Advice to a young Ben Franklin

Young Benjamin Franklin

In 1723, Cotton Mather, Boston’s most influential minister, was entertaining the young Franklin in his study. Mather admired Franklin’s voracious appetite for knowledge. One night, as Benjamin was taking his leave, Mather accompanied the youth through a narrow corridor of his house. In the midst of conversation with the minister, Benjamin suddenly heard Cotton Mather yell “Stoop! Stoop!”

However, it was too late: Benjamin slammed his head against a beam straddling the cramped hallway. The pious Mather never refused an opportunity to expound some good advice. He told the young Franklin: “Let this be a caution to you not always to hold your head so high. Stoop, young man, stoop as you go through the world, and you’ll miss many hard thumps.”


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