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object of his aversion ; and as his dislike continued to increase, his father, apprehensive lest he should run off to sea, for to that kind of life he had evinced a great predilection, endeavored to fix his inclinations on land, by taking him to the shops of different artificers. Hence he acquired a fond. ness for seeing good workmen employed at their business, and was enabled to construct machines for his experiments, which it would have been extremely difficult for the best mechanics to finish exactly according to his wishes. The trade of a cutler was at last fixed for Franklin : but some disagree, ment arising about a fee, determined his father to relinquish his intention.
He had early discovered a great fondness for reading, and regularly expended what little money he could procure, in the purchase of books. His father, observing this propensity, at last resolved to make him a printer, and he according, ly bound him as an apprentice to his brother James, at the age of 12 years. He soon made great proficiency in the business, and found himself extremely happy, as he was enabled to gratify his favorite inclination for reading, by borrow, ing books from the apprentices of booksellers, with whom he became acquainted. Franklin now wrote several little poetical pieces, and his brother thinking that this talent might be turned to advantage, persuaded him to write two ballads ; one of which was called the Light-House Tragedy, and was founded on a melancholy accident, which had lately happened, viz. the drowning of captain Worthilake and his two daughters; and the other a sailor song, on the capture of Teach or Blackbeard, the noted pirate. Although it is probable, that these first productions of our author might afford no presage of his future greatness, yet a perusal of them would be highly satisfactory. They are now, however, no where to be found. Dr. Franklin himself used to say, that they were wretched stuff, in the style of Grub-street ballads. However this may be, they were read with great avidity, and much applauded. This raised the vanity of our young au. thor, and he probably would have gone on in the service of
the muses, had not his father, by criticising his performances, and shewing him the unprofitableness of poetry, turned his thoughts to pursuits, which, though less pleasing, enabled him to render services to mankind of a more essential and permanent nature.
About this time, our author had formed an intimate ac, quaintance with a lad named John Collins, who was, like himself, remarkably fond of reading. For the sake of mu. tual improvement, it was usual for these two friends to dispute upon various subjects. At last a topic was started, which produced a longer discussion than usual ; and as they parted without determining the point, and business not per: mitting them to see each other frequently, Franklin com. mitted his arguments to writing and sent them to Collins, who replied in the same way. Several letters had passed between them, when the papers fell into the hands of Frank, lin's father, who, without entering into the merits of the cause, took occasion to point out to his son, that, though he excelled his antagonist in orthography and punctuation, he was much inferior to him in elegance of expression, arrangement, and perspicuity. Convinced of the justice of his father's remarks, he determined to improve his manner of writing. Fortunately the third volume of the Spectator fell in his way; and as the style appeared to him to be excellent, he resolved to imitate it. His method of doing this was crowned with the desired success; we therefore conceive it may be useful, at least to our young readers, if we commupicate it. After reading a paper over, he took short notes of the sentiments. These he laid by for a few days, and then without opening the book endeavored to complete the paper, by expressing the sentiments at length. Finding himself sometimes at a loss for words, he thought he might remedy that deficiency, by again having recourse to making verses, in which the constant want of words of the same import, but of different length and sound to suit the rhyme, obliges a person to seek for a variety of words, and to impress this va, riety on the mind. He accordingly turned some of the tales
of the Spectators into verse, and after some time into prose again. He sometimes threw his hints into a confused state, and, after a few weeks, endeavored to reduce them to order. He thus acquired a method of expressing his thoughts; and by comparing his composition with the original, was enabled to correct any inaccuracy in the style or arrangement. Sometimes he conceived, that, in a few instances, he had improved upon the language and method of the original, and this encouraged him to persevere in his attompts to be a fine writer. The world knows how completely he succeeded, and, from this account, we inay not only learn how he acquired that beautiful and unadorned simplicity of style, which so remarkably characterizes all his writings, but also, what steps others, (particularly such as have not the means of obtaining a systematic education,) should pursue, to acquire a degree of literary eminence. . Every moment of time, which Franklip could spare from the duties of his profession, was entirely devoted to study. Often did the silent midnight hour bear witness to his labors, and when obliged to return a book early in the morning, his cyes remained strangers to sleep during the night. When he was about sixteen years of age, from the perusal of a performance of Tryop, he was persuaded of the superior advantages of a vegetable diet, and determined to adopt the pracrice. As this could not easily be done in the family in which he boarded, he agreed with his brother to board himself for half the price ; and such was his frugality and temperance, that he even sayed half that sum for the purpose of buying books. As his morsel was quickly despatched, he was ena. bled to devote a great part of that time to study, which the other workmen spent at their meals; and his slight repast was, likewise, more favorable to mental pursuits.
Franklin, at an early period, had an opportunity of bring. ing into use those treasures of knowledge which he had thus accumulated. Before the year 1720, there was only one news-paper, the Boston News-Letter, in North-America, although they are now to be found in every town or village of
About this time, his brother began to publish the New-England Courant, and in this he was assisted by a number of literary characters, who occasionally wrote essays for the papers, which were much approved. Benjamin felt a strong inclination to become an author. He wrote a small piece, and, apprehensive that, if known to be his, it would be rejected, he disguised his hand, and conveyed it under the door of the printing office. Judge, ye who have been authors, what must have been his sensations, when he found his performance honored with the most liberal applause, and attributed to several men of eminent literary abilities. This approbation encouraged him to go on, and he wrote several other pieces, which were equally well received. He, at length, avowed himself to be the author, and thus obtained the notice of his brother's literary friends, who, from that time, conversed with him with more freedom and attention.
About the year 1723, some political essays in the NewEngland Courant gave offence to the Assembly; and, as tho printer would not discover the authors, he was committed to prison for one month. An order, at the same time, passed the house, that James Franklin should no longer print the New-England Courant. Various expedients were proposed to evade the order ; but it was at length determined, that it should be conducted under the name of Benjamin Franklin. As he was still an apprentice, and the censure of the Legislature might, therefore, fall upon his brother, his indentures were delivered up: but as the brother was still desirous to retain his services, he obliged him to sign a private agreement, by which he was bound to remain with him the time first stipulated. A few months after, a quarrel arose between the two brothers, which, as all attempts to reconcile them proved abortive determined Benjamin to leave his ser. vice; and as he was prevented, by the exertions of his brother, from proçuring work in Boston, he was under the necessity of leaving his native town, and accordingly set out for New-York.
Meeting with no encouragement in that city, he proceed
ed to Philadelphia, travelling partly by water, and fifty miles by land on foot, through rain and dirt, suspected and in danger of being taken up as a runaway servant. He arrived there on a Sunday morning, in a very dirty condition, in the clothes in which he had travelled from New-York, weary and hungry, having, for some time, been without rest and food, a perfect stranger to every body, and his whole stock of cash consisting only of a Dutch dollar. At a baker's shop he purchased some rolls, and as his pockets, being filled with clothes, could not contain them, he put one under each arm, and, eating a third, walked along through several of the streets in quest of a lodging, which he at last found at a tav. ern in Water-street, still well known by the name of the Crooked Billet. Such was the entry of Benjamin Franklin into the city of Philadelphia. From such beginning did he rise to the highest eminence and respectability, not only in America, but amongst all civilized nations.
There were, at that time, only two printers in Philadelphia, viz. Mr. Andrew Bradford, and a Mr. Keimer; the former of whom received our adventurer with great civility ; but having no occasion for his services, recommended him to the latter, by whom he was soon after employed. Franklin, for some time, lodged at Bradford's, but as this was not agreeable to Keimer, he procured him a lodging at the house of a Mr. Read, whose daughter was afterwards Mrs. Franklin.
The steadiness, skill, activity, and communicative manner of our adventurer attracted the notice of many of the most eminent people in the city, particularly of Sir William Keith, who was at that time governor of the province. This gentleman often invited Franklin to his house, where he treated him in the most friendly manner. He, at last, advised him to enter into business for himself; insisted on the favorable prospects which were before him, as the two printers were very ignorant of their profession, and promised to assist him with all his influence. Such observations frequently repeated induced Franklin, after an absence of about seven months,