books in those days that they were cherished as family treasures, and handed down as heirlooms; nay, they were so dealt with in wills and in contracts as if they rose almost to the dignity of real estate. In fact, in those days, the possession of an unusual number of books, with the reputation of using them, constituted a sort of patent of gentility, and seemed to bridge the chasm between the most widely separated classes in society; as when, in 1724, a young mechanic, named Benjamin Franklin, arriving in New York on a sloop from Newport, is invited to the house of the Governor of New York and is honored by him with a long and friendly interview, for no other reason than that the captain of the sloop had told the governor of a lad on his vessel who had with him "a great many books." "The governor received me," says Franklin in his autobiography "with great civility, showed me his library, which was a considerable one, and we had a good deal of conversation relative to books and authors. This was the second g
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