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age, his wife being an excellent companion for him, whether in prosperity or adversity, at home among kith and kin, or with strangers in New England.
"You'd better consider this matter seriously," continued the neighbour, "for several families will go, I think, if one goes. A little colony of us will make it comparatively easy to leave home for a new country."
"Very true; that would be quite an inducement to exchange countries, several families going together," responded Franklin. "I should enjoy escaping from the oppression of the Established Church as much as you; but it is a too important step for me to take without much consideration. It appears to me that my business could not be as good in a new country as it is in this old country."
"I do not see why, exactly. People in a new country must have dyeing done, perhaps not so much of it as the people of an old country; but the population of a new place like Boston increases faster than the older places of our country, and this fact would offset the objection you name."
"In part, perhaps. If Benjamin could go, I should almost feel that I must go; but I suppose it is entirely out of the question for him to go."
Benjamin was an older brother of Josiah, who went to learn the trade of a dyer of his brother John before Josiah did. The Benjamin Franklin of this volume, our young hero, was named after him. He was a very pious man, who rendered unto God the things that are God's with full as much care as he rendered unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's. He was a very intelligent, bright man, also quite a poet for that day, and he invented a style of shorthand writing that he used in taking down sermons to which he listened. In this way he accumulated several volumes of sermons, which he held as treasures.
"I have not spoken with your brother about the matter," replied the neighbour. "I think it would be more difficult
for him to arrange to go than for most of us, at least for the present. I intend to speak with him about it."
"He will not want me to go if he cannot,” added Josiah, "and I shall think about it a good while before I should conclude to go without him. We have been together most of our lives, and to separate now, probably never to meet again, would be too great a trial."
"You will experience greater trials than that if you live long, no doubt," said the neighbour, "but I want you should think the matter over, and see if it will not be for your interest to make this change. I will see you again about it."
While plans are being matured, we will see what Doctor Franklin said, in his "Autobiography," about his ancestors at Ecton:
"Some notes, which one of my uncles, who had the same curiosity in collecting family anecdotes, once put into my hands, furnished me with several particulars relative to our From these notes I learned that they lived in the same village, Ecton, in Northamptonshire, on a freehold of about thirty acres, for at least three hundred years, and how much longer could not be ascertained. This small estate would not have sufficed for their maintenance without the business of a smith [blacksmith] which had continued in the family down to my uncle's time, the eldest son being always brought up to that employment, a custom which he and my father followed with regard to their eldest sons. When I searched the records in Ecton, I found an account of their marriages and burials from the year 1555 only, as the registers kept did not commence previous thereto. I, however, learned from it that I was the youngest son of the youngest son for five generations back. My grandfather, Thomas, who was born in 1598, lived in Ecton till he was too old to continue his business, when he retired to Banbury, Oxfordshire, to the house of his son John, with whom my father served an apprenticeship. There my uncle died and
lies buried. We saw his gravestone in 1758. His eldest son Thomas lived in the house at Ecton, and left it with the land to his only daughter, who, with her husband, one Fisher, of Wellingborough, sold it to Mr Ioted, now lord of the manor there. My grandfather had four sons, who grew up, viz.: Thomas, John, Benjamin, and Josiah."
"I don't know how you like it, but it arouses my indignation to have our meeting broken up, as it was last week," remarked Josiah Franklin to the aforesaid neighbour, a short time after their previous interview. "If anything will make me exchange Banbury for Boston it is such intolerance."
"I have felt like that for a long time, and I should not have thought of leaving my native land but for such oppression," replied the neighbour, "and what is worse, I see no prospect of any improvement; on the other hand, it appears to me that our rights will be infringed more and more. I am going to New England if I emigrate alone."
"Perhaps I shall conclude to accompany you when the time comes. There don't appear to be room in this country for Dissenters and the Established Church. I understand there is in New England. I may conclude to try it."
"I am glad to hear that. We shall be greatly encouraged if you decide to go. I discussed the matter with Benjamin since I did with you, and he would be glad to go if his business and family did not fasten him here. I think he would rather justify your going."
"Did he say so?"
No, not in so many words. But he did say that he would go if his circumstances favoured it as much as your. circumstances favour your going."
"Well, that is more than I supposed he would say. I expected that he would oppose any proposition that contemplated my removal to Boston. The more I think of it the more I am inclined to go."
The Franklins, clear back to the earliest ancestors, had experienced much persecution. Some of them could keep and read their Bible only by concealing it and reading it in secret. The following, from Franklin's "Autobiography," is an interesting and thrilling incident :
"They had an English Bible, and, to conceal it and place it in safety, it was fastened open with tapes under and within the cover of a joint-stool. When my greatgrandfather wished 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 if he saw the apparitor coming, who was an officer of the spiritual court. In that case the stool was turned down again upon its feet, when the Bible remained concealed under it as before. This anecdote I had from Uncle Benjamin.”
The Dissenters from the Established Church loved their mode of worship more, if anything, than members of their mother-church. But under the tyrannical king, Charles II., they could not hold public meetings at the time to which we refer. Even their secret meetings were often disturbed, and sometimes broken up.
"It is fully settled now, that we are going to New England," said the aforesaid neighbour to Josiah Franklin subsequently, when he called upon him with two other neighbours, who were going to remove with him; "and we have called to persuade you to go with us; we don't see how we can take no for an answer."
"Well, perhaps I shall not say no; I have been thinking the matter over, and I have talked with Benjamin; and my wife is not at all averse to going. But I can't say yes to-day; I may say it to-morrow, or sometime."
"That is good," answered one of the neighbours; "we must have one of the Franklins with us to be well equipped. Banbury would not be well represented in Boston without one Franklin, at least."
"You are very complimentary," replied Franklin; "even misery loves company, though; and it would be almost carrying home with us for several families to emigrate. together. The more the merrier."
"So we think. To escape from the intolerant spirit that pursues Dissenters here will make us merry, if nothing else does. Home is no longer home when we can worship God as we please only in secret."
"There is much truth in that," continued Franklin. "I am much more inclined to remove to New England than I was a month ago. The more I reflect upon the injustice and oppression we experience, the less I think of this country for a home. Indeed, I have mentally concluded to go if I can arrange my affairs as I hope to."
"Then we shall be content; we shall expect to have you one of the company. It will be necessary for us to meet often to discuss plans and methods of emigration. We shall not find it to be a small matter to break up here and settle there."
It was settled that Josiah Franklin would remove to New England with his neighbours, and preparations were made for his departure with them.
These facts indicate the standing and influence of the Franklins. They were of the common people, but leading families. Their intelligence, industry, and Christian principle entitled them to public confidence and respect. Not. many miles away from them were the Washingtons, ancestors of George Washington, known as "the father of his country." The Washingtons were more aristocratic than the Franklins, and possessed more of the world's wealth and honours. Had they been near neighbours they would not have associated with the Franklins, as they belonged to a different guild. Such were the customs of those times.
Thomas Franklin was a lawyer, and became a considerable man in the county,-was chief mover of all publicspirited enterprises for the county or town of Northampton,