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to conduct a newspaper; and some articles in it, of Franklin's writing, had gained them friends in the House of Assembly. When the partnership was dissolved, Franklin was left to carry on the business, with nothing but his industry and character to relý upon; but we have seen that his industry was great and his character excellent.
Whoever doubts the possibility of getting on with so small a capital, should read the account of Franklin's progress after this period of his life. He was now twenty-four years
and when we find that he went on very successfully from this time, we should also remember that he had been active and industrious, and economical, and fond of reading, from the very time he left school, when only ten years old; so that he had been gathering knowledge for fourteen years, and, doubtless, he had gathered inore every year of the fourteen than he did the year before.
His printing succeeded so well, that he was enabled to open a stationer's shop, and also to pay off his debts to the kind friends who had assisted him, which it must have been a most agreeable thing for him to do. Having got clear of the world, and finding his business going on well, he got married, and soon became a very active citizen of Philadelphia. He set up a circulating library, such a thing not having been known before in America. He still set apart an hour or two every day for study, calling study his amusement, and he made himself pretty well acquainted with French and Italian. Many people wish they could learn French and Italian, but forget that an hour a-day given to any language in the world would soon make them able to read it. Not so Franklin; he had been used to know the value of an hour in a day, and not only mastered French and Italian, but Spanish and Latin. But he could never have done this, had he not been very strict about his hour a-day; or if he had not refused to go to races, fairs, bowling-greens, cock-fightings, shooting matches, and idle places of all kinds, in which so much valuable time, and so much money too, are commonly thrown away.
We must not omit to mention one great benefit which Franklin did to the reading part of the population of his country. It was about a hundred years ago, in 1732, that he began to publish an almanac, under the name of Richard Saunders, which was enriched with those excellent proverbs and sentences, many of which are yet seen on copy-books, and in publications of various kinds. These were called Poor Richard's Sayings, and the almanack was called Poor Richard's Almanac. Every body knows some of Poor Richard's Sayings, and they are all worth remembering. “Early to bed, and early to rise, is the way to be healthy, wealthy, and wise;" “Plow deep while sluggards sleep, and you shall have corn to sell and to keep;" these, and many of a like kind, are quite suitable to the character of Franklin himself, and should be thought of every night and morning by those who wish to thrive. This almanac was published every year, for five-and-twenty years, and, in all probability, did more good than many a learned scholar's work; for every body could understand it. The wise sentences are now collected together, and sold under the title of The Way to Wealth.
In 1736, he was chosen clerk of the General Assembly, and being soon after appointed deputy-postmaster for the State, he turned his thoughts to public affairs, beginning, however, as he says, with small matters. He first occupied himself in improving the city watch; he then suggested and promoted the establishment of a fire-insurance company; and afterwards exerted himself in organizing a philosophical society, an academy for the education of youth, and à quilitia for the defence of the province. In short, every part of the civil government, as he tells us,
imposed some duty upon him. “The governor," he says, “put me into the commission of the peace, the corporation of the city chose me one of the commoncouncil, and soon after alderman; and the citizens at large elected me a burgess, to represent them in Assembly. This latter station was the more agreeable to me, as I grew at length tired with sitting there, to hear the debates, in which, as clerk, I could take no part, and which were often so uninteresting that I was induced to amuse myself with making magic squares or circles, or any thing to avoid weariness; and I conceived my becoming a member would enlarge my power of doing good. I would not, bowever, insinuate that my ambition was not flattered by all these promotions,-it certainly was: for, considering my low beginning, they were great things to me; and they were still more pleasing, as being so many spontaneous testimonies of the public good opinion, and by me entirely unsolicited."*
When we read of all this success, we rejoice at it, because it was the reward of years of labour, of prudence, and of virtue. We see Franklin's habits of industry making him useful, and his usefulness leading to promotion ; and behold him, who was an honest printer's apprentice, now a distinguished citizen, looked up to, for his judgment and his uprightness, by his neighbours, and exerting himself, in every respect, for their good, and for the good of his country.
The account of his life written by himself was interrupted by the American Revolution, an event which called upon most people to act, and act busily. When he went on with it again, he was living at Passy, a pleasant village not far from Paris. On then looking back at the various events in which he had been in some way or other engaged, he recollected that his father used often to remind him of the saying of Solomon, “Seest thou a man diligent
* Pursuit of Knowledge, vol. iv. part ii., p. 242
in his calling, he shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before mean men;" and he says, that although he did not then think he should ever stand before kings, he had actually stood before five, and had had the honour of sitting down with one (the King of Denmark) to dinner.
Before that time, indeed, Franklin's character and talents had attracted the attention of his countrymen. He was appointed agent, or what we should call ambassador for America in France, and afterwards in England, and he did his duty to his country throughout the unhappy disputes which ended in the establishment of American liberty. I have myself heard an old French gentleman of rank say
that he remembered seeing the plain old man walking by the side of the beautiful Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France, at the Palace' of Versailles.-On his return home, he rose to the dignity of President of the Council.
Franklin distinguished himself also as a philosopher. He was the first person who proved that lightning and electricity are the same, which he did by going out into the fields when a thunder-storm was gathering, and sending up a kite which attracted the lightning from the clouds, and conducted it to a key at the end of the string, from whence Franklin was able to draw sparks. He used afterwards to bring the electric fluid from the clouds into his house by means of a metal rod or conductor, and to perform many experiments with it. He also turned his discovery to useful account, by advising people to have a metal rod fixed above their houses, and carried into the earth: this is called a conductor, and if a thunder-cloud is just over a house, the lightning, instead of entering the house, will run down this metal rod, and do no mischief.
A lightning conductor ought to be a little higher than any part of the building. Such conductors may now be seen over many of the churches and public
buildings in London and other towns. A few
years ago the spire of the fine old church in which Śhakspeare is buried at Stratford-upon-Avon, was struck by lightning, and saved by the conductor: the rod was composed of many pieces, and, after the storm, every joint of it was found blackened. Several largé stones at the bottom of the conductor (which passed down the inside of the church) were turned completely over; and if there had been no conductor, the spire would have been thrown down, and the whole church perhaps destroyed; so that the tomb of one great man was then saved by the discoveries of another.
Before Franklin ventured to draw lightning from the clouds, he had thought a great deal concerning it; and the experiment, though it seems a rash one, was not made by chance, but in consequence of good reasons, to which he had arrived by thinking.
Franklin was soon after made a member of our Royal Society; and the Universities of Oxford, Edinburgh, and St. Andrews conferred upon him the degree of Doctor.
After a life of temperance, of labour, and of philosophy made useful; after making himself independent, raising himself to a high rank among men of science, and serving his country faithfully and honourably on very important occasions, he died in 1790, having reached the great age of eighty-five years, leaving his good example to be as useful as his life had been.
ROBERT OWEN, ESQ. The following anecdote reflects great credit on the good sense as well as the philosophy of Mr. Owen.
During the four months, while by the shutting of the American ports in 1808, the numerous workmen in the manufactory of cotton of which he was a