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&c. &c. .
To William Franklin, Esq., Governor of New Jersey,
North America. Twyford, at the Bishop of St. Asaph's,a 1771. DEAR Sun, I HAVE ever had a pleasure in obtaining any little anccdotes of my ancestors. You may remember the inquiries I made among the remains of my relations, when you were with me in England, and the journey I undertook for that purpose. Imagining it may be equally agreeable to you to learn the circumstances of my life, many of which you are unacquainted with, and expecting the enjoyment of a few weeks' uninterrupted leisure, I sit down to write them. Besides, there are some other inducements that excite me to this undertaking. From the poverty and obscurity in which I was born, and in which I passed my earliest years, I have raised myself to a state of affluence and some degree of celebrity in the world. As constant good fortune has accompanied me even to an advanced period of life, my posterity will perhaps be desirous of learning the means, which I employed, and which, thanks to Providence, so well succeeded with me. They may also deem them fit to be imitated, should any of them find them
selves in similar circumstances. This good fortune, when I reflect on it, which is frequentiy the case, has induced me sometimes to say, that if it were left to my choice, 1 should have no objection to go over the same life from its beginning to the end: requesting only the advantage authors have, of correcting in a second edition the faults of the first. So would I also wish to change some incidents of it for others more favorable. Notwithstanding, if this condition was denied, I should still accept the offer of r'e-commencing the same life. But as this repetition is not to be expected, that which resembles most living one's life over again, seems to be to recall all the circumstances of it; and to render this remembrance more durable to record them in writing. In thus employing myself I shall yield to the inclination so natural to old men, of talking of themselves and their own actions; and I shall indulge it without being tiresome to those, who, from respect to my age, might conceive themselves obliged to listen to me, since they will be always free to read me or not. And lastly (I may as well confess it, as the denial of it would be believed by nobody) I shall perhaps not a little gratify my own vanity. Indeed, I never heard or saw the introductory words « J'ithout vanity I may say," &c. but some vain thing immediately followed. Most people dislike vanity in others, whatever share they have of it themselves, but I give it fair quarter, wherever I meet with it, being persuaded that it is often productive of good to the possessor, and to others who are within his sphere of action: and therefore, in many cases, it would not be altogether absurd, if a man were to thank God for his vanity among the other comforts of life.
And now I speak of thanking God, I desire with all humility to acknowledge that I attribute the mentioned happiness of my past life to his divine providence, which led me to the means I used, and gave the success. My belief of this induces me to hope, though I must not presume, that the same goodness will still be exercised towards me, in continụing that happiness or enabling me to bear a fatal reverse, which I may experience as others have done; the complexion of my future
fortune being known to him only, in whose power it is to bless us, even in our afflictions.
Some notes, one of my uncles (who had the same curiosty in collecting family anecdotes) once put into my hands, furnisbed me with several particulars relative to our ancestors. From these notes I learnt 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, which liad continued in the family down to my uncle's time, the eldest son being always brought up to that employment; a custom which he
Perhaps from the time, when the name of Franklin, which before was the name of an order of people, was assumed by them for a surname, when others took surnames all over the kingdom.
As a proof that FRANKLIN was anciently the common name of an or. der or rank in England, see Judge Fortescue, De laudibus Legum Angliæ, written about the year 1412, in which is the following passage, to show that good juries might easily be formed in any part of England.
“Regio etiam illa, ita respersa refertaque est possessoribus terrarum et agrorum, quod in ea, villula tam parva reperiri non poterit, in qua non est miles, armiger, vel pater-familias, qualis ibidem Frankleri vulgariter nuncupatur, magnis ditatus possessionibus, nec non libere tenentes et alii valecti plurimi, suis patrimoniis sufficientes ad faciendum juratam, in for. ma prænotata.
“ Moreover, the same country is so filled and reprenished with landed menne, that therein so small a thorpe cannot be found wherein dweleth not a knight, an esquire, or such a householder, as is there commonly called a Franklin, enriched with great possessions; and also other free. holders and many yeamen able for their livelihoodes to make a jury in form aforementioned.”—(Old Translation.)
Chaucer too calls his country gentleman, a Franklin'; and after describ. ing his good housekeeping, thus characterises him:
“ This worthy Franklin bore a purse of silk,