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below the knees. Ruffled shirts and ruffled wristbands of linen, of snowy whiteness, added to the beauty of the dress. A jewelled scabbard containing a polished sword hung by the side. A three-cornered hat completed this showy attire. There is not a Rocky Mountain Indian in his most gorgeous wardress of paint and plumes, who would attract more attention walking down Broadway, than would Benjamin Franklin as he was painted in 1726.
His portrait was taken when he was in London, working as a journeyman printer. Contrary to the general impression, Franklin was then, and through all his life, fully conscious of the advantages which dress confers. When surrounded by the homage of the court of Versailles, there was no courtier in those magnificent saloons more attentive to his attire than was Benjamin Franklin. His keen sagacity taught him the advantage of appearing in a dress entirely different from that of the splendid assembly around him, and thus he attracted universal observation. But never did he appear in the presence of these lords and ladies but in a costly garb to which he had devoted much attention.
Mr. Parton, speaking of the portrait which Franklin then had painted in London, says,
“The fair, full, smiling face of Franklin is sur. rounded in this picture by a vast and stiff horse-hair wig; and his well-developed figure shows imposingly in a voluminous and decorated coat that reaches nearly to his heels. Under his left arm he carries his cocked hat. His manly bosom heaves under snowy ruffles, and his extensive wrist-bands are exposed to view by the shortness of his coat sleeves."
Between the years 1740 and 1775, while abundance reigned in Pennsylvania, and there was peace in all her borders, a more happy and prosperous population could not perhaps be found on this globe. In every home there was comfort. The people generally were highly moral, and knowledge was extensively diffused. Americans, who visited Europe, were deeply impressed by the contrast. In the Old World they saw everywhere indications of poverty and suffering. Franklin wrote, after a tour in Great Britain in 1772,
“Had I never been in the American colonies, but were to form my judgment of civil society by what I have lately seen, I should never advise a nation of savages to admit of civilization. For, I assure you, that in the possession and enjoyment of the various comforts of life, compared with these people, every Indian is a gentleman; and the effect of this kind of civil society seems to be the depressing multitudes below the savage state, that a few may be raised above it."
Yet let it not be supposed that the effects of the fall were not visible here, or that man's inhumanity to man had ceased. There were bickerings, and heart burnings, and intense political struggles, in which the strong endeavored to extend their power, and the weak endeavored to throw off the shackles with which they were bound. William Penn complains of the ambitious politicians who he said thought—"nothing taller than themselves but the trees.” John Adams denounced in severest terms the tricks of the petty politicians; and speaking of the more ambitious ones who sought the positions of governor or custom-house officers, he writes:
“ These seekers are actuated by a more ravenous sort of ambition and avarice."
For twenty years Franklin continued a prosperous but uneventful life, as an active business man in Philadelphia. His integrity, his sagacity, and his prosperity, rapidly increased the esteem in which he was held. But still he was engaged in business as a printer and a shop-keeper, which would not now give him admission into what he called the higher circles of society.
He not only edited, printed and published his viewspaper, but he also kept books for sale and a small quantity of stationery, and also was a binder of books. He made and sold ink; was an extensive dealer in rags; and soap and feathers could be pur chased at his shop. We find in his advertisements the announcement of coffee and other groceries for sale.
And still his printing-office gradually became the nucleus for the gathering of the most intelligent and influential men. If any important project was on foot, it was deemed essential to consult Benjamin Franklin. His Gazette proved a great success, and was incomparably the ablest paper published in the colonies. *
Franklin's editorials were very sparkling, and are considered as among the most brilliant of his intellectual efforts. He was almost invariably good natured, and the design of all he wrote, was to promote integrity and kindly feeling. He would write an article, as if from a correspondent, which would give him an opportunity to return an amusing article in the next number. A complete file of the paper is preserved in the Philadelphia Library.
In 1732, Franklin issued the first number of the Almanac, called Poor Richard, which subsequently attained such wide renown. The popularity of the work was astonishing; for twenty-five years it averaged ten thousand copies a year. This was a wonderful sale in those times. Everybody was quoting the pithy sayings of Poor Richard.*
* Life and Works of John Adams, vol. ii, p. 165.
Franklin was an extensive reader. He had a memory almost miraculous; and his mind was so constituted, that it eagerly grasped and retained any sharp or witty sayings. Thus, though many of the maxims of Poor Richard originated with him, others were gleaned from the witticisms of past ages, upon which Franklin placed the imprint of his own peculiar genius. I give a few of those renowned maxims which soon became as household words, in every shop and dwelling of our land.
“ There is no little enemy." “ Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead." “ He is no clown who drives the plough, but he that does clownish things.” “Wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it.” " The noblest question in the world is, what good may I do in it.'” “Keep your eye wide open before marriage; half shut afterward." Franklin was
not a poet. He could scheme easily, but even his rhymes were poor. His sense of delicacy was quite obtuse, but perhaps not more
*“And now after the lapse of one hundred and thirty years, we find persons willing to give twenty-five dollars for a single number, and several hundred dollars for a mplete set. Nay, the ing matter of several of the numbers, has been republished within these few years, and that republication already begins to command the price of a rarity.--Parton's Life of Franklin, vol i, p. 231.