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DOCTOR BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, &c.
MY DEAR SON,
I HAVE amused myself with _collecting fome little anecdotes of my family. You may remember the enquiries I made, when you were with me in England, among fuch of my relations as were then living; and the journey I undertook for that purpose. To be acquainted with the particulars of my parentage and life, many of which are unknown to you, I flatter myself, will afford the fame pleasure to you as to me. I fhall relate them upon paper: it will be an agreeable employment of a week's uninterrupted leifure, which I promise myfelf during my prefent retirement in the country. There are alfo other motives which induce me to the undertaking. From the bofom of poverty and obfcurity, in which I drew my firft breath and spent my earlieft years, I have raised myself to a ftate of opulence and to fome degree of celebrity in
the world. A conftant good fortune has attended me through every period of life to my present advanced age; and my defcendants may be defirous of learning what were the means of which I made ufe, and which, thanks to the affifting hand of Providence, have proved fo eminently fuccefsful. They may alfo, fhould they ever be placed in a fimilar fituation, derive fome advantage from my narrative.
When I reflect, as I frequently do, upon the felicity I have enjoyed, I fometimes fay to myfelf, that, were the offer made me, I would engage to run again, from beginning to end, the fame career of life. All I would ask fhould be the privilege of an author, to correct, in a fecond edition, certain errors of the firft. I could wish, likewise, if it were in my power, to change fome trivial incidents and events for others more favourable. Were this however denied me, ftill would I not decline the offer. But fince a repetition of life cannot take place, there is nothing which, in my opinion, fo nearly resembles it, as to call to mind all its circumftances, and, to render their remembrance more durable, commit them to writing. By thus employing myself, I fhall yield to the inclination, so natural in old men, to talk of themfelves and their exploits, and may freely follow my bent, without being tirefome to thofe who, from refpect to my age, might think themselves obliged to liften to me; as they will be at liberty to read me or not as they pleafe. In fine-and I may as well avow it, fince nobody would believe me were I to deny it-} fhall perhaps, by this employment, gratify my vanity. Scarcely indeed have I ever heard or read the introductory phrafe," I may fay without
anity," but fome ftriking and characteristic inftance of vanity has immediately followed. The