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view to preparation for entering Harvard College, placed in an academical institution, where he remained four years, profiting industriously by such opportunities as were afforded by it. But one evening overhearing a conversation between his parents, in which his father expressed doubts whether he should be able to give him a collegiate education without doing injustice to his other children, and an unwillingness to disappoint him in a matter about which he appeared so anxious, he resolved to relieve his parent from an expense which he knew would be burthensome, and the next morning informed him, that he had been reflecting upon the propriety of his entering college, and had come to the conclusion that it would be better for him to learn a trade. At this his father remonstrated, but not knowing the cause of the sudden change of his determination, and being unable to persuade him to pursue his studies, he set him at work the next day in his own shop, where for many years he had carried on the trade of a goldsmith. The strong repugnance exhibited by this instance to be burthensome to his friends, or to receive preferment at the expense of injustice to others, and the decision and firmness of character adequate to making so great a personal sacrifice, rather than deviate from what in his reflecting moments he considered just, have marked his conduct through life. A singular coincidence also renders it remarkable. His father was one of the twelve children of the Rev. Benjamin Tappan of Manchester, Mass. At the age of fourteen, for a similar cause, he left his studies and learned the trade of a goldsmith, not, it is true, in his father's shop, but with Mr. Wm. Holmes of Boston, a nephew of Dr. Benjamin Franklin, and whose daughter subsequently became his wife, and the mother of the subject of this article.
Although determined from this time to seek other means of livelihood, he worked faithfully with his father, and at different mechanic trades, until he reached the age of twenty-one, neglecting no means of acquiring as much skill as could well be attained in so shoft a period by one having a natural taste for such pursuits. In addition to the business carried on in his father's shop, at which he became one of his best workmen, he learned copper-plate engraving and printing, and without the aid of an instructor polished his own plates, printed from his own engravings, and often engraved from his own drawings -an art in which previous to his leaving school he had received so much instruction and encouragement, as to have made himself a very exact copyist. He also worked some time in manufacturing military arms, and musical instruments, and at clock and watch-making. For instruction in the last he paid, in addition to his labor, one hundred dollars. If he could not properly be termed at twenty-one a finished workman in any of these trades, he was yet able to earn his livelihood at either of them, and in some of them exhibited far more than ordinary skill.
Notwithstanding his apparent devotion to the mechanic trades,
literature and science were not forgotten. Every interval between the hours of labor and rest was husbanded with care, and improved in strengthening and storing a memory naturally retentive. Every book, pamphlet, and newspaper, which he could procure, was read and its contents, when thought worthy, carefully treasured up.
The struggle for American Independence, then recent, had already attracted the attention of our brethren of the Eastern Continent, giving rise to new and exciting questions on that side of the Atlantic, and keeping alive in the new world the agitating topics belonging to revolutionary times. Republican France, in its efforts to throw off the unnatural yoke of an imbecile hereditary monarchy, was reduced to a mere hot-bed of faction. Torn and distracted by the bitter conflicts of party strife, by the treachery of domestic demagogues, and on all sides threatened by the warlike nations of the continent, trembling for the fate of their Kings-her own people yet unprepared for a state of republican Liberty-she was still making gigantic efforts to achieve the freedom so gallantly secured to us and our posterity by the blood, fortitude, and treasure of our patriot ancestors. He was too vigilant an observer to neglect to notice the signs of the times in a manner calculated to stamp on his mind abiding impressions, decisive of his future career. Notwithstanding the awkwardness of their efforts, and the want, but ill-concealed, of those requisites which were necess
essary to secure permanently the noble object of their aim, he saw that the prize for which Frenchmen were contending was LIBERTY,
and he sympathized with them.
In America Democracy was yet in its infancy. Federal arrogance treated the name as a reproach-a word to denote the “ simple men” and “sans-culottes,” and distinguish them from “the rich and well born;" and the virtuous yeomanry of the Union had not yet made it so honorable by long use, that it could well sustain the odium of all the acts falsely committed in its name by some of the factious and bad spirits of France. This did not deter him from joining the Democratic ranks and defending their principles. He contributed to their presses, and openly united with them by joining in the supper given at the rejoicing for the recapture of Toulon from the British and Spanish combined forces.
At this time he boarded in the family of an intimate friend by the name of Wadsworth, who had been advised by his physicians to take a sea voyage as the only means of relief from a serious pulmonary complaint ; but who was too feeble to undertake the voyage unattended by a friend, and unable to procure one and defray his expenses. Mr. Tappan volunteered to accompany him at his own expense, and his services were thankfully accepted. They accordingly took passage on board the brig Jason, Captain Moses Tryon,* master, bound for
* A captain afterwards of the U. S. N.