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were the means of which I made use, and which, thanks to the assisting hand of Providence, have proved so eminently successful. They may also, should they ever be placed in a similar situation, derive some advantage from my narrative.
When I reflect, as I frequently do, upon the felicity I have enjoyed, I sometimes say to inyself, that, were the offer made me, I would engage to run again, from beginning to end, the same career of life. All I would ask should be the privilege of an author, to correct, in a second edition, certain errors of the first. I could wish, likewise, if it were in my power, to change some trivial incidents and events for others more favorable. Were this, however, denied me, still I would not decline the offer. But since a repetition of life cannot take place, there is nothing which, in my opionin, so nearly resembles it, as to call to mind all the circumstances, and to render their remembrance more durable, commit them to writing. By thus employing myself, I shall yield to the inclination so natural to old men, to talk of themselves and their exploits, and may freely follow my bent, without being tiresome to those, who from respect to my age, might think themselves obliged to listen to me, as they will be at liberty to read me or not, as they please. In fine, (and I may well avow it, since nobody would believe me were I to deny it,) I shall, perhaps, by this employment, gratify my vanity, scarcely indeed have I ever heard or read the introductory phrase, “I may say without vanity,” but some striking and characteristic instance
of vanity has immediately followed. The generality of men hate vanity in others, however strongly they may be tinctured with it themselves; for myself, I pay obeisance to it whereever I meet it, persuaded that it is advantageous as well to the individual whom it governs, as to those who are within the sphere of its influence. Of consequence, it would, in many cases, not be wholly absurd, that a man should count his vanity among the other sweets of life, and give thanks to Providence for the blessing.
And here let me with all humility acknowledge, that to Divine Providence I am indebted for the felicity I have hitherto enjoyed. It is that power alone which has furnished me with the means I have employed and that has crowned them with success. My faith in this respect leads me to hope, though I cannot count upon it, that the Divine goodness will still be exercised towards me, either by prolonging the duration of my happiness to the close of life, or by giving me fortitude to support any melancholy reverse, which may happen to me, as to so many others. My future fortune is unknown but to Him in whose hand is our destiny, and who can make our very afflictions subservient to our benefit.
One of my uncles, desirous, like myself, of collecting anecdotes of our family, gave ine some notes, from which I have derived many particulars respecting our ancestors. From
these I learn, that they had lived in the same village, (Eaton, in Northamptonshire,) upon a freehold of about thirty acres, for the space at
least of three hundred years. How long they had resided there prior to that period, my uncle had been unable to discover; probably ever since the institution of surnames, which had formerly been the name of a particular order of individuals.*
This petty estate would not have sufficed for their subsistence, had they not added the trade of blacksmith, which was perpetuated in the family down to my uncle's time, the eldest son having been uniformly brought up to this employment; a custom which both he and my father observed with respect to their eldest sons.
In the researches I made at Eaton, I found no account of their births, marriages, and deaths, earlier than the year 1555; the parish register not
*As a proof that Franklin was anciently the common name of an order or rank in England, see Jude Fortesqae, de laudibus legum Angliæ, written about the year 1412, in which is the following passage, to show that good juries might casily be formed in any part of England:
Regio etiam illa, in respersa refertaque est possessoribus terrarum et agrorum, quod in ea, villula tam parva reperiri non poterit, in qua non est miles, armiger, vel pater-familias, qualis ibidem Franklin vulgariter nuncupatar, magnis dictatus possessionibus, nec non libere tenentes at alii valectit plurimi, suis patrimoniis sufficientes, ad faciendum juratum, in forma prænotata."
"Moreover, the same country is so filled and replenished with landed menne, that therein so small a thorpe cannot be found wherein dwelleth not a knight, an esquire, or such an householder as is there commonly called a Franklin, enriched with great pos sessions; and also other freeholders and many yeomen, able for their livelihoods to make a jury in form aforementioned."
Old Translation. Chaucer, too, calls his country gentleman a Franklin, and after describing his good housekeeping, thus characterizes him; This worthy Franklin hore a purse of silk, Fix'd to his girdle, white as morning milk, Knight of the shire, first justice at the assize, To help the poor, the doubtful to advise, In all employments, generous, just he prov'd Renown'd for courtesy, by all belov'd.
extending further back than that period. The register informed me, that I was the youngest son of the youngest branch of the family, counting five generations. My grandfather' Thomas, who was born 1598, lived at Eaton till he was too old to continue his trade, when he retired to Banbury, in Oxfordshire, where his son John, who was a dyer, residded,and with whom my father was apprenticed. He died, and was buried there; we saw his monument in 1759. His eldest son lived in the family house at Eaton, which he bequeathed, with the land belonging to it, to his only daughter, who, in concert with her husband, Mr. Fisher, of Wellingborough, afterwards sold it to Mr. Ested, the present proprietor.
My grandfather had four surviving sons, Thomas, Jolin, Benjamin, and Josias. I shall give you such particulars of them as my memory will furnish, not having my papers here, in which you will find a more minute account, if they are not lost during my absence.
Thomas had learned the trade of blacksmith under his father; but possessing a good natural understanding, he improved it by study, at the solicitation of a gentleman of the name of Palmer, who was at that time the principal inhabitant of the village, and who encouraged in like manner all my uncles to improve their minds. Thomas thus rendered himself competent to the functions of a country attorney: soon became an essential personage in the affairs of the village: and was one of the chief movers of every public enterprise, as well relative to the county, as to the town of Northampton. A variety of.remarkable incidents were told us of him at Eaton. After enjoy
ing the esteem and patronage of Lord Halifax, he died January 6, 1702, precisely four years before I was born. The recital that was made us of his life and character, by some aged persons of the village, struck you, I remember, as extraordinary, from its analogy to what you know of myself. "Hadhe died," said you, "just four years later,one might have supposed a transmigration of souls." John, to the best of my belief, was brought up to the trade of a wool-dyer.
Benjamin served his apprenticeship in London, to a silk-dyer. He was an industrious man; I remember him well; for, while I was a child, he joined my father at Boston, and lived for some years in the house with us. A particular affection had always subsisted between my father and him, and I was his godson. He arrived to a great age. He left behind him two quarto volumes of poems in manuscript, consisting of little fugitive pieces addressed to his friends. He had invented a short hand, which he taught me, but having never made use of it, I have now forgotten it. He was a man of piety, and a constant attendant on the best preachers, whose sermons he took a pleasure in writing down according to the expeditory method he had devised. Many volumes were thus collected by him. He was also extremely fond of politics, too much so perhaps for his situation. I lately found in London a collection which he had made of all the principal pamphlets relative to public affairs, from the year 1641 to 1717. Many volumes are wanting, as appears by the series of numbers; but there still remain eight in folio, and twenty-four in quarto and octavo. The collection had fallen