent, "Uncle Benjamin" became a member of his brother Josiah's
family, and continued a member of it about four years, or until Samuel
was married, when he went to live with him.

"Uncle Benjamin" was very much pained to find that his namesake had
relinquished the purpose of becoming a minister. His heart was set on
his giving his life-service to the Church.

"Any body can make candles," he said, "but talents are required for
the ministry, and, from all I learn, Benjamin has the talents."

"Partly right and partly wrong," rejoined Josiah, who seemed to think
that his brother's remark was not altogether complimentary. "Talents
are required for the ministry, as you say, but judgment, tact, and
industry are required to manufacture candles successfully. A fool
would not make much headway in the business."

"I meant no reflection upon Boston's tallow-chandler," and a smile
played over his face as "Uncle Benjamin" said it; "but I really think
that Benjamin is too talented for the business. Five talents can make
candles well enough; let ten talents serve the Church."

"Well, that is sound doctrine; I shall not object to that," replied
Josiah; "but if poverty makes it impossible for ten talents to serve
the Church, it is better that they make candles than to do nothing.
Candle-making is indispensable; it is a necessary business, and
therefore it is honorable and useful."

"The business is well enough; a man can be a man and make candles.
This way of lighting dwellings is really a great invention; and it
will be a long time, I think, when any thing better will supersede it.
This new country is fortunate in having such a light, so cheap and
convenient, so that the business is to be respected and valued. But
Benjamin is greater than the business."

The last remark set forth "Uncle Benjamin's" views exactly. He really
supposed that no improvement could be made in the method of lighting
houses and shops by candles. That was the opinion of all the
Franklins. To them a tallow-candle was the climax of advancement on
that line. If a prophet had arisen, and foretold the coming of gas and
electricity for the lighting of both houses and streets, in the next
century, he would have been regarded as insane--too crazy even to make
candles. Progress was not a prevailing idea of that day. It did not
enter into any questions of the times as a factor. If succeeding
generations should maintain the standard of theirs, enjoying as many
privileges, it would be all that could be reasonably expected. Candles
would be needed until the "new heaven and new earth" of Revelation
appeared. Possibly they would have believed that their method of
lighting would be popular in "that great city, the Holy Jerusalem,"
had it not been declared in the Bible that they will "need no candle,"
because "there shall be no night there."

"Uncle Benjamin" added, what really comforted Josiah: "Of course, if
you are not able to send Benjamin to college, he can't go, and that
ends it. If I were able to pay the bills, I should be only too glad to
do it. Benjamin is a remarkable boy, and his talents will manifest
themselves whatever his pursuit may be. He will not always make
candles for a living; you may depend on that."

"Perhaps not," responded Josiah; "if Providence introduces him into a
better calling, I shall not object; but I want he should be satisfied
with this until the better one comes."

As the time drew near for Benjamin to exchange school for the
candle-factory, his disappointment increased. To exchange school,
which he liked so well, for a dirty business that he did not like at
all, was almost too much for his flesh and blood. His feelings
revolted against the uncongenial trade.

"You do not know how I dread to go into the candle-factory to make it
my business for life," he said to his mother. "I feel worse and worse
about it."

"We are all sorry that you are obliged to do it," replied Mrs.
Franklin. "I am sure that your father would have made any sacrifice
possible to send you to college, but it was simply impossible. You
will have to make the best of it. God may open the way to employment
that will be more congenial to you some time. For the present he means
that you should help your father, I have no doubt of that; and you
must do the best for him that you can."

"That is what I intend to do, however much I dislike the business. I
want to help father all I can; he has a hard time enough to provide
for us."

Benjamin expressed himself as frankly to his father, adding, "I really
wish you would engage in some other business."

"And starve, too?" rejoined 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."

"Well, I should rather make soap and candles than starve, on the
whole," Benjamin remarked in reply; "but nothing short of starvation
could make me willing to follow the business."

"One other thing ought to make you willing to do such work," added his
father; "a determination to be industrious. Idleness is the parent of
vice. Boys like you should be industrious even if they do not earn
their salt. It is better for them to work for nothing than to be
idle."

"I think they better save their strength till they can earn
something," said Benjamin. "People must like to work better than I do,
to work for nothing."

"You do not understand me; I mean to say that it is so important for
the young to form industrious habits, that they 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';
and I hope that you will never consent to verify the proverb."

Mr. Franklin had been a close observer all his life, and he had
noticed that industry was characteristic of those who accomplished any
thing commendable Consequently he insisted that his children should
have employment. He allowed no drones in his family hive. All must be
busy as bees. All had some thing 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. There is no doubt that his early discipline on this
line gave to the world his best sayings on this and other subjects.
The following are some of his counsels referred to:

"Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor 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
riseth 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 enter."

"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 those that help themselves."

He wrote to a young tradesman as follows:

"Remember that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by
his labor, 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.

"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 lump."

Benjamin became a better teacher than his father; and, no doubt, was
indebted to his father for the progress. Had he gone to college
instead of the candle-shop, the world might not have received his
legacy of proverbial wisdom. For these were the outcome of secular
discipline, when he was brought into direct contact with the realities
of business and hardship. Colleges do not teach proverbs; they do not
make practical men, but learned men. Practical men are made by
observation and experience in the daily work of life. In that way
Franklin was made the remarkable practical man that he was.

Had "Uncle Benjamin" lived to read such words of wisdom from the pen
of his namesake, when his reputation had spread over two hemispheres,
he would have said, "I told you so. Did I not say that Benjamin would
not always make candles? Did I not prophesy that he would make his
mark in manhood?"

Benjamin became a tallow-chandler when he was ten years old; and he
meant to make a good one, though the business was repulsive to his
feelings. At first his industry and tact were all that his father
could desire. He devoted the hours of each workday closely to the
trade, though his love for it did not increase at all. If any thing,
he disliked it more and more as the weeks and months dragged on.
Perhaps he became neglectful and somewhat inefficient, for he said, in
his manhood, that his father often repeated to him this passage from
the Bible:

"Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before
kings; he shall not stand before mean men."

When Benjamin became the famous Dr. Franklin, and was in the habit of
standing before kings, he often recalled this maxim of Solomon, which
his father dinged rebukingly in his ear. It was one of the pleasantest
recollections of his life.

Mr. Franklin watched his boy in the candle-trade closely, to see
whether his dislike for it increased or diminished. His anxiety for
him was great. He did not wish to compel him to make candles against
an increasing desire to escape from the hardship. He had great
sympathy for him, too, in his disappointment at leaving school. And it
was a hard lot for such a lover of school and study to give them up
forever at ten years of age. No more school after that! Small
opportunity, indeed, 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, eight, or ten years
in school and college.

Mr. Franklin saw from month to month that his son more and more
disliked his business, though little was said by either of them.
"Actions speak louder than words," as Mr. Franklin saw to his regret;
for it was as clear as noonday that Benjamin would never be contented
in the candle-factory. He did his best, however, to make the boy's
situation attractive; allowed him frequent opportunities for play, and
praised his habit of reading in the evening and at all other times
possible. Still, a tallow-candle did not attract him. It shed light,
but it was not the sort of light that Benjamin wanted to radiate. One
day, nearly two years after he engaged in the candle-business, he said
to his father:

"I wish I could do something else; I can never like this work."

"What else would you like to do?" inquired his father.

"I would like to go to sea," was the prompt and straight reply; and it
startled Mr. Franklin. It was just what he feared all along. He was
afraid that compulsion to make him a tallow-chandler might cause him
to run away and go to sea, as his eldest son, Josiah, did.
Emphatically his father said:

"Go to sea, Benjamin! Never, never, with my consent. Never say another
word about it, and never think about it, for that is out of the
question. I shall never give my consent, and I know your mother never
will. It was too much for me when your brother broke away from us and
went to sea. I can not pass through another such trial. So you must
not persist in your wish, if you would not send me down to the grave."

Josiah, the eldest son, named for his father, became dissatisfied with
his home when Benjamin was an infant, ran away, and shipped as a
sailor. The parents knew not where he had gone. Month after month they
waited, in deep sorrow, for tidings from their wayward boy, but no
tidings came. Years rolled on, and still the wanderer was away
somewhere--they knew not where. Morning, noon, and night the memory of
him lay heavy upon their hearts, turning their cup of earthly joy to
bitterness, and furrowing their faces with anxiety and grief. He might
be dead. He might be alive and in want in a strange land. The
uncertainty and suspense hanging over his fate magnified their sorrow.
The outlook was unpleasant; there was no comfort in it. They appealed
to God. Before Him they pleaded for their prodigal son--for his
safety, his return, his salvation.

Not long after Benjamin had expressed his longing for the sea, when
almost the last hope of seeing the lost son again had vanished, Josiah
returned and startled his parents by his sudden and unexpected
presence. They could scarcely believe their eyes. Twelve years, and
hard service before the mast, had wrought a great change in his
appearance. He was a youth when he ran away,--he was a man now,
toughened by exposure, dark as an Indian, stalwart and rough; but
still the eldest son and brother, Josiah Franklin, Jr. They were glad
to see him. They rejoiced more over this one returning prodigal than
they did over the sixteen that went not astray. "The father said:
Bring forth the best robe and put it on him; and put a ring on his
finger, and shoes on his feet. And bring hither the fatted calf, and
kill it; and let us eat and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is
alive again; he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry."

It was the first time in twelve years that family had been "merry."
Past sorrows were forgotten in the joy of their meeting. On that day a
new life began around that hearthstone. Father and mother began to
live again. As if they had never shed a tear or felt a pang, they
looked into the future with cheerful hope and expectation.

To return to Benjamin. His father's quick and sharp reply left no room
for doubt. If he went to sea it must be against his father's will. He
turned to his mother, but was repulsed with equal decision.

"You surprise me, Benjamin. Want to go to sea! You must not harbor
such a thought. Is it not enough that we have lost one son in that
way? You might have known that I should never give my consent. I
should almost as lief bury you. 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 better than to be a cabin-boy."

"You surprise and pain me, Benjamin. I never dreamed of such a thing.
If you do not like work in the candle-factory, then choose some other
occupation, but never think of going to sea."

"I would choose any other occupation under the sun than
candle-making," replied Benjamin. "I have tried to like it for two
years, but dislike it more and more. If I could have my own way, I
would not go to the factory another day."

Perhaps the opposition of his parents would have prevented his going
to sea, but the return of Josiah, with no words of praise for the
calling, might have exerted a decided influence in leading him to
abandon the idea altogether.

"Uncle Benjamin," of course, could not tolerate the idea of his nephew
becoming a sailor. With his poor opinion of the candle-trade, he would
have him pursue the business all his life rather than become a sailor.

"Do any thing rather than follow the seas," he said. "If you want to
throw yourself away, body and soul, go before the mast. But if you
want to be somebody, and do something that will make you respectable
and honored among men, never ship for a voyage, long or short. A boy
of one talent can be a cabin-boy, but a boy of ten talents ought to be
above that business, and find his place on a higher plane of life."



VII.


CHOOSING A TRADE AND STEALING SPORT.

Mr. and Mrs. Franklin canvassed the subject thoroughly, and wisely
decided that Benjamin might engage in some other pursuit.

"To be successful a man must love his calling," remarked Mr. Franklin,
"and Benjamin hates his. He appears to go to each day's work with a
dread, and as long as he feels so he will not accomplish any thing."

"You have come to a wise decision, I think," responded "Uncle
Benjamin." "Ordinarily a boy should choose his own occupation. He may
be instructed and assisted by his parents, but if he makes his own
selection he is likely to choose what he has tact and taste for.
Certainly, I would not compel a son to follow a business that he hates
as Benjamin does candle-making."

"That is true on the whole, but circumstances alter cases," remarked
Mr. Franklin. "I believe I shall take him around to examine different
trades in town, and he can see for himself and choose what he likes
best."

"He has seemed to be interested in my son's business," added "Uncle
Benjamin."

His son Samuel was a cutler, and he had established the cutlery
business in Boston, in which he was quite successful.

"Well, he can look into that; I have no objections to it; it is a good
business. I will let him examine others, however, and take his choice.
I want he should settle the matter of occupation now for life. I do not
want to go through another experience with him, such as I have been
through two years in the candle-factory."

Mr. Franklin had evidently acquired new views about boys, judging from
his last remarks. He saw but one way out of the difficulty. Choice of
an occupation was a more important matter than he had dreamed of.
However, he had acted in accordance with the custom of that day, to
choose occupations for sons without the least regard to fitness or
their preferences. Boys must not have their own way in that matter any
more than they should in other things, was the opinion of that age.
But progress has been made on this line. It is thought now that the
more nearly the aptitudes of the person fit the occupation, the more
congenial and successful is the career. To follow the "natural bent,"
whenever it is possible, appears to be eminently wise. For square men
should be put into square holes and round men into round holes.
Failing to regard the drift of one's being in the choice of an
occupation, is almost sure to put square men into round holes, and
round men into square holes. In this way good mechanics have been
spoiled to make poor clergymen or merchants, and a good minister
spoiled to make a commonplace artisan.

The celebrated English engineer, Smeaton, displayed a marvellous
ability for mechanical pursuits even in his childhood. Before he had
donned jacket and pants in the place of short dress, his father
discovered him on the top of the barn, putting up a windmill that he
had made. But he paid no regard to the boy's aptitude for this or that
position. He was determined to make a lawyer of him, and sent him to
school with that end in view. But the boy thought more of windmills
and engines than he did of Euclid or Homer, and the result was
unfavorable. His father was trying to crowd a square boy into a round
hole, and it was repugnant to the born engineer.

Josiah Franklin tried to do with Benjamin just what Smeaton tried to
do with his son, squeeze a square boy into a round hole. That was a
mistake. The son did not like the operation, and rebelled against the
squeezing. This created trouble for both, until, with the aid of
"Uncle Benjamin," Josiah discovered the way out of the difficulty.

Benjamin was delighted when his father disclosed to him his new plan.

"Anything is preferable to making candles," he said. "It will not take
me long to choose something in place of a soap-factory."

"You have considerable mechanical ingenuity," his father said; "you
like to work with tools, and you can see how tools are handled in
different trades. How would you like your Cousin Samuel's business?"

"I should like it vastly better than making candles, though I have not
examined it much. I can tell better when have looked in upon other
trades When shall we go?"

"Begin to-morrow, and first call upon your Cousin Samuel. His cutlery
trade is good, and it must increase as the population grows. Then we
will examine other kinds of business. It will take some time to go the
rounds."

On the morrow, as agreed upon, they went forth upon the memorable
errand. Benjamin felt like an uncaged bird, and was highly elated by
his prospects. Their first call was at Samuel's shop, where they could
see a line of cutlery that was quite ample for that day. Samuel
explained his methods, use of tools, etc., and Benjamin listened. He
was well pleased with the trade, as Samuel saw at once, who encouraged
him to choose it.

"I was never sorry that I learned the business," he said. "There is no
easier way of getting a living, and the work is interesting, because
it requires some ingenuity and skill. Benjamin has both, and will
succeed."

"But I want he should examine other trades," replied his father. "When
he has taken in several he will know more what he wants."

"Perhaps he will not know as well what he wants," rejoined Samuel. "If
he is like some boys he will be less settled in his mind what to
choose than he is now."

"My mind is partly settled now," said Benjamin. "I should choose any
trade on earth in preference to making candles and boiling soap. I
should be content with your business."

Next they called on a brazier, who manufactured many articles in
brass. This was entirely new to Benjamin; he had never seen any thing
of the kind before, and he examined the methods of work with much
interest. The brazier was communicative, and explained matters fully
and clearly, at the same time assuring Benjamin that he would like to
teach a boy like him.

In like manner they visited a joiner, or carpenter, as he is called in
New England now; also, a turner, who formed various things with a
lathe; also, a silversmith, bricklayer, and stone-mason. A part of
several days was occupied in this examination; and it was time well
spent, for it put much information into Benjamin's head, and enlarged
his ideas. Referring to the matter when he had become an old man, he
said: "It has ever since been a pleasure to me to see good workmen
handle their tools. And it has often been useful to me to have learned
so much by it as to be able to do some trifling jobs in the house when
a workman was not at hand, and to construct little machines for my
experiments at the moment when the intention of making these was warm
in my mind."

"I like Samuel's trade as well as any," Benjamin remarked, after the
trips of examination were concluded; and his father rejoiced to hear
it. From the start Mr. Franklin showed that none of the trades suited
him so well as his nephew's; so that he was particularly gratified to
hear the above remark.

"Do you like it well enough to choose it, Benjamin?"

"Yes, father; on the whole, I think I shall like it best of any; and
cutlery will always be needed."

"We will understand, then, that you choose that trade, and I will see
Samuel at once. It may be best for you to go into the shop for a short
time before I make a bargain with him. Then he will know what you can
do, and you will know how you like it."

At that time it was customary to bind boys to their employers, in
different pursuits, until twenty-one years of age. Benjamin was
twelve, and, if he should be bound to his cousin, as was the custom,
it would be for nine years. For this reason it was a step not to be
hastily taken. If a short service in the shop should prove favorable
for both sides, the long apprenticeship could be entered upon more
intelligently and cheerfully.

Mr. Franklin lost no time in securing a place in Samuel's shop. Both
parties agreed that it would be best for Benjamin to spend a brief
period in the business before settling the terms of apprenticeship.
Accordingly he 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 enjoyed it.
He went to each day's work with a light and cheerful heart. He was
soon another boy in appearance, contented, happy, and hopeful. Samuel
recognized his ingenuity and willingness to work, and prophesied that
he would become an expert cutler. He was ready to receive him as an
apprentice, and Benjamin was willing to be bound to him until he was
twenty-one years of age.

But when Mr. Franklin conferred with Samuel as to the terms of the
apprenticeship, they could not agree. The latter demanded an
exorbitant fee for his apprenticeship, which the former did not feel
able to pay. With good nature they discussed the subject, with
reference to an agreement on the terms; but Samuel was immovable. He
had but one price. Benjamin might stay or go. Very much to the
disappointment of both father and son, the plan failed and was
abandoned.

Benjamin was afloat again. He had no disposition to return to
candle-making, nor did his father desire that he should. He must
choose an occupation again. As it turned out, it would have been
better to settle the terms of apprenticeship in the first place.

It has been said that "there is no loss without some gain." So there
was some gain to Benjamin. He was sadly disappointed; and he had given
some time to a trade that amounted to nothing, but it was not all
loss. He had learned much about the trades: the importance of a trade
to every boy, and its necessity as a means of livelihood, and he never
lost the lesson which he learned at that time. In his ripe manhood he
wrote,--

   "He that hath a trade hath an estate.
   He that hath a calling hath an office of honor."

He believed that a trade was as good as a farm for a livelihood, and
that a necessary calling was as honorable as a public office of
distinction. How much his early discipline about trades had to do with
these noble sentiments of his mature life, we may not say, but very
much, without doubt.

While Benjamin was waiting for something to turn up, an incident
occurred which may be rehearsed in this place. He was already an
expert in swimming and rowing, and he loved the water and a boat
passionately. He was fond of fishing, also; and there was a marsh,
flooded at high tides, where the boys caught minnows. Here they
repaired for a fine time one day, Benjamin and several companions.

"All aboard!" exclaimed Benjamin, as he bounded into the boat lying 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 shaky, 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 this marsh. There is certainly danger that
we shall go through that shaky place, and we do not know where we shall
stop when we begin to go down."

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

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

"Nowhere. We do not want any lumber; stones are better."

"That is worse yet, to bring stones so far, and enough of them," said
John. "You must like to lift better than I do, and strain your gizzard
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."

"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, but they can afford to lend them to us for a little
while; they will be just as good for their use after we have done with
them." There was the rogue's sly look in Benjamin's eye when he made
the last remark.

"Then you expect they will loan them to you; but I guess you will be
mistaken," responded Fred.

"I will borrow them in this way: We will go this evening, after the
workmen have gone home, and tug them over here, and make the wharf
before bedtime." Benjamin made this proposition for the purpose of
adding to their sport.

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

"Stealing!" exclaimed Benjamin, who was so bent on sport that he had
no thought of stealing. "It is not stealing to take stones. A man
could not sell a million tons of them for a copper."

"Well, anyhow, the man who has borne the expense of drawing them there
won't thank you for taking them."

"I do not ask them to thank me. I do not think the act deserves any
thanks." And a roguish twinkle of the eye showed that Benjamin knew he
was doing wrong for the sake of getting a little sport. "Wouldn't it
be a joke on those fellows if they should find their pile of stones
missing in the morning?"

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

"And I will do mine."

"And so will I."

"And I, too."

By this time all were willing to follow Benjamin, their leader.
Perhaps some of them were afraid to say "No," as their consciences
suggested, now that the enterprise was endorsed by one or two of their
number. Both boys and men are quite disposed to "go with the multitude
to do evil." They are too cowardly to do what they know is right.

The salt marsh bounding a part of the mill-pond where their boat lay
was tramped into a quagmire. The boys were wont to fish there at high
water, and so many feet 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, too, upon their
rogues' errand. They surveyed the pile of stones, and found it ample
for their purpose, though it appeared to be a formidable piece of work
to remove them.

"Two of us can't lift and carry some of them," said Fred.

"Then three of us will hitch on and carry them," replied 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," suggested John. "They are capital stones
for the foundation. Come, boys, let us make quick work of it."

So they went to work with a will and "where there's a will there's a
way," in evil as well as good. It was unfortunate for Benjamin that he
did not hate such an enterprise as much as he did candle-making. If he
had, he would have given a wide berth to the salt marsh and the wharf
project. But neither he nor his companions disliked the evil work in
which there was sport. We say that they worked with a will; and their
perseverance was the only commendable thing about the affair.
Sometimes three or four of them worked away at a stone, rolling it
along or lifting, as necessity required. Then one alone would catch up
a smaller one, and convey it to the wharf at double-quick. Half their
zeal, tact, and industry, in doing this wrong, would have made the
candle-trade, or any other business, a success.

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

"A capital place now for fishing!" exclaimed Fred. "It is worth all it
cost for that."

"It may cost more than you think for before we get through with it,"
suggested John. "We sha'n't know the real cost of it until the owner
finds his stones among the missing."

"I should like to hear his remarks to-morrow morning, when he
discovers his loss," remarked Benjamin; "they will not be very
complimentary, I think."

"I am more anxious to know what he will do about it," responded John.

"We shall find out before long, no doubt," said Benjamin. "But I must
hurry home, or I shall have more trouble there than anywhere else.
Come, boys, let us go."

They hastened to their homes, not designing to divulge the labors 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. Not one of their consciences
was at ease. Their love of sport had got the better of their love of
right-doing. And yet they were both afraid and ashamed to tell of what
they had done. They were at home and in bed and asleep about as early
as usual.

Twenty-four hours passed away, during which Benjamin's fears had
increased rather than diminished. He was all the while thinking about
the stones--what the owner would say and do--whether he would learn
who took his stones away. His conscience was on duty.

It was evening, and Mr. Franklin took his seat at the fireside.
Benjamin was reading, the unattractive tallow candle furnishing him
light.

"Benjamin," said Mr. Franklin, after a little, "where were you last
evening?"

If his father had fired off a pistol he could not have been more
disturbed. His heart leaped into his throat. He thought of the stones.
He knew something was up about them--that trouble was ahead.

"I was down to the water," Benjamin replied, with as much coolness as
he could muster.

"What were you doing there?"

"Fixing up a place for the boat." He suspected, from his father's
appearance, that he would have to tell the whole story.

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

"We built a wharf."

"What did you build it with?"

"We built it of stones."

"Where did you get your stones?"

"There was a pile of them close by."

"Did they belong to you?"

"No, sir."

"Then you stole 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
there? It looks very much as if you thought taking them was stealing
them."

Benjamin saw that he was fairly cornered. Such a catechetical exercise
was somewhat new to him. The Westminster Assembly's Catechism never
put him into so tight a place as that. Bright as he was, he could not
discover the smallest hole out of which to crawl. It was a bad scrape,
and he could see no way out of it except by telling the truth. We
dislike very much to say it, but, judging from all the circumstances,
he would have told a lie, could he have seen a place to put one in.
But there was no chance for a falsehood. He was completely shut up to
the truth. He saw that the wharf cost more than he estimated--that
stealing stones violated a principle as really as stealing dollars. He
was so completely cornered that he made no reply. His father
continued:

"I see plainly how it is. 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 in the evening, because I
thought it might be better for you than so much reading. But you have
now betrayed my confidence, and I am more than ever satisfied that
boys should spend their evenings at home, trying to improve their
minds. You are 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 instruction at home."

"I did know better," was Benjamin's frank confession, determined to
make a clean breast of it.

"And that makes your guilt so much the greater. Will you learn a
lesson from this, and never do the like again?"

"I promise that I never will."

Thus frankly Benjamin confessed his wrong-doing; and, in mature life,
he often referred to it as his "_first wrong act_" from which he
learned a lesson for life. It was another way of _paying too dear for
a whistle_. What the whistle was to him at seven, the wharf of stones
was to him at twelve years of age--sport. The first was innocent
sport, however; the last was guilty.

It appears that the workmen missed their stones when they first
reached the spot in the morning, and soon discovered them nicely laid
into a wharf. The proprietor was indignant, and set about learning who
were the authors of the deed. In the course of the day he gained the
information he sought, and very properly went to the parents of each
boy with his complaint. In this way the boys were exposed, and
received just rebuke for their misdemeanor. Benjamin was convinced, as
he said of it many years thereafter, "that that which is not honest
could not be truly useful."



VIII.


BECOMING PRINTER-BOY.

At the time Benjamin was in the candle-factory his brother James was
in England learning the printer's trade. He spent several years there,
until he had mastered the business, intending to return to Boston and
establish that trade. He returned about the time that Benjamin was
concluding his disgust with candle-making, and was well under way at
the time he abandoned the cutler's trade. James brought press, type,
and all the _et ceteras_ of a complete outfit with him from England.

"How would you like to learn the printer's trade with your brother
James?" inquired his father, a short time after Benjamin left the
cutler's shop. "I have been thinking it over, and I really believe
that you have more qualifications for it than you have for any other
trade. Your love of learning will have a better chance there, too."

"How is that?" answered Benjamin. "I do not quite see in what respect
I am better qualified to be a printer than a cutler."

"Well, you are a good reader, and have an intellectual turn, being
fond of books; and a printing office must have more opportunities for
mental improvement than the shop of a cutler. A type-setter can be
acquiring new and valuable ideas when he is setting up written
articles."

"If that is so I should like it well; and I should think it might be
as you say," Benjamin answered. "I might have a better chance to
read."

"Of course you would. You may have matter to put in type that is as
interesting and profitable as any thing you find in books. Indeed,
James will no doubt have pamphlets and books to publish before long.
All that you read in books went through the printer's hand first."

"I had not thought of that," said Benjamin, quite taken with his
father's ideas about the printing business. "I think I should like it
better than almost any thing else. How long will it take to learn the
trade?"

"I suppose that it will take some time, though I know very little
about it. You are twelve years of age now, and you can certainly
acquire the best knowledge of the trade by the time you are
twenty-one."

"That is a long time," suggested Benjamin; "nine years ought to make
the best printer there is. But that is no objection to me; I shall do
as you think best."

"I want _you_ should think it best, too," rejoined his father. "If you
have no inclination to be a printer, I do not want you should
undertake it. You will not succeed in any business you dislike."

"I do think it best to try this," replied Benjamin. "If James thinks
well of it, I shall, for he knows all about the trade."

"I will speak with him about it and learn his opinion," said his
father. "If he thinks well of it, I will see what arrangements can be
made with him. The prospects of the business are not flattering now,
but I think the day is coming when it will prosper."

Mr. Franklin lost no time in conferring with James, who favored the
plan without any reserve. He proposed to take Benjamin as an
apprentice, to serve until he was twenty-one years old, according to
the custom of the times, receiving twenty pounds for the same, and
giving him board and clothes until the last year, when he would be
paid journeyman's wages. This was a good opportunity on the whole, for
printing was in its infancy in our country at that time. 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.

The first printing press in the United States was set up in Cambridge
in 1639 by Rev. Jesse Glover, who gave it to Harvard University. The
first thing printed was the "Freeman's oath"; the next, the almanac
for New England, calculated by William Pierce, a mariner; the next, a
metrical version of the Psalms.

It is claimed that ten years later than Benjamin's entering his
brother's printing office, there were but three or four printers in
our country. Whether that was so or not, it is certain that then, and
for many years afterwards, printers were very scarce. In 1692, Old
Style, the council of New York adopted the following resolution:

"It is resolved in council, that if a printer will come and settle in
the city of New York, for the printing of our acts of assembly and
public papers, he shall be allowed the sum of forty pounds, current
money of New York, per annum, for his salary, and have the benefit of
his printing, besides what serves to the public."

It is said, also, that when Benjamin Franklin wanted to marry the
daughter of Mr. Reed, of Philadelphia, her mother said, "I do not know
about giving my daughter to a printer; for there are already four in
the United States, and it is doubtful if more could get a living."

It is worthy of note here, also, as showing how slowly the printing
business advanced in the infancy of our country, that Great Britain
did not allow the American Colonies to print the English Bible. Hence,
the first Bible printed in this country was published in 1782, a
little more than a hundred years ago. For this reason most of the
pulpit Bibles in the Congregational and other churches of New England,
before that time, were the Oxford editions, in which the Book of
Common Prayer and the Psalms were included, and the Articles of Faith
of the English Church. Some of these are still preserved as relics.

"It will be necessary for you to be bound to your brother, according
to law," remarked Mr. Franklin. "These things must be done legally,
and such is the law and custom, too."

"And I am to board with him, also, if I understand you, father?"
Benjamin was thinking of leaving his home, and that would be a trial.
True, he would not be far from his father's house; he could step into
it every night if he wished; but it was leaving home, nevertheless.
"It does not seem quite right for one brother to be bound to another
for nine years," added Benjamin, thoughtfully, and after some
hesitation.

"But such is the custom, however it may appear, and it must be done so
to have every thing right and legal. We do not know what may happen in
the nine years. It is better to have things in black and white,
whether the bargain is with a brother or any one else."

Mr. Franklin added more to the last remarks, in order to remove an
objection which Benjamin seemed to have to being bound to his brother;
and he was successful. The last objection was removed, and cheerfully
and gladly Benjamin consented to become a printer-boy.

The following was the form of the indenture of apprenticeship that
bound Benjamin to his brother for nine years:

"This indenture witnesseth that Benjamin Franklin, son of Josiah
Franklin, and of Abiah, his wife, of Boston, in the colony of
Massachusetts Bay, with the consent of his parents, doth put himself
apprentice to his brother, James Franklin, printer, to learn his art,
and with him after the manner of an apprentice from the ---- day of
----, in the year of our Lord, 1718, until he shall have fully
completed the twenty-first year of his age. During which term the said
apprentice his master faithfully shall or will serve, his secrets
keep, his lawful commands everywhere gladly do. He shall do no damage
to his said master, nor see it to be done of others, but to his power
shall let, or forthwith give notice to his said master of the same.
The goods of his said master he shall not waste, nor the same without
license of him to any give or lend. Hurt to his said master he shall
not do, cause, nor procure to be done. He shall neither buy nor sell
without his master's license. Taverns, inns, and ale houses he shall
not haunt. At cards, dice, tables, or any other unlawful game he shall
not play. Matrimony he shall not contract; nor from the service of his
said master day nor night absent himself; but in all things as an
honest and faithful apprentice shall and will demean and behave
himself towards his said master and all his during the said term. And
the said James Franklin, the master, for and in consideration of the
sum of ten pounds of lawful British money to him in hand paid by the
said Josiah Franklin, the father, the receipt of which is hereby
acknowledged, the said apprentice in the art of a printer, which he
now useth, shall teach and instruct, or cause to be taught and
instructed, the best way and manner that he can, finding and allowing
unto the said apprentice meat, drink, washing, lodging, and all other
necessaries during the said term. And for the true performance of all
and every the covenants and agreements aforesaid, either of the said
parties bindeth himself unto the other finally by these presents. In
witness whereof, the parties aforesaid to these indentures
interchangeably have set their hands and seals this ---- day of ----,
in the fifth year of our Sovereign Lord, George the First, by the
grace of God of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of
the Faith, and in the year of our Lord, 1718."

To this document Benjamin signed his name, with his father and brother,
thereby having his liberty considerably abridged.

A boy by the name of William Tinsley took the place of Benjamin in Mr.
Franklin's candle-shop. He was bound to Mr. Franklin as Benjamin was
bound to his brother. But he liked the business no better than
Benjamin did, and, finally, to escape from his thraldom, he ran away;
whereupon his master inserted the following advertisement in the _New
England Courant_ of July, 1722, which reads very much like
advertisements for runaway slaves, in that and later days; and,
probably, young Tinsley thought he was escaping from a sort of white
slavery:

"Ran away from his Master, Mr. Josiah Franklin, of Boston, Tallow-chandler,
on the first of this instant July, an Irish Man-servant, named William
Tinsley, about 20 years of age, of a middle Stature, black Hair, lately
cut off, somewhat fresh-colored Countenance, a large lower Lip, of a
mean Aspect, large Legs, and heavy in his Going. He had on, when he went
away, a felt Hat, a white knit Cap, striped with red and blue, white
Shirt, and neck-cloth, a brown-coloured Jacket, almost new, a frieze
Coat, of a dark colour, grey yarn Stockings, leather Breeches, trimmed
with black, and round to'd Shoes. Whoever shall apprehend the said
runaway Servant, and him safely convey to his above said Master, at
the Blue Ball in Union street, Boston, shall have Forty Shillings
Reward, and all necessary Charges paid."

There is no evidence that Tinsley was ever found. He hated the
candle-trade so lustily that he put the longest possible distance
between himself and it. Had Benjamin been compelled to continue the
unpleasant business, he might have escaped from the hardship in a
similar way.

These facts, together with the foregoing documents, show that, in some
respects, many white youth of that day were subjected to an experience
not wholly unlike that of the colored youth. Often the indentured
parties became the victims of cruelty. Sometimes they were half
clothed and fed. Sometimes they were beaten unmercifully. They were
completely in the hands of the "master," and whether their experience
was pleasant or sad depended upon his temper.

Add another fact to the foregoing about the indenture of apprenticeship,
and the similarity of white to Negro slavery, in that day, is quite
remarkable. No longer than seventy-five years ago, a poor child, left
to the town by the death of the father, was put up at auction, and
the man who bid the lowest sum was entitled to him. The town paid the
amount to get rid of the incumbrance, without much regard to the future
treatment of the orphan.

A near neighbor of the author, eighty-three years of age, was sold in
this manner three times in his early life, suffering more and more
with each change, until he was old enough to defend himself and run
away. His first buyer, for some reason, wanted to dispose of him, and
he sold him at auction to another. The second buyer was heartless and
cruel, against which the boy rebelled, and, for this reason, he was
sold to a third "master," who proved to be the worst tyrant of the
three, subjecting the youth to all sorts of ill-treatment, to escape
which he took to his heels. He was not given a day's schooling by
either master, nor one holiday, nor the privilege of going to meeting
on the Sabbath, nor was he half fed and clothed. At twenty-one he
could neither read nor write.

We have turned aside from our narrative to record a somewhat barbaric
custom of our forefathers, that the reader may appreciate all the more
the higher civilization and more congenial experiences of this age.

Benjamin had become a printer-boy as fully equipped for duty as
documents, pledges, and promises could make him. His _heart_ entered
into this new work, and his _head_ also. The business set him to
thinking. He liked it. Indeed, he could find no fault with it. The
business liked him, too; that is, he had a tact for it--he was adapted
to it. The boy and the trade were suited to each other. Hence, he
became even fascinated with it.

"I like it better than I thought I should," he said to his mother. "I
have to use my brains more in putting a single paragraph into type
than I did in filling a whole regiment of candle-moulds. I like it
better and better."

"I am glad to hear that, though I rather expected as much. If you like
it as well as James does, you will like it well enough. He is
thoroughly satisfied with his trade, and I think he will find it to be
a profitable one by and by. In a new country it takes time to build up
almost any trade."

Mrs. Franklin spoke from a full heart, for she had great interest in
Benjamin's chosen pursuit, because she believed that he possessed
remarkable talents. She still expected that he would make his mark,
though prevented from entering the ministry.

"I get some time to read," continued Benjamin, "and I mean to get
more, though there is much confusion at my boarding-place."

"You must not gain time for reading at the expense of neglecting your
work," suggested his mother. "Your time is your brother's, and, first
of all, you must fulfill your obligations to him. Fidelity is a
cardinal virtue, remember."

"Of course," replied Benjamin. "I know what I am in duty bound to do,
and I shall do it. James has not found me a minute behind time yet,
nor lazy in the printing office; and I mean that he never shall."

"That is a good resolution, very good, indeed; and I hope you will
keep it. At the same time, do not neglect your Bible, nor cease to
attend public worship on the Sabbath. A boy can't get along without
these any more than his parents can. As soon as you begin to neglect
these you are exposed to danger, and the very worst sort of danger."

To those who are determined to succeed, time can be found for reading
without interfering with business. Budgett, the rich English merchant,
was a great reader. He would not allow his time for reading to
interfere with his business, nor his time for business to interfere
with his reading. He prepared a time-table by which his work was
regulated each day. From an examination of it we learn the number of
hours and pages he read the first two weeks of January, 1849. He spent
fifty-nine hours in his library, and read _seven hundred_ pages of
Josephus' History, _six hundred and sixty_ pages of Milner's Church
History, _three hundred and eighty_ pages of Baxter's Saints' Rest,
and spent a fair proportion of the time in studying Townsend's Old and
New Testaments. Such is what the busiest man can do when he regulates
his time for it.

James Franklin's printing office, where Benjamin worked, was at the
corner of Franklin avenue and Court street. As his brother was
unmarried he boarded at a place near by, which James secured. Probably
the large family and want of room were the reason he did not continue
to board at his father's. The family were always in a strait for room.
A vacancy only left room which the remaining members sorely needed,
and they occupied it so readily and naturally that the former occupant
was scarcely missed.

The printer's trade embraced some kinds of work at that time which it
does not embrace now, as we judge from the advertisement of James
Franklin in the _Boston Gazette_, when he commenced business, as
follows: "The printer hereof prints linens, calicoes, silks, etc., in
good figures, very lively and durable colors, and without the
offensive smell which commonly attends the linens printed here."

Such printing was done for ladies who were in need of what there was
no manufactory to supply, at that time.

When Benjamin had served two years at his trade, he had become
indispensable to his brother. He had devoted himself to his work with
all his heart, and had made rapid improvement. He had acquired a good
understanding of the trade. He was a superior compositor. His judgment
was excellent. He was industrious--there was not a lazy bone in him.
And he was punctual.

The habit of reading that Benjamin had formed tended to make him
punctual. In order to command the more time he was promptly at his
work, and efficiently discharged every duty. 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 habit 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 being on time. 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.

A ripe scholar was the neighbor of Dr. Adam Clarke, the commentator,
when the latter had become quite renowned. On the same evening both
saw a copy of the Greek Testament by Erasmus advertised. As soon as
the ripe scholar had swallowed his breakfast, on the next morning, he
hastened to the book-store to purchase the volume. "You are too late;
the book is sold," replied the book-seller to the inquiry of the
gentleman. "Too late!" exclaimed the scholar; "why, I came as soon as
I had eaten my breakfast;" "Yes, but Adam Clarke came _before
breakfast_," responded the merchant. The incident shows that the man
who is on time has the inside track; and the inside track is nearest
the goal. It is the wide-awake man who is prompt, not the dull, sleepy
procrastinator. The best qualities of manhood must be on the alert to
secure promptness; the poorest qualities will secure the opposite. The
prize is taken by the worker who is _on time_. It is lost by him who
is _behind time_, as the aforesaid scholar was. He planned to make
sure of his breakfast before he did of the book; but Adam Clarke made
sure of the book before he did of his breakfast, and he won.

In 1788, Washington visited Boston, and he decided to leave for Salem
on the morning of a certain day, at eight o'clock, precisely. A
company of cavalry volunteered to escort him to Salem. While the clock
of the Old South Church was striking eight, Washington mounted his
horse and started, though his escort had not put in an appearance. A
few minutes later, however, they arrived, and were greatly mortified
to find that Washington had gone. Putting spurs to their horses, they
galloped forward, and overtook him at Charles river bridge. When they
came up, Washington said: "Major, I thought you had been in my family
too long not to know when it was eight o'clock."

The habit of punctuality which Franklin formed in his youth,
distinguished him in his manhood as much as the same habit did
Washington. There is no doubt that it exerted a large influence in
placing him next to Washington among the founders of our republic. One
of the maxims that he wrote in mature life was: "He that riseth late
must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night."



IX.


TABLE-TALK EDUCATION.

We delay the narrative, at this point, to introduce a subject that
Franklin often referred to as influencing his early life. In his
"Autobiography," he said:

"At his table he [his father] liked to have, as often as he could,
some sensible friend or neighbor to converse with; and always took
care to start some ingenious or useful topic for discourse, which
might tend to improve the minds of his children. By this means he
turned our attention to what was good, just, and prudent, in the
conduct of life; and little or no notice was ever taken of what
related to the victuals on the table; whether it was well or ill
dressed, in or out of season, of good or bad flavor, preferable or
inferior to this or that other thing of the kind; so that I was
brought up in such a perfect inattention to those matters, as to be
quite indifferent what kind of food was set before me. Indeed, I am so
unobservant of it, that to this day I can scarce 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 want of a suitable gratification of their
more delicate, because better instructed, tastes and appetites."

This was different from much of the table-talk that is heard in many
families now.

"I do not want any of that, I do not love it," exclaims one child. "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?" his mother replies, in a facetious way, instead of reproving
him.

"I would have something I could eat. You know I do not love that, and
never did."

"Well, it does boys good, sometimes, to eat what they do not love,
especially such particular ones as you are," adds his father.

"I sha'n't eat what I do not like, anyhow; I shall go hungry first."

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

"May I have some?" calling for something that is 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 another child. "I do not love this,
neither. May I have some, pa?"

"And I, too," exclaims still another. "I must have some if Henry and
James do."

In this way the table-talk proceeds, until fretting, scolding, crying,
make up the sum total of the conversation, and family joy are
embittered for the remainder of the day. In contrast with the
discipline of instructive conversation, such schooling at the fireside
is pitiable indeed.

Franklin claimed that this feature of family government exerted a
moulding influence upon his life and character. It caused him to value
profitable conversation in boyhood and youth. In manhood he frequently
found himself posted upon subjects made familiar to him by
conversation at the table and hearthstone of his boyhood, especially
topics relating to the mother country. He was more particularly
edified by conversation at home during the four years that "Uncle
Benjamin" was a member of his father's family. For this favorite
"Uncle" was a very instructive talker, having been educated by the
conversation of his father at home in England, as his nephew Benjamin
was by his father in Boston. When "Uncle Benjamin" was very old, he
could even recall the expressions which his father used in prayer at
the family altar, and he wrote some of them in one of his books of
poetry, as follows:

   "Holy Father, into thy hand we commit our spirits, for thou hast
   redeemed them, O Lord God of Truth."

   "Command thine angel to encamp round about our habitation."

   "Give thine angels charge over us, that no evil may come nigh our
   dwelling."

   "Thou knowest our down-lying and rising-up, thou art acquainted
   with all our ways, and knowest our tho'ts afar off."

   "We know that in us, that is, in our flesh, there dwelleth no good
   thing."

   "Holy Father, keep through thine own name all those that are thine,
   that none of them be lost."

   "We thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth. Tho' thou hast
   hid these things from the wise and prudent, yet thou hast revealed
   them unto babes. Even so, Holy Father, for so it seemed good in thy
   sight."

We have copied the language just as it was written by "Uncle Benjamin,"
and it is chiefly Bible language, showing marked familiarity with the
Scriptures.

We infer, from the foregoing, that useful conversation was
characteristic of the Franklins of each generation, indicating a good
degree of intelligence and talents of high order. Ignorance does not
indulge in improving conversation; it could not if it would. Nor do
small mental powers show themselves in excellence of conversation. So
that it is quite evident that talents in the Josiah Franklin family
were not limited to Benjamin. They reached back to former generations.

Mr. Parton says: "Thomas Franklin, the elder, had four sons: Thomas,
John, Benjamin, and Josiah. There lived at Ecton, during the boyhood
of these four sons, a Mr. John Palmer, the squire of the parish and
lord of an adjacent manor, who, attracted by their intelligence and
spirit, lent them books, assisted them to lessons in drawing and
music, and, in various ways, encouraged them to improve their minds.
All the boys appear to have been greatly profited by Squire Palmer's
friendly aid; but none of them so much as Thomas, the eldest,
inheritor of the family forge and farm."

It was this Thomas who became grandfather of our Benjamin, and whose
expressions in prayer we have quoted. Mr. Parton discovers such
talents there as make profitable conversation at the table and
elsewhere, and are transmitted to posterity. For he says, still
further:

"In families destined at length to give birth to an illustrious
individual, Nature seems sometimes to make an essay of her powers with
that material, before producing the consummate specimen. There was a
remarkable Mr. Pitt before Lord Chatham; there was an extraordinary
Mr. Fox before the day of the ablest debater in Europe; there was a
witty Sheridan before Richard Brinsley; there was a Mirabeau before
the Mirabeau of the French Revolution. And, to cite a higher instance,
Shakespeare's father was, at least, extraordinarily fond of dramatic
entertainments, if we may infer any thing certain from the brief
records of his mayoralty of Stratford, for he appears to have given
the players the kind of welcome that Hamlet admonished Polonius to
bestow upon them. Thomas Franklin, the eldest uncle of our Benjamin,
learned the blacksmith's trade in his father's shop, but, aided by
Squire Palmer and his own natural aptitude for affairs, became, as his
nephew tells us, 'a conveyancer, something of a lawyer, clerk of the
county court, and clerk to the archdeacon; a very leading man in all
county affairs, and much employed in public business.'"

The quotation Mr. Parton makes, in his closing lines, is from a letter
of Benjamin Franklin, addressed to Mrs. Deborah Franklin, dated
London, 6 September, 1758. We quote still further from it, as it is
interesting matter relating to the prominence and intelligence of the
Franklin ancestors:

"From Wellingborough we went to Ecton, about three or four miles,
being the village where my father was born, and where his father,
grandfather, and great-grandfather had lived, and how many of the
family before them we know not. We went first to see the old house and
grounds; they came to Mr. Fisher with his wife, and, after letting
them for some years, finding his rent something ill-paid, he sold
them. The land is now added to another farm, and a school is kept in
the house. It is a decayed old stone building, but still known by the
name of Franklin House. Thence we went to visit the rector of the
parish, who lives close by the church--a very ancient building. He
entertained us very kindly, and showed us the old church register, in
which were the births, marriages, and burials of our ancestors for two
hundred years, as early as his book began. His wife, a good-natured,
chatty old lady (granddaughter of the famous Archdeacon Palmer, who
formerly had that parish and lived there), remembered a great deal
about the family; carried us out into the church-yard and showed us
several of their grave-stones, which were so covered with moss that we
could not read the letters till she ordered a hard brush and a basin
of water, with which Peter scoured them clean, and then Billy copied
them. She entertained and diverted us highly with stories of Thomas
Franklin, Mrs. Fisher's father, who was a conveyancer, something of a
lawyer, clerk of the county courts, and clerk to the archdeacon in his
visitations; a very leading man in all county affairs, and much
employed in public business. He set on foot a subscription for
erecting chimes in their steeple and completed it, and we heard them
play. He found out an easy method of saving their village meadows from
being drowned, as they used to be sometimes by the river, which method
is still in being; but, when first proposed, nobody could conceive how
it could be, 'but, however,' they said, 'if Franklin says he knows how
to do it, it will be done.' His advice and opinion were sought for on
all occasions, by all sorts of people, and he was looked upon, she
said, by some, as something of a conjurer. He died just four years
before I was born, on the same day of the same month."

Such kind of men are not given to foolish conversation. They are too
sensible to indulge in mere twaddle about the weather. Their talents
raise them to a higher plane of thought and remark. Josiah Franklin
only observed the custom of his ancestors, no doubt unwittingly, when
he sought to improve the minds and hearts of his children by
instructive conversation at the table and fireside. Benjamin had a
right to claim for it a decided educational influence in the family.

Pythagoras set so great value upon useful conversation that he
commanded his disciples to maintain silence during the first two years
of their instruction. He would have their minds thoroughly furnished,
that their conversation might be worthy of the pupils of so
illustrious a teacher. He was wont to say: "Be silent, or say
something better than silence." No men ever put this wise counsel into
practice more thoroughly than Josiah Franklin and his son Benjamin.

Cicero said of the mother of the Gracchi: "We have read the letters of
Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi, from which it appears that the
sons were educated not so much in the lap of the mother as by her
_conversation_." Josiah Franklin had as poor an opinion of the _lap_
as an educator of his sons, in comparison with _conversation_, as
Cornelia had.

The poet Cowper wrote:

   "Though conversation in its better part
   May be esteemed a gift, and not an art;
   Yet much depends, as in the tiller's toil,
   On culture and the sowing of the soil."

Josiah Franklin was enough of a poet to understand this and reduce it
to practice. As his son said, he delighted to have some intelligent
man or woman for a guest at his table, for the improvement of his
children. But when there was no guest at the table, he led the way
alone by calling the attention of his sons and daughters to some
subject of interest and profit. He thought it would divert their
attention from the quality of their food, so that they would not be so
apt to complain of it, and, at the same time, impart information and
set them thinking. He did not allow one of his children to complain of
the food on the table, and he would have prevented it by severe
measures, if necessary. Before he found the method cited a wise one,
and therefore persevered in it. He often made this remark:

"You must give heed to little things, although nothing can be
considered small that is important. It is of far more consequence how
you behave than what you eat and wear."

Another remark he would make when the meal was unusually plain was
this:

"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."

Here is found the origin of Benjamin's rigid temperance principles in
eating and drinking, for which he was distinguished through life. In
his manhood he wrote and talked upon the subject, and reduced his
principles to practice. There scarcely ever lived a man who was so
indifferent as to what he ate and drank as he was. When he worked in a
printing-office in England, his fellow-printers were hard drinkers of
strong beer, really believing that it was necessary to give them
strength to endure. 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 of
this kind did not begin until nearly a century after the time referred
to. Yet Benjamin was fully persuaded in his youth that he ought to be
temperate in all things. It was a theme of conversation at his
father's table and fireside. That conversation instructed him then, as
temperance lectures, books, and societies instruct the young now; and
it accomplished its purpose. In the sequel we shall learn still more
of the moulding power of home lessons, in conversation, to make him
the man he became.

It is related of the Washburne family, so well known in the public
affairs of our country, four or five brothers having occupied posts of
political distinction, that, in their early life, their father's house
was open to ministers, and was sometimes called "the ministers'
hotel." Mr. Washburne was a great friend of this class, and enjoyed
their society much. Nearly all the time 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
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 "led them on to fame." Their early advantages were few,
but the conversation of educated gentlemen, upon important subjects,
laid the foundation of their eminence in public life.

Benjamin was young, and his heart easily impressed, when he listened
to profitable conversation in the home of his boyhood. The way the
twig is bent the tree is inclined. His father gave the twig the right
bent, and the tree was comely and fruitful. It was a very easy and
cheap mode of instruction, always at hand, needing neither text-book
nor blackboard, yet pleasant and uplifting.



X.


LEADER OF SPORTS AND THOUGHT.

It is unusual that the same boy should be a leader in nearly all
innocent sports, and, at the same time, the most thoughtful and
studious boy of all. Generally, the fun-loving youth is an indifferent
scholar,--having little taste for reading and study. But it was
otherwise with Benjamin. He was as much of an expert in sport as he
was in reading,--the best jumper, runner, swimmer, and rower of his
age in Boston. And he enjoyed it, too. Perhaps he enjoyed being the
best more than any part of the sport. Certainly, when he was in
school, he enjoyed being the _best_ scholar more than any part of a
pupil's experience; and he so managed to continue the best to the end,
though the end came much too soon for him.

Swimming was his favorite sport. It was claimed for him that, any time
between twelve and sixteen years of age, he could have swam across the
Hellespont. Here, as well as elsewhere, his inventive genius was
devising ways to promote more rapid swimming.

"I believe that I can double my speed in swimming by an invention I
have in mind," he said to John Collins, one day.

"What sort of an invention? You are always up to something of that
sort. I think that arms and legs are all the invention that will ever
promote swimming, slow or fast."

"Well, you see, John, if I do not invent something to greatly increase
speed in swimming," continued Benjamin. "I have been studying on it
for some time, and I think I have it."

"You do not need anything to increase your speed, Ben; you can beat
everybody now, and you ought to be satisfied with that."

"I am not satisfied. I want to do better yet. I never did so well in
anything yet that I did not want to do better."

Right here was really the secret of Benjamin's success,--trying to do
better to-morrow than to-day, not satisfied with present attainments,
pressing forward to something more desirable, going up higher. Such
boys and girls succeed. Difficulties do not alarm or discourage
them--they serve to draw them out and make them more invincible. But
youth who are satisfied to be just what they are to-day, no larger,
broader, or better, live and die mere ciphers. They are destitute of
ambition and the spirit of enterprise. They have no just conception of
their mission in this world. They do not understand themselves,--what
they are for and what they can be if they choose. What is worse, they
have no desire to know these things; the effort to know them is too
much for their easy, indifferent natures.

"I guess that is so," replied John, to Benjamin's last remark. "I
never saw a boy just like you; and I think you are right. I want to
know more than I do about many things, and I mean to. But what sort of
a swimming apparatus have you in mind?"

"Well, a sort of palette for the hands and sandals for the feet,
fastened tightly so as to be used readily. I have an idea that I can
throw myself forward with far greater speed."

"I will wait to see it before I pass judgment on it," answered John.
"It is risking more than I want to risk to say you can't do it; for
there is no telling what you can do."

"You will see it in a few days; it will not take long to make it. I
will notify you when it is ready, and we will try it. In the mean time
keep it a secret, and we will astonish the boys."

Within a few days John Collins was notified that the swimming
apparatus was ready, and would be tried at a certain time appointed.
Other boys were invited to meet at the pond at the same time.

Benjamin appeared on the scene with two oval palettes of wood,
resembling those used by painters, ten inches long and six broad. A
hole was cut in each for the thumb, so that they could be bound to the
palms of the hands. A kind of sandal, shaped somewhat like the
palettes, was fastened tightly to each foot. When rigged for a swim,
Benjamin presented a very singular appearance, and the boys looked on
astonished.

"That is _you_, all over, Ben," exclaimed Fred; "no one in creation
except you would ever have thought of such an apparatus. But I
wouldn't wish myself in the water with such a rig. You are a sort of
skipper on legs, now."

"I do not expect to skip much on the water, but I expect to swim much
faster with this device than would be possible without it," replied
Benjamin.

"It is different from what I thought it was from your description,"
said John Collins, who had been looking on with particular interest.
"It looks as if you might do something with it. Go ahead, Ben, sink or
swim, spread your sails and prove that your ingenuity is genuine."

Benjamin plunged into the water, and a more interested and excited
company did not watch Robert Fulton when he started up Hudson river
with his new steamer, eighty years later, than watched him with his
new mode of swimming. He struck right out into deep water easily, and
moved forward much more rapidly than he ever did before, the cheers
and shouts of the boys making the welkin ring. Taking a circuit around
the pond for a fair trial, the boys had a good opportunity to watch
every movement and to judge of the practicability of such an
invention.

"That is wonderful," exclaimed one, as he came around to the shore
where they stood.

"You are a genius, Ben," shouted another.

"Capital," added John Collins. "King George ought to make a duke of
you. But does it work easy?"

"Not so easily as I expected," answered Benjamin. "The apparatus is
hard on the wrists, and makes them ache. The sandals on the feet do
not help much. I think I could swim just as well without them."

"Then you do not consider it a complete success?" said John,
inquiringly.

"Not entirely so. I can swim very much faster with it, but it is
harder work, and the wrists will not hold out long. I do not think I
shall apply to King George for a patent."

The swimming invention was pretty thoroughly discussed by the boys,
one and another suggesting improvements, Benjamin evidently satisfied
that swimming at less speed in the usual way was preferable to these
artificial paddles and increased rapidity. But their interest was
awakened anew when Benjamin informed them that he had another
invention that he proposed to try at a future day.

"What is it?" inquired two or three at the same time.

"You shall see; it is more simple than this apparatus," replied
Benjamin. "It will not be so tiresome to use."

"When will you let us see it on trial?" asked John Collins, who,
perhaps, appreciated Benjamin's spirit and talents more than any of
the boys.

"Any time you will all agree to be here. You will not know what it is
until you see it."

The time was appointed for the trial of the unknown device, and the
boys separated with their curiosity on tiptoe as to the nature of the
other improved method of swimming. They had no idea that it was a
humbug, for "Ben" never practised sham. He was so much of a genius
that, no doubt, he had something that would surprise them.

John Collins was more like Benjamin than other boys in Boston, and he
was his most intimate companion. John was talented, and a great
reader. He had a craving thirst for knowledge, and used his leisure
moments to improve his mind. He frequently discussed profitable
subjects with Benjamin, who enjoyed his company very much for this
reason. In their tastes, love of books, and high aims, they were
suited to each other. Benjamin thought as highly of John as John did
of Benjamin.

When the time for trying the other device arrived, Benjamin appeared
on the scene with a new kite.

"A kite!" exclaimed John Collins, in surprise. "I see it now. That
_is_ simple." He saw at once that Benjamin was going to make a sail of
his kite, and cross the pond.

"'T will hinder more than it will help, I think," remarked one of the
boys.

"We shall know whether it will or not, very soon," responded another.
"Ben isn't hindered very often."

While this parleying was going on, Benjamin was disrobing and getting
ready for the trial.

"Fred, you carry my clothes around to the other side of the pond, and
I will swim across," said Benjamin, as he sent his kite up into the
air.

"All right," answered Fred; "I will do it to the best of my ability;
and I will be there to see you land." So saying he caught up the
clothes and started off upon the run.

The kite was high up in the air, when, holding the string with both
hands, Benjamin dropped into the water upon his back, and at once
began to skim the surface. Without an effort on his part, not so much
as the moving of a muscle, the sailing kite pulled him along faster
than his arms and feet could have done in the old way of swimming.

"That is better than the paddles and sandals," shouted John Collins,
who was intensely interested in the simplicity of the method. "Ben is
only a ship, now, and the kite is his sail. Nobody but him would ever
thought of such a thing."

"Not much skill in that way of swimming," suggested another youth;
"nor much fatigue, either. Nothing to do but to keep on breathing and
swim."

"And hold on to the kite," added another. "He must not let go of his
sail; he and his kite must be close friends."

The boys kept up their watch and conversation while Benjamin crossed
the pond, which he accomplished in a few minutes. Dressing himself,
while Fred drew in his kite, he hastened to join his companions and
receive their congratulations. The boys were extravagant in their
expressions of delight, and some of them predicted that so "cute" a
mode of swimming would become universal, while others thought that the
lack of skill in the method would lead many to discard it. Benjamin
said:

"The motion is very pleasant indeed, and I could swim all day without
becoming fatigued. But there is no skill in it, as you say."

Benjamin expressed no opinion as to the adoption of the method by
others, and the boys separated to tell the story of Benjamin's
exploits on the water over town. Many years afterwards, when Benjamin
was a public man, famous in his own country and Europe, he wrote to a
Frenchman by the name of Dubourg, of both of these experiments as
follows:

"When I was a boy, I made two oval palettes, each about ten inches
long and six broad, with a hole for the thumb, in order to retain it
fast in the palm of my hand. They much resembled a painter's palettes.
In swimming, I pushed the edges of these forward, and I struck the
water with their flat surfaces as I drew them back. I remember I swam
faster by means of these palettes, but they fatigued my wrists. I also
fitted to the soles of my feet a kind of sandals; but I was not
satisfied with them, because I observed that the stroke is partly
given by the inside of the feet and the ankles, and not entirely with
the soles of the feet.

       *       *       *       *       *

"You will not be displeased if I conclude these hasty remarks by
informing you that, as the ordinary method of swimming is reduced to
the act of rowing with the arms and legs, and is consequently a
laborious and fatiguing operation when the space of water to be
crossed is considerable, there is a method in which a swimmer may pass
to great distances with, much facility, by means of a sail. This
discovery I fortunately made by accident, and in the following manner.

"When I was a boy I amused myself one day with flying a paper kite;
and, approaching the bank of a pond, which was nearly a mile broad, I
tied the string to a stake, and the kite ascended to a very
considerable height above the pond, while I was swimming. In a little
time, being desirous of amusing myself with my kite, and enjoying at
the same time the pleasure of swimming, I returned; and, loosing from
the stake the string with the little stick which was fastened to it,
went again into the water, where I found that, lying on my back and
holding the stick in my hands, I was drawn along the surface of the
water in a very agreeable manner. Having then engaged another boy to
carry my clothes around the pond, to a place which I pointed out to
him on the other side, I began to cross the pond with my kite, which
carried me quite over without the least fatigue, and with the greatest
pleasure imaginable. I was only obliged occasionally to halt a little
in my course, and resist its progress, when it appeared that, by
following too quick, I lowered the kite too much; by doing which
occasionally, I made it rise again. I have never since that time
practised this singular mode of swimming, though I think it not
impossible to cross in this manner from Dover to Calais. The
packet-boat, however, is still preferable."

Doctor Franklin wrote another long letter to a man in mature life,
advising him to learn to swim. The man was not inclined to do it on
account of his age, whereupon Doctor Franklin wrote:

"I can not be of opinion with you, that it is too late in life for you
to learn to swim. The river near the bottom of your garden affords a
most convenient place for the purpose. And, as your new employment
requires your being often on the water, of which you have such a
dread, I think you would do well to make the trial; nothing being so
likely to remove those apprehensions as the consciousness of an
ability to swim to the shore in case of an accident, or of supporting
yourself in the water till a boat could come to take you up."

It is probable that Benjamin's experiment with his kite in swimming
was the seed-thought of his experiment in drawing lightning from the
clouds with a kite, thirty years thereafter,--an experiment that
startled and electrified the scientific world. The story is a familiar
one, and should be repeated here.

He believed that lightning and electricity were identical. Experiments
for six years had led him to this conclusion. But how could he prove
it? He conceived the idea of an electrical kite by which he could
settle the truth or falsity of his theory. Having prepared the kite,
he waited for a thunder-shower; nor did he wait long. Observing one
rising, he took the kite, and with his son, twenty-one years of age,
stole away into a field near by, where there was an old cow-shed. He
had not informed any one but his son of his purpose, because he wished
to avoid ridicule in case the experiment proved a failure.

The kite was sent up in season for the coming storm to catch, and,
with intense anxiety, Franklin held the string, which was hempen,
except the part in the hand, which was silk. He was so confident of
success that he brought along with him a Leyden bottle, in which to
collect electric fluid from the clouds for a shock. It was a moment of
great suspense. His heart beat like a trip-hammer. At first a cloud
seemed to pass directly over the kite, and the thunder rattled, and
the lightnings played around it, and yet there was no indication of
electricity. His heart almost failed him. But in silence he continued
the experiment as the storm increased and drew nearer, and the
artillery of heaven grew louder and more vivid. Another moment, and he
beheld the fibers of the hempen cord rise as the hair of a person does
on the insulated stool. What a moment it was! The electric fluid was
there! His experiment was successful! Electricity and lightning are
identical! Pen nor poesy can describe his emotion. Eagerly he applied
his knuckles to the key, attached to the extremity of the hempen cord,
and drew a spark therefrom. His joy was immeasurable! Another spark,
and then another, and still another, until further confirmation was
unnecessary! The Leyden bottle was charged with the precious fluid,
from which both father and son received a shock as unmistakable as
that from his electric battery at home. Franklin's fame was secured
throughout the world. He went home with feelings of indescribable
satisfaction.

Doctor Franklin was a very modest man, and he wrote a letter to Peter
Collinson, member of the Royal Society of London, dated Philadelphia,
Oct. 16, 1752, describing the experiment without even hinting that he
was the experimenter. As that letter described his electrical kite,
and his method of using it, we insert it here:

"As frequent mention is made in public papers from Europe of the
success of the Philadelphia experiment for drawing the electric fire
from clouds by means of pointed rods of iron erected on high
buildings, etc., it may be agreeable to the curious to be informed
that the same experiment has succeeded in Philadelphia, though made in
a different and more easy manner, which is as follows:

"Make a small cross of two light strips of cedar, the arms so long as
to reach the four corners of a large thin silk handkerchief when
extended; tie the corners of the handkerchief to the extremities of
the cross, so you have the body of a kite; which being properly
accommodated with a tail, loop, and string, will rise in the air like
those made of paper; but this, being of silk, is fitter to bear the
wet and wind of a thunder-gust without tearing. To the top of the
upright stick of the cross is to be fixed a very sharp-pointed wire,
rising a foot or more above the wood. To the end of the twine next the
hand is to be tied a silk ribbon, and where the silk and twine join a
key may be fastened.

"This kite is to be raised when a thunder-gust appears to be coming
on, and the person who holds the string must stand within a door or
window, or under some cover, so that the silk ribbon may not be wet;
and care must be taken that the twine does not touch the frame of the
door or window. As soon as any of the thunder-clouds come over the
kite, the pointed wire will draw the electric fire from them, and the
kite, with all the twine, will be electrified, and the loose filaments
of the twine will stand out every way, and be attracted by an
approaching finger. And when the rain has wetted the kite and twine,
so that it can conduct the electric fire freely, you will find it
stream out plentifully from the key on the approach of your knuckle.
At this key the vial may be charged; and from the electric fire thus
obtained spirits may be kindled, and all other electric experiments be
performed which are usually done by the help of a rubbed glass globe
or tube, and thereby the sameness of the electric matter with that of
lightning completely demonstrated."

We have spoken of the discussions between Benjamin and John Collins
upon important subjects. When other boys were accustomed to spend
their time in foolish talking and jesting, they were warmly discussing
some question in advance of their years, and well suited to improve
their minds. One of the subjects was a singular one for that
day--female education. Legislators, statesmen, ministers, and teachers
did not believe that girls should be educated as thoroughly as boys.
Fewer advantages should be accorded to them. John Collins accepted the
general view; but Benjamin struck out boldly in favor of liberal
female education, being about a hundred years in advance of his times.

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

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

"I would like to know where you discover 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 as 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 other things," answered John. "Females do not need so high
mental endowments as males, 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," replied Benjamin, "and
our ardor 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 favor 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
estimation.

Benjamin was anxious that his father should read this correspondence,
as he would be a good judge of its quality; and, after a little, he
took it to him, saying: "John and I have had some correspondence, and
I want you should read our letters."

There is little question that Benjamin was so well satisfied with his
own argument that he expected his father would give him much credit.
Perhaps his father believed, with most men of that day, that the
education of females was an unnecessary expense, and Benjamin expected
to convert him to his belief. Whether it was so or not, his father
replied:

"I should like to read it; what is it about?"

"You will find out when you read the letters."

Mr. Franklin improved the first opportunity to read the
correspondence, and report to Benjamin.

"I have been very much pleased and profited by this correspondence. It
is able for two boys like you and John; but I think John has the
advantage of you."

"John the advantage!" exclaimed Benjamin, with considerable surprise
and anxiety. "How so?"

"In some respects, not in all, I mean," added his father.

"Tell me of one thing in which he has advantage," and Benjamin
manifested disappointment when he made the request.

"Well, John's style of composition seems to me more finished, and he
expresses himself with more clearness."

"I rather think you are prejudiced, father" Benjamin said this for the
want of something better to say.

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

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

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

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

"That is what I want you should see. I am very much pleased with your
letters, for they show that you have talents to improve, and that you
are an original, independent thinker. My only reason in calling your
attention to these defects is to assist you in mental improvement."

Benjamin was just the boy to be benefited by such friendly criticism.
It would discourage some boys, and they would despair of any future
excellence. The rank and file of boys would not be aroused by it to
overcome the difficulty and go up higher. But Benjamin was aroused,
and he resolved that his composition should yet be characterized by
elegance and perspicuity. He set about that improvement at once. We
shall see, in another chapter, how he purchased an old copy of the
_Spectator_ for a model, and set about improving his style.

It is quite evident that Mr. Franklin thought well of Benjamin's
argument on female education, for he did not criticise it. Perhaps it
was here that he found proof that his son was "an original and
independent thinker." It is somewhat remarkable that a boy at that
time should hold and advocate views of female education that have not
been advanced generally until within forty years. Looking about now,
we see that females stand side by side with males, in schools and
colleges, in ability and scholarship; that they constitute a large
proportion of teachers in our land now, when, before the American
Revolution, it was not thought proper to employ them at all; that many
of them are now classed with the most distinguished authors, editors,
and lecturers; and that not a few occupy places of distinction in the
learned professions, while many others are trusty clerks,
book-keepers, saleswomen, and telegraph-operators. Young Franklin's
views, the Boston printer-boy, a hundred and seventy years ago, are
illustrated and confirmed to-day by the prominence and value of
educated females.

That a printer-boy of fifteen years could accomplish so much when he
was obliged to work from twelve to fifteen hours each day at his
trade, seems almost incredible. But he 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 he had
more time to improve his mind. He gained time enough in the morning,
by this early rising, to acquire more knowledge than some youth and
young men do by going constantly 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
ripe manhood, was founded on that opinion: "The sleeping fox catches
no poultry."

It is not surprising that a boy who subjected himself to such
discipline for a series of years should write some of the best maxims
upon this subject when he became a man. The following are some of
them:

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

"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."

"Be ashamed to catch yourself idle."

"Handle your tools without mittens; remember, a 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 into
the cable."

We have spoken of what the printer-boy accomplished as remarkable. And
yet it is not remarkable when we consider the work some men have done
in leisure hours alone. Just here is one of the most important lessons
to be learned from the example and life of Benjamin Franklin. A
similar example is before us here in New England; that of Charles G.
Frost, of Brattleboro', Vermont, who was a shoemaker by trade. He died
a few years since. He wrote of his own life:

"When I went to my trade, at fourteen years of age, I formed a
resolution, which I have kept till now--extraordinary preventives only
excepted--that I would faithfully devote _one hour each day_ to
study, in some useful branch of knowledge."

Here was the secret of his success--one hour a day. Almost any boy can
have that. He was forty-five when he wrote the above, a married man,
with three children, still devoting one hour a day, at least, to
study, and still at work at his trade. He had made such attainments in
mathematical science, at forty-five, it was claimed for him that not
more than ten mathematicians could be found in the United States in
advance of him. He wrote further of himself:

"The first book which fell into my hands was Hutton's Mathematics, an
English work of great celebrity, a complete mathematical course, which
I then commenced, namely, at fourteen. I finished it at nineteen
without an instructor. I then took up those studies to which I could
apply my knowledge of mathematics, as mechanics and mathematical
astronomy. I think I can say that I possess, and have successfully
studied, _all_ the most approved English and American works on these
subjects."

After this he commenced natural philosophy and physical astronomy;
then chemistry, geology, and mineralogy, collecting and arranging a
cabinet. Mr. Frost continues:

"Next, natural philosophy engaged my attention, which I followed up
with close observation, gleaning my information from a great many
sources. The works that treat of them at large are rare and expensive.
But I have a considerable knowledge of geology, ornithology,
entomology, and conchology."

Not only this; he added to his store of knowledge the science of
botany, and made himself master of it. He made extensive surveys in
his own state, of the trees, shrubs, herbs, ferns, mosses, lichens,
and fungi. He had the _third_ best collection of ferns in the United
States. He, also, directed his attention to meteorology, and devoted
much of his time to acquire a knowledge of the law of storms, and the
movements of the erratic and extraordinary bodies in the air and
heavens. He took up the study of Latin, and pursued it until he could
read it fluently. He read all the standard poets, and had copies of
their works in his library. Also, he became proficient in history,
while his miscellaneous reading was very extensive. Of his books he
wrote:

"I have a library which I divide into three departments--scientific,
religious, literary--comprising the standard works published in this
country, containing five or six hundred volumes. I have purchased
these books from time to time with money saved for the purpose by some
small self-denials."

Benjamin Franklin's record, on the whole, may surpass this. Both of
them show, however, what the persistent and systematic improvement of
spare moments will accomplish. If a girl or boy can command one hour a
day for reading, twenty pages could be read thoughtfully in that time,
or one hundred and forty pages in a week. In a single year more than
seven thousand pages, which is equal to eighteen large duodecimo
volumes! In twenty years, one hundred and fifty thousand pages, or
three hundred and sixty-five volumes of the size named above! Divide
this amount of reading among history, philosophy, chemistry,
biography, and general literature, and the reader will be well versed
in these several departments of knowledge.

The old adage is, "Time is money," but the leisure time of Franklin
was worth vastly more than money, as it is to every youth; for it was
culture, usefulness, and character.



XI.


STARTING A NEWSPAPER.

Benjamin had been in the printing office about three years when his
brother decided to publish a newspaper. It was a doubtful enterprise
from the outset, and friends tried to dissuade him from it. But he
viewed the matter from his own standpoint, as the Franklins were wont
to do, and the paper was started. It was called "THE NEW ENGLAND
COURANT," and the first number was issued Aug. 21, 1721. Only three
papers in the whole country were published before this. The first one
was _The Boston News-letter_, established April 24, 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." It could not have contained
more printed matter than is now compressed into one-third or one-half
page of one of our Boston dailies. The other papers were _The Boston
Gazette_, established Dec. 21, 1719; and _The American Weekly
Mercury_, of Philadelphia, Dec. 22, 1719.

There was not a little commotion when James Franklin launched _The New
England Courant_. It was regarded generally as a wild project. It was
not thought that three newspapers could live in America. The field was
not large enough. This fact, considered in contrast with the supply of
papers and journals now, daily, weekly, and monthly, shows the
wonderful growth of the country. At that time, there was not a daily
paper in the land; now, there are over one thousand,--eight of them in
the city of Boston, having a daily circulation of from three to four
hundred thousand. The papers and magazines of the United States, of
all descriptions, reach the surprising aggregate of nearly twenty
thousand, and their circulation is almost fabulous. One hundred
thousand, and even two hundred thousand, daily, is claimed for some
journals. Some weekly issues reach three hundred thousand, and even
four and five hundred thousand. Bind the daily issues of Boston into
volumes, containing one hundred sheets each, and we have an enormous
library of daily newspapers, numbering about ONE MILLION VOLUMES, the
annual production of the Boston daily press now! And this is the
aggregate of only the eight dailies, while Boston has nearly two
hundred papers and periodicals of all sorts, and the State of
Massachusetts nearly four hundred!

If the eight Boston dailies measure one yard each in width, when
opened, on the average, and they are laid end to end, we have more
than three hundred thousand yards of newspapers laid each day, which
is equal to _one hundred and seventy miles_ daily, over _one thousand
miles_ in a week, and FIFTY-ONE THOUSAND, ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-SIX
in a year! More than enough papers to reach twice around the earth!

Or, suppose we weigh these papers: If ten of them weigh a single
pound, then each day's issue weighs _thirty thousand pounds_, each
week's issue _one hundred and eighty thousand_, the aggregate of the
year amounting to NINE MILLION POUNDS! Load this yearly production
upon wagons, one ton on each, and we have a procession of FOUR
THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED wagons, that reaches, allowing one rod to a
team, over FOURTEEN MILES!

And the _New England Courant_ third in the procession! Benjamin was
much given to prophesying, but no prophecy from his lips ever covered
such a growth as this. He was in favor of starting the paper, but he
could not have had the faintest conception of what was going to
follow.

"I want to set up the paper," he said to James; "I think I can make
the best looking paper."

"I think you can; and it is going to require much attention and
planning to make it a success. I may fail in the attempt, but I'll
have the satisfaction of trying."

"I will do all I can to make it succeed, if I have to sit up nights,"
Benjamin continued. "It will give your office notoriety to publish a
paper. But how will you dispose of it?"

"Sell it on the street; and you will be a good hand to do that. No
doubt there will be some regular subscribers, and you can deliver
copies to them from week to week."

"And be collector, too, I suppose," added Benjamin, who had no
objection to any part of the work named.

"As you please about that. Doubtless it will be convenient to have you
attend to that, at times at least."

"You won't make me editor yet, I conclude," remarked Benjamin,
facetiously, thinking that about all the work on the paper, except the
editorship, had been assigned to him.

"Not yet, I think," responded James; "printer, news-dealer,
news-carrier, and collector will be as much honor as any one of the
Franklins can withstand at once"; and he had as little idea of the
part Benjamin would play in the enterprise as the boy himself.

There is no doubt that Benjamin had an idea that the paper might have
in its columns some of his fugitive pieces, sooner or later. He had
been cultivating his talents in this direction, and never was enjoying
it more than he was at the time the _New England Courant_ was
established.

"How many copies shall you publish in the first issue?" inquired
Benjamin.

"I am not quite decided about that; anywhere from two to three
hundred. We will see how it goes first."

"How about articles for it? Will you have any trouble about getting
articles?"

"None at all. I am to have several articles at once for the first
number, from parties who can write well; and when the paper is well
under way there will be a plenty of volunteer contributors. I have no
fears about that."

Benjamin might have responded, "Here is one," for there is no doubt
that he was already flattering himself with the idea that he would be
a contributor to its columns, known or unknown. Here was the real
secret of his enthusiastic interest in the enterprise.

On the day mentioned the new paper was issued, as had been announced,
and great was the anxiety of the publisher. Many citizens awaited its
coming with lively anticipations; and, on the whole, it was a
memorable occasion. No one's interest surpassed that of the
printer-boy, Benjamin, who had no hesitation in selling the paper on
the street, and rather liked that part of the business. In his view,
it was an honorable and enterprising venture, that challenged the
respect and support of every citizen.

The reception of the _Courant_ was all that James anticipated. It sold
as well as he expected, and the comments upon its ability and
character were as favorable as the times and circumstances would
warrant. There were criticisms, of course, and severe ones, too, for,
in that day, all sorts of projects were subjected to a crucial test.
The _Courant_ was no exception to the rule.

Now that the newspaper is launched, and there is new interest and
activity in consequence in the printing office, we will recur to an
episode in Benjamin's career, that occurred two years before; for it
sustains a very close relation to the newspaper enterprise and what
followed:

Benjamin had been in the printing office about a year when he
surprised his brother by the inquiry:

"How much will you allow me a week if I will board myself?"

"Do you think I pay more for your board than it is worth?" replied
James, Yankee-like, by asking another question, instead of answering
the one propounded.

"No more than you will be obliged to pay in any other family, but more
than I shall ask you. It costs you now more than you need to pay."
James was still boarding Benjamin in a family near by.

"Then you think of opening a boarding-house for the special
accommodation of Benjamin Franklin, I see," which was treating the
subject rather lightly.

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

"Of course I will agree to it," answered James. "It will be so much in
my pocket, and the bargain is made. When will you begin to keep your
boarder?"

"To-morrow," was Benjamin's quick reply. "A vegetarian can open a
boarding-house for himself without much preparation."

"To-morrow it is, then; but it will not take you long to become sick
of that arrangement. Keeping boarders is not a taking business, even
if you have no boarder but yourself."

"That is my lookout," continued Benjamin. "I have my own ideas about
diet and work, play and study, and some other things; and I am going
to reduce them to practice."

Benjamin had been reading a work on "vegetable diet," by one Tryon,
and it was this which induced him to discard meats as an article of
food. He was made to believe that better health and a clearer head
would be the result, though from all we can learn he was not lacking
in either. Mr. Tryon, in his work, gave directions for cooking
vegetables, such dishes as a vegetarian might use, so that the matter
of boarding himself was made quite simple.

The great object which Benjamin had in view was to save money for
buying books. It seemed to be the only way open to get money for that
purpose. At the same time, he would have more hours to read. He had
been trying the "vegetable diet" at his boarding place for some time,
and he liked it. He was really one of Tryon's converts. Other boarders
ridiculed his diet, and had considerable sport over his "oddity"; but
he cared nothing for that. They could eat what they pleased, and so
could he. He was as independent on the subject of diet as he was on
any other. He did not pin his faith in any thing upon the sleeve of
another; he fastened it to his own sleeve, and let it fly.

The incident illustrates the difference between the two brothers. If
James had been as unselfish and generous as Benjamin was, he would
have paid the latter the full amount of his board weekly. He would
have said:

"You have a passion for reading and study. You do this for
self-improvement. You want to know more, and make the most of yourself
that you can. In these circumstances I will not make any money out of
you. If I give you the whole amount I pay for board I shall lose
nothing, and you will gain considerable. It will help you, and I shall
be kept whole in my finances. You shall have it all."

But the fact was, James was avaricious, and was bent on making money,
though he made it out of his younger brother. On the other hand,
Benjamin was large-hearted and generous, or he never would have
offered, in the outset, to take half James paid for his board. Had he
been as niggardly as James, he could have made a better bargain than
that for himself. But it was not a good bargain that he was after; he
was after the books.

James was curious to see how Benjamin would succeed with his new
method of living. So he watched him closely, without saying any thing
in particular about it; perhaps expecting that his brother would soon
tire of boarding himself. Weeks passed by, and still Benjamin was
hale, strong, and wide-awake as ever. His actions indicated that he
was well satisfied both with his bargain and his board. Finally,
however, James' curiosity grew to such proportions that he inquired
one day,--

"Ben, how much do you make by boarding yourself?"

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

"You understand economy, I must confess," remarked James. "However, I
ought to be satisfied if you are." Perhaps his conscience might have
troubled him somewhat, and caused him to think how much better off his
young brother would have been, if he had given him the full amount of
the board, as he should have done. If Benjamin had been a common boy,
without high aspirations and noble endeavors, or a spendthrift, or
idler, there might have been some excuse for driving a close bargain
with him; but, in the circumstances, the act was unbrotherly and
ungenerous.

"The money I save is not the best part of it," added Benjamin after a
little. "I save a half-hour and more usually 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 dinner, I reckon; sawdust pudding, perhaps, with
cold water sauce! When I work I want something to work on. Living on
nothing would be hard on me." James indicated by this remark that he
had no confidence in that sort of diet.

"I live well enough for me. 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."

"Yes, I should think you might have a light head with such living,"
retorted 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?"

"Cocker's Arithmetic."

"Begin to wish that you knew something of arithmetic by this time!
Making up for misspent time, I see. Paying old debts is not
interesting business."

James meant this last remark for a fling at Benjamin's dislike for
arithmetic when he attended school. Not devoting himself to it with
the enthusiasm he gave to more congenial studies, he was more
deficient in that branch of knowledge than in any other. He regretted
his neglect of the study now, and was determined to make up his loss.
This was very honorable, and showed a noble aim, which merited praise,
instead of a fling, from his brother.

"I think it must be a sort of luxury to pay old debts, if one has any
thing to pay them with," remarked Benjamin. "If I can make up any loss
of former years now, I enjoy doing it, even by the closest economy of
time."

"Well, you estimate time as closely as a miser counts his money, Ben."

"And I have a right to do it. As little time as I have to myself
requires that I should calculate closely. 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?"

"It enables me to acquire knowledge, which I can not buy with money.
Unless I were 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, in the height of his influence and fame, were
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 penny worth pause awhile."

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

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

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

"A penny saved is a penny earned."

"A penny saved is two-pence 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."

"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 every thing. 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 endeavors, doth not, in his wise
providence, otherwise determine."

The reader may desire to know just how Franklin himself speaks of the
"vegetable diet" experiment in his "Autobiography"; so we quote it
here:

"I happened to meet with a book, written by one Tryon, recommending a
vegetable diet. I determined to go into it. My brother, being yet
unmarried, did not keep house, but boarded himself and his apprentices
in another family. My refusing to eat flesh occasioned an inconvenience,
and I was frequently chid for my singularity. I made myself acquainted
with Tryon's manner of preparing some of his dishes, such as boiling
potatoes or rice, making hasty-pudding, and a few others, and then
proposed to my brother, that if he would give me weekly half the money
he paid for my board, I would board myself. He instantly agreed to it,
and I presently found that I could save half what he paid me. This was
an additional fund for buying of books; but I had another advantage in
it. My brother and the rest going from the printing house to their
meals, I remained there alone, and, despatching presently my light
repast (which was often no more than a biscuit, or a slice of bread, a
handful of raisins, or a tart from the pastry cook's, and a glass of
water), had the rest of the time, till their return, for study; in
which I made the greater progress from that greater clearness of head,
and quicker apprehension, which generally attend temperance in eating
and drinking. Now it was, that, being on some occasion made ashamed of
my ignorance in figures, which I had twice failed learning when at
school, I took Cocker's book on arithmetic, and went through the whole
by myself with the greatest ease."



XII.


THE RUSE, AND WHAT CAME OF IT.

Mr. Parton says of the _Courant_, "It was a most extraordinary sheet.
Of all the colonial newspapers, it was the most spirited, witty, and
daring. The Bostonians, accustomed to the monotonous dullness of the
_News-letter_, received, some with delight, more with horror, all with
amazement, this weekly budget of impudence and fun. A knot of liberals
gathered around James Franklin, physicians most of them, able,
audacious men, who kept him well supplied with squibs, essays, and
every variety of sense and nonsense known in that age. The _Courant_
was, indeed, to borrow the slang of the present day, a 'sensational
paper.' Such a tempest did it stir up in Boston that the noise thereof
was heard in the remote colony of Pennsylvania."

The "knot of liberals" who wrote articles for it, met often at the
office to discuss their contributions, and the state of public
sentiment more or less affected by this venture. The _News-letter_
came in for a large share of the opposition, and they declared war
against many of the existing customs,--governmental, political, and
social. The scope and circulation of the paper was a frequent topic of
remark.

Benjamin's ears were always open to their conversation. He heard the
merits of different articles set forth, and learned that certain ones
were quite popular and elicited favorable remarks from readers
generally. This excited his ambition, and he strongly desired to try
his own ability in writing for the paper. He feared, however, that his
composition would not be regarded favorably, if it were known who was
the author; so he resorted to the following expedient:

"I will write an anonymous article," he said within himself, "in the
best style I can, and get it into James' hand in some way that will
not arouse his suspicions. I will disguise my handwriting, and give it
some fictitious name, so that he will not dream that it was written in
the office."

Accordingly the article was prepared, describing his ideal of
character, and that was the character he himself formed, and was
forming then; and he signed it SILENCE DOGOOD. This article he slipped
under the printing office door at night, where James found it in the
morning, and read it with evident satisfaction, as Benjamin thought,
who narrowly watched him. In a little while some of the "knot of
liberals" came in, and the article was read to them.

"It is a good article, and it was slipped under the door last night,"
said James. "It is signed 'Silence Dogood.'"

"You have no idea who wrote it, then?" inquired one.

"Not the least whatever."

"It is capital, whoever the author may be," remarked one of the
critics.

"Somebody wrote it who knows how to wield his pen," said another.

"Ordinarily I shall not publish articles without knowing who the
author is," remarked James; "but this is so good that I shall not
stop to inquire. I shall put it into the next issue."

"By all means, of course," replied one. "No doubt we shall soon learn
who the author is; it is a difficult matter to keep such things secret
for a long time."

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

"Publishing the article will be as likely as any thing to bring out
the author," suggested James.

"That is so; and the sooner it is published the better," remarked one
of the company approvingly.

Much more was said in praise of the article. The names of several
prominent citizens of Boston were mentioned as the possible author.
James himself named one or two, who were Boston's most intelligent and
influential citizens, as the possible author.

All approved the insertion of the article in the next issue of the
paper, much to the satisfaction of Benjamin, who was the most deeply
interested party in the office. He scarcely knew how to act in regard
to the article, 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.

The reader may judge of Benjamin's emotions when he came to put his
own article in type for the paper. It was almost too good to be real.
Fact was even stranger than fiction to him. In the outset he dreamed
that somehow and sometime the columns of the _Courant_ might contain a
contribution of his own; and here he was setting up his first article
with the approval of James and the whole "knot of liberals." This was
more than he bargained for; and his heart never came so near beating
through his jacket as then. Never was a printer-boy so happy before.
He was happy all over and all through--a lump of happiness. Not one
boy in a hundred could have managed to keep the secret as he did, in
the circumstances. Their countenances would have exposed it on the
spot. But Benjamin possessed his soul in patience, and carried out his
ruse admirably.

The issue containing Benjamin's article appeared on time, and was
greatly praised. "Who is 'Silence Dogood'?" was the most common
inquiry. "I wonder who 'Silence Dogood' can be," was a frequent
remark, showing that the article attracted much attention. Benjamin
wondered as much as any of them. "A queer signature to put to an
article," he said. "What in the world could suggest such a _nom de
plume_ to a writer?" He enjoyed his ruse more and more: it became the
choicest fun of his life. It was so crammed with felicity that he
resolved to continue it by writing more articles as well-chosen and
good.

He was able to prepare a better article for the second one, because he
brought to its preparation the enthusiasm and encouragement awakened
by the favorable reception of the first. Besides, the many remarks he
had heard about it gave him points for another communication, so as to
make it sharper, better adapted to the times, and hence more timely.
Within a short time, the second article was slipped under the door at
night for James to pick up in the morning.

"Another article from 'Silence Dogood,'" exclaimed James, as he opened
it and read the signature.

"I thought we should hear from that writer again," was all the remark
that Benjamin vouchsafed.

"A good subject!" added James, as he read the caption. "I will read
it," and he proceeded to read the article to Benjamin.

The latter listened with attention that was somewhat divided between
the excellent reception the article was having and the grand success
of his ruse.

"Better even than the first article," remarked James after having read
it. "We must not rest until we find out who the author is. It is
somebody of note."

The second article was submitted to the "knot of liberals," the same
as the first one, and all approved it highly.

"It is sharper than the first one, and hits the nail on the head every
time," said one of the number. "Dogood is a good name for such a
writer."

"And we shall have more of them, no doubt," suggested James; "it is
quite evident that the writer means to keep on."

"I hope he will; such articles will call attention to the paper, and
that is what we want," added another.

"In the mean time, let us find out if possible who the writer is,"
suggested still another. "It will be a help to the paper to have it
known who is the author, if it is one of the scholars."

Charles Dickens was a poorer boy than Benjamin ever was, knowing what
it was to go to bed hungry and cold; but his young heart aspired after
a nobler life, and, while yet a boy, he wrote an article for the
press, disclosing the fact not even to his mother, and then, on a dark
night, he dropped it "into a dark letter box, in a dark office, up a
dark court in Fleet street." His joy was too great for utterance when
he saw it in print. It was the beginning of a career as a writer
unparalleled in English or American history. And he told the secret of
it when he wrote, "While other boys played, I read Roderick Random,
Tom Jones, The Vicar of Wakefield, Don Quixote, Gil Bias, and other
books. They kept alive my fancy, and my hope of something beyond that
place and time."

Benjamin heard all that was said, and still kept his secret. It would
not have been strange if his vanity had been inflated by these
complimentary remarks. Ordinary humanity could scarcely be exposed to
so high praise without taking on a new sense of its importance. But
Benjamin kept down his pride, and his heart continued to abide under
his jacket though it beat mightily. Was it any wonder?

Without stopping to narrate details, it is sufficient to say that
Benjamin wrote several articles, and sent them forward to James under
the door; and they were all pronounced good by James and his friends.
He began to think that it was almost time to let out the secret. James
was fairly committed to the excellence of all the articles, and so
were the other critics. This was important to the success of
Benjamin's plan. He had feared, as he had continued industriously to
set up type, that a disclosure would knock all his plans into "pi";
but he had no fears now. But how should he disclose? That was the
question. It was not long, however, before the question was settled.
His brother made some remark about the last article slipped under the
door, and wondered that the author had not become known.

"I know who the author is," said Benjamin under such a degree of
excitement as even an older person would experience on the eve of an
important revelation.

"You know!" exclaimed James in great surprise. "If you know, why have
you not disclosed it before?"

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

"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 any thing 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 think."

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

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

"Of course I am, and every one else who is interested in the paper."

That was the crisis to James. We can scarcely conceive of its interest
to the boy-writer. His time of triumph had come. James had not treated
him very well, and we think he enjoyed that moment of victory a little
more for that reason. That would have been human, and Benjamin was
human. His ruse had proved successful, and his talents, too. Now he
could startle his brother as much as would a thunder-bolt out of a
clear sky. So he answered his inquiry by saying,--

"Benjamin Franklin "; and he said it with emphasis and an air of
triumph.

If James' countenance could have been photographed at that moment, it
would have shown a mixture of amazement, incredulity, and wonder. It
was several moments before he so far recovered from the shock as to be
able to speak.

"What! Do you mean to say that you wrote those articles?" Benjamin
might have discovered some doubt in James' tone and appearance when he
spoke.

"Certainly I do."

"But it is not your handwriting."

"It is my handwriting disguised. I wa' n't fool enough to let you have
the articles in my own handwriting without disguise, when I wished 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."

"But if I had seen and read the articles, knowing them to be yours, I
should have judged them fairly," James insisted, evidently feeling
somewhat hurt by his brother's last remark. Nevertheless, Benjamin was
right. It is probable that his articles would have been rejected, had
he offered them in his own name to the critics.

"Well, that was my plan, and the articles have had a fair show, and I
am satisfied, whether you are or not," was Benjamin's reply in an
independent spirit.

Here the conversation dropped. James bestowed no words of commendation
upon his brother's ability. Perhaps he thought that he had praised the
articles enough when he did not know who the author was. But he
appeared to be abstracted in thought until some of the "knot of
liberals" came in.

"I have discovered who 'Silence Dogood' is," he said.

"You have? Who can it be?" and the speaker was very much surprised.

"No one that you have dreamed of."

"Is that so? I am all the more anxious to learn who it is," he
continued.

"There he is," replied James, pointing to Benjamin, who was setting
type a little more briskly than usual, as if he was oblivious to what
was going on.

"What! Benjamin? You are joking, surely," replied one.

"Your brother out there!" exclaimed another, pointing to Benjamin;
"you do not mean it!"

"Yes, I do mean it. He is the author, and he has satisfied me that he
is. You can see for yourselves."

The "knot of liberals" was never so amazed, and now they all turned to
Benjamin, and he had to speak for himself. They were not entirely
satisfied that there was not some mistake or deception about the
matter. But he found little difficulty in convincing them that he was
the real author of the communications, whereupon they lavished their
commendations upon him to such an extent as to make it perilous to one
having much vanity in his heart.

From that time Benjamin was a favorite 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 found more fault with him, and
became very unreasonable in his treatment. Probably he had never
dreamed that Benjamin possessed more talents than other boys of his
age. Nor did he care, so long as his brother was an apprentice, and he
could rule over him as a master. He did not appear to regard the
blood-relationship between them, but only that of master and
apprentice. In other words, he was a poor specimen of a brother, and
we shall learn more about him in the sequel.

In his "Autobiography," Franklin tells the story of his ruse as
follows:

"James had some ingenious men among his friends, who amused themselves
by writing little pieces for this paper, which gained it credit, and
made it more in demand, and these gentlemen often visited us. Hearing
their conversations, and their accounts of the approbation their
papers were received with, I was excited to try my hand among them.
But, being still a boy, and suspecting that my brother would object to
printing any thing of mine in his paper, if he knew it to be mine, I
contrived to disguise my hand, and, writing an anonymous paper, I put
it at night under the door of the printing house. It was found in the
morning, and communicated to his writing friends, when they called in
as usual. They read it, commented on it in my hearing, and I had the
exquisite pleasure of finding it met with their approbation, and that,
in their different guesses at the author, none were named but men of
some character among us for learning and ingenuity. I suppose that I
was rather lucky in my judges, and that they were not really so very
good as I then believed them to be. Encouraged, however, by this
attempt, I wrote and sent in the same way to the press several other
pieces, that were equally approved; and I kept my secret till all my
fund of sense for such performances was exhausted, and then discovered
it, when I began to be considered a little more by my brother's
acquaintance.

"However, that did not quite please him, as he thought it tended to
make me too vain. This might be one occasion of the differences we
began to have about this time. Though a brother he considered himself
as my master, and me as his apprentice, and accordingly expected the
same services from me as he would from another, while I thought he
degraded me too much in some he required of me, who from a brother
expected more indulgence."

The foregoing 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 introduced him to an
exercise that was of the first importance in the improvement of his
mind. From the time he wrote the first article for the _Courant_, he
did not cease to write for the public. Probably no other American boy
began his public career so early--sixteen. He had written much before,
but it was not for the press. It was done for self-improvement, and
not for the public eye. The newspaper opened a new and unexpected
channel of communication with the public that was well suited to
awaken his deepest interest and inspire his noblest efforts.

The incident reminds us of Canning's _Microcosm_. He, the great
English statesman, was scarcely as old as Benjamin when he established
a boy's periodical in the school at Eton, whither he was sent. It was
christened _Microcosm_, which means, literally, "the little world." It
was a weekly publication issued from Windsor. It was conducted "after
the plan of the _Spectator_"--a work that was of immense value to
Benjamin, as we shall see,--"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
prominent and capable than Canning.

It became one of the prominent influences that decided his future
course, as he always affirmed, developing his talents, and stimulating
his mind to labor in this honorable way. It also exerted a decided
influence upon the character of another boy, named Frere, who
afterwards shone as a writer on the pages of the _Anti-Jacobin_.

Examples of industry, enterprise, despatch, promptness, punctuality,
and circumspection are inspiring to both old and young; and nowhere do
these noble qualities appear to better advantage than they do where
busy brains and hands make the newspaper in the printing office. It is
a remarkably useful school. It was so when Benjamin was a boy. It was
a far better school for him than that of Williams or Brownwell. Here
he laid the foundation of his learning and fame. The same was true of
Horace Greeley, who founded the _New York Tribune_, and of Henry J.
Raymond, who made the _Times_ what it is. The late Vice-President
Schuyler Colfax was schooled in a printing office for his honorable
public career; and the same was true of other distinguished statesmen.
But none of these examples are so remarkable as the following, that
was made possible by Benjamin Franklin's example.

A waif two years of age was taken from a benevolent institution in
Boston, and given to a childless sailor, on his way from a voyage to
his home in Maine on the Penobscot River. The sailor knew not from
what institution the child was taken, nor whence he came. He carried
it home, without a name, or the least clue to his ancestry. The
sailor's wife was a Christian woman, and had prayed for just such a
gift as that. She resolved to train him for the Lord. At twelve years
of age he became a Christian, and, from that time, longed to be a
minister. But poverty stood in his way, and there was little prospect
of his hopes being realized.

At length, however, he read the life of Benjamin Franklin; and he
learned how the printing office introduced him into a noble life-work.
"I will go through the printing office into the ministry," he said to
his adopted mother. So, at fifteen, he became a printer in Boston.
After a while, his health broke down, and the way to regain it seemed
to be through service to a wealthy man on his farm in the country.
There his health was restored, and his benevolent employer got him
into Andover Academy, where he led the whole class. Near the close of
his preparatory course, on a Saturday night, the author met him under
the following circumstances:

He was then nineteen years of age. On that day he had learned from
what institution he was taken, and, going thither, he ascertained that
he had a sister three years older than himself, living thirty miles
north of Boston. It was the first knowledge he had received about any
of his relatives. He was ten years old when his adopted parents
informed him that he was taken, a waif, from an institution in Boston.
From that time he was curious to find the institution and learn
something of his ancestry. He was too young, when he was taken away,
to remember that he had a sister. But on that day he learned the fact;
and he took the first train to meet her. The author took the train,
also, to spend the Sabbath with the minister who reared the sister. We
met in the same family. What a meeting of brother and sister! The
latter had mourned, through all these years, that she knew not what
had become of her baby-brother, whom she well remembered and loved;
but here he was, nineteen years of age, a manly, noble, Christian
young man! Could she believe her eyes? Could we, who were lookers on,
think it real? We received the story of his life from his own lips.

He was the best scholar in his class through academy, college, and
theological seminary, and is now an able and useful minister of the
Gospel, indebted TO THE EXAMPLE AND EXPERIENCE OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN IN
THE PRINTING OFFICE FOR WHAT HE IS!



XIII.


BOOKS OF HIS BOYHOOD.

Coleridge divided readers into four classes, thus: "The first may be
compared to an hour-glass, their reading being as the sand; it runs
in, and it runs out, and leaves not a vestige behind. A second class
resembles a sponge, which imbibes every thing, and returns it merely
in the same state, only a little dirtier. A third class is like a
jelly-bag, which allows all that is pure to pass away, and retains
only the refuse and the dregs. The fourth class may be compared to the
slave in the diamond mines of Golconda, who, casting aside all that is
worthless, preserves only the pure gem."

Benjamin belonged to the fourth class, which is the smallest class of
all. The "hour-glass" class, who simply let what they read "run in and
run out," is very large. It is not entitled to much respect, however,
for it will bring no more to pass than the class who do not read at
all.

Benjamin sought the "pure gem." If he had any thing, he wanted
diamonds. Nor did he accept "a stone for bread." He knew what bread
was, which is not true of many readers; and so he had bread or
nothing. His mind was a voracious eater, much more of an eater than
his body. It demanded substantial food, too, the bread, meat, and
potato of literature and science. It did not crave cake and
confectionery. There was no mincing and nibbling when it went to a
meal. It just laid in as if to shame starvation; it almost gobbled up
what was on the table. It devoured naturally and largely. It was
fortunate for him that his mind was so hungry all the time; otherwise,
his desire to go to sea, his love of sport, and his unusual social
qualities might have led him astray. Thousands of boys have been
ruined in this way, whom passionate fondness of reading might have
made useful and eminent. Thomas Hood said: "A natural turn for reading
and intellectual pursuits probably preserved me from the moral
shipwrecks so apt to befall those who are deprived in early life of
their parental pilotage. My books kept me from the ring, the dog-pit,
the tavern, and saloon. The closet associate of Pope and Addison, the
mind accustomed to the noble though silent discourse of Shakespeare
and Milton, will hardly seek or put up with that sort of company."

It was probably as true of Benjamin Franklin as it was of Thomas Hood,
that reading saved him from a career of worldliness and worthlessness.
In his manhood he regarded the habit in this light, and said: "From my
infancy I was passionately fond of reading, and all the money that
came into my hands was laid out in the purchasing of books." If he had
laid out his money in billiards, boating, theatre-going, and kindred
pleasures, as so many do, he might have been known in manhood as Ben,
the Bruiser, instead of "Ben, the Statesman and Philosopher."

The first book Benjamin read was "Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress." He was
fascinated with it, and read it over and over, much to the
gratification of his parents.

"What is there about it that interests you so much?" inquired his
father, hoping that it might be the subject alone.

"The dialogues that are carried on in it," replied Benjamin.

"Then you think more of the style than you do of the matter?" remarked
his father, evidently somewhat disappointed that he was not specially
taken with Christian's journey.

"It is all interesting. I should never get tired of reading such a
book." This reply reassured his father, and he got considerable
comfort out of it, after having set before the boy the true idea of
Christian's flight from the City of Destruction.

"It was written in Bedford jail, England," continued his father.
"There was much persecution in his day, and he was thrust into prison
to keep him from preaching the Gospel; but the plan did not succeed
very well, for he has been preaching it ever since through that book,
that he never would have written had he not been imprisoned."

"Then he was a minister, was he?" said Benjamin.

"No, he was not a minister; he was a tinker, and a very wicked man, so
profane that he was a terror to good people. But he was converted and
became a Christian, and went about doing good, as Christ did,
preaching the Gospel in his way, in houses, by the way side, anywhere
that he could, until he was sent to prison for doing good."

"A strange reason for sending a man to jail," remarked Benjamin.

"They thought that he was doing evil, no doubt. I mean the enemies of
the Gospel. They did not believe in the Christian religion which
Bunyan had embraced; they thought it would stir up the people to
strife and contention, and prove a curse instead of a blessing." Mr.
Franklin knew that such information would increase the interest of his
son in the book; and it did. The impression wrought upon him by
reading this book lasted through his life, and led him to adopt its
style in much of his writing when he became a man. He said in manhood:

"Narrative mingled with dialogue is very engaging, not only to the
young, but to adults, also. It introduces the reader directly into the
company, and he listens to the conversation, and seems to see the
parties. Bunyan originated this colloquial style, and Defoe and
Richardson were his imitators. It is a style so attractive, conveying
instruction so naturally and pleasantly, that it should never be
superseded."

Mr. Franklin owned all of Bunyan's works, his "Grace Abounding to the
Chief of Sinners," and his "Holy War," and "Pilgrim's Progress" just
spoken of. Benjamin read them all, but "Pilgrim's Progress" was the
one that charmed his soul and more or less influenced his life.

"Defoe's Essay upon Projects" was another volume of his father's,
written in the same style as "Pilgrim's Progress," and, for that
reason, very interesting to him. He devoured its contents. Its
subject-matter was much above the capacity of most boys of his age;
but the dialogue method of imparting instruction made it clear and
attractive to him. One subject which it advocated was the liberal
education of girls; and it was here, without doubt, that Benjamin
obtained his views upon advanced female education, which he advocated
in his discussion with John Collins.

"Plutarch's Lives" was still another volume his father owned, one of
the most inspiring books for the young ever published. He read this so
much and carefully that he was made very familiar with the characters
therein--information that was of great service to him, later on, in
his literary labors and public services.

"There was another book in my father's little library, by Doctor
Mather, called, 'An Essay to do Good,'" said Doctor Franklin, in his
"Autobiography," "which, perhaps, gave me a turn of thinking that had
an influence on some of the principal future events of my life." He
wrote to a son of Doctor Mather about it, late in life, as follows:

"When I was a boy, I met with a book, entitled 'Essays to do Good,'
which I think was written by your father (Cotton Mather). It had been
so little regarded by a former possessor that several leaves of it
were torn out; but the remainder gave me such a turn of thinking as to
have an influence on my conduct through life; for 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 owe the advantage of it to that book."

The "Essays to do Good" consisted of twenty-two short essays of a
practical character, inculcating benevolence as a duty and privilege,
and giving directions to particular classes. It had lessons for
ministers, lawyers, doctors, merchants, magistrates, teachers,
mechanics, husbands, wives, gentlemen, deacons, sea-captains, and
others. The style was quaint, earnest, and direct, exactly suited to
appeal to such a boy as Benjamin; and withal it was so practical that
it won his heart.

Mr. Parton records a singular incident about this Doctor Mather, as
follows: "How exceedingly strange that such a work as this should have
been written by the man who, in 1692, at Salem, when nineteen people
were hanged and one was pressed to death for witchcraft, appeared
among the crowd, openly exulting in the spectacle! Probably his zeal
against the witches was as much the offspring of his benevolence as
his 'Essays to do Good.' Concede his theory of witches, and it had
been cruelty to man not to hang them. Were they not in league with
Satan, the arch-enemy of God and man? Had they not bound themselves by
solemn covenant to aid the devil in destroying human souls and
afflicting the elect? Cotton Mather had not the slightest doubt of
it."

When Benjamin had exhausted the home stock of reading, he showed his
sound judgment by saying to his father:

"I wish I could have 'Burton's Historical Collections'; it would be a
great treat to read those books."

"It would, indeed; they are very popular, and I should like to have
you read them. But how to get them is more than I can tell."

"Would you be willing that I should exchange Bunyan's works for them?"

"I did not suppose that you would part with 'Pilgrim's Progress' for
Burton's books or any others," was Mr. Franklin's reply.

"I should rather keep both; but I have read 'Pilgrim's Progress' until
I know it by heart, so that I would be willing to part with it for
Burton's books, if I can get them in no other way."

"Well, you can see what you can do. I am willing to do 'most any thing
to keep you in good books, for they are good companions. I know of no
better ones, from all I have heard and read about them, than 'Burton's
Collections.'"

"Perhaps I can sell Bunyan's books for enough to buy Burton's,"
suggested Benjamin. Doubtless he had canvassed the matter, and knew of
some opportunity for a trade like that.

"Well, you may do that, if you can; I have no objection. I hope you
will succeed."

The result was that Benjamin sold the works of Bunyan, and bought
Burton's books in forty small volumes, quite a little library for that
day. He was never happier than when he became the owner of "Burton's
Historical Collections," famous in England and America, and
extensively sold, not only by book-sellers, but also by pedlars. They
contained fact, fiction, history, biography, travels, adventures,
natural history, and an account of many marvels, curiosities, and
wonders, in a series of "twelve-penny books."

Doctor Johnson referred to these books in one of his letters: "There
is in the world a set of books which used to be sold by the
book-sellers on the bridge, and which I must entreat you to procure
me. They are called Burton's books. The title of one is, 'Admirable
Curiosities, Rarities, and Wonders in England.' They seem very proper
to allure backward readers."

He might have added, also, _forward_ readers; for they lured Benjamin,
who was, perhaps, the most thoughtful and ready reader of his age in
Boston In them he discovered a rich mine of thought and information,
and he delved there. He found even nuggets of gold to make his mind
richer and his heart gladder.

His father's books were chiefly theological; yet Benjamin's love of
reading caused him to read them. He possessed, also, a collection of
religious tracts, called the "Boyle Lectures," because Robert Boyle,
the youngest son of an Irish earl, a very pious man, originated them,
"designed to prove the truth of the Christian religion among
infidels." Benjamin read all of these, and his father was delighted to
have him read them at the time, thinking that the moral results would
be good. But the sequel will show that the effect of reading them was
bad. In order to refute the arguments of deists, it was necessary to
print them in the tracks. So Benjamin read both sides, and he thought,
in some respects, that the deists had the best argument.

Not long after Benjamin became a printer, a prominent citizen of
Boston, Matthew Adams, who had heard of his talents and love of
reading, met him in the printing office, and entered into conversation
with him.

"You are a great reader, I learn," he said.

"Yes, sir, I read considerable every day."

"Do you find all the books you want to read?"

"Not all. I should like to read some books I can't get."

"Perhaps you can find them in my library; you can come and take out of
it any book you would like."

"Thank you very much," answered Benjamin, exceedingly gratified by
this unexpected offer. "I shall take the first opportunity to call."

"Boys who like to read as well as you do, ought to have books enough,"
continued Mr. Adams. "I think you will find quite a number of
entertaining and useful ones. You will know when you examine for
yourself."

"That I shall do very soon, and be very grateful for the privilege,"
answered Benjamin.

Within a few days, the printer-boy paid Mr. Adams a visit. The latter
gave him a cordial welcome, causing him to feel at ease and enjoy his
call. He examined the library to his heart's content, and found many
books therein he desired to read.

"Come any time: take out any and all the books you please, and keep
them till you have done with them," was Mr. Adams' generous offer. He
had great interest in the boy, and wanted to assist him; and Benjamin
fully appreciated his interest and kindness, and paid the library many
visits. As long as he lived he never forgot the generous aid of this
man, of whom he wrote in his "Autobiography":

"After some time, a merchant, an ingenious, sensible man, Mr. Matthew
Adams, who had a pretty collection of books, frequented our printing
office, took notice of me, and invited me to see his library, and very
kindly proposed to lend me such books as I chose to read."

The printing office was frequented by book-sellers' apprentices, whose
employers wanted jobs of printing done. Benjamin made their
acquaintance, and they invited him to call at their stores to examine
the books. There were several book-stores in Boston at that time,
although the number of books was very limited as compared with the
present time.

"I will lend you that book to-night," said one of these apprentices to
Benjamin, who was manifesting a deep interest in a certain volume.
"You can return it in the morning before customers come in."

"Very much obliged. I shall be glad to read it. I think I can read it
through before I go to bed, and I can leave it when I go to the office
in the morning."

"You won't have much time for sleep if you read that book through
before going to bed. But you are used to short naps, I expect."

"I can afford to have a short nap whenever I have the reading of such
a book as this," answered Benjamin. "I shall return it in just as good
a condition as it is now."

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

This offer of the apprentice was very generous, and Benjamin suitably
expressed his appreciation of it.

"Your favor is so great that I shall feel myself under special
obligation to return the book in season for any customer to-morrow who
may want it. If I were in a book-store, as you are, I fear that my
love of reading would overcome my love of work. It would just suit me
to be in the company of so many books all the time."

"You could not have your evenings here for reading, as you do now. Our
busiest time is in the evening; so that I catch only fragments of time
to read--pretty small fragments, some days," said the apprentice.

"Well, it might be only an aggravation to live among so many books,
without time to read them," responded Benjamin. "I am content where I
am,--a printing office has some advantages over all other places for
me."

Benjamin made the most of this new opportunity. Borrowing the first
book was followed by borrowing many of the apprentices at the
book-stores. All the stores were patronized by him, and many a night
was shortened at both ends, that he might devour a book. He fairly
gorged himself with book-knowledge.

The reader must not forget that books were very few in number at that
time, and it was long before a public library was known in the land.
In Boston there were many literary people, who had come hither from
England, and they had a limited supply of books. So that Boston was
then better supplied with books than any other part of the country,
though its supply was as nothing compared with the supply now.
Book-stores, instead of being supplied with thousands of volumes to
suit every taste in the reading world, offered only a meagre
collection of volumes, such as would be scarcely noticed now. There
were no large publishing houses, issuing a new book each week-day of
the year, as there are at the present time, manufacturing hundreds of
cords of them every year, and sending them all over the land. Neither
were there any libraries then, as we have before said. Now the Public
Library of Boston offers three or four hundred thousand volumes, free
to all the citizens, and that number is constantly increasing. With
the Athenaeum, and other large libraries for public use, Boston
offers a MILLION volumes, from which the poor printer-boy, and all
other boys, can make their choice. In almost every town, too, of two
thousand inhabitants, a public library is opened, where several
hundred or thousand volumes are found from which to select, while
private libraries of from one to thirty thousand volumes are counted
by the score. The trouble with boys now is, not how to get books to
read, but what they shall select from the vast number that load the
shelves of libraries and book-stores. Benjamin had no trouble about
selecting books; he took all he could get, and was not overburdened at
that.

Another book that was of great benefit to Benjamin was an old English
grammar which he bought at a book-store. He said of it, in manhood:

"While I was intent on improving my language, I met with an English
grammar (I think it was Greenwood's), having at the end of it two
little sketches on the Arts of Rhetoric and Logic, the latter
finishing with a dispute on the Socratic method."

"What do you want of such a book as that?" inquired John Collins, when
he saw it in the printing office.

"To study, of course; I did not study grammar at school, and I want to
know something about it," was Benjamin's answer.

"I expect that some knowledge of it will not come amiss," said John.
"You mean to make the most of these things you can."

"I wanted the volume, too, for the chapters on Rhetoric and Logic at
the end," added Benjamin.

"Of what use are Rhetoric and Logic? Perhaps they may be of service to
you; they would not be to me." John spoke thus because he knew nothing
about them; he had never studied them.

"Every body ought to know something about them, even a printer," added
Benjamin. "They have already helped me to form a better opinion of the
style and value of some things I have read."

"Well, I can't get time to learn every thing. You seem to learn 'most
all there is to learn, with very little time. I wish I could, but I
can't, and so I won't try." John was always thus complimentary to
Benjamin. He gave him full credit for all his achievements.

"I mean to learn to speak and write the English language with
propriety," continued Benjamin, "and I do not know how it can be done
without a knowledge of grammar; do you?"

"I know nothing about it, any way whatever. I shall not begin now; am
too old. Can't teach old dogs new tricks." John's remark expressed his
real views of these things. Although he was a bookish fellow, he was
not inclined to go deep into literature or science.

Other books that Benjamin read were Locke's "Essay on the
Understanding"; "The Art of Thinking," by Messrs. de Port-Royal;
Sellers & Stumey's book on "Navigation," with many others of equal
merit.

Benjamin cultivated the habit of taking notes when he read, jotting
down notable facts and striking thoughts for future use. It is a
capital practice, and one that has been followed by nearly all
learners who have distinguished themselves in scholarship. He realized
the advantages of the method to such a degree that, in manhood, he
addressed the following letter from London to a bright girl in whose
education he was very much interested:

   "CRAVEN STREET, May 16, 1760.

   "I send my good girl the books I mentioned to her last night. I beg
   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 in 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 can not 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 mean time, 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 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."

Reading with pen or pencil in hand fixes the attention, assists
method, strengthens purpose, and charges memory with its sacred trust.
A note-book for this purpose is the most convenient method of
preserving these treasures. Professor Atkinson, of the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, advises students thus:

"Gather up the scraps and fragments of thought on whatever subject you
may be studying--for, of course, by a note-book I do not mean a mere
receptacle for odds and ends, a literary dust-bin--but acquire the
habit of gathering every thing, whenever and wherever you find it,
that belongs in your lines of study, and you will be surprised to see
how such fragments will arrange themselves into an orderly whole by
the very organizing power of your own thinking, acting in a definite
direction. This is a true process of self-education; but you see it is
no mechanical process of mere aggregation. It requires activity of
thought--but without that what is any reading but mere passive
amusement? And it requires method. I have myself a sort of literary
bookkeeping. I keep a day-book, and, at my leisure, I post my literary
accounts, bringing together in proper groups the fruits of much casual
reading."

The late President Garfield began this method when he began to study,
with a view to a liberal education, at about seventeen years of age.
He continued it as long as he lived. His notes and references,
including scrap-books, filled several volumes before his Congressional
career closed, on a great variety of subjects. A large number of
books, in addition to those in his own library, were made available in
this way. It was said that his notes were of great service to him in
Congress, in the discussion of almost any public question.



XIV.


LEARNING THE ART OF COMPOSITION.

Having delayed the narrative to learn of the books that helped to make
him the man he became, it is necessary to delay further to see how he
practised writing composition, both prose and poetry, in his early
life, thus laying the foundation for the excellence of his writings in
manhood.

Benjamin was not more than seven years old when he began to write
poetry. His "Uncle Benjamin's" frequent poetic addresses to him
inspired him to try his hand at the art, and he wrote something and
forwarded to his uncle in England. Whatever it was, it has not been
preserved. But we know that he wrote a piece, doggerel of course, and
sent to him, from the fact that his uncle returned the following reply:

   "'T is time for me to throw aside my pen,
   When hanging sleeves read, write, and rhyme like men.
   This forward spring foretells a plenteous crop;
   For, if the bud bear grain, what will the top?
   If plenty in the verdant blade appear,
   What may we not soon hope for in the ear!
   When flowers are beautiful before they're blown,
   What rarities will afterwards be shown!

   "If trees good fruit uninoculated bear,
   You may be sure 't will afterwards be rare.
   If fruits are sweet before they've time to yellow,
   How luscious will they be when they are mellow!
   If first-year's shoots such noble clusters send,
   What laden boughs, Engedi-like, may we expect in end!"

There was no time, from the above date, when Benjamin did not indulge,
to some extent, his inclination to write. It was done for his own
amusement and profit, so that he was not in the habit of showing or
speaking of his productions. None of them were preserved.

But his talent for composition developed rapidly from the time he was
fairly settled in the printing business. He practised putting original
thoughts, and thoughts culled from books, into sentences and
paragraphs, a very sensible method of self-improvement. He often tried
his hand at poetry, if it was only a couplet at a time. Longer
compositions he wrote, for no one to see and read but himself. One day
his brother James, curious to see what Benjamin was writing so much
about, looked over his shoulder.

"What have you there, Ben?" he said. "Writing a sermon or your will?
Ay! poetry is it?" catching a glimpse of it. "Then you are a poet are
you?"

"Seeing what I can do," Benjamin replied. "We do not know what we can
do till we try. It is not much any way."

"Let me read it, and I will tell you whether it is much or not.
Authors are not good judges of their own productions. They are like
parents, who think their own children handsomest and most promising;
they think their articles are better than they are."

James was in a happy mood for him when he thus spoke. He knew nothing
about Benjamin's ability in writing composition; for this was quite a
while before the newspaper was started for which he wrote.

"I have been reading much poetry of late," added Benjamin, "and I am
anxious to know if I can write it. I like to read it, and I have read
several of the poets since I had access to Mr. Adams' library," This
was after Mr. Adams invited him take books from his library, of which
we have already given an account.

"So much the more reason that I should read what you have written,"
added James. "I do not expect it will be quite equal to Shakespeare."

"Well, read it, I do not care." And Benjamin passed it over to his
brother without further hesitation.

James read it over carefully, and then he re-read it before making a
remark, as if to be sure that he was not mistaken in the quality of
the composition.

"That is good, Ben. It is really good, much better than I supposed you
could write. Indeed, I did not know that you could write poetry at
all. It is not quite equal to Virgil or Homer, but good for a
printer-boy to write. Have you any other pieces?"

James was honest in these last remarks, and felt more kindly at the
time than he often did towards his brother.

"Yes, I have two or three pieces more which I am going to improve
somewhat. You had better wait till I have rewritten them before you
read them." Benjamin was greatly encouraged by his brother's favorable
opinion of his literary venture, when he made this reply.

"No need of that. Let me see them now, and I can tell you whether they
are worth making better. Some things are not worth making better; and
I think this must be particularly true of poetry. Poor poetry is poor
stuff; better write new than to try to improve it."

James' last plea prevailed, and Benjamin produced the articles for his
examination. They were read with as much interest as the first one,
and they were re-read too, that there might be no mistake in his
judgment. Then his enthusiasm broke out.

"I tell you what it is, Ben, these are good, and I believe that you
can write something worthy of print if you try hard; and if you will
undertake it, you may print and sell a sheet on the street. I have no
doubt that it will sell well."

"I will see what I can do," Benjamin replied, very much elated over
his success. "I hardly think my poetry will read well in print,
though. I have not been writing for the press."

"We can tell best when we read it in print. Get up something as soon
as you can, and let us see," said James.

"I will go right about it, and I will not be long in getting up
something, good, bad, or indifferent."

Within a few days Benjamin produced two street ballads, after the
style of that day. They were better than any thing he had written, but
still susceptible of great improvement. One was entitled "The
Light-house 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 "Blackbeard, the Pirate." James read
them critically, to see if it would do to put them in print and offer
them to the public.

"These are really better than what I read the other day," he remarked,
when he had examined them all he desired. "Now, you may put them into
type, and sell them about the town, if you are willing. I think a good
number of them may be disposed of."

"How many copies will you print?"

"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?"

"Just as soon as you can. The quicker the better. I am anxious to see
how they take with the public."

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 on the
streets as the newsboys do the daily papers now, we have no means of
knowing. But he was successful in selling his wares, whatever his
method was. "The Light-house Tragedy" sold the most readily. 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. It sold even beyond his expectations, and
seemed to develop what little vanity there was in his soul. He began
to think that he was a genuine born 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 Mr. Franklin 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. Whether so or not,
his father learned of 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. It is
unworthy of a son of Josiah Franklin."

"Why so, father? I can't understand you."

"Because it is not an honorable business. You are not a poet, and can
write nothing of that sort worth printing."

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

"James is not a good judge of poetry, nor of the propriety of hawking
them about town. 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."

Benjamin was so dumbfounded that he could not say much in reply; and
his father proceeded to expose the faults of the poetical effusion. He
did not spare the young author at all; nor was he cautious and lenient
in his criticisms. On the other hand, he was severe. And he went on
until Benjamin began to feel sorry that he had ever written a scrap of
poetry.

"There, I want you should promise me," continued 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," suggested Benjamin, whose
estimation of his literary venture was modified considerably by this
time. "Perhaps I may yet write something worthy of being read. You
could not expect me to write like Pope to begin with."

"No; nor to end with," retorted his father. "You are not a poet, and
there is no use in your trying to be. Perhaps you can learn to write
prose well; but poetry is another thing. Even if you were a poet I
should advise you to let the business alone, for poets are usually
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 was 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 his son, although what he said of
his verses was substantially true, as his son freely admitted in
manhood. He overlooked the important fact that it was a commendable
effort of the boy to try to improve his mind. Some of the best poets
who have lived wrote mere doggerel when they began. Also, many of our
best prose writers were exceedingly faulty at first. It is a noble
effort for a boy to put his thoughts into language, and Mr. Franklin
ought to have recognized it as such. If he does not succeed in the
first instance, by patience, industry, 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 have borne the censure of that, since it was done
by his direction. Doubtless, his brother regarded the propriety of the
act less, because he had an eye on the pecuniary profits of the
scheme.

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

The reader must bear in mind that this incident occurred before the
discussion of Benjamin with John Collins upon female education,
related in a former chapter. We shall see that his father's criticisms
on his arguments in that discussion proved of great value to him.

"What has happened now, Ben?" inquired James, observing that his
brother looked despondent and anxious. "Are you bringing forth more
poetry?"

"Father doesn't think much of my printing and selling verses of my
own," answered Benjamin. "He has given me such a lecture that I am
almost ashamed of myself."

"How is that? Don't he think they are worthy of print?"

"No. He do not see any merit in them at all. He read them over in his
way, and counted faults enough to show that there is precious little
poetry in me. A beggar and a poet mean about the same thing to him."

"He ought to remember that you are not as old as you will be, if you
live; and you will make improvement from year to year. You can't
expect to write either prose or verse well without beginning and
trying."

"All the trial in the world can do nothing for me, I should judge from
father's talk. You ought to have heard him; and he did not spare you
for suggesting the printing and sale of the pieces on the street."
Benjamin said this in a tone of bitter disappointment.

"Well, I suppose that he has heard of two men disagreeing on a
matter," remarked James. "All is, he and I do not agree. I consider
the whole thing wise and proper, and he does not. That is all there is
to it."

Perhaps it was a good thing for Benjamin to meet with this obstacle in
his path to success. Rather discouraging, it is true, nevertheless
suited to keep him humble. Benjamin confessed in manhood, that 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. That removed the danger. After such a
severe handling he was not inclined to over-rate his poetical talents.
It had the effect, also, to turn his attention almost wholly to prose
writing, in which he became distinguished, as we shall see hereafter.

A single verse of these ballads only has descended to our times. It is
from the second mentioned--the capture of the pirate, as follows:

   "Come, all you jolly sailors,
     You all so stout and brave;
   Come, hearken, and I'll tell you
     What happened on the wave.
   Oh! 't is of that bloody Blackbeard
     I'm going now to tell;
   How as to gallant Maynard
     He soon was sent to hell--
       With a down, down, down, derry down."

Franklin said of this ballad episode:

"I now took a strong inclination for poetry, and wrote some little
pieces. My brother, supposing it might turn to account, encouraged me,
and induced me to compose two occasional ballads. One was called 'The
Light-house Tragedy,' and contained an account of the shipwreck of
Captain Worthilake with his two daughters; the other was a sailor's
song, on taking the famous _Teach_, or 'Blackbeard, the Pirate.' They
were wretched stuff, in street-ballad style; and when they were
printed, my brother sent me about the town selling them. The first
sold prodigiously, the event being recent, and having made a great
noise. This success flattered my vanity; but my father discouraged me
by criticising my performances and telling me that verse-makers were
generally beggars. Thus I escaped being a poet, and probably a very
bad one."

From the time that Mr. Franklin criticised his son's argument with
John Collins on female education, Benjamin made special efforts to
improve his style. He knew that Addison's style was regarded as a
model, so he purchased an old volume of his 'Spectator,' and set
himself to work with a determination to make his own style Addisonian.
He subjected himself to the severest test in order to improve, and
counted nothing too hard if he could advance toward that standard.
His own account of his perseverance and industry in studying his
model, as it appears in his "Autobiography," will best present the
facts.

"About this time I met with an odd volume of the 'Spectator.' I had
never before seen any of them. I bought it, read it over and over, and
was much delighted with it. I thought the writing excellent, and
wished if possible to imitate it. With that view I took some of the
papers, and making short hints of the sentiments in each sentence,
laid them by a few days, and then, without looking at the book, tried
to complete the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at
length, and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable
words that should occur to me. Then I compared my Spectator with the
original, discovered some of my faults, and corrected them. But I
found that I wanted a stock of words, or readiness in recollecting and
using them, which I thought I should have acquired before that time,
if I had gone on making verses; since the continual search for words
of the same import, but of different length to suit the measure, or of
different sound for the rhyme, would have laid me under a constant
necessity of searching for variety, and also have tended to fix that
variety in my mind, and make me master of it. Therefore, I took some
of the tales in the 'Spectator,' and turned them into verse; and,
after a time, when I had pretty well forgotten the prose, turned them
back again.

"I also sometimes jumbled my collection of hints into confusion, and
after some weeks endeavored to reduce them into the best order before
I began to form the full sentences and complete the subject. This was
to teach me method in the arrangement of the thoughts. By comparing my
work with the original, I discovered many faults, and corrected them;
but I sometimes had the pleasure to fancy that, in certain particulars
of small consequence, I had been fortunate enough to improve the
method or the language, and this encouraged me to think that I might
in time come to be a tolerable English writer; of which I was
extremely ambitious. The time I allotted for writing exercises, and
for reading, was at night, or before work began in the morning, or on
Sundays, when I contrived to be in the printing house, avoiding as
much as I could the constant attendance at public worship, which my
father used to exact of me when I was under his care, and which I
still continued to consider a duty, though I could not afford time to
practise it."

Let any boy of even moderate abilities subject himself to such rigid
discipline for intellectual improvement as Benjamin did, and his
progress will be rapid, and his attainments remarkable. Such
application and persistent effort win always.

In a similar manner Benjamin acquired the Socratic method of
reasoning, which he found at the end of the English grammar that he
studied. Subsequently he purchased "Xenophon's Memorabilia" because it
would afford him assistance in acquiring the Socratic style. He
committed to memory, wrote, practised doing the same thing over and
over, persevering, overcoming, conquering. He acquired the method so
thoroughly as to be expert therein, and practised it with great
satisfaction to himself. Many years thereafter he spoke of the fact as
follows:

"While I was intent on improving my language, I met with an English
grammar (I think it was Greenwood's), having at the end of it two
little sketches on the Arts of Rhetoric and Logic, the latter
finishing with a dispute in the Socratic method. And, soon after, I
procured Xenophon's 'Memorable Things of Socrates,' wherein there are
many examples of the same method. I was charmed with it, adopted it,
dropped my abrupt contradiction and positive argumentation, and put on
the humble inquirer. And being then, from reading Shaftesbury and
Collins, made a doubter, as I already was in many points of our
religious doctrines, I found this method the safest for myself, and
very embarrassing to those against whom I used it; therefore I took
delight in it, practised it continually, and grew very artful and
expert in drawing people, even of superior knowledge, into concessions
the consequences of which they did not foresee, entangling them in
difficulties out of which they could not extricate themselves, and so
obtaining victories that neither myself nor my cause always deserved.

"I continued this method some few years, but gradually left it,
retaining only the habit of expressing myself in terms of modest
diffidence, never using, when I advanced any thing that may possibly
be disputed, the words _certainly, undoubtedly_, or any others that
give the air of positiveness to an opinion; but rather saying, _I
conceive_, or _apprehend_, a thing to be so and so; _It appears to
me_, or _I should not think it, so or so, for such and such reasons_;
or, _I imagine it to be so_; or, _It is so, if I am not mistaken_.
This habit, I believe, has been of great advantage to me, when I have
had occasion to inculcate my opinions, and persuade men into measures
that I have been from time to time engaged in promoting."

This and the preceding chapter show that a book may decide the future
character and destiny of a man, by inspiring thought, kindling
ambition and a lofty aim, stimulating the mental powers, inspiring
practical and, perhaps, elegant composition, and consecrating the
whole being to a definite purpose. All this was true of Benjamin
Franklin.

Rev. John Sharp said, "Shakespeare and the Bible have made me bishop
of York." Wesley claimed that the "Imitation of Christ" and "Taylor's
Holy Living and Dying" determined his calling and character. Henry
Martyn was made a missionary by reading the lives of Brainard and
Carey. Pope was indebted to Homer for his poetical inspiration, and it
was the origin of his English "Iliad." Bentham read "Telemachus" in
his youth, and, many years afterwards, he said, "That romance may be
regarded as the foundation-stone of my whole character." Goethe became
a poet in consequence of reading the "Vicar of Wakefield." Carey was
fired to go on a mission to the heathen by reading "Voyages of Captain
Cook." Samuel Drew credited his eminent career to reading Locke's
"Essay on the Understanding." The lives of Washington and Henry Clay
awakened aspirations in Lincoln's soul, that impelled him forward and
gave direction to his life. The national system of education in Great
Britain grew out of a book. Joseph Lancastar read "Clarkson on the
Slave Trade," when he was fourteen years of age, and it awakened his
enthusiasm to teach the blacks in the West Indies. Without the
knowledge of his parents he went thither, and commenced labors for
their mental and moral improvement. His parents learned where he was
and sent for him; but his heart was thoroughly in sympathy with
benevolent work, and he opened a school for the poor at home. So great
was his success that the town, after a few years, erected a commodious
building for his school; and here was the foundation of the present
system of education in the mother-country.

The author once advised a youth of fourteen to read certain books,
accustoming himself to write down in a note-book striking facts and
thoughts for preservation. At the same time he was advised to procure
a blank book and write therein a sentence or short paragraph each day,
without omission, the sentence or paragraph to contain the development
of some thought that was waiting utterance. At that time there was no
prospect that the youth would ever receive a liberal education. He was
a farmer's son, and his father was unable to educate him. The most the
author had in view was to provide him,--a bright, active, promising
boy, fond of reading,--with a source of improving entertainment and
profit. But he caught the idea with so much enthusiasm, and reduced it
to practice so thoroughly, that an unquenchable desire for an
education was nursed into controlling power; and he went through
college, studied theology, became pastor of one of the largest
Congregational churches in the country, stood among the most eloquent
preachers in the land at thirty, received the degree of Doctor of
Divinity at forty, and now, at a little more than fifty, is the
beloved and able pastor of a large church in a New England city. This
result was brought about by the discipline of reading and writing in
his youth, very similar to that which made Benjamin a statesman and
philosopher.



XV.


THE "COURANT" IN TROUBLE.

"The Legislature is calling you to an account," said a customer to
James Franklin, as he entered the office. "The officials can't put up
with your cutting criticisms."

"I am aware of that. I heard that they were going to haul the
_Courant_ over the coals; but I do not see what they can do about it."

"They can stop your printing it, I suppose. It would be an intolerant
act, of course; but governments have never been tolerant towards the
press, you know."

"The day is coming when they will be," responded James. "A free press
is indispensable to human progress. So long as I run the _Courant_ it
shall speak plainly of intolerance and hypocrisy of every form. I
shall hit the corruption of the times in high places or low."

"That is sound doctrine," replied the customer. "I endorse it, but
government officials do not. They feel very sore, and will make
trouble for you if they can."

At that moment Benjamin came rushing into the office under
considerable excitement.

"The Assembly are having a hot debate over the _Courant_," he said. "I
heard a gentleman say that they would stop the publication of the
paper, if possible."

"Perhaps they will, but I doubt it," replied James. "The _Courant_
will not be muzzled so long as I own it."

"It ought not to be," responded the customer. "We need an outspoken
paper that will rebuke corruption and shams everywhere."

"And that is all the trouble," said Benjamin. "That is what the
Assembly and the ministers denounce. They are better friends of the
British government than they are of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay."

"True, very true," rejoined the customer. "The tyrannical control of
the English press is a shame; and yet these officials who truckle to
the English government want to try it on here. But such intolerance
ought not to be borne."

The _Courant_ was exceedingly sarcastic, and no writer was more so
than Benjamin, young as he was. This was the real cause of the action
of the Assembly. A letter appeared in the _Courant_, justly rebuking
the government for dilatoriness in looking after a piratical craft off
Block Island. The letter purported to come from Newport, and
represented that the Colony were fitting out two vessels to capture
her. It concluded thus:

"We are advised from Boston that the government of the Massachusetts
are fitting out a ship (the _Flying Horse_) to go after the pirates,
to be commanded by Capt. Peter Papillon, and it is thought he will
sail sometime this month, wind and weather permitting."

This thrust at the government for tardiness would be regarded as a
good joke now, but it was a crime then, and the aristocracy of the
Province, always working in harmony with the King and Parliament, was
stirred up by it to intolerance.

James was summoned before the Council, and his apprentice also, both
of whom stood upon their dignity, refusing to answer some of the
questions put. Benjamin was dismissed, because it was found that he
was only an apprentice. But James was put on trial and pelted with
questions. The legislators were determined to find out who wrote the
"scurrilous article aforesaid," as they called it, but James refused
to tell. He placed himself squarely upon his personal rights as a
citizen, and heroically stood by his guns. Come what might, he
resolved to defend his course before this august tribunal.

The Council became more exasperated by his defiant spirit, and
threatened him with incarceration. But James stood his ground like a
martyr, without thinking he would soon become one. Benjamin was
equally defiant, and refused to answer some questions, but was excused
on the ground that "an apprentice was bound not to betray his master's
secrets." James was convicted of "a high affront to the government,"
and the sheriff was directed to commit him to the Boston jail. These
new quarters were unexpected to him, but he went thither with the
consciousness that he was suffering for a brave effort to correct
public wrongs.

We have called attention to a single paragraph reflecting upon the
government in the _Courant_. It should be told that such criticisms
were frequent in its columns. The Governor, Council, and nearly all
the ruling class of the Province were in full sympathy with Great
Britain, while others were restive under what they regarded as
oppressive rule. Most of the ministers belonged to the first class,
and so came in for a share of the _Courant's_ sarcastic utterances.
The _Courant_ represented the second class--the common people--who
read its columns gladly.

Dr. Cotton Mather attacked the paper in a paragraph that shows what
the paper contained:

"We find a notorious, scandalous paper called _The Courant_, full
freighted with nonsense, unmanliness, raillery, profaneness,
immorality, arrogance, calumnies, lies, contradictions, and what not,
all tending to quarrels and divisions, and to debauch and corrupt the
mind and manners of New England."

Increase Mather, also, assailed the _Courant_ over his own signature,
denouncing it as a "wicked libel," because it represented him as one
of its supporters, using language uncommonly expressive.

"I do hereby declare," he said, "that, although I had paid for two or
three of them, I sent him word I was extremely offended with it. In
special, because in one of his _vile Courants_, he insinuates, that if
a _minister of God approve of a thing, it is a sign it is of the
Devil_; which is a horrid thing to be related! And he doth frequently
abuse the Ministers of Religion, and many other worthy persons, in a
manner which is intolerable. For these and such like reasons I
signified to the Printer that I would have no more of their _Wicked
Courants_. I, that have known what New England was from the Beginning,
cannot but be troubled to see the Degeneracy of this Place. I can well
remember when the Civil Government would have taken an effectual
Course to suppress such a _Cursed Libel_! which if it be not done I am
afraid that some _Awful Judgment_ will come upon this Land, and the
_Wrath of God will arise, and there will be no Remedy_. I cannot but
pity poor _Franklin_, who, though but a Young Man, it may be
_Speedily_ he must appear before the Judgment Seat of God, and what
answer will he give for printing things so vile and abominable?"

It is quite evident that neither James nor Benjamin had that respect
for the "Judgment Seat," which became Christians; but James replied in
the _Courant_ to this onslaught, maintaining that Mather had garbled
his quotations from the paper, or based his opinion on parts of
paragraphs which did not convey the full and correct meaning. He
turned the tables upon him, also, by declaring that, while Mather
ceased to be a subscriber to his paper, "he sent his grandson every
week to buy it; and, paying in this way a higher price, he was more of
a supporter of the paper than ever." In the same issue, too, James
said:

"I would likewise advise the enemies of the _Courant_ not to publish
any thing more against me unless they are willing to have the paper
continued. What they have already done has been resented by the Town
so much to my advantage, that above forty persons have subscribed for
the _Courant_ since the first of January, many of whom were before
subscribers to the other papers. And by one Advertisement more, the
Anti-Couranters will be in great danger of adding forty more to my
list before the first of March."

James showed that he did not say "if the Ministers of God approve of a
thing, it is a Sign it is of the Devil"; but that he did say, "Most of
the Ministers are for it, and that induces me to think it is from the
Devil; for he often makes use of good men as instruments to obtrude
his delusions on the world." There would be decided objection to the
first utterance, at that time or since; but the second one, what the
_Courant_ did say, was as near the truth as either side was found in
most matters.

To return to James in prison. He was confined in a cell, and was very
uncomfortable. It was a dirty, dismal place, meant to be a place of
punishment, indeed. James found it so, and he soon was ready to do
almost any thing for freedom of the yard. He sat down and addressed a
very humble petition to the Council, confessing his wrong, and
imploring forgiveness and release from his cell.

"I am truly sensible of and heartily sorry for the offense I have
given to the Court in the late _Courant_, relating to the fitting out
of a ship by the government, and I truly acknowledge my inadvertency
and folly therein in affronting the government, as also my
indiscretion and indecency when before the Court; for all of which I
intreat the Court's forgiveness, and pray for a discharge from the
stone prison, where I am confined by order of the Court, and that I
may have the liberty of the yard, being much indisposed, and suffering
in my health by the said confinement."

While the Council are considering this petition, we will see what has
become of the _Courant_. The whole charge of it devolved on Benjamin
from the time his brother was imprisoned, and he fearlessly and ably
met the emergency. It was truly wonderful that a boy of sixteen should
shoulder the responsibility of such an enterprise, in such
circumstances, and carry it with so much courage and ease.

"I can look after it; there's no trouble in that," said Benjamin to
the "liberal club," who assembled as soon as possible after James was
incarcerated. "The action of the Court will increase our subscribers;
and I propose to make the paper more spicy than ever."

"Glad to hear that," responded one of the club. "Let us defy such
intolerance, though all the magistrates and ministers in Boston
support it; the mass of the people are with us."

"That is so," remarked another; "and more are coming over to our side
every day. Intimidation does not become us now. We must continue to be
outspoken; and if Benjamin can look after the paper, we are all
right."

"That I can do, and I want no better sport," replied the plucky
printer-boy. "You may be sure that such persecution will not be
sustained by a great majority of New England people. We are living in
_New_ England, and not in _Old_ England, and the people know it."

"I think Benjamin understands it," added a third member of the club;
"and his courage and ability will meet the occasion. For one I want
the _Courant_ to continue to be what it has been, the General Court to
the contrary notwithstanding."

Benjamin did understand it, and edited the paper on the same line. He
forgot all his disagreements with his brother in his sympathy with him
under persecution, and in his utter contempt for the action of the
Court. In these circumstances, his attacks upon the administration
were rather more severe than ever. "The proceedings of the Council
were assailed by argument, eloquence, and satire, in prose and verse,
in squib and essay. One number, issued just after James Franklin's
release, was nearly filled with passages from 'Magna Charta,' and
comments upon the same, showing the unconstitutionality of the
treatment to which he had been subjected. It is evident that a
considerable number of the people of Boston most heartily sympathized
with the _Courant_ in its gallant contest for the liberty of the
press, and that the issue of the number was, to these and to others,
the most interesting event of the week."[1]

The authorities considered James' petition, and granted it, but they
kept him four weeks in prison before they let him out. He returned to
his printing office, resolved to make the _Courant_ more outspoken
still for the freedom of the press. The club met him with warm
congratulations.

"A great many printers have suffered more than you have," said one of
the number; "for you have not lost your head, not even an ear. In Old
England persecution of printers has been in order for a long time.
Less than two years ago, one John Matthews, a youth nineteen years of
age, was executed at Tyburn for writing and publishing a tract in
favor of the expelled Stuarts."

"But such things do not fit our country," answered James. "My father
came here to escape that spirit of caste and intolerance that abounds
in England, and so did those who came long before he did. To repeat
them here is a greater abomination than to act them there."

"Let me read to you," interrupted Benjamin, "an account of a printer's
execution in England, about twenty years before my father emigrated to
this country. I came across it in this book, a few days ago. It is
horrible." Benjamin read as follows:

"The scene is in a court-room in the Old Bailey, Chief Justice Hyde
presiding. The prisoner at the bar was a printer, named John Gwyn, a
poor man, with a wife and three children. Gwyn was accused of printing
a piece which criticised the conduct of the government, and which
contained these words and others similar: 'If the magistrates pervert
judgment, the people are bound, by the law of God, to execute judgment
without them, _and upon them_.' This was all his offense; but it was
construed as a justification of the execution of Charles I, as well as
a threat against Charles II, then king of England. The poor man
protested he had never read the offensive matter; it was brought to
him by a maid-servant; he had earned forty shillings by printing it.

"When he was pronounced guilty, he humbly begged for mercy, pleading
poverty, his young children, and his ignorance of the contents of the
paper. 'I'll tell you what you shall do,' roared the brutal wretch who
sat on the bench, 'ask mercy of them that can give it--that is, of God
and the king.' The prisoner said, 'I humbly beseech you to intercede
with his majesty for mercy.' 'Tie him up, executioner,' cried the
judge; 'I speak it from my soul: I think we have the greatest
happiness in the world in enjoying what we do under so good and
gracious a king; yet you, Gwyn, in the rancor of your heart, thus to
abuse him, deserve no mercy.' In a similar strain he continued for
several minutes, and then passed upon the prisoner the following
sentence: He was to be drawn to the place of execution upon a hurdle,
and there hanged by the neck. While still alive he was to be cut down,
castrated, and disemboweled. 'And you still living,' added the judge,
'your entrails are to be burnt before your eyes, your head to be cut
off, and your head and quarters to be disposed of at the pleasure of
the king's majesty.' The printer was overwhelmed with terror, and in
his great agony he cried to the judge again to intercede for him. The
heartless magistrate replied, 'I would not intercede for my own father
in this case.' The prisoner was removed and executed. His head and
limbs were set up over the gates of the city."

"That was in 1663," said Benjamin as he closed the account; "and,
though we have no record of another so fiendish affair, it is a fact
that within a few years some printers and editors in England have had
their ears cropped, others have been flogged publicly, and others
still put into the stocks and pillory. We have not come to that yet."

"Not quite," answered one of the club; "but the authorities who would
please the king and suppress liberty of the press will go as far as
they dare to go in that direction; depend on that. It becomes us to
vindicate our rights fearlessly, or we shall yet share the fate of
Gwyn."

"I do not propose to spike one of my guns," said James, who listened
to the last remarks with profound emotion. "We are right, and
Americans will support us. The _Courant_ was started for a purpose,
and we must not lose sight of it."

"Benjamin has run the paper to suit while you were in jail, so that I
think both of you together will satisfy us perfectly in the future,"
added another of the club. "I fully believe, with the rest of you,
that it is no time now to cringe before the authorities. A stand for
the right is more necessary now than ever before."

We should have stated before that, in the infancy of the _Courant_,
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu returned from Turkey with the remedy for the
small-pox--inoculation. This disease had prevailed fearfully in
Boston. When the town had but five or six thousand inhabitants, seven
hundred of them died of small-pox in six months. In 1721, when
Benjamin was in the printing office, and the population of the town
was twelve thousand, the number of deaths by small-pox was eight
hundred and fifty. Many persons attacked with it died within two or
three days, so that it was a terror to the people. Of course
inoculation was received with delight by many. Cotton Mather examined
its claims, and so did his father, Increase Mather; and both endorsed
it. But the _Courant_, for some reason, opposed it, and brought all
its resources of ridicule and sarcasm to make it appear ridiculous. A
writer in its columns called it the "minister's remedy," because the
clergy favored it. Week after week it denounced the method, and warned
the people. Finally, Increase Mather publicly called attention to the
scandalous sheet, and besought the people to crush it, lest the
judgments of God be brought down upon the land for its highhanded
wickedness.

That the treatment of James Franklin by the authorities was not
justified by thoughtful citizens in other parts of the country is
evident from the following extract from the _Philadelphia Mercury_:

"The injustice of imprisoning a man without a hearing must be apparent
to all. An indifferent person would judge from this conduct, that the
Assembly of Massachusetts are oppressors and bigots, who make religion
only an engine of destruction to the people. We pity the people who
are compelled to submit to the tyranny of priestcraft and hypocrisy."
Then followed a sarcastic postscript, over which the reader may smile:
"P.S. By private letter from Boston, we are informed, that the bakers
are under great apprehensions of being forbid baking any more bread,
unless they will submit to the Secretary as supervisor general and
weigher of the dough, before it is baked into bread and offered to
sale."

The closing sentence referred to the action of the Legislature in
enacting that Franklin should publish nothing more without first
submitting it to the Secretary of the Province and receiving his
endorsement--legislation that will be quoted in the next chapter.

Franklin continued to issue the _Courant_ after his imprisonment with
more plainness and exposure of public wrongs than he did before. For
several months he handled the governor and public officers severely,
never forgetting those ministers who supported the cause of the king
instead of the cause of New England. He little thought that he was
fighting a battle for the ages to come. From his day the press in our
country began to enjoy liberty. He began a conflict which did not end
until liberty of speech and press was proclaimed throughout the land.

Men have often contended for right, and started enterprises, the
results of which the divinest prophet could never have foretold. When
John Pounds, the poor Portsmouth shoemaker, with a passion for doing
good to those who needed it most, gathered a few street-arabs into his
shanty to teach them something good, while he hammered his leather and
mended shoes, he did not dream that he was inaugurating a benevolent
enterprise that would spread throughout the Christian world. But he
did, and to-day the fifteen millions of old and young in the Sabbath
schools of our Republic are but the growth and development he began in
his shop. In like manner, the Franklin brothers inaugurated a measure
that culminated in the complete freedom of the press.

[1] Parton's Life of Franklin, vol. i, p. 88.



XVI.


THE BOY EDITOR.

For six months the _Courant_ continued its attacks upon the
government, after the editor came out of prison. It took up also, the
inconsistencies of church members, and discussed them with great
plainness. But the number of the paper for Jan. 14, 1723, was too much
for aristocratic flesh and blood, and almost too much for blood that
was not aristocratic. The Council was incensed, and adopted the
following order:

"IN COUNCIL, Jan. 14, 1723.

"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 the
Province highly reflected on,

"_Ordered_, That William Tailer, Samuel Sewell, and Penn Townsend,
Esqrs., with such as the Honorable 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 in the measure, and it was
rushed through, as measures are likely to be when the dander of
legislators is up, and the committee reported as follows:

"That James Franklin, the printer and publisher thereof, be strictly
forbidden by the Court to print or publish _The New England Courant_,
or any other pamphlet or paper of the like nature, except that it is
first supervised by the Secretary of the 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."

As soon as the Council took this action, the _Courant_ club was called
together, and the whole matter canvassed.

"The next thing will be an order that no one of us shall have a pair
of breeches without permission from the Secretary of the Province,"
remarked one, sarcastically. "The Secretary has not brains enough to
pass judgment upon some of our articles, and he is too English to
judge rightly of New England necessities."

"We should appear smart, tugging our articles over to the Secretary
each week for his permission to print them," suggested James. "I shall
never do it as long as my name is James Franklin."

"Nor I," added one of the club.

"Nor I," another.

"Nor I," another still.

There was but one mind in the company; and all were disposed to fight
it out on the line of freedom of the press.

"But, do you notice," added one of the club, "that no one but James
Franklin is forbidden to publish the _Courant_? Some other person can
publish it."

"Sure enough, that is so," responded James, "and here is our way out
of the difficulty."

"Of course you can not publish it yourself," addressing James, "in
defiance of this order of the Council."

"Of course not; but Benjamin Franklin can do it, as he is not
forbidden. How would that do?"

"That can not be done, because he is only an apprentice," suggested a
former speaker. "They can prove that he is your apprentice readily."

"Well, I can meet that difficulty without any trouble," said James,
who was intent upon evading the order of the Court.

"Pray, tell us how? By changing the name of the paper?"

"Not by any means. Now is not the time to part with a name that the
magistrates and ministers are so much in love with."

"How, then, can you meet the difficulty?"

"Well, I can return his indenture, with his discharge upon the back of
it, and he can show it in case of necessity. At the same time he can
sign a new indenture that will be kept a secret."

"Capital!" exclaimed one; "I never thought of that. The measure is a
practical one, and I move that we reduce it to practice at once."

"I support it with all my heart, not only as practical, but
ingenious," added another. "It is honorable to meet the tyranny of the
Council with an innocent subterfuge like that."

All agreed to the plan, and adopted it enthusiastically.

"Benjamin Franklin, Editor of the _Courant_," exclaimed a member of
the club, rising from his seat and patting Benjamin on the shoulder.
"Don't that sound well, my boy? Rather a young fellow to have in
charge such an enterprise, but a match, I guess, for the General Court
of the Province."

"The youngest editor, proprietor, and publisher of a paper in the
whole land, no doubt," suggested another. "But it is as true here as
it is in other things, 'Old men for counsel, young men for war.' We
are at war now, and we do not want an editor who will cry peace, when
there is no peace."

"A free man, too," suggested another facetiously, "an apprentice no
longer, to be knocked about and treated as an underling. At the top,
with the laurels of manhood on the brow of sixteen!"

Benjamin had not spoken, but he had listened. Affairs had taken an
unexpected turn. In the morning he had no idea of becoming
editor-in-chief of the paper that made more stir in Boston than the
other two combined. The promotion rather startled him. Not that he
shrank from the responsibility; for he had no hesitation in assuming
that; but the promotion was wholly unexpected. The honors came upon
him suddenly, in a way he never dreamed of. It is not strange that he
was somewhat dumbfounded, though not confounded. He maintained
silence, because, in the circumstances, he could say nothing better
than silence.

The plan of James having been adopted, all hastened to carry out the
details. Benjamin received his indenture, with the endorsement that
constituted him a free man, and he was announced as the publisher of
the _Courant_, and as such his name appeared upon the paper, also as
editor.

In the next issue James inserted the following in the _Courant_:

"The late publisher of this paper, finding so many inconveniences
would arise, by his carrying the manuscripts and the public news to be
supervised by the Secretary, as to render his carrying it on
unprofitable, has entirely dropped the undertaking."

Benjamin inserted an amusing salutatory, as if the _Courant_ was
appearing before the public for the first time. It was as follows:

"Long has the press groaned in bringing forth a hateful brood of
pamphlets, malicious scribbles, and billingsgate ribaldry. No generous
and impartial person then can blame the present undertaking, which is
designed purely for the diversion and merriment of the reader. Pieces
of pleasantry and mirth have a secret charm in them to allay the heats
and tumults of our spirits, and to make a man forget his restless
resentment. The main design of this weekly paper will be to entertain
the town with the most comical and diverting incidents of human life,
which, in so large a place as Boston, will not fail of a universal
exemplification. Nor shall we be wanting to fill up these papers with
a grateful interspersion of more serious words, which may be drawn
from the most ludicrous and odd parts of life."

Pretty good for a boy of sixteen! Good sense, tact, humor, and
rhetoric combined in one brief paragraph! Not only the youngest editor
in 1723, but the youngest editor of a city paper from that day to
this, so far as we know. On the fact hangs a tale of the wonderful
powers of a boy who can occupy such a place, and fill it.

We have said that the _Courant_ of Jan. 14, 1723, was filled with
matter that exasperated officials of the Province. The reader will
want to know what some of those utterances were. We will copy a few:

"Religion is indeed the principal thing, but too much of it is worse
than none at all. The world abounds with knaves and villains; but, of
all knaves, the religious knave is the worst, and villainies acted
under the cloak of religion the most execrable. Moral honesty, though
it will not itself carry a man to heaven, yet I am sure there is no
going thither without it."

"But are there such men as these in thee, O New England? Heaven forbid
there should be any; but, alas, it is to be feared the number is not
small. '_Give me an honest man_,' say some, '_for all a religious
man_'; a distinction which I confess I never heard of before. The
whole country suffers for the villainies of a few such wolves in
sheep's clothing, and we are all represented as a pack of knaves and
hypocrites for their sakes."

"In old Time it was no disrespect for Men and Women to be called by
their own Names. _Adam_ was never called _Master_ Adam; we never heard
of Noah, _Esquire_, Lot, _Knight_ and _Baronet_, nor the _Right
Honorable_ Abraham, _Viscount_ Mesopotamia, _Baron_ of Canaan. No, no;
they were plain Men, honest Country Graziers, that took care of their
Families and their Flocks. _Moses_ was a great Prophet, and _Aaron_ a
priest of the Lord; but we never read of the _Reverend_ Moses, nor the
_Right Reverend Father in God_, Aaron, by Divine Providence, _Lord
Arch-Bishop_ of Israel. Thou never sawest _Madam_ Rebecca in the
Bible, _My Lady_ Rachel, nor _Mary_, tho' a Princess of the Blood
after the death of _Joseph_, called the _Princess Dowager_ of
Nazareth. No; plain _Rebecca, Rachel, Mary_, or the _Widow_ Mary, or
the like. It was no Incivility then to mention their naked Names as
they were expressed.

"Yet, one of our Club will undertake to prove, that tho' _Abraham_ was
not styled _Right Honorable_, yet he had the Title of _Lord_ given him
by his Wife _Sarah_, which he thinks entitles her to the Honour of _My
Lady_ Sarah; and _Rachel_, being married into the same Family, he
concludes that she may deserve the Title of _My Lady_ Rachel. But this
is but the Opinion of one Man; it was never put to vote in the
Society."

"On the whole, Friend James, we may conclude, that the
_Anti-Couranteers_ [opponents of the _Courant_] are a sort of
_Precisians_, who, mistaking Religion for the peculiar Whims of their
own distemp'rd Brain, are for cutting or stretching all Men to their
own Standard of Thinking. I wish Mr. Symmes' Character may secure him
from the Woes and Curses they are so free of dispensing among their
dissenting neighbours, who are so unfortunate as to discover a
Cheerfulness becoming Christianity."

It is not questioned that Benjamin wrote these paragraphs, among
others; and for keen satire they are very remarkable as the
composition of a boy of sixteen. At the present day they would be
regarded as quaint, able and truthful, without awakening opposition.
But, in 1723, no doubt there were tender consciences among the
official sycophants of the English Government, that made a just
application of these cutting words, so as to become exasperated and
bitter. Hence, their tyrannical and unjustifiable legislation.

Mr. Parton mentions a fact that should be noted here: "Until the
Revolution, the business of publishing newspapers in America was
carried on almost exclusively by postmasters. Newspapers went free of
postage in the colonies as late as 1758. Until that time, the
postmasters had not only the privilege of sending papers through the
mail free, but the still more valuable right of excluding from the
mail papers published by others. Accordingly, we find that nearly all
the pioneers of the press, in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, were
postmasters. When a postmaster lost his office he generally sold out
his newspaper, and a new postmaster soon bought or established one.
John Campbell, however, feeling himself aggrieved by his removal, did
not dispose of the _News-letter_ [first paper in this country]; which
induced his successor, William Brocker, to set up a paper of his own,
the _Boston Gazette_, which appeared in December, 1719. Mr. Brocker
expressly says, in his prospectus, that he started the new paper at
the request of several merchants, and others, who 'have been
_prevented_ from having their newspaper sent them by the post, ever
since Mr. Campbell was removed from being postmaster.'"[2]

It is a significant fact that, in 1758, newspapers ceased to be
carried free in the mails, and a charge of ninepence a year for each
fifty miles of carriage was assessed; and our Benjamin brought about
the change. He was then known as Deputy Postmaster General, and made
the change in the interest of the public welfare. We think that, at
the time, he must have recalled his tussle with the General Court,
when, at sixteen, he edited the _Courant_.

Benjamin continued in his brother's printing office eight months after
the occurrence just narrated, editor and publisher of the _Courant_.
His brother never run the paper again in his own name, and,
subsequently, he removed to Newport, R.I., where he established the
_Rhode Island Gazette_ in 1732.

Benjamin kept up his running fire against the truckling
representatives of the British government, including ministers who
were not outspoken against oppression and the censorship of the press.
The blade of his satire became brighter and keener, and the
circulation of the paper increased largely, showing that the portion
of the population having the true American spirit, were in sympathy
with the purpose of the paper. Mr. Sparks says of it:

"It touched with great freedom the vices and follies of the time. The
weapon of satire was used with an unsparing hand. Neither the
government nor the clergy escaped. Much caution was practised,
however, in regard to individuals, and names were seldom introduced.
There are some severe and humorous criticisms on the poets of the day,
which may be classed with the best specimens of this kind of
composition in the modern reviews. The humor sometimes degenerates
into coarseness, and the phraseology is often harsh; but, bating these
faults, the paper contains nothing, which in later times would have
been deemed reprehensible."

Of the action of the General Court, imprisoning James Franklin, Mr.
Sparks says: "He was sentenced by a vote of the Assembly, without any
specification of offensive passages, or any trial before a court of
justice. This was probably the first transaction, in the American
Colonies, relating to the freedom of the press; and it is not less
remarkable for the assumption of power on the part of the legislature,
than for their disregard of the first principles and established forms
of law."

This is a fair and just estimate of the affair. Probably officials saw
their mistake, and concluded not to repeat it; for Benjamin was not
molested in his business, though he continued to be as saucy and
sarcastic as ever. From that day freedom of the press was assured in
this country.

This narrative of Benjamin's connection with the printing office, at
the time a new paper was to be established, shows that the
circumstances called out a certain kind of talent he possessed, and
thus helped to make him what he became. Success depends in a great
measure on early directing the young in the path to which their
natural endowments point. Square men should be put into square holes,
and round men into round holes. Many careers are spoiled by reversing
this law of nature, getting square men into round holes, and round men
into square holes. A good mechanic has often been spoiled to make an
indifferent clergyman or merchant, and a good minister has been
spoiled to make a commonplace artisan. Overlooking the "natural bent,"
the youth has selected an occupation (or his father for him) for which
he has no special aptitude, and he brings little to pass.

Benjamin was a square youth, and he got into a square hole, which he
just fitted. He was not there by his own election; he was there by the
lead of Providence, and he cheerfully acquiesced. Becoming the right
boy in the right place, he grew into stalwart manhood and a useful
life, as naturally as the sapling on congenial soil grows into the
thrifty, fruit-bearing tree.

In the second chapter we spoke of Boston, in the infancy of Benjamin,
as a place where bears were plenty, and other wild animals roamed. The
_Courant_ contained the following paragraph, about the time of its
contest with the Court, and we copy it as a fitting close to this
chapter:

"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."

[2] Vol. i, p. 78.



XVII.


THE YOUNG SKEPTIC.

"What book have you there, Ben?" inquired John Collins, some time
before the newspaper enterprise was started.

"Lord Shaftesbury's work. I have been looking into it for some time;
and Anthony Collins' work, too," answered Benjamin. "I suppose that my
father would say they are not quite Orthodox; but they are very
interesting, and I think their views are reasonable."

"I have been questioning your Orthodoxy for some time, Ben, but I
thought you would come out all right in the end, and so I have said
nothing. I do not know about your coming out right if you become a
disciple of Shaftesbury." John made this reply more in jest than in
earnest, for he cared little whether Benjamin was a skeptic or not.
Perhaps he was skeptical himself at that time; some things indicate as
much.

"I think it is rather difficult to tell how I shall come out, John;
but I do not propose to believe any thing in religion, science, or any
thing else, just because my father does," responded Benjamin. "I know
that I have accepted some religious dogmas because I was taught them,
and for no other reason."

"Then you do not now 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 an infidel for
a boy. It won't do for you to read Shaftesbury and Collins any more,
if you are so easily upset by them. I do not know any thing about them,
only from what I hear. I never read a paragraph of either."

"One thing is sure," continued Benjamin. "I mean to be classed among
the few people who think for themselves. It is a small company I shall
be found in, but it is an independent one. Most people are religious
because they are so instructed. They embrace the religion of their
fathers and mothers, without asking what is true or false. I will not
be of that class. I will not be Orthodox or Heterodox because my
ancestors were."

"There is not much danger that you will do that, Ben. Present
appearances rather indicate that the religious opinions of your father
will be blown sky-high." John did not mean quite as much as his
language in this reply denoted.

"You do not understand me. I respect my parents and their religious
opinions, though I doubt some of the doctrines they have taught me. I
never examined them until I began to read Shaftesbury and Collins, but
accepted them as correct because my father and grandfather believed
them. I shall do that no more, that is all I meant."

"Well, I can not say that you are wrong, Ben. If you make half as good
a man as your father is, by believing half the truths he believes and
advocates, you will stand pretty well in the world. I expect that we
ought to avoid religious cant, bigotry, and intolerance."

"I expect so, too; and there is much of all three existing to-day,"
Benjamin answered. "A bigot may be a well-meaning man, but so much the
worse for him. There is so much bigotry in Boston to-day, that the
minister of each denomination thinks his denomination has all the
truth and all the religion there is. I think that idea is a falsehood,
to begin with."

"I shall agree with you there, Ben. I have no question that a man may
be a Christian without believing half that most denominations profess
to believe. And I suppose that the main thing is to be Christians, and
not theologians."

"You are drifting to my side as fast as is necessary," remarked
Benjamin, laughing. "You will come clear over in due time. I am sure
you will, if you read Shaftesbury."

"Well, I must drift home in a hurry," responded John. "Whether I shall
drift to you, the future will reveal. You are now in too deep water
for me. I should drown if I got in where you are."

John left, and Benjamin went on thinking, as he was wont. He put more
thinking into every twenty-four hours than any three boys together in
Boston. At this time he was quite a doubter,--really a young skeptic.
In the printing office he drifted in that direction faster and faster.
He was a kind of speculator from childhood. He loved to argue. He
enjoyed being on the opposite side, to indulge his propensity to
argue. After he learned the Socratic method of reasoning, he was more
inclined to discuss religion with different parties. Perhaps he did it
to practise the method, rather than to show his aversion to religion.
But, judging from what followed, in the next three or four years, he
grew decidedly unbelieving. We can discover his lack of reverence for
the Christian religion, and want of confidence in it, in articles he
wrote for the _Courant_. Nothing very marked, it is true, but some of
his articles lean in that direction.

Besides, Benjamin was one of those talented, independent boys, who
think it is manly to break away from ancestral creeds. When he was
eleven years old he was assisting his father to pack a barrel of pork
for winter use. When the work was done he said to his father:

"Father, it would save time if you would say grace over the whole
barrel now, instead of saying it over a piece at a time."

Whether his father flogged him for such irreverence, we are not told;
nevertheless, the fact is suggestive of an element in the boy's
make-up to which the ingenious skeptic may appeal with success.
Possibly it was only the native humor of the boy, which, with his love
of fun, cropped out on that occasion. It was irreverence, however,
whatever may have been his motive.

Many were the conversations that Benjamin had with his friend, John
Collins, upon religion, after becoming thoroughly poisoned by reading
Shaftesbury and Collins.

"By the way, John, I should like to read to you what your namesake
says on the subject. Perhaps you descended straight from this
illustrious infidel."

"Perhaps so; but I shall not spend time in tracing my pedigree," John
replied. "I never dared to trace my ancestors far back, for fear I
should run into some disreputable family."

"It is probably an accident that you are a Collins, so that we can't
lay it up against you, John; but I should really like to read two or
three paragraphs from Collins' work, that you may judge of him."

"Go ahead, and I will give you respectful attention. If it is above my
capacity to understand, I will not hold you responsible."

Benjamin proceeded to read from Collins' work as follows:

"Opinions, how erroneous soever, when the Effect of an impartial
Examination, will never hurt Men in the sight of God, but will
recommend Men to his Favour. For impartial Examination in the Matter
of Opinion is the best that a Man can do towards obtaining Truth, and
God, who is a wise, good, and just Being, can require no more of Men
than to do their best, and will reward them when they do their best;
and he would be the most unjust Being imaginable, if he punished Men,
who had done their best endeavor to please him. Besides, if men were
to be punished by God for mistaken Opinions, all men must be damned;
for all Men abound in mistaken Opinions."

"While Rome was in the Height of its glory for Arms, Learning, and
Politeness, there were _six hundred different Religions_ professed and
allowed therein. And this groat Variety does not appear to have had
the least Effect on the Peace of the State, or on the Temper of Men;
but, on the contrary, a very good Effect, for there is an entire
Silence of History, about the Actions of those ancient Professors,
who, it seems, lived so quietly together as to furnish no Materials
for an _Ecclesiastical History_, such as Christians have given an
Occasion for, which a Reverend Divine thus describes: '_Ecclesiastical
History_' says he, 'is chiefly spent in reciting the wild Opinions of
Hereticks (that is, in belying Hereticks); the Contentions between
Emperors and Popes; the idle and superstitious Canons, and ridiculous
Decrees and Constitutions of packed Councils; their Debates about
frivolous Matters, and playing the Fool with Religion; the
Consultations of Synods about augmenting the Revenues of the Clergy,
and establishing their Pride and Grandure; the impostures of Monks and
Fryars; the Schisms and Factions of the Church; the Tyranny, Cruelty,
and Impiety of the Clergy; insomuch that the excellent _Grotius_ says,
'_He that reads Ecclesiastical history_ reads nothing but the
_Roguery and Folly of Bishops and Churchmen_.'"

"Matthew says, Jesus _came and dwelt at_ Nazareth _that it might_ be
fulfilled, which was spoken by the Prophet saying, 'He shall be called
a Nazarene.' Which Citation does not expressly occur in any Place of
the Old Testament, and therefore cannot be literally fulfilled."

"In fine, the Prophecies, cited from the Old Testament by the Authors
of the New, do plainly relate, in their obvious and primary Sense, to
other Matters than those which they are produced to prove."

"Well," said John, interrupting, "I think that will do for my
namesake. There is nothing very wonderful to me about that. True
enough, I guess, but nothing remarkable. But how about Shaftesbury?
What has he written?"

"He disproves the miracles of the New Testament. His 'Inquiry
Concerning Virtue' and his 'Essay on the Freedom of Wit and Humour'
are interesting as novels to me."

"I prefer the novels," interrupted John.

"Perhaps you do; but Shaftesbury is one of the most ingenious and
pleasant writers known. He does not discard religion; he assails
spurious religion only."

"And spurious religion is all religion that he do not believe in, I
suppose," suggested John, "come from above or below? When a man does
not believe the Bible he tries to show it up; and so when a man do not
believe any religion but his own, he tries to explode all others."

"Read Shaftesbury, and judge for yourself," added Benjamin. "You will
fall in love with him, as I have. He is one of the most graceful and
fascinating writers I know of."

"Perhaps I will read him sometime," replied John. "I must go now; and
when I am ready for it I will call for the book."

We have not time to follow the companionship of these two youth. It
was intimate, and Benjamin succeeded in making a Shaftesbury disciple
of John, so that one was about as much of an unbeliever as the other.
In his "Autobiography," Benjamin confesses that he "_was made a
doubter by reading Shaftesbury and Collins_," although he began to
dissent from his father, as we have already seen, in his boyhood, when
he read the religious tracts of Boyle.

We know that Benjamin was charged with being an atheist by his
brother. True, it was when his brother was angry because he left him;
still, he would not have been likely to make such a statement to
others without some foundation for it. Franklin himself gives one
reason for his leaving Boston (in his "Autobiography"): "My indiscreet
disputations about religion began to make me pointed at with horror by
good people as an infidel and atheist."

Another admission in his "Autobiography" reflects upon this subject:

"The time I allotted for writing exercises and for reading, was at
night, or before work began in the morning, _or on Sundays_, when I
contrived to be in the printing house, avoiding as much as I could the
constant attendance upon public worship, which my father used to exact
of me when I was under his care, and which I still continued to
consider a duty, though I could not afford time to practise it."

There is an intimate connection between loose religious views and the
non-observance of the Sabbath. Skeptics are not friendly to the
Sabbath as a class. It is an institution they inveigh against with
much spirit. No doubt the change going on in Benjamin's opinions had
much to do with his ceasing to attend public worship.

Fifteen years afterwards, when Benjamin was fully established in
business in Philadelphia, his parents became very anxious about his
skeptical ideas, and wrote to him about it. Their letter is not
preserved, but we have his in reply, which, while it confirms the
fact, shows him to be more reverent and thoughtful than they feared.
It is, also, evidence of a filial regard for his father and mother
that is always as beautiful as it is honorable. We furnish the letter
below:

   "PHILADELPHIA, April 13, 1738.

   "_Honored Father_,--I have your favors of the 21st of March, in
   which you both seem concerned lest I have imbibed some erroneous
   opinions. Doubtless I have my share, and when the natural weakness
   and imperfection of human understanding is considered, the
   unavoidable influence of education, custom, books, and company,
   upon our ways of thinking, I imagine a man must have a good deal of
   vanity who believes, and a good deal of boldness who affirms, that
   all the doctrines he holds are true, and all he rejects are false.
   And, perhaps, the same may be justly said of every sect, church,
   and society of men, when they assume to themselves that
   infallibility which they deny to the pope and councils.

   "I think opinions should be judged of by their influences and
   effects; and if man holds none that tend to make him less virtuous
   or more vicious, it may be concluded he holds none that are
   dangerous,--which, I hope, is the case with me.

   "I am sorry you should have any uneasiness on my account, and, if
   it were a thing possible for one to alter his opinions in order to
   please another's, I know none whom I ought more willingly to oblige
   in that respect than yourselves. But, since it is no more in a
   man's power to _think_ than to _look_ like another, methinks all
   that should be expected from me is to keep my mind open to
   conviction; to hear patiently, and examine attentively, whatever is
   offered me for that end; and, if after all I continue in the same
   errors, I believe your usual charity will induce you rather to pity
   and excuse than blame me; in the mean time your care and concern
   for me is what I am very thankful for.

   "My mother grieves that one of her sons is an Arian, another an
   Arminian; what an Arminian or an Arian is, I can not say that I
   very well know. The truth is, I make such distinctions very little
   my study. I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy
   is more regarded than virtue; and the Scriptures assure me that at
   the last day we shall not be examined what we _thought_, but what
   we _did_; and our recommendation will not be that we said, _Lord!
   Lord_! but that we did good to our fellow-creatures. See Matt. xx.

   "As to the free masons, I know no way of giving my mother a better
   account of them than she seems to have at present (since it is not
   allowed that women should be admitted into that secret society).
   She has, I must confess, on that account, some reason to be
   displeased with it; but, for any thing else, I must entreat her to
   suspend her judgment till she is better informed, unless she will
   believe me when I assure her that they are in general a very
   harmless sort of people, and have no principles or practices that
   are inconsistent with religion and good manners.

   "B. FRANKLIN."

His sister also, later on, in her great anxiety for his spiritual
welfare, wrote to him, and he replied as follows:

   "PHILADELPHIA, July 28, 1743.

   "_Dearest Sister Jenny_,--I took your admonition very kindly, and
   was far from being offended at you for it. If I say any thing about
   it to you, 't is only to rectify some wrong opinions you seem to
   have entertained of me; and this I do only because they give you
   some uneasiness, which I am unwilling to be the occasion of. You
   express yourself as if you thought I was against worshipping of
   God, and doubt that good works would merit heaven; which are both
   fancies of your own, I think, without foundation. I am so far from
   thinking that God is not to be worshipped, that I have composed and
   wrote a whole book of devotions for my own use; and I imagine there
   are few if any in the world so weak as to imagine that the little
   good we can do here can merit so vast a reward hereafter.

   "There are some things in your New England doctrine and worship
   which I do not agree with; but I do not therefore condemn them, or
   desire to shake your belief or practice of them. We may dislike
   things that are nevertheless right in themselves; I would only have
   you make me the same allowance, and have a better opinion both of
   morality and your brother. Read the pages of Mr. Edwards' late
   book, entitled, 'Some Thoughts concerning the present Revival of
   Religion in New England,' from 367 to 375, and, when you judge of
   others, if you can perceive the fruit to be good, do not terrify
   yourself that the tree may be evil; be assured it is not so, for
   you know who has said, 'Men do not gather grapes off thorns, and
   figs off thistles.'

   "I have not time to add, but that I shall always be your
   affectionate brother,

   "B. FRANKLIN.

   "P.S. It was not kind in you, when your sister commended good
   works, to suppose she intended it a reproach to you. 'T was very
   far from her thoughts."

The sequel will show much more concerning the skepticism of Franklin;
and that the time came when he saw the folly of such unbelief, and
gave his adherence to the Christian religion. At the same time, he
learned from experience the danger of reading infidel publications,
and warned the young against following his example. Indeed, there is
good reason to believe that, as early as 1728, when he was but
twenty-two years of age, he was not so much of an infidel as some of
his friends supposed; for then he prepared a code of morals and belief
for his own use, entitled "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion."
In this document he avows his belief in "One Supreme, most perfect
Being," and prays to "be preserved from atheism, impiety, and
profaneness." Under the head of "Thanks" occur the following:

"For peace and liberty, for food and raiment, for corn, and wine, and
milk, and every kind of healthful nourishment,--Good God, I thank
Thee!

"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 my innumerable benefits, for life, and reason, and the use of
speech; for health, and joy, and every pleasant hour,--Good God, I
thank Thee!"

It is true, there is not much religion in these things; and though
they may have been adopted to satisfy the demands of conscience only,
they prove that he was not an atheist, as many supposed.

Benjamin's experience with skeptical and infidel books recalls the
experience of two young men, when about the same age, with
publications of kindred character, which came very near depriving the
United States of two good Presidents.

Before Abraham Lincoln began the study of law, he was connected with a
clique or club of young men, who made light of religion, and read
books that treated it as a delusion. It was at this time that he read
Paine's "Age of Reason" and Volney's "Ruins," through which he was
influenced to array himself against the Bible for a time,--as much of
a skeptic, almost, as any one of his boon companions. But his early
religious training soon asserted itself, and we hear no more of
hostility to religion as long as he lived. On the other hand, when he
was elected President, he spoke as follows to his friends and
neighbors, who had assembled at the station to bid him adieu on
leaving for Washington, on the eve of the late bloody Civil war:

"My Friends: No one not in my position can appreciate the sadness I
feel at this parting. To this people I owe all that I am. Here I have
lived more than a quarter of a century. Here my children were born,
and here one of them lies buried. I know not how soon I shall see you
again. A duty devolves on me, which is greater, perhaps, than that
which has devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington. He
never would have succeeded except for the aid of Divine Providence,
upon which he at all times relied. I feel that I can not succeed
without the same Divine aid which sustained him, and on the same
Almighty Being I place my reliance for support; and I hope you, my
friends, will pray that I may receive that Divine assistance, without
which I can not succeed, but with which success is certain. Again I
bid you all an affectionate farewell."

When James A. Garfield became a member of the "Black Salter's" family,
he found "Marryatt's Novels," "Sinbad the Sailor," "The Pirates' Own
Book," "Jack Halyard," "Lives of Eminent Criminals," "The Buccaneers
of the Caribbean Seas"; and being a great reader, he sat up nights to
read these works. Their effect upon him was to weaken the ties of home
and filial affection, diminish his regard for religious things, and
create within him an intense desire for a seafaring life. Nothing but
a long and painful sickness, together with the wise counsels of his
mother and a popular teacher, saved him from a wild and reckless life
upon the sea, by leading him to Christ and a nobler life, in
consequence of which his public career was one of honor, and closed in
the highest office of the land.

Neither Lincoln nor Garfield would have been President of the United
States if the spell, with which the influence of corrupt books bound
them for the time, had not been broken by juster views of real life
and nobler aims.



XVIII.


HOW HE QUIT BOSTON.

"I tell you how it is, John," exclaimed Benjamin, under great
excitement; "I have withstood my brother's ill treatment as long as I
am going to. I shall leave him."

"How is that, Ben? I thought your brother would treat you with more
consideration after you immortalized yourself as an editor. I knew you
had a hard time with him before the _Courant_ was started." John
Collins knew somewhat of Benjamin's troubles, the first two years of
his apprenticeship.

"He has been worse since my prominence on the _Courant_; that is, at
times. I think my success aroused his jealousy, so that it fretted him
to see me, his apprentice, occupy a higher position than himself. Once
in a while he has seemed to be pleased with my prominence on the
paper, and then again it annoyed him."

"I should think you had helped him out of trouble enough to stir up
his gratitude a little, even if he had no pride in possessing so
bright a brother."

"Brother! brother!" exclaimed Benjamin. "He never thought of that
relation. I was his apprentice, to be lorded over until twenty-one
years of age. I do not think he would have treated the greatest
stranger as an apprentice more unkindly than he has me. He seemed to
think that the relation of master to an apprentice obliterates all
blood relationship."

"That is unfortunate for both of you," remarked John, "but most
unfortunate for him, whom public opinion will judge as a brother, and
not as a master. But how will you get along with your indenture if you
leave him?"

"I am justified by the circumstances in using the indenture, on the
back of which is his own endorsement of my freedom. He released me
from all obligations to him, that I might run the paper when he could
not."

"But the understanding between you was, if I remember, that it was
only a formality to evade the action of the General Court. He did not
mean that you should take advantage of it and refuse to serve him."

"That is true; but I say the circumstances justify me in using it as
if he really meant to give me my freedom. He has another indenture
which I signed, designed to be kept private, but he won't dare to
bring that out to the light of day, because it may get him into
further trouble with the General Court."

"You have the advantage of him there, I see, if you see fit to avail
yourself of it. Does James know how you feel about it?"

"He ought to know, for I have told him that I should leave him if he
continued to treat me as he has done. Probably he does not believe
that I shall quit, but I am not responsible for that. He ought to see
that such treatment would cause any apprentice to leave his master."

"What does he do that is so bad?" inquired John.

"He undertook to flog me, the other day. He did strike me, but I
showed him that I believed in self-defense, and he desisted. He has
beaten me often. I did not like the looks of an elder brother licking
a younger one, and so I put myself in a position to make such a scene
impossible."

"Well, I do not think that such a scene is particularly attractive,"
responded John in his droll way. "Such a scene in the theatre would be
tragedy, I think; it could not be comedy in a civilized land."

"That is no worse than other things he does. If he would get mad and
beat me, and then be kind and considerate for a while, I should be
quite well satisfied. But he is constantly domineering over me, as if
he meant I should realize all the while that he is my legal master."

"Does your father know about it?"

"Yes, and he has been decidedly in my favor until now. We have often
laid our differences before him, and in nearly every instance, he has
supported me. But for some reason, since the last trouble he has
upheld James. Perhaps it was because I did not allow James to beat me
as masters often do their apprentices."

"What do you propose to do if you leave your brother?" continued John.

"Go to New York. I can find work there. If there is nothing there for
an extra printer to do, I will turn my hand to something else. I shall
leave Boston."

"Why not get into one of the other printing offices in town? I do not
want you should quit Boston until I do."

"For two good reasons. The first is that my connection with the
_Courant_ stirred up the officials of the government, so that I am
obnoxious to them; and the second is, that my religious opinions have
become so well known, and have been so misrepresented, that ministers
and other good people consider me no better than an atheist. I prefer
to go among strangers, where I can have a chance to make a record for
myself."

"Better make a record here,--the best chance in the world. Here people
know who you are, or they ought to know by this time. Take my advice,
and secure a place in another printing office in Boston."

The result of this interview with John was, that Benjamin resolved to
secure a position in Boston if he could. But when he applied,
subsequently, for a situation, each printer declined to employ him.
James had been to them, anticipating that he might take this step, and
warned them against making any bargain with him. He assured them that
he should take legal steps, under the indenture of apprenticeship, to
maintain his rights if they employed him. Besides, he told them that
Benjamin did not believe the Christian religion, and he had no respect
for those who did; that, in short, he was "no better than an atheist."

James meant to compel Benjamin to continue to work for him; and he
thought if no other printer would hire him, that would end the
trouble. But the opposite effect was produced. It determined Benjamin
to quit Boston as soon as he could arrange for the change, though he
did not make known his decision to his brother. Probably his brother
did not dream of his leaving Boston for New York, or any other place.
However, Benjamin embraced the first opportunity to announce to him
that he should quit.

"I am my own man from this time," he cried, holding up his indenture
which his brother had returned to him. "This paper makes me free, and
I shall take advantage of it to leave you," and he shook the document
in James' face.

"You know that I never gave up the indenture because I relinquished
the bargain we had made. If you use it to assert and establish your
freedom, you will be guilty of a mean, contemptible act."

"I shall so use it!" and Benjamin was very defiant when he said it. "I
have borne your abuse long enough, and I will bear it no longer."

"We shall see about that. Father will have a word to say about it, you
will find. You are not of age yet." James spoke with remarkable
coolness for him, in the circumstances. He probably realized that
Benjamin had the advantage of him.

"Neither father nor any other man can force me to work for you any
longer. You have even been around to other printers, to influence them
not to employ me; and you have lied about me, telling them that I am
an atheist, and other things as bad."

"I told them nothing but the truth," replied James. "You know as well
as I do, that you believe Shaftesbury instead of the Bible."

"Well, no matter what I believe. I shall not work for you another day.
I will resort to the most menial employment for my bread and butter
before I will serve a man who will treat his own brother like a
slave." And again Benjamin flourished his indenture before the eyes of
James, defiantly.

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 _Courant_ unmolested. It was a deceitful arrangement in
the first place, and Benjamin's use of the indenture to assert his
liberty was no more unfair and sinful than was James' 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. In his "Autobiography" he said:

"At length, a fresh difference arising between my brother and me, I
took upon me to assert my freedom, presuming that he would not venture
to produce the new indentures. It was not fair in me to take this
advantage, and this I therefore reckon one of the first _errata_ of my
life; but the unfairness of it weighed little with me when under the
impressions of resentment for the blows his passion too often urged
him to bestow upon me, though he was otherwise not an ill-natured man.
Perhaps I was too saucy and provoking."

There is no doubt that Benjamin erred in the matter. He was by nature
headstrong and independent; and, perhaps, he was more self-willed on
account of his success in the business. But, after all allowances are
made, James must be regarded as the chief offender in the troubles,
and on him the responsibility for it rests in a large measure.

Benjamin lost no time in reporting his decision to John.

"I am going to New York as soon as I can get away," he said. "What do
you suppose that fellow has done? He has been around to the other
printers and threatened to enforce his claim to my services if they
hire me; and he lied about me, also. It is settled that I shall go to
New York. I am not going to be banged about any more."

"Well, it seems rather necessary for you to go somewhere if you can't
get work here," answered John. "But how am I going to get along
without you, Ben? Couldn't you turn your hand to something else?"

"I could, but I won't. I am fully resolved to quit Boston soon, and I
am satisfied that I must leave clandestinely, or I shall not get
away."

"How is that? Expect that your brother will lay violent hands upon you
to prevent?"

"I expect that he and father together will prevent my leaving, if
possible."

"Have you spoken with your father about it?"

"No, I have not; nor do I intend to. He sides with James now, and that
is enough for me. I shall say nothing to him about the matter."

"Perhaps he thinks you will leave Boston if you leave James,"
suggested John. "He may think that you will clear out and go to sea.
He has not forgotten your old hankering for a life on the wave."

"Possibly; but I have no desire now to go to sea. I have a trade that
I like, and I shall stick to it until I am forced out of it."

"How do you propose to get to New York? Got any plans ahead?"

"Yes, a plan is all that I have got. It remains to be seen how I can
carry it out. I do not think I can accomplish my purpose without your
help."

"I am at your service now, Ben, as ever before; only I would like to
understand just what I can do."

"That is what I want to talk with you about. I am not yet clear as to
my best way of escape. If I go by land, on foot, they may send
officers after me, and overtake me before I get half way there."

"Of course it would be poor policy for you to go by land, if you can
possibly go by water. There is a New York sloop in the harbor, and no
doubt it will return soon."

"But how can I get aboard? The captain will want to know who I am, and
if he knows that I am a runaway apprentice, he will refuse me a
passage."

"I can manage that," said John. "I know the captain, and I think I can
arrange with him to take you."

"Yes, but he will want large pay for it. Of course he will not take me
to New York without some money arrangement, and I have precious little
money to give him."

"You can sell some of your books," suggested John. "You will not take
them to New York with you, and you can sell them readily."

"That is a good idea, John; I will reduce it to practice at once. I
shall not want much money anyway. But suppose the captain is very
inquisitive about me, how will you get along with the case? He must be
somewhat suspicious when a Boston boy wants to be taken to New York on
the sly."

"You leave that to me; I have no doubt that I can smuggle you through.
He shall not know even that your name is Franklin."

"Well, then, I will commit myself to your care. See that you manage
adroitly, even if you have to make a package of me for transportation.
I am going to New York if I am obliged to walk there."

"I will go to see the captain at once, Ben; and I will be back with my
report in two hours. Be on hand, and see if I do not make a good
bargain for your passage. You always have succeeded, and I think you
will succeed now."

"Be off, then, in a jiffy, and I will run out to see where I can
dispose of my books. I will be back in two hours, and meet you here."

They parted, and John hurried away to see the captain. He found him on
board his sloop.

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

"That depends on circumstances," replied the captain. "Who is your
friend? Can't take a pauper or a criminal, you know."

"He is neither one nor the other. He is a young man about my age, a
printer by trade, and he is going to New York to find work."

"Why doesn't he find work in Boston? There are more printers in Boston
than there are in New York."

"That may be; but he prefers to work in New York. He's tired of
Boston."

"Perhaps Boston is tired of him--is that so? I want to accommodate,
but I don't want to get anybody into trouble, nor get there myself."

John saw that there was no evading the captain's questions, and so he
resolved to tell the false story he had thought of on his way to the
sloop.

"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 as determined that he will not; and he proposes
to remove secretly to New York. He would have come to see you himself,
but his coming might awaken suspicion on the part of some one
acquainted with the affair, who might see him and know him. So I came
to do the business for him."

"He is in a fix, sure," answered the captain; "if there is any man in
the world I would help, it is the man who is trying to escape from the
girl he don't want to marry. How much will he pay for his passage?"

"He will pay your price if it is reasonable. He is not a pauper,
though he has not much of a money surplus. He will satisfy you as to
that."

"Send him along, then; this sloop will sail on Saturday at two
o'clock, P.M. He better not come aboard until just before we sail, or
somebody may upset his plans, and the girl get him, after all."

"All right; he will be here on the mark, and I shall be with him to
see him off," answered John, as he turned upon his heels to report his
success to Benjamin.

A youth who can fabricate a falsehood so unblushingly as John did the
foregoing is already on the road to ruin. The reader will not be
surprised to learn, before the whole story is told, that he became a
miserable, reckless sort of a man. This lie proved that he was
destitute of moral principle and would do almost any thing to carry
his point.

That the captain should have been taken in by such a ruse is
inexplicable. But, no doubt, the thought of receiving good pay for his
passage led him to receive the passenger. It was so much gain to
receive a few dollars from an unexpected source.

"The bargain is made, and your passage to New York is assured,"
exclaimed John to Benjamin, when they met, at the end of two hours.

"Have any trouble to accomplish it? You did not awaken his suspicion,
did you?" replied Benjamin, evidently relieved of considerable anxiety
by the announcement.

"No trouble, of course; I did not mean to have any, if lying would
prevent it."

"Then you had to resort to falsehood to carry your point, did you? How
was that, John?"

"Well, you see, he questioned me pretty closely, and seemed to be
suspicious that you might be a pauper or criminal. He wouldn't want to
carry you if you were a pauper, for he would get no pay for it; and he
would not carry a criminal, for fear of getting into trouble with the
authorities. So I had to originate a little love story, in which you
are represented as fleeing from a girl and her parents, who are
determined that you shall marry her."

"You are more original than I thought you were, John. You might write
a novel out of the affair."

"Yes; and it would be no worse than half the novels that are written,"
rejoined John. "I had a plot to get you to New York, and the novel
writer often has a plot that is not half so important, nor half so
much truth in it."

"How soon will the sloop sail?"

"Next Saturday, at two o'clock in the afternoon, so you will not have
to wait long. You must not go aboard until just before the sloop
sails; for the girl might get wind of it, and be after you. The
captain will be on the lookout for her; he evidently don't want you to
fall into her hands."

Benjamin laughed at this way of putting the matter; and, in the
circumstances, was not disposed to criticise John's method. But he
inquired:

"How about the price to be paid for the passage?"

"That is left for you and him to adjust," replied John. "I told him
that you was not over-burdened with money, but had enough to pay him
for your passage. How about your books--can you sell them?"

"Yes, and quite as favorably as I had supposed. I see nothing why I
shall not be all ready for the sloop on Saturday. I will send my chest
of clothes down just before I go myself."

"I will be on hand to go to the sloop with you," said John, as they
parted, each with a clear understanding as to the future.

The plan was carried out to the letter, and Benjamin and John were on
their way to the sloop in due time.

"Tell no tales out of school," remarked Benjamin. "I prefer that no
one should know my whereabouts at present."

"They will find out nothing from me; I shall be profoundly ignorant of
your movements," answered John. "Perhaps I shall be the most
astonished person in Boston over your sudden departure; there's no
telling. But I shall want to hear from you, Ben,--can't you write?"

"Sha'n't make any pledges. I shall want to hear from you as much as
you will from me, and a little more, I guess. For I shall want to hear
what is said and done about my unauthorized departure. I suppose that
a _runaway_ can not expect many favorable remarks."

"Perhaps the _Gazette_ will say that the editor of the _Courant_ has
run away," suggested John, in a vein of pleasantry. "There will be
considerable more truth in that than I told the captain. It is rather
of a singular occurrence, however, Ben, that so popular an editor as
you have been should be running away from the editorial chair."

By this time the sloop was boarded, and the captain was almost ready
to sail.

"My friend," said John to the captain, presenting Benjamin. "You will
find him good company; he is no fool or knave."

"He might be a goner if that girl should be after him before we get
under way," suggested the captain. "However, we'll soon be off."

"Good luck to you, old friend," said John, as he shook hands with
Benjamin. "We shall be nigh each other, though three hundred miles
apart."

"Good-bye, John; a thousand thanks for what you have done for me,"
replied Benjamin, with a heavy heart, just beginning to feel that he
was going away from home. "Good-bye."

Thus they parted, and the sloop sailed for New York. Benjamin avoided
conversation with the captain as much as was possible, lest he might
ask questions it would be embarrassing to answer. The captain, too,
refrained from too much freedom with his youthful passenger, lest he
might make it painful for him, now that he was running away from a
girl.

The sloop was becalmed off Block Island for several hours, when the
sailors resorted to catching cod for a pastime, and slapping them down
one after another on the deck.

"Cruel! Inhumanity!" cried Benjamin, who entertained the singular idea
that it was murder to take the life of any harmless creature; and for
this reason he would not touch animal food.

"What is cruel?" inquired one of the crew.

"Taking the life of codfish that never did you any harm."

"Pshaw!" exclaimed the captain; "how you goin' to eat 'em before you
catch 'em?"

"Don't eat them, and then there will be no need of catching them,"
responded Benjamin. "They are in their native element now; let them
stay there, and you keep in yours. They are in as great misery on this
deck as you would be down there in the water."

"What put such a queer notion as that into your head?" said the
captain, who was surprised that a sane man should hold such an
opinion. "Don't _you_ eat fish?"

"No, nor any other kind of meat; I have not touched a particle for
more than two years."

"Because you think it is wicked to kill harmless animals of any kind?"
remarked another sailor, who had been listening in utter astonishment.

"Yes, that is the principal reason, though I do not think that man
needs flesh for a diet."

"You think that God made beasts, birds, and fish to look at, and not
to eat," suggested the captain. "In my opinion, the world would be
overrun with dumb animals in time if none were killed for food."

"And I think the human family would perish for want of food, if flesh
were denied them," added one of the crew.

While this conversation was going on, the cook was frying fresh cod,
and the sailors were enjoying the odor therefrom.

"Don't they smell good?" said one, addressing Benjamin; "I shouldn't
want to risk you with one of those fellows if there was no more than I
wanted."

"I once ate fish, and had a special liking for them, and they smell
well enough now in the frying-pan," replied Benjamin. "But I have my
own opinions about killing such animals."

"I should think you had," responded one of the sailors, laughing; "no
one else would ever think of such a thing."

Soon the whole crew were eating cod, and in the jolliest manner making
remarks at Benjamin's expense.

"Look here, my friend," said the cook; "when these fish were opened, I
found smaller ones in their stomachs; now, if they can eat one
another, I don't see why we can't eat them; do you?"

"You must be joking, young man," continued the captain; "better send
all such notions adrift and sit down with us to dine on fish; they are
splendid."

One and another remarked, keeping up a continual fire at Benjamin,
with jokes and arguments and ridicule, until he sat down and went to
devouring a cod with the rest of them. That was the end of his queer
notion about killing fish; it was buried there in the sea; and
Benjamin never again resurrected it, but ate what other people did.
But the episode furnished sport for the sailors all the way from Block
Island to New York, where they arrived in about three days from the
time the sloop left Boston.

Benjamin did not know a person in the city of New York, nor had he a
single letter of recommendation to any one, and the money in his
pocket but a trifle. It was in October, 1723, that he arrived in New
York, a youth of seventeen years, a runaway in a city, without a
solitary acquaintance, and scarcely money enough to pay a week's
board! Perhaps, with all the rest, he carried an upbraiding conscience
under his jacket, more discomforting than to be a stranger in a
strange land.

At this crisis of Benjamin's life, he appeared to be on the highway to
ruin. There is scarcely one similar case in ten, where the runaway
escapes the vortex of degradation. Benjamin would have been no
exception, but for his early religious training and his love of books.

The case of William Hutton, who was the son of very poor parents, is
very similar to that of Benjamin Franklin. He was bound to his uncle
for a series of years, but he was treated 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 became an author of much
celebrity, and a most exemplary and influential 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.

This description of Hutton would apply almost equally well to
Franklin.



XIX.


TRIALS OF A RUNAWAY.

On arriving at New York, Benjamin's first thought was of work. His
pocket was too near empty to remain idle long; so he called upon Mr.
William Bradford, an old printer, who removed from Philadelphia to New
York some months before.

"Can I find employment in your printing office?" he inquired.

"I am not in need of extra help, I am sorry to say," answered Mr.
Bradford. "My business is light, and will continue to be so for the
present, I think. Are you a printer?"

"Yes, sir. I have worked at the business over three years."

"Where?"

"In Boston."

"You ought to understand it well by this time. I wish I had work for
you, or for any other young man who is enterprising enough to go from
Boston to New York for work."

"Do you think I should be likely to find work at some other printing
office in town?"

"I am sorry to say that I hardly think you can. Very dull times,
indeed, my son. But I think you can get work in Philadelphia. My son
runs a printing house in that city, and one of his men on whom he
relied much recently died. I think he would be glad to employ you."

"How far is it to Philadelphia?"

"About a hundred miles."

"A long distance," was Benjamin's reply, evidently disappointed to
find that he was still a hundred miles from work.

"It is only one-third as far as you have already traveled for work. If
you can find employment by traveling a hundred miles further, in these
dull times, you will be fortunate."

"Well, I suppose that is so," replied Benjamin, musing on his
situation. "What is the conveyance there?"

"You can take a boat to Amboy, and there you will find another boat to
Philadelphia. A pleasant trip, on the whole." And Mr. Bradford added,
for Benjamin's encouragement, "Philadelphia is a better place for a
printer than New York, in some respects."

Benjamin thanked him for his kindness, expressing much pleasure in
making his acquaintance, and bade him good-bye. He took the first boat
to Amboy, sending his chest by sea around to Philadelphia. The more he
reflected upon his situation, in connection with Mr. Bradford's
encouraging words, the more cheerful and hopeful he grew. If he could
get work "by going a hundred miles further" he ought to be well
satisfied, he said to himself. So he cheered up his almost desponding
heart, in Franklin fashion, as he proceeded upon the next hundred
miles.

But more trials awaited him, however, somewhat different from those
already experienced. The boat had been under way but a short time
before it was struck by a sudden squall, tearing the rotten sails to
pieces, and driving the craft pell-mell upon Long Island. It was the
first squall of that sort Benjamin had ever experienced. Other squalls
had struck him, and he was fleeing from one at that time, but this
squall of wind and rain was altogether a new experience, and he wilted
under it. The condition was made more tragic by a drunken Dutchman
falling overboard.

"Seize him! seize him!" cried the captain; and that was what Benjamin
was waiting to do when the miserable fellow should rise to the
surface. As soon as he came up from the depths into which he had sunk,
Benjamin seized him by the hair of his head and pulled him on board.

"There, you fool," exclaimed Benjamin. "I hope that ducking will sober
you. You came within sight of eternity that time."

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

"He is too drunk for that," replied Benjamin. "He will never know how
near he came to his own place. Strange that any man will be so foolish
as to drink stuff that will steal away his brains."

"Don't you ever drink it?" asked the captain in reply.

"Not one drop," his young passenger replied with emphasis, as he
rolled over the Dutchman to get the water out of him. "There, are you
all right now?"

The Dutchman mumbled over something, no one could tell what. It was
probably about a book in his jacket; for he took one therefrom, and
signified to Benjamin that he wanted it dried; and then he dropped
into a sound sleep.

"I declare, if it is not my old friend, The Pilgrim's Progress,"
exclaimed Benjamin; "in Dutch, too! A queer companion for a drunken
man to have, though a good one."

"Knows more about the bottle than he does about that, I bet," said the
captain. "I don't suppose that it makes much difference to him whether
he is under the water or on top."

"Not just now," replied Benjamin; "but what chance is there for
landing on such a rocky shore?"

"Not much; we'll drop anchor, and swing out the cable towards the
shore," said the captain.

"I see men on the shore, and there are boats there; perhaps they can
come to our rescue, though the wind is blowing a little too hard for
them."

The captain hallooed to them, and they returned an answer, but the
wind howled so that they could not be understood.

"A boat! A boat!" shouted the captain. Others of the crew joined in
the call for aid, and made various signs indicating their need of
assistance. But neither party could understand the other.

"What now?" inquired Benjamin, when he saw the men on shore turning
their steps homeward. "A pretty dark night before us."

"Yes, dark and perilous, though I have seen a worse one," answered the
captain. "When we find ourselves in such a predicament, there is only
one thing to be done."

"What is that?" asked Benjamin, who was quite nervous and anxious.

"Do nothing but wait patiently for the wind to abate." The captain was
cool and self-reliant when he spoke.

"Then let us turn in with the Dutchman," said one of the boatmen. "I
don't want he should have all the sleep there is. He is not in
condition to appreciate it as I am."

"As you please," said the captain; "might as well improve the time by
getting a little rest. We shall be all right in the morning."

So all crowded into the hatches, including Benjamin. But the spray
broke over the head of the boat so much that the water leaked through
upon them.

"A wet berth for you, friend," said one of the boatmen to Benjamin.
"You are not accustomed to sleeping in such wet blankets. You may get
as wet as the Dutchman before morning."

"There is only one thing to do in these circumstances," said Benjamin
in reply, "take things as they come, and make the best of it."

"If you can," added the boatman in a suggestive way. "If _you_ can, I
oughter. I've been in this business longer than you have lived."

The crew slept soundly; but Benjamin found no rest in such an unusual
plight. Sleep was out of the question, and he had all the more time to
_think_, and his active mind improved the opportunity, so that Boston,
home, the printing office, and his parents were dwelt upon until he
began to think he was _paying too dear for the whistle_ again. It is
not strange that runaways 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 rear, until after the dawn of
morning. Benjamin was never more rejoiced to see daylight 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 destination. As soon as the tumult of the winds 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, that, perhaps, saved him a fit of sickness. Availing
himself of this knowledge, he drank freely of water before he retired,
and the result was a thorough sweating; and he arose in the morning
fully restored, so as to continue his journey.

A few years ago, a young man was traveling in the state of Maine,
soliciting subscribers for a newspaper. On passing a certain farm, he
observed some bricks of a peculiar color, 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 fifteen hundred dollars, and, on his return to
Boston, sold one-half of it for four thousand dollars. 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 gained therefrom enabled him to discover the nature
of the clay on the said farm. Thus even a little knowledge that may be
gleaned from a book in a simple leisure half-hour, will sometimes
prove the way to a valuable treasure; much more valuable than the farm
which the young man purchased. 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 advantage gained. A
little reading, also, as we have seen, 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
Miltshire, that opened before him the historic path to distinction.

Sir Walter Scott warned the young against under valuing the knowledge
to be acquired at odd moments by reading and study. He wrote:

"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 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 spent the night in a cold-water sweat, about ready
to 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.

"Rather a tough day for walking," remarked the landlord, as Benjamin
was leaving his house. "Better stay unless your business is driving."

"Rain or shine, I must push on," responded Benjamin cheerfully. "I
want to be in Philadelphia as soon as possible. Can't melt, as I am
neither sugar nor salt."

"Well, that is a very encouraging view to take of the situation, and
it is a sensible one, too," said the landlord. "There's nothing like
taking things as they come."

"I have lived long enough to find that out, young as I am," replied
Benjamin; "and I expect to find constant use of that spirit in future.
Good-bye, sir."

"Good luck to you, wherever you go," added the landlord in a friendly
tone.

Benjamin was wet through before he had traveled a mile, and he began
to wish that he had never left Boston; still he hastened on until he
reached a "poor inn" about noon. His own description of that day is as
follows:

"It rained very hard all the day; I was thoroughly soaked, and by noon
a good deal tired; so I stopped at a poor inn, where I staid all
night, _beginning now to wish I had never left home_. I made so
miserable a figure, too, that I found, by the questions asked me, I
was suspected to be some runaway indentured servant, and in danger of
being taken up on that suspicion."

"Where are you from, young man?"

"From Boston, sir."

"Ah! you are a long way from home for such a youngster. What is your
name?"

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

"No work in Boston, I s'pose, hey? How long since you left?"

"About a week. I did not expect to come further this way than New
York, but I could find no work there."

"No work in New York, hey? What sort of work do you do, that you find
it so scarce?"

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

"Wall, you are a pretty young one to take such a trip; I should hardly
be willing my son should go so far from home, printer or no printer."

"I can afford to make such a trip, and even a longer one, if I can
find steady work," suggested Benjamin.

"Your father and mother living?"

"Yes, sir."

"How did they feel about your going so far from home?"

"A father who loves to work as well as my father does always wants his
sons to have enough to do," Benjamin replied, shrewdly evading the
close question. "Nothing my father hates so much as idleness."

"We all ought to hate it; but many men do not. In these times, can't
keep above water without work." The landlord's last words indicated
that his suspicions were somewhat allayed.

Benjamin managed to answer all the questions of the innkeeper without
increasing his suspicions. 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 Doctor Brown, "an ambulating quack-doctor" and a very social man.

"How much further you going?" he inquired of Benjamin.

"I am going to Philadelphia."

"Where are you from?"

"Boston."

"Ah! I would like to see Boston; I never did. I have been in South
America, England, and some other countries, but I was never in
Boston."

"It is a good town, and has many educated, intelligent citizens; it is
a thriving place," said Benjamin. "I should like to see as much of the
world as you have."

"I enjoyed it, though my knocking about subjected me to many
hardships," replied the doctor. "You would like to see London, and
Paris, and Rome; I have seen them all. They are marvellous cities."

"I suppose so. My father came from England to Boston less than forty
years ago," continued Benjamin. "He enjoys this country more than he
did his own."

Benjamin had a good time at Doctor Brown's. The latter soon discovered
that his youthful guest was very intelligent, so he entered into an
account of his travels abroad somewhat in detail to interest him.
Benjamin enjoyed the interview very much, and forgot, for the time
being, that he was a runaway encountering many hardships. He was sorry
to leave him on the next day.

"I have enjoyed every minute of my stay here," he said, "and I shall
not forget it soon. Perhaps we shall meet again sometime."

"I hope we shall. I am glad to make your acquaintance, and I wish you
great success. I hope you will become the most successful printer in
America. Good-bye."

They parted the best of friends, and Benjamin pushed on 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 Saturday, and his money would not hold out if he
should get boarded at a hotel till then. What should he do? He was in
great trouble about it for a short time, but finally concluded that he
would return to the old lady of whom he bought the gingerbread, as he
liked her appearance very well, and ask her advice. So back he went.

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

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

"Lor', 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
Philadelphia?"

"Lor', 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. How can I make
the best on 't?"

"What ye goin' to Philadelphy for?" she replied, instead of answering
his question.

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

"A printer, lor'! Dear me, yer fortin is made to set up business in
this 'ere town. There's nothin' of the like here."

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

The woman did not know what was necessary in establishing a printing
house. 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.

"Lor', 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 hostess 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 around to the river, and, as he approached
it, he discovered a boat with several people in it, and he hailed
them:

"Whither bound?"

"To Philadelphia."

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

"Just as well as not," and the boat was turned at once to receive the
additional passenger.

There was no wind, so that they had to depend upon their oars for
progress. Benjamin now had an opportunity to show his skill in rowing
which he acquired in his boyhood, in Boston. He was so elated with
proceeding on his journey 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 the old lady his
compliments. Whether she ever learned what became of him, or that he
grew up to be Doctor Franklin, the philosopher and statesman, we have
no means of knowing. Doubtless she concluded that she had not
"entertained an angel unawares," but rather had aided an undeserving
fellow in pursuing a vicious course, which was not true.

The boat moved on. Benjamin rowed with strong resolution, taking his
turn with others, and impressing them by his tact and skill, 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," answered one of the men; "we must have seen it
if we had passed it."

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

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

All agreed to the last proposition, and at once rowed towards the
shore, entering a small creek, where they landed near an old fence,
the rails of which furnished them 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
Philadelphia. 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 boatman for his passage.

"Not a cent, my good fellow! You worked your passage, and did it well,
too. You row as if you were an old hand at it. Put your money back in
your pocket."

"But you _must_ take it," insisted 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 money upon the boatman.

Bidding them good morning, he walked up Market Street.



XX.


THE WALKING COMEDY.

Benjamin was very hungry, and he was considering how he could appease
his hunger, when he met a boy who was eating a piece of bread.

"That is what I want," he said to the boy; "where did you get that?"

"Over there, at the bake-shop," the boy replied, pointing to it.

"Thank you," and Benjamin hurried on.

He had eaten nothing since he dined with the shop-woman in Burlington,
on the day before. Besides, bread was a staple article with him. He
had made many a meal of plain bread in his brother's printing office
in Boston. Although he knew well which side his bread was buttered,
his appetite for unbuttered bread never failed him. Entering the
bake-shop, he inquired:

"Have you biscuit?" He was thinking of what he had in Boston.

"We make nothing of the kind."

"Give me a three-penny loaf, then."

"We have none."

Benjamin began to think he should have to go hungry still, for,
evidently, he did not know the names used to designate the different
sorts of bread in Philadelphia. But, soon recovering himself, he said:

"Then give me three-penny worth of any kind." To his surprise, the
baker passed three great puffy rolls to him, enough for three men to
eat at one meal. At first, he was puzzled to know what to do with
them, whether to take all three or not.

"What! All that?" he said, scarcely knowing what he did say.

"Yes, there's three-penny worth; that is what you said, was it not?"

"It was," and Benjamin paid the money and took the loaves, trying to
conceal his surprise, without exposing his ignorance of methods in the
Quaker City. He was a boy of remarkable tact, as we have seen, so that
he was never put to his wits long without finding a way out. It was so
in this case. He put a roll under each arm, and taking the third one
in his hand, he proceeded up the street, eating as he went.

Recollect that it was Sunday morning, and people were already swarming
in the streets, arrayed in their best clothes. Benjamin was clad in
his poorest clothes, and they were very shabby. His best suit was in
his chest, and that was sent from New York by water. He was a sight to
behold as he trudged up Market Street with his three loaves of bread,
and his large pockets stuffed with shirts and stockings. He preferred
pockets to the usual "bandanna bundle"; they were more convenient for
storing away his wardrobe, but contributed largely to his comical
appearance. He was a walking comedy. People gazed at him inquiringly
and smiled. No doubt, many of them wondered where he came from and
where he was going. He was seedy enough, but no one saw the seed of a
philosopher or statesman about him. There was no promise in that
direction. He was an embryo "Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of
France"; but his appearance was that of a shack, or modern tramp, to
whom Sunday is like all other days, and whose self-respect is at a
large discount.

On he went, however, regardless of opinions concerning the figure he
cut, stowing away in his stomach the baker's loaf in his hand. He
passed by the residence of one Mr. Read, whose daughter, in her teens,
Miss Deborah Read, was standing at the door. She gazed in wonder at
the singular specimen of humanity passing before her; thought he was
the most awkward and comical creature in the form of a man she had
ever seen; and turned away with a laugh to tell her people in the
house of the queer spectacle. She little thought that she was taking a
bird's eye view of her future husband, as the young man with the rolls
under his arms turned out to be. But just then he cared more for bread
than he did for her; some years thereafter, the case was reversed, and
he cared more for her than he did for bread.

He turned down Chestnut Street, and walked on 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 said to the little one, who looked wistfully at
the bread.

"We are both very hungry," replied the mother quickly for herself and
child.

"Well, I have satisfied my hunger with one loaf, and you may have the
other two if you want them"; and Benjamin passed the two rolls under
his arms to her. "It appears that, in Philadelphia, three-penny worth
of bread is three times as much as a man can eat. If other things can
be had in the same proportion, the last dollar I have left will go a
great way."

"I thank you a thousand times; you are very kind indeed," responded
the woman, with a heart overflowing with gratitude, which was as good
pay for the bread as Benjamin wanted. "May you never want for bread."

"No one would want for bread if they who have it will divide with
those who have none, as they should."

In the last reply was incorporated a leading virtue of Benjamin's
character--a trait that manifested itself, as we shall see, all
through his life. His generosity was equal to his wisdom. 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 the 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 career."

"I must be after finding a boarding place," said Benjamin to the owner
of the boat, as he was about leaving. "I do not know where to go any
more than the man in the moon. Are you acquainted here?"

"Scarcely at all; could not be of any service to you any way on that
line," the owner answered. "Goin' to stop some time in Philadelphy?"

"I am going to live here if I can find work, as I expect to, and
become a citizen of this town."

"Wall, you'll make a good one, I know. May you never have reason to
repent of your choice. Goodbye."

"Good-bye"; and Benjamin walked up the street again. The people were
on their way to meeting, so that he was reminded of divine worship,
which he had partially forsaken in Boston. Being very tired, in
consequence of a hard time on the boat and a wakeful night, he
concluded to follow the people to church. They entered a large
old-fashioned meeting-house, and he followed them and took a seat near
the door. His appearance attracted much attention, as his dress was
not exactly that of a Quaker, and otherwise he was not quite of the
Quaker type; and it was a Quaker church in which he was. But he wasted
no thoughts upon his apparel, and did not stop to think or care
whether he was arrayed in shoddy or fine linen.

Whether he did not know that he was in a Quaker congregation, or
knowing that fact, was ignorant of the Quaker worship, does not
appear; but he waited for something to be said. While waiting for
this, he dropped into a sound sleep, and slept through the entire
service, and would have slept on, and been fastened into the
meeting-house, had not the sexton discovered him.

"Hulloo, stranger! Meeting's over; going to shut up the house,"
shouted the sexton, shaking the sleeper thoroughly.

"I was very tired," responded Benjamin, trying to get his eyes open.
"I was on the boat last night and got no sleep."

"Where did you come from?"

"Boston; I came here for work."

"Well, Philadelphy is a great place for work; what sort of work do you
want?"

"I am a printer by trade, and hope to find work in a printing office."

"And I hope you will. Sorry to disturb your nap, but I have to lock up
the house."

Benjamin thanked the sexton for waking him instead of locking him in,
and went out into the street. He had not proceeded far before he met a
Quaker whose face indicated a man of amiable and generous heart, and
Benjamin ventured to speak to him.

"I am a stranger in this town; arrived here this morning; can you tell
me where I can get a night's lodging?"

"Certainly I can; I suppose thee wants a respectable place." The
gentleman spoke so kindly as to draw Benjamin to him at once.

"Yes, sir; but not an expensive one; my purse will not permit of any
extra expense."

"Thee going to remain here some time?"

"Permanently, if I can get work; I am a printer by trade."

"I wish thee success," added the Quaker. "But here we are close by the
'Three Mariners'; but it is not exactly a reputable house, and thee
wants a better one."

"Yes; I want one that has a good reputation if there is such a one,"
said Benjamin.

"Well, if thee will follow me, I will show thee a better one; it is
not far away."

Benjamin followed him into Water Street, where he pointed out a public
house.

"There's the 'Crooked Billet,'" said the Quaker, "a tavern that is
reputable, where thee can find board and lodgings for a day or a
year."

"Thank you, sir, for your kindness," said Benjamin; "I shall not
forget you. May every body be as friendly to you as you have been to
me."

At the same time, Benjamin thought it was a very queer name for a
public house. He did not like either part of it, and he said to
himself, "'Crooked Billet'!--crookedness and a cudgel to strike down
the turbulent with, are suggested." The name did not suggest any thing
pleasant to him. But he went in, and engaged lodging and board until
Monday.

"Where are you from?" asked the landlord, scanning him from head to
foot.

"I am from Boston."

"Boston, hey? How long have you been on the way?"

"Two weeks."

"Got friends in Philadelphia?"

"Not one; all strangers to me."

"What did you come here for?"

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

"How old are you?"

"Seventeen."

"And came all the way from Boston alone?"

"Yes, sir."

Benjamin saw by this time that the landlord suspected him of being a
runaway apprentice. This class of characters was large at that day,
for apprentices were often subjected to cruelty that made them
runaways. So he closed the conversation as soon as possible and went
to his room, where he slept until six o'clock, when he was called to
supper. Not long after supper he went to bed and slept soundly until
morning.

He arose early, took special pains to make himself as presentable as
possible, paid his bill without waiting for breakfast, perhaps because
he was reducing his cash so nearly to the last cent, and sallied forth
in search of Mr. Bradford. He experienced no trouble in finding the
printing office; but was very much surprised to find Mr. Bradford of
New York there, father of the young printer Bradford of Philadelphia,
to whom the father sent him.

"Glad to see you, my young friend. I got here first, after all, as you
see," remarked Mr. Bradford, the father, as he welcomed Benjamin with
a hearty shake of the hand. "Had any ill-luck on your way?"

"Not exactly bad luck, for I considered myself quite lucky to get here
at all; but a slow, tedious trip, with delays and storms and
disappointments most of the time," was Benjamin's answer, and he
entered somewhat into details.

"Well, you are here, and I am glad to meet you; and, now, you want
work." Then, turning to his son, Mr. Bradford continued: "My son, let
me introduce this young man to you. He is a printer by trade, from
Boston, in search of work: Benjamin Franklin. He called upon me in New
York, and I advised him to come to you, knowing that your leading
printer had died."

The young printer and the runaway were soon acquainted,--young
Bradford being as genial and friendly as the senior.

"I regret that I have no work for you now. I have filled the place
made vacant by the death of Bolder."

"There is another printer here, is there not?" asked the senior
Bradford.

"Yes, Keimer; it is possible he may want a man. But it is breakfast
time now; let us all go to breakfast, and then we'll see what can be
done."

Benjamin was invited to breakfast with them, and there learned that
Mr. Bradford of New York came all the way on horseback, starting very
unexpectedly the next day after Benjamin left New York. He was
somewhat surprised, also, to learn that Philadelphia had only seven
thousand inhabitants at that time--five thousand less than Boston.

"I will go with you to see Mr. Keimer," said the senior Bradford,
after breakfast. "Perhaps I may be of service to you."

"I shall feel myself under great obligations to you if you will,"
answered Benjamin. "It is quite necessary that I should get work, as
my money is nearly gone."

"We can fix that, I think," said young Bradford. "I may be able to
give you a little something to do, if Keimer don't want you, so that
you won't starve. You can lodge at my house."

"Thanks," replied Benjamin. "I appreciate your kindness, and hope to
be able to make some return for it in the future. I am sorry not to
appear before you in more respectable apparel, but my chest of clothes
comes by water from New York, and I have not received it yet."

"Clothes don't make the man," responded the elder Bradford, who had
discovered a remarkably bright and intelligent youth in Benjamin.
"Brains take the precedence of clothes in New York and Philadelphia."

Benjamin found himself among good friends, so he cheerfully accepted
their counsel. The senior Bradford accompanied him to Keimer's.

"Neighbor," said Bradford, "I have brought to you a young man from
Boston, a printer by trade; he is after work. Perhaps you can employ
him."

"That depends on his qualifications," answered Mr. Keimer. "I want
some one who is acquainted with the business."

"You will find him all right, I think; he appears to know what he is
about."

"How long have you worked at the business?" inquired Keimer, turning
to Benjamin.

"Over three years."

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

"Yes, I think I do; you can ascertain by trying me."

"Take this composing-stick and try your hand; let me see what you can
do."

Benjamin proceeded to give an exhibition of his skill at type-setting,
which he did so rapidly and easily that Keimer was delighted.

"Very well done, indeed. I think you told the truth; you must have had
considerable experience. I will employ you as soon as I have
sufficient work. At present, I have nothing for you to do."

"It is not often, Mr. Keimer, that you have the opportunity to employ
a skilled hand like this young man," suggested Bradford. "If you could
give him enough to do to pay his board, until you are full of work, it
may be for your interest and his, too."

"That is true. I am at work now upon this Elegy on Aquila Rose, who
was clerk of the Pennsylvania Legislature; and I may want him to print
it. I shall have it ready in three or four days. I am expecting other
work soon, also."

"You can return to my son's house to eat and sleep," said Mr. Bradford
to Benjamin. "I think Mr. Keimer will want you before long. He expects
to have business."

"What do you think of my prospects here, sir?" inquired Keimer of Mr.
Bradford, supposing him to be a citizen of Philadelphia. "I have
hardly got under way yet; it is only a few weeks since I began."

"That will depend upon your own exertions and business talents.
Philadelphia is a growing town, where industry and perseverance will
do wonders."

"I shall do all in my power to draw the business of the town; and I
think I can do it by industry and giving first-class work."

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

Keimer answered the last inquiry by disclosing his plans, as Bradford
artfully drew him out on every point, until he learned how he was
calculating to command all the business, and run his son out of it.
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 Bradford was shrewdly learning Keimer's plans for the benefit of
his son.

"You did not know that man, did you?" inquired Benjamin, after
Bradford left.

"No; but I concluded he was some business man of the town, who would
be interested to see a printing office successful, and so took pains
to introduce you to me."

"Then you will be surprised to learn who he is, when I tell you. That
was the father of Andrew Bradford, your neighbor, the printer. He
carries on printing in New York."

"Can that be?" exclaimed Keimer, astonished over the bit of news, and
startled at the thought of having made known his plans to a
competitor.

"Yes, it is even so. That was Mr. Bradford, the New York printer,
father of Andrew Bradford, the printer of your town; and not his
apparition."

"How in the world did he happen to come here with you?"

"I can tell you in a few words," replied Benjamin. "I called on him
for work in New York, and he directed me to his son here, who had just
lost a good hand by death. Very unexpectedly, on the next day, he
started for Philadelphia on horseback, and, when I called upon his
son, this morning, I found him there. His son had just hired a man;
and so he directed me to you, and his father offered to come and
introduce me."

"Well, all that is natural enough, but it is pretty hard on me,"
answered Keimer. "If I had known that was Bradford's father, I should
have kept my mouth shut, of course."

"You opened it pretty wide to him, and he took advantage of it, as
most men will do. But I guess no harm is done. He and his son both
appear to be friendly to you; they would not have proposed that I
should come here for work, if they had not been."

"That looks so, I must confess," said Keimer; "but I have learned one
good lesson from it: never to divulge secrets to a stranger. When I do
that again I shall not be in my right mind. But I wanted to ask you
about your Boston experience in a printing office; what office was you
in?"

"My brother's, James Franklin. He published a paper, the _New England
Courant_. He did a large business."

"Yes, our paper here gave some account of it. The editor had some
trouble with the Government, did he not?"

"Yes, and a serious trouble it was. He believed in the freedom of the
press, and the officials did not; so there was a collision. He
determined to fight the censorship of the press, and he was imprisoned
for it. Then I edited and published the paper in my own name."

"You run it!" exclaimed Keimer in a tone of wonder and unbelief.

"Yes, I run it,--without letting up one jot in attacking the
intolerant Government. It was a hot contest, but the common people,
true Americans, rallied to our support, and left the aristocratic
officials to toady to the English Government."

"A new order of things when a boy edits and publishes a paper in a
straight fight with Great Britain," was all that Keimer said, in
reply, evidently not believing a word of Benjamin's story about the
_Courant_. However, the more he talked with the new comer, the more he
was impressed with his intelligence and manly character. He found that
his clothes were the poorest part of him, that underneath his shabby
garments there dwelt a soul of large possessions and aspirations.

Benjamin learned at Keimer's office what a blessing it was to him to
have practised _doing things well_. Thoroughness in learning the
printer's art, as well as in studying the use of language and
composition, characterized him in Boston, as we have seen. Now he was
reaping the benefits of it. He handled the composing-stick so
dexterously, and answered every question so intelligently and
promptly, that Keimer saw at once he was really an expert. Many boys
are satisfied if they can only "pass muster." Their ambition rises no
higher than that. 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 favor; and such a young man is never long out of
business. Doctor Johnson said, "What is worth doing at all, is worth
doing well."

Samuel Budgett said, "In whatever calling a man is found, he ought to
strive to be the best in that calling; if only a shoe-black, he should
try to be the best shoe-black in the neighborhood." Budgett conducted
his immense business, in which he employed six hundred men, on this
principle. When a boy was introduced into his warehouse he was set to
straightening old nails. If he straightened nails well, he was
promoted to bag-mending; if he did not do it well, he was dismissed.
The thorough nail-straightener and bag-mender moved upwards into
larger and higher fields of work; and so the great English merchant
could boast of having the most efficient and faithful class of
employes in the British realm. Training them to do their best did it.

James Parton said to David Maydole, inventor of the modern hammer and
manufacturer of the best hammers in the world, "By this time you ought
to be able to make a pretty good hammer." Maydole replied, "No, I
can't. I can't make a pretty good hammer, I make the best that's
made." Once a party applied for several hammers, to whom Maydole was
indebted for some favor, and the party said to him, "You ought to make
my hammer a little better than the others." Maydole responded, "I
can't make any better ones. When I make a thing, I make it as well as
I can, no matter whom it is for." Doing his best every time led him on
to fortune. He never pushed his business. He never advertised. Making
the best hammer in the market created all the business he wanted.



XXI.


GETTING ON.

"Your press is rather dilapidated, I see," remarked Benjamin to Mr.
Keimer, after he had looked it over. "Second-hand, I conclude?"

"Yes, I had to buy what I could get cheap, as I had little money to
begin with. I guess it can be fixed up to answer my purpose."

"That is so; it can be improved very much with little expense,"
replied Benjamin.

"Do you understand a printing press well enough to repair it?"

"I can repair that one well enough; I see what is wanted. You can't do
good work with it as it is," Benjamin answered.

"Then I can employ you at once, and you may go right about putting it
in order if you please."

"I will do it," Benjamin replied in his emphatic way. "It is not a
long job, by any means."

"Perhaps you will have it done by the time I get the Elegy set up, and
then you may print it." Keimer's interest was deepening since he found
that the Boston printer-boy could repair a printing press. He was
getting more than he bargained for.

Benjamin went to work upon the old press, saying "I may as well go
about it at once, and work till dinner time. Mr. Bradford will expect
me back then; but I will keep at it until it is done."

"Well, I hope you will not expose any secrets as I did," remarked Mr.
Keimer, humorously. "Old Bradford will be on the lookout for capital,
no doubt. See that he don't make as much out of you as he did out of
me."

Benjamin met the Bradfords, senior and junior, at the dinner table,
where they gave him a cordial welcome.

"How does Philadelphia compare with Boston?" inquired the senior
Bradford of him.

"It is smaller, and I can't tell yet whether it is duller or not. When
I have been here a week I can tell more about it."

"And what are your prospects at Keimer's?" inquired the junior
Bradford.

"Well, I have begun to repair his old press. It is a dilapidated
affair, and I told him that I could improve it very much."

"Do you understand that part of the business?"

"I understand it sufficiently to make what repairs that machine
requires just now."

"Then you can probably do some repairs for me," said the junior
Bradford "My press needs some tutoring."

"I shall be happy to be its tutor," replied Benjamin, with a smile. "I
shall finish Keimer's to-morrow, and then I will take yours in hand. I
shall be glad to do something to repay you for your kindness."

"You must have had good school advantages in Boston," remarked the
elder Bradford to him. "Your conversation indicates that you are
well-read and well-informed."

"But I am not indebted to the schools for it; I never went to school
but two years in my life. But I have studied and read as much as any
body of my age, in leisure hours and nights; and I have written more
for the press, probably, than any one of my age in Boston."

This last remark caused the Bradfords to look at each other with
wonder for a moment. But the senior broke the silence by saying:

"You write for the press? How is that?" His astonishment charged his
questions with peculiar emphasis.

"Yes, sir; I wrote much for nearly a year for the _New England
Courant_, one of the newspapers in Boston."

"And only seventeen years old now?"

"I was only sixteen when I wrote the most."

That was as far as Benjamin dared to disclose his history, lest he
might make trouble for himself. He had disclosed enough, however, to
set his host to thinking. Neither of the Bradfords really believed his
story about his writing for the press; and yet there was something
about him, composed of intelligence, refinement, and manliness, that
impressed them. The more they conversed with him, the more were they
satisfied that he was an uncommon youth. While that conviction
awakened their curiosity to know more of his history, it served, also,
to cause them to respect his boy-manhood, and so not to ply him with
too many or close questions. Thus Benjamin escaped the necessity of
exposing the objectionable part of his career, and left his good
friends wondering over the mysterious young printer they were
befriending.

Benjamin repaired Keimer's press, and then attended to Bradford's,
before the Elegy was ready to be printed. By that time, Keimer had
engaged to print a pamphlet and do some other small jobs, so that he
needed Benjamin's services all the time.

"I shall want you right along, now, I think; but you must change your
boarding-place. I don't want you should board with a man who knows so
much about my business." And Keimer laughed as he made this last
remark.

"Of course, I shall change. I only intended to stay there until I got
work. Mr. Bradford kindly invited me to stay there till I found a
place, and I shall not take any advantage of his generosity. I shall
always be grateful to him for it."

"He was a good friend to you, a stranger," continued Keimer, "and I
would have you appreciate his friendship; but, in the circumstances, I
think another boarding-place is best."

"And now I can make a more respectable appearance," responded
Benjamin; "for my chest of clothes has come."

"The man who owns this building lives a short distance away, and I am
thinking I can get you boarded there; it will be a good place," added
Mr. Keimer.

"As you please; I can make myself at home any where. I am not used to
much style and luxury."

"His name is Read, and he has an interesting daughter of eighteen,
which may be some attraction to you." The last remark was intended
more for pleasantry than any thing.

"Work will have to be the chief attraction for me, whose fortune is
reduced to the last shilling," responded Benjamin. "It takes money to
pay respectful attention to young ladies; and, besides, my _forte_
does not lie in that direction."

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 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.

Benjamin received good wages, attended closely to his work, improved
his leisure moments by reading and study, as he did in Boston, and
spent his evenings in systematic mental culture.

"You appear to be fond of books," said Mr. Read to him. "I think you
must have enjoyed good advantages at home. Where is your home?"

"Boston. I was born there seventeen years ago."

"Only seventeen! I supposed you were older. Your parents living?"

"Yes, both of them, as good people as there are in Boston."

"Got brothers and sisters?"

"Plenty of them. I am the fifteenth child, and have two sisters
younger than I am; only one of the whole number is dead."

"You surprise me; yours must have been the largest family in Boston,"
continued Mr. Read. "I am sure we have no family as large as that in
Philadelphia. Your father ought to be worth some money to provide for
such a family."

"He is not, he is a poor man; so poor that he kept me in school less
than two years. I went into the shop to work with him when I was ten
years old, and have not been to school since. All my brothers were
apprenticed at ten or twelve years of age. I was a printer's
apprentice at twelve years of age."

"And what was your father's business, if I may be permitted to ask?
Your story is a very interesting one, and I want to know more about
it."

"My father is a tallow-chandler. He emigrated to Boston in 1685, from
Banbury, England, where he worked at the trade of a dyer. There was no
room for that business in Boston, so he took up the business of
candle-making."

"But you did not work at the candle business long, if you became a
printer at twelve?"

"No; I disliked the business so thoroughly that I was ready to engage
in almost any thing if I could get out of that. The printer's trade
has afforded me excellent opportunities for reading and study, and I
like it."

"Well, printers are generally an intelligent class, and their pursuit
is highly respected. One of our printers in Philadelphia is an
ignorant man, and not very familiar with the business."

"I found that out some time ago," answered Benjamin; "and ignorance is
a great drawback to a person in any business whatever. There is no
need of a man being ignorant, so long as he can command fragments of
time to read and study. What I call my leisure hours are my most
profitable and enjoyable hours."

Mr. Read had already concluded that Benjamin was never so happy as
when he had a book in his hand, or was with some intelligent companion
conversing upon a useful topic. He had formed a high estimate of his
talents and character in the few weeks he had been a boarder at his
house. He saw in him a rising young man, and predicted for him a
remarkable career. His daughter, too, was as favorably impressed by
acquaintance with him. She learned that he was the youth, who cut such
a comical figure on the street, eating his roll of bread, on a Sunday
morning a short time before, and she could scarcely believe her eyes.
The transformation in him was almost too great for belief. That such a
shack in appearance should turn out to be the brightest and
best-informed young man who ever boarded at her father's, was an
impressive fact. She was gratified at his appearance, and enjoyed
conversation with him.

Benjamin was well pleased with his boarding-place, and enjoyed himself
with the family; especially with the daughter, who was rather a
graceful, good-looking, bright girl. Several young men, also, boarded
there, whom he made companions. These, with others, whose acquaintance
he made within three or four months, became the source of so much
pleasure to him that he fast became weaned from Boston.

As soon as Benjamin was fairly settled in business, he wrote to his
old friend, John Collins, of Boston, giving him a full account of his
trip to Philadelphia, his trials and successes, and closing by
charging him with secrecy as to his whereabouts.

He had given such unjustifiable scope to his resentment of his
brother's harsh treatment, and his father's final endorsement of that
brother, that he did not stop to think of the sorrow he was bringing
upon his parents by his wayward course. For the time being, his filial
affection appeared to be sacrificed to his revengeful spirit.

At that time, the printer's trade ranked higher, in public estimation,
than any other mechanical business. All editors in the country were
printers, and most of the printers were better educated than any other
artisans; hence their social standing was higher. On this account, a
talented and brilliant boy like Benjamin took a high rank at once, and
readily found access to the respect and confidence of all who made his
acquaintance.

In due time, Benjamin received a letter from Collins, detailing the
excitement that followed his sudden disappearance from Boston, what
was said, the sorrow among his friends over his disgraceful exit, how
his brother was getting on, and many other matters about which he was
glad to hear. The letter closed by assuring him that no person in
Boston was apparently so ignorant of the runaway's whereabouts as
himself, from which he inferred that Collins was keeping the secret
well.

While Benjamin was flattering himself that his friends were entirely
ignorant of his place of residence, except John Collins, his
brother-in-law, Robert Homes, "master of a sloop that traded between
Boston and Delaware," was at Newcastle, forty miles from Philadelphia.
There he met a citizen of the latter place, of whom he made inquiries
as to the business of the town. Among other things, he said:

"A young printer from Boston has settled there recently, who ranks
high as a workman and as a talented young man."

"Do you know his name?" inquired Captain Homes, startled by the
revelation.

"Benjamin Franklin."

With an effort to conceal his surprise and interest, he asked:

"For whom does he work?"

"For Mr. Keimer, our new printer."

"Are you acquainted with him?"

"Not particularly; I have met him."

"Is he a young man of standing and good habits?"

"He is. It is said that he is very talented, and that he wrote for the
press in Boston before he came to Philadelphia."

"Is that so?" responded the captain, to conceal that he was any
acquaintance of his.

"Yes; and, as a matter of course, such a young man is much thought of.
He is not set up at all, but appears to be modest and unassuming. He
is very much liked by all."

"Do you think he means to make Philadelphia his home in the future?"

"That is what he intends, as I understand it." In this way, Captain
Homes gained whatever information he wanted, without disclosing that
Benjamin Franklin was his brother-in-law. Then he embraced the first
opportunity to write and forward to him the following letter from
Newcastle:

   "DEAR BROTHER,--I have just learned from a citizen of Philadelphia
   that you reside in that town. It is the first knowledge that any of
   us have had of your whereabouts since you ran away from Boston. You
   can have no idea of the sorrow you caused the family by your unwise
   and thoughtless act. It well-nigh broke your mother's heart, and
   added several years to your father's appearance. But I write to
   advise and entreat you to return to Boston. I am confident that
   your parents, and all other friends, will receive you with open
   arms, forgetting the past in their joy over your presence. They do
   not know even that you are alive; and your return will be to them
   as one risen from the dead. I trust that this letter will find you
   well, and disposed to heed my advice, and go back to Boston. It
   will be the best thing for you and the whole family. Let me hear
   from you; direct your letter to this place; if sent at once it will
   reach me here.

   "Yours affectionately,

   "ROBERT HOMES."

The reader may very properly infer that Benjamin was taken by surprise
by this letter. Now his friends would know where he was. How did
Captain Homes discover his place of residence? This question kept
uppermost in his mind. His letter did not tell. Benjamin pondered the
matter through the day, and finally resolved to answer it squarely and
promptly in the evening. That night he wrote the following:

   "CAPTAIN ROBERT HOMES:

   "_Dear Brother_,--I received your letter to-day, and it was a
   genuine surprise to me. How in the world you discovered my
   whereabouts is a mystery to me; but it is all well and will turn
   out for the best, no doubt. To answer your letter affords me an
   opportunity to state exactly the cause of my sudden departure from
   Boston, which I do not think you understand. The sole cause of my
   leaving was the unjust and harsh treatment of James. Instead of
   seeing in me a brother, he saw only an apprentice, indentured to
   him until I was twenty-one, over whom he held the iron rod of a
   master, and from whom he expected the most servile obedience. At
   times I may have been saucy and provoking, but it was when I was
   receiving more than flesh and blood could bear. For, in letting
   loose his violent temper, he not only lashed me unmercifully with
   his tongue, but he resorted to blows; and you ought to know enough
   of the Franklins by this time to understand that no one of them
   would submit to such oppression. Then, to cap the climax, father,
   who had always sided with me whenever our difficulties were laid
   before him, now gave his decision, for some reason, in favor of
   James. That was the last straw on the camel's back. Nothing but
   harsh treatment by a master, who asserted his rights under the law,
   awaited me. To remain was to be trod upon, and suffer, and become a
   slave instead of a man. To leave was impossible, unless I left
   clandestinely. For many days a mighty contest was waged in my soul
   between love of home and escape from a bondage as bad as Negro
   slavery.

   "After all I had done for James, in his great trouble with the
   Government, that he should treat me, his own brother, as a menial
   to be abused, seemed hard indeed. Under such a burden of trial,
   scarcely knowing whither to look for a friend, I resolved to
   escape, and I do not now regret the step. I knew that I should be
   misjudged--that I should be called a runaway, and thought to be on
   the road to ruin. But I am not. I mean to make the most of myself
   possible. I am now among good friends, who kindly second all my
   efforts at self-improvement, and my business prospects were never
   so good. If industry, economy, temperance, honesty, and
   perseverance will win, then I shall win; you may be sure of that.

   "Yours affectionately,

   "BENJAMIN."

Captain Homes was a strong, good man, used to roughing it in a
seafaring life; but when he read Benjamin's letter, tears stood in his
eyes, and his lips quivered with emotion, as his great heart went out
in sympathy for his wife's young brother.

"Read that letter," he said to Governor Keith, who was present, "and
then I will tell you about the author of it."

Governor Keith read it, with moistened eyes, although he was a
stranger to the writer and his romantic history.

"A touching letter," he remarked, returning it to the captain.

"The author of it is my wife's youngest brother, only a boy now."

"How old?" inquired the governor.

"Only seventeen."

"Indeed, he must be a remarkable boy."

"He is. The most gifted boy ever raised in Boston."

"Then he ran away from Boston?"

"Yes; his father's family is a prominent one in the city, and the
eldest son is a printer, to whom this youngest son was apprenticed."

"I see now," responded the governor. "That explains the letter. And he
is settled now in Philadelphia?"

"He is. I accidentally learned where he was, a few days ago, and wrote
to him; and this letter is his answer. Let me tell you more about
him." And the captain rehearsed his connection with the _Courant_, as
correspondent and editor, dwelling upon his ability and power as an
independent thinker, capable of canvassing and writing upon almost any
public question.

"Remarkable, for one so young!" exclaimed the governor, after
listening to the detailed account. "Such a young man should be
encouraged in his business."

"So I think," responded the captain. "His letter has opened my eyes,
and I see now that he had good reason to run away. I believe that he
will make his mark, live where he may."

"Of course he will," replied the governor. "His success is certain,
only give him a chance. I will assist him to establish a printing
house of his own in Philadelphia, and he shall have the government
printing to do."

"He is abundantly qualified to do it, and I think any aid of that sort
you can give him will be for your interest as well as his. He is
reliable and will do his best." The captain said this in the honesty
of his heart, having a strong desire to see Benjamin rise.

"We have two printing houses in Philadelphia now; but they are poor
affairs," continued the governor. "Neither proprietor understands his
business, and one of them is very ignorant. I think that this young
man would take the lead at once."

"I think that I can secure the government printing of Delaware for
him," interrupted Colonel French, of Newcastle, who had listened to
the conversation with the deepest interest.

"Captain Homes, I will see your brother-in-law as soon as I return to
Philadelphia," added Governor Keith. "We must not let such a young man
be buried up in a one-horse printing house."

"I am going to Philadelphia with the governor," interjected Colonel
French, "and I will accompany him to see the young man."

"I thank you both very much, and I think that neither of you will ever
regret your decision." Captain Homes spoke so warmly and approvingly
that both governor and colonel felt reassured as they separated.

The foregoing discloses two good traits of Benjamin's character, which
the reader may consider with profit. First, 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, young 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. Many persons operate machines without understanding their
construction at all. But a class of minds are never satisfied until
they understand whatever commands their attention. They are
inquisitive, and wish to know the philosophy of things. It was so with
Benjamin; and this quality proved a valuable element of his success.
It was the secret of his discoveries and inventions in his manhood, as
we shall see, just as it was with Stephenson. 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.

In the second place, Benjamin was not proud. "Pride goeth before
destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." He never came under
this condemnation. A sight of him passing up Market Street, with a
loaf of bread under each arm, while devouring the third one in his
hand, in apparel that was less comely than that of many modern tramps,
is proof that pride had no dominion over him. Many boys of seventeen,
in such poverty and apparel, would have avoided a public street, and
even a Quaker meetinghouse. But these were small matters to Benjamin.
He was thinking of greater things--employment and a livelihood. He had
a destiny to work out, and in working that he must do as he could, and
not 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 incurred a 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."



XXII.


GOING UP HIGHER.

Not many days after Benjamin replied to the letter of Captain Homes,
an unusual scene transpired at Keimer's office.

"There's Governor Keith on the other side of the street," said Keimer
to Benjamin, as they stood looking out of the window. "That tall man
with a gentleman walking with him."

"I see," replied Benjamin. "I should think they were coming here."

"Sure enough, they are crossing the street; they must be coming here;
I wonder what for." And Keimer ran down stairs to meet them before the
last words, as above, were off his lips. He supposed, of course, that
they were coming to see him. He met them politely at the door, for it
was not every day that he had the privilege of welcoming a governor to
his printing office, but was somewhat taken aback when the governor
inquired:

"Does Benjamin Franklin work here?"

"He does; do you wish to see him?" Keimer was almost bewildered when
he answered. "What can the governor want of that boy?" he thought.

"Can I see him?"

"Certainly, walk in."

They walked in and took seats. Benjamin was called.

"This is the young man you wanted to see," said Keimer, introducing
him. "Governor Keith, Benjamin."

"I am very happy to make your acquaintance," responded the governor."
I met your brother-in-law, Captain Homes, at Newcastle, the other day,
and I promised to call and see you. And this is Colonel French, of
Newcastle, who, also, promised Captain Homes to call with me,"
introducing the colonel.

Benjamin was too much astonished to feel at ease. He would not have
been so amazed if an officer from Boston had called to arrest him as a
runaway. What the governor of Pennsylvania could want of him was
beyond his wildest dreams.

"If Mr. Keimer can spare you a short time, we would like you to go
with us for an interview, as we promised Captain Homes," added the
governor.

"I am at your service," Benjamin replied, collecting his scattered and
wondering thoughts. "Mr. Keimer can spare me, no doubt."

Within a few minutes, he was with the governor and Colonel French at a
tavern on the corner of Third Street, in a room by themselves.

"I am very glad to meet a young man of your abilities," remarked the
governor, "and I want to talk with you about setting up the printing
business for yourself in this town. Captain Homes told me of your
experience and ability, on this and other lines, and I am sure that
you can start a printing house of your own, and make a success of it."

"But I have nothing to start such a business with. It requires
capital."

"True, very true; but I think we can arrange that. Perhaps your father
could give you a start, judging from what Captain Homes says."

"I suppose that he might if he was so disposed; but I doubt whether he
would do it." Benjamin was querying, as he spoke, whether Captain
Homes had disclosed the fact of his being a runaway.

"I can write a letter to him, setting before him the excellent
opportunity for a printer here who understands the business as you do,
and advise him to render you aid." The governor did not hint that he
knew about his leaving home clandestinely.

"That is very kind on your part; but is it not true, that two printing
houses are as many as this town can support well?"

"It would be if they were first-class; but they are not. The
proprietors do not understand their business; they have poor
equipments, too; and their outfit does not enable them to do
first-class work."

"The governor will see that you have the government printing of
Pennsylvania to do," suggested Colonel French; "and I have no question
that I can secure the government printing of Delaware for you, also.
This will give you patronage as well as business."

"I thank you both very much for your kindness and confidence; and I
should like nothing better than to have a printing house of my own."

"How would this plan do?" continued the governor. "You return to
Boston by the first vessel that goes, taking a letter from me to your
father, in which I will lay the whole matter before him, so that he
can understand it, recommending that he set you up in business here."

"Well," replied Benjamin, after some hesitation, "the plan is good
enough; but I fear it will not work."

"It will do no hurt to try it," retorted the governor; "and you will
have an opportunity to see your friends, and they will have an
opportunity to see you."

"Yes, and I shall enjoy that; but I could not honorably leave Mr.
Keimer at present."

"It will not be necessary to leave him at present. It may be three
months before a vessel is billed for Boston. You can work for him at
present, notifying him that you shall return to Boston on a visit by
the first vessel that goes."

"Yes, I can do that," said Benjamin.

"You will not, of course, divulge your plan of establishing a printing
house of your own," suggested the governor. "Keep that a secret. Your
plan may not work, so that it will be wise to keep it a secret for the
present."

"Well, I will defer to your judgment, and return to Boston by the
first vessel that sails. If the plan works, and Benjamin Franklin
should run a successful business house in this town, the credit of it
will belong to you."

They separated, with the understanding that Benjamin would return to
Boston by the first vessel sailing for that port. The governor and his
friend retired, and Benjamin returned to his work at the printing
office.

The reader will make special note of this unusual scene. Here was the
governor of Pennsylvania and a leading public man of Delaware in
conference with a boy of seventeen years, about establishing a
printing house of his own in Philadelphia, with the promise of the
government patronage! What sort of a boy must he be? Not one of common
mould or capacity; but one, as the sequel will show, who shall rule in
the councils of the nation!

Keimer's curiosity was on tiptoe; he wanted to know what business
Governor Keith could have with his young employe.

"Why," replied Benjamin, "he met my brother-in-law, who is captain of
a sloop, at Newcastle, and learned of him that I was working in this
town, and so he called."

"All that may be; but governors are not in the habit of calling upon
boys as a matter of courtesy." And Keimer looked very unbelieving when
he said it.

"He told my brother-in-law that he should call, and my brother-in-law
urged him to do so. Colonel French was a personal friend, who came
with him; and he, too, promised Captain Homes that he would call."

"That is all right; but you are the first boy that ever lived in
Philadelphia, who has attracted the governor's patronage to himself."
Keimer was somewhat jocose, while, at the same time, he was evidently
suspicious that Benjamin was withholding the real object of the
governor's visit.

"My brother-in-law had written to me to take the first opportunity I
could to make a trip to Boston to see my friends," continued Benjamin,
"and he talked with the governor about it. The governor thinks as he
does."

"Going?"

"Not at present. If I go, I must go by sea, and not by land. Can't
afford to go by land; and I am told that vessels do not often sail
from here to Boston. I shall have to wait to get more money than I
have now before I go."

"Perhaps the governor will charter a vessel to take you there if you
ask him," suggested Keimer, who was evidently chagrined that the
governor called to see his employe instead of himself.

"Perhaps I shall ask him when I become more familiar with him,"
Benjamin replied, with a twinkle in his eye. "When I get to be a
member of his staff I may be cheeky enough to suggest it."

Keimer found that he could not make out much by quizzing his young
printer, so he dropped it and dismissed the subject for the time
being.

Benjamin's thoughts were all the while concentrated on this unexpected
turn of affairs. It would not be strange if such interest in his
welfare by the highest officer in the state appealed to his vanity
somewhat, although Keimer could discover nothing of the kind. The
latter gentleman, however, concluded that he had a mysterious
character in his employ, and he was greatly puzzled to know just what
he was. He might be the son of some great man, for whose sake the
governor interested himself in his welfare. Possibly he might have
left Boston in some trouble, and his influential friends, together
with Captain Homes, induced the governor to look after him. Many
theories, by way of explanation, occupied his thoughts. At any rate,
he was an enigma to his employer, who was becoming more and more
interested in him. The governor's visit served to magnify his
abilities and worth in Keimer's view. He thought more of him than he
did before. He discovered more talent and efficiency in him. But he
could get little satisfaction out of him. Once in a while he would
indulge in a spasm of quizzing, and then he would subside into silent
musing over the curious boy who was setting type for him.

Benjamin continued to work early and late, interesting himself in
Keimer's business as if it were his own, thereby becoming an
indispensable assistant to him. But he embraced the first opportunity
to write to his boon companion in Boston, John Collins, and disclose
the unexpected change in his affairs, as follows:

   "DEAR JOHN: You will be surprised to learn that I expect to make a
   visit to Boston by the first vessel that sails for that port. It
   may be three or four months before one sails, but look for me on
   board. I will tell you how this new order of things was brought
   about. My brother-in-law, Capt. Robert Homes, was at Newcastle,
   Delaware, and found out, in some way, that I was living in
   Philadelphia; and he wrote to me. I replied to his letter, and he
   showed it to Governor Keith of Pennsylvania, who lives in this
   town, and told him about me, and interested him in my welfare. So
   the governor came to see me, and urged me to establish a printing
   house of my own here, promising me the state printing, and offering
   to write a letter to my father that I shall take with me when I go
   to Boston, in which he will set forth the prospects of my success,
   and urge him to furnish me with money to start. This is the
   substance of the story, the details of which I will rehearse when I
   see you. In the mean time continue to keep the secret. I suppose
   that Captain Homes will disclose the place of my residence, so that
   it will be a mystery to them no longer; but do not let any thing
   get abroad from you. When we meet I shall have much to tell you.
   Until then, good-bye.

   "Your old friend,

   "B. FRANKLIN."

Governor Keith sent for Benjamin to dine with him.

"I wanted to talk with you a little more about your visit to Boston,"
he remarked at the dinner-table. "How long will you be gone?"

"That will depend upon the voyage. There and back will occupy from
three to four weeks on the vessel. I do not care about spending over a
week in Boston. I shall want to get back as soon as I can to start in
business."

"Does Mr. Keimer suspect that any thing in particular is on the tapis?
I did not know but my visit might awaken his curiosity to learn what
it was for."

"It did, and he plied me with questions in order to find out for some
time. Once in a while now, he is very inquisitive, evidently thinking
that I am withholding something from him. He is quite an intelligent
man, without any surplus of honesty."

"So I understand. Bradford is very ignorant, but honest; while Keimer
is bright and well-informed, but unscrupulous."

"That is about as near the truth as one can get," continued Benjamin.
"I have a pleasant time with Mr. Keimer, however, and have nothing to
complain of on that line."

"Can you give me any idea of the time it will take, after you return,
to get a printing house in running order?"

"Not exactly. If my plans succeed, and I bring back a printing-press
and materials with me, I think a month will be ample time to put the
whole thing in running order."

The enterprise was canvassed at the table, the governor conversing
with his young guest in the most familiar manner, dropping many
complimentary words. Whenever he wanted to see him thereafter, he
invited him to dine, which was quite often; all of which Benjamin
enjoyed very much. In his old age, referring to these interviews with
Governor Keith, Franklin said: "The governor sent for me now and then
to dine with him, which I considered a great honor; more particularly
as he conversed with me in the most affable, familiar, and friendly
manner."

A novelist would portray the advantages of running away from home when
representing Benjamin, the runaway, at the governor's table. If he had
remained in Boston, attacking the officials of the English Government
with his pen, the governor might have put him in prison, as he did his
brother. But Benjamin never justified the use he made of his legs at
that time--that is, he never excused it in his years of maturity. He
always spoke of it regretfully. Very few runaways possess as much
talent and character as he did, and few ever had so much cause for
running away; and here is found the only reason that the act was
overruled to his advantage.

At length a small vessel was announced to sail for Boston.

"I am ready to go in her," he said to Governor Keith. "She sails in
about a week."

"I am very glad," answered the governor; "you have waited long enough
for it. I will have my letter to your father ready in time; and I hope
your mission will be successful. Is there any thing more I can do for
you?"

"Nothing; I have been getting myself in readiness all along, so that I
have little to do now. As the time draws near I am very anxious to go.
My father and mother will be very happy in looking into my face
again."

"And I think you will be as happy in looking into their faces again,"
responded the governor. "Captain Homes spoke in the highest terms of
your parents, and of your standing in Boston."

Benjamin wondered more than ever whether his brother, Homes, disclosed
the fact of his leaving home clandestinely to the governor. No words
were dropped to indicate that he did. But Governor Keith was a wise
man, and thought it was not best to divulge his acquaintance with that
part of the affair.

Benjamin improved the first opportunity to announce his departure to
Mr. Keimer.

"Going to see my parents," he said; "a vessel sails for Boston in
about a week."

"You have not been away from home long yet. I should think that you
might wait a year, at least."

"No, I can't wait longer, though I do not intend to stay long. I am
attached to Philadelphia, and I shall want to return as soon as I can
after letting my father and mother look me over a few days."

"Has the governor of the Massachusetts Province sent for you?" Keimer
asked jocosely. The fact was he could not get over Governor Keith's
interest in Benjamin, because he could not yet understand it. As the
weeks rolled on, his employee grew to be more and more an object of
curiosity.

"No; nor any body else," answered Benjamin. "I shall take the governor
by surprise, so that he will have no time to get up a reception. I
prefer the governor of Pennsylvania to the governor of Massachusetts."

If Keimer had known all the circumstances, he might have replied, "You
have reason to feel so; for the governor of Massachusetts would rather
see you in prison than running a printing house."

Benjamin purchased a nice suit of clothes, also a watch, before
starting on his trip; and then had quite a sum of pocket money to take
with him. He bade Mr. Keimer good-bye, took leave of the governor with
many thanks for his kindness, receiving from him a long, complimentary
letter to his father; nor did he forget to call upon the Bradford
family, to make known his purpose and thank them again for their
hospitality; and, of course, Mr. Read and family received a good share
of his thankfulness, especially the daughter, in whom Benjamin had
become quite interested.

Once on board the vessel, under way, Benjamin began to reflect upon
his novel experiences. It appeared to him somewhat like a dream. He
could hardly realize that he was on his way back to his home, by the
governor's patronage. He took out the governor's letter to his father
and read it. He found that it was very complimentary to himself, fully
as much so as he had expected; and the prospects of a new printing
house, under his care, were set forth strongly. He had scarcely
finished reading the letter, when the vessel struck on a shoal; for
they were not out of the bay yet. She sprung a leak, and there was
considerable excitement on board before the crew could remedy the
accident.

"A hard storm is near by," said the captain. "You will have a rough
passage this time, young man," addressing Benjamin.

"Well, I am used to it; I have encountered as many storms as any body
of my age," replied Benjamin figuratively, which the captain did not
quite understand.

"Then you have followed the sea, have you?"

"No; I have followed the land mostly; but there are hard storms on the
land, are there not?"

"Of course"; and the captain thought only of rain storms and snow
storms when he answered.

"All I meant was," added Benjamin by way of explanation, "that I have
had rather of a rough life so far; have seen a good deal of trouble
for one of my years; and have rather got accustomed to rough usage. A
storm at sea will only vary the experience a little. I think I can
withstand it."

"You will have to stand it any way. Not much chance to choose when a
storm overtakes us out to sea. If I am any judge of weather, a
terrible storm is brewing, and it will be on us in a hurry."

"Well, I like the water; I meant to have become a sailor once, but my
father put his veto on it. If I had been allowed my own way, I should
have been serving before the mast now." Benjamin never spoke truer
words than these.

"Hard life," responded the captain; "if I could live my life over
again I should chose any thing on land rather than the best on the
sea. I would not command a vessel another day, if there was any thing
else I could do; but this is all I know."

They had scarcely emerged from the bay when the storm burst upon them.
It was the beginning of a long, violent, tempestuous spell of weather,
such as mariners encounter on the sea; a new and exciting experience
to Benjamin.

"I have heard a great deal about storms at sea, and----"

"And you will _see_ one now," interrupted the captain. "What you have
_heard_ about it gives you a poor idea of the reality, compared with
_seeing_ it."

"I confess to a kind of desire to see a real hard one," answered
Benjamin coolly. "If I should be frightened half out of my wits, I
shall be as well off as the rest of you."

"The vessel is leaking badly," cried out one of the crew.

"Man the pumps," replied the captain. "Enough for all hands to do
now."

"Including me," responded Benjamin. "I can do as much as any of you at
the pump," and he went to work with the crew.

Suffice it to say, that the storm continued for days, tossing their
small craft about like a shell, keeping all hands busy, night and day,
sometimes the sea threatening to swallow the vessel and all it
contained in its hungry maw. The vessel was two weeks on its way to
Boston, encountering stormy weather nearly the whole time. Most of the
voyage the leaky craft was kept from sinking by pumping, in which
Benjamin took his turn, proving himself as efficient as any one of the
crew; and he was as cool and self-possessed as any one of the number.

At the end of two weeks they sailed into Boston harbor; and Benjamin
was at home.



XXIII.


THE SURPRISE, AND ITS RESULTS.

Benjamin hastened to the corner of Hanover and Union Streets, where
the sign of the familiar blue ball hung, and entered with a fluttering
heart.

"Benjamin!" exclaimed his father, "can that be you?" and he grasped
one of his hands in both of his. "How glad I am to see you!"

"No more glad than I am to see you," responded the son, shaking his
father's hand heartily. "I am glad to get home."

The words were scarcely off his tongue when his mother appeared upon
the scene.

"Mother!"

"O, Benjamin!"

And his mother threw her arms about his neck, weeping tears of joy.
Benjamin wept, too. He began to realize what months of agony his
absence had caused the woman who bore him.

"Can it be you, my son? I have mourned for you as dead," she said, as
soon as she could command her feelings. "Where have you been?"

"In Philadelphia. Has not Captain Homes told you where I was?"

"Not a word from him about it."

"He wrote to me from Newcastle three months ago, and I replied to his
letter. I supposed that you had heard all about it before this time."

"We have not heard the least thing from you since you left," said his
father; "and they have been seven very long and painful months."

"How painful, Benjamin, you can never know," added his mother.
"Sometimes it has seemed as if my old heart would break with grief;
but I have tried to cast my burden on the Lord. If you had staid at
home and died, my sorrow could not have been so great."

"Let it end now," replied Benjamin, with a smile, "for I am here
again."

"Yes, I thank my God, for 'this my son was dead, and is alive again;
he was lost, and is found.'" And his mother came almost as near to
death with joy, as she had been before with sorrow.

They sat down together, when Benjamin rehearsed his experience since
leaving Boston, not omitting to state the cause of his sudden
departure, and the reason of his return. And then he put the letter of
Governor Keith into his father's hand.

"How is James? I suppose he is at the printing office? I must go to
see him."

Benjamin's words and tone of speech indicated only good will towards
his brother.

"I am glad to hear you say that, Benjamin. It has grieved me terribly
that he should treat you so unbrotherly; I do hope that you will now
be reconciled to each other." His mother spoke with much feeling.

"I trust we shall; I am ready to forgive and forget. I have learned a
good lesson from experience since leaving Boston."

So saying, he started for the printing office, not knowing what sort
of a reception awaited him there He hoped for the best, however.

"James!" He extended his hand as he spoke. James would not have been
more astonished over one who rose from the dead, but he took his hand
in a cold, reserved sort of a way, merely saying:

"Benjamin!"

After surveying him from head to foot a few moments, he turned back to
his work again, without another word. The act pierced Benjamin's
heart, it was so unkind and cruel. But soon he rose above the
situation, and seemed to say, by actions, "I can stand it if you can."

The journeymen were delighted to see him. Leaving their work, they
pressed around him with a whole catechism of questions.

"Where have you been, Ben?"

"In Philadelphia."

"What kind of a place is it?"

"It is a fine place; I like it better than Boston."

"Going back?"

"Yes; very soon, too. No place like that for the printing business."

"Good pay?"

"Yes, better pay than in Boston."

"How large is the place?"

"Seven thousand inhabitants; smaller than Boston, but smarter."

"What kind of money do you have there?"

There was no established currency in the country at that time, and
paper money only was used in Boston. His interrogator wanted to know
what they used in Philadelphia.

"They use that," replied Benjamin, taking from his pocket nearly five
pounds sterling in silver and laying it on the table. "Rather heavier
stuff to carry than your Boston paper money."

"It looks as if you had struck a silver mine, Ben," remarked one.

"Some lucky hit, Ben," said another. "The printing business bring you
that?"

"No other did. I was a printer when I left, and I am now, and I expect
to be in the future. And, what is more, I have no desire for another
business."

"You sport a watch, I see," said one of the number.

"Yes, such as it is; a good companion, though."

"Let us see it," one suggested.

"You can." And Benjamin passed it to him, and all examined it.

"Can't afford such luxuries in Boston," one printer remarked.

"It is not a luxury by any means; it is a necessity," replied
Benjamin. "I should not know how to get along without a watch now."

"Well, Ben, you can afford to have a watch," added one; "for you can
live on bread and water, and never want a day of pleasure, and never
drink liquors."

"And he can afford to treat us all, since he has fared so well,"
suggested one of the men.

"I always did treat you well, and always intend to," was Benjamin's
answer, as if he did not understand that treating with intoxicating
liquors was meant.

"That is so, Ben; but now just treat us with something stronger than
water, for old acquaintance' sake."

At that time the use of intoxicating liquors was almost universal.
Benjamin did not use them, and, once in a while was found a person who
did not. Most people were habitual drinkers, and there was little or
no opposition to the custom; and the habit of treating was general.

"There is a dollar," replied Benjamin, throwing out a dollar in
silver. "Take that and drink what you want for old acquaintance'
sake."

Replacing his watch and money, he left the office with the promise to
come around again. While this interview with the men was going on,
James would occasionally look up from his work "grim and sullen," as
Benjamin said, evidently as unreconciled to his brother as ever. The
next day James said to his father and mother, at their house:

"It was an insult. He meant to insult me when he came to the office."

"No, James," replied his mother; "Benjamin meant no such thing. He
told us that he was ready to forgive and forget."

"He has a poor way of showing it, then," retorted James, who was too
revengeful to be reasonable.

"Well, you are brothers," interrupted his father, "and you should act
as brothers toward each other. It has a bad look for one brother to be
resentful toward another."

"And it not only has the _look_" added his mother, "but it is a most
wicked state of heart to cherish. You will never prosper, James, so
long as you treat your brother so; and you never ought to prosper."

Mrs. Franklin spoke with great plainness. She had never justified
James at all in his treatment of Benjamin; and now that the former was
adding injury to injury by falsely accusing the latter, she could not
suppress her feelings. She magnified the severity of her words, by
quoting:

"Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in
danger of the judgment."

"My advice to you, James, is to let the dead past bury the dead. It
will do no good to revive old memories. Make the future as bright as
you can--that is the only wise course. I am quite sure that Benjamin
will meet you more than half way, in erasing old scores."

Mr. Franklin spoke this with much feeling as he turned away to his
work. James continued to be resentful, and failed to reduce his
father's counsel to practice.

Benjamin soon found his old friend, John Collins; and there was mutual
satisfaction in their meeting. As soon, however, as the first pleasure
of meeting was over, Benjamin discovered that his friend had become
intemperate, and he was both surprised and grieved. However, he
gratified John with a detailed account of his experience, from the
time they separated, not omitting a glowing description of his
prospects in Philadelphia.

"How soon will you return?" John inquired.

"I want to leave here within two weeks if I can. I ought not to stay
but a week."

"How will it do for me to return with you?"

"I think it will do well if you stick closely to business. That is the
only way we can succeed in any thing."

"I can do that. Work never hurt me, or any thing else." John did not
take the hint in Benjamin's last remark.

"But strong drink has hurt a great many. I should never expect to
succeed in any thing if I used it as many do."

"Nor I," answered John, who was blind to his own danger, as all
intemperate men are.

"We have no need of any such beverage at all," continued Benjamin. "I
discard it entirely now, as you know that I did when I lived here in
Boston. Water is the best beverage for us both."

"You may be right, Ben; you are, generally. But are you not a little
odd in discarding what nearly every one uses?" John was trying to find
an excuse for himself.

"Better be odd than to be disqualified for business. You know, as well
as I do, that rum disqualifies more men for business than all other
evils put together. Once you were of my opinion, John; but your habits
have been changing your opinion."

"Well, that is neither here nor there," replied John, who found that
Benjamin was becoming rather personal. "What do you think of my going
to Philadelphia with you?"

"If your habits now are what your personal appearance indicates, you
will not succeed in Philadelphia any better than you can in Boston. An
intemperate man is a failure anywhere."

"Then you don't think I am good enough to go back with you?" said
John, with a degree of warmth.

"I did not say so, John. To tell you the plain truth, I am shocked at
the change drink has wrought in your appearance. You are fast becoming
a wreck, I should say; and I don't want a wreck of a friend on my
hands."

"Then you don't want I should go with you?"

"Not if you continue to drink as you do now. Sober John Collins I
should delight to have accompany me, especially if he looks upon
strong drink as the enemy of mankind. I am your friend now, as much as
ever; but I am disappointed, and even shocked, by your appearance. You
are fast becoming a wreck."

"You are complimentary, Ben, I must confess; but I can't say that you
are wrong. You have been about right so far in life; perhaps your
views are correct about drink."

"I don't ask you to accept my views; but I entreat you to let strong
drink alone for your own sake, and my sake, too. If you can give a
wide berth to all sorts of intoxicating liquors, as I do, I should be
delighted to have you return to Philadelphia with me."

"That is, become a water-drinker, you mean, Ben?"

"I did not say so; become a reasonable being and not indulge to
excess. I do not ask any body to live exactly as I do, though I
believe that every person who discards liquors will be better off."

At that day, when the temperance cause was not born, and the use of
intoxicants was universal, it was generally believed that moderate
drinking could be followed without leading to excessive drinking. It
is plain that Benjamin had that idea. For himself, he practised entire
abstinence from intoxicants, because he thought it was better for him.
Another person might drink moderately, in his view, and be just as
well off. But intemperance he abhorred, and he thought that every body
else ought to abhor it.

"I will tell you what it is, Ben," continued John. "There is some
sense in what you say; you did not leave it all in Philadelphia when
you came away, that is sure. I want to go back with you badly; and I
will think it over."

"That is it, John. Sober John Collins is an old friend of mine, and I
shall enjoy his society in Philadelphia, or any other part of the
world. Think it over, and I will see you again."

Mr. Franklin read the letter of Governor Keith over and over. It was a
good letter to cheer a father's heart, if it was genuine. Evidently he
had some doubts whether the affair was all right. While he was
querying about the genuineness of the letter from Governor Keith,
Captain Homes arrived in Boston, and first of all called upon his
father Franklin.

"Benjamin is here," said Mr. Franklin, "and according to his story, he
has a good prospect before him in Philadelphia. And here is a letter
from Sir William Keith, governor of Pennsylvania, that he brought with
him"; and he passed the letter to the captain.

"I met Governor Keith at Newcastle, and showed him a letter I received
from Benjamin," replied Captain Homes, "which satisfied me that he had
more reason than I had supposed for running away. I interested the
governor in his welfare. On his return to Philadelphia, after having
met Benjamin, he wrote to me how much pleased he was with him, and
what he had proposed."

Captain Homes read the governor's letter through and remarked, "That
is substantially what he wrote to me; and it appears to me that there
is a good opening for him in Philadelphia."

"You think that Sir William Keith is reliable, do you?"

"He ought to be. I can't think of any reason why a man in his position
should be saying and doing what he don't mean."

"Nor I. And yet it seems almost strange that he should favor a boy of
eighteen engaging in such an enterprise, without money and without
experience."

"You are wrong, father," answered the captain; "very few young men
twenty-two years of age have had the experience he has had. He has
occupied positions and met emergencies every time with the promptness
and ability of one ten years older."

"That may be so. I think it is so; and it gives me great pleasure that
Sir William Keith can write as he does about him. But it can't be
expected that a boy of eighteen can have the judgment and wisdom to
conduct business for himself, as he will at twenty-two."

"I think it can be expected, and should be expected, if these
qualities are as fully developed at eighteen as they are in other
young men at twenty-two." The captain was emphatic in his endorsement
of Benjamin.

This conversation was interrupted by Benjamin's appearance. He was
delighted to meet Captain Homes, and this gentleman was delighted to
meet him. The satisfaction was mutual. One of the first questions that
Benjamin asked was:

"How did you learn that I was living in Philadelphia?"

"From a citizen of that town, of whom I was inquiring about the
business of the place. Incidentally he spoke of a young printer from
Boston, who had come there. I met him in Newcastle. He even knew your
name."

"'Murder will out' is an old maxim that finds confirmation in my
case," responded Benjamin. "But it is all for the best, I think. I am
glad that the way was opened for me to return to Boston."

"I have just read Governor Keith's letter to your father, and I hope
that he will be able to give you a start in Philadelphia." The captain
said this in the presence of Mr. Franklin.

While Mr. Franklin was considering the proposition contained in
Governor Keith's letter, Benjamin was busy in calling upon old friends
and visiting old resorts. He had been absent seven months, and, in
that time, had added two or three times that number of months to his
personal appearance. He appeared like a young man twenty-one years of
age, and his new apparel imparted to him a grace and comeliness that
he lacked when he left Boston. He had developed into a handsome,
gentlemanly, intelligent, and witty young man.

It was during this visit to Boston that he called upon Dr. Increase
Mather, to whose preaching he listened when a resident of the town.
The doctor received him cordially and invited him into his library,
where they chatted for some time about books, Philadelphia, and other
matters. When Benjamin arose to go, the doctor said:

"Come this way, and I will show you a nearer way out," pointing to a
narrow passage with a beam crossing it overhead. They were still
talking, the doctor following behind Benjamin, when the latter turned
partly about to speak to the former.

"_Stoop! Stoop_!" shouted the doctor.

Benjamin did not understand what he meant until his head struck the
beam overhead 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
thumps."

Nearly seventy years afterwards the recipient of this counsel wrote as
follows:

"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 carrying their heads too high."

John Collins was a clerk in the post-office. He revolved the matter of
going to Philadelphia with Benjamin a sober youth, or remaining in
Boston a drunken one. The more he pondered the more he was inclined to
accept Benjamin's advice. The appeal from Collins drunk to Collins
sober finally met his approval.

"I have decided to go with you," he said to Benjamin, the next time
they met.

"Glad to hear it, John, if you take my advice and leave the
drink-habit in Boston. I shall enjoy your company hugely."

"You shall have it. I have given up my position in the post-office,
and am packing up now. I want to carry my books with the rest of my
traps."

"And I shall take my books this time. I shall ship to New York, where
I have some business, and thence to Philadelphia."

"And I want to go by the way of Providence, Rhode Island, to visit
friends, and will meet you in New York," responded John.

"Agreed; but remember, John, that you and I are going to steer clear
of strong drink. Give it a wide berth, and the way is open before you
to success."

"I see it, and mean to act accordingly." John really meant what he
said, but the poor fellow did not understand how weak he was. Neither
was Benjamin aware that the drink habit was fastened upon him so
tightly.

Mr. Franklin had taken a plenty of time to consider the advice of
Governor Keith, and Benjamin was getting uneasy to return.

"I have considered the matter long and carefully," said Mr. Franklin
to Benjamin, "having a desire to aid you if possible; but have come to
the conclusion, finally, that I can not do it at present."

"I told Governor Keith that I doubted whether you would assist me now,
so that your conclusion is not altogether unexpected." Benjamin's
reply was cool--almost indifferent.

"When you become twenty-one years of age, and need assistance to start
in business for yourself, I will gladly render it; but it is hardly
safe for a boy of eighteen to engage in such an enterprise. Get more
experience." These words were indicative of Mr. Franklin's caution.

"Well, I have no great desire to rule a printing house. I am content
to serve," and these words expressed Benjamin's real feelings.

"At the same time," continued his father, "I am highly gratified that
you have conducted yourself so well as to gain the good opinion of
even the governor. I trust that you will continue to conduct yourself
with propriety. At twenty-one you will save money enough to set up
business for yourself, if your economy holds out."

"I think it will," responded Benjamin. "My wants are few, and so my
expenses are small. And I like work as well as ever."

"There is one thing I hope you will avoid, Benjamin. You will, no
doubt, be writing for the public press, as you did here. My advice is
to avoid lampooning and libeling. You erred in that way here, and
furnished occasion for just and severe criticism."

"We have not time to discuss that matter now," answered Benjamin; "but
if I were to live my life over again, and edit the _Courant_ in the
same circumstances, I should repeat the same thing. But for that fight
there would be a censorship over the press of Boston to-day."

"Possibly," rejoined his father; "but I think there is a wiser course.
You must live and learn."

"I regret exceedingly that James can not be reconciled to you,"
interrupted his mother. "He is indulging a very bad spirit, and my
prayer is that he may see the folly of it, before you leave, and be at
peace with you."

"I met him more than half way," replied Benjamin, "and he seemed to
stand aloof all the more. Whenever he returns to reason he will find
me ready and waiting to forget the past."

"It is so painful to see brothers disagree!" And a deep, doleful sigh
escaped her heart as his mother said it.

Benjamin's separation from his parents was tender and affectionate.
They scarcely expected to see his face again on this side of the
River, and they presented him with several gifts as tokens of their
undying love. With their sincere blessing upon him he turned away from
the old home, where so many of his happiest hours had been spent, and,
wiping unbidden tears from his eyes, found himself again out on the
world's great highway alone, seeking his fortune.



XXIV.


HIS RETURN, AND WHAT CAME OF IT.

John left Boston two or three days before Benjamin. The sloop in which
Benjamin sailed stopped at Newport, where his brother John lived,
affording him the opportunity to visit him. John was well-nigh
overcome by the sight of Benjamin, for whom he ever had the most
sincere affection. Their meeting was as glad to him as it was
unexpected. There he met a Mr. Vernon, who said:

"I have a bill of thirty-five pounds currency in New York, which I
have no doubt can be collected readily--could you collect it for me?"

"I will do it with pleasure," replied Benjamin.

"You can collect and keep it until I write what disposition to make of
it. I am not quite certain just now."

"Very well; I will hold it subject to your direction."

"And I will give you an order for the money, which will be necessary."

"Yes, I suppose that is the business way."

His stay in Newport was very brief. On returning to the sloop in
season to sail, he found that several passengers had been taken on
board from that town. Among them was a motherly sort of a Quaker lady,
and, also, two young women traveling together. Benjamin was a polite
young man, and sought to be of service to them. The old Quaker lady
was attended by two servants, yet Benjamin found an opportunity to be
of some service to her, and she appreciated his kindness. Nor was he
indifferent towards the two young women. He made their acquaintance,
and showed them some attention; and they, in turn, showed him
attention, with interest. The Quaker lady looked on, understanding the
situation better than he did; and finally she called him aside, by
some kind of a motion, and said:

"Young man, beware of those girls, or they will lead you astray."

"How so?" inquired Benjamin, considerably surprised.

"They are bad girls, and thee is not much acquainted with the ways of
the world."

"You are right, madam; I am not much acquainted with the women world,
and I dare say they might easily lead me astray." Benjamin did not
exactly believe what the Quakeress said, but he was a little given to
humor, and so he spoke as he did.

"It is a serious matter, young man; thee may depend on that. I know
that they are bad girls by their actions. They mean to set a snare for
thee."

"Well, I assure you that I will not fall into it. They have not caught
me yet."

"And I hope they won't," added the good lady. "If I were in your place
I would cut their acquaintance at once. And she stated some things she
had observed of their acts, and a remark one of them made, all of
which convinced Benjamin that she was right.

"I thank you for your interest," said Benjamin "I will not keep up an
acquaintance with them, but will follow your advice."

The good lady kept her eye on Benjamin, and so did the girls. The
latter plied their arts with considerable ingenuity to lure him on,
but his eyes were opened now, and he avoided them as much as he could.
Before reaching New York, however, the girls managed to inform him
where they lived, and gave him a very pressing invitation to call. The
outcome was as follows, given in his own language, as related in his
"Autobiography":

"When we arrived at New York, they told me where they lived, and
invited me to come and see them; but I avoided it, and it was well I
did. For the next day the captain missed a silver spoon and some other
things, that had been taken out of his cabin, and, knowing that these
were a couple of strumpets, he got a warrant to search their lodgings,
found the stolen goods, and had the thieves punished. So, though we
had escaped a sunken rock, which we scraped upon in the passage, I
thought this escape of rather more importance to me."

When Benjamin arrived in New York, John Collins was waiting there for
him, but it was John Collins drunk.

"Waitin' for you, Ben, old fellow," said John, patting him on the
back, too much under the power of drink to know exactly what the said
or did. "Goin' to Philadelphy; come on."

Benjamin was taken by surprise, and scarcely knew what to say.
Rallying himself, however, he replied:

"You are not the John Collins I invited to accompany me to
Philadelphia. I don't wish for _your_ company."

"You are joking, Ben, old fellow"; and another pat on his back.

"I invited John Collins _sober_ to go to Philadelphia with me; you are
John Collins _drunk_."

"Complimentary again," answered John, with a show of temper.

"It is time," retorted Benjamin, "It is putting me into an
embarrassing situation to be tied to a drunken companion. I rather be
excused."

"Don't see how I can 'scuse you, Ben. It is too late now." And the
boozy fellow appeared not to imagine that he was making a fool of
himself.

On reaching John's boarding place, the landlord said:

"He has been drunk ever since he reached New York; and he has gambled,
too, I judge."

"What makes you think he has gambled?"

"Because he is out of money now; every cent he had is gone, I think."

"And he owes you for board and lodgings?"

"Yes; he has not paid me any thing. His appetite is complete master of
him."

"Well, I scarcely know what to do," remarked Benjamin thoughtfully;
and he rehearsed to the inn-keeper the circumstances of his
connection with John, not omitting to repeat his fair promises.

"Promises!" retorted the landlord. "What does he care for promises! A
fellow with no more control over his appetite than he has don't care
for any thing. He's a goner, if I am any judge."

Benjamin embraced the first opportunity to canvass the matter with
John; and, from his own account, he was satisfied that the case was
full as bad as the landlord had represented. John had not a cent left,
and he was in a maudlin state of mind, such as Benjamin did not
observe in Boston. His self-respect was gone, and he appeared to glory
in his shame.

While Benjamin was considering what to do, and attending to some
matters of business, particularly collecting the thirty-five pounds
for Mr. Vernon, the captain of the sloop came to him, saying:

"Governor Burnet wants to see you."

"Who is Governor Burnet, that he should want to see me?" responded
Benjamin in surprise. One governor had been after him, and now that
another was seeking his patronage was almost too much to believe.

"Governor of New York," answered the captain. "I had some business
with him, and I happened to say that a passenger on board my sloop had
a large quantity of books with him; and this interested him so much
that he wanted I should bring you to his house."

"I will go," replied Benjamin; "and I must go at once if I go at all."

They posted off, Benjamin querying on the way whether the governor of
New York would prove as friendly to him as the governor of
Pennsylvania.

It was a pleasant call he had upon the governor. This dignitary gave
him a cordial welcome, took him into his library, conversed with him
about books and authors, complimented him for his love of learning and
his evident high aims, and invited him to call whenever he should
visit New York. Benjamin began to think that governors had a
particular passion for him; and what little vanity he possessed became
inflated. Many years thereafter, referring to the experience, he said:
"This was the second governor who had done me the honor to take notice
of me; and, for a poor boy like me, it was very pleasing." If he had
been as foolish as some youth, and some men, too, he would have
concluded that it pays to run away, since the only boy that two
governors were known to patronize especially was a runaway. But we
repeat what we have said before, that Benjamin, the wise son, never
concluded that it pays to run away from home. He met with some
pleasant experiences, but they came, not through his runaway
qualities, but through his aspiring and noble aims.

Collins was not too drunk to understand that Benjamin went to see the
governor by invitation, and he was on tiptoe to learn what it all
meant.

"Been to see the governor, hey?" he said.

"Yes; and I should have taken you if you had not been drunk."

"Good on you, Ben; you'll be governor yourself yet." And John laughed
at his own suggestion as only a silly drinker will.

"_You_ will not, John, unless you change your course. I have a mind to
leave you here in New York; then I shall not be disgraced by you in
Philadelphia. If you can't keep sober for your own sake nor mine, I
want nothing more to do with you."

This was a revelation to John. He had not dreamed of being left
penniless and friendless in New York. So he was ready to make promises
of the most flattering kind, in order to proceed with Benjamin to
Philadelphia.

"But you promised me as squarely as possible in Boston that you would
not drink any more," continued Benjamin. "Your promise is not worth
any thing to me, when it is worth nothing to you; and it is not worth
as much to you as a glass of brandy. I am tempted to leave you and all
your truck in the sloop here in New York."

John begged and entreated Benjamin not to desert him now, and promised
by all that was great and good that he would stop drinking and lead a
sober life. In the circumstances, Benjamin could scarcely do otherwise
than to pay his bill at the inn and take him along with him, though he
very reluctantly decided to do so. Having collected the thirty-five
pounds for Mr. Vernon, paid John's bill, and transacted some other
business, by the time the sloop was ready to sail, they proceeded to
Philadelphia.

There is no record preserved of his experience on the sloop between
New York and Philadelphia, except a paragraph in a letter written by
Doctor Franklin to Doctor Priestley, in 1780, when the former was
seventy-four years of age. He related the experience in order to
illustrate the truth, "that all situations in life have their
inconveniences." The paragraph is as follows:

"In my youth, I was passenger in a little sloop, descending the river
Delaware. There being no wind, we were obliged, when the ebb was
spent, to cast anchor and wait for the next. The heat of the sun on
the vessel was excessive, the company strangers to me, and not very
agreeable. Near the river-side I saw what I took to be a pleasant
green meadow, in the middle of which was a large shady tree, where, it
struck my fancy, I could sit and read (having a book in my pocket),
and pass the time agreeably till the tide turned. I therefore
prevailed with the captain to put me ashore. Being landed, I found the
greatest part of my meadow was really a marsh, in crossing which, to
come at my tree, I was up to my knees in mire; and I had not placed
myself under its shade five minutes, before the mosquitoes in swarms
found me out, attacked my legs, hands, and face, and made my reading
and my rest impossible; so that I returned to the beach, and called
for the boat to come and take me on board again, where I was obliged
to bear the heat I had strove to quit, and also the laugh of the
company. Similar cases in the affairs of life have since frequently
fallen under my observation."

In these modern days, it would be said that, when Benjamin arrived in
Philadelphia, he "had an elephant on his hands." The most
unmanageable and dangerous sort of an elephant on one's hands is a
dissolute friend. Benjamin scarcely knew what to do with John. It
troubled him exceedingly. But he was wont to make the best of
everything, and so he did in this case.

He took John with him to his boarding place, promising to pay his
bills until he could find work in some counting-room. John was well
qualified for such business, and Benjamin supposed that he could
readily find a situation. His estimate of Collins, before and after
he began to drink to excess, is given by his own pen, as follows:

"At New York I found my friend Collins, who had arrived there some
time before me. We had been intimate from children, and had read the
same books together; but he had the advantage of more time for reading
and studying, and a wonderful genius for mathematical learning, in
which he far outstripped me. While I lived in Boston, most of my
hours of leisure for conversation were spent with him, and he
continued a sober as well as industrious lad; was much respected for
his learning by several of the clergy and other gentlemen, and seemed
to promise making a good figure in life. But, during my absence, he
had acquired a habit of drinking brandy and I found by his own
account, as well as that of others, that he had been drunk every day
since his arrival at New York, and behaved himself in a very
extravagant manner. He had gamed, too, and lost his money, so that I
was obliged to discharge his lodgings, and defray his expenses on the
road and at Philadelphia; which proved a great burden to me."

Benjamin called upon Governor Keith as soon as possible, with a letter
from his father, in which the governor was thanked and praised for his
kindness to his son.

"Your father is too cautious," remarked the governor, after reading
the letter. "Some young men are better qualified to do business for
themselves at eighteen than others are at twenty-one."

"He said that he would assist me at twenty-one if I should need
assistance," replied Benjamin.

"Yes; he says so in this letter. But I think you will be established
in a good business three years from now, and need no help. Some aid
now will do more for you than at any future time."

"I dare say that is true; but, as father declines to do it, that ends
the matter, I suppose."

"No; not by any means," replied the governor, earnestly. "If your
father will not set you up in business, I'll see what I can do for
you. I want a first-class printing house in this town; and a young man
like you, capable of running it, should be encouraged."

"That is more than I expected, and I shall feel myself under great
obligations to you for aid of that kind, if you deem it best."
Benjamin spoke in a tone of grateful feeling, but without the least
show of importunity.

"I do deem it best; and I will give you a start in business. You can
keep the matter a secret; continue at work for Keimer, and use your
first leisure moments to make out an inventory of what a first-class
printing establishment requires. That will be the first thing."

"How soon will you want the inventory of articles?"

"As soon as you can make it out. I shall be obliged to send to England
for them, and that will take considerable time."

It was a lengthy interview that Benjamin had with the governor, and he
was very much elated by this turn of affairs. It looked now as if he
would start the printing business in Philadelphia under the patronage
of the governor himself! That seemed to promise more than to go into
business by the aid of only a tallow-chandler.

He reported next to Keimer, who was glad to welcome him back,
especially so because he had considerable work on hand, and no person
could turn it off like Benjamin.

"Glad to see you, Ben. I suppose the governor will be round to see you
when he hears of your arrival." Keimer spoke in a vein of pleasantry
rather than as a fling.

"Possibly, unless he should send for me to call on him. The governor
of New York sent for me--Governor Burnet--what do you think of that?"

"You are joking now, Ben; it can't be that all the governors are after
you."

"Well, the governor of New York was, and I went to see him." And
Benjamin went on to describe his interview with Governor Burnet in
detail, and how it came about, to which Keimer listened with the
greatest interest and wonder.

"Governor Burnet has the largest library in this country," continued
Benjamin, "and judging from the number of books I had on the sloop, he
concluded that I loved books, and so wanted to show me his."

"Well," answered Keimer, after being in a sort of reverie some
minutes, "if this thing goes on, you will not be willing to associate
long with us fellows in the printing business."

"I will give you due notice when I get to that. I will not cut your
acquaintance suddenly." Benjamin could treat the matter jocosely as
well as Keimer.

To return to John Collins. He sought a position as clerk or bookkeeper
in several stores; but was unsuccessful. Then he tried other kinds of
work; but no one appeared to want him. Benjamin went with him to
several places, to introduce him and intercede for him; but there was
no opening for him. Days passed away, and still he was without a
position; and he kept on drinking, too, not so beast-like as he did in
New York, but enough to be more or less disguised.

"It is your disgusting habit of intemperance; they smell your breath
or study your face, and then don't want you around. I told you in
Boston, that no one wants a drinking employee about." Benjamin's
patience was nearly exhausted, and he spoke as he felt.

"That is your surmise; you are a fanatic on drink, and are not capable
of exercising sound judgement when you come to that," John replied
with considerable temper.

"And you would not be capable of keeping your soul and body together
if it were not for my money. You have no regard at all for your word;
a promise amounts to nothing with you, and never will until you stop
drinking."

"I shall not stop drinking until I get ready," retorted John, becoming
very angry. "You are an insulting dog, when you get to attacking
brandy."

Brandy was John's favorite beverage in Philadelphia, as it was in
Boston. He frequently borrowed money of Benjamin; the latter not
having the heart to deny him, with which he continued to gratify his
appetite. Benjamin often remonstrated with him, and threatened to
complain of him; but the old friendship of former days always came in
to favor John. Frequently they had serious difficulties, for John was
very irritable, and daily grew more so. Yet, Benjamin continued to pay
his board, and loan him a little money from time to time, though
Collins continued unsuccessful in his search for a position.

Several young men were enjoying a pastime on the Delaware one day,
boating, among them Benjamin and John. The latter was under the
influence of drink sufficiently to be very irritable; and he refused
to take his turn rowing.

"I will be rowed home," he said in anger.

"No, you won't, unless you do your part," replied Benjamin, who
thought it was quite time to teach the boozy fellow a lesson.

"Then we will stay here all night on the water," snapped out John.

"Just as you please; I can stay as long as you can," said Benjamin,
who had endured about as much of John's impudence as he could.

"Come, Ben, let us row him; he don't know what he is about," said one
of the other boys; "what signifies it?"

"Not one stroke," replied Benjamin emphatically; "it is his turn to
row, and he _shall_ row, if he is full of brandy."

"I'll make you row, you insulting dog," exclaimed John, as he rose and
made for Benjamin. "I'll throw you overboard if you don't row."

Approaching Benjamin with the vehemence of a mad bull, determined to
throw him into the river, Benjamin clapped his head under his thighs,
when he came up and struck at him, and, rising, pitched him head
foremost into the river.

"He'll drown," shouted one.

"No, he won't," answered Benjamin, "he is a good swimmer, and he is
not too drunk to swim."

"Will you row, John?" shouted another.

"No, you ----," he shouted back, with an oath.

"We'll take you in when you will promise to row," said Benjamin.

"I shall not promise to row; I'll drown first." He turned about to
reach the boat, but just as he was ready to grasp it with his hand,
the rowers pushed it forward out of his reach.

"Will you row now?" shouted Benjamin.

"No; but I will give you a thrashing when I can get at you." And he
continued to swim after the boat, the rowers pushing it forward out of
his reach, whenever he got near enough to seize it. Then Benjamin
would cry out:

"Will you row now, John?" and back the defiant answer would come:

"Never; but I'll throw you into the river if I can get at you."

Then forward the rowers would push the boat beyond his reach. For
twenty minutes this game was played with the miserable fellow in the
water, when one of the number said:

"He is giving out, we must take him in, or he'll drown."

"Well, we don't want to drown him," replied Benjamin; "I guess we
better take him in." Then, turning to John, he continued:

"Say, John, we'll take you in now; you are soaked outside as much as
you were inside," and, stopping the boat, they hauled the poor fellow
in, too much exhausted to throw Benjamin or any one else overboard.

"John!" shouted Benjamin, as they laid him down, dripping wet, on the
bottom of the boat, "it don't pay to drink too much brandy. You are
the only one in the crowd who can't take care of himself."

Benjamin was rather severe, but then he had endured insult and
ingratitude so long from his old friend, that his patience was
exhausted. The outcome of this scrape on the Delaware Benjamin shall
tell in his own words:

"We hardly exchanged a civil word after this adventure. At length a
West India captain, who had a commission to procure a preceptor for
the sons of a gentleman at Barbadoes, met with him and proposed to
carry him thither to fill the situation. He accepted, and promised to
remit what he owed me out of the first money he should receive; but I
never heard of him after."

Probably he died, a miserable sot, in Barbadoes, without a friend to
mark his grave or write the story of his shame. Benjamin lost, of
course, all the money he had loaned him. In later life he referred to
the end of John Collins, and said that he (Benjamin) received
retribution for his influence over Collins, when he made him as much
of a skeptic as himself in Boston. It was there that he unsettled his
mind as to the reality of religion. At that time he was industrious,
temperate, and honest. But, losing 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 terribly rebuked for
influencing him to treat religion with contempt.

Governor Keith frequently sent for Benjamin to dine with him, that he
might converse with him about the proposed printing house. At length
Benjamin was able to take with him an inventory of all the articles
necessary for establishing a printing house.

"It is not on a large scale," said Benjamin. "I think I better begin
moderately. I can enlarge as business increases."

"That is wise," answered the governor; "but you want a suitable outfit
for a first-class printing office."

"Yes; and my inventory contemplates that. The cost will be about one
hundred pounds sterling, I judge."

"Not so expensive as I supposed," remarked Governor Keith. "I have
been thinking whether you better not go to England to purchase these
articles. You understand what is wanted."

"I had not thought of that," replied Benjamin, both surprised and
pleased by the proposition to visit London. "I should defer to your
judgment in that as in other things."

"If you go it will be necessary for you to sail with Captain Annis,
who makes a trip once a year from here to London. It will be some
months before he will sail, so that you have plenty of time to think
and plan."

"I think favorably of the proposition now," continued Benjamin. "I
could select the types and see that every thing ordered was good of
the kind, and this would be of advantage."

"That is what I thought. And more than that; while there you can
establish correspondences in the book-selling and stationery line."

"I think I could; and such acquaintance might prove of advantage to me
in other respects."

"It certainly would; and I decide that you get yourself ready to sail
with Captain Annis. You can continue to work for Keimer, still keeping
the secret, but completing your plans."

This was the final agreement, and Benjamin never dreamed that Governor
Keith was not honest. If he had divulged to Mr. Read, or Bradford, or
even to Mr. Keimer, what the governor proposed, they would have
exposed his deceitful, unreliable character, and the enterprise would
have been abandoned.



XXV.


WORKING, READING, AND COURTING.

Benjamin continued to work for Keimer, who did not suspect that his
employee was planning to set up business for himself. Keimer was a
very singular, erratic man, believing little in the Christian
religion, and yet given to a kind of fanaticism on certain lines.

"_Thou shalt not mar the corners of thy beard_," he quoted from the
Mosaic law, as a reason for wearing a long beard, when Benjamin
inquired of him:

"Then you think that passage means 'Thou shalt not shave,' if I
understand you?" asked Benjamin.

"Yes, that is about it; and I feel religiously bound to observe it."

"Well, I prefer a religion that is seated in the heart instead of the
beard." And there was a twinkle in Benjamin's eye when he said it.

He enjoyed arguing with Keimer, and frequently had a contest with him
in argument. Keimer had come to respect his abilities. Indeed, he
considered Benjamin the most remarkable young man he ever met.

"It is the religion of the heart that settles the length of the beard,
my youthful Socrates." By this reference to Socrates, Keimer meant to
slap Benjamin's Socratic method of argument, about which he talked
much. "Can't you see it?"

"And it ought to settle the appetite, also; and the quantity and kind
of food that goes into the stomach," rejoined Benjamin, quickly.

Keimer was a large eater--never more satisfied than when devouring a
good dinner that was exactly to his taste. On the other hand, while
Benjamin had abandoned his "vegetable diet," he cared very little
about a good dinner, and seemed to eat one thing with about as good
relish as another. He often discussed the subject with Keimer, and
always maintained that most people ate too much meat. His last remark
hit, and Keimer knew where.

"I shall not dispute you on that point," Keimer answered; "if we had
religion enough in our hearts, I suppose it would regulate all our
acts."

"It ought to; but there is not much prospect of its regulating you and
me at present. Neither of us has much to boast of in that respect."

"Perhaps not. I don't propose to carry my religion so far as many
people do, and be fanatical," replied Keimer.

"Not much danger of it, I think," retorted Benjamin. "You and I will
never be charged with that."

Benjamin was as much of a skeptic as Keimer, only his skepticism took
a different turn. Keimer believed two things thoroughly: first, to
wear the beard long, and, second, to keep the seventh day of the week
as the Sabbath. Benjamin, on the other hand, regarded these and
kindred dogmas as of little consequence, compared with morality and
industry. He believed in work, self-improvement, and uprightness; and
that was more than Keimer believed or practised. So their disputes
were frequent and animated. Of the two, Benjamin's skepticism was the
less dangerous.

"I am seriously thinking of establishing a new sect," continued
Keimer; "if you will join me, I will. I can preach my doctrines, and
you can confound all opponents by your Socratic method."

"I shall want some latitude if I join you. It is narrowing down a
little too much when a creed contains but two articles, like yours,
and both of those grave errors."

"In starting a sect I should not insist upon those two articles alone;
minor doctrines will naturally gather about them. But I am really in
earnest about a new sect, Ben; and I am only waiting to win you over."

"Well, perhaps I will join you after you adopt my creed, to use no
animal food. Your head will be clearer for running your sect, and such
respect for your stomach will show more religion than a long beard
does."

"My constitution would not withstand that sort of a diet; it would
undermine my health."

"Temperance in eating and drinking never undermined any body's
constitution," retorted Benjamin. "You will live twenty years longer
to practise it, and possess a much larger per cent, of self-respect."

"Perhaps I will try it, if you will; and also, if you will adopt my
creed, and go for a new sect."

"I am ready to join you any time in discarding animal food; and, if
you succeed well, then I will talk with you about the rest of it."

"Agreed," responded Keimer, thinking that Benjamin was really inclined
to embrace his scheme, whereas he was only laying his plans for sport.
He knew that a man, who liked a good meal as well as Keimer did, would
have a hard time on the diet he proposed. Referring to it in his
"Autobiography" he said:

"He was usually a great eater, and I wished to give myself some
diversion in half-starving him. He consented to try the practice, if I
would keep him company. I did so, and we held it for three months. Our
provisions were purchased, cooked, and brought to us regularly by a
woman in the neighborhood, who had from me a list of forty dishes,
which she prepared for us at different times, in which there entered
neither fish, flesh, nor fowl. This whim suited me the better at this
time from the cheapness of it,--not costing us above eighteen pence
sterling each per week. I have since kept several lents most strictly,
leaving the common diet for that, and that for the common, abruptly,
without the least inconvenience. So that, I think, there is little in
the advice of making those changes by easy gradations. I went on
pleasantly, but poor Keimer suffered grievously, grew tired of the
project, longed for the flesh pots of Egypt, and ordered a roast pig.
He invited me and two women friends to dine with him; but, it being
brought too soon upon the table, he could not resist the temptation,
and ate the whole before we came."

The trial resulted about as Benjamin anticipated, and he got out of it
as much fun as he expected. Keimer proved himself a greater pig than
the one he swallowed. At the same time, the result left Keimer without
a claim on Benjamin to advocate the new sect. So the scheme was
dropped.

Keimer was no match for Benjamin in disputation. With the use of the
Socratic way of reasoning, Benjamin discomfited him every time; so
that he grew shy and suspicious. In his ripe years, Benjamin wrote of
those days, and said:

"Keimer and I lived on a pretty good familiar footing, and agreed
tolerably well; for he suspected nothing of my setting up. He retained
a great deal of his old enthusiasm, and loved argumentation. We
therefore had many disputations. I used to work him so with my
Socratic method, and had trepanned him so often by questions
apparently so distant from any point we had in hand, yet by degrees
leading to the point and bringing him into difficulties and
contradictions, that at last he grew ridiculously cautious, and would
hardly answer me the most common question, without asking first, 'What
do you intend to infer from that?' However, it gave him so high an
opinion of my abilities in the confuting way, that he seriously
proposed my being his colleague in a project he had of setting up a
new sect. He was to preach the doctrines, and I was to confound all
opponents."

Benjamin found pleasant literary associates in Philadelphia. A gifted
young man usually attracts to himself bright young men near his age.
Such was the case with Benjamin. Three young men especially became his
boon companions, all of them great readers. Their literary tendencies
attracted Benjamin, though their characters were not deficient in high
aims and integrity. Their names were Charles Osborne, Joseph Matson,
and James Ralph. The first two were clerks of Charles Brockden, an
eminent conveyancer of the town, and the other was a merchant's clerk.
Matson 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.

They formed a literary club, and spent their leisure time together,
reading to each other, discussing questions, and, in other ways,
seeking self-improvement. Sundays they devoted chiefly to intellectual
pastime, strolling along the banks of the Schuylkill, except Matson,
who was too much of a Christian to desecrate the Sabbath. He always
went to the house of God on Sundays; nor was he esteemed any less
highly by his skeptical associates for so doing.

"You estimate your talent for poetry too highly," said Osborne to
Ralph, at one of their literary interviews. "Poets are born, not made;
and I hardly think you was born one."

"Much obliged for your compliment," replied Ralph, not at all
disconcerted by Osborne's rather personal remark; "but I may become
poet enough for my own use. All poets are not first-best when they
begin. It is practice that makes perfect, you know."

"Practice can't make a poet out of a man who is not born one; and you
are not such," continued Osborne. "That piece that you just read is
not particularly poetical. It is good rhyme, but it lacks the real
spirit of poesy."

"I agree with you; I do not call it good poetry; but every poet must
begin; and his first piece can not be his best. Poets improve as well
as clerks."

"Real poets!" responded Osborne, with a peculiar smile at the corners
of his mouth. And he continued:

"You seem to think that a fortune awaits a poet, too; but you are
laboring under a great mistake. There is no money in poetry in our
day, and there never was."

"Perhaps not; nevertheless I am confident that a poet may readily win
popularity and a livelihood. At any rate, I am determined to try it,
in spite of your decidedly poor opinion of my abilities."

"Well, my advice is that you stick to the business for which you were
bred, if you would keep out of the poor-house." Osborne said it more
to hector Ralph than any thing. "A good clerk is better than a poor
poet; you will agree to that."

Benjamin listened with a good deal of interest to the foregoing
discussion, and he saw that, from jealousy or some other cause,
Osborne was not according to Ralph the credit to which he was
entitled; and so he interrupted, by saying:

"You set yourself up for a critic, Osborne; but I think more of Ralph
as a poet than I do of you as a critic. You are unwilling to grant
that his productions have any merit at all; but I think have.
Moreover, it is a good practice for him, and for all of us, to write
poetry, even if it does not come quite up to Milton. It will improve
us in the use of language."

"Fiddlesticks! It is simply wasting time that might be spent in
profitable reading; and good reading will improve the mind more than
rhyming." Osborne spoke with much earnestness.

"Not half so much as your empty criticisms are wasting your breath,"
replied Benjamin, with a smile. "But, look here, I have just thought
of a good exercise that we better adopt. At our next meeting each one
of us shall bring in a piece of poetry of our own composition, and
we'll compare notes and criticise each other."

"I should like that," responded Ralph; "it is a capital proposition.
Perhaps Osborne may think it will be a waste of time and breath."

"Not at all," answered Osborne; "I agree to the plan, provided the
subject shall be selected now, so that all shall have fair play."

"We will do that, of course," said Benjamin. "Have you a subject to
suggest?"

"None whatever, unless it is a paraphrase of the Eighteenth Psalm,
which describes the descent of the Deity."

"That is a grand subject," responded Benjamin. "What do you say to
taking that, Ralph?"

"I think it is an excellent subject, and I am in favor of adopting
it."

Thus it was understood 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 paraphrase, and asked him to examine it.

"I have been so busy," remarked Benjamin, "that I have not been able
to write any thing, and I shall be obliged to say 'unprepared' when my
turn comes to read. But I should like to read yours."

Benjamin read Ralph's article over, and then reread it.

"It is excellent; better than any poetry you have ever written,"
remarked Benjamin, when he had finished reading. "Osborne will have to
praise that."

"But he won't; you see if he does. Osborne never allows the least
merit in any thing I write. His envy, or jealousy, or something else,
hatches severe criticism, whether there is reason for it or not. He
will do that with this article; see if he don't."

"If he does, it will be proof that he is prejudiced against you, or is
no judge of poetry," replied Benjamin.

"Suppose we try a little game," continued Ralph. "I think we can put
his judgment to a test. He is not so jealous of you as he is of me.
Now you take this article, and produce it as your own, and I will make
some excuse for not being prepared. We shall then get at his real
opinion of the composition."

"A very ingenious test, Ralph," exclaimed Benjamin. "I will enter into
the plan with all my heart. But I must transcribe the article, so that
he will see that it is in my own handwriting."

"Certainly; and be careful that you do not let the secret out."

So they waited, almost impatiently, for the time of meeting, both
feeling almost sure that Osborne would fall into their net. The
appointed time came. Matson was the first to read his production.
Osborne came next; and his piece was much better than Matson's. Ralph
noticed two or three blemishes, but pointed out many beauties in it.

Next it was Ralph's turn to read. "I am sorry to confess that I have
nothing to read; but I promise to atone for this failure by doing my
part faithfully in future."

"Poets ought to be ready at any time," remarked Osborne humorously,
looking at Ralph.

"It is in order for them to fail sometimes, I think," replied Ralph;
"especially if they are not _born_ poets."

"Well, Ben, we must have yours, then. You will not disappoint us."

"I think you must excuse me this time," Benjamin answered, feigning an
unwillingness to read.

"No, Ben, no excuse for you," said Osborne. "You have it written; I
saw it in your hand."

"That is true; but after listening to such fine productions as we have
heard, I am not ambitious to read mine. I think I must correct it, and
dress it up a little before I submit it for criticism."

"That was not in the arrangement, Ben, when you suggested the
exercise," remarked Ralph.

"You are prepared, and, of course, we shall not excuse you."

After much bantering and urging, Benjamin proceeded to read his,
apparently with much diffidence; and all listened with profound
attention.

"You must read that again," said Osborne, when he finished reading it.
"Two readings of such a poem as that are none too much. Come, read it
again."

Benjamin read the article again, apparently with more confidence than
at first.

"You surprise me, Ben," exclaimed Osborne, when the second reading was
finished. "You are a genuine poet. I had no idea that you could write
like that."

"Nor I," added Matson. "It is better than half the poetry that is
printed. If the subject had not been given out, I don't know but I
should have charged you with stealing it."

"What do you say, Ralph?" inquired Osborne. "You are a poet, and poets
ought to be good judges of such matters." Another fling at Ralph's
claim to poetical ability.

"I don't think it is entirely faultless," remarked Ralph, after some
hesitation. "I think you have commended it full as highly as it
deserves. Not being a _born_ poet, however, I may not be a good
judge," glancing his eye at Osborne.

"Well done, Ralph!" exclaimed Osborne. "Your opinion of that
production is proof positive that you are destitute of real poetical
taste, as I have told you before."

Osborne was fairly caught. Ralph and Benjamin exchanged glances, as
if to inquire if their time of avowed triumph had not come; but both
appeared to conclude to keep the secret a little longer. They
controlled their risibles successfully, and allowed Osborne to go on
and express himself still more strongly in favor of the composition.

Ralph walked home with Osborne, in order to play the game a little
more, and their conversation was very naturally about Benjamin's
poetry.

"I had no idea," remarked Osborne, "that Ben could write poetry like
that. I was ashamed of my own when I heard his. I knew him to be a
talented fellow; but I had no idea that he was a poet. His production
was certainly very fine. In common conversation he seems to have no
choice of words; he hesitates and blunders; and yet, how he writes!"

"Possibly he might not have written it," suggested Ralph; a very
natural suggestion in the circumstances, though Osborne thought it was
an outrageous reflection.

"That is the unkindest cut of all," retorted Osborne; "to charge him
with plagiarism. Ben would never descend to so mean a thing as that."

They separated for that night; but Ralph embraced the first
opportunity to call on Benjamin, to exult over the success of their
little scheme. They laughed to their hearts' content, and discussed
the point of revealing the secret. They concluded finally, that the
real author of the article should be known at their next meeting.

Accordingly, the affair was managed so 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. Matson 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 a more mortifying predicament than this would-be
critic, since it was now perfectly manifest that he was influenced by
blind prejudice in his criticisms of Ralph's poetry. For now, disarmed
of prejudice, he had given it his most emphatic endorsement.

A few years later, Matson died in Benjamin's arms, much lamented by
all of his companions, who regarded him as "the best of their set."
Osborne removed to the West Indies, where he became an eminent lawyer,
but died just past middle life. Of the others we shall have occasion
to speak hereafter.

Benjamin always spoke well of that literary club. It was an excellent
way of using leisure time. It contributed much to his self-advancement,
as it did to that of his companions. Such an arrangement converts spare
moments into great blessings.

The time was drawing near for Benjamin to leave for England; and there
was one thing above all others, that he wished to do, viz.: to be
betrothed to Deborah Read. They had fallen in love with each other,
but were not engaged. He had not opened the subject to her parents;
but he must, if he would win her hand before going to England. So he
ventured.

"Both of you are too young," replied Deborah's mother. "You are only
eighteen! You can not tell what changes may occur before you are old
enough to be married."

"But that need not interfere with an engagement," suggested Benjamin.
"We only pledge each to the other against the time we are ready to be
married. Sometimes parties are engaged for years before they are
married."

"It is not a good plan, however. And why, Benjamin, do you deem an
engagement necessary in the circumstances?"

"Simply because a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," answered
Benjamin, laughing. Mrs. Read laughed, too.

"I have not quite satisfied myself that it is best to give up my
daughter to a printer," she added.

"How so?" inquired Benjamin with some anxiety.

"Because there are already several printing houses in the country, and
I doubt whether another can be supported."

"If I can not support her by the printing business, then I will do it
by some other," responded Benjamin, emphatically.

"I do not call in question your good intentions, by any means; but you
may not realize the fulfillment of your hopes. I think you had better
leave the matter as it is until you return from England, and see how
you are prospered."

"Of course, I shall yield to your judgment in the matter," said
Benjamin, very politely, "though I shall be somewhat disappointed."

"You and Deborah can have such understanding with each other as you
wish; but I object to a formal engagement. Leave that until you
return." Mrs. Read was decided in her opinions. Her husband died five
or six weeks before this interview.

So Benjamin had to leave his bird in the bush, instead of having it in
hand. And the bird promised to stay there, and sing for him on his
return.



XXVI.


A BOGUS SCHEME.

"I'm thinking of going to England with you," said Ralph to Benjamin, one
day in October, 1724.

"You don't mean it."

"I do mean it. I am thinking seriously of going."

"I shall be delighted to have your company, but the news is almost too
good to be true," continued Benjamin.

"I have been looking the matter over ever since you told me that you
expected to go; and now it is settled in my own mind that I shall go."

"Going out for your employer?"

"No, going out to establish a correspondence, if possible, and arrange
to obtain goods to sell on commission."

"That is a capital scheme, it seems to me, Ralph. I think you can
establish a good business with your tact and experience. You'll have
to hurry up; for I expect that Captain Annis will sail in three
weeks." Benjamin's words showed his gladness that one of his intimate
companions would accompany him.

"It won't take me long to get ready; I have been arranging matters for
some time with reference to going, though I have spoken to no one
about it." Ralph was careful not to divulge the real reason of his
going, lest Benjamin should disapprove.

At length it was announced that the _London Hope_, Captain Annis,
master, would sail about the 10th of November. And now, Benjamin was
full of business. He made known his intentions to Keimer and other
friends, without disclosing the real object of his trip, or that he
was going under the patronage of Governor Keith. Considerable surprise
and regret were expressed by several friends that he was going, and
yet they were free to say that it would prove an excellent school for
such a young man as Benjamin. Governor Keith was lavish in his
attentions and interest.

"You will want letters of introduction from me; and I shall have some
instructions, which I will write out carefully," he said.

"The letters will be indispensable; and the instructions I shall most
surely need to relieve my lack of experience," Benjamin replied.

"I will have them all ready two or three days before Captain Annis
sails," added the governor, "and you can call for them. I may want to
see you again before I get them ready, and I will send for you."

Benjamin thanked Governor Keith for his great kindness, assuring him
that he should always feel himself under a heavy debt of gratitude,
never dreaming that the scheming politician was luring him into a
snare. He put his whole heart and soul into preparation to leave. To
him it was the great event of his life; and it would have been, if Sir
William Keith had been an honest man instead of a rogue. For an
American youth, eighteen years of age, to represent the governor of
Pennsylvania in the city of London, to consummate a business
enterprise of the greatest importance to a thriving American town, was
an unusual occurrence. Any youth of considerable ability and ambition
must have realized the value and dignity of the enterprise; but to
such a youth as Benjamin was,--talented, aspiring, coveting success,
striving for the best,--the opportunity of this business enterprise,
proposed and patronized by the highest officer in the colony, must
have appealed strongly to his manly and noble nature. We shall see,
however, as it turned out, that all the honesty and high-minded
purpose that invested it was in Benjamin's soul. Treachery,
dishonesty, and perfidy blackened the soul of his patron, loading him
down with infamy almost without a parallel.

Three days before Captain Annis set sail, Benjamin called for his
letters.

"My time has been so thoroughly occupied by public business that I
have not been able to prepare them, but I will attend to it."

"I can call again without any trouble," answered Benjamin, exceedingly
grateful for the governor's patronage.

"I am sorry that I have not been able to prepare them; but I will not
disappoint you again. Call day after to-morrow." The more the governor
said and promised, the more thankful Benjamin felt that he had fallen
into such generous hands.

"I will call in the afternoon, day after to-morrow," replied Benjamin;
and thanking him again for his great kindness, took his leave.

He called as he promised for the letters and other papers. Instead of
being ushered into the governor's presence, as usual, his secretary,
Colonel French, came out to announce:

"The governor regrets exceedingly that he has not the documents ready
yet, and desires that you shall call again to-morrow, just before the
vessel sails."

"Very well, I will call," replied Benjamin, without the least
suspicion that any trouble was brewing for him.

On the next day, with all his baggage on board, and the "good-bye"
said to all his friends, he hastened to the governor's head-quarters
for his papers. Again Colonel French met him with the announcement:

"The governor desires me to say that he is really ashamed to
disappoint you again; but a constant pressure of business has
prevented. But the vessel will stop at Newcastle, and he will meet you
and deliver yours with other letters he has to send; and he hopes that
you will have a pleasant voyage and meet with great success."

"Please convey my thanks to him for his many kindnesses and present
good wishes," answered Benjamin, "and say to him that I will execute
his commands to the very best of my ability, and report at the
earliest possible time."

So saying, Benjamin returned and boarded the vessel, which soon
dropped down the Delaware, thinking all the while of his good fortune
in having so great and good a man as Governor Keith for his friend.

At Newcastle, Benjamin landed and hastened to see the governor, whom
he expected to be there, as Colonel French said; but he met only the
secretary, who announced again:

"The governor is now writing the last dispatch, and will send your
documents, with others, on board before the ship weighs anchor. He
would be glad to see you again before you leave, but requires me to
say that every moment of his time will be occupied to the very last
minute, so he must content himself with sending to you, by me, his
last words of confidence and his best wishes."

"Convey mine, also, to him," Benjamin replied, as he turned away to go
to the vessel.

Just as the ship was about to sail, a bag of letters and other
documents came on board from the governor. Benjamin supposed that it
contained his indispensable letters, and, at a suitable time, he went
to the captain and said:

"Governor Keith was to furnish me with letters of introduction to
friends in London, and I suppose they are in the bag which he sent
aboard. Can I look them over for my letters?"

"Just now I am too busy to give the matter any attention," Captain
Annis said; "but I assure you that, long before we reach London, you
shall have the opportunity to examine and take what belongs to you."

"That will do; I thank you," replied Benjamin, perfectly satisfied
that all was right; and he settled down to enjoy the voyage.

When the vessel entered the English Channel, Captain Annis brought out
the bag of documents from the governor for Benjamin to inspect. He was
surprised beyond measure not to find any letters addressed to himself.
He found several addressed to other parties with his name written upon
them, as under his care, but not one addressed to himself. It was very
singular, he thought, but he concluded that one of the number was
devoted to his mission, as it was addressed to Baskett, the king's
printer. He found seven or eight letters addressed to different
parties, "Care of Benjamin Franklin," and he took them all from the
bag. He still supposed that every thing about his mission was correct.

They arrived in London on the 24th of December, when Benjamin lacked
about a month of being nineteen years old. With Ralph, he proceeded to
find lodgings at once; and just as soon as that arrangement was made,
he hastened to deliver the letters submitted to his care. The first
party upon whom he called was a stationer.

"I have the honor of bringing a letter to you, sir, from Governor
Keith of Pennsylvania, America," he said, with considerable assurance.

"I have not the honor of his acquaintance," answered the stationer.
"Pray, tell me who Governor Keith may be."

"The letter will inform you, no doubt," replied Benjamin, giving him
the letter.

The stationer opened it; but read scarcely three lines before he
exclaimed, to Benjamin's consternation:

"Oh, this is from Riddlesden! 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 the letter back to Benjamin without
reading all of it, turned upon his heel and went back to his work.

Benjamin's feelings can be imagined better than described. He was
well-nigh dumbfounded to learn that the letter was not from Governor
Keith. And then it was that the first flash of suspicion that he had
been deceived entered his mind. He was still more surprised to learn,
on examination, that not one of the letters he had taken from the bag
was written by Governor Keith. There he was without one letter of
introduction to any person in London, the scheme of establishing a
printing house in Philadelphia discovered to be a myth, a mere boy,
friendless and without work, in a great city, three thousand miles
from home. If another American youth was ever lured into a baser trap,
by a baser official, his name has never been recorded. Benjamin was at
his wits' end--he knew not what to do. His feelings bordered upon
despair. Had he not been a wonderful youth to rise superior to
difficulties, he must have yielded to overwhelming discouragement.

To add to his troubles, when he disclosed his situation to Ralph, he
learned that his old companion had abandoned his wife and child, never
intending to return to America.

"You are a hard-hearted wretch; I never would have thought such a
thing of you, Ralph," he exclaimed. "Such meanness ought to be left to
baser men than you are."

"I suppose that you would never look with any favor upon such a plan
as mine, and so I did not tell you," replied Ralph.

"It is lucky for you that you did not; for I never would have
consented to be the companion of a young man running away from his
wife and child."

"Well, I have never been treated well by one member of my wife's
family from the day I was married, and before, too. I have borne it
without complaining to any one, until I could bear it no longer. Now
let them reflect."

"But that is no excuse for a man to abandon his family, no excuse
whatever. Why, Ralph, I am almost as much deceived in you as I have
been in Governor Keith. I did not think that you were capable of such
meanness." Benjamin meant every word he uttered; and he was not
disposed to spare his old friend at all. Another bit of information
just here magnified his sorrows.

"I am out of funds entirely, Ben, so that I have begun to be cursed
already, you see, without yours." Ralph spoke as if the remarks of Ben
cut him to the quick.

"Out of money!" exclaimed Ben. "Come here dead broke? You must be
crazy, Ralph. Abandon your family, and shove yourself upon me to
support in London! I am shocked."

"I am afraid that both of us will be more shocked than that before we
get through," answered Ralph with the utmost coolness. "You have been
too good a friend to desert me now, Ben."

The last remark touched a tender spot in Benjamin's heart. He and
Ralph had been true friends, and passed many happy hours together. He
abhorred his inhumanity to his wife and child, and his deceitfulness
in claiming to go to London to secure goods to sell on commission and
establish correspondence; but he had no heart to abandon him in a
strange city.

"Get work, Ralph, as soon as possible, or we shall be in a bad plight;
for I have only fifteen pistoles in all, which will not keep up a
connection between soul and body long." This remark of Benjamin's
implied that he should divide what he had with Ralph as long as it
lasted.

"I shall do that, Ben, you may rest assured; for I will not take
advantage of your generosity any longer than I can help. I mean to
continue a good friend of yours whether you continue to be a good
friend of mine or not." This was a shrewd way of putting it. Ralph
knew the young man he was talking with thoroughly.

Benjamin resolved to seek the advice of Mr. Denham. He was a Quaker
merchant who sailed from Philadelphia with him. He was a stranger to
him; but, when Colonel French came on board with letters from the
governor at Newcastle, he introduced Benjamin to Denham. For this
reason Denham became deeply interested in Benjamin, and showed him
many favors. Now his advice would be specially useful to Benjamin; so
he sought and found him.

"I find, Mr. Denham, that Governor Keith has been deceiving me. I came
here under his auspices, and he promised me letters of introduction to
parties, and the means to purchase an outfit for a first-class
printing house in Philadelphia; and he has not fulfilled either
promise. There are no letters for me among the dispatches he sent on
board at Newcastle. He has proved himself a fraud and a cheat."

"He always did that," Mr. Denham replied. "If I had known that you
were depending on Keith for any thing, I could have opened your eyes
to his rascality at once. Keith is an official scamp."

"Here is a letter from Riddlesden to a stationer here," and passing
the letter to Denham, he rehearsed his interview with the stationer.

"Riddlesden!" exclaimed Denham; "so base an attorney-at-law never
cursed Pennsylvania. He is matched in perfidy only by Keith. Two worse
rogues never occupied important positions in any country."

Then, reading the letter through, he went on:

"And this very letter proves that he is an arrant knave. For here is
proof of a conspiracy against Mr. Hamilton, who was booked to sail
with Captain Annis, and Keith is in it." Denham read the letter to
Benjamin, explaining its meaning as he went along, for he was well
posted about Keith and the villainous attorney.

"You should keep this letter, Franklin, and show it to Mr. Hamilton
when he comes," added Denham. "Hamilton will come just as soon as he
can. He came aboard our ship with his son, intending to come; but a
party appeared, offering him a very large fee to wait and conduct a
case in court, and he consented. He is the greatest lawyer in
Pennsylvania. Keep the letter and give it to him."

We may say here, once for all, that Benjamin did keep the letter until
the arrival of Mr. Hamilton, several months later, when he presented
it to him, for which favor Hamilton was very grateful, and became
Benjamin's life-long friend.

"But what can I do, Mr. Denham?" asked Benjamin. "I am here a stranger
in a strange city, with very little money. What would you advise me to
do?"

"I do not see but one thing that you can do just now. You are a
printer, and you can get work without doubt in some printing office
until you see fit to return."

"I thought of that; but it occurred to me that an American printer
would be at a discount here, where the printing business is so much
better understood," suggested Benjamin.

"You can get over that difficulty quickly by showing them what you can
do," answered Mr. Denham. "You have more intelligence and culture than
most of the English printers; and that will help you."

"I will lose no time in making an application for a place," said
Benjamin. "I am under obligations to you for your interest in me."

"It may prove of great advantage to you to have this opportunity to
become familiar with printing in London," continued Mr. Denham. "You
can perfect yourself in the art against the time you return, and set
up business in Philadelphia. So you may get some good out of your
trials, after all. 'It is an ill wind that blows no one any good.'"

"It looks so, certainly," Benjamin answered. "I will accept your
advice, and see what I can do."

Benjamin had _paid too dear for the whistle_ again; but he made the
best of it. First of all, he found a permanent boarding-place for
himself and Ralph, where the charges were in proportion to his
pecuniary ability. It was in Little Britain Street; and the weekly
charge was only three shillings and sixpence. Then both started out in
search of work. Benjamin went direct to Palmer's famous printing house
in Bartholomew Close, where fifty hands were then employed, and
applied for a situation.

"What experience have you had?" inquired the overseer.

"Several years. I learned the business of my brother, James Franklin,
in Boston, America; and he came to your country and learned it, before
setting up the business in his own country."

"You ought to understand it, then. But why do you seek work in this
country?"

"I did not come to London for work, but for an outfit with which to
establish the business in Philadelphia." And Benjamin rehearsed his
arrangement with Governor Keith, and the treachery which had been
practised upon him, which interested the manager very much, and, at
the same time, won his sympathy.

"Though Governor Keith proved so treacherous to you, the facts show
his confidence in your ability as a printer," he remarked; "and,
surely, in these misfortunes, a friend in need is a friend indeed. I
think I can find something for you to do."

"You can try me, and I shall be very thankful for the chance,"
Benjamin answered. "I have no desire to work for any man unless I can
suit him."

"That is an honorable view of the matter; and I have no doubt of your
ability to satisfy me. You can come at once, and I will give you a
position."

They agreed upon wages that were satisfactory to Benjamin, and the
next day he went to work. The truth was, that the boss of Palmer's
printing house was very much pleased with Benjamin's appearance. He
saw at once that he was a young man of uncommon ability. He was
surprised to learn that he was not quite nineteen years of age, since
his appearance was that of a young man of twenty-two. Therefore, he
was not only desirous of aiding him in his embarrassing situation, but
he was glad to employ a young man of so much promise.

Ralph was not so successful. Here and there he applied for work, but
no one appeared to want him. Benjamin rendered him all the assistance
possible evenings; but his efforts met with no success. In advanced
life, Benjamin spoke of Ralph's efforts as follows:

"He first endeavored to get into the playhouse, believing himself
qualified for an actor; but Wilkes, to whom he applied, advised him
candidly not to think of that employment, as it was impossible he
should succeed in it. Then he proposed to Roberts, a publisher in
Pater Noster Row, to write for him a weekly paper like the
_Spectator_, on certain conditions; which Roberts did not approve.
Then he endeavored to get employment as a hackney writer, to copy for
the stationers and lawyers about the Temple; but could not find a
vacancy."

Ralph possessed considerable ability as an amateur player of tragedy
or comedy; and he was quite a racy writer, also; hence his application
for a situation as above. Benjamin was familiar with his
qualifications on the lines mentioned, and seconded his efforts as
best he could; but all to no purpose.

As Ralph had no money or work, Benjamin was obliged to support him. He
paid his board, and loaned him small sums from time to time, so that
he could maintain the appearance of a respectable citizen. But he was
another elephant on Benjamin's hands. The weeks multiplied, and still
Ralph had no employment. He was a constant bill of expense. Willing to
work, abhorring a life of idleness, his condition and prospects were a
torment to himself. He was more troubled even than Benjamin over his
misfortune. At length, however, he announced:

"I am going to put an end to this sort of a life, Ben. I have stood it
as long as I can. I am going out into the country to find a school to
teach. I am told that I can easily find one."

"Not a bad idea, in the circumstances," replied Benjamin. "Teaching is
an honorable and useful business; and it will make you friends."

"I should much prefer to remain in this city and find a more congenial
situation; but beggars can't be choosers, and so I have concluded to
make the best of it. I am completely discouraged in trying for work in
London." Ralph spoke as he felt, for he had become disheartened.

"It seems strange, almost," continued Benjamin "that you can find no
situation of any sort in this great city, where----"

"I was not born under a lucky star, as you were, Ben," interrupted
Ralph.

"My experience with Governor Keith doesn't show much of a star any
way," rejoined Benjamin. "Certainly, it is not a lucky one, nor a
morning star; if it is a star at all, it must be an _evening_ star,
seen only when it is getting dark."

"I wish I could accept disappointment and defeat as philosophically as
you can, Ben; but I can't. It is quite impossible for me to make the
best out of the worst; but you can."

"It is the way I am made, no doubt," said Benjamin in reply. "I never
could make any thing by fretting."

"Nor any body else," quickly answered Ralph, "and still I fret and
worry as if thereby I could mend the matter. But I am going to strike
out for a school, and leave London to suffer the consequences of not
employing me."

"That is philosophical, sure," added Benjamin.

The school was secured within a short time, and Ralph became a
schoolmaster a few miles out of London. Benjamin continued to serve in
the Palmer printing house, where he gave satisfaction, and made his
mark, as we shall see.



XXVII.


"OUR WATER-DRINKER."

A letter from Ralph to Benjamin informed the latter that the former
was settled in a small village called Berkshire, where he was teaching
about a dozen boys in reading and writing at a sixpence each per week,
--not a very flattering position, but, in the circumstances, better
than none.

What surprised Benjamin, however, was that Ralph had changed his name,
and was known in that village as Franklin. He had assumed Franklin's
name, thinking that such a position was not honorable for James Ralph
to occupy. At first, Benjamin was somewhat displeased to find himself
scattered about in such a way, printer and schoolmaster, and he knew
not what next. But, on the whole, he concluded to let the matter rest;
and, if his old friend could get success out of his name, allow him to
do it. So he corresponded with him from time to time, directing his
letters to "Mr. Franklin, schoolmaster," as Ralph desired.

It was not long before Benjamin began to receive instalments of an
epic poem which Ralph was composing, with the request to examine and
return remarks and corrections. Benjamin did examine and return it,
with the advice to cease writing epic poems and attend to his
legitimate business or get into some other. But it was of no use, the
poem continued to come by instalments.

At this juncture, too, another trial was added to his singular
experience. Ralph's English wife called upon him for help. The
following is Franklin's account of the manner in which Ralph came into
these new relations:

"In our house lodged a young woman, a milliner, who, I think, had a
shop in the Cloisters. She had been genteelly bred, was sensible,
lively, and of a most pleasing conversation. Ralph read plays to her
in the evenings, they grew intimate, she took another lodging, and he
followed her. They lived together some time, but he being still out of
business, and her income not sufficient to maintain them with her
child, he took a resolution of going from London to try for a country
school."

"I need help, and know not where to go except to you," said Mrs.
Ralph; "indeed, James told me to apply to you."

"I recall," replied Benjamin, "that he asked me in one of his letters
to see that you were not in want. I am not in circumstances to do much
for you, but I will cheerfully do what I can."

"I shall be very much obliged for the smallest favor. My wants are
few, and I can make a little assistance go a good way."

Benjamin relieved her wants, and from that time continued to call upon
her, to see that she was made comfortable and to enjoy her company.
These demands upon his purse kept it drained to the last cent all the
time, so that he could lay nothing by for himself. He could see no way
out of his trouble. He must continue penniless, or let Ralph and his
family suffer. But just then an indiscreet act on his part offended
Ralph, who, coming to London for a day or two, said to Benjamin:

"I consider myself under no obligations to you whatever from this
time. I shall ask no more favors of you for myself or family, and will
have nothing more to do with you."

"Very well," replied Benjamin, "I will so understand it."

In this way Benjamin was relieved of a great burden unexpectedly.
Incumbrances thus removed, he devoted himself with remarkable energy
and industry to his business and self-improvement.

About this time Benjamin was offered larger pay at Watts' printing
house, near Lincoln's Inn Fields, and he removed thither. He changed
his boarding-place, also, to Duke Street, opposite the Romish chapel.

Next door to Benjamin's lodgings was a bookstore kept by one Wilcox.
He had an immense collection of second-hand books, in which, of
course, Benjamin became much interested, spending his leisure time
here.

"I have not the money to make purchases," he said to Wilcox. "I wish I
had. There are so many valuable books here, and they are so cheap,
that I wish I was able to make many of them my own."

"Well, you are at liberty to spend all the time you can reading them
here," answered Wilcox, who had already formed a high opinion of his
abilities. "Perhaps some day you will be able to own some of them."

"You are very kind indeed, Mr. Wilcox, and I shall avail myself of
your generosity to make the acquaintance of some of these authors."

Benjamin had already rehearsed the story of the fraud through which he
became a London printer, so that Wilcox understood the reason that he
was penniless.

"Glad to see you here any time; feel perfectly at home, and get all
the good you can out of these books," Wilcox added with great
kindness.

It was not long before an original idea about the use of those books
took possession of Benjamin's mind, and he made it known to the
bookseller.

"A new idea has struck me, Mr. Wilcox. I do not want to take so much
advantage of your generosity, and it has occurred to me that I can pay
you a sum we can agree upon to take out and read such books as I may
select. I mean, pay you a given amount on each book I read."

"I had not thought of that; it is an excellent plan, I think. We will
have no difficulty about the price," answered Wilcox.

"It will take me longer, of course, to read some books than it will
others," continued Benjamin; "but I am a rapid reader, and shall be as
expeditious as possible with each volume. And, also, I pledge myself
that each volume shall be returned in as good a condition as when I
take it out."

"That is fair; I accept the proposition."

The price per volume was agreed upon, and Benjamin reveled in books
every night. He never advanced more rapidly in intellectual
attainments than he did after this arrangement with Wilcox.

This is the first instance of loaning books for a price on record--a
practice that has become well-nigh universal since that day.

He had not been at Palmer's long before he was employed in composing
for the second edition of Wollaston's "Religion of Nature," which was
just the kind of a treatise to arouse his intellect, and to set him to
thinking and also to speculating.

"Poor reasoning!" he said to Mr. Watts; "very fallacious and
superficial, too."

"Ah!" replied Mr. Watts, considerably surprised that his new employee,
just over from a new and uncultivated country, should handle a
treatise like that so gingerly; "how is that? Rather a popular work,
that of Wollaston's."

"Popular enough it may be, but error is often popular. The work is
illogical, and not altogether in harmony with facts." Benjamin's
criticisms impressed Mr. Watts somewhat, though he thought he was
laboring under a mistake.

"Perhaps the trouble is in your own mind, and not in Wollaston's," he
suggested.

"That may be; but I am going to review it for my own satisfaction and
benefit," answered Benjamin.

"Then I will suspend judgment until I can read your review," said Mr.
Watts, at the same time being still more surprised that a youth of his
age should be so familiar with such topics.

Within a short time Benjamin had his review of "Religion of Nature"
prepared and printed, bearing the somewhat dignified title, "A
Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain," and it was
inscribed to his friend, James Ralph. A copy was submitted to Mr.
Watts for examination, and his opinion awaited with some anxiety.

"I confess that it is a remarkable production for a youth like you to
father--remarkable in its plan, thought, and reasoning--but it is no
credit to your principles," Mr. Watts said.

"How so?"

"It is really deistical in its position. You remember that I suggested
the trouble might be in yourself, instead of Wollaston; and it is, in
my judgment."

"Wherein is my reasoning illogical or incorrect?" Benjamin's use of
the Socratic method of reasoning still adhered to him.

"Any reasoning is illogical and fallacious that takes it for granted
that there is no God," answered Mr. Watts. "Without a God, we are
nowhere; and that is where your pamphlet is. There is ingenuity in it,
I grant; but it is false."

"From your standpoint, you mean, Mr. Watts?"

"Yes, if you please; but my standpoint is the Bible. Any reasoning
that ignores the Bible is fallacious. To pretend to understand the
things of this world without a God is abominable. 'The _fool_ hath
said in his heart, There is no God.'"

"Well, you are getting rather personal," Benjamin answered, roguishly.
 "I suspect that you are rather puritanical in your notions; but I am
not."

"No, that is quite evident; nothing puritanical about your
Dissertation, but a plenty that is fanatical," retorted Mr. Watts.

"Much obliged for your opinion, so frankly expressed," added Benjamin,
as Mr. Watts turned to answer a call.

A short time after the publication of the foregoing Dissertation, a
London surgeon, by the name of Lyons, called at Watts' office.

"Is there a man at work in your printing house by the name of
Franklin--Benjamin Franklin?" he inquired of Mr. Watts.

"There is."

"Can I see him?"

"Yes, I will call him."

Benjamin was called and introduced to the gentleman, who said, holding
a pamphlet in his hand:

"Are you the author of this 'Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity,
Pleasure and Pain'?"

"I am, sir." Benjamin had received such a trimming from his employer,
that he was almost sure the stranger had come to stigmatize him for
writing that pamphlet. But he was soon relieved by the remark of
Lyons:

"I have read it with great interest, and have been very much profited
by it. I did not dream, however, that it was written by so young a
person as you are."

Benjamin thanked him for his complimentary words, and the surgeon went
on:

"I am the author of the book entitled, 'The Infallibility of Human
Judgment,' and I think our views harmonize in the main. I should be
pleased to loan you a copy if you care to read it."

"It will afford me real pleasure to read it, Doctor Lyons, and I shall
appreciate your favor."

"And when you have read it, I shall be glad to meet you, and compare
notes, and discuss the topics."

"Nothing will suit me better than that," added Benjamin.

Doctor Lyons frequently called on Benjamin to converse upon the
subject-matter of his pamphlet, and, at one time, he says, "He carried
me to the Horns, a pale-ale house in ------ Lane, Cheapside, and
introduced me to Doctor Mandeville, author of the 'Fable of the Bees,'
who had a club there, of which he was the soul, being a most
facetious, entertaining companion."

The religion in Benjamin's pamphlet, and that in Lyons' book, was well
suited to a "pale-ale house." It was so _pale_ as scarcely to be
discernible in either book or pamphlet--almost entirely faded out.
That was why Benjamin's pamphlet pleased Lyons so much--the religion
in it was not too much for a "pale-ale house."

Doctor Lyons introduced him, also, to one Doctor Pemberton, "at
Batson's Coffee-house," a kindred spirit, whose coffee was stronger
than his religion--a quick-witted, lively sort of a man. He was very
familiar with Benjamin.

"Glad to know that your mind is interested in subjects of so grave
importance," he said. "In a youth of your age it is evidence of a
strong mind and expanding intellect."

"Most of my friends do not regard my views with the favor you express;
they see evidence, rather, of mental weakness and distortion," said
Benjamin in reply.

"It is because they do not investigate for themselves. They are
content to receive opinions secondhand, labelled and fixed. How would
you like to number Sir Isaac Newton among your friends?" Doctor
Pemberton spoke as a man of authority.

"I should feel myself highly honored," answered Benjamin. "Do you know
him?"

"I have the honor of his acquaintance; and I will give you an
introduction at some future time."

"I shall accept your favor with thanks"; and Benjamin waited and
waited for the opportunity, but it never came, probably because Newton
could never be found in "an ale-house."

This was the outcome of Benjamin's literary venture; and the
pleasantest part of the whole was that he lived to see the folly of
his effort, especially its non-religious character. He became
satisfied that Mr. Watts was right when he declared the principles of
his Dissertation "abominable."

At another time, while Benjamin worked at Watts', Sir Hans Sloane
called upon him,--another notable London character of that day.
Benjamin was taken aback when he met him,--he could scarcely divine
what this titled Englishman could want of him.

"I have heard of you, Mr. Franklin, as recently from America, and I
have called to make your acquaintance," he said.

"Glad to meet you, Sir Hans," replied Benjamin, fully equal to the
occasion. "I am at your service."

"You are the author of a pamphlet called," and he gave the title, "are
you?"

"I am."

"I have not read it; but I have heard it discussed, and I concluded
that a youth of your age must possess a strong mind to undertake such
a treatise. And I understand that you brought many curiosities with
you to this country." Now, Sir Hans was getting to the subject that
was near to his heart; for he was a curiosity-hunter.

"A few only--very few," replied Benjamin.

"You have a purse, I understand, made of the _asbestos_, which
purifies by fire?"

"Yes, sir, I have."

"I should be delighted to have you call upon me in Bloomsbury Square,
and bring the purse; and I will show you _my_ great collection of
curiosities. I think you can spend a pleasant and profitable evening
in that way."

"I will do it with the greatest pleasure, and be obliged for the
opportunity," Benjamin answered.

And he did. The first opportunity he improved to take the asbestos
purse to Bloomsbury Square, where he had a splendid time examining the
best collection of curiosities he had ever dreamed of, and where he
discussed various topics of interest with the entertaining Sir Hans.

"Now," said the host, as Benjamin was about to leave, "I should be
glad to add the asbestos purse to my collection, and I will pay you
well for it," naming the amount.

"I will accommodate you and leave it." Benjamin was happy to add to
Sir Hans' collection, in the circumstances.

Benjamin felt the need of more physical exercise, so that when he
entered the printing house, he "took to working at press." He drank
water only; all other employees, about fifty of them, drank strong
beer. He was really a curiosity to them.

"Beer-guzzling is a detestable habit," he said to a fellow-workman,
"and it is a very expensive one, too, for a poor fellow like you."

"I could not do a decent day's work without beer. I drink it for
strength."

"So much the worse for you; beer strength is the worst sort of
weakness," continued Benjamin. "Just stop a moment and think what a
beer-barrel you make of yourself; a pint before breakfast, a pint at
breakfast, a pint between breakfast and dinner, a pint at dinner, a
pint in the afternoon, a pint at six o'clock, and a pint when you have
done work--almost a gallon each day! Why, I could not hold half as
much as that; I should run over."

"Then you don't believe a man can do more work for drinking strong
beer?"

"Of course I don't. I can do more work than any man in the
establishment, and I can lift more than any other man here; and I
drink nothing but water. If beer imparts the strength you imagine, any
one of you ought to do more work and lift more than I can; isn't that
so?"

The workmen had good reason to believe this; for Benjamin had kept his
eyes and ears open from the time he entered the printing house, and he
had learned just what the men thought about beer, why they drank it,
how much work they did, and how much they could lift. Without saying a
word about it, he took special pains to turn off a large amount of
work, and to lift more than his fellow-workmen. For example, he would
carry two forms of type, one in each hand, up and down stairs, while
the other workmen carried but one with both hands. Therefore, Watts
(the name of the workman) knew that every thing Benjamin claimed about
strength was true.

"Are all Americans like you?" inquired the workman.

"No; too many of them are like you, I am sorry to say; they drink beer
and other intoxicants, that disqualify them for business. If more of
them would drink water, as I do, they would be far better off
physically and pecuniarily."

"Some of our best doctors claim that there is much nutriment in beer,"
he suggested.

"And every one of them knows that there is more nutriment in a
pennyworth of bread than there is in a whole gallon of beer.
Therefore, if you eat the bread and drink the water, you get more
strength."

The printer acknowledged that there was something in that.

"You see," continued Benjamin, "that all the nutriment there is in the
barley is destroyed to convert it into beer. Your beer is very dirty
water made bitter with malt, out of which nearly every particle of
nutriment has been squeezed. There is as much nourishment in dishwater
as there is in that stuff."

"Here, Jake, where are you?" called out another workman. "Bring on the
beer."

Jake was the ale-boy, whose business it was to supply the men with
beer from the ale-house.

"Another nuisance required by your beer business," exclaimed Benjamin.
"Better by far pay a boy double price to bring water from the well,
instead of bringing that stuff to absorb your money and sodden your
brain."

"A _Water-American_, indeed!" said Mr. Watts, who heard much of the
conversation. "But will you not allow some comfort to hard-working
men?"

"Certainly; that is what I am after. There is more comfort in one
glass of pure water than there is in a whole barrel of beer. Here is
Watts, paying out four or five shillings every week for beer, when
water would cost him nothing, and he would have that amount to spend
for genuine comforts. Besides, beer unfits him to get real comfort out
of any thing, even out of his home."

"You are about right on that," replied Watts; "beer does make a class
of men most miserable. But must I discard it because some men use it
to their injury?"

"Of course you must," Benjamin answered quickly and triumphantly.
"There is where duty and right come in. The strong must bear the
infirmities of the weak, or they won't amount to much in the world."

"Many of them won't amount to much any way, beer or no beer,"
responded Watts.

"Any of them will amount to more with water than they will with beer,"
retorted Benjamin, who felt competent to support his side of the
question. He went on:

"Look here: 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 half-pence. Now, honestly,
is not this much better for me, or for yourself, than the same amount
of filthy beer?"

"Possibly; it is a new view of the case to me," was all that Mr. Watts
could say, evidently conceding that Benjamin was about right.

Benjamin exchanged the press-room for the composing-room, after a few
weeks.

"A treat now, Ben; that is the condition of admission here," said the
men.

"I guess not; I fulfilled that condition in the press-room," answered
Benjamin. "Once will do in this establishment."

"But you _will_," retorted a fellow-worker, enforced by a dozen
voices. "The rule is irrevocable."

"We will see about that," replied Benjamin, with coolness, but
determination.

"Yes, we _will_ see," chimed in a resolute voice.

"And after all your seeing and blustering I shall not do it," added
Benjamin, in a tone that indicated he meant what he said.

"Ben is right," interrupted Mr. Watts, who had listened to the
colloquy; "he has met that condition once in the press-room, and he
will not be required to repeat it. I forbid his doing it."

"It is a very foolish custom any way," said Benjamin, "and the sooner
it is abandoned in England or anywhere else the better."

After all he did not carry his point. His own words about the affair
were as follows:

"I stood out two or three weeks, was accordingly considered as an
excommunicate, and had so many little pieces of private malice
practised on me, by mixing my sorts, transposing and breaking my
matter, etc., etc., if ever I stepped out of the room,--and all
ascribed to the _chapel ghost_, which they said ever haunted those not
regularly admitted,--that, notwithstanding the master's protection, I
found myself obliged to comply and pay the money; convinced of the
folly of being on ill terms with those one is to live with
continually."

Benjamin kept up the fight against beer-drinking until he fairly
conquered. One after another yielded to his example and arguments, and
abandoned the old habit of swilling down beer, until a thorough
reformation was wrought in the printing office. The strength, health,
tact, and enterprise of the "_water-drinker_" convinced them that he
was right. The title, "_Our Water-drinker_" bandied about the printing
house, came to be really an appellation of esteem.

The printing press, on which Benjamin worked at Watts' printing house,
is now in the Patent Office at Washington, where many visitors go to
see it. Forty years after he worked on it, Franklin was in London,
where his fame was greater than that of any other man, and he called
at the old printing house, and going up to the familiar press, he said
to the employees:

"It is just forty years since I worked at this press, as you are
working now."

[Illustration: FRANKLIN'S LONDON PRINTING PRESS]

The announcement rather startled them. That a public man of so much
fame should ever have even served in a printing office as they were
serving, was almost too much for them to believe.

The publisher of this volume has in his possession _fac-simile_
letters from different gentlemen in England, fully verifying the press
the engraving of which appears above.



XXVIII.


AT HOME AGAIN.

We have seen that James Ralph and Benjamin parted company. Ralph had
more brains than heart. His intellectual powers were greater than his
principles. The reader may ask what became of him. After continuing
poor and unsuccessful, engaging in several literary ventures that did
little more than aggravate his poverty, and changing from one kind of
work to another, good fortune seemed to become his portion. Mr. Parton
says:

"As a political writer, pamphleteer, and compiler of booksellers'
history, he flourished long. Four ministers thought his pen worth
purchasing: Sir Robert Walpole, Mr. Pelham, Lord Bute, and the Duke of
Bedford. The nobleman last named evidently held him in high esteem,
and furnished the money for one of Ralph's political periodicals. Lord
Bute, it is said, settled upon him an annuity of six hundred pounds.
Fox praises the fairness, and Hallam the diligence, displayed in his
two huge folios of the 'History of William III.' His works may be
examined by the curious in the library of Harvard University and in
the Philadelphia city library. In estimating the career of this erring
man, we should not forget that many of the noblemen and statesmen with
whom he associated, and for whose advancement he toiled, had less
principle than he, and had not his excuse."[3]

"Swimming is one of the fine arts, I think," said Benjamin to Wygate,
a printer with whom he was on the most intimate terms. "I feel about
as much at home in the water as I do on the land."

"Well, I should go to the bottom pretty quick if I should venture
where the water is over my head, for I can't swim any more than this
printing-press can," answered Wygate.

"Why don't you learn? It might be of great use to you sometime."

"I should like to know how, but I never tried to learn."

"And that is a good reason for not knowing how to swim. You can't
expect to know any thing without learning. I can teach you without any
trouble."

"I accept your offer, and will try my best to learn; and Hall will try
with me, I think. You can teach two as well as one, can't you?"

"Yes, a dozen, so far as that goes; the more the merrier."

"When will you go?"

"Just when you please. You and Hall fix the time, and I will be on
hand."

The result was that Benjamin was in the water with his two pupils
within a few days, and he taught both of them to swim well in two
lessons. At the same time, he gave them an exhibition of what an
expert swimmer can do in the water, performing different feats on and
under the water, that filled his two companions with surprise.

"You are a water-American in more senses than one," remarked Wygate,
in admiration of Benjamin's pranks in the water. "You could live in
the water about as well as on the land."

"That is not strange," responded Hall; "he believes in water, inside
and outside; he only practises what he preaches, and that is what he
ought to do."

"Some people can't practise what they preach if they try ever so hard,
in business or in morals," rejoined Wygate.

Wygate was the son of a wealthy man, who educated him quite
thoroughly. He could read Latin and French about as well as he could
English, and he could write very entertaining articles. He was fond of
reading, too, and loved to discuss important questions. Such a young
man was not often found in a printing office, and he just suited
Benjamin in his literary tastes, so that they became boon companions.
Their mutual attachment was strengthened by this experience in the art
of swimming.

Not long after Wygate learned to swim, and while the feats that
Benjamin performed in the water were still a subject of remark, some
gentlemen proposed an excursion by water to Chelsea, several miles
from London.

"Wouldn't you like to go, Ben?"

"Of course I would, if you are going."

"I will go if you go. I will call round with some of the party and
introduce you to them."

This was done in due time, and Benjamin learned from them that they
were going to Chelsea "to see the college and Don Saltero's
curiosities," which object of the excursion more than doubled his
interest.

On the trip Wygate talked much with some of the party about Benjamin's
feats in the water as almost too wonderful to be believed. On
returning, one of the gentlemen said:

"Franklin, why can you not give us an exhibition of your antics in the
water?"

"Yes, Ben, do; let them see that what I have told them is literally
true," entreated Wygate.

"Come, Ben, do it," added Hall; "it will put Saltero's curiosities
into the shade. These gentlemen will be so interested in your
performances that they will forget all other curiosities."

"Well, I am always ready to accommodate," replied Benjamin, "and it
will not cross my disposition to have a little frolic in the water, so
I will consent."

So saying, he took off his clothing and leaped into the river, and was
soon as much at home there as a water-fowl. Sometimes he was under the
water, and sometimes on it; it did not seem to make much difference to
him which. He swam from Chelsea to Blackfriars, four miles,
entertaining the company with many manoeuvres all the way. Then he got
on board, arrayed himself in his apparel to hear such words of praise
as these:

"Wonderful! I had no idea that any man could attain to such skill in
the water."

"No one in London who can do that!"

"Nor in all England and Wales."

"Couldn't drown you, Franklin, if you were left in the middle of the
Atlantic ocean."

"You could make a fortune, if you chose to exhibit your skill."

As this brief experience, together with his teaching Wygate and Hall
to swim, won him quite a reputation on this line, we may state here,
that after Benjamin had decided to return to Philadelphia and arranged
therefor, he received a note from Sir William Wyndham, a noted public
man, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Bolingbroke
administration, inviting him to pay him a visit. Benjamin was again
perplexed to know what this great man could want of him; but he went
to see him.

"I am happy to see you, Mr. Franklin, and I hope it has been no
inconvenience to you to call at this time."

"None at all," answered Benjamin. "On the other hand, I consider
myself highly honored by your invitation to call; and I have gladly
embraced the first opportunity to do so."

"I have heard of your great skill in the art of swimming," continued
Sir Wyndham; "and how quickly you taught two young printers to swim."

"Yes," modestly answered Benjamin, "I have some skill in the water,
and I did teach two of my companions the art of swimming, so that they
are excellent swimmers now."

"That is what I heard; and I have two sons who are soon to start upon
extensive travels, and I want they should learn to swim before they
go. It may be of great service to them."

"I have no doubt it would prove a benefit to them," responded
Benjamin. "I should not want to part with my skill for any
consideration whatever."

"Can you teach my two sons the art at once?"

"I regret to say that I can not, for the reason that I am soon to
leave London and return to America."

"Sorry for that, very sorry indeed. Allow me to suggest that, if you
could prolong your stay here, you might make a real pecuniary success
of establishing a swimming school. I should be willing to pay almost
any price for the instruction of my two sons." Sir Wyndham was very
earnest in his counsel, and made this suggestion sincerely.

"I really feel under great obligations for your interest and good
opinions," Benjamin answered; "but I have already accepted an
invitation to engage in business in Philadelphia, my home, and may
leave within a few days."

"That settles the matter, of course; but I am sorry that it is so,"
added Sir Wyndham. "I trust that you may prosper wherever you are."

Benjamin thanked him heartily for his complimentary words and good
wishes, and left him, almost wishing that he could cancel his
engagement with Mr. Denham and open a swimming school. Wygate and Hall
assured him that he could do well in that business.

Soon after the excursion to Chelsea, Wygate made known to Benjamin a
scheme that was in his mind.

"I want to travel extensively over Europe," he said, "and I have
decided to do it if you will become my traveling companion. We can
stop as necessity requires, from time to time, and work at our
business, so as to pay our way."

"I should like nothing better than to travel all over Europe,"
answered Benjamin. "I have a desire to see more than I have seen of
this part of the world."

"Well, what do you think of the plan?"

"I should say that it is practicable, although the suggestion is
entirely new to me. Could we get work at our business?"

"I took it for granted that we could," replied Wygate. "I have no more
means of knowing than you have."

"I should take it for granted that we could, too," said Benjamin;
"still I shall want to consider it; it is quite an enterprise to
undertake."

"Somewhat of a scheme; but a very interesting and instructive one if
successfully prosecuted."

"That is so, and I think favorably of it. I will consult my good
friend, Denham, about it. He has seen more of the world than we have."

Benjamin was evidently favorably impressed with the proposition; for
he embraced the first opportunity to lay the subject before Mr.
Denham.

"It does not strike me favorably," said Mr. Denham.

"We could both see and learn a great deal," remarked Benjamin.

"That is true; but other things are to be considered, which are of
equal importance. What might do for Wygate, whose home is here, might
not do for you, whose home is in America."

"That may be." Benjamin's brief reply indicated that he was not quite
certain on that point.

"It appears to me," continued Mr. Denham, "that your first thoughts
should be concerned about returning to Philadelphia, that you may set
up business for yourself there."

"I do not see much prospect of that at present. Of course I should be
glad to return home; for there is no place I prefer to Philadelphia."

"So far as prospects of which you speak are concerned, we can not
always judge; unexpected opportunities sometimes offer; and you do not
want to put yourself where you can not accept and use them."

"Of course not," Benjamin answered, evidently disappointed that his
friend did not endorse the scheme.

"I should recommend decidedly that you abandon the project entirely,
and think no more about it. Then you can continue your work with the
intention of returning to America whenever a favorable opportunity
occurs."

Benjamin accepted the advice of Mr. Denham, and reported to Wygate, to
the no small disappointment of the latter; and both discarded the
scheme and devoted themselves to honest labor.

Benjamin heard of a place where he could get boarded at two shillings
a week, when he was paying three shillings and sixpence a week in Duke
Street.

"I think I shall be under the necessity of changing," he said to the
widow with whom he was boarding. "I want to save all the money I can,
so as to return to America."

"I shall be very sorry to have you leave, Mr. Franklin, if I can
possibly arrange with you to remain."

"I have no desire to leave, except to save a little in my expenses,
that I may return to America sooner: that is all."

"Rather than have you go, I will deduct two shillings a week from what
you are paying me now."

"That is, you propose to board me for one shilling and sixpence a
week?"

"Yes, that is it, and it is a bargain if you say so."

"It is a bargain, then." And Benjamin continued to board there as long
as he remained in London.

Before this woman received him for a boarder in the first place, she
sent to the printing house to inquire about his character. The report
was so favorable that she took him to board. And now she had tried
him, and was a greater admirer of his character than ever.

It is one of the things to be said in Benjamin's favor, that, with all
his faults, he always pleased and satisfied his employers and
boarding-house keepers.

Benjamin records the following interesting incident respecting his
friend Denham, of whom we have spoken, and to whom we shall refer
again:

"I must record one trait of this good man's character. He had formerly
been in business at Bristol, but failed, in debt to a number of
people, compounded, and went to America. There, by a close application
to business as a merchant, he acquired a plentiful fortune in a few
years. Returning to England in the ship with me, he invited his old
creditors to an entertainment, at which he thanked them for the easy
composition they had favored him with, and, when they expected nothing
but the treat, every man at the first remove found under his plate an
order on a banker for the full amount of the unpaid remainder, with
interest."

It was this excellent man and friend, who finally approached Benjamin
with a proposition.

"How would you like to return to Philadelphia?" he said to Benjamin.

"I should like nothing better, if the way was open for me to go."

"I will open a way for you if you will go."

"How?"

"I am going myself. I intend to open a store of goods in Philadelphia,
and will employ you in the business, if you will go."

"I should like to go; but that will be a new business for me; perhaps
I shall not succeed in it."

"That is _my_ lookout. I think you will succeed; at any rate, I am
prepared to take the risk."

"And I am prepared to go if you will." Benjamin was really delighted
with the proposition.

"I will pay you fifty pounds for one year, and increase your wages
thereafter as you become familiar with the business."

"That offer is satisfactory, though it is not as much as I make at my
trade now."

"It will be better if you succeed. When you become well acquainted
with the business, I will send you with a cargo of bread and flour to
the West Indies, and I will procure you commissions from others that
will be profitable. In this way you can establish a good business for
yourself."

"That is a very generous offer on your part, and I hope that I shall
merit your kindness."

"It will be necessary for you to close up your business at the
printing house at once, as I want you to assist me in purchasing,
packing, and shipping goods. My purpose is to carry a large stock to
Philadelphia."

"I shall accept your proposition, and resign my position at Watts'
immediately, and be at your service early and late."

Benjamin, no doubt, was more interested to return to America on
account of his relation to Miss Deborah Read. He had written to her
but once, and that was directly after he began work at Palmer's
printing house. He told her of Keith's fraud practised upon him,
leaving him in London a stranger and nearly penniless, so that he
could not return until he had earned money enough to pay his passage.
He did not write to her again, and his conscience had condemned him,
so that, at times, he dwelt sadly upon his unfaithfulness. He
neglected to write for so long a time, that he became ashamed to write
at all; and so the correspondence dropped. Yet, he did not forget Miss
Read, nor cast her off; and he blamed himself every time his thoughts
dwelt upon his sin of omission.

Benjamin's employer was very sorry to part with him.

"I am glad to have you as long as I have," he said, "but I wish you
would stay. I feel safe to commit work or business to your care. If
ever I can do you a favor, let me know, and I will only be too glad to
do it."

"I thank you for your confidence. I have done the best for you I
could, as I always mean to do for every employer. I regret to leave
you, and my companions with whom I have spent so many hours. But I
have a strong desire to return home." Benjamin spoke with considerable
feeling.

"That is an honorable desire," answered Mr. Watts, "and I have no
doubt that you will be prospered in gratifying it. At any rate, I hope
you will."

So Benjamin separated from his old friends on the best of terms, and
commenced work for Mr. Denham. Nor was it light work. He accompanied
his employer from warehouse to warehouse, packing goods that he
bought, and forwarding them to the ship _Berkshire_, which would sail
on July 21st. It was new business for him, but he liked it all the
more for its novelty; and he performed the labors with his accustomed
tact and industry.

Benjamin had been nineteen months in London when he sailed on the 21st
of July, 1726. A few months before, he made the acquaintance of Peter
Collinson, a young man of noble English birth, whose talents gave him
nearly as much standing as his ancestry. Collinson heard of Benjamin
and sought him out, forming a life-long friendship. Collinson
accompanied Benjamin to the ship. Just before the vessel weighed
anchor, he handed his walking-stick to Benjamin, saying, "Let us
exchange."

Benjamin exchanged, replying, "And let it be a pledge of friendship
forever."

"And a pledge, also, of faithful correspondence with each other,"
added Collinson, as they shook hands and parted.

The _Berkshire_, Henry Clark, master, was eighty-two days on its
voyage to Philadelphia. Benjamin landed there on the 11th day of
October, 1726: and he was at home again.

[3] "Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin," vol. i. p. 136.



XXIX.


UPS AND DOWNS OF LIFE.

One of the first places that Benjamin visited was the printing house
of Keimer, where he worked before leaving the country. Keimer had made
up his mind that Benjamin would never return to America, so that when
he entered the printing office he was startled.

"Why, Ben! can it be you?" he exclaimed in wonder. "I began to think
that you would never be seen in Philadelphia again."

"Why did you think so?"

"Because you planned to be back here a long time ago; I concluded that
you had forsaken us."

"Not yet; I have seen no place abroad quite equal to Philadelphia. I
did not return as soon as I expected." And Benjamin rehearsed to
Keimer substantially his experience with Governor Keith, that he might
understand why his return was delayed.

"That is what you got for concealing your purpose," said Keimer. "I
could have told you that Keith was wholly unreliable, and so could a
good many other people. He has been turned out of office because of
his rascality."

"I am glad to hear that. I am a little curious to see how he will act,
and hear what he will say, when I meet him."

"He won't meet you if he can help it. I see him occasionally on the
street, and he looks crestfallen."

"He will look more so, I imagine, when he meets me. I propose to talk
matters over very plainly with him."

"That can do no good. The less breath you waste in that way, the
better for you," replied Keimer. "But I suppose you want to go to work
at your old trade? Plenty of work here, and you are just the man to do
it."

Keimer's business had increased largely, and he had added many
facilities for doing work, so that the establishment presented a more
attractive appearance.

"No; I am a printer no longer," answered Benjamin. "I am booked for
the mercantile business in Philadelphia"

"How is that? Were you not a printer in London?"

"Yes, I followed my trade there, and learned more about it than I ever
knew before. London is a great place for printing. Two printing houses
there, with more than fifty hands in each."

"Think you can do better in trading than printing?" asked Keimer, who
was really anxious for Benjamin's services.

"Not exactly so. But I should be in London now, had not Mr. Denham's
offer to become his clerk brought me home." And Benjamin told the
story of his acquaintance with Mr. Denham and the outcome, which was
his offer to make him his business manager.

"A good opportunity, I should think, if you like that business,"
answered Keimer; "but I should like to put you in manager of my
printing office. You have had the experience, and understand the
business much better than any man I have."

"That is out of the question now, of course, as I am under obligations
to Mr. Denham."

"Of course; I only meant to tell you what I would do if you were at
liberty."

Benjamin was anxious to learn about Miss Read, whom he was quite
ashamed to meet because of his neglect. Keimer was acquainted with the
family, and first introduced him to them, as was stated in a former
chapter. So that he had no doubt he would know all about Deborah. He
ventured to inquire:

"What can you tell me about Mrs. Read and her daughter?"

"Mrs. Read lives where she did, and continues to take a few boarders.
Her daughter was married to a miserable fellow, nearly a year ago, but
lived with him only a few weeks, when she left him."

"Indeed! That was unfortunate for her," Benjamin answered. "She
deserves a better experience than that."

"She would not have married, had she been left to her own choice, but
her mother and other friends persuaded her. Rogers was her husband's
name, and he was a potter by trade, a first-class workman; and they
thought he was capable of getting a good living, I suppose."

"A good character would have been of more service to him," suggested
Benjamin; "a very unfortunate affair."

"I was going to sway," continued Keimer, "that she had been married
but a few weeks before she found that Rogers had another wife. Of
course her marriage was not legal, and she left him at once."

"Probably her mother made no inquiry about Rogers' character
beforehand," remarked Benjamin. "Mothers ought to be wiser than that."

"We all have to live and learn, and experience is our best
schoolmaster," added Keimer.

Keimer knew nothing of Benjamin's relation to Deborah Read, so that he
spoke freely. The revelation was startling to Benjamin, and it set him
to thinking. He concluded that Mrs. Read inferred from his first and
only letter to Deborah that he would never return, or never be in a
situation to support a wife and family; and, as time went on, and no
other letters were received, she became fixed in her conclusion that
he would not return. Benjamin took all the blame upon himself; and the
honest sympathy of his heart asserted itself for the girl. He resolved
to call upon her as soon as possible and confess his wrong-doing, ask
her forgiveness, and renew his attentions.

"I should have said," Keimer added, "that Deborah has not changed her
name. She refuses to be called Mrs. Rogers, and is still called Miss
Read by her friends. This is all right, I suppose, because her
marriage was illegal."

"Very wise for her, I think," responded Benjamin. "But she may
consider herself fortunate to get released from such a bondage."

He improved the first opportunity to call at Mrs. Read's, to whom he
appeared as one from the dead. She had not heard of his arrival, nor
that he was expected. The _American Weekly Mercury_, the only
newspaper of the town, announced, "Entered inwards, ship _Berkshire_,
Henry Clark, from London." That was all; nothing was said about any
passengers.

"Benjamin Franklin!" exclaimed Mrs. Read in great astonishment,
throwing up her hands at first, as if fearing it was his ghost, and
then giving him a most cordial welcome. "Can it be you?"

"It can be," Benjamin replied, with his old-time familiarity, being
reassured by Mrs. Read's friendly appearance. "If I know myself, this
is Benjamin Franklin."

Deborah made her appearance before the last words were fairly off the
lips of the new comer, equally surprised and glad to see her old
friend.

"I am really ashamed to meet you, Deborah, after my inexcusable
neglect," he said, "and first of all I ask you to forgive me. It
scarcely seems possible to myself that I should treat you so."

Before Deborah had time to reply her mother spoke:

"If there is any blame to be attached to any one, it is to me; for I
opposed your engagement, and entreated Deborah to marry that apology
for a man Rogers."

"But all that does not excuse me for not writing to Deborah,"
responded Benjamin "It was very wrong in me to treat her with such
neglect. And I did not intend to do so; I meant to continue the
correspondence, but one thing and another prevented for so long a
time, that I really was ashamed to write."

"Well, it is all over now, and there is no help for what has been
done, except to learn a good lesson from it for the future, if we are
all bright enough to do that."

Mrs. Read swept the deck by these last remarks. There was no obstacle
now to consummate an engagement with Deborah. She did not tell
Benjamin to go ahead and make sure of his bird now, that she would not
interpose the slightest objection; but she might as well have said so;
and he so understood it, so that he felt perfectly at ease.

Deborah Read had never lost her first love, and never wholly abandoned
the idea that her lover would return. She had no love for Rogers when
she married him; she married him to please her mother. Now, her love
for Benjamin was as fresh and strong as ever; and so was his love for
her. Their intimacy was renewed, an engagement consummated.

Benjamin was twenty years old--a fine-appearing, handsome young man.
Mr. Denham thought so, and so did Deborah Read. The first was
fortunate in securing him for his clerk, and the second was equally
fortunate in securing him for her future husband. And Benjamin himself
was as fortunate as either of them in having such an employer as
Denham, and such a betrothed as Deborah. It was a tidal wave of good
fortune now.

"And I am prepared to go to work at once."

"I will pay you extra wages to take the whole charge of the printing
office, so that I can give my attention to the stationer's shop."

"I can do that, or any thing else you desire; am not at all
particular. I am now twenty-one years old, and ought to be a man any
way, and do the best I can wherever I am put."

Keimer's offer was liberal, and Benjamin accepted it, and entered upon
his work as superintendent of the printing house, a very responsible
position. But, in a short time, he had good reason to believe that
Keimer paid him so liberal wages because he wanted the poor printers
to improve under his superintendence; and when that end was
accomplished, he would cut down his wages, or hire another man for
less money. However, he went to work with a will, as he always did,
resolved to do the best he could for his employer.

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 uncivil in his treatment,
frequently found fault with him, and plainly tried to make his
situation 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
learn what was the matter. Keimer happened to be in the street, and
seeing him, cried out:

"Put your head in and attend to your business," adding some
reproachful words which all the people around him heard. Then
hastening up stairs into the office, he continued his insulting
language.

"Men who work for me must give better heed to their business. If they
care more for a noise in the street than they do for their work, it is
high time they left."

"I am ready to leave any time you please," retorted Benjamin, nettled
by such uncalled-for treatment. "I am not dependent on you for a
living, and I shall not bear such treatment long, I assure you."

"That, indeed!" replied Keimer, derisively. "You would not stay
another day were it not for our agreement, in accordance with which I
now warn you that, at the end of this quarter, I shall cease to employ
you."

"And I will notify you that I shall not work another minute for you. A
man who is neither honest, nor a gentleman, does not deserve the
service of decent men." Benjamin was aroused.

And, as he spoke these last cutting words, he took his hat and left.
As he passed down, he said to Meredith:

"Bring all my things to my lodgings."

In the evening, Meredith carried all the articles belonging to
Benjamin to his boarding-place, where he had a long interview.

"Keimer lost the last claim for respect that he had on his men
to-day," said Meredith. "Not a man in his establishment, who does not
condemn his course."

"Just what I expected. He does not want to pay me my price, now that
the men have learned their business. This was the first occasion he
has had to drive me off." Benjamin spoke with the utmost coolness.

"It is the worst act for himself that he has done," continued
Meredith. "Every man he employs would leave him if work could be had
elsewhere."

"I think I shall return to Boston, whether I remain there or not. It
is a good time for me to visit my friends."

"I have something better than that to suggest. My thoughts have been
busy on it all day, and I wanted to see you about it to-night before
you laid any plans." Meredith's manner indicated something of
importance.

"What have you to propose? I am ready for any practicable enterprise
you can name."

"I want to set up the printing business for myself, and I am not
sufficiently acquainted with it, and you are. Can we not arrange to go
into business together?"

Meredith's proposition took Benjamin by surprise, and evidently seemed
impracticable to him.

"And have poverty for our capital?" replied Benjamin with a laugh. "I
am about as rich as you are."

"No; have money for our capital, all that is necessary to start us
well in business," answered Meredith.

"That would be fine, I declare; but I would like to see the money
first," added Benjamin, before Meredith could explain.

"Hold on a minute, let me explain, and you will see that my plan is
not so impracticable as you seem to think. My father has money; and he
has always said that he would start me in business whenever I got a
good knowledge of it. He knows, of course, that I have not that
knowledge yet; but he knows, too, that a man who can run Keimer's
establishment has the requisite knowledge, and would be a good partner
for me."

"But your father will never advance the necessary capital,"
interrupted Benjamin. "If I was ten years older he might do it."

"I am confident that he will; at any rate, I will consult him about
the matter, and learn just what he will do. I have told him all about
you, and he will think it is a good opportunity for me."

Meredith consulted his father, and received the prompt answer:

"Yes, I will do it gladly. I know of no young man I would select for
your partner in preference to Franklin."

In a subsequent interview with Benjamin, Mr. Meredith said:

"I am all the more ready to furnish the capital, because your
influence over my son has been so good. You influenced him to stop
drinking when he was fast becoming intemperate, and I shall always
feel grateful for it. You are just the one to be intimately associated
with him."

It was settled that they should enter into partnership, and start
their business as soon as the necessary outfit could be obtained from
England.



XXX.


THE LEATHERN-APRON CLUB.

Benjamin began to reflect much upon his religious opinions (or,
rather, irreligious), on his return voyage from England, as related to
the errors and mistakes of his life. He had much time, during those
three long, wearisome months, to study himself, past and present.
Evidently he came to possess a more correct knowledge of himself on
that voyage than he ever had before. He was so sincere in the matter
that he drew up a number of rules by which to regulate his future
life. A year and more afterwards he enlarged and perfected this code
of morals. The rules which he adopted on the _Berkshire_ were prefaced
with the following paragraph:

"Those who write of the art of poetry teach us that, if we would write
what may be worth reading, we ought always, before we begin, to form a
regular plan and design of our piece, otherwise we shall be in danger
of incongruity. I am apt to think it is the same as to life. I have
never fixed a regular design of life, by which means it has been a
confused variety of different scenes. I am now entering upon a new
one; let me, therefore, make some resolutions, and form some scheme of
action, that thenceforth I may live like a rational creature."

The closing sentence shows that his conscience was making him
considerable trouble, and that he concluded his life had been very
irrational. Perhaps he thought of Collins, whom he made a free
thinker, and of Ralph, whom he corrupted in the same way. One of them
became a drunkard, and the other a polygamist; both of them cheating
him out of a sum of money; might not their free thinking be related to
their immoralities? He could not help thinking of these things, and so
he wrote down the following rules:

"1. It is necessary for me to be extremely frugal for some time till I
have paid what I owe.

"2. To endeavor to speak truth in every instance; to give nobody
expectations that are not likely to be answered, but aim at sincerity
in every word and action; the most amiable excellence in a rational
being.

"3. To apply myself industriously to whatever business I take in hand,
and not divert my mind from my business by any foolish project of
growing suddenly rich; for industry and patience are the surest means
of plenty.

"4. I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever, not even in a matter of
truth; but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged upon
others, and, upon proper occasions, speak all the good I know of every
body."

This was not all he wrote to guide his future career; but we have
cited enough to show the current of Benjamin's thoughts at the time of
which we are speaking. We shall see hereafter that he did not cease to
reflect upon his career, and resolve upon a nobler life.

Soon after his return from England, perhaps after the death of Mr.
Denham, Benjamin organized a literary club, composed, at first, of
eleven members, all of them more or less talented and desirous of
self-improvement, and nearly all of them mechanics, which fact caused
the institution to be christened "THE LEATHERN-APRON CLUB," although
the real name of it, as suggested by Franklin, was "THE JUNTO."

The society was patterned after one formed by Cotton Mather in Boston.
The first thing done at their meetings was to read the following
questions, pausing after reading each for any remarks or propositions
members might desire to make. The principal questions were as follows:

"1. Is there any remarkable disorder in the place that requires our
endeavor for the suppression of it? And in what fair, likely way may
we endeavor it?

"2. Is there any particular person, whose disorderly behavior may be
so scandalous and notorious that we may do well to send unto the said
person our charitable admonitions? Or, are there any contending
persons whom we should admonish to quench their contentions?

"3. Is there any special service to the interest of Religion which we
may conveniently desire our ministers to take notice of?

"4. Is there any thing we may do well to mention unto the justices for
the further promoting good order?

"5. Is there any sort of officers among us to such a degree unmindful
of their duty that we may do well to mind them of it?

"6. Can any further methods be devised that ignorance and wickedness
may be chased from our people in general, and that household piety in
particular may flourish among them?

"7. Does there appear any instance of oppression or fraudulence in the
dealings of any sort of people that may call for our essays to get it
rectified?

"8. Is there any matter to be humbly moved unto the Legislative Power,
to be enacted into a Law for the public benefit?

"9. Do we know of any person languishing under sore and sad
affliction; and is there any thing we can do for the succor of such an
afflicted neighbor?

"10. Has any person any proposal to make for our own further advantage
and assistance, that we ourselves may be in a probable and regular
capacity to pursue the intention before us?"

"I should pronounce that an ingenious society for doing good and
getting good," said Coleman, after the questions were read.

"It was so, and Cotton Mather himself was a member of twenty of these
societies," said Benjamin. "They became very popular, and I recall
with what interest my father participated in the meetings. I often
accompanied him, and, young as I was, they were very interesting to
me. It was that fact which suggested the questions I have reported for
our club."

When a person united with the Junto, he was required to stand up, lay
his hand on his heart, and answer the following questions:

"1. Have you any particular disrespect to any present member?

"_Answer_. I have not.

"2. Do you sincerely declare that you love mankind in general, of what
profession or religion soever?

"_Answer_. I do.

"3. Do you think any person ought to be harmed in his body, name, or
goods, for mere speculative opinion, or his external way of worship?

"_Answer_. No.

"4. Do you love truth for truth's sake; and will you endeavor
impartially to find and receive it yourself, and communicate it to
others?

"_Answer_. Yes."

At one of their earliest meetings Benjamin proposed that each member
(the number of members was limited to twelve) should bring his books
to the club-room for reference during their discussions.

"A capital idea," said Coleman, "and I would suggest that each member
have the privilege of reading the books belonging to other members."

"Another good idea," rejoined Benjamin; "I second that motion with all
my heart."

"It will not take any one of us a great while to read all the books we
can muster," suggested Potts.

At that time there was no bookstore in Philadelphia, nor was there one
of considerable note anywhere in the Colonies, except in Boston. The
people of Philadelphia sent to England for the books they wanted,
which was expensive and inconvenient.

After this plan had been successfully used for several months,
Benjamin made another proposition.

"I propose that we establish a library, interesting parties outside to
join us in the enterprise."

"Raising money for the same by subscription, do you mean?" inquired
Maugridge.

"Yes; unless there is a better way of doing it."

"I doubt if outsiders can be interested to join us in such a project,"
said Grace. "Few people care enough about books to put money into such
an enterprise."

"Perhaps so; but we can try; if we fail we shall still be as well off
as we are now," was Benjamin's answer. "Unless we make the effort we
shall never know what we can do."

"And you are the one to solicit subscriptions, Ben," remarked Godfrey.
"If anybody can succeed, you can. If I should undertake and fail, as I
should, it would not prove that the scheme is impracticable."

"I am perfectly willing to solicit subscriptions, and I will begin at
once and be able to report success or failure at the next meeting,"
was Benjamin's generous offer.

At the following meeting he was able to report success, so far as he
had been able to work; and he continued until fifty young tradesmen
had pledged forty shillings each as a subscription, and, in addition,
ten shillings per annum. This was unexpected success, and the members
of the Junto were highly elated. Thus was established the first
circulating library in this country. Benjamin Franklin was the author
of it; and that library numbers now one hundred thousand volumes.
Since that day the library scheme has proved so beneficial to
individuals and the public, that there are thousands of circulating
libraries in the land. Almost every town of two or three thousand
inhabitants has one. It must not be forgotten, however, that Benjamin
Franklin conceived and reduced the idea to practice.

The following are some of the questions discussed by members of the
Junto:

"Is sound an entity or body?

"How may the phenomenon of vapors be explained?

"Is self-interest the rudder that steers mankind, the universal
monarch to whom all are tributaries?

"Which is the best form of government, and what was that form which
first prevailed among mankind?

"Can any one particular form of government suit all mankind?

"What is the reason that the tides rise higher in the Bay of Fundy
than the Bay of Delaware?

"Is the emission of paper money safe?

"What is the reason that men of the greatest knowledge are not the
most happy?

"How may the possession of the lakes be improved to our advantage?

"Why are tumultuous, uneasy sensations united with our desires?

"Whether it ought to be the aim of philosophy to eradicate the
passions?

"How may smoky chimneys be best cured?

"Why does the flame of a candle tend upwards in a spire?

"Which is the least criminal, a _bad_ action joined with a _good_
intention, or a _good_ action with a _bad_ intention?

"Is it inconsistent with the principles of liberty in a free
government, to punish a man as a libeller when he speaks the truth?"

The foregoing Rules and Questions show that it could not have been an
ordinary class of young men to meet and discuss such subjects.
Benjamin's talent is manifest both in the organization and the themes
considered.

Improvements have been the order of the day since the Junto was
organized; 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, two became surveyors-general;
one the inventor of a quadrant; one a distinguished mechanic and
influential man; one a merchant of great note and a provincial judge,
and all but one respected and honored men. At the same time, Benjamin,
the founder, became "Minister to the Court of St. James," "Minister
Plenipotentiary to France," and the greatest Statesman and Philosopher
of America, in the eighteenth century.

In old age Doctor Franklin said of the Junto: "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, every thing being studied in
our rules which might prevent our disgusting each other."

The Junto was copied in England fifty years after Benjamin organized
it in Philadelphia, by Cleming Jenkinson (who became Earl of
Liverpool) and others; and, within it, they began careers that became
illustrious. It has been copied in different parts of our own land
down to the present day, blessing the people and the country in more
ways than one.

"I can tell you how to get over the difficulty," said Benjamin: "let
each member get up a club of twelve, and that will give a chance for
one hundred and forty-four members."

"And when that number is attained, I suppose you will have each one of
the one hundred and forty-four organize a Junto, and that will make
the membership seventeen hundred and twenty-eight, enough to
constitute a good township," suggested Coleman, who did not endorse
Benjamin's plan.

"One Junto will be of more service to members, as well as to the
public, than a dozen can be, only abolish the limit to twelve members,
and allow all who desire to join," was Coleman's view.

"More interesting, also, to have a larger number of members,"
suggested Parsons. "Numbers create enthusiasm."

"And numbers often create friction, too," retorted Benjamin; "we want
to avoid both shoals and rocks."

"Another thing that I object to very much is this: if each one of us
organizes another Junto, we no longer associate with each other--the
very thing for which this Junto was organized." This was the strongest
objection that Coleman urged.

"That is the selfish side of the question," suggested Benjamin. "On
the other hand, there will be twelve times as many persons to be
benefited. If we twelve are benefited, how much better and grander to
have one hundred and forty-four benefited!"

"Ben is right; and I am of the opinion that the sooner we adopt this
plan the better. It will be unpleasant to sacrifice our social
connections to form new ones, but the new ones may become equally
pleasant." Scull thus supported Benjamin's proposition; and so did
Meredith, Maugridge, and others.

This discussion arose from the popularity of the Junto. It became so
popular that large numbers of persons wanted to join it, and besought
the members to abolish the rule limiting the membership to twelve.
Hence, Benjamin's proposition to meet the exigency, which was carried,
with this amendment:

"The new clubs shall be auxiliary to this, the original one, each
reporting its proceedings to the parent society, that one harmonious
purpose and plan may characterize all."

All the members did not organize a club, but five or six did, and
these clubs flourished for many years, blessing the town and the whole
colony.

The Junto was not many months old, when Benjamin made another
proposition.

"The books we read have words and phrases in other languages, and I do
not know their meaning. I studied Latin some in Boston, before I was
ten years old, and Latin words I can guess at, but French I can't.
Suppose we study French."

"You can study it if you want to," replied Scull, "but I have not the
time for another study."

"And I have not the taste for it," said Meredith. "One language is all
that I can handle, and I can't handle that as I want to."

"I like the suggestion," responded Coleman "and can give a little time
to French, though not a great deal. If Ben becomes an expert linguist
he can translate the foreign words and phrases for us."

"That last suggestion is best of all," remarked Parsons. "Ben can go
ahead and become a linguist for our benefit. That is the benevolent
side of this question," punning on his argument for the benevolent
side of the club question.

Whether other members of the Junto studied the languages we have no
means of knowing, but Benjamin did, with remarkable success. First he
studied French, and when he could read it quite well, he took up
Italian and Spanish. By this time he became so interested in foreign
languages that he revived his acquaintance with Latin, becoming quite
a good scholar therein. It was a mystery to his companions how he
found time to accomplish so much; but he did it by method and
industry, improving the smallest fragments of time, working early and
late. He was very fond of playing chess; but he denied himself the
pleasure wholly in order that he might have the more time for study.
While at Keimer's he found more time for reading and hard study,
because his employer observed Saturday as his Sabbath, giving only
five days in the week to work.



XXXI.


BRIGHTER DAYS.

It would require several months for the printing outfit ordered from
England to reach Philadelphia. In the mean time, Benjamin was
considering what to do; and, while canvassing the field, he received
the following note from Keimer:

   "PHILADELPHIA, 10 Dec., 1727.

   "MR. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN:

   "_Dear Sir_,--It is not wise for old friends like you and I to
   separate for a few words spoken in passion. I was very hasty, and
   am sorry for it. I want my old foreman back again at the old price.
   I have plenty of work, and if you think well of my proposition,
   come and see me.

   "Yours truly,

   "SAMUEL KEIMER."

Benjamin's first impulse was to destroy the letter and take no further
notice of it. But the second, sober thought led him to consult
Meredith, who continued to work for Keimer. Meredith read the letter,
and said:

"I should advise you to accept his proposition, as you have nothing to
do."

"But can you tell me what selfish end he has in view, for Keimer would
never come down like that unless he had an axe to grind?" Benjamin
said.

"Most certainly I can. He can have a government job if he can do the
work. The Province of New Jersey is going to make a new issue of paper
money, and he can get the job; but you are the only printer in
Philadelphia who can do that work, so he wants you."

"I knew there must be something of that sort, or he never would have
asked for my work again. He is too contemptible a man to work for."
Benjamin spoke with much feeling; and he was right, too.

"But here is the point," continued Meredith. "I am poorly equipped to
set up business for myself, and you can teach me. It will be anywhere
from six to eight months before our outfit arrives from England, so
here is a good opportunity for me to improve."

"I suppose that is the best way of looking at it; but Keimer has so
little manhood about him that I have no respect for him. I dislike to
work for a man whom I despise, and can't help it." Benjamin's language
showed that it was almost too much to ask him to return to Keimer's
printing office; but Meredith persevered.

"For my sake, I want you should decide to accept the proposition.
Keimer has made an apology, so that you can return without
compromising your manhood at all. It looks to me as if it were wiser
to accept his proposal than to decline it."

"I will sleep over it to-night before I decide, and let you know in
the morning," replied Benjamin, as he took his leave.

In the morning Benjamin put in his appearance at Keimer's office,
ready for work. He received a hearty welcome, and was at once apprized
of the paper-money job of New Jersey.

Benjamin succeeded in contriving and completing a copper-plate press;
and when cuts and ornaments were all ready, Keimer and he proceeded to
Burlington, N.J., where they remained three months to fulfill the
contract. It proved a rare school for Benjamin. It brought him in
contact with many prominent men, who were of much assistance to him
afterwards. He was so much more intelligent than Keimer, that the
latter was of little consequence, as very little notice was taken of
him. One day Isaac Decon, the surveyor-general, said to him:

"You are complete master of your business, and success is before you."

"I have improved my opportunities," modestly answered Benjamin, "and
done the best I could to learn my trade. I don't like the half-way
method of doing business."

"I commenced business in a very humble way," continued Decon, "without
dreaming that I should ever possess such an estate as I do now."

"What was your business?"

"I wheeled clay for the brickmakers, and had no opportunity of going
to school 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, and not a
little perseverance, I have succeeded in reaching the place where you
now see me."

"That is the only way any person ever reached an honorable position,"
remarked Benjamin, after listening to the interesting story of
success.

"You are right in that view, and one-half of the battle is fought when
correct views of life are fixed. When an employer like Keimer is
inferior to his employee in ability, tact, and enterprise, there is a
very poor show for him. If you set up for yourself in Philadelphia,
you will work him completely out of his business."

Late in the spring of 1728 the printing outfit arrived from England.
Benjamin and Meredith had settled with Keimer, who was unusually happy
because his profits on his paper-money job in New Jersey had tided him
over very discouraging embarrassments. Keimer knew nothing of their
plans, however, when a settlement was consummated, as both had kept
the secret. The first intimation that he, or the public, had of such
an enterprise, was the opening of their printing house in the lower
part of Market Street--"FRANKLIN & MEREDITH."

"Here's a man looking for a printer," said George House, an old friend
of Benjamin. "He inquired of me where he could get a job done, and I
told him that here was the place above all others."

"Thank you for the advertisement, George. Yes, sir, we can serve you
here at short notice. What will you have done?" Benjamin won the
customer over at once by his genial, familiar way.

The man made known his wants; and it proved to be a five-shilling job,
all the more acceptable because it was the first.

With the members of the Junto all interested in his success, and the
public men of New Jersey, who made his acquaintance at Burlington,
Benjamin's business was soon well advertised. Many people were taken
by surprise, and most of them predicted a failure, since there were
two printers in town already. One day Samuel Nickle, an old citizen of
the town, known somewhat as a croaker, was passing by, and, looking
up, he read the sign.

"Another printing house!" he said to himself. "And two in town
already! Who can be so thoughtless?" He stopped and mused a few
moments, and then entered.

"Are you the young man who has opened this printing house?" he
inquired of Benjamin.

"I am, sir."

"I am very sorry for you. You are throwing away your money; you can't
succeed with two old printing houses here. You will fail."

"What makes you think 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 indicates thrift," answered
Benjamin. "See how many buildings are going up, and how rents are
rising every month. This does not look like going backward, it seems
to me."

"These are the very things that will ruin us," responded Nickle. "They
are no evidence of prosperity, but of extravagance, that will bring
disaster sooner or later."

"That sort of disaster is what we want," suggested Benjamin; "the more
of it the better. If Philadelphia ever becomes much of a town, it will
be in just that way." Benjamin saw at once that he was talking with a
croaker and treated him accordingly.

There was an organization of business men in Philadelphia at that
time, known as the "Merchants' Every-Night Club," answering, perhaps,
to a "Board of Trade" of our day. Its purpose was to advance the
business interests of the town. A member raised the question, "Can
another printing house prosper in town?"

"Not with the present population," was the view of one member.

"It will be a long time before three printing houses will be
required," remarked another.

"They could not have had very discreet advisers, it seems to me,"
still another remarked.

In this manner the subject was canvassed, every member but one
predicting the failure of the enterprise. That one was Doctor Baird, a
prominent physician, and he said:

"It will prove a success. For the industry of that Franklin is
superior to any thing 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 neighbors
are out of bed."

"Doctor, I guess you are right, I did not think of that when I spoke,"
remarked one who had predicted failure. This member was so much
impressed by Doctor Baird's remark that he subsequently went to
Benjamin and made this proposition:

"I think you can add a stationer's department to your business, and
thus increase your profits; and if you think so, I will furnish you
with stock on credit."

"Your offer is a very generous one, and I thank you for it," answered
Benjamin; "but I think we had better stick to our trade at present and
not put too many irons in the fire at once."

"That is a wise caution, I think, and I am all the more impressed that
you are a young man of sound judgment, and you will succeed."

He had no doubt now that the printing house would succeed.

"Your good opinion encourages me very much, and I shall do my best to
have it realized," replied Benjamin. "I thank you very much for your
generous offer, and, perhaps, at some future day, I shall wish to
accept it."

"Let me know whenever you are ready for it," said the gentleman as he
took his departure.

"We will start a weekly paper as soon as we are able," said Benjamin
to Meredith one day; "the _Mercury_ is as near nothing as it can be. I
believe that an able paper here, abreast with the times, will
succeed."

"You can make it succeed if any one can," replied Meredith, to whom
his partner had given a full account of his connection with the _New
England Courant_ in Boston.

They canvassed the subject until it was decided to start a weekly
paper as soon as their pecuniary condition would permit. Just then the
Oxford student, whose time Keimer had bought, called upon Benjamin.

"Will you employ me as journeyman printer?" he asked.

"Employ you?" responded Benjamin with much surprise. "I thought your
time was Keimer's for four years."

"It was; but it is not now; I have bought it back."

"I am glad to hear that; you will be more of a man for it; and, before
long, I think we should like your work; just now we are not in want of
more help."

"Your work is increasing, I suppose?" said Webb; "hope I shall not
have to wait long."

"If you can keep a secret, Webb, I will let you into it," continued
Benjamin. "I expect to start a weekly paper before many weeks have
passed; and then I shall have plenty of work."

"How long shall I have to wait?"

"I can't say. It is possible I may want you before I start the
newspaper; work is coming in very well. But you must not let Keimer
know about the paper. When it starts I want it should be a surprise to
him and the public."

"I will not divulge your secret," was Webb's ready promise.

Nevertheless, Webb did disclose the secret to Keimer himself, who
proceeded to start a paper of his own, called the _Pennsylvania
Gazette_, and he hired Webb, at good wages, to work on it. It proved
to be a miserable affair, without ability or intelligent enterprise,
so that a sharp, witty young man like Benjamin could readily make it a
"laughing-stock."

"I will show up his ignorance and conceit in the _Mercury_" (name of
the paper already published by Bradford), he said to Meredith. "See if
I don't."

"A good idea, Ben; go ahead; it will create a sensation. Bradford will
be glad to publish any thing you may write."

"I will see him at once." And Benjamin hastened to the office of the
_Mercury_, made known his purpose to Bradford, who caught at it at
once."

"Just the thing I want," responded Bradford. "Let me have something
for the next issue."

"Certainly; you shall have the first article to-morrow morning."

Benjamin hurried away with his mind completely absorbed upon the
subjects he should take up. The result was a series of amusing
articles, in which he burlesqued Keimer's proposals, and ridiculed his
editorials, which really deserved nothing better. He continued to
write in this way several months, signing all his articles "_Busy
Body_." The public were greatly interested in the communications,
because of their real merit. They were bright, even sparkling, full of
humor, logical to sharpness, and charged with ability. They drew
public attention to Bradford's paper, and public ridicule to Keimer's;
so that the subscription list of the former increased, while that of
the latter never had over ninety subscribers. People on every hand
inquired, "Who is _Busy Body_?" And, finally, the public learned that
it was "that young Franklin, the printer." Keimer learned who his
critic was; and, after the lapse of six or eight months from the time
the first number was issued, who should appear before Benjamin at his
office but him, saying:

"I understand that you think of starting a weekly newspaper; and I
have come to sell you mine."

"How is that? Can't you make it go?" Benjamin replied in a familiar
way.

"No, not as I want to. I don't think I am exactly qualified to run a
newspaper."

"How many subscribers have you?"

"Ninety."

"Only ninety?" exclaimed Benjamin. "That number will be of no aid in
starting a paper; might as well start new; new paper, new title, new
editor, new every thing."

The conclusion of the interview was, however, that Benjamin purchased
the paper, took possession immediately, advertised his literary
enterprise, and "it proved," as he said, "in a few years extremely
profitable to me."

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 every thing about his business was conducted
on the most economical principles. He wheeled home the paper which he
bought, boarded himself some of the time, sleeping in the office, and
never stopped to consider whether it was compromising the dignity of a
printer to do such things.

Keimer left no stone unturned to secure business and cripple Franklin
and Meredith. He was never half so active and enterprising as he
became after these two young men set up for themselves. One day Keimer
was in Benjamin's printing office to transact some business, when the
latter said to him:

"Look here, Keimer; come with me into the back room."

"What you got there?" Keimer answered, following.

"See that!" Benjamin said, pointing to a half-devoured loaf and
pitcher of water, that he had just made a meal off.

"What of that?" said Keimer, not comprehending the drift of Benjamin's
remark.

"Unless you can live cheaper than I can, it is no use for you to
attempt to run me out of business."

Both laughed, and Keimer departed.

The _Gazette_ flourished finely from the time it came under Benjamin's
management. He was able to discuss public questions of importance with
manifest ability, and his articles created interest and discussion
among public men, who became subscribers in consequence. A dispute was
going on between Governor Burnett and the Massachusetts Assembly, and
Benjamin commented upon it with so much wisdom and originality that
his intimate acquaintance was sought by the most distinguished men.

Benjamin's work as a printer excelled that of either Keimer or
Bradford. The latter did the government printing, and often it was
done in a very bungling manner. This was notably so when he printed an
address of the House to the Governor. It was a very inferior job;
whereupon Benjamin printed it elegantly and correctly and sent a copy
to each member of the House. The House voted to give him the
government printing thereafter. By his method of doing the _best_ he
could every time, he built up a business rapidly, and won a reputation
for industry, integrity, and ability that was worth more than money.

To return to Meredith. He had become more intemperate than ever. His
father, too, did not find relief from pecuniary embarrassment as he
expected. He was to pay two hundred pounds currency for the printing
house, and had paid one-half of it. But the other half was not paid
when due, for which all three were sued.

"Perhaps your father is not pleased with your partner," said Benjamin
to Meredith. "If that is the reason he does not advance the money, I
will retire, and you shall run the whole thing."

"No; my father is well satisfied with my partner, and so am I; so that
you need not think he is withholding money for the purpose of getting
rid of you. He is really embarrassed."

"Then he could not take the concern into his own hands for you to
run?"

"No, indeed; that would be quite impossible. Besides, I do not want it
on my hands."

"Why?" inquired Benjamin.

"Because I am satisfied that I am not adapted to this business. I was
bred a farmer, and ought not to have left that occupation."

"Drink water, as I do, and you may succeed as well at printing as
farming. A farmer who drinks to excess never succeeds."

"Drink or no drink," retorted Meredith, "I am sick of this business
and shall quit. Many of our Welsh people are going to settle in North
Carolina, where land is cheap, and I am going with them, and shall
follow my old employment."

"Then you will sell out your interest to me, if I understand you?"
That was what Benjamin wanted.

"Certainly; you can get enough friends to help 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."

"I will accept your proposition, and we will draw up the papers at
once," said Benjamin.

The bargain was consummated; and the proper papers were prepared,
signed, and sealed. Benjamin accepted the generous aid of Coleman and
Grace, and became sole proprietor of the printing house and
_Pennsylvania Gazette_. This was near the close of the year 1729, a
few months after the _Gazette_ came into his hands.

A few months more elapsed, when he concluded to accept the offer of
the gentleman, spoken of on a previous page, to provide a stock of
stationery, and opened a stationer's shop in his building. This proved
a good investment, and led to his marriage, September 1, 1730, to Miss
Deborah Read.

While Benjamin was thus prospering, Keimer was going to the wall; and
finally his printing office, with all its furniture, was sold under
the hammer to pay his creditors; and he went to Barbadoes, where he
lived in poverty.

Thus changes brought Benjamin to the front, and his printing house was
the best, doing the most business, of any one in the whole country,
except Boston. True, Bradford continued his business and paper; but in
a very small way, in no sense a rival to our hero. He stood at the
head.



XXXII.


NO LONGER A SKEPTIC.

"Time is money," Doctor Franklin wrote in age. It was what he
practised when he conducted his printing business in Philadelphia. One
day a lounger stepped into his shop, and, after looking over the
articles, asked:

"What is the price of that book?" holding it up in his hand. Benjamin
had commenced to keep a few books on sale.

"One dollar," answered the apprentice in attendance.

"One dollar," repeated the lounger; "can't you take less than that?"

"No less; one dollar is the price."

Waiting a few moments, and still looking over the book, he said, at
length:

"Is Mr. Franklin at home?"

"He is in the printing office."

"I want to see him; will you call him?"

Franklin was called.

"Mr. Franklin, what is the lowest price you will take for this book?"
at the same time holding up the book.

"One dollar and a quarter," answered Franklin, who had heard the
lounger's parleying with his apprentice.

"One dollar and a quarter! Your young man asked but a dollar."

"True," answered Franklin, "and I could have better afforded to take a
dollar then, than to have been called from my business."

The Customer seemed puzzled for a few moments, but, finally, concluded
that the proprietor was joking. He had not been wont to place so great
value upon time.

"Come, now, tell me just the lowest you will take for it," he said.

"One dollar and a half."

"A dollar and a half! Why you offered it yourself for a dollar and a
quarter."

"True, and I had better taken the price then, than a dollar and a half
now," retorted Benjamin with a good deal of spirit.

The buyer got the truth into his head at last, paid the price of the
book, and sneaked away, with the rebuke lying heavily on his heart.

Benjamin wrote of his industry at that time, as follows:

"My circumstances, however, grew daily easier. My original habits of
frugality continuing, and my father having, among his instructions to
me when a boy, frequently repeated a proverb of Solomon, "_Seest thou
a man diligent in his calling, he shall stand before kings, he shall
not stand before mean men_." I thence considered industry as a means
of obtaining wealth and distinction, which encouraged me; though I did
not think that I should ever literally _stand before kings_,--which,
however, has since happened; for I have stood before _five_, and even
had the honor of sitting down with one, the King of Denmark, to
dinner."

It is not strange that such a young man should write such maxims as
the following, in his riper years:

"Pride breakfasts with plenty, dines with poverty, and sups with
infamy."

"It is as truly folly for the poor to ape the rich, as for the frog to
swell in order to equal the ox."

"It is easier to suppress the first desire, than to satisfy all that
follow it."

His integrity was no less marked. Strict honesty characterized all his
dealings with men. An exalted idea of justice pervaded his soul. His
word of honor was as good as his note of hand. Even his disposition to
castigate and censure in his writings, so manifest in Boston, at
sixteen years of age, and which his father rebuked, was overcome.
After he had set up a paper in Philadelphia, a gentleman handed him an
article for its columns.

"I am very busy now," said Benjamin, "and you will confer a favor by
leaving it for perusal at my leisure."

"That I will do, and call again to-morrow."

The following day the author put in his appearance quite early.

"What is your opinion of my article?" he asked.

"Why, sir, I am sorry to say that I can not publish it."

"Why not? What is the matter with it?"

"It is highly scurrilous and defamatory," replied Benjamin; "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?"

We have seen that Benjamin began to revise his religious opinions on
his return voyage from England. He continued to reflect much upon his
loose ways; and there is no doubt that his integrity, industry,
economy, and desire to succeed in business had something to do with
his moral improvement. He confessed that, along from 1725 to 1730 he
was immoral, and was sometimes led astray; but his conscience made him
much trouble, and, finally, it asserted its supremacy, and he came off
conqueror over his evil propensities. A change from skepticism or
deism to a decided belief in the Christian Religion, no doubt exerted
the strongest influence in making him a better man.

In 1728 he prepared "_Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion_" for
his own use every day. This was his ritual, beginning and closing with
an humble prayer.

Three or four years later, he appears to have taken up this thought of
a religious life anew; and he prepared a code of morals, perhaps a
revision of his former Articles of Faith, wrote them out carefully in
a blank book for use, as follows:

 "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
habitation.

"11. TRANQUILITY.--Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common
or unavoidable.

"12. CHASTITY....

"13. HUMILITY.--Imitate Jesus and Socrates."

At one time he seriously thought of organizing a "United Party for
Virtue," in connection with which he prepared this religious creed:

"That there is one God, who made all things.

"That he governs the world by his providence.

"That he ought to be worshipped by adoration, prayer and thanksgiving.

"But that the most acceptable service to God is doing good to man.

"That the soul is immortal.

"And that God will certainly reward virtue and punish vice, either
here or hereafter."

His letters to relatives and friends, from this time, contained strong
words for the Christian Religion, and for the imitation of the virtues
practised by its Author. Through his long and useful life, he
continued to observe the doctrines and precepts that he named in the
foregoing extracts. He was a delegate to the convention for forming a
Constitution of the United States, which met at Philadelphia, May,
1787, and he introduced the motion for daily prayers, with remarks
thus:

"In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible
of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for the 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
favor. 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
can not fall to the ground without his notice, is it probably that an
empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the
sacred writings, that 'except the Lord build the house, they labor 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."

We will only add here an epitaph that he wrote for his own monument at
twenty-three years of age, supposed to have been a paper for the Junto:

"THE BODY OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, PRINTER (LIKE THE COVER OF AN OLD
BOOK, ITS CONTENTS TORN OUT, AND STRIPT OF ITS LETTERING AND GILDING),
LIES HERE, FOOD FOR WORMS. BUT THE WORK ITSELF SHALL NOT BE LOST, FOR
IT WILL, AS HE BELIEVED, APPEAR ONCE MORE, IN A NEW AND MORE ELEGANT
EDITION, REVISED AND CORRECTED BY THE AUTHOR."



XXXIII.


POOR RICHARD'S ALMANAC.

"I shall have to publish an almanac to be in fashion," remarked
Franklin to his old friend Coleman. "Every printer in this country
issues one, so far as I know."

From this point, we shall drop the Christian name, Benjamin, and use
the surname, Franklin.

"A good theme to discuss in the Junto," replied Coleman. "You would
publish a better one than the country ever had, if you should
undertake it."

"I shall make one that differs from all issued hitherto, in some
respects. I have devoted considerable thought to the subject, and have
formed a plan, although it has not taken an exact shape yet in my own
mind. I think I will bring it up in the Junto."

"By all means do it," added Coleman; "two or more heads may be better
than one alone, even if the one contains more than all the rest."

"Much obliged," answered Franklin. "It will aid me essentially to
mature my plans, to exchange views with the members of the Junto. I
will introduce it at the very next meeting."

The subject was introduced into the Junto, as proposed, and every
member hailed the project with delight. Franklin's paper had become
the most popular one in the country, in consequence of the ability
with which it discussed public questions, and the sharp, crisp wisdom
and wit that made every issue entertaining; and the members believed
that he could make an almanac that would take the lead. The discussion
in the Junto settled the question of issuing the almanac. Its
appearance in 1732 proved a remarkable event in Franklin's life, much
more so than his most sanguine friends anticipated.

The Almanac appeared, with the title-page bearing the imprint: "By
Richard Saunders, Philomat. Printed and sold by B. Franklin."

From the opening to the close of it proverbial sayings, charged with
wisdom and wit, were inserted wherever there was space enough to
insert one. The following is a sample:

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

"Lost time is never found again; and what we call time enough always
proves little enough."

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

"Industry need not hope, and he that lives upon hope will die
fasting."

"He that hath a trade hath an estate; and he that hath a calling hath
an office of profit and honor."

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

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

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

"If you would have your business done, go--if not, send."

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

"When the well is dry they know the worth of water."

"Pride is as loud a beggar as want, and a great deal more saucy."

"Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other."

"The good paymaster is lord of another man's purse."

These jets of wisdom made the Almanac sparkle. The mechanical
execution of the work excelled that of any of its predecessors; but
this literary feature marked the Almanac as marvellous. It became
popular at once. Every body who saw it, admired and bought it. The
Philadelphians were proud that such a document originated in their
town. Copies were sent to friends in other parts of the country, until
"Poor Richard's Almanac" was known throughout the land. Three editions
were exhausted in about a month. For twenty-five years Franklin
continued to publish a similar Almanac, the average annual circulation
of which was ten thousand copies.

The large stock of wisdom and wit which the Almanac contained added
wonderfully to Franklin's fame. From the first issue his mental powers
were widely praised. He was only twenty-six years of age, but now his
intellectual ability was considered superior to that of any other
living man under fifty years of age. The members of the Junto were
greatly elated over his success.

"You have beaten yourself," remarked Coleman to him, "exceeded by far
what I expected, high as my expectations were. Nothing has been
published yet, that has created so profound interest as the Almanac."

"That is all true," said Grace. "Franklin is the theme of remark now
everywhere. People seem to be surprised that he could produce a
document of so much value. Both his business and newspaper will be
advanced by this stroke of wisdom."

"And the Junto, too," suggested Parsons; "the father of the Junto can
not receive so much applause without benefiting his child. Every body
will want to join now, to meet him here."

Each member present was too much elated to remain silent. No words
were too extravagant to express their admiration of Franklin's
ability. To their decided friendship and respect was now added an
honorable pride in being able to point to such a friend and associate.

The success of his newspaper and Almanac provided Franklin with a
supply of money, which he wisely invested. His own words about it
were:

"My business was now constantly augmenting, and my circumstances
growing daily easier; my newspaper having become very profitable, as
being, for a time, almost the only one in this and the neighboring
provinces. I experienced, too, the truth of the observation, '_that
after getting the first hundred pounds, it is more easy to get the
second_'; money itself being of a prolific nature."

Franklin was aided very much, in the conduct of his paper, by the
Junto, where different features of journalism were often discussed.

"In Boston I made a mistake," he said. "I was but a boy then, without
experience or discretion, and found great delight in personalities. I
mean to steer clear of libelling and personal abuse."

"You have so far," replied Coleman; "and thereby you have added to the
dignity and influence of your paper. There is a kind of sharpness and
critical remark that ought to characterize a good paper; and the
_Gazette_ is not deficient in that."

"That is what makes it sparkle, in my judgment," remarked Scull. "It
is not best to be too cautious; some things ought to be hit hard; and
that is true of some men, not to say women."

"That is one thing a newspaper is for," interjected Parsons, "to
expose and remove social and public evils, and, in doing that, some
men will get hit."

"You do not quite understand me," answered Franklin; "I accept all
that Scull and Parsons say, which is not what I mean by libelling and
personal abuse. Here is a case. A few days ago a gentleman called with
an article for the _Gazette_, I looked it over, and found it very
objectionable.

"'I can not publish that,' I said to him.

"'Why not?' he asked.

"'Because it deals in personal abuse, if not in downright libelling.'

"'I will pay for its insertion,' he said.

"'So much the worse for me, to insert a libelous article for money,' I
said. 'On the face of it it appears a personal pique against the
party.'

"'But we have a free press in this country,' he insisted.

"'Free to do right, and be just and honorable toward all men, and not
free to injure or abuse them,' I retorted.

"'I supposed that a newspaper was like a stage coach, in which any
one, who pays for a place, has it,' he continued.

"'That is true of some newspapers, but not of mine,' I answered. 'But
I will do this: I will print your article separately, and furnish you
with as many copies as you want, and you can distribute them where you
please, but I will not lumber my columns with detraction, and insult
patrons to whom I am pledged to furnish a good paper for their
families.' The party did not accept my proposition, but left in high
temper."

Every member acquiesced in Franklin's views, and encouraged him to
continue the conduct of his paper on that line. It was an age of
vituperation and libelling. Probably there never has been a time since
when so many editors, in proportion to the number of papers, believed
that the newspaper was for that purpose. The gentleman of whom
Franklin spoke wanted to abuse another; but would have complained
bitterly, no doubt, to have been the object of abuse himself.

Franklin's stationer's shop proved a success; and very soon he added a
small collection of books. From 1733 he imported books from London,
and aimed to keep the market supplied with all that were popular
there. His trade in books grew to considerable proportions.

With all his business, and the improvement of odd moments in reading
and study, he found time to attend to music, and became quite an
accomplished player on the harp, guitar, and violin. His family and
company were often entertained by his musical performances.

In 1733 Franklin resolved to visit Boston. He had not visited there
for ten years.

"I must go now," he said to his foreman, "because my brother at
Newport is so feeble that he is not expected to live long. I shall
stop at Newport on my way back."

"And when will you return?"

"As soon as possible. It is only a flying visit I propose to make. I
have some business in Boston, and wish to spend a little time with my
parents, who are getting old and infirm."

He put every thing into a good condition for his foreman to handle in
his absence, and then left for Boston, where his parents embraced him
with tears of joy. There was no trace of the boy left on him now,--he
was a man in the noblest sense of the word.

Necessity compelled Franklin to cut short his visit and return,
stopping at Newport to see his brother. This was his brother James,
the printer to whom he was apprenticed in Boston. He had a prosperous
printing business in that town.

"I am very glad to see you," said James, giving his brother a cordial
and tender welcome. "You find me very feeble; and I was afraid that I
should never see you again."

"I hear of your sickness, and felt that I must come to see you at
once," Franklin replied. "I hope that your prospects are more
favorable than you appear to think they are."

"It is only a question of time; and short time, too. My disease is
incurable, and I am waiting for the end. We will let by-gones be
by-gones; I have only love for you now, my dear brother."

"You can hardly conceive how glad I am to hear you say that; for I
cherish only the sincerest affection for you. I am truly sorry for any
wrong I did you in Boston."

"That is all blotted out now," continued James, "I have one request to
make, and, if you can grant it, I shall be very happy."

"What is it?"

"My son is now ten years old, and the loss of his father will, indeed,
be a great loss to him. I had intended to instruct him in my trade;
and, after my death, I want you should take him to your home in
Philadelphia, where he can learn the printer's trade, and, when he
understands the business well, return him to his mother and sisters,
who will continue the printing house here."

"With all my heart I will do it; and I am glad to grant this favor,
not only for your sake, but for my own," responded Benjamin. "He shall
be one of my family, and I will be to him as a father, and he shall be
to me as a son."

Thus, at the grave's side, the two brothers were thoroughly reconciled
to each other, and it was not long before Franklin had James' son in
his own family.

In 1736 Franklin buried a son, four years old, a child so bright and
beautiful that strangers would stop on the street to behold him. It
was a terrible blow to the parents. He was laid in Christ Church
burying ground, where the defaced and much-broken headstone still
bears this inscription:

"FRANCIS F.,
SON OF BENJAMIN AND DEBORAH FRANKLIN,
DECEASED NOV. 21, 1736,
AGED 4 YEARS, 1 MONTH, AND 1 DAY.
THE DELIGHT OF ALL THAT KNEW HIM."

Franklin proved a staunch friend of the celebrated George Whitefield
when he visited Philadelphia in 1739. There was great opposition to
his work. At first, one or two pastors admitted him to their pulpits;
but the opposition grew so intense, that all the churches were closed
against him, and he was obliged to preach in the fields. Franklin
denounced this treatment in his paper and by his voice, in the Junto
and on the street.

"You talk about being called to the work of the ministry," he said to
one of the Philadelphia clergy; "if ability and great power in the
pulpit are evidence of being called of God, then Whitefield must have
had a louder call than any of you."

"But he is very peculiar in his methods, and harsh in his treatment of
sinners," suggested the minister.

"But if we sinners do not object, why should you saints? We have heard
him say nothing but the truth yet."

"All that may be true," continued the preacher, "but so much
excitement is not healthy for the spiritual growth of the people."

"When did you, or any one else, ever see so great moral and spiritual
improvement of the people," said Franklin, "as we have seen since
Whitefield has been preaching here? The whole population appears to be
thinking about religion."

"Excitement! excitement!" exclaimed the minister; "and when Whitefield
is gone, there will be a reaction, and the last state of the people
will be worse than the first."

So Franklin supported Whitefield, was a constant attendant upon his
ministrations, and a lasting friendship grew up between them.

"Let us put up a building for him to preach in, now that he is
excluded from the churches," proposed Franklin to a number of
Whitefield's friends, who were discussing the situation. "A preacher
of so much power and self-denial should be sustained."

"A capital suggestion!" answered one of the number, "and you are the
man to carry the measure into effect."

"A rough building is all that is necessary for our purpose; the finish
will be in the preaching," added Franklin. "A preacher of any
denomination whatever, who comes here to instruct the people, without
money and without price, should be provided with a place for worship."

"Yes, even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary
here, I would provide a place for him to hold forth and not turn him
into the street," responded Coleman.

"I will announce in the _Gazette_ at once what our purpose is, and
call a meeting," continued Franklin. "The announcement will test the
feelings of the people on the subject."

"Let it be done in a hurry, too," said Coleman. "Public sentiment is
ripe for something now, and I think the citizens will endorse the
scheme."

The project was announced, a meeting called, and subscriptions
obtained with little effort, to erect a building one hundred feet long
and seventy wide. In an almost incredibly short time the house of
worship was completed, and Whitefield occupied it.



XXXIV.


MORE HONORS AND MORE WORK.

Franklin, in 1736, was chosen Clerk of the General Assembly, and in
1737 appointed Postmaster of Philadelphia. The first position assured
him all the Government printing, and introduced him to influential
men, who would very naturally become the patrons of his printing
house. The second position was of great value to his newspaper, as it
"facilitated the correspondence that improved it, and increased its
circulation" quite largely, thus making it a source of considerable
income. Members of the Junto were as much pleased with his promotion
as Franklin himself.

"We are not at all surprised," said Coleman to Colonel Spotswood; "we
are familiar with Franklin; I mean, we members of the Junto, as no
other persons are. He will fill ably any position you can give him."

"That was my estimate of the man," answered Spotswood, who was
Postmaster-General; "and so I appointed him my deputy here. From all I
could learn of him, I thought he would be exact in his way of doing
business and reporting to the Government. His predecessor was
careless, and even neglectful, so that it was difficult to get any
sort of a report from him."

"You will find no trouble with Franklin on that score," rejoined
Coleman. "He is one of the most exact men I ever knew, and his
judgment is remarkable for one of his years. He appears to succeed in
whatever he undertakes because of his sound judgment, and great
capacity for work. His appointment as Postmaster of Philadelphia gives
great satisfaction."

"I thought it would," continued Spotswood. "The position should be
occupied by a wise man, who challenges public confidence and respect."

"And Franklin is the wisest man I ever knew," interjected Coleman. "We
see him in this role, in the Junto, as men outside do not. For he lays
before us his plans, and reads important articles that he writes, on
various subjects, for criticism, before they are published. He has
just read a paper on the 'Night-watch,' exposing the worthlessness of
the present system, and proposing a remedy; also, another paper on
establishing a fire-department for the town. When made public, both of
these measures will commend themselves to the people."

The discussion over the night-watch and fire-department in the Junto
was both animated and instructive. Both projects were entirely new,
and were born of Franklin's fertile brain.

"The most cumbersome and awkward arrangement I ever heard of," said
Franklin, in the Junto; "to have the constable of each ward, in turn,
summon to his aid several housekeepers for the night, and such
ragamuffins as most of them summon to their assistance!"

"A glass of grog will enlist some of them for a whole night," remarked
Parsons. "I think the town is safer without any watchmen, unless more
responsible men can be employed."

"Of course it is," responded Coleman; "the six shillings paid annually
to the constable by each man who does not wish to serve is a
corruption fund. The constable can pocket three-fourths of it, and,
with the other fourth, he can employ the irresponsible characters he
does. I wonder the people don't rebel."

"That is not all, nor the worst," remarked Breintnal. "A poor widow,
with less than fifty pounds to her name, must pay the six shillings
just as the wealthiest citizen, with thousands of pounds in his own
right, does. It is very unjust."

"And my plan removes all of these difficulties and burdens," added
Franklin. "I propose to hire suitable men, whose business shall be to
watch at night, levying a tax to pay for the same in proportion to
property. A man who makes it his business to watch is worth much more
than one who occasionally serves under the present system."

Franklin ventilated the subject in the _Gazette_, eliciting remarks
pro and con, gradually educating the people; and finally, after
several years, he had the satisfaction of seeing his plan adopted.
Franklin was the author of the "Night-watch" system of our land.

His paper on the frequency of fires, from carelessness and accidents,
with suggestions as to preventing them and, also, extinguishing them,
elicited equal interest in the Junto.

"Your suggestion to organize a company to extinguish fires is a
capital one," remarked Potts, after listening to Franklin's paper. "It
is not only practical, but it can be done very easily; every citizen
must appreciate the measure."

"If I understand the plan," remarked Maugridge, "each member will be
obliged to keep several leathern buckets, in order for instant use,
and strong bags, for receiving goods to be conveyed to a place of
safety, will be provided."

"Yes; and the members must be so well organized and drilled, that when
a fire breaks out, each will know just what to do," added Franklin.
"It will be necessary for the members of the company to meet monthly,
or oftener, to exchange views and make suggestions as to the best way
of conducting the organization. Experience will teach us very much."

"How many members should the organization embrace?" inquired Scull.

"That is immaterial," replied Coleman; "a large or small number can be
used to advantage, I should say."

"The company must not be too large," responded Franklin. "I should
think that thirty members would be as many as could work to advantage.
If double that number desire to become members it would be better to
organize two companies, to work in different wards."

"And how about money? Can't maintain such an organization without
money," suggested Potts.

"We can raise money for the outfit of leathern buckets and bags by
subscription," replied Franklin; "and we can impose a fine upon
members for being absent from meetings."

"Then, why is not the whole subject fairly before us?" remarked
Coleman. "I move that we proceed to organize a fire-company of thirty
members at once."

Coleman's proposition was adopted unanimously. Franklin discussed the
plan in the _Gazette_, and all the members of the Junto worked hard
for it outside. Within a short time the first company was organized,
then another, and another, the good work continuing until a large part
of the property-owners in town belonged to fire-companies. And this
method continued until the invention of fire-engines, fire-hooks, and
ladders, with other modern implements to assist in extinguishing
fires. Franklin was the originator of fire-companies.

"It is high time that our people were thinking of paving the streets,"
said Franklin, at a meeting of the Junto. "It will facilitate cleaning
them wonderfully."

"You must give us a paper on the subject, and write it up in the
_Gazette_," replied Parsons. "People must be enlightened before they
will adopt the measure. The mass of them know nothing about it now."

"You are right," responded Franklin; "and it will take a good while to
enlighten them. The expense of the measure will frighten them."

"How expensive will such a measure be? What does paving cost a square
yard?"

"I am not able to say now; I have not examined that part of it yet;
but I shall. I will prepare a paper for the Junto at the earliest
possible date."

Franklin had canvassed the subject considerably before he introduced
it to the members of the Junto. In wet weather the mud in the streets
was trodden into a quagmire, and quantities of it carried on the feet
into stores and houses. In dry weather the wind blew the abundance of
dust into the faces and eyes of pedestrians, and into the doors and
windows of dwellings and shops. In his paper, read at the Junto,
Franklin set forth these discomforts, with others, and showed how the
evil would be remedied by pavement. The members of the Junto were
unanimous in supporting his views.

From week to week he discussed the subject in the _Gazette_, literally
giving line upon line and precept upon precept. Nor did he seem to
make much of an impression for many months. But, finally, a strip of
brick pavement having been laid down the middle of Jersey Market, he
succeeded in getting the street leading thereto paved.

"Now I have a project to enlist citizens in paving all the streets,"
he said at the Junto. "I have hired a poor man to sweep the pavement
now laid, and keep it as clean and neat as a pin, that citizens may
see for themselves the great benefit of paving the streets."

"That is practical," exclaimed Coleman. "You are always practical,
Franklin; and you will make a success of that."

"I expect to succeed. After two or three weeks I shall address a
circular to all housekeepers enjoying the advantages of the pavement,
asking them to join with me in paying a sixpence each per month to
keep the pavement clean."

"A _sixpence_ a month only!" responded Potts, who had listened to
Franklin's plan; "is that all it will cost?"

"Yes, that is all; and I think that all will be surprised that the
work can be done for that price; and, for that reason, they will
readily join in the measure."

Franklin went forward with his enterprise, and every citizen appealed
to accepted his proposition; and out of it grew a general interest to
pave the streets of the city. Franklin drafted a bill to be presented
to the General Assembly, authorizing the work to be done; and, through
the influence of another party, the bill was amended by a provision
for lighting the streets at the same time, all of which was agreeable
to Franklin. Here, again, we see that Franklin was the originator of
another method of adding to the comfort and beauty of cities and large
towns.

"I will read you a paper to-night upon smoky chimneys," remarked
Franklin at the Junto, as he drew from his pocket a written document.

"Smoky chimneys!" ejaculated Grace. "I wonder what will command your
attention next. A fruitful theme, though I never expected we should
discuss it here."

"It is, indeed, a fruitful theme," responded Franklin; "for more
chimneys carry some of the smoke into the room than carry the whole
out of the top; and nobody can tell why."

"I had supposed it was because masons do not understand the philosophy
of chimney-building," remarked Coleman.

"That is it exactly. The subject is not understood at all, because it
has not been examined. Men build chimneys as they do, not because they
know it is the best way, but because they do not know any thing about
it. For instance, nearly every one thinks that smoke is lighter than
air, when the reverse is true."

"I always had that idea," remarked Potts; "not because I knew that it
was, but somehow I got that impression. But let us have your paper,
and then we will discuss it."

Franklin read his paper, which was more elaborate and exhaustive than
any thing of the kind ever published at that time. It named several
definite causes of smoky chimneys, and furnished a remedy for each.
What is still more remarkable, it suggested a plan of a fire-place or
stove, that might remedy the smoking evil of some chimneys, and save
much fuel in all. Subsequently, he invented what is known as the
Franklin stove, or fire-place, though it was sometimes called the
"Pennsylvania stove." It was regarded as a very useful invention, and,
for many years, was in general use.

"Apply for a patent on your stove," suggested Coleman; "there is much
money in it; and you ought to have it if any one."

"Not I," responded Franklin. "I am not a believer in patents. If the
invention is a real public benefit, the people should have the
advantage of it."

"Nonsense," retorted Coleman; "no one but you harbors such an idea. I
do not see why a man should not receive pay for his invention as much
as another does for a day's work."

"And there is no reason why the inventor should not give the public
the benefit of it, if he chooses," answered Franklin. "Governor Thomas
offered to give me a patent on it, but I told him this: 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."

"And nobody will ever thank you for it," added Coleman.

"I don't ask them to thank me for it; I give it to them without asking
one thank-you for it," replied Franklin, who was in a very happy mood.

"Well," added Coleman, "the more I see of you, the more I am satisfied
that there is but one Ben Franklin in these parts."

In brief, we may add here, that Franklin presented the model to a
member of the Junto, Robert Grace, who run a furnace, and, for many
years, "he found the casting of the plates for these stoves a
profitable thing."

Still another enterprise which Franklin brought to the attention of
the Junto was the founding of an Academy or University for the higher
education of youth. He wrote often and much for the _Gazette_ upon
doing more for the education of the young. At last, he prepared and
printed a pamphlet, entitled "Proposals Relating to the Education of
Youth in Pennsylvania." It was published at his own expense and
gratuitously distributed, after it had been read in the Junto, where
he disclosed his purpose.

"It is the greatest enterprise you have conceived yet," remarked
Parsons, after listening to the paper, "and it will be the most
difficult one to push forward to success, I think."

"Five thousand pounds is a great amount of money to raise," said
Breintnal. "I should not want to be the one to raise it."

"I should, if I could," retorted Franklin. "To be the author of so
great a blessing to the young is pay enough without any salary. At any
rate, that is all the pay any man will get for such service."

"Do you propose to raise the money yourself?" inquired Coleman.

"Chiefly. I expect that interested parties may assist on that line.
The fact that the enterprise is to bless their own children, gives me
access to them at once. First of all, however, I propose to send this
pamphlet, printed, to a long list of persons upon whom I shall call
for aid, after ample time for them to read and digest it has elapsed."

It is sufficient to say that Franklin successfully prosecuted his
purpose, raised all the money necessary, and the academy was founded.
Scholars multiplied so rapidly that larger quarters were soon
demanded; and now came into use the building which Franklin caused to
be erected for the use of Rev. Mr. Whitefield. With some alterations,
it was just the building necessary to meet the wants of the popular
institution. Franklin was glad when he secured the building for
Whitefield; but he was more glad now because it could be used for the
"University of Philadelphia," as his school was named afterwards.

Perhaps the Junto did not give attention to a more important measure
in its whole history than that of establishing militia for public
security. Franklin read a paper, having the caption, "Plain Truth," in
which he expatiated upon the defenseless condition of Pennsylvania;
that, while New England was all aglow with enthusiasm for armed
defense against foreign invasion, and some of the southern colonies as
well, Pennsylvania was utterly defenseless.

"There is not a battery, fort, or gun, on the banks of the Delaware,"
he said; "not a volunteer company in the whole Province; and what is
still more alarming, not guns enough to arm one."

"Our people don't believe in resistance, you know," responded Coleman.
"Quaker influence is decidedly against shot-guns and batteries."

"And that is the trouble," retorted Franklin. "The Legislatures of
other Provinces have established public defenses; but the Quaker
influence in the Assembly of Pennsylvania has defeated every measure
of the kind."

"And will continue to do so until a French privateer seizes and sacks
this town, as one could very easily," added Parsons.

"Or a tribe of savages, so easily set on by French politicians, shall
plunder and burn us," added Franklin.

"But John Penn and Thomas Penn are not Quakers, like their father, I
have been told," remarked Potts; "and certainly the Province has not
had Quaker governors."

"That is very true; but so many of the people are Quakers that the
Assembly is under their control," answered Franklin. "But I think the
appearance of a privateer in the river, or an attack by a band of
blood-thirsty savages, would knock the non-resistance out of many of
them."

"Nothing short of that will," responded Coleman; "but Franklin's plan
of raising a volunteer militia, and all necessary funds by
subscription, will not call out any opposition from them. I believe
that many of them will be glad to have such defense if they are not
expected to engage in it."

"It is not true, even now, that all the Quakers oppose defensive war:
for some of them do not; they have told me so," continued Franklin.
"They oppose aggressive warfare; but let a privateer come up the
river, or savages attack our town, and they will fight for their homes
as hard as any of us."

"But how do you propose to reach the public, and interest them in your
plan?" inquired Maugridge.

"I shall publish the paper I have read, with some additions, suggested
by our discussion, and distribute it freely throughout the town. At
the same time, I shall discuss it in the _Gazette_, and appeal to
Quakers themselves, on Bible grounds, to co-operate for the public
defense. And when they have had time to read the pamphlet and weigh
the proposition, I shall call a public meeting."

"Wise again, Franklin," answered Coleman, who was delighted with the
plan. "Your scheme will work to a charm; I have no doubt of it. But
just what will you do at your public meeting?"

"Organize an 'Association for Defense,' after I have harangued the
audience upon the perils of the hour. I shall urge every man present,
as he values his home and life, to join the league, of whatever sect
or party."

"Each man to arm himself at his own expense, I suppose?" inquired
Grace.

"As far as possible," answered Franklin; "and to raise money for a
battery, I have thought of a lottery." Lotteries were generally
resorted to, at that day, for raising money.

"That scheme for raising a battery will succeed, too," said Coleman
with a smile. "I can not see why the whole thing will not carry the
public by storm."

The plan of Franklin succeeded beyond the most sanguine expectations.
His pamphlet and articles in the _Gazette_ moved the public to great
enthusiasm. When the public meeting was called, there was a general
rush to it. It was held in the large building erected for Rev. Mr.
Whitefield, and it was filled to overflowing. Twelve hundred men
joined the "Association for Public Defense" on that night, and the
number was increased to ten thousand within a few days. Within a few
weeks, eighty companies were organized in the Province, armed, and
drilled, ready to march to any point of danger at a moment's warning.
The companies in Philadelphia united to form a regiment, and Franklin
was elected Colonel--an honor which he declined because he "considered
himself unfit," and recommended a Mr. Lawrence, who was a prominent
and influential citizen.

The lottery scheme succeeded, also, and eighteen cannon were borrowed
of the Governor of New York until the authorities could import the
requisite number from England. Not a few Quakers approved of these
measures for the public defense.

In the midst of the excitement Franklin intensified the feeling, by
inducing the Governor to appoint a day of fasting and prayer. Such a
day had never been observed in Pennsylvania, and so the Governor and
his associates were too ignorant of the measure to undertake it alone.
Hence, Franklin, who was familiar with Fast Days in Massachusetts,
wrote the proclamation for the Governor, and secured the co-operation
of ministers in the observance of the day.

It is claimed that Quakers often lent their influence to defensive
warfare in an indirect manner. As, for example, when the Assembly made
appropriations for the army, "for the purchase of bread, flour, wheat
and _other grain_," the latter phrase covered _gunpowder_. Perhaps
this suggested to Franklin, when trying to get an appropriation
through the Assembly, the following remark: "If we fail, let us move
the purchase of a fire-engine with the money; the Quakers can have no
objection to that; and then, if you nominate me, and I you, as a
committee for that purpose, we will buy a great gun, which is
certainly a _fire-engine_."

The fears of the colonists were allayed, and these warlike
preparations discontinued, when the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle was
declared, and signed by the British Commissioners, Oct. 7, 1748.



XXXV.


PHILOSOPHER AND STATESMAN.

"I have a proposition to make to you, an important one," remarked
Franklin to David Hall, who had worked for him four years. "Come into
the office, and I will tell you what it is."

Hall followed him into the office, wondering what the proposition
could be. When they were seated, Franklin continued:

"I must have a partner in this business; and I think you are just the
man I want, if we can agree upon the terms. I desire to be released
from the care of the printing office, that I may pursue my scientific
studies more thoroughly and satisfactorily."

"Your proposition is very unexpected to me, and I feel very much
flattered by it," answered Hall; "but I hardly know what to say, for I
have no capital to put into the business."

"And you need none," interrupted Franklin. "My plan is that you take
the office just as it is, pay me one thousand pounds a year, for
eighteen years, releasing me from all care of the business, and, at
the close of eighteen years, the whole business shall be yours,
without further consideration."

"Well, I ought to be satisfied with that offer, if you are; it is
certainly a generous one, and I shall accept it."

"And you will get out of it three or four times the amount of your
present salary every year," suggested Franklin. "I mean it shall be a
profitable enterprise for you; for your long service here has
satisfied me that you are the partner I want."

This plan was carried into effect, and Franklin was no longer obliged
to visit the printing office daily, whither he had been for over
twenty years. His printing and newspaper business had been very
profitable, so that he was comparatively wealthy for that day. His
investments had proved fortunate; and these, with the thousand pounds
annually from Hall, and five hundred pounds from two public offices he
held, gave him an annual income of about fifteen thousand dollars,
which was large for those times--one hundred and forty years ago.

"Now I can pursue my studies to my heart's content," Franklin said to
his wife. "I have only had fragments of time to devote to electricity
and other studies hitherto; but now I can command time enough to make
research an object."

"I am very glad that you are able to make so favorable arrangements,"
Mrs. Franklin replied. "You have had altogether too much on your hands
for ten years and more. You ought to have less care."

"And I have an intense desire to investigate science, especially
electricity," Franklin continued. "I see a wide field for research and
usefulness before me. But I have time enough to prosecute my plans."

Franklin was forty-two years old at this time; and it is a singular
fact that his career as a philosopher did not begin really until he
had passed his fortieth birthday. But from the time he was released
from the care of the printing office, his advancement in science was
rapid. His fame spread abroad, both in this country and Europe, so
that, in a few years, he became one of the most renowned philosophers
in the world. In a former chapter we described his experiment with a
kite, to prove that lightning and the electric fluid are identical;
and this discovery established his fame as the greatest electrician of
the world.

The Royal Society of London elected him a member by a unanimous vote,
and the next year bestowed upon him the Copley medal. Yale College
conferred upon him the degree of Master of Arts; and Harvard
University did the same. Suddenly Franklin found himself the most
conspicuous character in American history--a philosopher of the most
honored type.

Mignet said of him, "Thus all at once distinguished, the Philadelphia
sage became the object of universal regard, and was abundantly loaded
with academic honors. The Academy of Sciences of Paris made him an
associate member, as it had Newton and Leibnitz. All the learned
bodies of Europe eagerly admitted him into their ranks. Kant, the
celebrated German philosopher, called him 'the Prometheus of modern
times.' To this scientific glory, which he might have extended if he
had consecrated to his favorite pursuits his thoughts and his time, he
added high political distinction. To this man, happy because he was
intelligent, great because he had an active genius and a devoted
heart, was accorded the rare felicity of serving his country,
skilfully and usefully, for a period of fifty years; and after having
taken rank among the immortal founders of the positive sciences, of
enrolling himself among the generous liberators of the nations."

A few years later, the three Universities of St. Andrew's, Oxford, and
Edinburgh, conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws. Europe
vied with America in tributes of honor and praise.

His electrical experiments made him the author of several useful
inventions, among which the LIGHTNING ROD was the foremost. It came
into general use, not only in our country, but also in Europe. The
celebrated Kinnersley wrote to him, "May this method of security from
the destructive violence of one of the most awful powers of Nature
meet with such further success as to induce every good and grateful
heart to bless God for the important discovery! May the benefit
thereof be diffused over the whole globe! May it extend to the latest
posterity of mankind, and make the name of Franklin, like that of
Newton, IMMORTAL!"

Franklin did not intend to continue in political life, when he entered
into partnership with Mr. Hall; and he so announced to his friends. At
that time he had served as Councilman in the city, been a member of
the General Assembly, acted as Commissioner on several important
occasions, and served the public in various other ways; but now he
designed to stop and devote himself entirely to scientific pursuits.

Within five years, however, he found himself more deeply involved in
political plans and labors than ever before. He was as wise in
statesmanship as he was in philosophy; and the services of such a man
were in constant demand. The following list of public offices he
filled shows that he stood second to no statesman in the land in
public confidence and ability in public service:

A LEGISLATOR OF PENNSYLVANIA AT TWENTY-SIX YEARS OF AGE, CONTINUED FOR
TWENTY YEARS.

FOUNDER AND LEADING TRUSTEE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA.

COLONEL OF MILITIA, WHICH HE ORIGINATED.

LEADER OF COMMITTEE OF PUBLIC SAFETY FOR YEARS, IN TIME OF WAR.

POSTMASTER-GENERAL.

AGENT OF PENNSYLVANIA, MASSACHUSETTS, NEW JERSEY, AND GEORGIA TO THE
KING OF ENGLAND.

MINISTER TO THE COURT OF ENGLAND IN 1764.

ONE OF THE AUTHORS OF THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS IN 1775, AND A MEMBER
OF IT.

MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY TO FRANCE IN 1776.

AUTHOR OF FIRST TREATY FOR AMERICA IN 1778.

MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY TO FRANCE IN 1778.

ONE OF FIVE TO DRAFT THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

A LEADER IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

ONE OF THE FRAMERS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.

LIKE WASHINGTON, "FIRST IN WAR, FIRST IN PEACE, AND FIRST IN THE
HEARTS OF HIS COUNTRYMEN."

Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston
were associated with Franklin in drafting the Declaration of
Independence, which Congress adopted, July 4, 1776. The original draft
was by Jefferson, but it contained many interlineations in the
hand-writing of Franklin. When they were signing the memorable
document, after its passage by Congress, John Hancock remarked:

"We must be unanimous,--we must all hang together."

"Yes, if we would not hang separately," replied Franklin.

Jefferson was viewing, with evident disappointment, the mutilation of
his draft of the Declaration in Franklin's hand-writing, when the
latter remarked:

"I have made it a rule, whenever in my power, to avoid becoming the
draftsman of papers to be reviewed by a public body. I took my lesson
from an incident which I will relate to you. When I was a
journeyman-printer, one of my companions, an apprentice-hatter, having
served out his time, was about to open shop for himself. His first
concern was to have a handsome sign-board, with a proper inscription.
He composed it in these words: _John Thompson, hatter, makes and sells
hats for ready money_, with a figure of a hat subjoined. But he
thought he would submit to his friends for their amendments. The first
he showed it to thought the word _hatter_ tautologous, because
followed by the words _makes hats_, which showed he was a hatter. It
was struck out. The next observed that the word _makes_ might as well
be omitted, because his customers would not care who made the hats; if
good and to their mind, they would buy, by whomsoever made. He struck
it out. A third said he thought the words _for ready money_ were
useless, as it was not the custom of the place to sell on credit.
Every one who purchased expected to pay. They were parted with, and
the inscription now stood: _John Thompson sells hats_. '_Sells_ hats?'
says his next friend; 'why, nobody will expect you to give them away.
What, then, is the use of that word?' It was stricken out, and _hats_
followed, the rather as there was one painted on the board. So his
inscription was reduced, ultimately, to _John Thompson_, with the
figure of a hat subjoined."

It is doubtful if American Independence would have been achieved when
it was, but for the services of Franklin at the Court of England. His
first appearance there was when his fame as a philosopher was at its
zenith, and the greatest men of that country sought his acquaintance.
William Strahan, a member of Parliament, wrote to Mrs. Franklin, "I
never saw a man who was, in every respect, so perfectly agreeable to
me. Some are able in one view, some in another, he in all."

The Tories, who meant to keep the Colonies in subjection and burden
them with taxes, were the leaders in governmental affairs and the
majority in numbers. Of course, the Colonies could not expect many
favors from them without the mediation of their strongest statesmen;
and Franklin was the one above all others on whom they depended. His
first diplomatic career in England, when he was the Agent of
Pennsylvania and other Colonies, lasted from 1757 to 1762. He remained
at home only a year and a half, when he was appointed "Minister to
England," whither he went in 1764, remaining there ten years, a long,
stormy period of political troubles, culminating in the Declaration of
Independence and the American Revolution.

We have only to mention the Boston Port Bill, the Stamp Act,
quartering British troops in the public buildings of Boston, and other
measures which the Colonies considered oppressive, and even
tyrannical, to show the line of Franklin's intercession in behalf of
his countrymen, and how they came to throw off the yoke of bondage.

The Tory hatred towards Franklin was something fearful at times,
exceeded only by their hatred towards the people whom he represented.
"I am willing to love all mankind except an American," exclaimed Dr.
Johnson. And when rebuked for his unchristian disposition, "his
inflammable corruption bursting into horrid fire," says Boswell, "he
breathed out threatenings and slaughter, calling them rascals,
robbers, pirates, and exclaiming that he would burn and destroy them."
When Mr. Barclay hinted to Franklin that he might have almost any
place of honor if he would consent to a certain line of action, our
loyal hero spurned the bribe, saying, "The ministry, I am sure, would
rather give me a place in a cart to Tyburn [prison] than any other
place whatever." He could neither be coaxed nor frightened into
submission to the British crown.

In February, 1766, he was summoned before the House of Commons, where
he met the enemies of his country face to face, and stood firm through
the searching examination.

"Will the Americans consent to pay the stamp duty if it is lessened?"
he was asked.

"No, never; unless compelled by force of arms," he answered.

"May not a military force carry the Stamp Act into execution?"

"Suppose a military force sent into America; they will find nobody in
arms; what are they, then, to do? Then can not force a man to take
stamps who chooses to do without them. They will not _find_ a
rebellion; they may, indeed, _make_ one."

"If the Stamp Act is enforced, will ill-humor induce the Americans to
give as much for the worse manufactures of their own, and use them in
preference to our better ones?"

"_Yes. People will pay as freely to gratify one passion as
another,--their resentment as their pride_."

"Would the people of Boston discontinue their trade?"

"The merchants of Boston are a very small number, and must discontinue
their trade, if nobody will buy their goods."

"What are the body of the people in the Colonies?"

"They are farmers, husbandmen, or planters."

"Would they suffer the produce of their lands to rot?"

"No; but they would not raise so much. They would manufacture more and
plow less. I do not know a single article imported into the Northern
Colonies that they can not do without, or make themselves."

To Lord Kames he said, "America must become a great country, populous
and mighty; and will, _in a less time than is generally conceived_, be
able to shake off any shackles that may be imposed upon her, and
perhaps place them on the imposers."

But his labors availed nothing, although Chatham, Pitt, Burke, Fox,
and others, espoused the cause of the Colonies. Affairs hastened to
the crisis of 1775, and Franklin returned to Philadelphia, reaching
that city soon after the battles of Lexington and Concord were fought,
in 1776.

A few months before he left England for America, his wife died. Her
death occurred on Dec. 17, 1774, though the sad tidings did not reach
Franklin until a short time before he took passage for home.

It was at this time that his famous letter to his old English friend,
William Strahan, was written, of which we are able to furnish a
_fac-simile_.

The scenes of the Revolution followed. Through the agency of Franklin,
as Minister Plenipotentiary to France, the French Government formed an
alliance with the Colonies, and the eight years' war was waged to the
surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown; and Freedom was achieved.

No American exerted greater influence in securing the independence of
the Colonies than Franklin. He was one of the originators of the
Continental Congress, and was the author of the plan for a Union of
the States. On his way to the Albany Conference in 1754 he drew up a
plan of Union, which he presented to said Conference, composed of
delegates from seven Northern Colonies. Other members presented plans,
but his was preferred and adopted, with some amendments, and commended
to the favorable consideration of the King and Parliament of England.
Franklin's plan of Union was substantially that which, subsequently,
united the thirteen States into one nation.

No name is more conspicuous in history than that of Franklin. At one
time in France, "prints, medallion portraits, and busts of him were
multiplied throughout that country." In England, the most renowned
statesmen and scholars acknowledged his abilities and praised his
remarkable career. In America, his statue was set up in halls of
learning and legislation, literary societies and institutions were
founded in his name, and numerous towns were called after him. Perhaps
the author's native town--Franklin, Mass.--was the first to
appropriate his name. A few years thereafter, a nephew called his
attention to this fact, suggesting that the present of a bell from him
would be very acceptable, as the people were erecting a house of
worship. Franklin was in Passy, France, at the time, and he
immediately addressed the following letter to his old friend, Dr.
Price, asking him to select and forward a library:

   "PASSY, 18 March, 1785.

   "DEAR FRIEND,--My nephew, Mr. Williams, will have the honor of
   delivering you this line. It is to request from you a list of a few
   books, to the value of about twenty-five pounds, such as are most
   proper to inculcate principles of sound religion and just
   government. A new town in the State of Massachusetts having done me
   the honor of naming itself after me, and proposing to build a
   steeple to their meeting-house if I would give them a bell, I have
   advised the sparing themselves the expense of a steeple for the
   present, and that they would accept of books instead of a bell,
   sense being preferable to sound. These are, therefore, intended as
   the commencement of a little parochial library for the use of a
   society of intelligent, respectable farmers, such as our country
   people generally consist of. Besides your own works, I would only
   mention, on the recommendation of my sister, Stennett's 'Discourses
   on Personal Religion,' which may be one book of the number, if you
   know and approve it.

   "With the highest esteem and respect, I am ever, my dear friend,
   yours most affectionately,

   "B. FRANKLIN."

The inhabitants of Franklin got _sense_ instead of _sound_, and were
never sorry.

Doctor Price, in the course of a letter dated at Newington Green, June
3, 1785, in which he speaks of Mr. Williams' visit, says: "I have,
according to your desire, furnished him with a list of such books on
religion and government as I think some of the best, and added a
present to the parish that is to bear your name, of such of my own
publications as I think may not be unsuitable. Should this be the
commencement of parochial libraries in the States, it will do great
good."

The books were duly forwarded to the town of Franklin. The Rev.
Nathaniel Emmons, clergyman of the parish for which the library was
designed, preached a sermon in commemoration of this bounty, entitled
"The Dignity of Man: a Discourse Addressed to the Congregation in
Franklin upon the Occasion of their Receiving from Doctor Franklin the
Mark of his Respect in a Rich Donation of Books, Appropriated to the
Use of a Parish Library." This sermon was printed in the year 1787,
with the following dedication: "To his Excellency Benjamin Franklin,
President of the State of Pennsylvania, the Ornament of Genius, the
Patron of Science, and the Boast of Man, this Discourse is Inscribed,
with the Greatest Deference, Humility, and Gratitude, by his Obliged
and Most Humble Servant, the Author."

The library contained one hundred and sixteen volumes, chiefly
relating to Government, Science, and Religion, of which about ninety
volumes are still in a good state of preservation.

On the 17th of April, 1790, Franklin expired, mourned by a grateful
nation and honored by the world. For two years he had lived in
anticipation of this event. One day he rose from his bed, saying to
his daughter, "Make up my bed, that I may die in a decent manner."

"I hope, father, that you will yet recover, and live many years,"
replied his daughter.

"I hope not," was his answer.

When told to change his position in bed, that he might breathe more
easily, he replied:

"A dying man can do nothing easy."

His sufferings were so great as to extort a groan from him at one
time, whereupon he said:

"I fear that I do not bear pain as I ought. It is designed, no doubt,
to wean me from the world, in which I am no longer competent to act my
part."

To a clerical friend, who witnessed one of his paroxysms as he was
about to retire, he said:

"Oh, no; don't go away. These pains will soon be over. They are for my
good; and, besides, what are the pains of a moment in comparison with
the pleasures of eternity?"

He had a picture of Christ on the cross placed so that he could look
at it as he lay on his bed. "That is the picture of one who came into
the world to teach men to love one another," he remarked. His last
look, as he passed away, was cast upon that painting of Christ.

In a codicil to his will was this bequest.

"My fine crab-tree walking-stick, with a gold head, curiously wrought
in the form of a cap of liberty, I give to my friend, and the friend
of mankind, _George Washington_. If it were a sceptre, he has merited
it, and would become it."

Philanthropist, Scholar, Philosopher, Statesman, were the titles won
by the Boston Printer Boy!





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