Friday, September 14, 2007

Franklin redux

A preliminary investigation online yields this charming quotation:
CARLYLE told the following story to Milburn, the blind preacher, while the latter was sitting in Carlyle's garden at Chelsea, London, in 1860.

"When Benjamin Franklin was toiling as a journeyman printer in London, prior to the Revolution, he was accustomed to stroll of an afternoon along the banks of Father Thames, and this end of Cheyne Row was usually his goal. One day as he walked discoursing with a friend, he declared himself able to swim from here to London Bridge, distant five miles. His friend offered a wager that it was impossible; and he, upon the instant stripping, plunged boldly in, and started for his mark, while his friend, bearing the clothes, strode down the bank; and a great multitude of spectators, growing ever greater as he proceeded, followed to see the feat. He, with brave stroke and lusty sinew buffeting the tide, gained the bridge. Whereupon, amidst just acclamations, the people suggested that he should start a swimming school. But God had other work for him to do; for in later years he was to teach the people of your continent how, by Frugality and Labor and Patience and Courage, any man might buffet the waves of misfortune, and swim straight on to prosperity and success. And that was the swimming school which he was to establish."
I want to buffet the tide with brave stroke and lusty sinew...

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