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all readers. “ It is hard for an empty sack to stand upright,” was one of these proverbs.
“ God helps them that help themselves ;
" he that lives upon hope will die fasting ;” “at the working man's door hunger looks in, but dares not enter,”-were others. In the Almanack of 1757, he brought all these scattered counsels together, and formed them into a connected discourse, as the harangue of a wise old man to the people attending an auction, and entitled them, 6. The Way to Wealth.” This piece has been printed in all the principal languages of Europe, in a variety of forms. We subjoin the whole in our Appendix*, nothing of a more characteristic nature having proceeded from our author's pen.
In the conduct of his newspaper, as a vehicle of public instruction, Franklin also acted with his usual good sense and promptitude; as far as it was compatible with the free discussion of public measures, he carefully excluded personal attacks. To the pleas of some zealots for a different course, his reply was curious. They would urge, he says, the liberty of the press, and that a newspaper, like a stage-coach, should afford a place to all who would pay for it. His answer was, that he would furnish copies of the objectionable pieces for the private distribution of the parties (thus preserving their good will) but not intrude on his subscribers what might be private scandal, or might be deemed so. His selections from the Spectator and other works were very attractive to readers of such limited education and means of knowledge as surrounded him ; while his own original contributions evinced the rapid growth of his intellect. He particularizes a Socratic dialogue, and a discourse on self-denial, as amongst his most successful essays. The subjects were characteristic of the writer; the former being designed to prove, that no vicious man could be, strictly, a man of sense; and the latter, that virtue was not secure until its prac
See Appendix, No. 1
tice became habitual, and free from the dominion of
He was a strong advocate for women of the middle classes being taught the practice of reading, writing, and accounts, in preference to music, dancing, and unsuitable accomplishments. Of the importance of this he supplies an instance from his own observation. A journeyman of his was sent by him to Charlestown, Carolina, where a printer was much wanted, provided with a press, type, &c. on an agreement of partnership, according to which, Franklin was to have one-third of the final profits of the trade. He was a well-educated young man, but ignorant of accounts, and while he lived, they were never regu, larly remitted; but at his death, his wife (educated in Holland) gave the clearest statement of all the past transactions he had ever managed, and conducted the business in future with the greatest punctuality and success; so that, after bringing up a large family respectably, she was finally able to buy the printinghouse for her son.
In 1733, he began to turn his attention to the acquirement of languages, and became familiar with the French, Italian, and Spanish, successively. From these he proceeded to regain and extend his knowledge of Latin, in which he never had more than one year's instruction, he observes, in the early part of life. Here the unexpected facility which he derived from his acquaintance with the European languages, urged him to suspect that boys are wrongly put to Latin first. It is, as he states, as if we were placed on the top of a light of stairs, at once, for the sake of walking down them easily ; whereas, if we begin at the lower, we shall most easily reach the top. But surely he argues too precisely from his own case.—His object was simply the acquirement of certain languages, and he brought to their study a mind unusually disciplined. Boys are easily taught the classical languages, and especially Latin, as a means of mental discipline, and because the form and
structure of that language will, at the same time, facilitate the acquirement of every other.
Afluence, never better deserved, now shone upon our aspiring tradesman: when, having been ten years absent from Boston, he made a second journey to visit his relations. He called at Newport on his return, to see his brother James, who had removed thither with his printing-office; their meeting was cordial, and all former differences were forgotten. His brother, being in a declining state of health, requested him to take a nephew under his charge, and bring him up to the printing business ; a kindness which Franklin nobly considered to have been a matter of some “justice” to his brother, in recompense for the disadvantage he sustained from his leaving his service so abruptly.
About this time our author became acquainted with a young preacher of the Presbyterian persuasion, who came to Philadelphia in 1734, and who, with all Franklin's scepticism, attracted much of his attention. Gifted with a sonorous voice, he delivered extempore moral discourses of a very superior description, which drew large congregations, composed of all classes of the citizens. Franklin's attention was fixed by the absence of all peculiar religious dogmas, which distinguished them, and which soon drew down
the preacher the censure of his brethren. The synod of the province was moved to sit upon his supposed delinquency as a heterodox preacher; when Franklin publicly espoused his cause, and became the chief champion in a paper war which was undertaken by his hearers in his defence.
But a most untoward discovery of the opposing party turned the tide of popular applause. One of the orator's best sermons was traced to a review imported from England, in which it was quoted almost verbatim from the celebrated Dr Foster. On this being known, all his other friends abandoned his cause ; but Franklin slyly argued, " that he rather approved of his giving good sermons of other people's
afterwards owned that none of his discourses were
composition, than bad ones of his own.” The man Franklin finally left off attendance on public worship. original, and left Philadelphia in disgrace. With him the institution of the Junto had hitherto been kept as
To avoid perplexing applications for admittance, now too conscious of its advantages, or too well disquieter policy of confining their number to twelve.
He therefore proposed the following plan for the 68
possible. But its members were exhibit them, to be restrained by Franklin's virtual extension of the club, without sacrificing its original principles. Every member of the old institution was to endeavour separately to form a Junto under his own direction, subordinate to that institution. He was not to disclose to the new establishment the operation of the parent society, but to communicate to the latter whatever interesting information, and all the advantages of new connexions, which could be derived from the former. Here was therefore a system of concentric clubs, through which large portions of the Philadelphians might be influenced in political and private, as well as literary, matters. It promoted the direct interests of the members in their respective pursuits of life, while it increased their stores of knowledge and sources of amusement; and though not more than half the designed number of subordinate clubs was formed, Franklin constantly availed himself of their influence to feel the public pulse, and carried measures, by their assistance, which would otherwise have failed. Indeed, we cannot help tracing to these favourite social schemes of our author, much of his subsequent influence and consequence in America.
In 1736, the subject of our memoir was unanimously chosen clerk of the Pennsylvanian Assembly. This, though a subordinate political post (giving him no vote in the proceedings) introduced him to the public business of the colonies in its most important forms, as well as to the personal acquaintance of all
the members of the house; and, by securing him the public printing and other business, was every way conducive to his prosperity.
His re-election in 1737 being opposed by a new member of some consequence (though ultimately carried), he furnishes us with one of his characteristic recipes for conciliating an honest
and powerful foe. The gentleman in question, like Franklin, collected books; and the latter, hearing that he possessed a scarce and curious volume, politely requested the loan of it for a few days. It was sent immediately, and Franklin returned it in a week, with another note, expressing his obligation to the owner; who, when they resumed their respective posts in the assembly, noticed Mr Franklin politely, which he had never before done; and ever afterwards acted as his friend. • He that has once done you a kindness,' says our philosopher, will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.'
Bradford, Franklin's competitor in the publication of a newspaper, being deprived of his office of deputy postmaster at Philadelphia in 1787, colonel Spottswood, the postmaster-general, gave the appointment to the latter, who readily availed himself of its advantages for facilitating the circulation of his paper, and improving his connexions throughout the province.
Shortly afterwards, his easy circumstances, combined with his influence in the Juntos, induced him to propose certain public improvements, the consequences of which will be felt in Philadelphia to remote ages.
The most important of his early measures of this kind, was the establishment of a fire-company His plans were directed rather to the prevention of this awful calamity, than to any scheme of insurance against actual loss. He first drew up and circulated remarks on the carelessness both of principals and servants in respect to fire, accompanied with suggestions for the better preventing of accidents, and for rendering prompt assistance in