Slike strani

as well as of his own village, of which many instances were related of him; and he was much taken notice of and patronized by Lord Halifax. Benjamin was very ingenious, not only in his own trade as dyer, but in all other matters his ingenuity frequently cropped out. He was a prolific writer of poetry, and when he died, "he left behind him, two quarto volumes of manuscript of his own poetry, consisting of fugitive pieces addressed to his friends."

early ancestor, bearing the same Christian name, was imprisoned for a whole year for writing a piece of poetry reflecting upon the "character of some great man." Note, that he was not incarcerated for writing bad poetry, but for libelling some one by his verse, though he might have been very properly punished for writing such stuff as he called poetry. It is nothing to boast of, that his descendant, Uncle Benjamin, was not sent to prison for producing “two quarto volumes of his own poetry," as the reader would believe if compelled to read it.

Dr. Franklin said, in his "Autobiography,"-" My father married young, and carried his wife with three children to New England about 1685. The conventicles [meetings of Dissenters] being at that time forbidden by law, and frequently disturbed in the meetings, some considerable men of his acquaintance determined to go to that country, and he was prevailed with to accompany them thither, where they expected to enjoy their religion with freedom."

Boston was not then what it is now, and no one living expected that it would ever become a city of great size and importance. It contained less than six thousand inhabitants. The bay, with its beautiful islands, spread out in front, where bears were often seen swimming across it, or from one island to another. Bear-hunting on Long Wharf was a pastime to many, and twenty were killed in a week when they were numerous.

In the rear of the town stood the primeval forests, where Red Men and wild beasts roamed at their pleasure.


is claimed that an Indian or pioneer might have travelled, at that time, through unbroken forests from Boston to the Pacific coast, a distance of more than three thousand miles, except here and there where western prairies stretched out like an "ocean of land," as lonely and desolate as the forest itself. That, in two hundred years, and less, sixty millions of people would dwell upon this vast domain, in cities and towns of surprising wealth and beauty, was not even thought of in dreams. That Boston would ever grow into a city of three hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants, with commerce, trade, wealth, learning, and influence to match, the wildest enthusiast did not predict. A single fact illustrates the prevailing opinion of that day, and even later. The town of Boston appointed a commission to explore the country along Charles River, to learn what prospects there were for settlers. The commissioners attended to their duty faithfully, and reported to the town that they had explored ten miles west, as far as settlers would ever penetrate the forest, and found the prospects as encouraging as could be expected.


It was to this Boston that Josiah Franklin emigrated in 1685, thinking to enjoy liberty of conscience, while he supported his growing family by his trade of dyer. There is no record to show that he was ever sorry he came. the other hand, there is much to prove that he always had occasion to rejoice in the change. Certainly his family, and their posterity, exerted great influence in building up the nation. Next to Washington, Josiah's son Benjamin ranked, in his efforts to secure American Independence, and all the blessings that followed.




HE fifteenth!" remarked Josiah Franklin to a relative, as he took the fifteenth child into his arms. “And a son, too; he must bear the name of his Uncle Benjamin."

Then, are we to understand that his name is Benjamin?" answered the relative, inquiringly.

"Yes, that is his name; his mother and I settled that some time ago, that the next son should bear the name of my most beloved brother, who I hope will remove to this country before long."

"Well, a baby is no curiosity in your family," remarked the relative, laughing. "Some men would think that fifteen was too much of a good thing."

"A child is God's gift to man, as I view it, for which parents should be thankful, whether it is the first or fifteenth. Each child imposes an additional obligation upon parents to be true to the Giver as well as to the gift. I am poor enough, but no man is poorer for a large family of children. He may have to labour harder when they are young and helpless, but in age they are props on which he can lean."

Mr. Franklin spoke out of the depths of his soul. He was a true Christian man, and took the Christian view of a child, as he did of anything else. While some men are annoyed by the multiplicity of children, he found a source of comfort and contentment in the possession. The seventeenth child, which number he had, he hailed with

the same grateful recognition of God's providence that he did when the first was born. Yet he was poor, and found himself face to face with poverty most of the time. Each child born, was born to an inheritance of want. But to him children were God's gift as really as sunshine or showers, day or night, the seventeenth just as much so as the first. This fact alone marks Josiah Franklin as an uncommon man for his day or ours.

"If more men and women were of your opinion," continued the relative, "there would be much more enjoyment and peace in all communities. The most favourable view that a multitude of parents indulge is, that children are troublesome comforts."

"What do you think of the idea of taking this baby into the house of God to-day, and consecrating him to the Lord?" Mr. Franklin asked, as if the thought just then flashed upon his mind. "It is only a few steps to carry him."

It was Sunday morning, January 6th, 1706, old style; and the "Old South Meeting House," in which Dr. Samuel Willard preached, was on the other side of the street, scarcely fifty feet distant.


I should think it would harmonise very well with your opinion about children as the gift of God, and the Lord may understand the matter so well as to look approvingly upon it, but I think your neighbours will say that you are rushing things somewhat. It might be well to let the little fellow get used to this world before he begins to attend meeting."

The relative spoke thus in a vein of humour, though she really did not approve of the proposed episode in the new comer's life. Indeed it seemed rather ridiculous to her, to carry a babe, a few hours old, to the house of God.

"I shall not consult my neighbours," Mr. Franklin replied. "I shall consult my wife in this matter, as I do in others, and defer to her opinion. I have always found that her judgment is sound on reducing it to practice."

"That is so; your wife is a woman of sound judgment as well as of strong character, and you are wise enough to recognise the fact, and act accordingly. But that is not true of many men. If your wife approves of taking her baby into the meeting-house for consecration to-day, then do it, though the whole town shall denounce the act."

There is no doubt his relative thought that Mrs. Franklin would veto the proposition at once, and that would end it. But in less than a half hour he reported that she approved of the proposition.


Benjamin will be consecrated to the Lord in the after. noon; my wife approves of it as proper and expressive of our earnest desire that he should be the Lord's. I shall see Mr. Willard at once, and nothing but his disapproval will hinder the act.

"And I would not hinder it if I could," replied his relative, "if your wife and Pastor Willard approve. I shall really be in favour of it if they are, because their judgment is better than mine."

"All the difference between you and me," continued Mr. Franklin, with a smile playing over his face, "appears to be that you think a child may be given to the Lord too soon, and I do not; the sooner the better, is my belief. With the consecration come additional obligations, which I am willing to assume, and not only willing, but anxious

to assume."

"You are right, no doubt; but you are one of a thousand in that view, and you will have your reward."

"Yes; and so will that contemptible class of fathers, who can endure five children, but not fifteen,-too irresponsible to see that one of the most inconsistent men on earth is the father who will not accept the situation he has created for himself. The Franklins are not made of that sort of stuff; neither are the Folgers (referring to his wife's family), whose fervent piety sanctifies their good

« PrejšnjaNaprej »