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to a stone, till we brought them all, to make our little wharf. The next morning the workmen were surprised at missing the stones, which had formed our wharf. Inquiry was made after the authors of this transfer: we were discovered, complained of, and corrected by our fathers; and, though I demonstrated the utility of our work, mine convinced me that that which was not honest, could not be truly useful."
Benjamin continued in his father's shop, variously employed as already stated, for two years, but with a continually growing dislike to his situation; and as his brother John, who had been trained to the same business, had recently married and gone to Rhode Island, to establish himself there as a chandler, on his own account, the probability seemed, to the impatient Benjamin, fast verging to certainty that he was fated permanently to this calling. His father, who had not failed to observe his strong repugnance to this employment, and his restiffness at the prospect of continuing in it, began to feel alarmed lest his youngest, like Josiah, one of his elder sons, should gratify his inclination by breaking away clandestinely and going to sea. Such an event would have been a great grief to his parents; and to prevent it, his father earnestly sought to ascertain what occupation would be most likely to suit his disposition, and keep him in content, safety, and usefulness, at home. With this view, he frequently took the lad out with him to the workshops of the different classes of mechanics in town, in the hope of discovering, in this way, the leading inclination of his son, in reference to a point of such grave concern as that of fixing on a pursuit for life.
These visits to the workshops were very gratifying to the inquisitive and observant spirit of young Benjamin. In speaking of them, in his own narrative of his life, he declares that “it was ever after a pleasure to him to see a good workman handle his tools." He adds, also, the more important remark, that he derived from these visits the benefit of knowing how to handle some of those tools himself; sufficiently well, at least, to execute various small pieces of work about his own premises, when a regular-bred mechanic was not conveniently to be procured; and especially did he thus secure for himself the still more material advantage of being able to construct various kinds of apparatus, for aiding his philosophical investigations, at the moment when some scientific conception, the principle it involved, and the experiment which would illustrate it, were all fresh and clear in his mind.
This testimony is instructive and valuable. The observations made, and the hints received, during those visits of the boy, worked like leaven among the thoughts of the man. The history of Franklin's philosophical inquiries, no less than his career as a tradesman, abounds with evidence of his mechanical ingenuity, and of the dexterity with which he could contrive and arrange the apparatus necessary to test the correctness of new ideas as they occurred to him. Thus, with him, speculation and experiment were enabled to go forward hand in hand; inquiry was facilitated; time was not vainly consumed in vague untested conjecture; conclusions were not only reached more promptly, but were rendered more exact and satisfactory; and the progress of actual knowledge was expedited. It seems, moreover, easy to discern, in the circumstances mentioned, the origin, at least in part, of that striking and characteristic tendency of his mind, to give a practical turn to his most abstruse · theoretical ideas, and to regard as the best criterion of the value of all philosophical studies, the extent to which they can be rendered subservient to the wants,
forts, the improvement, and the happiness of his fellow
The choice of a trade, which, as the result of the walks among the artisans of Boston, the father made for the son, was that of cutler ; and in pursuance of that choice, Benjamin was placed for a short time, by way of trial, with his cousin Samuel Franklin, son of his uncle Benjamin, brought up to the business in London, and recently established in Boston. But the sum demanded for the apprentice's fee, the father thought unreasonable; and it displeased him so much, that he took his son home again.
So this project for the welfare of the son, to which his father had been led by somewhat artificial means, fell to the ground; and the trade which Benjamin actually followed — that of a printer — was shortly after selected for the same general reason, which had originally prompted in his father the desire to devote him
to the clerical profession; a reason founded on inclinations and capacities, which spontaneously developed themselves, when there was nothing to interfere with the simple force of nature in the one, or to bias the judgment of the other; and which were, therefore, a safer guide to the choice of a pursuit for life. That reason was what Franklin himself called his “ bookish inclination." From his earliest childhood he had been “passionately fond of reading;” and the little sums of money he obtained were all expended in purchasing books. His first acquisition, he says, was a cheap set of Bunyan's works; and when he had read these, he sold them, that he might, with the proceeds, procure others, especially works history and biography. The few books that belonged to his father contained little but polemical divinity, a very unattractive sort of reading to most people, especially the young; but Benjamin's appetite was keen enough for the greater part even of that. Fortunately, however, he found also, on the same shelves, Plutarch's Lives, which he read with more avidity as well as profit; An Essay on Projects, by Daniel De Foe, an Englishman, the author of the famous Adventures of Robinson Crusoe; and An Essay to do Good, by the celebrated Cotton Mather of Boston. In speaking of these works, he intimates the belief that the reading of the two essays mentioned, gave him a turn of thinking which probably exerted an influence upon some of the principal events of his subsequent life.
APPRENTICED TO HIS BROTHER.
HE BECOMES A PRINTER.
BENJAMIN was now twelve years old. There being no type-foundry in the colony, his brother James, during the preceding year, 1717, had been to England to procure the necessary apparatus for a printing-office, and on his return had established himself in Boston, as a printer; and his father, still anxious lest Benjamin, in his unsettled and discontented state of mind, might gratify that “hankering for the sea," which continued as strong in him as ever, was now very urgent to have him regularly apprenticed to James. As this proposal was far more agreeable to the lad than remaining in the chandler's shop, he at length, after much solicitation, yielded to the wishes of his father; and in the course of the year he was duly indentured as an apprentice to his brother, so to continue till he should be twenty-one years old, and, for the closing year of the term, to be paid the full wages of a journeyman.
He took readily to his new employment, and soon became so expert in it as to be exceedingly useful to his brother. A freer access to a wider range of reading helped, very materially, to increase his content with the situation, which thus contributed to gratify one of his strongest propensities. His intercourse with the ap