Ben Franklin As A Boy
( Originally Published 1902 )
THE boy, Ben Franklin, as he went away from home to make his living, took a boat at Burlington, New Jersey, and worked his passage by rowing all night to Philadelphia. He landed in that city, having in his pocket a dollar and a shilling, and on his back a bundle of clothes, the only possessions he had in the world. On leaving the boat he gave his shilling to a poor old man who belonged to the crew, and started up Market street with a capital stock of one dollar. He bought three loaves of bread at the bakery, put one loaf under each arm, and gnawed the other as he went along the street. A greener looking specimen could hardly be imagined than this gawk of a boy, with his soiled clothes and begrimed face, eating his bread in the open street. He passed the residence of the beautiful Miss Deborah Read, who laughed heartily at the ridiculously verdant appearance of the youth. He went along apparently aimlessly until he came to the dock, near to the place where he had landed, and seeing a poor woman with. a hungry child leaning against her, he gave her two of the loaves which he had, retaining the part of the one which he had been eating. This green boy, at the very start in life, exhibited those traits of character which made his life so beautiful and so valuable. The young woman that laughed at him, as being the symbol of everything that was awkward and undesirable, afterwards was glad to become his wife, and share the affections and honors of this great man. Hard thinking and hard work, together with good native ability, turned this awkward boy into the great philosopher, scientist and diplomatist.
The world afterward learned what Miss Read, the society belle,, found out by experience—that it is not wise to judge a boy by the cost or cut of his clothes, by his gait or by his manners on the street, as real manhood is in the brains under the hat and in the heart under the vest.