When Benjamin Franklin was a boy there were no great public schools in Boston as there are now. But he learned to read almost as soon as he could talk, and he was always fond of books.
His nine brothers were older than he, and every one had learned a trade. They did not care so much for books. "Benjamin shall be the scholar of our family," said his mother.
"Yes, we will educate him for a minister," said his father. For at that time all the most learned men were ministers.
And so, when he was eight years old, Benjamin Franklin was sent to a grammar school, where boys were prepared for college. He was a very apt scholar, and in a few months was promoted to a higher class.
But the lad was not allowed to stay long in the grammar school. His father was a poor man. It would cost a great deal of money to give Benjamin a college education. The times were very hard. The idea of educating the boy for the ministry had to be given up.
In less than a year he was taken from the grammar school, and sent to another school where arithmetic and writing were taught.
He learned to write very well, indeed; but he did not care so much for arithmetic, and so failed to do what was expected of him.
When he was ten years old he had to leave school altogether. His father needed his help; and though Benjamin was but a small boy, there were many things that he could do.
He never attended school again. But he kept on studying and reading; and we shall find that he afterwards became the most learned man in America.
Benjamin's father was a soap-boiler and candle-maker. And so when the boy was taken from school, what kind of work do you think he had to do?
He was kept busy cutting wicks for the candles, pouring the melted tallow into the candle-moulds, and selling soap to his father's customers.
Do you suppose that he liked this business?
He did not like it at all. And when he saw the ships sailing in and out of Boston harbor, he longed to be a sailor and go to strange, far-away lands, where candles and soap were unknown.
But his father would not listen to any of his talk about going to sea.