Imatges de pÓgina

culty Franklin was able to procure fifty subscribers, willing to pay forty shillings to begin with, and ten shillings a year for a contribution. With this number the library was commenced. The books were imported, and lent out to subscribers. Great advantages were derived from the institution, and it was soon imitated in other places.

5. In this library, Franklin found means of continual improvement. He set apart an hour or two in each day for study, and in this way, in some degree, made up for the loss of a learned education. Reading was his only amusement. His attention to business was as strict as it was necessary. He was in debt for his printing house, and had an increasing family; with two rivals in his business, who had been established before him. Notwithstanding all this, however, he grew more easy in his circumstances every day.

6. His early habits of frugality continued. He often thought of the proverb of Solomon, which his father had impressed on him while a boy-" Seest thou a man diligent in his calling? he shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before mean men.” Industry appeared a means of obtaining wealth and distinction, and the thought encouraged him to new exertions. We shall see, by and by, that little as

4. How many subscribers were obtained? 5. Did Franklin still pursue his studies, and how? Did his early habits continue ? What was the proverb so often repeated by his father?

his father expected it, the son really came to stand, with honor, in the presence of monarchs.

7. His wife was, fortunately, as well inclined to industry and frugality as he was himself. She assisted him in his business, folding and stitching pamphlets, tending shop, and purchasing old linen rags for the paper-makers. They kept no idle servants, their table was simply furnished, and their furniture was plain and cheap.

8. "My breakfast," says Franklin, "was for a long time bread and milk (no tea), and I ate it out of a twopenny earthen porringer, with a pewter spoon but mark how luxury will enter families, and make a progress in spite of principle; being called one morning to breakfast, I found it in a china bowl, with a spoon of silver. They had been bought for me, without my knowledge, by my wife, and had cost her the enormous sum of three and twenty shillings; for which she had no other excuse or apology to make, but that she thought her husband deserved a silver spoon and china bowl as well as any of his neighbors. This was the first. appearance of plate and china in our house, which afterwards, in a course of years, as our wealth increased, augmented gradually to several hundred pounds in value."

9. It was about this time that Franklin formed

7. What was the conduct of his wife? 8. Describe Franklin's breakfast, and give his humorous account of the first appearance of luxury in his house.

the bold and difficult project of arriving at moral perfection. As he knew, or thought he knew, what was right and wrong, he did not see why he might not always do the one and avoid the other. For this purpose, he made a table of the different virtues, with certain rules and precepts annexed to them. Some of these were as follows:

1. Temperance.-Eat not to dulness: drink not to elevation.

2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself: avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order.—Let all your things have their places: let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution.-Resolve to perform what you ought: perform, without fail, what you resolve.

5. Frugality.-Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; that is, waste nothing. 6. Industry.-Lose no time: be always employed in something useful: cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit: think innocently and justly and if you speak, speak accordingly. 8. Justice.-Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. Moderation.-Avoid extremes: forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve. 10. Cleanliness.-Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.

11. Tranquillity.-Be not disturbed at trifles, nor at accidents common or unavoidable.

9. What was Franklin's favorite project at this time? Repeat the table of virtues, and the precepts annexed to them.

10. To acquire a habit of practising these virtues, he determined to give a week's strict attention to each of them in succession. Thus, in the first week, he took care to avoid even the slightest offence against temperance, and strictly marked every fault in a little book he kept for that purpose. This book he continued to keep for a great number of years; till, in the pressure of public business, he was obliged to give it up entirely.

11. "It is well," he wrote in his old age, "my posterity should be informed that to this little artifice their ancestor owed the constant felicity of his life, down to his seventy-ninth year, in which this is written. What reverses may attend the remainder is in the hand of Providence: but if they arrive, the reflection on past happiness enjoyed ought to help his bearing them with more resignation."

12. "To Temperance he ascribes his long continued health, and what is still left to him of a good constitution. To Industry and Frugality, the early easiness of his circumstances, and acquisition of his fortune, with all that knowledge that enabled him to be an useful citizen, and obtained for him some degree of reputation among the learned. To Sincerity and Justice, the confidence of his country, and the honorable employs it conferred upon him:

10. How did he attempt to acquire a habit of these virtues 12. To what does Franklin ascribe his long continued health? the ease of his circumstances? the confidence and honor he received from his country?

and to the joint influence of the whole mass of the virtues, even in the imperfect state he was able to acquire them, all that evenness of temper and that cheerfulness in conversation, which makes his company still sought for, and agreeable even to his young acquaintance: I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow the example, and reap the benefit."

13. In 1732, Franklin first published his almanac, under the name of Richard Saunders. It was continued by him about twenty-five years, and was commonly called Poor Richard's Almanac. He endeavored to make it both entertaining and useful, and it accordingly came to be in great demand. As it was generally read, and as the poor people bought hardly any other books, Franklin thought it would be a good means to circulate instruction among them. He, therefore, filled all the odd spaces with proverbs and wise sayings.

14. These proverbs contained the experience and wisdom of many nations and ages. In 1757, Franklin collected them into a discourse prefixed to the almanac for that year. In this discourse, he represented an old man talking to a number of people who were attending a sale at auction. The hour for the sale not having come, the company were conversing on the badness of the times.

13. When did he first publish his almanac? How long was it continued? How did he endeavor to make it useful? 14. What was prefixed to the almanac for 1757?

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