Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

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Descripción editorial

It is a lamentable matter for any writer to find himself compelled to sketch, however briefly, the early years of Benjamin Franklin. That autobiography, in which the story of those years is so inimitably told, by its vividness, its simplicity, even by its straightforward vanity, and by the quaint charm of its old-fashioned but well-nigh faultless style, stands among the few masterpieces of English prose. It ought to have served for the perpetual protection of its subject as a copyright more sacred than any which rests upon mere statutory law. Such, however, has not been the case, and the narrative has been rehearsed over and over again till the American who is not familiar with it is indeed a curiosity. Yet no one of the subsequent narrators has justified his undertaking. Therefore because the tale has been told so often, and once has been told so well, and also in order that the stone which it is my lot to cast upon a cairn made up of so many failures may at least be only a small pebble, I shall get forward as speedily as possible to that point in Franklin's career where his important public services begin, at the same time commending every reader to turn again for further refreshment of his knowledge to those pages which might well have aroused the envy of Fielding and Defoe.

Franklin came from typical English stock. For three hundred years, perhaps for many centuries more, his ancestors lived on a small freehold at Ecton in Northamptonshire, and so far back as record or tradition ran the eldest son in each generation had been bred a blacksmith. But after the strange British fashion there was intertwined with this singular fixedness of ideas a stubborn independence in thinking, courageously exercised in times of peril. The Franklins were among the early Protestants, and held their faith unshaken by the terrors of the reign of Bloody Mary. By the end of Charles the Second's time they were non-conformists and attendants on conventicles; and about 1682 Josiah Franklin, seeking the peaceful exercise of his creed, migrated to Boston, Massachusetts. His first wife bore him seven children, and died. Not satisfied, he took in second nuptials Abiah Folger, "daughter of Peter Folger, one of the first settlers of New England, of whom honorable mention is made by Cotton Mather," and justly, since in those dark days he was an active philanthropist towards the Indians, and an opponent of religious persecution. This lady outdid her predecessor, contributing no less than ten children to expand the family circle. The eighth of this second brood was named Benjamin, in memory of his father's favorite brother. He was born in a house on Milk Street, opposite the Old South Church, January 6, old style, 17, new style, 1706. Mr. Parton says that probably Benjamin "derived from his mother the fashion of his body and the cast of his countenance. There are lineal descendants of Peter Folger who strikingly resemble Franklin in these particulars; one of whom, a banker of New Orleans, looks like a portrait of Dr. Franklin stepped out of its frame." A more important inheritance was that of the humane and liberal traits of his mother's father.

Biografías y memorias
18 de enero
Library of Alexandria
The Library of Alexandria

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