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very poor man, who fired the engine at Wylam colliery, began his life-labour when a mere boy. Besides watching the cows, and barring the gates after the coal-waggons had passed, at two pence a day, he amused himself during his leisure moments, in making clay engines, in imitation of that which his father tended. Although he lived in circumstances so humble that ordinarily he would have been entirely unnoticed, his intense interest in, and taste for, mechanical work, attracted the attention of people and led them to predict his future success and fame.
In like manner, the first months of Benjamin Franklin's school days foreshadowed the remarkable career of his manhood. Relatives and friends believed that he would one day fill a high place in the land; and in that their anticipations were fully realized.
OUT OF SCHOOL.
R. FRANKLIN'S finances did not improve. It was clearer every day to him that he would not be able to keep Benjamin in school. Besides, in a few months, John, who had learned the tallow-chandler's business of his father, was going to be married, and establish himself in that trade in Providence. Somebody must take his place. It was quite impossible for his father to prosecute his business alone.
"I see no other way," remarked Mr. Franklin to his wife; "I shall be obliged to take Benjamin out of school to help me. My expenses increase from month to month, and must continue to increase for some years, so far as I can see. They will increase heavily if I am obliged to hire a man in John's place."
"I am not surprised at all that you have come to that conclusion," replied Mrs. Franklin. "I expected it, as I have intimated to you. Parents must be better off than we are to be able to send a son to college."
"If they have as many children to support as we have, you might add. I could easily accomplish it with no larger family than most of my neighbours have. Yet I find no fault with the number. I accept all the Lord sends."
"I am sorry for Benjamin," continued Mrs. Franklin. "He will be dreadfully disappointed. I am afraid he will think little of work because he thinks so much of his school. What a pity that boys who want an education, as
he does, could not have it, and boys who don't want it should do the work."
"That is the way we should fix it, no doubt, if the ordering were left to us," said Mr. Franklin; "but I never did have my own way, and I never expect to have it, and it is fortunate, I suppose, that I never did have it. If I could have it now, I should send Benjamin to college."
"It has been my prayer that he might give his life and his services to the Church," added Mrs. Franklin; “but Providence appears to indicate now that he should make candles for a livelihood, and it is not in me to rebel against the ordering. If frustrated in this plan, I mean to believe that Providence has something better in store for him and us."
"I was never so reluctant to adopt a conclusion as I have been to take Benjamin out of school," continued Mr. Franklin. "Yet, there has been one thought that reconciled me in part to the necessity, and that is, that there is less encouragement to a young man in the Church now than formerly. It is more difficult to suit the people, and, consequently, there are more trials and hardships for ministers; and many of them appear to be peculiar."
"If ministers have a harder time than you do I pity them," rejoined Mrs. Franklin. "I suppose that every calling has trials peculiar to it; and so far as that is concerned, we are all in the same boat. If we meet them with Christian fortitude, as we should, so much the better for
"True, very true, and my uttermost desire is to put Benjamin where duty points. But it is clear to me now that Providence has blocked his way to the ministry."
"You will not take him out of school until John leaves, will you?" inquired Mrs. Franklin.
"I shall have him leave the public school at the close of this term, and that will give him a full year's schooling. And then I shall put him into Mr. Brownwell's school for a
while to improve him in penmanship and arithmetic. By that time I must have him in the factory."
Mr. Brownwell had a private school, in which he taught penmanship and arithmetic. It was quite a famous school, made so by his success as a teacher in these departments.
Benjamin had received no intimation, at this time, that he would be taken out of school. His father shrank from disclosing his final plan to him because he knew it would be so disappointing. But as the close of the school year drew near, he was obliged to open the subject to him. It was an unpleasant revelation to Benjamin, although it was not altogether unexpected. For, in the outset, his father had said that such might be the necessity.
"You are a poor penman and deficient in your knowledge of numbers," said his father; "and improvement in these branches will be of great service to you in my busiYou will attend Mr. Brownwell's school for a while in order to perfect yourself in these studies." "I shall like that," answered Benjamin ; "but why can I not attend school until I am old enough to help you?" "You are old enough to help me. There are many things you can do as well as a man.'
"I should like to know what?" said Benjamin, rather surprised that he could be of any service in the candle business at nine years of age.
"John had to learn the
trade before he could help you much."
"You can cut the wicks, fill the moulds for cast-candles, keep the shop in order, run hither and thither with errands, and do other things that will save my time, and thus assist me just as much as a man could in doing the same things.”
"I am sure that is an inducement enough for any boy, but a lazy one, to work," remarked his mother, who had listened to the conversation. "Your father would have to pay high wages to a man to do what you can do as well, if I understand it."
"In doing errands you will aid as much, even perhaps
more, than in doing anything else," added Mr. Franklin. "I have a good deal of such running to do, and if you do it I can be employed in the more important part of my business, which no one else can attend to. Besides, your
nimble feet can get over the ground much quicker than my older and clumsier ones, so that you can perform that part of the business better than I can myself."
This was a new view of the case to Benjamin, and he was more favourably impressed by these remarks with candle-making. He desired to be of good service to hist father, and here was an opportunity-a consideration that partly reconciled him to the inevitable change.
At that time-about one hundred and seventy-five years ago-boys were put to hard work much earlier than they are now. They had very small opportunities for acquiring knowledge, and the boys who did not go to school after they were ten years old were more in number than those who did. Besides, the schools were very poor in comparison with those of our day. They offered very slim advantages to the young. It was not unusual, therefore, for lads as young as Benjamin to be made to work.
Benjamin was somewhat deficient in arithmethic, as his father said, and he had given little attention to penmanship. He did not take to the science of numbers as he did to other studies. He allowed his dislike to interpose and hinder his progress.
"I don't like arithmetic very well," he said to his father. "Perhaps not; but boys must study some things they don't like," his father replied. "It is the only way of preparing them for usefulness. You will not accomplish much in any business without a good knowledge of arithmetic. It is of use almost everywhere."
"I know that," said Benjamin, "and I shall master it if I can, whether I like it or not. I am willing to do what you think is best."
"I hope you will always be as willing to yield to my