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into the hands of a second-hand bookseller, who knowing me by having sold me some books, brought it to me. My uncle, it seems, had left it behind him on his departure for America, about fifty years ago. I found various notes of his writing in the margins. His grandson, Samuel, is now living at Boston.
Our humble family had early embraced the reformation. They remained faithfully attached during the reign of Queen Mary, when they were in danger of being molested on account of their zeal against Popery. They had an English Bible, and to conceal it the more securely, they conceived the project of fastening it, open, with pack-threads across the leaves, on the inside of the lid of a close-stool. When my great-grandfather wished to read to his family, he reversed the lid of the close-stool upon his knees, and passed the leaves from one side to the other, which were held down on each by the packthread. One of the children was stationed at the door to give notice if he saw the proctor, an officer of the spiritual court, make his appearance; in that case, the lid was restored to its place, with the Bible concealed under it as before. I had this anecdote from my uncle Benjamin.
The whole family preserved its attachment to the Church of England, till towards the close of the reign of Charles II. when certain ministers, who had been ejected as non-conformists, having held conventicles in Northamtonshire, they were joined by Benjamin and Josias, who adhered to them ever after. The rest of the family continued in the Episcopal Church.
My father, Josias, married early in life. He went with his wife and three children to New. England, about the year 1632. Conventicles being at that time prohibited by law, and frequently disturbed, some considerable persons of his acquaintence determined to go to America, where they hoped to enjoy the free exercise of their religion, and my father was prevailed on to accompany them.
My father had also by the same wife, four chil dren born in America, and ten others by a second wife, making in all seventeen. I remember to have seen thirteen seated together at his table, who had all arrived at years of maturity, and were married. I was the last of the sons, and the youngest child, excepting two daughters. I was born at Boston, in New-England. My mother, the second wife, was Abiah Folger, daughter of Peter Folger, one of the first colonists of New-England, of whom Cotton Mather, makes honorable mention, in his Ecclesiastical History of that province, as "a pious and learned Englishman," if I rightly recollect his expressions. I have been told of his having written a variety of little pieces; but there appears to be only one in print, which I met with many years ago. It was published in the year 1675, and is in familiar verse, agreeably to the taste of the times and the country. The author addresses himself to the governors for the time being, speaks for liberty of conscience, and in favor of the anabaptists, quakers, and other sectaries, who had suffered persecution. To this persecu tion he attributes the wars with the natives, and other calamities which afflicted the country, re
garding them as the judgments of God, in punishment of so odious an offence, and he exhorts the goverment to the repeal of laws so contrary to charity. The poem appeared to be written with a manly freedom and a pleasing simplicity. I recollect the six concluding lines, though I have forgotten the order of the words of the two first; the sense of which was, that his censures were dictated by benevolence, and that; of consequence, he wished to be known as the author, because, said he, I hate from my very soul dissimulation.
From Sherburn* where I dwell,
My brothers were all put apprentices to different trades. With respect to myself, I was sent, at the age of eight years, to a grammar school. My father destined me for the church, and already regarded me as the chaplain of the family. The promptitude with which, from my infancy, I had learned to read, for I do not remember to have been ever without this acquirement, and the encouragement of his friends, who assured me that I should one day certainly become a man of letters, confirmed him in his design. My uncle Benjamin approved also of the scheme, and promised to give me all his volumes of sermons, written, as I have said, in the short hand of his invention, if I would take the pains to learn it.
Town in the Island of Nantucket.
I remained, however, scarcely a year at the grammar school, although, in this short interval, I had risen from the middle to the head of my class, from thence to the class immediately above, and was to pass, at the end of the year, to the next one in order. But my father, burthened with a numerous family, found that he was incapable, without subjecting himself to difficulties, of providing for the expence of a collegiate education, and considering besides, as I heard him say to his friends, that persons so educated were often poorly provided for, he renounced his first intentions, took me from the grammar school, and sent me to a school for writing and arithmetic, kept by a Mr. George Brownwel, who was a skillful master, and succeeded very well in his profession, by employing gentle means only, and such as were calculated 'to encourage his scholars. Under him I soon acquired an excellent hand; but I failed in arithmetic, and made therein no sort of progress.
At ten years of age, I was called home to assist my father in his occupation, which was that of soap-boiler and tallow chandler; a business to which he had served no apprenticeship, but which he had embraced on his arrival in NewEngland, because he found his own, that of a dyer, in too little request to enable him to maintain his family. I was accordingly employed in cutting the wicks and filling the moulds, taking care of the shop, carrying messages, &c.
This business displeased me, and I felt a strong inclination for a sea life; but my father set his face against it. The vicinity of the waters, however, gave me frequent opportunities of ven
turing myself, both upon and within it, and I soon acquired the art of swimming, and of managing a boat. When embarked with other children, the helm was commonly deputed to me, particularly on difficult occasions; and, in every other project, I was almost always the leader of the troop, whom I sometimes involved in embarrasment. I shall give an instance of this, which demonstrates an early disposition of mind for public enterprises, though the one in question was not conducted by justice.
The mill pond was terminated on one side by a marsh, upon the borders of which we were accustomed to take our stand, at high water, to angle for small fish. By dint of walking, we had converted the place into a perfect quagmire. My proposal was to erect a wharf that should afford us firm footing; and I pointed out to my companions a large heap of stones, intended for the building of a new house near the marsh, and which were well adapted for our purpose. Accordingly, when the workmen retired in the evening, I assembled a number of my playfellows, and by labouring diligently, like ants, sometimes four of us uniting our strength to carry a single stone, we removed them all, and constructed our little quay. The workmen were surprised the next morning at not finding their stones, which had been conveyed to our wharf. Inquiries were made respecting the authors of this conveyance; we were discovered; complaints were exhibited against us; many of us underwent correction on the part of our parents, and though 1 strenuously defended the utility of the work, my father at length convinced me, that nothing B