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Dr Franklin also found that he was himself the youngest son of the youngest son for five succeeding generations.
His grandfather, Thomas Franklin, born in 1598, left the paternal village in the decline of life, and enjoyed a tolerable competence in the house of his son John, a dyer, at Banbury in Oxfordshire.
His sons were Thomas, John, and Benjamin, who all reached man's estate; but the male line failing in the eldest branch, Elizabeth, the only daughter of Thomas Franklin, became seised of the land ; and her husband, Fisher, of Wellingborough, near Ecton, sold it to the lord of the manor, a Mr Isted.
This Thomas Franklin possessed much of the inquisitive and enterprising spirit of his distinguished grandson. Bred a smith, he resigned his business, studied for the bar, and became a man of considerable consequence in his neighbourhood. - Had he died,” said governor Franklin, “ four years later than he did, one might have believed in a transmigration."
John, the next brother, was a dyer in wool; and the third, named Benjamin, was hred a silk-dyer in London, where he accumulated property, and became, in his way, literary and poetical. He retired finally to the house of Dr Franklin's father at Boston in America, where he died in a good old age. His bookish propensities were connected, as we shall see, with those of the greater Benjamin, his nephew.
The family had become Protestants in the dawn of the Reformation. Dr Franklin's godfather and uncle, Benjamin, used to relate an anecdote which supplies a striking picture of the tinies. They had an English Bible (in queen Mary's reign) which, to conceal and place in safety, they fastened open, with tapes across the leaves, under the cover of a joint-stool. When Franklin's great-grandfather used to read it to his family, he placed the joint-stool on his knees, and then turned over the leaves under the tapes. One of the children stood at the door, to give notice of the
INCLUDING A SKETCH OF
THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF THE WAR
"THE VARIOUS NEGOCIATIONS AT PARIS FOR PEACE;
WITH THE HISTORY OF
HIS POLITICAL AND OTHER WRITINGS.
PRINTED FOR HUNT AND CLARKE,
Importance of his life and character.-Family history.--Early destination
and apprenticeship.Absconds, and arrives at Philadelphia. THE lives of great and useful men have been compared to the course of rivers. They often rise in the most obscure and desolate regions; a child might leap over their sources ; and thorns and briars alone appear destined to obey their unregarded progress:
But silently that slighted thing
Shall demonstrate its living spring. The stream widens and deepens ; it becomes the pride of the meadows, and the fertilizer of extensive districts; it arrives within the sweep of tides and the bustle of commerce; conveys prosperity to towns and cities; bears on its bosom the hopes and fortunes of millions, and at length reaches the ocean, the health and hope of a country.
The life of BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, which extends through nearly the whole of the eighteenth century, realized this ancient metaphor in a most remarkable degree. He was at once the humble mechanic, the yet humbler son of a tallow-chandler whose business he hated, and the artificer of his country's independence. He was an oppressed apprentice in the obscure and dingy press-room of a provincial town, and one of the most formidable opponents of