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The True
Benjamin Franklin

I

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

FRANKLIN was a rather large man, and is supposed to have been about five feet ten inches in height. In his youth he was stout, and in old age corpulent and heavy, with rounded shoulders. The portraits of him reveal a very vigorous-looking man, with a thick upper arm and a figure which, even in old age, was full and rounded. In fact, this rounded contour is his most striking characteristic, as the angular outline is the characteristic of Lincoln. Franklin's figure was a series of harmonious curves, which make pictures of him always pleasing. These curves extended over his head and even to the lines of his face, softening the expression, slightly veiling the iron resolution, and entirely consistent with the wide sympathies, varied powers, infinite shrewdness, and vast experience which we know he possessed. 1

In his earliest portrait as á youth of twenty, he looks as if his bones were largę i bug-in later portraits this largeness of bone which he might have had from his Massachusetts origin is not so evident.

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He was, however, very muscular, and prided himself on it. When he was a young printer, as he tells us in his Autobiography, he could carry with ease a large form of letters in each hand up and down stairs. his old age, when past eighty, he is described as insisting on lifting unaided heavy books and dictionaries to show the strength he still retained.

He was not brought up on fox-hunting and other sports, like Washington, and there are no amusements of this sort to record of him, except his swimming, in which he took great delight and continued until long after he had ceased to be a youth. He appears, when a boy, to have been fond of sailing in Boston Harbor, but has told us little about it. In swimming he excelled. He could perform all the ordinary feats in the water which were described in the swimming-books of his day, and on one occasion tied himself to the string of his kite and was towed by it across a pond a mile wide. In afteryears he believed that he could in this way cross the English Channel from Dover to Calais, but he admitted that the packet-boat was preferable.

His natural fondness for experiment led him to try the effect of fastening oval paddles to his hands, which gave him greater speed in swimming, but were too fatiguing to his wrists. Paddles or large sandals fastened to his feet he soon found altered the stroke, which the observant boy had discovered was made with tñe inside GT the feet and ankles as well as with the fiat part of the foot.

While in London, as a wandering young journeyman printer, he taught an acquaintance, Wygate, to

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swim in two lessons. Returning from Chelsea with a party of Wygate's friends, he gave them an exhibition of his skill, going through all the usual tricks in the water, to their great amazement and admiration, and swimming from near Chelsea to Blackfriars, a distance of four miles. Wygate proposed that they should travel through Europe, maintaining themselves by giving swimming-lessons, and Franklin was at first inclined to adopt the suggestion.

Just as he was on the eve of returning to Pennsylvania, Sir William Wyndham, at one time Chancellor of the Exchequer, having heard of his swimming feats, wanted to engage him to teach his sons; but his ship being about to sail, Franklin was obliged to decline. If he had remained in England, he tells us, he would probably have started a swimming-school.

When forty-three years old, retired from active business, and deep in scientific researches, he lived in a house at Second and Race Streets, Philadelphia. His garden is supposed to have extended to the river, where every warm summer evening he used to spend an hour or two swimming and sporting in the water.

This skill in swimming and the agility and grace which Franklin displayed in performing feats in the water are good tests of general strength of muscles, lungs, and heart. So far as can be discovered, only one instance is recorded of his using his physical power to do violence to his fellow-man.

He had a friend named Collins, rather inclined to drink, who, being in a boat with Franklin and some other youths, on the Delaware, refused to take his turn at rowing. He announced that the others

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