Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 5

New England, and owe my first
instructions in literature to the free grammar-schools
established there. I therefore give one hundred pounds
sterling to my executors, to be by them ... paid over to
the managers or directors of the free schools in my native
town of Boston, to be by them ... put out to interest, and
so continued at interest forever, which interest annually
shall be laid out in silver medals, and given as honorary
rewards annually by the directors of the said free schools
belonging to the said town, in such manner as to the
discretion of the selectmen of the said town shall seem
meet."

[Illustration: B. Franklin From an engraving by J. Thomson from the
original picture by J. A. Duplessis]

[Illustration: B. Franklin's signature]


INTRODUCTION


We Americans devour eagerly any piece of writing that purports to tell
us the secret of success in life; yet how often we are disappointed to
find nothing but commonplace statements, or receipts that we know by
heart but never follow. Most of the life stories of our famous and
successful men fail to inspire because they lack the human element
that makes the record real and brings the story within our grasp.
While we are searching far and near for some Aladdin's Lamp to give
coveted fortune, there is ready at our hand if we will only reach out
and take it, like the charm in Milton's _Comus_,

"Unknown, and like esteemed, and the dull swain
Treads on it daily with his clouted shoon;"

the interesting, human, and vividly told story of one of the wisest
and most useful lives in our own history, and perhaps in any history.
In Franklin's _Autobiography_ is offered not so much a ready-made
formula for success, as the companionship of a real flesh and blood
man of extraordinary mind and quality, whose daily walk and
conversation will help us to meet our own difficulties, much as does
the example of a wise and strong friend. While we are fascinated by
the story, we absorb the human experience through which a strong and
helpful character is building.

The thing that makes Franklin's _Autobiography_ different from every
other life story of a great and successful man is just this human
aspect of the account. Franklin told the story of his life, as he
himself says, for the benefit of his posterity. He wanted to help them
by the relation of his own rise from obscurity and poverty to

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