FRANKLIN, (Dn. BENJAMIN), in bio graphy, one of the most celebrated phi. losophers and politicians of the eigh teenth century, was born in Boston, in North America, in the year 1706, being the youngest of thirteen children. His father was a tallow-chandler in Boston, and young Franklin was taken away from school, at ten years of age, to assist him in his business. In this situation he conti nued two years, but disliking this occu pation, he was bound apprentice to an elder brother, who was then a printer in Boston, but had learned that business in London, and who, in the year 1721, be gan to print a newspaper, being the se cond ever published in America ; the co pies of which our author was sent to dis tribute, after having assisted in composing and printing it. Upon this occasion our young philosopher enjoyed the secret and singular pleasure of being the much admired author of many essays in this pa per, a circumstance which he had the ad dress to keep a secret even from his bro ther himself, and this when he was only fifteen years of age. The frequent ill usage from his brother induced young Franklin to quit his service, which he did at the age of seventeen, and went to New-York ; but not meeting employment here, he went forward to Philadelphia, where lie worked with a printer a short time ; after which, at the instance of Sir William Keith, governor of the province, he returned to Boston, to solicit pecunia ry assistance from his father to set up a printing-house for himself at Philadel phia, upon the promise of great encou ragement from Sir William, &c. His father thought fit, however, to refuse such aid, alleging that he was too young (eigh teen years old) to be entrusted with such a concern, and our author again returned to Philadelphia without it. Upon this Sir William said he would advance the sum himself; and our young philosopher should go to England and purchase all the types and materials himself, for which purpose he would give him letters of cre dit. He could never, however, get these letters, yet, by dint of fair promises of their being sent on board the ship after him, he sailed for England, expecting these letters of credit were in the gover nor's packet, which he was to receive upon its being opened. In this be was
cruelly deceived, and thus he was sent to London, without money, friends, or cre dit, at the age of eighteen.
He soon found employment, however, as a journeyman printer, first at Mr. Pal mer's, and afterwards with Mr. Watts, with whom he worked a considerable time, and by whom he was greatly es teemed, being also treated with such kindness that it was always most grateful ly remembered by our philosopher.
After a stay of eighteen months in Lon don, he returned to Philadelphia, viz. in 1726, along with a merchant of that town, as a clerk, on a salary of fifty pounds a year. But his master dying a year after, he again engaged to direct the printing business of the same person with whom he had worked before. After continuing with him the best part of a year, our phi losopher, in partnership with another young man, at length set up a printing house himself.
Before this time young Franklin had graduallly associated a number of persons like himself, of a rational and philosophi cal turn of mind, and formed them into a club or society, to hold meetings, to converse and communicate their senti ments together, for their mutual improve ment in all kinds of useful knowledge, which was in much repute for many years afterwards. Among many other useful re gulations, they agreed to bring such books as they had into one place, to form a common library. This resource being found defective, at Franklin's persuasion, they resolved to contribute a small sum monthly towards the purchase of books for their use from London. Thus their stock began to increase rapidly, and the inhabitants of Philadelphia, being desi rous of having a share in their literary knowledge, proposed that the books should be lent out for paying a small sum for the indulgence. Thus, in a few years, the society became rich, and pos sessed more books than were, perhaps, to be found in all the other colonies. The collection was advanced into a public li brary, and the ( titer colonies, sensible of its advantage, began to form similar plans, from whence originated the libraries at Boston, New-York, Charleston, &c. ; that of Philadolphia being now scarcely inferior to any in Europe.