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not maintain his family. Accordingly, I was employed in cutting wick for the candles, filling the moulds for cast candles, attending the shop, going of errands, &c.
I disliked the trade, and had a strong inclination to go to sea : but my father declared against it. But residing near the water, I was much in it and on it. I learnt to swim well, and to manage boats: and when embarked with other boys, I was commonly allowed to govern, especially in any case of difficulty; and upon other occasions I was generally the leader among the boys, and some times led them into scrapes, of which I will mention one instance, as it shews an early projecting public spirit, though not then justly conducted. There was a salt marsh, which bounded part of the mill-pond, on the edge of which, at high water, we used to stand to fish for minnows. By much trampling we had made it a mere quagmire. My proposal was to build a wharf there for us to stand upon, and I shewed my comrades a large heap of stones, which were intended for a new house near the marsh, and which would very well suit our purpose. Accordingly in the evening, when the workmen were gone home, I assembled a number of my play-fellows, and we worked diligently like so many emmets, sometimes two or three to a stone, till we brought them all to make our little wharf. The next morning, the workmen were sur
prized at missing the stones which had formed our wharf. Enquiry was made after the authors of this transfer, we were discovered, complained of, and corrected by our fathers; and though I demonstrated the utility of our work, mine convinced me that that which was not honest, could not be truly useful.
I suppose you may like to know what kind of a man my father was. He had an excellent constitution, was of a' middle stature, well set and very strong He could draw prettily, was skilled a little in music. His voice was sonorous and agreeable, so that when he played on his violin, and sumg withal, as he was accustomed to do after the business of the day was over, it was extremely agreeable to hear. He had some knowledge of mechanics, and on occasion was very handy with other tradesmen's tools. But his great excellence was his sound understanding and his solid judgment, in prudential matters, both in private and public affairs. It is true he was never employed in the latter, the numerous family he had to educate, and the straitness of his circumstances, keeping him close to his trade; but I remember well his being frequently visited by leading men, who consulted him for his opinion in public affairs, and those of the church he belonged to; and who showed great respect for his judgment and advice. He was also much consulted by private persons about their affairs, when any difficulty occurred, and frequently chosen an arbitrator between contending parties. At his table he liked to have, as often as he could, some sensible friend or neighbour. to converse with, and always took care to start some ingenious or useful topic for discourse which might tend to improve the minds of his children. By this means he turned our attention to what was good, just, and prudent, in the conduct of life; and little or no notice was ever taken of what related to the victuals on the table; whether it was well or ill dressed, in or out of season, of good or bad flavor, preferable or inferior to this or that other thing of the kind : so that I was brought up in such a perfect inattention to those matters, as to be quite indifferent 'what kind of food was set before me.
Indeed I am so unobservant of it, that to this day I can scarce tell a few hours after dinner of what dishes it consisted. This has been a great convenience to me in travelling, where my companions have been sometimes very unhappy for want of a suitable gratification of their more delicate, because better instructed, tastes and
My mother had likewise an excellent constitution: she suckled all her ten children. I never knew either my father or mother to have any sickness, but that of which they died : He at 89, and she at 85 years of age. They lie buried together at Boston, where I some years since placed a marble over their grave with this inscription :
Lie here interred.
(With God's blessing) Maintained a large family comfortably; And brought up thirteen children and seven grand-children,
And distrust not Providence,
Their youngest son,
Places this stone.
By my rambling digressions, I perceive myself to be grown old. I used to write more methodically. But one does not dress for private company, as for a public ball.
public ball. Perhaps 'tis only negligence.
To return : I continued thus employed in my father's business for two years, that is, till I was twelve years old; and my brother John, who was bred to that business, having left my father, married
and set up for himself at Rhode Island: there was every appearance that I was destined to supply his place, and become a tallow-chandler. dislike to the trade continuing, my father had apprehensions that if he did not put me to one more agreeable, I should break loose and go to sea, as my brother Josiah had done, to his great vexation. In consequence, he took me to walk with him and see joiners, bricklayers, turners, braziers, &c. at their work, that he might observe my inclination, and endeavour to fix it on some trade or profession that would keep me on land. It has ever since been a pleasure to me to see good workmen handle their tools. And it has been often useful to me, to have learnt so much by it, as to be able to do some trifling jobs in the house when a workman was not at hand, and to construct little machines for my experiments at the moment when the intention of making these was warm in my mind. My father determined at last for the cutler's trade, and placed me for some days on trial with Samuel, son to my uncle Benjamin, who was bred to that trade in London, and had just established himself in Boston. But the sum he exacted as a fee for my apprenticeship displeased my father, and I was taken home again.
From my infancy I was passionately fond of reading, and all the money that came into my hands was laid out in the purchasing of books. I was very fond of voyages. My first acquisition