When Benjamin Franklin was a boy there were no books for children. Yet he spent most of his spare time in reading.
His father's books were not easy to understand. People nowadays would think them very dull and heavy.
But before he was twelve years old, Benjamin had read the most of them. He read everything that he could get.
After he went to work for his brother he found it easier to obtain good books. Often he would borrow a book in the evening, and then sit up nearly all night reading it so as to return it in the morning.
When the owners of books found that he always returned them soon and clean, they were very willing to lend him whatever he wished.
He was about fourteen years of age when he began to study how to write clearly and correctly. He afterwards told how he did this. He said:
"About this time I met with an odd volume of the Spectator. I had never before seen any of them.
"I bought it, read it over and over, and was much delighted with it.
"I thought the writing excellent, and wished if possible to imitate it.
"With that view, I took some of the papers, and making short hints of the sentiments in each sentence, laid them by a few days, and then, without looking at the book, tried to complete the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at length and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable words that should occur to me.
"Then I compared my Spectator with the original, discovered some of my faults and corrected them.
"But I found that I wanted a stock of words, or a readiness in recollecting and using them.
"Therefore, I took some of the tales in the Spectator and turned them into verse; and, after a time, when I had pretty well forgotten the prose, turned them back again."
About this time his brother began to publish a newspaper.
It was the fourth newspaper published in America, and was called the New England Courant.
People said that it was a foolish undertaking. They said that one newspaper was enough for this country, and that there would be but little demand for more.
In those days editors did not dare to write freely about public affairs. It was dangerous to criticise men who were in power.
James Franklin published something in the New England Courant about the lawmakers of Massachusetts. It made the lawmakers very angry. They caused James Franklin to be shut up in prison for a month, and they ordered that he should no longer print the newspaper called the New England Courant.
But, in spite of this order, the newspaper was printed every week as before. It was printed, however, in the name of Benjamin Franklin. For several years it bore his name as editor and publisher.
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