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Title: Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Author: Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790
Language: English
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[Illustration: FRANKLIN ARMS]

[Illustration: FRANKLIN SEAL]

[Illustration: Franklin at the Court of Louis XVI

    "He was therefore, feasted and invited to all the court
    parties. At these he sometimes met the old Duchess of
    Bourbon, who, being a chess player of about his force,
    they very generally played together. Happening once to
    put her king into prize, the Doctor took it. 'Ah,' says
    she, 'we do not take kings so.' 'We do in America,' said
    the Doctor."--Thomas Jefferson.]



AUTOBIOGRAPHY

OF

BENJAMIN

FRANKLIN


WITH ILLUSTRATIONS
_by_
E. BOYD SMITH

EDITED
_by_
FRANK WOODWORTH PINE


[Illustration: Printers Mark]


_New York_
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
1916

Copyright, 1916,

BY
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY


June, 1922


THE QUINN & BODEN CO. PRESS
RAHWAY, N. J.



CONTENTS



                                                             PAGE
Introduction                                                  vii

The Autobiography

      I. Ancestry and Early Life in Boston                      3
     II. Beginning Life as a Printer                           21
    III. Arrival in Philadelphia                               41
     IV. First Visit to Boston                                 55
      V. Early Friends in Philadelphia                         69
     VI. First Visit to London                                 77
    VII. Beginning Business in Philadelphia                    99
   VIII. Business Success and First Public Service            126
     IX. Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection                  146
      X. _Poor Richard's Almanac_ and Other Activities        169
     XI. Interest in Public Affairs                           188
    XII. Defense of the Province                              201
   XIII. Public Services and Duties                           217
    XIV. Albany Plan of Union                                 241
     XV. Quarrels with the Proprietary Governors              246
    XVI. Braddock's Expedition                                253
   XVII. Franklin's Defense of the Frontier                   274
  XVIII. Scientific Experiments                               289
    XIX. Agent of Pennsylvania in London                      296

Appendix

         Electrical Kite                                      327
         The Way to Wealth                                    331
         The Whistle                                          336
         A Letter to Samuel Mather                            34O

Bibliography                                                  343



ILLUSTRATIONS

Franklin at the Court of Louis XVI                 _Frontispiece_

  "He was therefore, feasted and invited to all the court
  parties. At these he sometimes met the old Duchess of
  Bourbon, who, being a chess player of about his force,
  they very generally played together. Happening once to
  put her king into prize, the Doctor took it. 'Ah,' says
  she, 'we do not take kings so.' 'We do in America,'
  said the Doctor."--Thomas Jefferson.


                                                             PAGE
Portrait of Franklin                                          vii

Pages 1 and 4 of _The Pennsylvania Gazette_, Number
  XL, the first number after Franklin took control            xxi

First page of _The New England Courant_ of December
  4-11, 1721                                                   33

"I was employed to carry the papers thro' the streets
  to the customers"                                            36

"She, standing at the door, saw me, and thought I
  made, as I certainly did, a most awkward, ridiculous
  appearance"                                                  48

"I took to working at press"                                   88

"I see him still at work when I go home from club"            120

Two pages from _Poor Richard's Almanac_ for 1736              171

"I regularly took my turn of duty there as a common
  soldier"                                                    204

"In the evening, hearing a great noise among them,
  the commissioners walk'd out to see what was the
  matter"                                                     224

"Our axes ... were immediately set to work to
  cut down trees"                                             278

"We now appeared very wide, and so far from each
  other in our opinions as to discourage all hope
  of agreement"                                               318

"You will find it stream out plentifully from the key
  on the approach of your knuckle"                            328

Father Abraham in his study                                   330

The end papers show, at the front, the Franklin arms and
  the Franklin seal; at the back, the medal given by the
  Boston public schools from the fund left by Franklin for
  that purpose as provided in the following extract from his
  will:


  "I was born in Boston, New England, and owe my first
  instructions in literature to the free grammar-schools
  established there. I therefore give one hundred pounds
  sterling to my executors, to be by them ... paid over to
  the managers or directors of the free schools in my native
  town of Boston, to be by them ... put out to interest, and
  so continued at interest forever, which interest annually
  shall be laid out in silver medals, and given as honorary
  rewards annually by the directors of the said free schools
  belonging to the said town, in such manner as to the
  discretion of the selectmen of the said town shall seem
  meet."

[Illustration: B. Franklin From an engraving by J. Thomson from the
original picture by J. A. Duplessis]

[Illustration: B. Franklin's signature]


INTRODUCTION


We Americans devour eagerly any piece of writing that purports to tell
us the secret of success in life; yet how often we are disappointed to
find nothing but commonplace statements, or receipts that we know by
heart but never follow. Most of the life stories of our famous and
successful men fail to inspire because they lack the human element
that makes the record real and brings the story within our grasp.
While we are searching far and near for some Aladdin's Lamp to give
coveted fortune, there is ready at our hand if we will only reach out
and take it, like the charm in Milton's _Comus_,

  "Unknown, and like esteemed, and the dull swain
   Treads on it daily with his clouted shoon;"

the interesting, human, and vividly told story of one of the wisest
and most useful lives in our own history, and perhaps in any history.
In Franklin's _Autobiography_ is offered not so much a ready-made
formula for success, as the companionship of a real flesh and blood
man of extraordinary mind and quality, whose daily walk and
conversation will help us to meet our own difficulties, much as does
the example of a wise and strong friend. While we are fascinated by
the story, we absorb the human experience through which a strong and
helpful character is building.

The thing that makes Franklin's _Autobiography_ different from every
other life story of a great and successful man is just this human
aspect of the account. Franklin told the story of his life, as he
himself says, for the benefit of his posterity. He wanted to help them
by the relation of his own rise from obscurity and poverty to eminence
and wealth. He is not unmindful of the importance of his public
services and their recognition, yet his accounts of these achievements
are given only as a part of the story, and the vanity displayed is
incidental and in keeping with the honesty of the recital. There is
nothing of the impossible in the method and practice of Franklin as he
sets them forth. The youth who reads the fascinating story is
astonished to find that Franklin in his early years struggled with the
same everyday passions and difficulties that he himself experiences,
and he loses the sense of discouragement that comes from a
realization of his own shortcomings and inability to attain.

There are other reasons why the _Autobiography_ should be an intimate
friend of American young people. Here they may establish a close
relationship with one of the foremost Americans as well as one of the
wisest men of his age.

The life of Benjamin Franklin is of importance to every American
primarily because of the part he played in securing the independence
of the United States and in establishing it as a nation. Franklin
shares with Washington the honors of the Revolution, and of the events
leading to the birth of the new nation. While Washington was the
animating spirit of the struggle in the colonies, Franklin was its
ablest champion abroad. To Franklin's cogent reasoning and keen
satire, we owe the clear and forcible presentation of the American
case in England and France; while to his personality and diplomacy as
well as to his facile pen, we are indebted for the foreign alliance
and the funds without which Washington's work must have failed. His
patience, fortitude, and practical wisdom, coupled with
self-sacrificing devotion to the cause of his country, are hardly less
noticeable than similar qualities displayed by Washington. In fact,
Franklin as a public man was much like Washington, especially in the
entire disinterestedness of his public service.

Franklin is also interesting to us because by his life and teachings
he has done more than any other American to advance the material
prosperity of his countrymen. It is said that his widely and
faithfully read maxims made Philadelphia and Pennsylvania wealthy,
while Poor Richard's pithy sayings, translated into many languages,
have had a world-wide influence.

Franklin is a good type of our American manhood. Although not the
wealthiest or the most powerful, he is undoubtedly, in the versatility
of his genius and achievements, the greatest of our self-made men. The
simple yet graphic story in the _Autobiography_ of his steady rise
from humble boyhood in a tallow-chandler shop, by industry, economy,
and perseverance in self-improvement, to eminence, is the most
remarkable of all the remarkable histories of our self-made men. It is
in itself a wonderful illustration of the results possible to be
attained in a land of unequaled opportunity by following Franklin's
maxims.

Franklin's fame, however, was not confined to his own country.
Although he lived in a century notable for the rapid evolution of
scientific and political thought and activity, yet no less a keen
judge and critic than Lord Jeffrey, the famous editor of the
_Edinburgh Review_, a century ago said that "in one point of view
the name of Franklin must be considered as standing higher than any of
the others which illustrated the eighteenth century. Distinguished as
a statesman, he was equally great as a philosopher, thus uniting in
himself a rare degree of excellence in both these pursuits, to excel
in either of which is deemed the highest praise."

Franklin has indeed been aptly called "many-sided." He was eminent in
science and public service, in diplomacy and in literature. He was the
Edison of his day, turning his scientific discoveries to the benefit
of his fellow-men. He perceived the identity of lightning and
electricity and set up the lightning rod. He invented the Franklin
stove, still widely used, and refused to patent it. He possessed a
masterly shrewdness in business and practical affairs. Carlyle called
him the father of all the Yankees. He founded a fire company, assisted
in founding a hospital, and improved the cleaning and lighting of
streets. He developed journalism, established the American
Philosophical Society, the public library in Philadelphia, and the
University of Pennsylvania. He organized a postal system for the
colonies, which was the basis of the present United States Post
Office. Bancroft, the eminent historian, called him "the greatest
diplomatist of his century." He perfected the Albany Plan of Union for
the colonies. He is the only statesman who signed the Declaration of
Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Peace
with England, and the Constitution. As a writer, he has produced, in
his _Autobiography_ and in _Poor Richard's Almanac_, two works that
are not surpassed by similar writing. He received honorary degrees
from Harvard and Yale, from Oxford and St. Andrews, and was made a
fellow of the Royal Society, which awarded him the Copley gold medal
for improving natural knowledge. He was one of the eight foreign
associates of the French Academy of Science.

The careful study of the _Autobiography_ is also valuable because of
the style in which it is written. If Robert Louis Stevenson is right
in believing that his remarkable style was acquired by imitation then
the youth who would gain the power to express his ideas clearly,
forcibly, and interestingly cannot do better than to study Franklin's
method. Franklin's fame in the scientific world was due almost as much
to his modest, simple, and sincere manner of presenting his
discoveries and to the precision and clearness of the style in which
he described his experiments, as to the results he was able to
announce. Sir Humphry Davy, the celebrated English chemist, himself an
excellent literary critic as well as a great scientist, said: "A
singular felicity guided all Franklin's researches, and by very small
means he established very grand truths. The style and manner of his
publication on electricity are almost as worthy of admiration as the
doctrine it contains."

Franklin's place in literature is hard to determine because he was not
primarily a literary man. His aim in his writings as in his life work
was to be helpful to his fellow-men. For him writing was never an end
in itself, but always a means to an end. Yet his success as a
scientist, a statesman, and a diplomat, as well as socially, was in no
little part due to his ability as a writer. "His letters charmed all,
and made his correspondence eagerly sought. His political arguments
were the joy of his party and the dread of his opponents. His
scientific discoveries were explained in language at once so simple
and so clear that plow-boy and exquisite could follow his thought or
his experiment to its conclusion."[1]

    [1] _The Many-Sided Franklin._ Paul L. Ford.

As far as American literature is concerned, Franklin has no
contemporaries. Before the _Autobiography_ only one literary work of
importance had been produced in this country--Cotton Mather's
_Magnalia_, a church history of New England in a ponderous, stiff
style. Franklin was the first American author to gain a wide and
permanent reputation in Europe. The _Autobiography_, _Poor Richard_,
_Father Abraham's Speech_ or _The Way to Wealth_, as well as some of
the _Bagatelles_, are as widely known abroad as any American writings.
Franklin must also be classed as the first American humorist.

English literature of the eighteenth century was characterized by the
development of prose. Periodical literature reached its perfection
early in the century in _The Tatler_ and _The Spectator_ of Addison
and Steele. Pamphleteers flourished throughout the period. The
homelier prose of Bunyan and Defoe gradually gave place to the more
elegant and artificial language of Samuel Johnson, who set the
standard for prose writing from 1745 onward. This century saw the
beginnings of the modern novel, in Fielding's _Tom Jones_,
Richardson's _Clarissa Harlowe_, Sterne's _Tristram Shandy_, and
Goldsmith's _Vicar of Wakefield_. Gibbon wrote _The Decline and Fall
of the Roman Empire_, Hume his _History of England_, and Adam Smith
the _Wealth of Nations_.

In the simplicity and vigor of his style Franklin more nearly
resembles the earlier group of writers. In his first essays he was not
an inferior imitator of Addison. In his numerous parables, moral
allegories, and apologues he showed Bunyan's influence. But Franklin
was essentially a journalist. In his swift, terse style, he is most
like Defoe, who was the first great English journalist and master of
the newspaper narrative. The style of both writers is marked by
homely, vigorous expression, satire, burlesque, repartee. Here the
comparison must end. Defoe and his contemporaries were authors. Their
vocation was writing and their success rests on the imaginative or
creative power they displayed. To authorship Franklin laid no claim.
He wrote no work of the imagination. He developed only incidentally a
style in many respects as remarkable as that of his English
contemporaries. He wrote the best autobiography in existence, one of
the most widely known collections of maxims, and an unsurpassed series
of political and social satires, because he was a man of unusual scope
of power and usefulness, who knew how to tell his fellow-men the
secrets of that power and that usefulness.


The Story of the Autobiography

The account of how Franklin's _Autobiography_ came to be written and
of the adventures of the original manuscript forms in itself an
interesting story. The _Autobiography_ is Franklin's longest work,
and yet it is only a fragment. The first part, written as a letter to
his son, William Franklin, was not intended for publication; and the
composition is more informal and the narrative more personal than in
the second part, from 1730 on, which was written with a view to
publication. The entire manuscript shows little evidence of revision.
In fact, the expression is so homely and natural that his grandson,
William Temple Franklin, in editing the work changed some of the
phrases because he thought them inelegant and vulgar.

Franklin began the story of his life while on a visit to his friend,
Bishop Shipley, at Twyford, in Hampshire, southern England, in 1771.
He took the manuscript, completed to 1731, with him when he returned
to Philadelphia in 1775. It was left there with his other papers when
he went to France in the following year, and disappeared during the
confusion incident to the Revolution. Twenty-three pages of closely
written manuscript fell into the hands of Abel James, an old friend,
who sent a copy to Franklin at Passy, near Paris, urging him to
complete the story. Franklin took up the work at Passy in 1784 and
carried the narrative forward a few months. He changed the plan to
meet his new purpose of writing to benefit the young reader. His work
was soon interrupted and was not resumed until 1788, when he was at
home in Philadelphia. He was now old, infirm, and suffering, and was
still engaged in public service. Under these discouraging conditions
the work progressed slowly. It finally stopped when the narrative
reached the year 1757. Copies of the manuscript were sent to friends
of Franklin in England and France, among others to Monsieur Le
Veillard at Paris.

The first edition of the _Autobiography_ was published in French at
Paris in 1791. It was clumsily and carelessly translated, and was
imperfect and unfinished. Where the translator got the manuscript is
not known. Le Veillard disclaimed any knowledge of the publication.
From this faulty French edition many others were printed, some in
Germany, two in England, and another in France, so great was the
demand for the work.

In the meantime the original manuscript of the _Autobiography_ had
started on a varied and adventurous career. It was left by Franklin
with his other works to his grandson, William Temple Franklin, whom
Franklin designated as his literary executor. When Temple Franklin
came to publish his grandfather's works in 1817, he sent the original
manuscript of the _Autobiography_ to the daughter of Le Veillard in
exchange for her father's copy, probably thinking the clearer
transcript would make better printer's copy. The original manuscript
thus found its way to the Le Veillard family and connections, where it
remained until sold in 1867 to Mr. John Bigelow, United States
Minister to France. By him it was later sold to Mr. E. Dwight Church
of New York, and passed with the rest of Mr. Church's library into the
possession of Mr. Henry E. Huntington. The original manuscript of
Franklin's _Autobiography_ now rests in the vault in Mr. Huntington's
residence at Fifth Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street, New York City.

When Mr. Bigelow came to examine his purchase, he was astonished to
find that what people had been reading for years as the authentic
_Life of Benjamin Franklin by Himself_, was only a garbled and
incomplete version of the real _Autobiography_. Temple Franklin had
taken unwarranted liberties with the original. Mr. Bigelow says he
found more than twelve hundred changes in the text. In 1868,
therefore, Mr. Bigelow published the standard edition of Franklin's
_Autobiography_. It corrected errors in the previous editions and was
the first English edition to contain the short fourth part,
comprising the last few pages of the manuscript, written during the
last year of Franklin's life. Mr. Bigelow republished the
_Autobiography_, with additional interesting matter, in three volumes
in 1875, in 1905, and in 1910. The text in this volume is that of Mr.
Bigelow's editions.[2]

    [2] For the division into chapters and the chapter
    titles, however, the present editor is responsible.

The _Autobiography_ has been reprinted in the United States many
scores of times and translated into all the languages of Europe. It
has never lost its popularity and is still in constant demand at
circulating libraries. The reason for this popularity is not far to
seek. For in this work Franklin told in a remarkable manner the story
of a remarkable life. He displayed hard common sense and a practical
knowledge of the art of living. He selected and arranged his material,
perhaps unconsciously, with the unerring instinct of the journalist
for the best effects. His success is not a little due to his plain,
clear, vigorous English. He used short sentences and words, homely
expressions, apt illustrations, and pointed allusions. Franklin had a
most interesting, varied, and unusual life. He was one of the greatest
conversationalists of his time.

His book is the record of that unusual life told in Franklin's own
unexcelled conversational style. It is said that the best parts of
Boswell's famous biography of Samuel Johnson are those parts where
Boswell permits Johnson to tell his own story. In the _Autobiography_
a no less remarkable man and talker than Samuel Johnson is telling his
own story throughout.

F. W. P.

The Gilman Country School,
Baltimore, September, 1916.

[Illustration: Pages 1 and 4 of The Pennsylvania Gazette, the first
number after Franklin took control. Reduced nearly one-half.
Reproduced from a copy at the New York Public Library.]

[Transcriber's note: Transcription of these pages are given at the end
of the text.]



AUTOBIOGRAPHY
OF
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN



I

ANCESTRY AND EARLY YOUTH IN
BOSTON


  Twyford,[3] _at the Bishop of St. Asaph's_, 1771.

Dear son: I have ever had pleasure in obtaining any little anecdotes
of my ancestors. You may remember the inquiries I made among the
remains of my relations when you were with me in England, and the
journey I undertook for that purpose. Imagining it may be equally
agreeable to you to know the circumstances of my life, many of which
you are yet unacquainted with, and expecting the enjoyment of a week's
uninterrupted leisure in my present country retirement, I sit down to
write them for you. To which I have besides some other inducements.
Having emerged from the poverty and obscurity in which I was born and
bred, to a state of affluence and some degree of reputation in the
world, and having gone so far through life with a considerable share
of felicity, the conducing means I made use of, which with the
blessing of God so well succeeded, my posterity may like to know, as
they may find some of them suitable to their own situations, and
therefore fit to be imitated.

    [3] A small village not far from Winchester in
    Hampshire, southern England. Here was the country seat
    of the Bishop of St. Asaph, Dr. Jonathan Shipley, the
    "good Bishop," as Dr. Franklin used to style him. Their
    relations were intimate and confidential. In his pulpit,
    and in the House of Lords, as well as in society, the
    bishop always opposed the harsh measures of the Crown
    toward the Colonies.--Bigelow.

That felicity, when I reflected on it, has induced me sometimes to
say, that were it offered to my choice, I should have no objection to
a repetition of the same life from its beginning, only asking the
advantages authors have in a second edition to correct some faults of
the first. So I might, besides correcting the faults, change some
sinister accidents and events of it for others more favourable. But
though this were denied, I should still accept the offer. Since such a
repetition is not to be expected, the next thing most like living
one's life over again seems to be a recollection of that life, and to
make that recollection as durable as possible by putting it down in
writing.

Hereby, too, I shall indulge the inclination so natural in old men, to
be talking of themselves and their own past actions; and I shall
indulge it without being tiresome to others, who, through respect to
age, might conceive themselves obliged to give me a hearing, since
this may be read or not as anyone pleases. And, lastly (I may as well
confess it, since my denial of it will be believed by nobody), perhaps
I shall a good deal gratify my own _vanity_.[4] Indeed, I scarce ever
heard or saw the introductory words, "_Without vanity I may say_,"
etc., but some vain thing immediately followed. Most people dislike
vanity in others, whatever share they have of it themselves; but I
give it fair quarter wherever I meet with it, being persuaded that it
is often productive of good to the possessor, and to others that are
within his sphere of action; and therefore, in many cases, it would
not be altogether absurd if a man were to thank God for his vanity
among the other comforts of life.

    [4] In this connection Woodrow Wilson says, "And yet the
    surprising and delightful thing about this book (the
    _Autobiography_) is that, take it all in all, it has not
    the low tone of conceit, but is a staunch man's sober
    and unaffected assessment of himself and the
    circumstances of his career."

    Gibbon and Hume, the great British historians, who were
    contemporaries of Franklin, express in their
    autobiographies the same feeling about the propriety of
    just self-praise.

And now I speak of thanking God, I desire with all humility to
acknowledge that I owe the mentioned happiness of my past life to His
kind providence, which lead me to the means I used and gave them
success. My belief of this induces me to _hope_, though I must not
_presume_, that the same goodness will still be exercised toward me,
in continuing that happiness, or enabling me to bear a fatal reverse,
which I may experience as others have done; the complexion of my
future fortune being known to Him only in whose power it is to bless
to us even our afflictions.

The notes one of my uncles (who had the same kind of curiosity in
collecting family anecdotes) once put into my hands, furnished me with
several particulars relating to our ancestors. From these notes I
learned that the family had lived in the same village, Ecton, in
Northamptonshire,[5] for three hundred years, and how much longer he
knew not (perhaps from the time when the name of Franklin, that before
was the name of an order of people,[6] was assumed by them as a
surname when others took surnames all over the kingdom), on a freehold
of about thirty acres, aided by the smith's business, which had
continued in the family till his time, the eldest son being always
bred to that business; a custom which he and my father followed as to
their eldest sons. When I searched the registers at Ecton, I found an
account of their births, marriages and burials from the year 1555
only, there being no registers kept in that parish at any time
preceding. By that register I perceived that I was the youngest son of
the youngest son for five generations back. My grandfather Thomas, who
was born in 1598, lived at Ecton till he grew too old to follow
business longer, when he went to live with his son John, a dyer at
Banbury, in Oxfordshire, with whom my father served an apprenticeship.
There my grandfather died and lies buried. We saw his gravestone in
1758. His eldest son Thomas lived in the house at Ecton, and left it
with the land to his only child, a daughter, who, with her husband,
one Fisher, of Wellingborough, sold it to Mr. Isted, now lord of the
manor there. My grandfather had four sons that grew up, viz.: Thomas,
John, Benjamin and Josiah. I will give you what account I can of them
at this distance from my papers, and if these are not lost in my
absence, you will among them find many more particulars.

    [5] See _Introduction_.

    [6] A small landowner.

Thomas was bred a smith under his father; but, being ingenious, and
encouraged in learning (as all my brothers were) by an Esquire Palmer,
then the principal gentleman in that parish, he qualified himself for
the business of scrivener; became a considerable man in the county;
was a chief mover of all public-spirited undertakings for the county
or town of Northampton, and his own village, of which many instances
were related of him; and much taken notice of and patronized by the
then Lord Halifax. He died in 1702, January 6, old style,[7] just four
years to a day before I was born. The account we received of his life
and character from some old people at Ecton, I remember, struck you as
something extraordinary, from its similarity to what you knew of mine.
"Had he died on the same day," you said, "one might have supposed a
transmigration."

    [7] January 17, new style. This change in the calendar
    was made in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, and adopted in
    England in 1752. Every year whose number in the common
    reckoning since Christ is not divisible by 4, as well as
    every year whose number is divisible by 100 but not by
    400, shall have 365 days, and all other years shall have
    366 days. In the eighteenth century there was a
    difference of eleven days between the old and the new
    style of reckoning, which the English Parliament
    canceled by making the 3rd of September, 1752, the 14th.
    The Julian calendar, or "old style," is still retained
    in Russia and Greece, whose dates consequently are now
    13 days behind those of other Christian countries.

John was bred a dyer, I believe of woollens, Benjamin was bred a silk
dyer, serving an apprenticeship at London. He was an ingenious man. I
remember him well, for when I was a boy he came over to my father in
Boston, and lived in the house with us some years. He lived to a
great age. His grandson, Samuel Franklin, now lives in Boston. He left
behind him two quarto volumes, MS., of his own poetry, consisting of
little occasional pieces addressed to his friends and relations, of
which the following, sent to me, is a specimen.[8] He had formed a
short-hand of his own, which he taught me, but, never practising it, I
have now forgot it. I was named after this uncle, there being a
particular affection between him and my father. He was very pious, a
great attender of sermons of the best preachers, which he took down in
his short-hand, and had with him many volumes of them. He was also
much of a politician; too much, perhaps, for his station. There fell
lately into my hands, in London, a collection he had made of all the
principal pamphlets relating to public affairs, from 1641 to 1717;
many of the volumes are wanting as appears by the numbering, but
there still remain eight volumes in folio, and twenty-four in quarto
and in octavo. A dealer in old books met with them, and knowing me by
my sometimes buying of him, he brought them to me. It seems my uncle
must have left them here when he went to America, which was about
fifty years since. There are many of his notes in the margins.

    [8] The specimen is not in the manuscript of the
    _Autobiography_.

This obscure family of ours was early in the Reformation, and
continued Protestants through the reign of Queen Mary, when they were
sometimes in danger of trouble on account of their zeal against
popery. They had got an English Bible, and to conceal and secure it,
it was fastened open with tapes under and within the cover of a
joint-stool. When my great-great-grandfather read it to his family, he
turned up the joint-stool upon his knees, turning over the leaves then
under the tapes. One of the children stood at the door to give notice
if he saw the apparitor coming, who was an officer of the spiritual
court. In that case the stool was turned down again upon its feet,
when the Bible remained concealed under it as before. This anecdote I
had from my uncle Benjamin. The family continued all of the Church of
England till about the end of Charles the Second's reign, when some of
the ministers that had been outed for non-conformity, holding
conventicles[9] in Northamptonshire, Benjamin and Josiah adhered to
them, and so continued all their lives: the rest of the family
remained with the Episcopal Church.

    [9] Secret gatherings of dissenters from the established
    Church.

[Illustration: Birthplace of Franklin. Milk Street, Boston.]

Josiah, my father, married young, and carried his wife with three
children into New England, about 1682. The conventicles having been
forbidden by law, and frequently disturbed, induced some considerable
men of his acquaintance to remove to that country, and he was
prevailed with to accompany them thither, where they expected to enjoy
their mode of religion with freedom. By the same wife he had four
children more born there, and by a second wife ten more, in all
seventeen; of which I remember thirteen sitting at one time at his
table, who all grew up to be men and women, and married; I was the
youngest son, and the youngest child but two, and was born in Boston,
New England.[10] My mother, the second wife, was Abiah Folger,
daughter of Peter Folger, one of the first settlers of New England, of
whom honorable mention is made by Cotton Mather,[11] in his church
history of that country, entitled _Magnalia Christi Americana_, as "_a
godly, learned Englishman_," if I remember the words rightly. I have
heard that he wrote sundry small occasional pieces, but only one of
them was printed, which I saw now many years since. It was written in
1675, in the home-spun verse of that time and people, and addressed to
those then concerned in the government there. It was in favour of
liberty of conscience, and in behalf of the Baptists, Quakers, and
other sectaries that had been under persecution, ascribing the Indian
wars, and other distresses that had befallen the country, to that
persecution, as so many judgments of God to punish so heinous an
offense, and exhorting a repeal of those uncharitable laws. The whole
appeared to me as written with a good deal of decent plainness and
manly freedom. The six concluding lines I remember, though I have
forgotten the two first of the stanza; but the purport of them was,
that his censures proceeded from good-will, and, therefore, he would
be known to be the author.

  "Because to be a libeller (says he)
    I hate it with my heart;
  From Sherburne town,[12] where now I dwell
    My name I do put here;
  Without offense your real friend,
    It is Peter Folgier."

    [10] Franklin was born on Sunday, January 6, old style,
    1706, in a house on Milk Street, opposite the Old South
    Meeting House, where he was baptized on the day of his
    birth, during a snowstorm. The house where he was born
    was burned in 1810.--Griffin.

    [11] Cotton Mather (1663-1728), clergyman, author, and
    scholar. Pastor of the North Church, Boston. He took an
    active part in the persecution of witchcraft.

    [12] Nantucket.

My elder brothers were all put apprentices to different trades. I was
put to the grammar-school at eight years of age, my father intending
to devote me, as the tithe[13] of his sons, to the service of the
Church. My early readiness in learning to read (which must have been
very early, as I do not remember when I could not read), and the
opinion of all his friends, that I should certainly make a good
scholar, encouraged him in this purpose of his. My uncle Benjamin,
too, approved of it, and proposed to give me all his short-hand
volumes of sermons, I suppose as a stock to set up with, if I would
learn his character.[14] I continued, however, at the grammar-school
not quite one year, though in that time I had risen gradually from the
middle of the class of that year to be the head of it, and farther was
removed into the next class above it, in order to go with that into
the third at the end of the year. But my father, in the meantime, from
a view of the expense of a college education, which having so large a
family he could not well afford, and the mean living many so educated
were afterwards able to obtain--reasons that he gave to his friends in
my hearing--altered his first intention, took me from the
grammar-school, and sent me to a school for writing and arithmetic,
kept by a then famous man, Mr. George Brownell, very successful in
his profession generally, and that by mild, encouraging methods. Under
him I acquired fair writing pretty soon, but I failed in the
arithmetic, and made no progress in it. At ten years old I was taken
home to assist my father in his business, which was that of a
tallow-chandler and sope-boiler; a business he was not bred to, but
had assumed on his arrival in New England, and on finding his dyeing
trade would not maintain his family, being in little request.
Accordingly, I was employed in cutting wick for the candles, filling
the dipping mould and the moulds for cast candles, attending the shop,
going of errands, etc.

    [13] Tenth.

    [14] System of short-hand.

I disliked the trade, and had a strong inclination for the sea, but my
father declared against it; however, living near the water, I was much
in and about it, learnt early to swim well, and to manage boats; and
when in a boat or canoe with other boys, I was commonly allowed to
govern, especially in any case of difficulty; and upon other occasions
I was generally a leader among the boys, and sometimes led them into
scrapes, of which I will mention one instance, as it shows an early
projecting public spirit, tho' not then justly conducted.

There was a salt-marsh that bounded part of the mill-pond, on the edge
of which, at high water, we used to stand to fish for minnows. By much
trampling, we had made it a mere quagmire. My proposal was to build a
wharf there fit for us to stand upon, and I showed my comrades a large
heap of stones, which were intended for a new house near the marsh,
and which would very well suit our purpose. Accordingly, in the
evening, when the workmen were gone, I assembled a number of my
playfellows, and working with them diligently like so many emmets,
sometimes two or three to a stone, we brought them all away and built
our little wharf. The next morning the workmen were surprised at
missing the stones, which were found in our wharf. Inquiry was made
after the removers; we were discovered and complained of; several of
us were corrected by our fathers; and, though I pleaded the usefulness
of the work, mine convinced me that nothing was useful which was not
honest.

I think you may like to know something of his person and character. He
had an excellent constitution of body, was of middle stature, but well
set, and very strong; he was ingenious, could draw prettily, was
skilled a little in music, and had a clear, pleasing voice, so that
when he played psalm tunes on his violin and sung withal, as he
sometimes did in an evening after the business of the day was over, it
was extremely agreeable to hear. He had a mechanical genius too, and,
on occasion, was very handy in the use of other tradesmen's tools; but
his great excellence lay in a sound understanding and solid judgment
in prudential matters, both in private and publick affairs. In the
latter, indeed, he was never employed, the numerous family he had to
educate and the straitness of his circumstances keeping him close to
his trade; but I remember well his being frequently visited by leading
people, who consulted him for his opinion in affairs of the town or of
the church he belonged to, and showed a good deal of respect for his
judgment and advice: he was also much consulted by private persons
about their affairs when any difficulty occurred, and frequently
chosen an arbitrator between contending parties. At his table he liked
to have, as often as he could, some sensible friend or neighbor to
converse with, and always took care to start some ingenious or useful
topic for discourse, which might tend to improve the minds of his
children. By this means he turned our attention to what was good,
just, and prudent in the conduct of life; and little or no notice was
ever taken of what related to the victuals on the table, whether it
was well or ill dressed, in or out of season, of good or bad flavor,
preferable or inferior to this or that other thing of the kind, so
that I was bro't up in such a perfect inattention to those matters as
to be quite indifferent what kind of food was set before me, and so
unobservant of it, that to this day if I am asked I can scarce tell a
few hours after dinner what I dined upon. This has been a convenience
to me in traveling, where my companions have been sometimes very
unhappy for want of a suitable gratification of their more delicate,
because better instructed, tastes and appetites.

My mother had likewise an excellent constitution: she suckled all her
ten children. I never knew either my father or mother to have any
sickness but that of which they dy'd, he at 89, and she at 85 years of
age. They lie buried together at Boston, where I some years since
placed a marble over their grave,[15] with this inscription:

                     Josiah Franklin,
                           and
                     Abiah his wife,
                   lie here interred.
         They lived lovingly together in wedlock
                    fifty-five years.
       Without an estate, or any gainful employment,
             By constant labor and industry,
                  with God's blessing,
             They maintained a large family
                      comfortably,
            and brought up thirteen children
                 and seven grandchildren
                       reputably.
               From this instance, reader,
        Be encouraged to diligence in thy calling,
               And distrust not Providence.
             He was a pious and prudent man;
           She, a discreet and virtuous woman.
                 Their youngest son,
            In filial regard to their memory,
                  Places this stone.
          J. F. born 1655, died 1744, Ætat 89.
          A. F. born 1667, died 1752,----85.

    [15] This marble having decayed, the citizens of Boston
    in 1827 erected in its place a granite obelisk,
    twenty-one feet high, bearing the original inscription
    quoted in the text and another explaining the erection
    of the monument.

By my rambling digressions I perceive myself to be grown old. I us'd
to write more methodically. But one does not dress for private company
as for a publick ball. 'Tis perhaps only negligence.

To return: I continued thus employed in my father's business for two
years, that is, till I was twelve years old; and my brother John, who
was bred to that business, having left my father, married, and set up
for himself at Rhode Island, there was all appearance that I was
destined to supply his place, and become a tallow-chandler. But my
dislike to the trade continuing, my father was under apprehensions
that if he did not find one for me more agreeable, I should break away
and get to sea, as his son Josiah had done, to his great vexation. He
therefore sometimes took me to walk with him, and see joiners,
bricklayers, turners, braziers, etc., at their work, that he might
observe my inclination, and endeavor to fix it on some trade or other
on land. It has ever since been a pleasure to me to see good workmen
handle their tools; and it has been useful to me, having learnt so
much by it as to be able to do little jobs myself in my house when a
workman could not readily be got, and to construct little machines for
my experiments, while the intention of making the experiment was fresh
and warm in my mind. My father at last fixed upon the cutler's trade,
and my uncle Benjamin's son Samuel, who was bred to that business in
London, being about that time established in Boston, I was sent to be
with him some time on liking. But his expectations of a fee with me
displeasing my father, I was taken home again.



II

BEGINNING LIFE AS A PRINTER


From a child I was fond of reading, and all the little money that came
into my hands was ever laid out in books. Pleased with the _Pilgrim's
Progress_, my first collection was of John Bunyan's works in separate
little volumes. I afterward sold them to enable me to buy R. Burton's
_Historical Collections_; they were small chapmen's books,[16] and
cheap, 40 or 50 in all. My father's little library consisted chiefly
of books in polemic divinity, most of which I read, and have since
often regretted that, at a time when I had such a thirst for
knowledge, more proper books had not fallen in my way, since it was
now resolved I should not be a clergyman. Plutarch's _Lives_ there was
in which I read abundantly, and I still think that time spent to great
advantage. There was also a book of DeFoe's, called an _Essay on
Projects_, and another of Dr. Mather's, called _Essays to do Good_,
which perhaps gave me a turn of thinking that had an influence on
some of the principal future events of my life.

    [16] Small books, sold by chapmen or peddlers.

This bookish inclination at length determined my father to make me a
printer, though he had already one son (James) of that profession. In
1717 my brother James returned from England with a press and letters
to set up his business in Boston. I liked it much better than that of
my father, but still had a hankering for the sea. To prevent the
apprehended effect of such an inclination, my father was impatient to
have me bound to my brother. I stood out some time, but at last was
persuaded, and signed the indentures when I was yet but twelve years
old. I was to serve as an apprentice till I was twenty-one years of
age, only I was to be allowed journeyman's wages during the last year.
In a little time I made great proficiency in the business, and became
a useful hand to my brother. I now had access to better books. An
acquaintance with the apprentices of booksellers enabled me sometimes
to borrow a small one, which I was careful to return soon and clean.
Often I sat up in my room reading the greatest part of the night, when
the book was borrowed in the evening and to be returned early in the
morning, lest it should be missed or wanted.

And after some time an ingenious tradesman, Mr. Matthew Adams, who
had a pretty collection of books, and who frequented our
printing-house, took notice of me, invited me to his library, and
very kindly lent me such books as I chose to read. I now took a fancy
to poetry, and made some little pieces; my brother, thinking it might
turn to account, encouraged me, and put me on composing occasional
ballads. One was called _The Lighthouse Tragedy_, and contained an
account of the drowning of Captain Worthilake, with his two daughters:
the other was a sailor's song, on the taking of _Teach_ (or
Blackbeard) the pirate. They were wretched stuff, in the
Grub-street-ballad style;[17] and when they were printed he sent me
about the town to sell them. The first sold wonderfully, the event
being recent, having made a great noise. This flattered my vanity; but
my father discouraged me by ridiculing my performances, and telling me
verse-makers were generally beggars. So I escaped being a poet, most
probably a very bad one; but as prose writing has been of great use to
me in the course of my life, and was a principal means of my
advancement, I shall tell you how, in such a situation, I acquired
what little ability I have in that way.

    [17] Grub-street: famous in English literature as the
    home of poor writers.

There was another bookish lad in the town, John Collins by name, with
whom I was intimately acquainted. We sometimes disputed, and very fond
we were of argument, and very desirous of confuting one another,
which disputatious turn, by the way, is apt to become a very bad
habit, making people often extremely disagreeable in company by the
contradiction that is necessary to bring it into practice; and thence,
besides souring and spoiling the conversation, is productive of
disgusts and, perhaps enmities where you may have occasion for
friendship. I had caught it by reading my father's books of dispute
about religion. Persons of good sense, I have since observed, seldom
fall into it, except lawyers, university men, and men of all sorts
that have been bred at Edinborough.

A question was once, somehow or other, started between Collins and me,
of the propriety of educating the female sex in learning, and their
abilities for study. He was of opinion that it was improper, and that
they were naturally unequal to it. I took the contrary side, perhaps a
little for dispute's sake. He was naturally more eloquent, had a ready
plenty of words, and sometimes, as I thought, bore me down more by his
fluency than by the strength of his reasons. As we parted without
settling the point, and were not to see one another again for some
time, I sat down to put my arguments in writing, which I copied fair
and sent to him. He answered, and I replied. Three or four letters of
a side had passed, when my father happened to find my papers and read
them. Without entering into the discussion, he took occasion to talk
to me about the manner of my writing; observed that, though I had the
advantage of my antagonist in correct spelling and pointing (which I
ow'd to the printing-house), I fell far short in elegance of
expression, in method and in perspicuity, of which he convinced me by
several instances. I saw the justice of his remarks, and thence grew
more attentive to the manner in writing, and determined to endeavor at
improvement.

About this time I met with an odd volume of the _Spectator_.[18] It was
the third. I had never before seen any of them. I bought it, read it
over and over, and was much delighted with it. I thought the writing
excellent, and wished, if possible, to imitate it. With this view I
took some of the papers, and, making short hints of the sentiment in
each sentence, laid them by a few days, and then, without looking at
the book, try'd to compleat the papers again, by expressing each
hinted sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed
before, in any suitable words that should come to hand. Then I
compared my _Spectator_ with the original, discovered some of my
faults, and corrected them. But I found I wanted a stock of words, or
a readiness in recollecting and using them, which I thought I should
have acquired before that time if I had gone on making verses; since
the continual occasion for words of the same import, but of different
length, to suit the measure, or of different sound for the rhyme,
would have laid me under a constant necessity of searching for
variety, and also have tended to fix that variety in my mind, and make
me master of it. Therefore I took some of the tales and turned them
into verse; and, after a time, when I had pretty well forgotten the
prose, turned them back again. I also sometimes jumbled my collections
of hints into confusion, and after some weeks endeavored to reduce
them into the best order, before I began to form the full sentences
and compleat the paper. This was to teach me method in the arrangement
of thoughts. By comparing my work afterwards with the original, I
discovered many faults and amended them; but I sometimes had the
pleasure of fancying that, in certain particulars of small import, I
had been lucky enough to improve the method of the language, and this
encouraged me to think I might possibly in time come to be a tolerable
English writer, of which I was extremely ambitious. My time for these
exercises and for reading was at night, after work or before it began
in the morning, or on Sundays, when I contrived to be in the
printing-house alone, evading as much as I could the common attendance
on public worship which my father used to exact of me when I was under
his care, and which indeed I still thought a duty, thought I could
not, as it seemed to me, afford time to practise it.

    [18] A daily London journal, comprising satirical essays
    on social subjects, published by Addison and Steele in
    1711-1712. The _Spectator_ and its predecessor, the
    _Tatler_ (1709), marked the beginning of periodical
    literature.

When about 16 years of age I happened to meet with a book, written by
one Tryon, recommending a vegetable diet. I determined to go into it.
My brother, being yet unmarried, did not keep house, but boarded
himself and his apprentices in another family. My refusing to eat
flesh occasioned an inconveniency, and I was frequently chid for my
singularity. I made myself acquainted with Tryon's manner of preparing
some of his dishes, such as boiling potatoes or rice, making hasty
pudding, and a few others, and then proposed to my brother, that if he
would give me, weekly, half the money he paid for my board, I would
board myself. He instantly agreed to it, and I presently found that I
could save half what he paid me. This was an additional fund for
buying books. But I had another advantage in it. My brother and the
rest going from the printing-house to their meals, I remained there
alone, and, dispatching presently my light repast, which often was no
more than a bisket or a slice of bread, a handful of raisins or a tart
from the pastry-cook's, and a glass of water, had the rest of the time
till their return for study, in which I made the greater progress,
from that greater clearness of head and quicker apprehension which
usually attend temperance in eating and drinking.

And now it was that, being on some occasion made asham'd of my
ignorance in figures, which I had twice failed in learning when at
school, I took Cocker's book of Arithmetick, and went through the
whole by myself with great ease. I also read Seller's and Shermy's
books of Navigation, and became acquainted with the little geometry
they contain; but never proceeded far in that science. And I read
about this time Locke _On Human Understanding_,[19] and the _Art of
Thinking_, by Messrs. du Port Royal.[20]

    [19] John Locke (1632-1704), a celebrated English
    philosopher, founder of the so-called "common-sense"
    school of philosophers. He drew up a constitution for
    the colonists of Carolina.

    [20] A noted society of scholarly and devout men
    occupying the abbey of Port Royal near Paris, who
    published learned works, among them the one here
    referred to, better known as the _Port Royal Logic_.

While I was intent on improving my language, I met with an English
grammar (I think it was Greenwood's), at the end of which there were
two little sketches of the arts of rhetoric and logic, the latter
finishing with a specimen of a dispute in the Socratic[21] method; and
soon after I procur'd Xenophon's Memorable Things of Socrates, wherein
there are many instances of the same method. I was charm'd with it,
adopted it, dropt my abrupt contradiction and positive argumentation,
and put on the humble inquirer and doubter. And being then, from
reading Shaftesbury and Collins, become a real doubter in many points
of our religious doctrine, I found this method safest for myself and
very embarrassing to those against whom I used it; therefore I took a
delight in it, practis'd it continually, and grew very artful and
expert in drawing people, even of superior knowledge, into
concessions, the consequences of which they did not foresee,
entangling them in difficulties out of which they could not extricate
themselves, and so obtaining victories that neither myself nor my
cause always deserved. I continu'd this method some few years, but
gradually left it, retaining only the habit of expressing myself in
terms of modest diffidence; never using, when I advanced anything that
may possibly be disputed, the words _certainly_, _undoubtedly_, or any
others that give the air of positiveness to an opinion; but rather
say, I conceive or apprehend a thing to be so and so; it appears to
me, or _I should think it so or so_, for such and such reasons; or _I
imagine it to be so_; or _it is so, if I am not mistaken_. This habit,
I believe, has been of great advantage to me when I have had occasion
to inculcate my opinions, and persuade men into measures that I have
been from time to time engaged in promoting; and, as the chief ends of
conversation are to _inform_ or to be _informed_, to _please_ or to
_persuade_, I wish well-meaning, sensible men would not lessen their
power of doing good by a positive, assuming manner, that seldom fails
to disgust, tends to create opposition, and to defeat everyone of
those purposes for which speech was given to us, to wit, giving or
receiving information or pleasure. For, if you would inform, a
positive and dogmatical manner in advancing your sentiments may
provoke contradiction and prevent a candid attention. If you wish
information and improvement from the knowledge of others, and yet at
the same time express yourself as firmly fix'd in your present
opinions, modest, sensible men, who do not love disputation, will
probably leave you undisturbed in the possession of your error. And by
such a manner, you can seldom hope to recommend yourself in _pleasing_
your hearers, or to persuade those whose concurrence you desire.
Pope[22] says, judiciously:

  _"Men should be taught as if you taught them not,
   And things unknown propos'd as things forgot;"_

farther recommending to us

  "To speak, tho' sure, with seeming diffidence."

And he might have coupled with this line that
which he has coupled with another, I think,
less properly,

  "For want of modesty is want of sense."

If you ask, Why less properly? I must repeat the lines,

  "Immodest words admit of no defense,
   For want of modesty is want of sense."

Now, is not _want of sense_ (where a man is so unfortunate as to want
it) some apology for his _want of modesty_? and would not the lines
stand more justly thus?

  "Immodest words admit _but_ this defense,
   That want of modesty is want of sense."

This, however, I should submit to better judgments.

    [21] Socrates confuted his opponents in argument by
    asking questions so skillfully devised that the answers
    would confirm the questioner's position or show the
    error of the opponent.

    [22] Alexander Pope (1688-1744), the greatest English
    poet of the first half of the eighteenth century.

My brother had, in 1720 or 1721, begun to print a newspaper. It was
the second that appeared in America,[23] and was called the New England
Courant. The only one before it was the Boston News-Letter. I remember
his being dissuaded by some of his friends from the undertaking, as
not likely to succeed, one newspaper being, in their judgment, enough
for America. At this time (1771) there are not less than
five-and-twenty. He went on, however, with the undertaking, and after
having worked in composing the types and printing off the sheets, I
was employed to carry the papers thro' the streets to the customers.

    [23] Franklin's memory does not serve him correctly here.
    The _Courant_ was really the fifth newspaper established
    in America, although generally called the fourth,
    because the first, _Public Occurrences_, published in
    Boston in 1690, was suppressed after the first issue.
    Following is the order in which the other four papers
    were published: _Boston News Letter_, 1704; _Boston
    Gazette_, December 21, 1719; _The American Weekly
    Mercury_, Philadelphia, December 22, 1719; _The New
    England Courant_, 1721.

[Illustration: First page of The New England Courant of Dec. 4-11,
1721. Reduced about one-third. From a copy in the Library of the
Massachusetts Historical Society.]

[Transcriber's note: Transcription given at the end of the text.]

He had some ingenious men among his friends, who amus'd themselves by
writing little pieces for this paper, which gain'd it credit and made
it more in demand, and these gentlemen often visited us. Hearing their
conversations, and their accounts of the approbation their papers were
received with, I was excited to try my hand among them; but, being
still a boy, and suspecting that my brother would object to printing
anything of mine in his paper if he knew it to be mine, I contrived to
disguise my hand, and, writing an anonymous paper, I put it in at
night under the door of the printing-house. It was found in the
morning, and communicated to his writing friends when they call'd in
as usual. They read it, commented on it in my hearing, and I had the
exquisite pleasure of finding it met with their approbation, and that,
in their different guesses at the author, none were named but men of
some character among us for learning and ingenuity. I suppose now that
I was rather lucky in my judges, and that perhaps they were not really
so very good ones as I then esteem'd them.

Encourag'd, however, by this, I wrote and conveyed in the same way to
the press several more papers which were equally approv'd; and I kept
my secret till my small fund of sense for such performances was pretty
well exhausted, and then I discovered[24] it, when I began to be
considered a little more by my brother's acquaintance, and in a manner
that did not quite please him, as he thought, probably with reason,
that it tended to make me too vain. And, perhaps, this might be one
occasion of the differences that we began to have about this time.
Though a brother, he considered himself as my master, and me as his
apprentice, and, accordingly, expected the same services from me as he
would from another, while I thought he demean'd me too much in some he
requir'd of me, who from a brother expected more indulgence. Our
disputes were often brought before our father, and I fancy I was
either generally in the right, or else a better pleader, because the
judgment was generally in my favor. But my brother was passionate,
and had often beaten me, which I took extreamly amiss; and, thinking
my apprenticeship very tedious, I was continually wishing for some
opportunity of shortening it, which at length offered in a manner
unexpected.

    [24] Disclosed.

[Illustration: "I was employed to carry the papers thro' the streets
to the customers"]

One of the pieces in our newspaper on some political point, which I
have now forgotten, gave offense to the Assembly. He was taken up,
censur'd, and imprison'd for a month, by the speaker's warrant, I
suppose, because he would not discover his author. I too was taken up
and examin'd before the council; but, tho' I did not give them any
satisfaction, they contented themselves with admonishing me, and
dismissed me, considering me, perhaps, as an apprentice, who was bound
to keep his master's secrets.

During my brother's confinement, which I resented a good deal,
notwithstanding our private differences, I had the management of the
paper; and I made bold to give our rulers some rubs in it, which my
brother took very kindly, while others began to consider me in an
unfavorable light, as a young genius that had a turn for libeling and
satyr. My brother's discharge was accompany'd with an order of the
House (a very odd one), that "_James Franklin should no longer print
the paper called the New England Courant_."

There was a consultation held in our printing-house among his friends,
what he should do in this case. Some proposed to evade the order by
changing the name of the paper; but my brother, seeing inconveniences
in that, it was finally concluded on as a better way, to let it be
printed for the future under the name of Benjamin Franklin; and to
avoid the censure of the Assembly, that might fall on him as still
printing it by his apprentice, the contrivance was that my old
indenture should be return'd to me, with a full discharge on the back
of it, to be shown on occasion, but to secure to him the benefit of my
service, I was to sign new indentures for the remainder of the term,
which were to be kept private. A very flimsy scheme it was; however,
it was immediately executed, and the paper went on accordingly, under
my name for several months.

At length, a fresh difference arising between my brother and me, I
took upon me to assert my freedom, presuming that he would not venture
to produce the new indentures. It was not fair in me to take this
advantage, and this I therefore reckon one of the first errata of my
life; but the unfairness of it weighed little with me, when under the
impressions of resentment for the blows his passion too often urged
him to bestow upon me, though he was otherwise not an ill-natur'd man:
perhaps I was too saucy and provoking.

When he found I would leave him, he took care to prevent my getting
employment in any other printing-house of the town, by going round and
speaking to every master, who accordingly refus'd to give me work. I
then thought of going to New York, as the nearest place where there
was a printer; and I was rather inclin'd to leave Boston when I
reflected that I had already made myself a little obnoxious to the
governing party, and, from the arbitrary proceedings of the Assembly
in my brother's case, it was likely I might, if I stay'd, soon bring
myself into scrapes; and farther, that my indiscreet disputations
about religion began to make me pointed at with horror by good people
as an infidel or atheist. I determin'd on the point, but my father now
siding with my brother, I was sensible that, if I attempted to go
openly, means would be used to prevent me. My friend Collins,
therefore, undertook to manage a little for me. He agreed with the
captain of a New York sloop for my passage, under the notion of my
being a young acquaintance of his. So I sold some of my books to raise
a little money, was taken on board privately, and as we had a fair
wind, in three days I found myself in New York, near 300 miles from
home, a boy of but 17, without the least recommendation to, or
knowledge of, any person in the place, and with very little money in
my pocket.

[Illustration: Sailboat]



III

ARRIVAL IN PHILADELPHIA


My inclinations for the sea were by this time worne out, or I might
now have gratify'd them. But, having a trade, and supposing myself a
pretty good workman, I offer'd my service to the printer in the place,
old Mr. William Bradford, who had been the first printer in
Pennsylvania, but removed from thence upon the quarrel of George
Keith. He could give me no employment, having little to do, and help
enough already; but says he, "My son at Philadelphia has lately lost
his principal hand, Aquilla Rose, by death; if you go thither, I
believe he may employ you." Philadelphia was a hundred miles further;
I set out, however, in a boat for Amboy, leaving my chest and things
to follow me round by sea.

In crossing the bay, we met with a squall that tore our rotten sails
to pieces, prevented our getting into the Kill,[25] and drove us upon
Long Island. In our way, a drunken Dutchman, who was a passenger too,
fell overboard; when he was sinking, I reached through the water to
his shock pate, and drew him up, so that we got him in again. His
ducking sobered him a little, and he went to sleep, taking first out
of his pocket a book, which he desir'd I would dry for him. It proved
to be my old favorite author, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, in Dutch,
finely printed on good paper, with copper cuts, a dress better than I
had ever seen it wear in its own language. I have since found that it
has been translated into most of the languages of Europe, and suppose
it has been more generally read than any other book, except perhaps
the Bible. Honest John was the first that I know of who mix'd
narration and dialogue; a method of writing very engaging to the
reader, who in the most interesting parts finds himself, as it were,
brought into the company and present at the discourse. De Foe in his
Cruso, his Moll Flanders, Religious Courtship, Family Instructor, and
other pieces, has imitated it with success; and Richardson[26] has done
the same in his Pamela, etc.

    [25] Kill van Kull, the channel separating Staten Island
    from New Jersey on the north.

    [26] Samuel Richardson, the father of the English novel,
    wrote _Pamela_, _Clarissa Harlowe_, and the _History of
    Sir Charles Grandison_, novels published in the form of
    letters.

When we drew near the island, we found it was at a place where there
could be no landing, there being a great surff on the stony beach. So
we dropt anchor, and swung round towards the shore. Some people came
down to the water edge and hallow'd to us, as we did to them; but the
wind was so high, and the surff so loud, that we could not hear so as
to understand each other. There were canoes on the shore, and we made
signs, and hallow'd that they should fetch us; but they either did not
understand us, or thought it impracticable, so they went away, and
night coming on, we had no remedy but to wait till the wind should
abate; and, in the meantime, the boatman and I concluded to sleep, if
we could; and so crowded into the scuttle, with the Dutchman, who was
still wet, and the spray beating over the head of our boat, leak'd
thro' to us, so that we were soon almost as wet as he. In this manner
we lay all night, with very little rest; but, the wind abating the
next day, we made a shift to reach Amboy before night, having been
thirty hours on the water, without victuals, or any drink but a bottle
of filthy rum, and the water we sail'd on being salt.

In the evening I found myself very feverish, and went in to bed; but,
having read somewhere that cold water drank plentifully was good for a
fever, I follow'd the prescription, sweat plentifully most of the
night, my fever left me, and in the morning, crossing the ferry, I
proceeded on my journey on foot, having fifty miles to Burlington,
where I was told I should find boats that would carry me the rest of
the way to Philadelphia.

[Illustration: It rained very hard all the day]

It rained very hard all the day; I was thoroughly soak'd, and by noon
a good deal tired; so I stopt at a poor inn, where I staid all night,
beginning now to wish that I had never left home. I cut so miserable a
figure, too, that I found, by the questions ask'd me, I was suspected
to be some runaway servant, and in danger of being taken up on that
suspicion. However, I proceeded the next day, and got in the evening
to an inn, within eight or ten miles of Burlington, kept by one Dr.
Brown. He entered into conversation with me while I took some
refreshment, and, finding I had read a little, became very sociable
and friendly. Our acquaintance continu'd as long as he liv'd. He had
been, I imagine, an itinerant doctor, for there was no town in
England, or country in Europe, of which he could not give a very
particular account. He had some letters, and was ingenious, but much
of an unbeliever, and wickedly undertook, some years after, to
travesty the Bible in doggrel verse, as Cotton had done Virgil. By
this means he set many of the facts in a very ridiculous light, and
might have hurt weak minds if his work had been published; but it
never was.

At his house I lay that night, and the next morning reach'd
Burlington, but had the mortification to find that the regular boats
were gone a little before my coming, and no other expected to go
before Tuesday, this being Saturday; wherefore I returned to an old
woman in the town, of whom I had bought gingerbread to eat on the
water, and ask'd her advice. She invited me to lodge at her house till
a passage by water should offer; and being tired with my foot
traveling, I accepted the invitation. She understanding I was a
printer, would have had me stay at that town and follow my business,
being ignorant of the stock necessary to begin with. She was very
hospitable, gave me a dinner of ox-cheek with great good will,
accepting only of a pot of ale in return; and I thought myself fixed
till Tuesday should come. However, walking in the evening by the side
of the river, a boat came by, which I found was going towards
Philadelphia, with several people in her. They took me in, and, as
there was no wind, we row'd all the way; and about midnight, not
having yet seen the city, some of the company were confident we must
have passed it, and would row no farther; the others knew not where we
were; so we put toward the shore, got into a creek, landed near an old
fence, with the rails of which we made a fire, the night being cold,
in October, and there we remained till daylight. Then one of the
company knew the place to be Cooper's Creek, a little above
Philadelphia, which we saw as soon as we got out of the creek, and
arriv'd there about eight or nine o'clock on the Sunday morning, and
landed at the Market-street wharf.

I have been the more particular in this description of my journey, and
shall be so of my first entry into that city, that you may in your
mind compare such unlikely beginnings with the figure I have since
made there. I was in my working dress, my best clothes being to come
round by sea. I was dirty from my journey; my pockets were stuff'd out
with shirts and stockings, and I knew no soul nor where to look for
lodging. I was fatigued with traveling, rowing, and want of rest, I
was very hungry; and my whole stock of cash consisted of a Dutch
dollar, and about a shilling in copper. The latter I gave the people
of the boat for my passage, who at first refus'd it, on account of my
rowing; but I insisted on their taking it. A man being sometimes more
generous when he has but a little money than when he has plenty,
perhaps thro' fear of being thought to have but little.

Then I walked up the street, gazing about till near the market-house I
met a boy with bread. I had made many a meal on bread, and, inquiring
where he got it, I went immediately to the baker's he directed me to,
in Second-street, and ask'd for bisket, intending such as we had in
Boston; but they, it seems, were not made in Philadelphia. Then I
asked for a three-penny loaf, and was told they had none such. So not
considering or knowing the difference of money, and the greater
cheapness nor the names of his bread, I bade him give me three-penny
worth of any sort. He gave me, accordingly, three great puffy rolls. I
was surpris'd at the quantity, but took it, and, having no room in my
pockets, walk'd off with a roll under each arm, and eating the other.
Thus I went up Market-street as far as Fourth-street, passing by the
door of Mr. Read, my future wife's father; when she, standing at the
door, saw me, and thought I made, as I certainly did, a most awkward,
ridiculous appearance. Then I turned and went down Chestnut-street and
part of Walnut-street, eating my roll all the way, and, coming round,
found myself again at Market-street wharf, near the boat I came in, to
which I went for a draught of the river water; and, being filled with
one of my rolls, gave the other two to a woman and her child that came
down the river in the boat with us, and were waiting to go farther.

[Illustration: "She, standing at the door, saw me, and thought I made,
as I certainly did, a most awkward, ridiculous appearance"]

Thus refreshed, I walked again up the street, which by this time had
many clean-dressed people in it, who were all walking the same way. I
joined them, and thereby was led into the great meeting-house of the
Quakers near the market. I sat down among them, and, after looking round
awhile and hearing nothing said, being very drowsy thro' labour and want
of rest the preceding night, I fell fast asleep, and continu'd so till
the meeting broke up, when one was kind enough to rouse me. This was,
therefore, the first house I was in, or slept in, in Philadelphia.

Walking down again toward the river, and, looking in the faces of
people, I met a young Quaker man, whose countenance I lik'd, and,
accosting him, requested he would tell me where a stranger could get
lodging. We were then near the sign of the Three Mariners. "Here,"
says he, "is one place that entertains strangers, but it is not a
reputable house; if thee wilt walk with me, I'll show thee a better."
He brought me to the Crooked Billet in Water-street. Here I got a
dinner; and, while I was eating it, several sly questions were asked
me, as it seemed to be suspected from my youth and appearance, that I
might be some runaway.

After dinner, my sleepiness return'd, and being shown to a bed, I lay
down without undressing, and slept till six in the evening, was call'd
to supper, went to bed again very early, and slept soundly till next
morning. Then I made myself as tidy as I could, and went to Andrew
Bradford the printer's. I found in the shop the old man his father,
whom I had seen at New York, and who, traveling on horseback, had got
to Philadelphia before me. He introduc'd me to his son, who receiv'd
me civilly, gave me a breakfast, but told me he did not at present
want a hand, being lately suppli'd with one; but there was another
printer in town, lately set up, one Keimer, who, perhaps, might employ
me; if not, I should be welcome to lodge at his house, and he would
give me a little work to do now and then till fuller business should
offer.

The old gentleman said he would go with me to the new printer; and
when we found him, "Neighbour," says Bradford, "I have brought to see
you a young man of your business; perhaps you may want such a one." He
ask'd me a few questions, put a composing stick in my hand to see how
I work'd, and then said he would employ me soon, though he had just
then nothing for me to do; and, taking old Bradford, whom he had never
seen before, to be one of the town's people that had a good will for
him, enter'd into a conversation on his present undertaking and
prospects; while Bradford, not discovering that he was the other
printer's father, on Keimer's saying he expected soon to get the
greatest part of the business into his own hands, drew him on by
artful questions, and starting little doubts, to explain all his
views, what interest he reli'd on, and in what manner he intended to
proceed. I, who stood by and heard all, saw immediately that one of
them was a crafty old sophister, and the other a mere novice. Bradford
left me with Keimer, who was greatly surpris'd when I told him who the
old man was.

Keimer's printing-house, I found, consisted of an old shatter'd press,
and one small, worn-out font of English, which he was then using
himself, composing an Elegy on Aquilla Rose, before mentioned, an
ingenious young man, of excellent character, much respected in the
town, clerk of the Assembly, and a pretty poet. Keimer made verses
too, but very indifferently. He could not be said to write them, for
his manner was to compose them in the types directly out of his head.
So there being no copy,[27] but one pair of cases, and the Elegy likely
to require all the letter, no one could help him. I endeavour'd to put
his press (which he had not yet us'd, and of which he understood
nothing) into order fit to be work'd with; and, promising to come and
print off his Elegy as soon as he should have got it ready, I
return'd to Bradford's, who gave me a little job to do for the
present, and there I lodged and dieted. A few days after, Keimer sent
for me to print off the Elegy. And now he had got another pair of
cases,[28] and a pamphlet to reprint, on which he set me to work.

These two printers I found poorly qualified for their business.
Bradford had not been bred to it, and was very illiterate; and Keimer,
tho' something of a scholar, was a mere compositor, knowing nothing of
presswork. He had been one of the French prophets,[29] and could act
their enthusiastic agitations. At this time he did not profess any
particular religion, but something of all on occasion; was very
ignorant of the world, and had, as I afterward found, a good deal of
the knave in his composition. He did not like my lodging at Bradford's
while I work'd with him. He had a house, indeed, but without
furniture, so he could not lodge me; but he got me a lodging at Mr.
Read's before mentioned, who was the owner of his house; and, my chest
and clothes being come by this time, I made rather a more respectable
appearance in the eyes of Miss Read than I had done when she first
happen'd to see me eating my roll in the street.

    [27] Manuscript.

    [28] The frames for holding type are in two sections, the
    upper for capitals and the lower for small letters.

    [29] Protestants of the South of France, who became
    fanatical under the persecutions of Louis XIV, and
    thought they had the gift of prophecy. They had as
    mottoes "No Taxes" and "Liberty of Conscience."

I began now to have some acquaintance among the young people of the
town, that were lovers of reading, with whom I spent my evenings very
pleasantly; and gaining money by my industry and frugality, I lived
very agreeably, forgetting Boston as much as I could, and not desiring
that any there should know where I resided, except my friend Collins,
who was in my secret, and kept it when I wrote to him. At length, an
incident happened that sent me back again much sooner than I had
intended. I had a brother-in-law, Robert Holmes, master of a sloop
that traded between Boston and Delaware. He being at Newcastle, forty
miles below Philadelphia, heard there of me, and wrote me a letter
mentioning the concern of my friends in Boston at my abrupt departure,
assuring me of their good will to me, and that everything would be
accommodated to my mind if I would return, to which he exhorted me
very earnestly. I wrote an answer to his letter, thank'd him for his
advice, but stated my reasons for quitting Boston fully and in such a
light as to convince him I was not so wrong as he had apprehended.



IV

FIRST VISIT TO BOSTON


Sir William Keith, governor of the province, was then at Newcastle,
and Captain Holmes, happening to be in company with him when my letter
came to hand, spoke to him of me, and show'd him the letter. The
governor read it, and seem'd surpris'd when he was told my age. He
said I appear'd a young man of promising parts, and therefore should
be encouraged; the printers at Philadelphia were wretched ones; and,
if I would set up there, he made no doubt I should succeed; for his
part, he would procure me the public business, and do me every other
service in his power. This my brother-in-law afterwards told me in
Boston, but I knew as yet nothing of it; when, one day, Keimer and I
being at work together near the window, we saw the governor and
another gentleman (which proved to be Colonel French, of Newcastle),
finely dress'd, come directly across the street to our house, and
heard them at the door.

Keimer ran down immediately, thinking it a visit to him; but the
governor inquir'd for me, came up, and with a condescension and
politeness I had been quite unus'd to, made me many compliments,
desired to be acquainted with me, blam'd me kindly for not having made
myself known to him when I first came to the place, and would have me
away with him to the tavern, where he was going with Colonel French to
taste, as he said, some excellent Madeira. I was not a little
surprised, and Keimer star'd like a pig poison'd.[30] I went, however,
with the governor and Colonel French to a tavern, at the corner of
Third-street, and over the Madeira he propos'd my setting up my
business, laid before me the probabilities of success, and both he and
Colonel French assur'd me I should have their interest and influence
in procuring the public business of both governments.[31] On my
doubting whether my father would assist me in it, Sir William said he
would give me a letter to him, in which he would state the advantages,
and he did not doubt of prevailing with him. So it was concluded I
should return to Boston in the first vessel, with the governor's
letter recommending me to my father. In the meantime the intention was
to be kept a secret, and I went on working with Keimer as usual, the
governor sending for me now and then to dine with him, a very great
honour I thought it, and conversing with me in the most affable,
familiar, and friendly manner imaginable.

    [30] Temple Franklin considered this specific figure
    vulgar and changed it to "stared with astonishment."

    [31] Pennsylvania and Delaware.

About the end of April, 1724, a little vessel offer'd for Boston. I
took leave of Keimer as going to see my friends. The governor gave me
an ample letter, saying many flattering things of me to my father, and
strongly recommending the project of my setting up at Philadelphia as
a thing that must make my fortune. We struck on a shoal in going down
the bay, and sprung a leak; we had a blustering time at sea, and were
oblig'd to pump almost continually, at which I took my turn. We
arriv'd safe, however, at Boston in about a fortnight. I had been
absent seven months, and my friends had heard nothing of me; for my
br. Holmes was not yet return'd, and had not written about me. My
unexpected appearance surpris'd the family; all were, however, very
glad to see me, and made me welcome, except my brother. I went to see
him at his printing-house. I was better dress'd than ever while in his
service, having a genteel new suit from head to foot, a watch, and my
pockets lin'd with near five pounds sterling in silver. He receiv'd me
not very frankly, look'd me all over, and turn'd to his work again.

[Illustration: The journeymen were inquisitive]

The journeymen were inquisitive where I had been, what sort of a
country it was, and how I lik'd it. I prais'd it much, and the happy
life I led in it, expressing strongly my intention of returning to it;
and, one of them asking what kind of money we had there, I produc'd a
handful of silver, and spread it before them, which was a kind of
raree-show[32] they had not been us'd to, paper being the money of
Boston.[33] Then I took an opportunity of letting them see my watch;
and, lastly (my brother still grum and sullen), I gave them a piece
of eight[34] to drink, and took my leave. This visit of mine offended
him extreamly; for, when my mother some time after spoke to him of a
reconciliation, and of her wishes to see us on good terms together,
and that we might live for the future as brothers, he said I had
insulted him in such a manner before his people that he could never
forget or forgive it. In this, however, he was mistaken.

    [32] A peep-show in a box.

    [33] There were no mints in the colonies, so the metal
    money was of foreign coinage and not nearly so common as
    paper money, which was printed in large quantities in
    America, even in small denominations.

    [34] Spanish dollar about equivalent to our dollar.

My father received the governor's letter with some apparent surprise,
but said little of it to me for some days, when Capt. Holmes returning
he show'd it to him, asked him if he knew Keith, and what kind of man
he was; adding his opinion that he must be of small discretion to
think of setting a boy up in business who wanted yet three years of
being at man's estate. Holmes said what he could in favour of the
project, but my father was clear in the impropriety of it, and at
last, gave a flat denial to it. Then he wrote a civil letter to Sir
William, thanking him for the patronage he had so kindly offered me,
but declining to assist me as yet in setting up, I being, in his
opinion, too young to be trusted with the management of a business so
important, and for which the preparation must be so expensive.

My friend and companion Collins, who was a clerk in the post-office,
pleas'd with the account I gave him of my new country, determined to
go thither also; and, while I waited for my father's determination, he
set out before me by land to Rhode Island, leaving his books, which
were a pretty collection of mathematicks and natural philosophy, to
come with mine and me to New York, where he propos'd to wait for me.

My father, tho' he did not approve Sir William's proposition, was yet
pleas'd that I had been able to obtain so advantageous a character
from a person of such note where I had resided, and that I had been so
industrious and careful as to equip myself so handsomely in so short a
time; therefore, seeing no prospect of an accommodation between my
brother and me, he gave his consent to my returning again to
Philadelphia, advis'd me to behave respectfully to the people there,
endeavour to obtain the general esteem, and avoid lampooning and
libeling, to which he thought I had too much inclination; telling me,
that by steady industry and a prudent parsimony I might save enough by
the time I was one-and-twenty to set me up; and that, if I came near
the matter, he would help me out with the rest. This was all I could
obtain, except some small gifts as tokens of his and my mother's love,
when I embark'd again for New York, now with their approbation and
their blessing.

The sloop putting in at Newport, Rhode Island, I visited my brother
John, who had been married and settled there some years. He received
me very affectionately, for he always lov'd me. A friend of his, one
Vernon, having some money due to him in Pennsylvania, about
thirty-five pounds currency, desired I would receive it for him, and
keep it till I had his directions what to remit it in. Accordingly, he
gave me an order. This afterwards occasion'd me a good deal of
uneasiness.

At Newport we took in a number of passengers for New York, among
which were two young women, companions, and a grave, sensible,
matronlike Quaker woman, with her attendants. I had shown an obliging
readiness to do her some little services, which impress'd her I
suppose with a degree of good will toward me; therefore, when she saw
a daily growing familiarity between me and the two young women, which
they appear'd to encourage, she took me aside, and said, "Young man, I
am concern'd for thee, as thou hast no friend with thee, and seems not
to know much of the world, or of the snares youth is expos'd to;
depend upon it, those are very bad women; I can see it in all their
actions; and if thee art not upon thy guard, they will draw thee into
some danger; they are strangers to thee, and I advise thee, in a
friendly concern for thy welfare, to have no acquaintance with them."
As I seem'd at first not to think so ill of them as she did, she
mentioned some things she had observ'd and heard that had escap'd my
notice, but now convinc'd me she was right. I thank'd her for her kind
advice, and promis'd to follow it. When we arriv'd at New York, they
told me where they liv'd, and invited me to come and see them; but I
avoided it, and it was well I did; for the next day the captain miss'd
a silver spoon and some other things, that had been taken out of his
cabin, and, knowing that these were a couple of strumpets, he got a
warrant to search their lodgings, found the stolen goods, and had the
thieves punish'd. So, tho' we had escap'd a sunken rock, which we
scrap'd upon in the passage, I thought this escape of rather more
importance to me.

At New York I found my friend Collins, who had arriv'd there some time
before me. We had been intimate from children, and had read the same
books together; but he had the advantage of more time for reading and
studying, and a wonderful genius for mathematical learning, in which
he far outstript me. While I liv'd in Boston, most of my hours of
leisure for conversation were spent with him, and he continu'd a sober
as well as an industrious lad; was much respected for his learning by
several of the clergy and other gentlemen, and seemed to promise
making a good figure in life. But, during my absence, he had acquir'd
a habit of sotting with brandy; and I found by his own account, and
what I heard from others, that he had been drunk every day since his
arrival at New York, and behav'd very oddly. He had gam'd, too, and
lost his money, so that I was oblig'd to discharge his lodgings, and
defray his expenses to and at Philadelphia, which prov'd extremely
inconvenient to me.

The then governor of New York, Burnet (son of Bishop Burnet), hearing
from the captain that a young man, one of his passengers, had a great
many books, desir'd he would bring me to see him. I waited upon him
accordingly, and should have taken Collins with me but that he was not
sober. The gov'r. treated me with great civility, show'd me his
library, which was a very large one, and we had a good deal of
conversation about books and authors. This was the second governor who
had done me the honour to take notice of me; which, to a poor boy like
me, was very pleasing.

We proceeded to Philadelphia. I received on the way Vernon's money,
without which we could hardly have finish'd our journey. Collins
wished to be employ'd in some counting-house; but, whether they
discover'd his dramming by his breath, or by his behaviour, tho' he
had some recommendations, he met with no success in any application,
and continu'd lodging and boarding at the same house with me, and at
my expense. Knowing I had that money of Vernon's, he was continually
borrowing of me, still promising repayment as soon as he should be in
business. At length he had got so much of it that I was distress'd to
think what I should do in case of being call'd on to remit it.

His drinking continu'd, about which we sometimes quarrel'd; for, when
a little intoxicated, he was very fractious. Once, in a boat on the
Delaware with some other young men, he refused to row in his turn. "I
will be row'd home," says he. "We will not row you," says I. "You
must, or stay all night on the water," says he, "just as you please."
The others said, "Let us row; what signifies it?" But, my mind being
soured with his other conduct, I continu'd to refuse. So he swore he
would make me row, or throw me overboard; and coming along, stepping
on the thwarts, toward me, when he came up and struck at me, I clapped
my hand under his crutch, and, rising, pitched him head-foremost into
the river. I knew he was a good swimmer, and so was under little
concern about him; but before he could get round to lay hold of the
boat, we had with a few strokes pull'd her out of his reach; and ever
when he drew near the boat, we ask'd if he would row, striking a few
strokes to slide her away from him. He was ready to die with
vexation, and obstinately would not promise to row. However, seeing
him at last beginning to tire, we lifted him in and brought him home
dripping wet in the evening. We hardly exchang'd a civil word
afterwards, and a West India captain, who had a commission to procure
a tutor for the sons of a gentleman at Barbados, happening to meet
with him, agreed to carry him thither. He left me then, promising to
remit me the first money he should receive in order to discharge the
debt; but I never heard of him after.

The breaking into this money of Vernon's was one of the first great
errata of my life; and this affair show'd that my father was not much
out in his judgment when he suppos'd me too young to manage business
of importance. But Sir William, on reading his letter, said he was too
prudent. There was great difference in persons; and discretion did not
always accompany years, nor was youth always without it. "And since he
will not set you up," says he, "I will do it myself. Give me an
inventory of the things necessary to be had from England, and I will
send for them. You shall repay me when you are able; I am resolv'd to
have a good printer here, and I am sure you must succeed." This was
spoken with such an appearance of cordiality, that I had not the least
doubt of his meaning what he said. I had hitherto kept the proposition
of my setting up, a secret in Philadelphia, and I still kept it. Had
it been known that I depended on the governor, probably some friend,
that knew him better, would have advis'd me not to rely on him, as I
afterwards heard it as his known character to be liberal of promises
which he never meant to keep. Yet, unsolicited as he was by me, how
could I think his generous offers insincere? I believ'd him one of the
best men in the world.

I presented him an inventory of a little print'-house, amounting by my
computation to about one hundred pounds sterling. He lik'd it, but
ask'd me if my being on the spot in England to chuse the types, and
see that everything was good of the kind, might not be of some
advantage. "Then," says he, "when there, you may make acquaintances,
and establish correspondences in the bookselling and stationery way."
I agreed that this might be advantageous. "Then," says he, "get
yourself ready to go with Annis;" which was the annual ship, and the
only one at that time usually passing between London and Philadelphia.
But it would be some months before Annis sail'd, so I continued
working with Keimer, fretting about the money Collins had got from me,
and in daily apprehensions of being call'd upon by Vernon, which,
however, did not happen for some years after.

I believe I have omitted mentioning that, in my first voyage from
Boston, being becalm'd off Block Island, our people set about catching
cod, and hauled up a great many. Hitherto I had stuck to my resolution
of not eating animal food, and on this occasion I consider'd, with my
master Tryon, the taking every fish as a kind of unprovoked murder,
since none of them had, or ever could do us any injury that might
justify the slaughter. All this seemed very reasonable. But I had
formerly been a great lover of fish, and, when this came hot out of
the frying-pan, it smelt admirably well. I balanc'd some time between
principle and inclination, till I recollected that, when the fish were
opened, I saw smaller fish taken out of their stomachs; then thought
I, "If you eat one another, I don't see why we mayn't eat you." So I
din'd upon cod very heartily, and continued to eat with other people,
returning only now and then occasionally to a vegetable diet. So
convenient a thing is it to be a _reasonable creature_, since it
enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to
do.



V

EARLY FRIENDS IN PHILADELPHIA


Keimer and I liv'd on a pretty good familiar footing, and agreed
tolerably well, for he suspected nothing of my setting up. He retained
a great deal of his old enthusiasms and lov'd argumentation. We
therefore had many disputations. I used to work him so with my
Socratic method, and had trepann'd him so often by questions
apparently so distant from any point we had in hand, and yet by
degrees led to the point, and brought him into difficulties and
contradictions, that at last he grew ridiculously cautious, and would
hardly answer me the most common question, without asking first,
"_What do you intend to infer from that_?" However, it gave him so
high an opinion of my abilities in the confuting way, that he
seriously proposed my being his colleague in a project he had of
setting up a new sect. He was to preach the doctrines, and I was to
confound all opponents. When he came to explain with me upon the
doctrines, I found several conundrums which I objected to, unless I
might have my way a little too, and introduce some of mine.

Keimer wore his beard at full length, because somewhere in the Mosaic
law it is said, "_Thou shalt not mar the corners of thy beard_." He
likewise kept the Seventh day, Sabbath; and these two points were
essentials with him. I dislik'd both; but agreed to admit them upon
condition of his adopting the doctrine of using no animal food. "I
doubt," said he, "my constitution will not bear that." I assur'd him
it would, and that he would be the better for it. He was usually a
great glutton, and I promised myself some diversion in half starving
him. He agreed to try the practice, if I would keep him company. I did
so, and we held it for three months. We had our victuals dress'd, and
brought to us regularly by a woman in the neighborhood, who had from
me a list of forty dishes, to be prepar'd for us at different times,
in all which there was neither fish, flesh, nor fowl, and the whim
suited me the better at this time from the cheapness of it, not
costing us above eighteenpence sterling each per week. I have since
kept several Lents most strictly, leaving the common diet for that,
and that for the common, abruptly, without the least inconvenience, so
that I think there is little in the advice of making those changes by
easy gradations. I went on pleasantly, but poor Keimer suffered
grievously, tired of the project, long'd for the flesh-pots of Egypt,
and order'd a roast pig. He invited me and two women friends to dine
with him; but, it being brought too soon upon table, he could not
resist the temptation, and ate the whole before we came.

I had made some courtship during this time to Miss Read. I had a great
respect and affection for her, and had some reason to believe she had
the same for me; but, as I was about to take a long voyage, and we
were both very young, only a little above eighteen, it was thought
most prudent by her mother to prevent our going too far at present, as
a marriage, if it was to take place, would be more convenient after my
return, when I should be, as I expected, set up in my business.
Perhaps, too, she thought my expectations not so well founded as I
imagined them to be.

My chief acquaintances at this time were Charles Osborne, Joseph
Watson, and James Ralph, all lovers of reading. The two first were
clerks to an eminent scrivener or conveyancer in the town, Charles
Brockden; the other was clerk to a merchant. Watson was a pious,
sensible young man, of great integrity; the others rather more lax in
their principles of religion, particularly Ralph, who, as well as
Collins, had been unsettled by me, for which they both made me suffer.
Osborne was sensible, candid, frank; sincere and affectionate to his
friends; but, in literary matters, too fond of criticizing. Ralph was
ingenious, genteel in his manners, and extremely eloquent; I think I
never knew a prettier talker. Both of them were great admirers of
poetry, and began to try their hands in little pieces. Many pleasant
walks we four had together on Sundays into the woods, near
Schuylkill, where we read to one another, and conferr'd on what we
read.

[Illustration: "Many pleasant walks we four had together"]

Ralph was inclin'd to pursue the study of poetry, not doubting but he
might become eminent in it, and make his fortune by it, alleging that
the best poets must, when they first began to write, make as many
faults as he did. Osborne dissuaded him, assur'd him he had no genius
for poetry, and advis'd him to think of nothing beyond the business he
was bred to; that, in the mercantile way, tho' he had no stock, he
might, by his diligence and punctuality, recommend himself to
employment as a factor, and in time acquire wherewith to trade on his
own account. I approv'd the amusing one's self with poetry now and
then, so far as to improve one's language, but no farther.

On this it was propos'd that we should each of us, at our next
meeting, produce a piece of our own composing, in order to improve by
our mutual observations, criticisms, and corrections. As language and
expression were what we had in view, we excluded all considerations of
invention by agreeing that the task should be a version of the
eighteenth Psalm, which describes the descent of a Deity. When the
time of our meeting drew nigh, Ralph called on me first, and let me
know his piece was ready. I told him I had been busy, and, having
little inclination, had done nothing. He then show'd me his piece for
my opinion, and I much approv'd it, as it appear'd to me to have great
merit. "Now," says he, "Osborne never will allow the least merit in
anything of mine, but makes 1000 criticisms out of mere envy. He is
not so jealous of you; I wish, therefore, you would take this piece,
and produce it as yours; I will pretend not to have had time, and so
produce nothing. We shall then see what he will say to it." It was
agreed, and I immediately transcrib'd it, that it might appear in my
own hand.

We met; Watson's performance was read; there were some beauties in it,
but many defects. Osborne's was read; it was much better; Ralph did it
justice; remarked some faults, but applauded the beauties. He himself
had nothing to produce. I was backward; seemed desirous of being
excused; had not had sufficient time to correct, etc.; but no excuse
could be admitted; produce I must. It was read and repeated; Watson
and Osborne gave up the contest, and join'd in applauding it. Ralph
only made some criticisms, and propos'd some amendments; but I
defended my text. Osborne was against Ralph, and told him he was no
better a critic than poet, so he dropt the argument. As they two went
home together, Osborne expressed himself still more strongly in favor
of what he thought my production; having restrain'd himself before, as
he said, lest I should think it flattery. "But who would have
imagin'd," said he, "that Franklin had been capable of such a
performance; such painting, such force, such fire! He has even
improv'd the original. In his common conversation he seems to have no
choice of words; he hesitates and blunders; and yet, good God! how he
writes!" When we next met, Ralph discovered the trick we had plaid
him, and Osborne was a little laughed at.

This transaction fixed Ralph in his resolution of becoming a poet. I
did all I could to dissuade him from it, but he continued scribbling
verses till _Pope_ cured him.[35] He became, however, a pretty good
prose writer. More of him hereafter. But, as I may not have occasion
again to mention the other two, I shall just remark here, that Watson
died in my arms a few years after, much lamented, being the best of
our set. Osborne went to the West Indies, where he became an eminent
lawyer and made money, but died young. He and I had made a serious
agreement, that the one who happen'd first to die should, if possible,
make a friendly visit to the other, and acquaint him how he found
things in that separate state. But he never fulfill'd his promise.

    [35] "In one of the later editions of the _Dunciad_ occur
    the following lines:

       'Silence, ye wolves! while Ralph to Cynthia howls,
       And makes night hideous--answer him, ye owls.'

    To this the poet adds the following note:

    'James Ralph, a name inserted after the first editions,
    not known till he writ a swearing-piece called _Sawney_,
    very abusive of Dr. Swift, Mr. Gay, and myself.'"



VI

FIRST VISIT TO LONDON


The governor, seeming to like my company, had me frequently to his
house, and his setting me up was always mention'd as a fixed thing. I
was to take with me letters recommendatory to a number of his friends,
besides the letter of credit to furnish me with the necessary money
for purchasing the press and types, paper, etc. For these letters I
was appointed to call at different times, when they were to be ready;
but a future time was still named. Thus he went on till the ship,
whose departure too had been several times postponed, was on the point
of sailing. Then, when I call'd to take my leave and receive the
letters, his secretary, Dr. Bard, came out to me and said the governor
was extremely busy in writing, but would be down at Newcastle, before
the ship, and there the letters would be delivered to me.

Ralph, though married, and having one child, had determined to
accompany me in this voyage. It was thought he intended to establish a
correspondence, and obtain goods to sell on commission; but I found
afterwards, that, thro' some discontent with his wife's relations, he
purposed to leave her on their hands, and never return again. Having
taken leave of my friends, and interchang'd some promises with Miss
Read, I left Philadelphia in the ship, which anchor'd at Newcastle.
The governor was there; but when I went to his lodging, the secretary
came to me from him with the civillest message in the world, that he
could not then see me, being engaged in business of the utmost
importance, but should send the letters to me on board, wished me
heartily a good voyage and a speedy return, etc. I returned on board a
little puzzled, but still not doubting.

Mr. Andrew Hamilton, a famous lawyer of Philadelphia, had taken
passage in the same ship for himself and son, and with Mr. Denham, a
Quaker merchant, and Messrs. Onion and Russel, masters of an iron work
in Maryland, had engaged the great cabin; so that Ralph and I were
forced to take up with a berth in the steerage, and none on board
knowing us, were considered as ordinary persons. But Mr. Hamilton and
his son (it was James, since governor) return'd from Newcastle to
Philadelphia, the father being recall'd by a great fee to plead for a
seized ship; and, just before we sail'd, Colonel French coming on
board, and showing me great respect, I was more taken notice of, and,
with my friend Ralph, invited by the other gentlemen to come into the
cabin, there being now room. Accordingly, we remov'd thither.

Understanding that Colonel French had brought on board the governor's
despatches, I ask'd the captain for those letters that were to be
under my care. He said all were put into the bag together and he could
not then come at them; but, before we landed in England, I should have
an opportunity of picking them out; so I was satisfied for the
present, and we proceeded on our voyage. We had a sociable company in
the cabin, and lived uncommonly well, having the addition of all Mr.
Hamilton's stores, who had laid in plentifully. In this passage Mr.
Denham contracted a friendship for me that continued during his life.
The voyage was otherwise not a pleasant one, as we had a great deal of
bad weather.

When we came into the Channel, the captain kept his word with me, and
gave me an opportunity of examining the bag for the governor's
letters. I found none upon which my name was put as under my care. I
picked out six or seven, that, by the handwriting, I thought might be
the promised letters, especially as one of them was directed to
Basket, the king's printer, and another to some stationer. We arriv'd
in London the 24th of December, 1724. I waited upon the stationer, who
came first in my way, delivering the letter as from Governor Keith. "I
don't know such a person," says he; but, opening the letter, "O! this
is from Riddlesden. I have lately found him to be a compleat rascal,
and I will have nothing to do with him, nor receive any letters from
him." So, putting the letter into my hand, he turn'd on his heel and
left me to serve some customer. I was surprized to find these were not
the governor's letters; and, after recollecting and comparing
circumstances, I began to doubt his sincerity. I found my friend
Denham, and opened the whole affair to him. He let me into Keith's
character; told me there was not the least probability that he had
written any letters for me; that no one, who knew him, had the
smallest dependence on him; and he laught at the notion of the
governor's giving me a letter of credit, having, as he said, no credit
to give. On my expressing some concern about what I should do, he
advised me to endeavour getting some employment in the way of my
business. "Among the printers here," said he, "you will improve
yourself, and when you return to America, you will set up to greater
advantage."

[Illustration: "So, putting the letter into my hand"]

We both of us happen'd to know, as well as the stationer, that
Riddlesden, the attorney, was a very knave. He had half ruin'd Miss
Read's father by persuading him to be bound for him. By this letter it
appear'd there was a secret scheme on foot to the prejudice of
Hamilton (suppos'd to be then coming over with us); and that Keith was
concerned in it with Riddlesden. Denham, who was a friend of
Hamilton's, thought he ought to be acquainted with it; so, when he
arriv'd in England, which was soon after, partly from resentment and
ill-will to Keith and Riddlesden, and partly from good-will to him, I
waited on him, and gave him the letter. He thank'd me cordially, the
information being of importance to him; and from that time he became
my friend, greatly to my advantage afterwards on many occasions.

But what shall we think of a governor's playing such pitiful tricks,
and imposing so grossly on a poor ignorant boy! It was a habit he had
acquired. He wish'd to please everybody; and, having little to give,
he gave expectations. He was otherwise an ingenious, sensible man, a
pretty good writer, and a good governor for the people, tho' not for
his constituents, the proprietaries, whose instructions he sometimes
disregarded. Several of our best laws were of his planning and passed
during his administration.

Ralph and I were inseparable companions. We took lodgings together in
Little Britain[36] at three shillings and sixpence a week--as much as
we could then afford. He found some relations, but they were poor, and
unable to assist him. He now let me know his intentions of remaining
in London, and that he never meant to return to Philadelphia. He had
brought no money with him, the whole he could muster having been
expended in paying his passage. I had fifteen pistoles;[37] so he
borrowed occasionally of me to subsist, while he was looking out for
business. He first endeavoured to get into the play-house, believing
himself qualify'd for an actor; but Wilkes,[38] to whom he apply'd,
advis'd him candidly not to think of that employment, as it was
impossible he should succeed in it. Then he propos'd to Roberts, a
publisher in Paternoster Row,[39] to write for him a weekly paper like
the Spectator, on certain conditions, which Roberts did not approve.
Then he endeavoured to get employment as a hackney writer, to copy for
the stationers and lawyers about the Temple,[40] but could find no
vacancy.

    [36] One of the oldest parts of London, north of St.
    Paul's Cathedral, called "Little Britain" because the
    Dukes of Brittany used to live there. See the essay
    entitled "Little Britain" in Washington Irving's _Sketch
    Book_.

    [37] A gold coin worth about four dollars in our money.

    [38] A popular comedian, manager of Drury Lane Theater.

    [39] Street north of St. Paul's, occupied by publishing
    houses.

    [40] Law schools and lawyers' residences situated
    southwest of St. Paul's, between Fleet Street and the
    Thames.

I immediately got into work at Palmer's, then a famous printing-house
in Bartholomew Close, and here I continu'd near a year. I was pretty
diligent, but spent with Ralph a good deal of my earnings in going to
plays and other places of amusement. We had together consumed all my
pistoles, and now just rubbed on from hand to mouth. He seem'd quite
to forget his wife and child, and I, by degrees, my engagements with
Miss Read, to whom I never wrote more than one letter, and that was to
let her know I was not likely soon to return. This was another of the
great errata of my life, which I should wish to correct if I were to
live it over again. In fact, by our expenses, I was constantly kept
unable to pay my passage.

At Palmer's I was employed in composing for the second edition of
Wollaston's "Religion of Nature." Some of his reasonings not appearing
to me well founded, I wrote a little metaphysical piece in which I
made remarks on them. It was entitled "A Dissertation on Liberty and
Necessity, Pleasure and Pain." I inscribed it to my friend Ralph; I
printed a small number. It occasion'd my being more consider'd by Mr.
Palmer as a young man of some ingenuity, tho' he seriously
expostulated with me upon the principles of my pamphlet, which to him
appear'd abominable. My printing this pamphlet was another erratum.

While I lodg'd in Little Britain, I made an acquaintance with one
Wilcox, a bookseller, whose shop was at the next door. He had an
immense collection of second-hand books. Circulating libraries were
not then in use; but we agreed that, on certain reasonable terms,
which I have now forgotten, I might take, read, and return any of his
books. This I esteem'd a great advantage, and I made as much use of it
as I could.

My pamphlet by some means falling into the hands of one Lyons, a
surgeon, author of a book entitled "The Infallibility of Human
Judgment," it occasioned an acquaintance between us. He took great
notice of me, called on me often to converse on those subjects,
carried me to the Horns, a pale alehouse in----Lane, Cheapside,
and introduced me to Dr. Mandeville, author of the "Fable of the
Bees," who had a club there, of which he was the soul, being a most
facetious, entertaining companion. Lyons, too, introduced me to Dr.
Pemberton, at Batson's Coffee-house, who promis'd to give me an
opportunity, sometime or other, of seeing Sir Isaac Newton, of which I
was extreamly desirous; but this never happened.

I had brought over a few curiosities, among which the principal was a
purse made of the asbestos, which purifies by fire. Sir Hans Sloane
heard of it, came to see me, and invited me to his house in Bloomsbury
Square, where he show'd me all his curiosities, and persuaded me to
let him add that to the number, for which he paid me handsomely.

In our house there lodg'd a young woman, a milliner, who, I think, had
a shop in the Cloisters. She had been genteelly bred, was sensible and
lively, and of most pleasing conversation. Ralph read plays to her in
the evenings, they grew intimate, she took another lodging, and he
followed her. They liv'd together some time; but, he being still out
of business, and her income not sufficient to maintain them with her
child, he took a resolution of going from London, to try for a country
school, which he thought himself well qualified to undertake, as he
wrote an excellent hand, and was a master of arithmetic and accounts.
This, however, he deemed a business below him, and confident of future
better fortune, when he should be unwilling to have it known that he
once was so meanly employed, he changed his name, and did me the
honour to assume mine; for I soon after had a letter from him,
acquainting me that he was settled in a small village (in Berkshire, I
think it was, where he taught reading and writing to ten or a dozen
boys, at sixpence each per week), recommending Mrs. T---- to my care,
and desiring me to write to him, directing for Mr. Franklin,
schoolmaster, at such a place.

He continued to write frequently, sending me large specimens of an
epic poem which he was then composing, and desiring my remarks and
corrections. These I gave him from time to time, but endeavour'd
rather to discourage his proceeding. One of Young's Satires[41] was
then just published. I copy'd and sent him a great part of it, which
set in a strong light the folly of pursuing the Muses with any hope of
advancement by them. All was in vain; sheets of the poem continued to
come by every post. In the meantime, Mrs. T----, having on his account
lost her friends and business, was often in distresses, and us'd to
send for me and borrow what I could spare to help her out of them. I
grew fond of her company, and, being at that time under no religious
restraint, and presuming upon my importance to her, I attempted
familiarities (another erratum) which she repuls'd with a proper
resentment, and acquainted him with my behaviour. This made a breach
between us; and, when he returned again to London, he let me know he
thought I had cancell'd all the obligations he had been under to me.
So I found I was never to expect his repaying me what I lent to him or
advanc'd for him. This, however, was not then of much consequence, as
he was totally unable; and in the loss of his friendship I found
myself relieved from a burthen. I now began to think of getting a
little money beforehand, and, expecting better work, I left Palmer's
to work at Watts's, near Lincoln's Inn Fields, a still greater
printing-house.[42] Here I continued all the rest of my stay in London.

    [41] Edward Young (1681-1765), an English poet. See his
    satires, Vol. III, Epist. ii, page 70.

    [42] The printing press at which Franklin worked is
    preserved in the Patent Office at Washington.

At my first admission into this printing-house I took to working at
press, imagining I felt a want of the bodily exercise I had been us'd
to in America, where presswork is mix'd with composing. I drank only
water; the other workmen, near fifty in number, were great guzzlers of
beer. On occasion, I carried up and down stairs a large form of types
in each hand, when others carried but one in both hands. They wondered
to see, from this and several instances, that the _Water-American_, as
they called me, was _stronger_ than themselves, who drank _strong_
beer! We had an alehouse boy who attended always in the house to
supply the workmen. My companion at the press drank every day a pint
before breakfast, a pint at breakfast with his bread and cheese, a
pint between breakfast and dinner, a pint at dinner, a pint in the
afternoon about six o'clock, and another when he had done his day's
work. I thought it a detestable custom; but it was necessary, he
suppos'd, to drink _strong_ beer, that he might be _strong_ to labour.
I endeavoured to convince him that the bodily strength afforded by
beer could only be in proportion to the grain or flour of the barley
dissolved in the water of which it was made; that there was more flour
in a pennyworth of bread; and therefore, if he would eat that with a
pint of water, it would give him more strength than a quart of beer.
He drank on, however, and had four or five shillings to pay out of his
wages every Saturday night for that muddling liquor; an expense I was
free from. And thus these poor devils keep themselves always under.

[Illustration: "I took to working at press"]

Watts, after some weeks, desiring to have me in the composing-room,[43]
I left the pressmen; a new bien venu or sum for drink, being five
shillings, was demanded of me by the compositors. I thought it an
imposition, as I had paid below; the master thought so too, and forbade
my paying it. I stood out two or three weeks, was accordingly considered
as an excommunicate, and had so many little pieces of private mischief
done me, by mixing my sorts, transposing my pages, breaking my matter,
etc., etc., if I were ever so little out of the room, and all ascribed
to the chappel ghost, which they said ever haunted those not regularly
admitted, that, notwithstanding the master's protection, I found myself
oblig'd to comply and pay the money, convinc'd of the folly of being on
ill terms with those one is to live with continually.

    [43] Franklin now left the work of operating the printing
    presses, which was largely a matter of manual labor, and
    began setting type, which required more skill and
    intelligence.

I was now on a fair footing with them, and soon acquir'd considerable
influence. I propos'd some reasonable alterations in their chappel
laws,[44] and carried them against all opposition. From my example, a
great part of them left their muddling breakfast of beer, and bread,
and cheese, finding they could with me be supply'd from a neighbouring
house with a large porringer of hot water-gruel, sprinkled with
pepper, crumb'd with bread, and a bit of butter in it, for the price
of a pint of beer, viz., three half-pence. This was a more comfortable
as well as cheaper breakfast, and keep their heads clearer. Those who
continued sotting with beer all day, were often, by not paying, out of
credit at the alehouse, and us'd to make interest with me to get beer;
their _light_, as they phrased it, _being out_. I watch'd the
pay-table on Saturday night, and collected what I stood engag'd for
them, having to pay sometimes near thirty shillings a week on their
accounts. This, and my being esteem'd a pretty good _riggite_, that
is, a jocular verbal satirist, supported my consequence in the
society. My constant attendance (I never making a St. Monday)[45]
recommended me to the master; and my uncommon quickness at composing
occasioned my being put upon all work of dispatch, which was generally
better paid. So I went on now very agreeably.

    [44] A printing house is called a chapel because Caxton,
    the first English printer, did his printing in a chapel
    connected with Westminster Abbey.

    [45] A holiday taken to prolong the dissipation of
    Saturday's wages.

My lodging in Little Britain being too remote, I found another in
Duke-street, opposite to the Romish Chapel. It was two pair of stairs
backwards, at an Italian warehouse. A widow lady kept the house; she
had a daughter, and a maid servant, and a journeyman who attended the
warehouse, but lodg'd abroad. After sending to inquire my character at
the house where I last lodg'd she agreed to take me in at the same
rate, 3s. 6d. per week; cheaper, as she said, from the protection she
expected in having a man lodge in the house. She was a widow, an
elderly woman; had been bred a Protestant, being a clergyman's
daughter, but was converted to the Catholic religion by her husband,
whose memory she much revered; had lived much among people of
distinction, and knew a thousand anecdotes of them as far back as the
times of Charles the Second. She was lame in her knees with the gout,
and, therefore, seldom stirred out of her room, so sometimes wanted
company; and hers was so highly amusing to me, that I was sure to
spend an evening with her whenever she desired it. Our supper was
only half an anchovy each, on a very little strip of bread and butter,
and half a pint of ale between us; but the entertainment was in her
conversation. My always keeping good hours, and giving little trouble
in the family, made her unwilling to part with me, so that, when I
talk'd of a lodging I had heard of, nearer my business, for two
shillings a week, which, intent as I now was on saving money, made
some difference, she bid me not think of it, for she would abate me
two shillings a week for the future; so I remained with her at one
shilling and sixpence as long as I staid in London.

In a garret of her house there lived a maiden lady of seventy, in the
most retired manner, of whom my landlady gave me this account: that
she was a Roman Catholic, had been sent abroad when young, and lodg'd
in a nunnery with an intent of becoming a nun; but, the country not
agreeing with her, she returned to England, where, there being no
nunnery, she had vow'd to lead the life of a nun, as near as might be
done in those circumstances. Accordingly, she had given all her estate
to charitable uses, reserving only twelve pounds a year to live on,
and out of this sum she still gave a great deal in charity, living
herself on water-gruel only, and using no fire but to boil it. She had
lived many years in that garret, being permitted to remain there
gratis by successive Catholic tenants of the house below, as they
deemed it a blessing to have her there. A priest visited her to
confess her every day. "I have ask'd her," says my landlady, "how she,
as she liv'd, could possibly find so much employment for a confessor?"
"Oh," said she, "it is impossible to avoid _vain thoughts_." I was
permitted once to visit her. She was cheerful and polite, and
convers'd pleasantly. The room was clean, but had no other furniture
than a matras, a table with a crucifix and book, a stool which she
gave me to sit on, and a picture over the chimney of Saint Veronica
displaying her handkerchief, with the miraculous figure of Christ's
bleeding face on it,[46] which she explained to me with great
seriousness. She look'd pale, but was never sick; and I give it as
another instance on how small an income, life and health may be
supported.

At Watts's printing-house I contracted an acquaintance with an
ingenious young man, one Wygate, who, having wealthy relations, had
been better educated than most printers; was a tolerable Latinist,
spoke French, and lov'd reading. I taught him and a friend of his to
swim at twice going into the river, and they soon became good
swimmers. They introduc'd me to some gentlemen from the country, who
went to Chelsea by water to see the College and Don Saltero's
curiosities.[47] In our return, at the request of the company, whose
curiosity Wygate had excited, I stripped and leaped into the river,
and swam from near Chelsea to Blackfriar's,[48] performing on the way
many feats of activity, both upon and under water, that surpris'd and
pleas'd those to whom they were novelties.

    [46] The story is that she met Christ on His way to
    crucifixion and offered Him her handkerchief to wipe the
    blood from His face, after which the handkerchief always
    bore the image of Christ's bleeding face.

    [47] James Salter, a former servant of Hans Sloane, lived
    in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. "His house, a barber-shop, was
    known as 'Don Saltero's Coffee-House.' The curiosities
    were in glass cases and constituted an amazing and
    motley collection--a petrified crab from China, a
    'lignified hog,' Job's tears, Madagascar lances, William
    the Conqueror's flaming sword, and Henry the Eighth's
    coat of mail."--Smyth.

    [48] About three miles.

I had from a child been ever delighted with this exercise, had studied
and practis'd all Thevenot's motions and positions, added some of my
own, aiming at the graceful and easy as well as the useful. All these
I took this occasion of exhibiting to the company, and was much
flatter'd by their admiration; and Wygate, who was desirous of
becoming a master, grew more and more attach'd to me on that account,
as well as from the similarity of our studies. He at length proposed
to me traveling all over Europe together, supporting ourselves
everywhere by working at our business. I was once inclined to it; but,
mentioning it to my good friend Mr. Denham, with whom I often spent an
hour when I had leisure, he dissuaded me from it, advising me to think
only of returning to Pennsylvania, which he was now about to do.

I must record one trait of this good man's character. He had formerly
been in business at Bristol, but failed in debt to a number of people,
compounded and went to America. There, by a close application to
business as a merchant, he acquired a plentiful fortune in a few
years. Returning to England in the ship with me, he invited his old
creditors to an entertainment, at which he thank'd them for the easy
composition they had favoured him with, and, when they expected
nothing but the treat, every man at the first remove found under his
plate an order on a banker for the full amount of the unpaid
remainder with interest.

He now told me he was about to return to Philadelphia, and should
carry over a great quantity of goods in order to open a store there.
He propos'd to take me over as his clerk, to keep his books, in which
he would instruct me, copy his letters, and attend the store. He
added, that, as soon as I should be acquainted with mercantile
business, he would promote me by sending me with a cargo of flour and
bread, etc., to the West Indies, and procure me commissions from
others which would be profitable; and, if I manag'd well, would
establish me handsomely. The thing pleas'd me; for I was grown tired
of London, remembered with pleasure the happy months I had spent in
Pennsylvania, and wish'd again to see it; therefore I immediately
agreed on the terms of fifty pounds a year,[49] Pennsylvania money;
less, indeed, than my present gettings as a compositor, but affording
a better prospect.

    [49] About $167.

I now took leave of printing, as I thought, forever, and was daily
employed in my new business, going about with Mr. Denham among the
tradesmen to purchase various articles, and seeing them pack'd up,
doing errands, calling upon workmen to dispatch, etc.; and, when all
was on board, I had a few days' leisure. On one of these days, I was,
to my surprise, sent for by a great man I knew only by name, a Sir
William Wyndham, and I waited upon him. He had heard by some means or
other of my swimming from Chelsea to Blackfriars, and of my teaching
Wygate and another young man to swim in a few hours. He had two sons,
about to set out on their travels; he wish'd to have them first taught
swimming, and proposed to gratify me handsomely if I would teach them.
They were not yet come to town, and my stay was uncertain, so I could
not undertake it; but, from this incident, I thought it likely that,
if I were to remain in England and open a swimming-school, I might get
a good deal of money; and it struck me so strongly, that, had the
overture been sooner made me, probably I should not so soon have
returned to America. After many years, you and I had something of more
importance to do with one of these sons of Sir William Wyndham,
become Earl of Egremont, which I shall mention in its place.

Thus I spent about eighteen months in London; most part of the time I
work'd hard at my business, and spent but little upon myself except in
seeing plays and in books. My friend Ralph had kept me poor; he owed
me about twenty-seven pounds, which I was now never likely to receive;
a great sum out of my small earnings! I lov'd him, notwithstanding,
for he had many amiable qualities. I had by no means improv'd my
fortune; but I had picked up some very ingenious acquaintance, whose
conversation was of great advantage to me; and I had read
considerably.



VII

BEGINNING BUSINESS IN
PHILADELPHIA


We sail'd from Gravesend on the 23rd of July, 1726. For the incidents
of the voyage, I refer you to my Journal, where you will find them all
minutely related. Perhaps the most important part of that journal is
the _plan_[50] to be found in it, which I formed at sea, for
regulating my future conduct in life. It is the more remarkable, as
being formed when I was so young, and yet being pretty faithfully
adhered to quite thro' to old age.

    [50] "Not found in the manuscript journal, which was left
    among Franklin's papers."--Bigelow.

We landed in Philadelphia on the 11th of October, where I found sundry
alterations. Keith was no longer governor, being superseded by Major
Gordon. I met him walking the streets as a common citizen. He seem'd a
little asham'd at seeing me, but pass'd without saying anything. I
should have been as much asham'd at seeing Miss Read, had not her
friends, despairing with reason of my return after the receipt of my
letter, persuaded her to marry another, one Rogers, a potter, which
was done in my absence. With him, however, she was never happy, and
soon parted from him, refusing to cohabit with him or bear his name,
it being now said that he had another wife. He was a worthless fellow,
tho' an excellent workman, which was the temptation to her friends. He
got into debt, ran away in 1727 or 1728, went to the West Indies, and
died there. Keimer had got a better house, a shop well supply'd with
stationery, plenty of new types, a number of hands, tho' none good,
and seem'd to have a great deal of business.

Mr. Denham took a store in Water-street, where we open'd our goods; I
attended the business diligently, studied accounts, and grew, in a
little time, expert at selling. We lodg'd and boarded together; he
counsell'd me as a father, having a sincere regard for me. I respected
and loved him, and we might have gone on together very happy; but, in
the beginning of February, 1726/7, when I had just pass'd my
twenty-first year, we both were taken ill. My distemper was a
pleurisy, which very nearly carried me off. I suffered a good deal,
gave up the point in my own mind, and was rather disappointed when I
found myself recovering, regretting, in some degree, that I must now,
some time or other, have all that disagreeable work to do over again.
I forget what his distemper was; it held him a long time, and at
length carried him off. He left me a small legacy in a nuncupative
will, as a token of his kindness for me, and he left me once more to
the wide world; for the store was taken into the care of his
executors, and my employment under him ended.

[Illustration: "Mr. Denham took a store in Water-street"]

My brother-in-law, Holmes, being now at Philadelphia, advised my
return to my business; and Keimer tempted me, with an offer of large
wages by the year, to come and take the management of his
printing-house, that he might better attend his stationer's shop. I
had heard a bad character of him in London from his wife and her
friends, and was not fond of having any more to do with him. I tri'd
for farther employment as a merchant's clerk; but, not readily meeting
with any, I clos'd again with Keimer. I found in his house these
hands: Hugh Meredith, a Welsh Pennsylvanian, thirty years of age, bred
to country work; honest, sensible, had a great deal of solid
observation, was something of a reader, but given to drink. Stephen
Potts, a young countryman of full age, bred to the same, of uncommon
natural parts, and great wit and humor, but a little idle. These he
had agreed with at extream low wages per week to be rais'd a shilling
every three months, as they would deserve by improving in their
business; and the expectation of these high wages, to come on
hereafter, was what he had drawn them in with. Meredith was to work at
press, Potts at book-binding, which he, by agreement, was to teach
them, though he knew neither one nor t'other. John----, a wild
Irishman, brought up to no business, whose service, for four
years, Keimer had purchased from the captain of a ship; he, too, was
to be made a pressman. George Webb, an Oxford scholar, whose time for
four years he had likewise bought, intending him for a compositor, of
whom more presently; and David Harry, a country boy, whom he had taken
apprentice.

I soon perceiv'd that the intention of engaging me at wages so much
higher than he had been us'd to give, was, to have these raw, cheap
hands form'd thro' me; and, as soon as I had instructed them, then
they being all articled to him, he should be able to do without me. I
went on, however, very chearfully, put his printing-house in order,
which had been in great confusion, and brought his hands by degrees to
mind their business and to do it better.

It was an odd thing to find an Oxford scholar in the situation of a
bought servant. He was not more than eighteen years of age, and gave
me this account of himself; that he was born in Gloucester, educated
at a grammar-school there, had been distinguish'd among the scholars
for some apparent superiority in performing his part, when they
exhibited plays; belong'd to the Witty Club there, and had written
some pieces in prose and verse, which were printed in the Gloucester
newspapers; thence he was sent to Oxford; where he continued about a
year, but not well satisfi'd, wishing of all things to see London, and
become a player. At length, receiving his quarterly allowance of
fifteen guineas, instead of discharging his debts he walk'd out of
town, hid his gown in a furze bush, and footed it to London, where,
having no friend to advise him, he fell into bad company, soon spent
his guineas, found no means of being introduc'd among the players,
grew necessitous, pawn'd his cloaths, and wanted bread. Walking the
street very hungry, and not knowing what to do with himself, a crimp's
bill[51] was put into his hand, offering immediate entertainment and
encouragement to such as would bind themselves to serve in America. He
went directly, sign'd the indentures, was put into the ship, and came
over, never writing a line to acquaint his friends what was become of
him. He was lively, witty, good-natur'd, and a pleasant companion, but
idle, thoughtless, and imprudent to the last degree.

    [51] A crimp was the agent of a shipping company. Crimps
    were sometimes employed to decoy men into such service
    as is here mentioned.

John, the Irishman, soon ran away; with the rest I began to live very
agreeably, for they all respected me the more, as they found Keimer
incapable of instructing them, and that from me they learned something
daily. We never worked on Saturday, that being Keimer's Sabbath, so I
had two days for reading. My acquaintance with ingenious people in the
town increased. Keimer himself treated me with great civility and
apparent regard, and nothing now made me uneasy but my debt to Vernon,
which I was yet unable to pay, being hitherto but a poor æconomist.
He, however, kindly made no demand of it.

Our printing-house often wanted sorts, and there was no letter-founder
in America; I had seen types cast at James's in London, but without
much attention to the manner; however, I now contrived a mould, made
use of the letters we had as puncheons, struck the mattrices in lead,
and thus supply'd in a pretty tolerable way all deficiencies. I also
engrav'd several things on occasion; I made the ink; I was
warehouseman, and everything, and, in short, quite a fac-totum.

But, however serviceable I might be, I found that my services became
every day of less importance, as the other hands improv'd in the
business; and, when Keimer paid my second quarter's wages, he let me
know that he felt them too heavy, and thought I should make an
abatement. He grew by degrees less civil, put on more of the master,
frequently found fault, was captious, and seem'd ready for an
outbreaking. I went on, nevertheless, with a good deal of patience,
thinking that his encumber'd circumstances were partly the cause. At
length a trifle snapt our connections; for, a great noise happening
near the court-house, I put my head out of the window to see what was
the matter. Keimer, being in the street, look'd up and saw me, call'd
out to me in a loud voice and angry tone to mind my business, adding
some reproachful words, that nettled me the more for their publicity,
all the neighbours who were looking out on the same occasion being
witnesses how I was treated. He came up immediately into the
printing-house, continu'd the quarrel, high words pass'd on both
sides, he gave me the quarter's warning we had stipulated, expressing
a wish that he had not been oblig'd to so long a warning. I told him
his wish was unnecessary, for I would leave him that instant; and so,
taking my hat, walk'd out of doors, desiring Meredith, whom I saw
below, to take care of some things I left, and bring them to my
lodgings.

Meredith came accordingly in the evening, when we talked my affair
over. He had conceiv'd a great regard for me, and was very unwilling
that I should leave the house while he remain'd in it. He dissuaded me
from returning to my native country, which I began to think of; he
reminded me that Keimer was in debt for all he possess'd; that his
creditors began to be uneasy; that he kept his shop miserably, sold
often without profit for ready money, and often trusted without
keeping accounts; that he must therefore fail, which would make a
vacancy I might profit of. I objected my want of money. He then let me
know that his father had a high opinion of me, and, from some
discourse that had pass'd between them, he was sure would advance
money to set us up, if I would enter into partnership with him. "My
time," says he, "will be out with Keimer in the spring; by that time
we may have our press and types in from London. I am sensible I am no
workman; if you like it, your skill in the business shall be set
against the stock I furnish, and we will share the profits equally."

The proposal was agreeable, and I consented; his father was in town
and approv'd of it; the more as he saw I had great influence with his
son, had prevailed on him to abstain long from dram-drinking, and he
hop'd might break him of that wretched habit entirely, when we came to
be so closely connected. I gave an inventory to the father, who
carry'd it to a merchant; the things were sent for, the secret was to
be kept till they should arrive, and in the meantime I was to get
work, if I could, at the other printing-house. But I found no vacancy
there, and so remained idle a few days, when Keimer, on a prospect of
being employ'd to print some paper money in New Jersey, which would
require cuts and various types that I only could supply, and
apprehending Bradford might engage me and get the jobb from him, sent
me a very civil message, that old friends should not part for a few
words, the effect of sudden passion, and wishing me to return.
Meredith persuaded me to comply, as it would give more opportunity for
his improvement under my daily instructions; so I return'd, and we
went on more smoothly than for some time before. The New Jersey jobb
was obtained, I contriv'd a copperplate press for it, the first that
had been seen in the country; I cut several ornaments and checks for
the bills. We went together to Burlington, where I executed the whole
to satisfaction; and he received so large a sum for the work as to be
enabled thereby to keep his head much longer above water.

At Burlington I made an acquaintance with many principal people of the
province. Several of them had been appointed by the Assembly a
committee to attend the press, and take care that no more bills were
printed than the law directed. They were therefore, by turns,
constantly with us, and generally he who attended, brought with him a
friend or two for company. My mind having been much more improv'd by
reading than Keimer's, I suppose it was for that reason my
conversation seem'd to be more valu'd. They had me to their houses,
introduced me to their friends, and show'd me much civility; while he,
tho' the master, was a little neglected. In truth, he was an odd fish;
ignorant of common life, fond of rudely opposing receiv'd opinions,
slovenly to extream dirtiness, enthusiastic in some points of
religion, and a little knavish withal.

We continu'd there near three months; and by that time I could reckon
among my acquired friends, Judge Allen, Samuel Bustill, the secretary
of the Province, Isaac Pearson, Joseph Cooper, and several of the
Smiths, members of Assembly, and Isaac Decow, the surveyor-general.
The latter was a shrewd, sagacious old man, who told me that he began
for himself, when young, by wheeling clay for brick-makers, learned to
write after he was of age, carri'd the chain for surveyors, who taught
him surveying, and he had now by his industry, acquir'd a good
estate; and says he, "I foresee that you will soon work this man out
of his business, and make a fortune in it at Philadelphia." He had not
then the least intimation of my intention to set up there or anywhere.
These friends were afterwards of great use to me, as I occasionally
was to some of them. They all continued their regard for me as long as
they lived.

Before I enter upon my public appearance in business, it may be well
to let you know the then state of my mind with regard to my principles
and morals, that you may see how far those influenc'd the future
events of my life. My parents had early given me religious
impressions, and brought me through my childhood piously in the
Dissenting way. But I was scarce fifteen, when, after doubting by
turns of several points, as I found them disputed in the different
books I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself. Some books
against Deism[52] fell into my hands; they were said to be the
substance of sermons preached at Boyle's Lectures. It happened that
they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by
them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be
refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short,
I soon became a thorough Deist. My arguments perverted some others,
particularly Collins and Ralph; but, each of them having afterwards
wrong'd me greatly without the least compunction, and recollecting
Keith's conduct towards me (who was another free-thinker), and my own
towards Vernon and Miss Read, which at times gave me great trouble, I
began to suspect that this doctrine, tho' it might be true, was not
very useful. My London pamphlet, which had for its motto these lines
of Dryden:[53]

  "Whatever is, is right. Though purblind man
   Sees but a part o' the chain, the nearest link:
   His eyes not carrying to the equal beam,
   That poises all above;"

and from the attributes of God, his infinite wisdom, goodness and
power, concluded that nothing could possibly be wrong in the world,
and that vice and virtue were empty distinctions, no such things
existing, appear'd now not so clever a performance as I once thought
it; and I doubted whether some error had not insinuated itself
unperceiv'd into my argument, so as to infect all that follow'd, as is
common in metaphysical reasonings.

    [52] The creed of an eighteenth century theological sect
    which, while believing in God, refused to credit the
    possibility of miracles and to acknowledge the validity
    of revelation.

    [53] A great English poet, dramatist, and critic
    (1631-1700). The lines are inaccurately quoted from
    Dryden's OEdipus, Act III, Scene I, line 293.

I grew convinc'd that _truth_, _sincerity_ and _integrity_ in dealings
between man and man were of the utmost importance to the felicity of
life; and I form'd written resolutions, which still remain in my
journal book, to practice them ever while I lived. Revelation had
indeed no weight with me, as such; but I entertain'd an opinion that,
though certain actions might not be bad _because_ they were forbidden
by it, or good _because_ it commanded them, yet probably these actions
might be forbidden _because_ they were bad for us, or commanded
_because_ they were beneficial to us, in their own natures, all the
circumstances of things considered. And this persuasion, with the kind
hand of Providence, or some guardian angel, or accidental favourable
circumstances and situations, or all together, preserved me, thro'
this dangerous time of youth, and the hazardous situations I was
sometimes in among strangers, remote from the eye and advice of my
father, without any willful gross immorality or injustice, that might
have been expected from my want of religion. I say willful, because
the instances I have mentioned had something of _necessity_ in them,
from my youth, inexperience, and the knavery of others. I had
therefore a tolerable character to begin the world with; I valued it
properly, and determin'd to preserve it.

We had not been long return'd to Philadelphia before the new types
arriv'd from London. We settled with Keimer, and left him by his
consent before he heard of it. We found a house to hire near the
market, and took it. To lessen the rent, which was then but
twenty-four pounds a year, tho' I have since known it to let for
seventy, we took in Thomas Godfrey, a glazier, and his family, who
were to pay a considerable part of it to us, and we to board with
them. We had scarce opened our letters and put our press in order,
before George House, an acquaintance of mine, brought a countryman to
us, whom he had met in the street inquiring for a printer. All our
cash was now expended in the variety of particulars we had been
obliged to procure, and this countryman's five shillings, being our
first-fruits, and coming so seasonably, gave me more pleasure than any
crown I have since earned; and the gratitude I felt toward House has
made me often more ready than perhaps I should otherwise have been to
assist young beginners.

There are croakers in every country, always boding its ruin. Such a
one then lived in Philadelphia; a person of note, an elderly man, with
a wise look and a very grave manner of speaking; his name was Samuel
Mickle. This gentleman, a stranger to me, stopt one day at my door,
and asked me if I was the young man who had lately opened a new
printing-house. Being answered in the affirmative, he said he was
sorry for me, because it was an expensive undertaking, and the expense
would be lost; for Philadelphia was a sinking place, the people
already half-bankrupts, or near being so; all appearances to the
contrary, such as new buildings and the rise of rents, being to his
certain knowledge fallacious; for they were, in fact, among the things
that would soon ruin us. And he gave me such a detail of misfortunes
now existing, or that were soon to exist, that he left me half
melancholy. Had I known him before I engaged in this business,
probably I never should have done it. This man continued to live in
this decaying place, and to declaim in the same strain, refusing for
many years to buy a house there, because all was going to
destruction; and at last I had the pleasure of seeing him give five
times as much for one as he might have bought it for when he first
began his croaking.

I should have mentioned before, that, in the autumn of the preceding
year, I had form'd most of my ingenious acquaintance into a club of
mutual improvement, which was called the Junto;[54] we met on Friday
evenings. The rules that I drew up required that every member, in his
turn, should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals,
Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discuss'd by the company; and
once in three months produce and read an essay of his own writing, on
any subject he pleased. Our debates were to be under the direction of
a president, and to be conducted in the sincere spirit of inquiry
after truth, without fondness for dispute, or desire of victory; and,
to prevent warmth, all expressions of positiveness in opinions, or
direct contradiction, were after some time made contraband, and
prohibited under small pecuniary penalties.

    [54] A Spanish term meaning a combination for political
    intrigue; here a club or society.

The first members were Joseph Breintnal, a copyer of deeds for the
scriveners, a good-natur'd, friendly middle-ag'd man, a great lover
of poetry, reading all he could meet with, and writing some that was
tolerable; very ingenious in many little Nicknackeries, and of
sensible conversation.

Thomas Godfrey, a self-taught mathematician, great in his way, and
afterward inventor of what is now called Hadley's Quadrant. But he
knew little out of his way, and was not a pleasing companion; as, like
most great mathematicians I have met with, he expected universal
precision in everything said, or was forever denying or distinguishing
upon trifles, to the disturbance of all conversation. He soon left us.

Nicholas Scull, a surveyor, afterwards surveyor-general, who lov'd
books, and sometimes made a few verses.

William Parsons, bred a shoemaker, but, loving reading, had acquir'd a
considerable share of mathematics, which he first studied with a view
to astrology, that he afterwards laught at it. He also became
surveyor-general.

William Maugridge, a joiner, a most exquisite mechanic, and a solid,
sensible man.

Hugh Meredith, Stephen Potts, and George Webb I have characteriz'd
before.

Robert Grace, a young gentleman of some fortune, generous, lively, and
witty; a lover of punning and of his friends.

And William Coleman, then a merchant's clerk, about my age, who had
the coolest, clearest head, the best heart, and the exactest morals of
almost any man I ever met with. He became afterwards a merchant of
great note, and one of our provincial judges. Our friendship continued
without interruption to his death, upwards of forty years; and the
club continued almost as long, and was the best school of philosophy,
morality, and politics that then existed in the province; for our
queries, which were read the week preceding their discussion, put us
upon reading with attention upon the several subjects, that we might
speak more to the purpose; and here, too, we acquired better habits of
conversation, everything being studied in our rules which might
prevent our disgusting each other. From hence the long continuance of
the club, which I shall have frequent occasion to speak further of
hereafter.

But my giving this account of it here is to show something of the
interest I had, everyone of these exerting themselves in recommending
business to us. Breintnal particularly procur'd us from the Quakers
the printing forty sheets of their history, the rest being to be done
by Keimer; and upon this we work'd exceedingly hard, for the price was
low. It was a folio, pro patria size, in pica, with long primer
notes.[55] I compos'd of it a sheet a day, and Meredith worked it off
at press; it was often eleven at night, and sometimes later, before I
had finished my distribution for the next day's work, for the little
jobbs sent in by our other friends now and then put us back. But so
determin'd I was to continue doing a sheet a day of the folio, that
one night, when, having impos'd[56] my forms, I thought my day's work
over, one of them by accident was broken, and two pages reduced to
pi,[57] I immediately distribut'd and composed it over again before I
went to bed; and this industry, visible to our neighbors, began to
give us character and credit; particularly, I was told, that mention
being made of the new printing-office at the merchants' Every-night
club, the general opinion was that it must fail, there being already
two printers in the place, Keimer and Bradford; but Dr. Baird (whom
you and I saw many years after at his native place, St. Andrew's in
Scotland) gave a contrary opinion: "For the industry of that
Franklin," says he, "is superior to anything I ever saw of the kind; I
see him still at work when I go home from club, and he is at work
again before his neighbors are out of bed." This struck the rest, and
we soon after had offers from one of them to supply us with
stationery; but as yet we did not chuse to engage in shop business.

    [55] A sheet 8-1/2 by 13-1/2 inches, having the words
    _pro patria_ in translucent letters in the body of the
    paper. Pica--a size of type; as, A B C D: Long Primer--a
    smaller size of type; as, A B C D.

    [56] To arrange and lock up pages or columns of type in a
    rectangular iron frame, ready for printing.

    [57] Reduced to complete disorder.

I mention this industry the more particularly and the more freely,
tho' it seems to be talking in my own praise, that those of my
posterity, who shall read it, may know the use of that virtue, when
they see its effects in my favour throughout this relation.

George Webb, who had found a female friend that lent him wherewith to
purchase his time of Keimer, now came to offer himself as a
journeyman to us. We could not then employ him; but I foolishly let
him know as a secret that I soon intended to begin a newspaper, and
might then have work for him. My hopes of success, as I told him, were
founded on this, that the then only newspaper, printed by Bradford,
was a paltry thing, wretchedly manag'd, no way entertaining, and yet
was profitable to him; I therefore thought a good paper would scarcely
fail of good encouragement. I requested Webb not to mention it; but he
told it to Keimer, who immediately, to be beforehand with me,
published proposals for printing one himself, on which Webb was to be
employ'd. I resented this; and, to counteract them, as I could not yet
begin our paper, I wrote several pieces of entertainment for
Bradford's paper, under the title of the Busy Body, which Breintnal
continu'd some months. By this means the attention of the publick was
fixed on that paper, and Keimer's proposals, which we burlesqu'd and
ridicul'd, were disregarded. He began his paper, however, and, after
carrying it on three quarters of a year, with at most only ninety
subscribers, he offered it to me for a trifle; and I, having been
ready some time to go on with it, took it in hand directly; and it
prov'd in a few years extremely profitable to me.

I perceive that I am apt to speak in the singular number, though our
partnership still continu'd; the reason may be that, in fact, the
whole management of the business lay upon me. Meredith was no
compositor, a poor pressman, and seldom sober. My friends lamented my
connection with him, but I was to make the best of it.

[Illustration: "I see him still at work when I go home from club"]

Our first papers made a quite different appearance from any before in
the province; a better type, and better printed; but some spirited
remarks of my writing, on the dispute then going on between Governor
Burnet and the Massachusetts Assembly, struck the principal people,
occasioned the paper and the manager of it to be much talk'd of, and
in a few weeks brought them all to be our subscribers.

Their example was follow'd by many, and our number went on growing
continually. This was one of the first good effects of my having
learnt a little to scribble; another was, that the leading men, seeing
a newspaper now in the hands of one who could also handle a pen,
thought it convenient to oblige and encourage me. Bradford still
printed the votes, and laws, and other publick business. He had
printed an address of the House to the governor, in a coarse,
blundering manner; we reprinted it elegantly and correctly, and sent
one to every member. They were sensible of the difference: it
strengthened the hands of our friends in the House, and they voted us
their printers for the year ensuing.

Among my friends in the House I must not forget Mr. Hamilton, before
mentioned, who was then returned from England, and had a seat in it.
He interested himself for me strongly in that instance, as he did in
many others afterward, continuing his patronage till his death.[58]

    [58] I got his son once £500.--_Marg. note_.

Mr. Vernon, about this time, put me in mind of the debt I ow'd him,
but did not press me. I wrote him an ingenuous letter of
acknowledgment, crav'd his forbearance a little longer, which he
allow'd me, and as soon as I was able, I paid the principal with
interest, and many thanks; so that erratum was in some degree
corrected.

But now another difficulty came upon me which I had never the least
reason to expect. Mr. Meredith's father, who was to have paid for our
printing-house, according to the expectations given me, was able to
advance only one hundred pounds currency, which had been paid; and a
hundred more was due to the merchant, who grew impatient, and su'd us
all. We gave bail, but saw that, if the money could not be rais'd in
time, the suit must soon come to a judgment and execution, and our
hopeful prospects must, with us, be ruined, as the press and letters
must be sold for payment, perhaps at half price.

In this distress two true friends, whose kindness I have never
forgotten, nor ever shall forget while I can remember any thing, came
to me separately, unknown to each other, and, without any application
from me, offering each of them to advance me all the money that should
be necessary to enable me to take the whole business upon myself, if
that should be practicable; but they did not like my continuing the
partnership with Meredith, who, as they said, was often seen drunk in
the streets, and playing at low games in alehouses, much to our
discredit. These two friends were William Coleman and Robert Grace. I
told them I could not propose a separation while any prospect remain'd
of the Meredith's fulfilling their part of our agreement, because I
thought myself under great obligations to them for what they had done,
and would do if they could; but, if they finally fail'd in their
performance, and our partnership must be dissolv'd, I should then
think myself at liberty to accept the assistance of my friends.

Thus the matter rested for some time, when I said to my partner,
"Perhaps your father is dissatisfied at the part you have undertaken
in this affair of ours, and is unwilling to advance for you and me
what he would for you alone. If that is the case, tell me, and I will
resign the whole to you, and go about my business." "No," said he, "my
father has really been disappointed, and is really unable; and I am
unwilling to distress him farther. I see this is a business I am not
fit for. I was bred a farmer, and it was a folly in me to come to
town, and put myself, at thirty years of age, an apprentice to learn a
new trade. Many of our Welsh people are going to settle in North
Carolina, where land is cheap. I am inclin'd to go with them, and
follow my old employment. You may find friends to assist you. If you
will take the debts of the company upon you; return to my father the
hundred pounds he has advanced; pay my little personal debts, and give
me thirty pounds and a new saddle, I will relinquish the partnership,
and leave the whole in your hands." I agreed to this proposal: it was
drawn up in writing, sign'd, and seal'd immediately. I gave him what
he demanded, and he went soon after to Carolina, from whence he sent
me next year two long letters, containing the best account that had
been given of that country, the climate, the soil, husbandry, etc.,
for in those matters he was very judicious. I printed them in the
papers, and they gave great satisfaction to the publick.

As soon as he was gone, I recurr'd to my two friends; and because I
would not give an unkind preference to either, I took half of what
each had offered and I wanted of one, and half of the other; paid off
the company's debts, and went on with the business in my own name,
advertising that the partnership was dissolved. I think this was in or
about the year 1729.



VIII

BUSINESS SUCCESS AND FIRST
PUBLIC SERVICE


About this time there was a cry among the people for more paper money,
only fifteen thousand pounds being extant in the province, and that
soon to be sunk.[59] The wealthy inhabitants oppos'd any addition,
being against all paper currency, from an apprehension that it would
depreciate, as it had done in New England, to the prejudice of all
creditors. We had discuss'd this point in our Junto, where I was on
the side of an addition, being persuaded that the first small sum
struck in 1723 had done much good by increasing the trade, employment,
and number of inhabitants in the province, since I now saw all the old
houses inhabited, and many new ones building: whereas I remembered
well, that when I first walk'd about the streets of Philadelphia,
eating my roll, I saw most of the houses in Walnut Street, between
Second and Front streets,[60] with bills on their doors, "To be let";
and many likewise in Chestnut-street and other streets, which made me
then think the inhabitants of the city were deserting it one after
another.

    [59] Recalled to be redeemed.

    [60] This part of Philadelphia is now the center of the
    wholesale business district.

Our debates possess'd me so fully of the subject, that I wrote and
printed an anonymous pamphlet on it, entitled "_The Nature and
Necessity of a Paper Currency_." It was well receiv'd by the common
people in general; but the rich men dislik'd it, for it increas'd and
strengthen'd the clamor for more money, and they happening to have no
writers among them that were able to answer it, their opposition
slacken'd, and the point was carried by a majority in the House. My
friends there, who conceiv'd I had been of some service, thought fit
to reward me by employing me in printing the money; a very profitable
jobb and a great help to me. This was another advantage gain'd by my
being able to write.

The utility of this currency became by time and experience so evident
as never afterwards to be much disputed; so that it grew soon to
fifty-five thousand pounds, and in 1739 to eighty thousand pounds,
since which it arose during war to upwards of three hundred and fifty
thousand pounds, trade, building, and inhabitants all the while
increasing, tho' I now think there are limits beyond which the
quantity may be hurtful.[61]

    [61] Paper money is a promise to pay its face value in
    gold or silver. When a state or nation issues more such
    promises than there is a likelihood of its being able to
    redeem, the paper representing the promises depreciates
    in value. Before the success of the Colonies in the
    Revolution was assured, it took hundreds of dollars of
    their paper money to buy a pair of boots.

I soon after obtain'd, thro' my friend Hamilton, the printing of the
Newcastle paper money, another profitable jobb as I then thought it;
small things appearing great to those in small circumstances; and
these, to me, were really great advantages, as they were great
encouragements. He procured for me, also, the printing of the laws and
votes of that government, which continu'd in my hands as long as I
follow'd the business.

I now open'd a little stationer's shop. I had in it blanks of all
sorts, the correctest that ever appear'd among us, being assisted in
that by my friend Breintnal. I had also paper, parchment, chapmen's
books, etc. One Whitemash, a compositor I had known in London, an
excellent workman, now came to me, and work'd with me constantly and
diligently; and I took an apprentice, the son of Aquilla Rose.

[Illustration: "I sometimes brought home the paper I purchas'd at the
stores thro' the streets on a wheelbarrow"]

I began now gradually to pay off the debt I was under for the
printing-house. In order to secure my credit and character as a
tradesman, I took care not only to be in _reality_ industrious and
frugal, but to avoid all appearances to the contrary. I drest plainly;
I was seen at no places of idle diversion. I never went out a fishing
or shooting; a book, indeed, sometimes debauch'd me from my work, but
that was seldom, snug, and gave no scandal; and, to show that I was
not above my business, I sometimes brought home the paper I purchas'd
at the stores thro' the streets on a wheelbarrow. Thus being esteem'd
an industrious, thriving young man, and paying duly for what I bought,
the merchants who imported stationery solicited my custom; others
proposed supplying me with books, and I went on swimmingly. In the
meantime, Keimer's credit and business declining daily, he was at last
forc'd to sell his printing-house to satisfy his creditors. He went to
Barbadoes, and there lived some years in very poor circumstances.

His apprentice, David Harry, whom I had instructed while I work'd with
him, set up in his place at Philadelphia, having bought his materials.
I was at first apprehensive of a powerful rival in Harry, as his
friends were very able, and had a good deal of interest. I therefore
propos'd a partnership to him, which he, fortunately for me, rejected
with scorn. He was very proud, dress'd like a gentleman, liv'd
expensively, took much diversion and pleasure abroad, ran in debt, and
neglected his business; upon which, all business left him; and,
finding nothing to do, he followed Keimer to Barbadoes, taking the
printing-house with him. There this apprentice employ'd his former
master as a journeyman; they quarrell'd often; Harry went continually
behindhand, and at length was forc'd to sell his types and return to
his country work in Pennsylvania. The person that bought them employ'd
Keimer to use them, but in a few years he died.

There remained now no competitor with me at Philadelphia but the old
one, Bradford; who was rich and easy, did a little printing now and
then by straggling hands, but was not very anxious about the business.
However, as he kept the post-office, it was imagined he had better
opportunities of obtaining news; his paper was thought a better
distributer of advertisements than mine, and therefore had many more,
which was a profitable thing to him, and a disadvantage to me; for,
tho' I did indeed receive and send papers by the post, yet the publick
opinion was otherwise, for what I did send was by bribing the riders,
who took them privately, Bradford being unkind enough to forbid it,
which occasion'd some resentment on my part; and I thought so meanly
of him for it, that, when I afterward came into his situation, I took
care never to imitate it.

I had hitherto continu'd to board with Godfrey, who lived in part of
my house with his wife and children, and had one side of the shop for
his glazier's business, tho' he worked little, being always absorbed
in his mathematics. Mrs. Godfrey projected a match for me with a
relation's daughter, took opportunities of bringing us often together,
till a serious courtship on my part ensu'd, the girl being in herself
very deserving. The old folks encourag'd me by continual invitations
to supper, and by leaving us together, till at length it was time to
explain. Mrs. Godfrey manag'd our little treaty. I let her know that I
expected as much money with their daughter as would pay off my
remaining debt for the printing-house, which I believe was not then
above a hundred pounds. She brought me word they had no such sum to
spare; I said they might mortgage their house in the loan-office. The
answer to this, after some days, was, that they did not approve the
match; that, on inquiry of Bradford, they had been informed the
printing business was not a profitable one; the types would soon be
worn out, and more wanted; that S. Keimer and D. Harry had failed one
after the other, and I should probably soon follow them; and,
therefore, I was forbidden the house, and the daughter shut up.

Whether this was a real change of sentiment or only artifice, on a
supposition of our being too far engaged in affection to retract, and
therefore that we should steal a marriage, which would leave them at
liberty to give or withhold what they pleas'd, I know not; but I
suspected the latter, resented it, and went no more. Mrs. Godfrey
brought me afterward some more favorable accounts of their
disposition, and would have drawn me on again; but I declared
absolutely my resolution to have nothing more to do with that family.
This was resented by the Godfreys; we differed, and they removed,
leaving me the whole house, and I resolved to take no more inmates.

But this affair having turned my thoughts to marriage, I look'd round
me and made overtures of acquaintance in other places; but soon found
that, the business of a printer being generally thought a poor one, I
was not to expect money with a wife, unless with such a one as I
should not otherwise think agreeable. A friendly correspondence as
neighbours and old acquaintances had continued between me and Mrs.
Read's family, who all had a regard for me from the time of my first
lodging in their house. I was often invited there and consulted in
their affairs, wherein I sometimes was of service. I piti'd poor Miss
Read's unfortunate situation, who was generally dejected, seldom
chearful, and avoided company. I considered my giddiness and
inconstancy when in London as in a great degree the cause of her
unhappiness, tho' the mother was good enough to think the fault more
her own than mine, as she had prevented our marrying before I went
thither, and persuaded the other match in my absence. Our mutual
affection was revived, but there were now great objections to our
union. The match was indeed looked upon as invalid, a preceding wife
being said to be living in England; but this could not easily be
prov'd, because of the distance; and, tho' there was a report of his
death, it was not certain. Then, tho' it should be true, he had left
many debts, which his successor might be call'd upon to pay. We
ventured, however, over all these difficulties, and I took her to
wife, September 1st, 1730. None of the inconveniences happened that we
had apprehended; she proved a good and faithful helpmate,[62] assisted
me much by attending the shop; we throve together, and have ever
mutually endeavour'd to make each other happy. Thus I corrected that
great _erratum_ as well as I could.

    [62] Mrs. Franklin survived her marriage over forty
    years. Franklin's correspondence abounds with evidence
    that their union was a happy one. "We are grown old
    together, and if she has any faults, I am so used to
    them that I don't perceive them." The following is a
    stanza from one of Franklin's own songs written for the
    Junto:

      "Of their Chloes and Phyllises poets may prate,
         I sing my plain country Joan,
       These twelve years my wife, still the joy of my life,
         Blest day that I made her my own."

About this time, our club meeting, not at a tavern, but in a little
room of Mr. Grace's, set apart for that purpose, a proposition was
made by me, that, since our books were often referr'd to in our
disquisitions upon the queries, it might be convenient to us to have
them altogether where we met, that upon occasion they might be
consulted; and by thus clubbing our books to a common library, we
should, while we lik'd to keep them together, have each of us the
advantage of using the books of all the other members, which would be
nearly as beneficial as if each owned the whole. It was lik'd and
agreed to, and we fill'd one end of the room with such books as we
could best spare. The number was not so great as we expected; and tho'
they had been of great use, yet some inconveniences occurring for want
of due care of them, the collection, after about a year, was
separated, and each took his books home again.

And now I set on foot my first project of a public nature, that for a
subscription library. I drew up the proposals, got them put into form
by our great scrivener, Brockden, and, by the help of my friends in
the Junto, procured fifty subscribers of forty shillings each to begin
with, and ten shillings a year for fifty years, the term our company
was to continue. We afterwards obtain'd a charter, the company being
increased to one hundred: this was the mother of all the North
American subscription libraries, now so numerous. It is become a great
thing itself, and continually increasing. These libraries have
improved the general conversation of the Americans, made the common
tradesmen and farmers as intelligent as most gentlemen from other
countries, and perhaps have contributed in some degree to the stand so
generally made throughout the colonies in defense of their
privileges.[63]

_Mem°._ Thus far was written with the intention express'd in the
beginning and therefore contains several little family anecdotes of no
importance to others. What follows was written many years after in
compliance with the advice contain'd in these letters, and accordingly
intended for the public. The affairs of the Revolution occasion'd the
interruption.[64]

    [63] Here the first part of the _Autobiography_, written
    at Twyford in 1771, ends. The second part, which
    follows, was written at Passy in 1784.

    [64] After this memorandum, Franklin inserted letters
    from Abel James and Benjamin Vaughan, urging him to
    continue his _Autobiography_.

[_Continuation of the Account of my Life, begun at Passy, near Paris,
1784._]

It is some time since I receiv'd the above letters, but I have been
too busy till now to think of complying with the request they contain.
It might, too, be much better done if I were at home among my papers,
which would aid my memory, and help to ascertain dates; but my return
being uncertain, and having just now a little leisure, I will
endeavour to recollect and write what I can; if I live to get home, it
may there be corrected and improv'd.

Not having any copy here of what is already written, I know not
whether an account is given of the means I used to establish the
Philadelphia public library, which, from a small beginning, is now
become so considerable, though I remember to have come down to near
the time of that transaction (1730). I will therefore begin here with
an account of it, which may be struck out if found to have been
already given.

At the time I establish'd myself in Pennsylvania, there was not a good
bookseller's shop in any of the colonies to the southward of Boston.
In New York and Philad'a the printers were indeed stationers; they
sold only paper, etc., almanacs, ballads, and a few common
school-books. Those who lov'd reading were obliged to send for their
books from England; the members of the Junto had each a few. We had
left the alehouse, where we first met, and hired a room to hold our
club in. I propos'd that we should all of us bring our books to that
room, where they would not only be ready to consult in our
conferences, but become a common benefit, each of us being at liberty
to borrow such as he wish'd to read at home. This was accordingly
done, and for some time contented us.

Finding the advantage of this little collection, I propos'd to render
the benefit from books more common, by commencing a public
subscription library. I drew a sketch of the plan and rules that would
be necessary, and got a skilful conveyancer, Mr. Charles Brockden, to
put the whole in form of articles of agreement to be subscribed, by
which each subscriber engag'd to pay a certain sum down for the first
purchase of books, and an annual contribution for increasing them. So
few were the readers at that time in Philadelphia, and the majority of
us so poor, that I was not able, with great industry, to find more
than fifty persons, mostly young tradesmen, willing to pay down for
this purpose forty shillings each, and ten shillings per annum. On
this little fund we began. The books were imported; the library was
opened one day in the week for lending to the subscribers, on their
promissory notes to pay double the value if not duly returned. The
institution soon manifested its utility, was imitated by other towns,
and in other provinces. The libraries were augmented by donations;
reading became fashionable; and our people, having no publick
amusements to divert their attention from study, became better
acquainted with books, and in a few years were observ'd by strangers
to be better instructed and more intelligent than people of the same
rank generally are in other countries.

When we were about to sign the above mentioned articles, which were
to be binding on us, our heirs, etc., for fifty years, Mr. Brockden,
the scrivener, said to us, "You are young men, but it is scarcely
probable that any of you will live to see the expiration of the term
fix'd in the instrument." A number of us, however, are yet living; but
the instrument was after a few years rendered null by a charter that
incorporated and gave perpetuity to the company.

The objections and reluctances I met with in soliciting the
subscriptions, made me soon feel the impropriety of presenting one's
self as the proposer of any useful project, that might be suppos'd to
raise one's reputation in the smallest degree above that of one's
neighbours, when one has need of their assistance to accomplish that
project. I therefore put myself as much as I could out of sight, and
stated it as a scheme of a _number of friends_, who had requested me
to go about and propose it to such as they thought lovers of reading.
In this way my affair went on more smoothly, and I ever after
practis'd it on such occasions; and, from my frequent successes, can
heartily recommend it. The present little sacrifice of your vanity
will afterwards be amply repaid. If it remains a while uncertain to
whom the merit belongs, someone more vain than yourself will be
encouraged to claim it, and then even envy will be disposed to do you
justice by plucking those assumed feathers, and restoring them to
their right owner.

This library afforded me the means of improvement by constant study,
for which I set apart an hour or two each day, and thus repair'd in
some degree the loss of the learned education my father once intended
for me. Reading was the only amusement I allow'd myself. I spent no
time in taverns, games, or frolicks of any kind; and my industry in
my business continu'd as indefatigable as it was necessary. I was
indebted for my printing-house; I had a young family coming on to be
educated, and I had to contend with for business two printers, who
were established in the place before me. My circumstances, however,
grew daily easier. My original habits of frugality continuing, and my
father having, among his instructions to me when a boy, frequently
repeated a proverb of Solomon, "Seest thou a man diligent in his
calling, he shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before mean
men," I from thence considered industry as a means of obtaining wealth
and distinction, which encourag'd me, tho' I did not think that I
should ever literally _stand before kings_, which, however, has since
happened; for I have stood before _five_, and even had the honor of
sitting down with one, the King of Denmark, to dinner.

We have an English proverb that says, "_He that would thrive, must ask
his wife_." It was lucky for me that I had one as much dispos'd to
industry and frugality as myself. She assisted me chearfully in my
business, folding and stitching pamphlets, tending shop, purchasing
old linen rags for the paper-makers, etc., etc. We kept no idle
servants, our table was plain and simple, our furniture of the
cheapest. For instance, my breakfast was a long time break and milk
(no tea), and I ate it out of a twopenny earthen porringer, with a
pewter spoon. But mark how luxury will enter families, and make a
progress, in spite of principle: being call'd one morning to
breakfast, I found it in a China bowl, with a spoon of silver! They
had been bought for me without my knowledge by my wife, and had cost
her the enormous sum of three-and-twenty shillings, for which she had
no other excuse or apology to make, but that she thought _her_ husband
deserv'd a silver spoon and China bowl as well as any of his
neighbors. This was the first appearance of plate and China in our
house, which afterward, in a course of years, as our wealth increas'd,
augmented gradually to several hundred pounds in value.

I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian; and though some of
the dogmas of that persuasion, such as the _eternal decrees of God_,
_election_, _reprobation_, _etc._, appeared to me unintelligible,
others doubtful, and I early absented myself from the public
assemblies of the sect, Sunday being my studying day, I never was
without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the
existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and govern'd it by his
Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good
to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be
punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter. These I
esteem'd the essentials of every religion; and, being to be found in
all the religions we had in our country, I respected them all, tho'
with different degrees of respect, as I found them more or less mix'd
with other articles, which, without any tendency to inspire, promote,
or confirm morality, serv'd principally to divide us, and make us
unfriendly to one another. This respect to all, with an opinion that
the worst had some good effects, induc'd me to avoid all discourse
that might tend to lessen the good opinion another might have of his
own religion; and as our province increas'd in people, and new places
of worship were continually wanted, and generally erected by voluntary
contribution, my mite for such purpose, whatever might be the sect,
was never refused.

Tho' I seldom attended any public worship, I had still an opinion of
its propriety, and of its utility when rightly conducted, and I
regularly paid my annual subscription for the support of the only
Presbyterian minister or meeting we had in Philadelphia. He us'd to
visit me sometimes as a friend, and admonished me to attend his
administrations, and I was now and then prevail'd on to do so, once
for five Sundays successively. Had he been in my opinion a good
preacher, perhaps I might have continued,[65] notwithstanding the
occasion I had for the Sunday's leisure in my course of study; but his
discourses were chiefly either polemic arguments, or explications of
the peculiar doctrines of our sect, and were all to me very dry,
uninteresting, and unedifying, since not a single moral principle was
inculcated or enforc'd, their aim seeming to be rather to make us
Presbyterians than good citizens.

    [65] Franklin expressed a different view about the duty
    of attending church later.

At length he took for his text that verse of the fourth chapter of
Philippians, "_Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, honest,
just, pure, lovely, or of good report, if there be any virtue, or any
praise, think on these things._" And I imagin'd, in a sermon on such a
text, we could not miss of having some morality. But he confin'd
himself to five points only, as meant by the apostle, viz.: 1. Keeping
holy the Sabbath day. 2. Being diligent in reading the holy
Scriptures. 3. Attending duly the publick worship. 4. Partaking of the
Sacrament. 5. Paying a due respect to God's ministers. These might be
all good things; but, as they were not the kind of good things that I
expected from that text, I despaired of ever meeting with them from
any other, was disgusted, and attended his preaching no more. I had
some years before compos'd a little Liturgy, or form of prayer, for my
own private use (viz., in 1728), entitled, _Articles of Belief and
Acts of Religion_. I return'd to the use of this, and went no more to
the public assemblies. My conduct might be blameable, but I leave it,
without attempting further to excuse it; my present purpose being to
relate facts, and not to make apologies for them.



IX

PLAN FOR ATTAINING MORAL
PERFECTION


It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of
arriving at moral perfection. I wish'd to live without committing any
fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural
inclination, custom, or company might lead me into. As I knew, or
thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might
not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had
undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined.[66] While my
care was employ'd in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised
by another; habit took the advantage of inattention; inclination was
sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded, at length, that the mere
speculative conviction that it was our interest to be completely
virtuous, was not sufficient to prevent our slipping; and that the
contrary habits must be broken, and good ones acquired and
established, before we can have any dependence on a steady, uniform
rectitude of conduct. For this purpose I therefore contrived the
following method.

    [66] Compare Philippians iv, 8.

In the various enumerations of the moral virtues I had met with in my
reading, I found the catalogue more or less numerous, as different
writers included more or fewer ideas under the same name. Temperance,
for example, was by some confined to eating and drinking, while by
others it was extended to mean the moderating every other pleasure,
appetite, inclination, or passion, bodily or mental, even to our
avarice and ambition. I propos'd to myself, for the sake of clearness,
to use rather more names, with fewer ideas annex'd to each, than a few
names with more ideas; and I included under thirteen names of virtues
all that at that time occurr'd to me as necessary or desirable, and
annexed to each a short precept, which fully express'd the extent I
gave to its meaning.

These names of virtues, with their precepts, were:

1. Temperance.

Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. Silence.

Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling
conversation.

3. Order.

Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business
have its time.

4. Resolution.

Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you
resolve.

5. Frugality.

Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; _i. e._, waste
nothing.

6. INDUSTRY.

Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all
unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity.

Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak,
speak accordingly.

8. Justice.

Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your
duty.

9. Moderation.

Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they
deserve.

10. Cleanliness.

Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.

11. Tranquillity.

Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity.

13. Humility.

Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

My intention being to acquire the _habitude_ of all these virtues, I
judg'd it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the
whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and, when I
should be master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on, till
I should have gone thro' the thirteen; and, as the previous
acquisition of some might facilitate the acquisition of certain
others, I arrang'd them with that view, as they stand above.
Temperance first, as it tends to procure that coolness and clearness
of head, which is so necessary where constant vigilance was to be kept
up, and guard maintained against the unremitting attraction of ancient
habits, and the force of perpetual temptations. This being acquir'd
and establish'd, Silence would be more easy; and my desire being to
gain knowledge at the same time that I improv'd in virtue, and
considering that in conversation it was obtain'd rather by the use of
the ears than of the tongue, and therefore wishing to break a habit I
was getting into of prattling, punning, and joking, which only made me
acceptable to trifling company, I gave _Silence_ the second place.
This and the next, _Order_, I expected would allow me more time for
attending to my project and my studies. _Resolution_, once become
habitual, would keep me firm in my endeavours to obtain all the
subsequent virtues; _Frugality_ and Industry freeing me from my
remaining debt, and producing affluence and independence, would make
more easy the practice of Sincerity and Justice, etc., etc. Conceiving
then, that, agreeably to the advice of Pythagoras[67] in his Golden
Verses, daily examination would be necessary, I contrived the
following method for conducting that examination.

I made a little book, in which I allotted a page for each of the
virtues.[68] I rul'd each page with red ink, so as to have seven
columns, one for each day of the week, marking each column with a
letter for the day. I cross'd these columns with thirteen red lines,
marking the beginning of each line with the first letter of one of the
virtues, on which line, and in its proper column, I might mark, by a
little black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have been
committed respecting that virtue upon that day.

    [67] A famous Greek philosopher, who lived about 582-500
    B. C. The _Golden Verses_ here ascribed to him are
    probably of later origin. "The time which he recommends
    for this work is about even or bed-time, that we may
    conclude the action of the day with the judgment of
    conscience, making the examination of our conversation
    an evening song to God."

    [68] This "little book" is dated July 1, 1733.--W. T. F.

_Form of the pages._

TEMPERANCE.

EAT NOT TO DULLNESS.
DRINK NOT TO ELEVATION.
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
|              TEMPERANCE.              |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
|          EAT NOT TO DULLNESS.         |
|        DRINK NOT TO ELEVATION.        |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
|    | S. | M. | T. | W. | T. | F. | S. |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
| T. |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
| S. |  * |  * |    |  * |    |  * |    |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
| O. | ** |  * |  * |    |  * |  * |  * |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
| R. |    |    |  * |    |    |  * |    |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
| F. |    |  * |    |    |  * |    |    |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
| I. |    |    |  * |    |    |    |    |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
| S. |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
| J. |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
| M. |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
| C. |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
| T. |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
| C. |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+

I determined to give a week's strict attention to each of the virtues
successively. Thus, in the first week, my great guard was to avoid
every the least offense against _Temperance_, leaving the other
virtues to their ordinary chance, only marking every evening the
faults of the day. Thus, if in the first week I could keep my first
line, marked T, clear of spots, I suppos'd the habit of that virtue so
much strengthen'd, and its opposite weaken'd, that I might venture
extending my attention to include the next, and for the following week
keep both lines clear of spots. Proceeding thus to the last, I could
go thro' a course compleat in thirteen weeks, and four courses in a
year. And like him who, having a garden to weed, does not attempt to
eradicate all the bad herbs at once, which would exceed his reach and
his strength, but works on one of the beds at a time, and, having
accomplish'd the first, proceeds to a second, so I should have, I
hoped, the encouraging pleasure of seeing on my pages the progress I
made in virtue, by clearing successively my lines of their spots, till
in the end, by a number of courses, I should be happy in viewing a
clean book, after a thirteen weeks' daily examination.

This my little book had for its motto these lines from Addison's
_Cato_:

  "Here will I hold. If there's a power above us
   (And that there is, all nature cries aloud
   Thro' all her works), He must delight in virtue;
   And that which he delights in must be happy."

Another from Cicero,

"O vitæ Philosophia dux! O virtutum indagatrix expultrixque
vitiorum! Unus dies, bene et ex præceptis tuis
actus, peccanti immortalitati est anteponendus."[69]

    [69] "O philosophy, guide of life! O searcher out of
    virtue and exterminator of vice! One day spent well and
    in accordance with thy precepts is worth an immortality
    of sin."--_Tusculan Inquiries_, Book V.

Another from the Proverbs of Solomon, speaking of wisdom or virtue:

"Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand
riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace." iii. 16, 17.

And conceiving God to be the fountain of wisdom, I thought it right
and necessary to solicit his assistance for obtaining it; to this end
I formed the following little prayer, which was prefix'd to my tables
of examination, for daily use.

"_O powerful Goodness! bountiful Father! merciful
Guide! Increase in me that wisdom which discovers my
truest interest. Strengthen my resolutions to perform what
that wisdom dictates. Accept my kind offices to thy other
children as the only return in my power for thy continual
favours to me_."

I used also sometimes a little prayer which I took from Thomson's
Poems, viz.:

  "Father of light and life, thou Good Supreme!
   O teach me what is good; teach me Thyself!
   Save me from folly, vanity, and vice,
   From every low pursuit; and fill my soul
   With knowledge, conscious peace, and virtue pure;
   Sacred, substantial, never-fading bliss!"

The precept of _Order_ requiring that _every part of my business
should have its allotted time_, one page in my little book contain'd
the following scheme of employment for the twenty-four hours of a
natural day.

                            { 5}  Rise, wash, and address
                            { 6}  _Powerful Goodness_!
The Morning.                {  }  Contrive day's
_Question._ What good       {  }  business, and take the
shall I do this day?        {  }  resolution of the day;
                            { 7}  prosecute the present
                            {  }  study, and breakfast.

                              8}
                              9}  Work.
                             10}
                             11}

Noon.              {12}  Read, or overlook my
                            { 1}  accounts, and dine.

                              2}
                              3}  Work.
                              4}
                              5}
Evening.                    { 6} Put things in their
_Question._ What good       { 7} places. Supper. Music
have I done to-day?         { 8} or diversion, or conversation.
                            { 9} Examination of
                            {  } the day.


Night.                      {10} Sleep.
                            {11}
                            {12}
                            { 1}
                            { 2}
                            { 3}
                            { 4}

I enter'd upon the execution of this plan for self-examination, and
continu'd it with occasional intermissions for some time. I was
surpris'd to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined;
but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish. To avoid the
trouble of renewing now and then my little book, which, by scraping
out the marks on the paper of old faults to make room for new ones in
a new course, became full of holes, I transferr'd my tables and
precepts to the ivory leaves of a memorandum book, on which the lines
were drawn with red ink, that made a durable stain, and on those lines
I mark'd my faults with a black-lead pencil, which marks I could
easily wipe out with a wet sponge. After a while I went thro' one
course only in a year, and afterward only one in several years, till
at length I omitted them entirely, being employ'd in voyages and
business abroad, with a multiplicity of affairs that interfered; but I
always carried my little book with me.

My scheme of Order gave me the most trouble;[70] and I found that, tho'
it might be practicable where a man's business was such as to leave
him the disposition of his time, that of a journeyman printer, for
instance, it was not possible to be exactly observed by a master, who
must mix with the world, and often receive people of business at their
own hours. _Order_, too, with regard to places for things, papers,
etc., I found extreamly difficult to acquire. I had not been early
accustomed to it, and, having an exceeding good memory, I was not so
sensible of the inconvenience attending want of method. This article,
therefore, cost me so much painful attention, and my faults in it
vexed me so much, and I made so little progress in amendment, and had
such frequent relapses, that I was almost ready to give up the
attempt, and content myself with a faulty character in that respect,
like the man who, in buying an ax of a smith, my neighbour, desired to
have the whole of its surface as bright as the edge. The smith
consented to grind it bright for him if he would turn the wheel; he
turn'd, while the smith press'd the broad face of the ax hard and
heavily on the stone, which made the turning of it very fatiguing. The
man came every now and then from the wheel to see how the work went
on, and at length would take his ax as it was, without farther
grinding. "No," said the smith, "turn on, turn on; we shall have it
bright by-and-by; as yet, it is only speckled." "Yes," says the man,
"_but I think I like a speckled ax best_." And I believe this may have
been the case with many, who, having, for want of some such means as I
employ'd, found the difficulty of obtaining good and breaking bad
habits in other points of vice and virtue, have given up the struggle,
and concluded that "_a speckled ax was best_"; for something, that
pretended to be reason, was every now and then suggesting to me that
such extream nicety as I exacted of myself might be a kind of foppery
in morals, which, if it were known, would make me ridiculous; that a
perfect character might be attended with the inconvenience of being
envied and hated; and that a benevolent man should allow a few faults
in himself, to keep his friends in countenance.

[Illustration: "The smith consented to grind it bright for him if he
would turn the wheel"]

    [70] Professor McMaster tells us that when Franklin was
    American Agent in France, his lack of business order was
    a source of annoyance to his colleagues and friends.
    "Strangers who came to see him were amazed to behold
    papers of the greatest importance scattered in the most
    careless way over the table and floor."

In truth, I found myself incorrigible with respect to Order; and now I
am grown old, and my memory bad, I feel very sensibly the want of it.
But, on the whole, tho' I never arrived at the perfection I had been
so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the
endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have
been if I had not attempted it; as those who aim at perfect writing by
imitating the engraved copies, tho' they never reach the wish'd-for
excellence of those copies, their hand is mended by the endeavour, and
is tolerable while it continues fair and legible.

It may be well my posterity should be informed that to this little
artifice, with the blessing of God, their ancestor ow'd the constant
felicity of his life, down to his 79th year, in which this is written.
What reverses may attend the remainder is in the hand of Providence;
but, if they arrive, the reflection on past happiness enjoy'd ought to
help his bearing them with more resignation. To Temperance he ascribes
his long-continued health, and what is still left to him of a good
constitution; to Industry and Frugality, the early easiness of his
circumstances and acquisition of his fortune, with all that knowledge
that enabled him to be a useful citizen, and obtained for him some
degree of reputation among the learned; to Sincerity and Justice, the
confidence of his country, and the honorable employs it conferred upon
him; and to the joint influence of the whole mass of the virtues,[71]
even in the imperfect state he was able to acquire them, all that
evenness of temper, and that cheerfulness in conversation, which makes
his company still sought for, and agreeable even to his younger
acquaintance. I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may
follow the example and reap the benefit.

    [71] While there can be no question that Franklin's moral
    improvement and happiness were due to the practice of
    these virtues, yet most people will agree that we shall
    have to go back of his plan for the impelling motive to
    a virtuous life. Franklin's own suggestion that the
    scheme smacks of "foppery in morals" seems justified.
    Woodrow Wilson well puts it: "Men do not take fire from
    such thoughts, unless something deeper, which is missing
    here, shine through them. What may have seemed to the
    eighteenth century a system of morals seems to us
    nothing more vital than a collection of the precepts of
    good sense and sound conduct. What redeems it from
    pettiness in this book is the scope of power and of
    usefulness to be seen in Franklin himself, who set these
    standards up in all seriousness and candor for his own
    life." See _Galatians_, chapter V, for the Christian
    plan of moral perfection.

It will be remark'd that, tho' my scheme was not wholly without
religion, there was in it no mark of any of the distinguishing tenets
of any particular sect. I had purposely avoided them; for, being fully
persuaded of the utility and excellency of my method, and that it
might be serviceable to people in all religions, and intending some
time or other to publish it, I would not have anything in it that
should prejudice anyone, of any sect, against it. I purposed writing a
little comment on each virtue, in which I would have shown the
advantages of possessing it, and the mischiefs attending its opposite
vice; and I should have called my book The Art of Virtue,[72] because
it would have shown the means and manner of obtaining virtue, which
would have distinguished it from the mere exhortation to be good, that
does not instruct and indicate the means, but is like the apostle's
man of verbal charity, who only without showing to the naked and
hungry how or where they might get clothes or victuals, exhorted them
to be fed and clothed.--James ii. 15, 16.

    [72] Nothing so likely to make a man's fortune as
    virtue.--_Marg. note_.

But it so happened that my intention of writing and publishing this
comment was never fulfilled. I did, indeed, from time to time, put
down short hints of the sentiments, reasonings, etc., to be made use
of in it, some of which I have still by me; but the necessary close
attention to private business in the earlier part of my life, and
public business since, have occasioned my postponing it; for, it being
connected in my mind with _a great and extensive project_, that
required the whole man to execute, and which an unforeseen succession
of employs prevented my attending to, it has hitherto remain'd
unfinish'd.

In this piece it was my design to explain and enforce this doctrine,
that vicious actions are not hurtful because they are forbidden, but
forbidden because they are hurtful, the nature of man alone
considered; that it was, therefore, everyone's interest to be virtuous
who wish'd to be happy even in this world; and I should, from this
circumstance (there being always in the world a number of rich
merchants, nobility, states, and princes, who have need of honest
instruments for the management of their affairs, and such being so
rare), have endeavoured to convince young persons that no qualities
were so likely to make a poor man's fortune as those of probity and
integrity.

My list of virtues contain'd at first but twelve; but a Quaker friend
having kindly informed me that I was generally thought proud; that my
pride show'd itself frequently in conversation; that I was not content
with being in the right when discussing any point, but was
overbearing, and rather insolent, of which he convinc'd me by
mentioning several instances; I determined endeavouring to cure
myself, if I could, of this vice or folly among the rest, and I added
_Humility_ to my list, giving an extensive meaning to the word.

I cannot boast of much success in acquiring the _reality_ of this
virtue, but I had a good deal with regard to the _appearance_ of it. I
made it a rule to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiments
of others, and all positive assertion of my own. I even forbid myself,
agreeably to the old laws of our Junto, the use of every word or
expression in the language that imported a fix'd opinion, such as
_certainly, undoubtedly_, etc., and I adopted, instead of them, _I
conceive, I apprehend_, or _I imagine_ a thing to be so or so; or it
_so appears to me at present_. When another asserted something that I
thought an error, I deny'd myself the pleasure of contradicting him
abruptly, and of showing immediately some absurdity in his
proposition; and in answering I began by observing that in certain
cases or circumstances his opinion would be right, but in the present
case there _appear'd_ or _seem'd_ to me some difference, etc. I soon
found the advantage of this change in my manner; the conversations I
engag'd in went on more pleasantly. The modest way in which I propos'd
my opinions procur'd them a readier reception and less contradiction;
I had less mortification when I was found to be in the wrong, and I
more easily prevail'd with others to give up their mistakes and join
with me when I happened to be in the right.

And this mode, which I at first put on with some violence to natural
inclination, became at length so easy, and so habitual to me, that
perhaps for these fifty years past no one has ever heard a dogmatical
expression escape me. And to this habit (after my character of
integrity) I think it principally owing that I had early so much
weight with my fellow-citizens when I proposed new institutions, or
alterations in the old, and so much influence in public councils when
I became a member; for I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent,
subject to much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly correct in
language, and yet I generally carried my points.

In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard
to subdue as _pride_. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down,
stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and
will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it,
perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I
had compleatly overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.

[Thus far written at Passy, 1784.]

[_"I am now about to write at home, August, 1788, but cannot have the
help expected from my papers, many of them being lost in the war. I
have, however, found the following."_][73]

    [73] This is a marginal memorandum.--B.

Having mentioned _a great and extensive project_ which I had
conceiv'd, it seems proper that some account should be here given of
that project and its object. Its first rise in my mind appears in the
following little paper, accidentally preserv'd, viz.:

_Observations_ on my reading history, in Library, May 19th, 1731.

"That the great affairs of the world, the wars, revolutions, etc., are
carried on and effected by parties.

"That the view of these parties is their present general interest, or
what they take to be such.

"That the different views of these different parties occasion all
confusion.

"That while a party is carrying on a general design, each man has his
particular private interest in view.

"That as soon as a party has gain'd its general point, each member
becomes intent upon his particular interest; which, thwarting others,
breaks that party into divisions, and occasions more confusion.

"That few in public affairs act from a mere view of the good of their
country, whatever they may pretend; and, tho' their actings bring real
good to their country, yet men primarily considered that their own and
their country's interest was united, and did not act from a principle
of benevolence.

"That fewer still, in public affairs, act with a view to the good of
mankind.

"There seems to me at present to be great occasion for raising a
United Party for Virtue, by forming the virtuous and good men of all
nations into a regular body, to be govern'd by suitable good and wise
rules, which good and wise men may probably be more unanimous in their
obedience to, than common people are to common laws.

"I at present think that whoever attempts this aright, and is well
qualified, cannot fail of pleasing God, and of meeting with success.

B. F."

Revolving this project in my mind, as to be undertaken hereafter, when
my circumstances should afford me the necessary leisure, I put down
from time to time, on pieces of paper, such thoughts as occurr'd to me
respecting it. Most of these are lost; but I find one purporting to be
the substance of an intended creed, containing, as I thought, the
essentials of every known religion, and being free of everything that
might shock the professors of any religion. It is express'd in these
words, viz.:

"That there is one God, who made all things.

"That he governs the world by his providence.

"That he ought to be worshiped by adoration, prayer, and
thanksgiving.

"But that the most acceptable service of God is doing good to man.

"That the soul is immortal.

"And that God will certainly reward virtue and punish vice, either
here or hereafter."

My ideas at that time were, that the sect should be begun and spread
at first among young and single men only; that each person to be
initiated should not only declare his assent to such creed, but should
have exercised himself with the thirteen weeks' examination and
practice of the virtues, as in the beforemention'd model; that the
existence of such a society should be kept a secret, till it was
become considerable, to prevent solicitations for the admission of
improper persons, but that the members should each of them search
among his acquaintance for ingenuous, well-disposed youths, to whom,
with prudent caution, the scheme should be gradually communicated;
that the members should engage to afford their advice, assistance, and
support to each other in promoting one another's interests, business,
and advancement in life; that, for distinction, we should be call'd
_The Society of the Free and Easy_: free, as being, by the general
practice and habit of the virtues, free from the dominion of vice;
and particularly by the practice of industry and frugality, free from
debt, which exposes a man to confinement, and a species of slavery to
his creditors.

This is as much as I can now recollect of the project, except that I
communicated it in part to two young men, who adopted it with some
enthusiasm; but my then narrow circumstances, and the necessity I was
under of sticking close to my business, occasioned my postponing the
further prosecution of it at that time; and my multifarious
occupations, public and private, induc'd me to continue postponing, so
that it has been omitted till I have no longer strength or activity
left sufficient for such an enterprise; though I am still of opinion
that it was a practicable scheme, and might have been very useful, by
forming a great number of good citizens; and I was not discourag'd by
the seeming magnitude of the undertaking, as I have always thought
that one man of tolerable abilities may work great changes, and
accomplish great affairs among mankind, if he first forms a good plan,
and, cutting off all amusements or other employments that would divert
his attention, makes the execution of that same plan his sole study
and business.



X

POOR RICHARD'S ALMANAC AND
OTHER ACTIVITIES


In 1732 I first publish'd my Almanack, under the name of _Richard
Saunders_; it was continu'd by me about twenty-five years, commonly
call'd _Poor Richard's Almanac_.[74] I endeavour'd to make it both
entertaining and useful, and it accordingly came to be in such demand,
that I reap'd considerable profit from it, vending annually near ten
thousand. And observing that it was generally read, scarce any
neighborhood in the province being without it, I consider'd it as a
proper vehicle for conveying instruction among the common people, who
bought scarcely any other books; I therefore filled all the little
spaces that occurr'd between the remarkable days in the calendar with
proverbial sentences, chiefly such as inculcated industry and
frugality, as the means of procuring wealth, and thereby securing
virtue; it being more difficult for a man in want, to act always
honestly, as, to use here one of those proverbs, _it is hard for an
empty sack to stand upright_.

    [74] The almanac at that time was a kind of periodical as
    well as a guide to natural phenomena and the weather.
    Franklin took his title from _Poor Robin_, a famous
    English almanac, and from Richard Saunders, a well-known
    almanac publisher. For the maxims of Poor Richard, see
    pages 331-335.

These proverbs, which contained the wisdom of many ages and nations, I
assembled and form'd into a connected discourse prefix'd to the Almanack
of 1757, as the harangue of a wise old man to the people attending an
auction. The bringing all these scatter'd councils thus into a focus
enabled them to make greater impression. The piece, being universally
approved, was copied in all the newspapers of the Continent; reprinted
in Britain on a broadside, to be stuck up in houses; two translations
were made of it in French, and great numbers bought by the clergy and
gentry, to distribute gratis among their poor parishioners and tenants.
In Pennsylvania, as it discouraged useless expense in foreign
superfluities, some thought it had its share of influence in producing
that growing plenty of money which was observable for several years
after its publication.

Two pages from _Poor Richard's Almanac_ for 1736. Size of original.
Reproduced from a copy at the New York Public Library.

    _IV Mon._ June hath xxx days.

    Things that are bitter, bitterrer than Gall Physicians
    say are always physical: Now Women's Tongues if into
    Powder beaten, May in a Potion or a Pill be eaten, And
    as there's nought more bitter, I do muse, That Women's
    Tongues in Physick they ne'er use. My self and others
    who lead restless Lives, Would spare that bitter Member
    of our Wives.

 1 3 _fine weather_,                4  Le   4 36 8  Moon set 10 12 aft
 2 4  Ascension Day                 5  19   4 35 8 _He that can have_
 3 5  Mars Sat. Ven. _Sudden_       6  Vi   4 35 8 _Patience, can_
 4 6 _showers_                      6h 19   4 35 8 _have what he_
 5 7 _of Rain_.                     7  Li   4 35 8  First Quarter.
 6 C  Eraudi                        8  19   4 35 8 _will._
 7 2  Trine Mars Merc. _thunder_,   9  Sc   4 35 8  Le. Vi. Li.
 8 3 _perhaps hail._               10  17   4 35 8  Sun ent. Cn. today
 9 4  7* rise 2 15                 10  Sa   4 34 8  making longest
10 5 _very hot_,                   11  13   4 34 8  day 14 h. 51 m.
11 6  St. Barnabas.                12  26   4 34 8  Full Moon 12 day,
12 7 _then rain_.                   1  Cp   4 34 8  at 1 morn.
13 C  Whitsunday.                   2  20   4 35 8  Moon rise 8 20 aft.
14 2                                2h Aq   4 35 8 _Now I've a sheep_
15 3  K. Geo. II. procl             3  15   4 35 8 _and a cow, every_
16 4  ff. Sun Sat. _wind, rain_,    4  27   4 35 8 _body bids me good_
17 5  Sxtil Sat. Merc. _hail and_   5  Pi   4 35 8 _morrow._
18 6 _thunder_                      6  21   4 35 8  Moon rise 11 10 af.
19 7  Day shorter 2 m.              6h Ar   4 35 8
20 C  Trinity Sund.                 7  15   4 36 8  Last Quarter
21 2 _If we have rain about_        8  27   4 36 8 _God helps them_
22 3 _the Change_,                  9  Ta   4 36 8 _that help themselves_
23 4 _Let not my reader_           10  22   4 36 8
24 5  St. John Bap.                10  Gm   4 36 8  Moon rise 2 morn.
25 6  7* rise 1  8                 11  18   4 37 8 _Why does the_
26 7  vc Sun Jup. _think it_       12  Cn   4 37 8 _blind man's wife_
27 C _strange._                     1  16   4 38 8  New moon 27 day,
28 2  Sxtil Sat. Mars _hail and_    2  Le   4 38 8  near noon.
29 3  St. Peter & Paul              2h 15   4 39 8 _paint herself._
30 4  Square Mars Ven. _rain_.      3  Vi   4 40 8  Moon sets 9 30


    _V Mon._ July hath xxxi days.

    Who can charge _Ebrio_ with Thirst of Wealth? See he
    consumes his Money, Time and Health, In drunken Frolicks
    which will all confound, Neglects his Farm, forgets to
    till his Ground, His Stock grows less that might be kept
    with ease; In nought but Guts and Debts he finds
    Encrease. In Town reels as if he'd shove down each Wall,
    Yet Walls must stand, poor Soul, or he must fall.

 1 5   Day short 11 mi.             4  15   4 40 8 _None preaches_
 2 6   7* rise 12 32                5  Li   4 41 8 _better than the_
 3 7  _windy weather._              6  15   4 41 8 _ant, and she says_
 4 C   2 Sund. p Trinit             6h Sc   4 42 8  First Quarter.
 5 2   Vc Jup. Ven. _now_           7  14   4 43 8 _nothing._
 6 3  _pleasant weather_            8  27   4 44 8  Moon sets 12 30 m
 7 4  _some days_                   9  Sa   4 45 8 _The absent are_
 8 5  _together,_                  10  23   4 48 8 _never without_
 9 6  _but inclines to_            10  Cp   4 47 8 _fault, nor the_
10 7  _falling_                    11  18   4 48 8 _present without_
11 C   3 Sund. p. Trin.            12  Aq  4 49 8  Full moon 11 day,
12 2   Sxtil Sat. Merc. weather.    1  13   4 50 8  2 afternoon.
13 3   Dog-days begin               2  25   4 50 8  sun in Leo
14 4   Days 14h. 20 m               2h Pi   4 51 8  Moon rise 8 35 aft.
15 5   St. _Swithin_.               3  19   4 52 8 _excuse._
16 6   Le 1 Li                      4  Ar   4 53 8
17 7   conj. Sun Merc. _rain_       5  13   4 54 8 _Gifts burst_
18 C   7* rise 11 40                6  25   4 55 8 _rocks_
19 2  _hail or rain,_               6h Ta   4 56 8  Last Quarter.
20 3   Sxtil Sun Sat. thunder.      7  19   4 57 8  Moon rise 11 52 af
21 4   7* rise 11 18                8  Gm   4 57 8 _If wind blows on_
22 5  _then high_                   9  14   4 58 8 _you thro' a hole,_
23 6  _wind._                      10  27   4 59 8 _Make your will_
24 7   opp. Sun Jupiter            10  Cn   4 59 8 _and take care of_
25 C   St. James.                  11  25   5  0 7 _your soul._
26 2  _hail_                       12  Le   5  1 7  New moon 26 day,
27 3   Moon near cor Leo            1  24   5  2 7  near 8 aftern
28 4   opp. Jup. Ven. _a clear_     2  Vi   5  3 7  Moon sets 8 aftern
29 5  _air; and fine_               2h 24   5  4 7 _The rotten Apple_
30 6  _weather_                     3  Li   5  5 7 _spoils his_
31 7   7* rise 10 40                4  23   5  6 7 _Companion._

[Transcriber's note: Zodiac signs, aspects and symbols of the planets
have been replaced by their names and/or by their standard
abbreviations.

Ar=Aries, Ta=Taurus, Gm=Gemini, Cn=Cancer, Le=Leo, Vi=Virgo,
Li=Libra, Sc=Scorpio, Sa=Sagittarius, Cp=Capricorn, Aq=Aqua,
Pi=Pisces, Oppos=Opposition, Trine=Trine, Squr=Square,
Conj=Conjunction, Sxtil=Sextile, Qucnx= Quincunx.

Merc=Mercury, Ven=Venus, Mars=Mars, Jup=Jupiter, Sat=Saturn
Ura=Uranus, Nep=Neptune, Plu=Pluto.]

I considered my newspaper, also, as another means of communicating
instruction, and in that view frequently reprinted in it extracts from
the Spectator, and other moral writers; and sometimes publish'd little
pieces of my own, which had been first composed for reading in our
Junto. Of these are a Socratic dialogue, tending to prove that,
whatever might be his parts and abilities, a vicious man could not
properly be called a man of sense; and a discourse on self-denial,
showing that virtue was not secure till its practice became a
habitude, and was free from the opposition of contrary inclinations.
These may be found in the papers about the beginning of 1735.[75]

    [75] June 23 and July 7, 1730.--Smyth.

In the conduct of my newspaper, I carefully excluded all libeling and
personal abuse, which is of late years become so disgraceful to our
country. Whenever I was solicited to insert anything of that kind, and
the writers pleaded, as they generally did, the liberty of the press,
and that a newspaper was like a stage-coach, in which anyone who would
pay had a right to a place, my answer was, that I would print the
piece separately if desired, and the author might have as many copies
as he pleased to distribute himself, but that I would not take upon me
to spread his detraction; and that, having contracted with my
subscribers to furnish them with what might be either useful or
entertaining, I could not fill their papers with private altercation,
in which they had no concern, without doing them manifest injustice.
Now, many of our printers make no scruple of gratifying the malice of
individuals by false accusations of the fairest characters among
ourselves, augmenting animosity even to the producing of duels; and
are, moreover, so indiscreet as to print scurrilous reflections on the
government of neighboring states, and even on the conduct of our best
national allies, which may be attended with the most pernicious
consequences. These things I mention as a caution to young printers,
and that they may be encouraged not to pollute their presses and
disgrace their profession by such infamous practices, but refuse
steadily, as they may see by my example that such a course of conduct
will not, on the whole, be injurious to their interests.

In 1733 I sent one of my journeymen to Charleston, South Carolina,
where a printer was wanting. I furnish'd him with a press and letters,
on an agreement of partnership, by which I was to receive one-third of
the profits of the business, paying one-third of the expense. He was a
man of learning, and honest but ignorant in matters of account; and,
tho' he sometimes made me remittances, I could get no account from
him, nor any satisfactory state of our partnership while he lived. On
his decease, the business was continued by his widow, who, being born
and bred in Holland, where, as I have been inform'd, the knowledge of
accounts makes a part of female education, she not only sent me as
clear a state as she could find of the transactions past, but
continued to account with the greatest regularity and exactness every
quarter afterwards, and managed the business with such success, that
she not only brought up reputably a family of children, but, at the
expiration of the term, was able to purchase of me the printing-house,
and establish her son in it.

I mention this affair chiefly for the sake of recommending that branch
of education for our young females, as likely to be of more use to
them and their children, in case of widowhood, than either music or
dancing, by preserving them from losses by imposition of crafty men,
and enabling them to continue, perhaps, a profitable mercantile house,
with establish'd correspondence, till a son is grown up fit to
undertake and go on with it, to the lasting advantage and enriching of
the family.

About the year 1734 there arrived among us from Ireland a young
Presbyterian preacher, named Hemphill, who delivered with a good
voice, and apparently extempore, most excellent discourses, which drew
together considerable numbers of different persuasions, who join'd in
admiring them. Among the rest, I became one of his constant hearers,
his sermons pleasing me, as they had little of the dogmatical kind,
but inculcated strongly the practice of virtue, or what in the
religious stile are called good works. Those, however, of our
congregation, who considered themselves as orthodox Presbyterians,
disapprov'd his doctrine, and were join'd by most of the old clergy,
who arraign'd him of heterodoxy before the synod, in order to have him
silenc'd. I became his zealous partisan, and contributed all I could
to raise a party in his favour, and we combated for him awhile with
some hopes of success. There was much scribbling pro and con upon the
occasion; and finding that, tho' an elegant preacher, he was but a
poor writer, I lent him my pen and wrote for him two or three
pamphlets, and one piece in the Gazette of April, 1735. Those
pamphlets, as is generally the case with controversial writings, tho'
eagerly read at the time, were soon out of vogue, and I question
whether a single copy of them now exists.[76]

    [76] See "A List of Books written by, or relating to
    Benjamin Franklin," by Paul Leicester Ford. 1889. p.
    15.--Smyth.

During the contest an unlucky occurrence hurt his cause exceedingly.
One of our adversaries having heard him preach a sermon that was much
admired, thought he had somewhere read the sermon before, or at least
a part of it. On search, he found that part quoted at length, in one
of the British Reviews, from a discourse of Dr. Foster's.[77] This
detection gave many of our party disgust, who accordingly abandoned
his cause, and occasion'd our more speedy discomfiture in the synod. I
stuck by him, however, as I rather approv'd his giving us good sermons
composed by others, than bad ones of his own manufacture, tho' the
latter was the practice of our common teachers. He afterward
acknowledg'd to me that none of those he preach'd were his own;
adding, that his memory was such as enabled him to retain and repeat
any sermon after one reading only. On our defeat, he left us in search
elsewhere of better fortune, and I quitted the congregation, never
joining it after, tho' I continu'd many years my subscription for the
support of its ministers.

    [77] Dr. James Foster (1697-1753):--

        "Let modest Foster, if he will excel
         Ten metropolitans in preaching well."

              --Pope (Epilogue to the Satires, I, 132).

    "Those who had not heard Farinelli sing and Foster
    preach were not qualified to appear in genteel company,"
    Hawkins. "History of Music."--Smyth.

I had begun in 1733 to study languages; I soon made myself so much a
master of the French as to be able to read the books with ease. I then
undertook the Italian. An acquaintance, who was also learning it, us'd
often to tempt me to play chess with him. Finding this took up too
much of the time I had to spare for study, I at length refus'd to play
any more, unless on this condition, that the victor in every game
should have a right to impose a task, either in parts of the grammar
to be got by heart, or in translations, etc., which tasks the
vanquish'd was to perform upon honour, before our next meeting. As we
play'd pretty equally, we thus beat one another into that language. I
afterwards with a little painstaking, acquir'd as much of the Spanish
as to read their books also.

I have already mention'd that I had only one year's instruction in a
Latin school, and that when very young, after which I neglected that
language entirely. But, when I had attained an acquaintance with the
French, Italian, and Spanish, I was surpris'd to find, on looking over
a Latin Testament, that I understood so much more of that language
than I had imagined, which encouraged me to apply myself again to the
study of it, and I met with more success, as those preceding languages
had greatly smooth'd my way.

From these circumstances, I have thought that there is some
inconsistency in our common mode of teaching languages. We are told
that it is proper to begin first with the Latin, and, having acquir'd
that, it will be more easy to attain those modern languages which are
deriv'd from it; and yet we do not begin with the Greek, in order more
easily to acquire the Latin. It is true that, if you can clamber and
get to the top of a staircase without using the steps, you will more
easily gain them in descending; but certainly, if you begin with the
lowest you will with more ease ascend to the top; and I would
therefore offer it to the consideration of those who superintend the
education of our youth, whether, since many of those who begin with
the Latin quit the same after spending some years without having made
any great proficiency, and what they have learnt becomes almost
useless, so that their time has been lost, it would not have been
better to have begun with the French, proceeding to the Italian, etc.;
for, tho', after spending the same time, they should quit the study of
languages and never arrive at the Latin, they would, however, have
acquired another tongue or two, that, being in modern use, might be
serviceable to them in common life.[78]

    [78] "The authority of Franklin, the most eminently
    practical man of his age, in favor of reserving the
    study of the dead languages until the mind has reached a
    certain maturity, is confirmed by the confession of one
    of the most eminent scholars of any age.

    "'Our seminaries of learning,' says Gibbon, 'do not
    exactly correspond with the precept of a Spartan king,
    that the child should be instructed in the arts which
    will be useful to the man; since a finished scholar may
    emerge from the head of Westminster or Eton, in total
    ignorance of the business and conversation of English
    gentlemen in the latter end of the eighteenth century.
    But these schools may assume the merit of teaching all
    that they pretend to teach, the Latin and Greek
    languages.'"--Bigelow.

After ten years' absence from Boston, and having become easy in my
circumstances, I made a journey thither to visit my relations, which I
could not sooner well afford. In returning, I call'd at Newport to see
my brother, then settled there with his printing-house. Our former
differences were forgotten, and our meeting was very cordial and
affectionate. He was fast declining in his health, and requested of me
that, in case of his death, which he apprehended not far distant, I
would take home his son, then but ten years of age, and bring him up
to the printing business. This I accordingly perform'd, sending him a
few years to school before I took him into the office. His mother
carried on the business till he was grown up, when I assisted him with
an assortment of new types, those of his father being in a manner worn
out. Thus it was that I made my brother ample amends for the service I
had depriv'd him of by leaving him so early.

[Illustration: "Our former differences were forgotten, and our
meeting was very cordial and affectionate"]

In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the
small-pox, taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly, and
still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I
mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the
supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died
under it; my example showing that the regret may be the same either
way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.

Our club, the Junto, was found so useful, and afforded such
satisfaction to the members, that several were desirous of introducing
their friends, which could not well be done without exceeding what we
had settled as a convenient number, viz., twelve. We had from the
beginning made it a rule to keep our institution a secret, which was
pretty well observ'd; the intention was to avoid applications of
improper persons for admittance, some of whom, perhaps, we might find
it difficult to refuse. I was one of those who were against any
addition to our number, but, instead of it, made in writing a
proposal, that every member separately should endeavour to form a
subordinate club, with the same rules respecting queries, etc., and
without informing them of the connection with the Junto. The
advantages proposed were, the improvement of so many more young
citizens by the use of our institutions; our better acquaintance with
the general sentiments of the inhabitants on any occasion, as the
Junto member might propose what queries we should desire, and was to
report to the Junto what pass'd in his separate club; the promotion of
our particular interests in business by more extensive recommendation,
and the increase of our influence in public affairs, and our power of
doing good by spreading thro' the several clubs the sentiments of the
Junto.

The project was approv'd, and every member undertook to form his club,
but they did not all succeed. Five or six only were compleated, which
were called by different names, as the Vine, the Union, the Band, etc.
They were useful to themselves, and afforded us a good deal of
amusement, information, and instruction, besides answering, in some
considerable degree, our views of influencing the public opinion on
particular occasions, of which I shall give some instances in course
of time as they happened.

My first promotion was my being chosen, in 1736, clerk of the General
Assembly. The choice was made that year without opposition; but the
year following, when I was again propos'd (the choice, like that of
the members, being annual), a new member made a long speech against
me, in order to favour some other candidate. I was, however, chosen,
which was the more agreeable to me, as, besides the pay for the
immediate service as clerk, the place gave me a better opportunity of
keeping up an interest among the members, which secur'd to me the
business of printing the votes, laws, paper money, and other
occasional jobbs for the public, that, on the whole, were very
profitable.

I therefore did not like the opposition of this new member, who was a
gentleman of fortune and education, with talents that were likely to
give him, in time, great influence in the House, which, indeed,
afterwards happened. I did not, however, aim at gaining his favour by
paying any servile respect to him, but, after some time, took this
other method. Having heard that he had in his library a certain very
scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire
of perusing that book, and requesting he would do me the favour of
lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I
return'd it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my
sense of the favour. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me
(which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever
after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we
became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death. This
is another instance of the truth of an old maxim I had learned, which
says, _"He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do
you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged."_ And it shows
how much more profitable it is prudently to remove, than to resent,
return, and continue inimical proceedings.

In 1737, Colonel Spotswood, late governor of Virginia, and then
postmaster-general, being dissatisfied with the conduct of his deputy
at Philadelphia, respecting some negligence in rendering, and
inexactitude of his accounts, took from him the commission and offered
it to me. I accepted it readily, and found it of great advantage; for,
tho' the salary was small, it facilitated the correspondence that
improv'd my newspaper, increas'd the number demanded, as well as the
advertisements to be inserted, so that it came to afford me a
considerable income. My old competitor's newspaper declin'd
proportionately, and I was satisfy'd without retaliating his refusal,
while postmaster, to permit my papers being carried by the riders.
Thus he suffer'd greatly from his neglect in due accounting; and I
mention it as a lesson to those young men who may be employ'd in
managing affairs for others, that they should always render accounts,
and make remittances, with great clearness and punctuality. The
character of observing such a conduct is the most powerful of all
recommendations to new employments and increase of business.



XI

INTEREST IN PUBLIC AFFAIRS


I began now to turn my thoughts a little to public affairs, beginning,
however, with small matters. The city watch was one of the first
things that I conceiv'd to want regulation. It was managed by the
constables of the respective wards in turn; the constable warned a
number of housekeepers to attend him for the night. Those who chose
never to attend, paid him six shillings a year to be excus'd, which
was suppos'd to be for hiring substitutes, but was, in reality, much
more than was necessary for that purpose, and made the constableship a
place of profit; and the constable, for a little drink, often got such
ragamuffins about him as a watch, that respectable housekeepers did
not choose to mix with. Walking the rounds, too, was often neglected,
and most of the nights spent in tippling. I thereupon wrote a paper to
be read in Junto, representing these irregularities, but insisting
more particularly on the inequality of this six-shilling tax of the
constables, respecting the circumstances of those who paid it, since a
poor widow housekeeper, all whose property to be guarded by the watch
did not perhaps exceed the value of fifty pounds, paid as much as the
wealthiest merchant, who had thousands of pounds' worth of goods in
his stores.

On the whole, I proposed as a more effectual watch, the hiring of
proper men to serve constantly in that business; and as a more
equitable way of supporting the charge, the levying a tax that should
be proportion'd to the property. This idea, being approv'd by the
Junto, was communicated to the other clubs, but as arising in each of
them; and though the plan was not immediately carried into execution,
yet, by preparing the minds of people for the change, it paved the way
for the law obtained a few years after, when the members of our clubs
were grown into more influence.

About this time I wrote a paper (first to be read in Junto, but it was
afterward publish'd) on the different accidents and carelessnesses by
which houses were set on fire, with cautions against them, and means
proposed of avoiding them. This was much spoken of as a useful piece,
and gave rise to a project, which soon followed it, of forming a
company for the more ready extinguishing of fires, and mutual
assistance in removing and securing of goods when in danger.
Associates in this scheme were presently found, amounting to thirty.
Our articles of agreement oblig'd every member to keep always in good
order, and fit for use, a certain number of leather buckets, with
strong bags and baskets (for packing and transporting of goods), which
were to be brought to every fire; and we agreed to meet once a month
and spend a social evening together, in discoursing and communicating
such ideas as occurred to us upon the subjects of fires, as might be
useful in our conduct on such occasions.

The utility of this institution soon appeared, and many more desiring
to be admitted than we thought convenient for one company, they were
advised to form another, which was accordingly done; and this went on,
one new company being formed after another, till they became so
numerous as to include most of the inhabitants who were men of
property; and now, at the time of my writing this, tho' upward of
fifty years since its establishment, that which I first formed, called
the Union Fire Company, still subsists and flourishes, tho' the first
members are all deceas'd but myself and one, who is older by a year
than I am. The small fines that have been paid by members for absence
at the monthly meetings have been apply'd to the purchase of
fire-engines, ladders, fire-hooks, and other useful implements for
each company, so that I question whether there is a city in the world
better provided with the means of putting a stop to beginning
conflagrations; and, in fact, since these institutions, the city has
never lost by fire more than one or two houses at a time, and the
flames have often been extinguished before the house in which they
began has been half consumed.

[Illustration: "the flames have often been extinguished"]

In 1739 arrived among us from Ireland the Reverend Mr. Whitefield,[79]
who had made himself remarkable there as an itinerant preacher. He was
at first permitted to preach in some of our churches; but the clergy,
taking a dislike to him, soon refus'd him their pulpits, and he was
oblig'd to preach in the fields. The multitudes of all sects and
denominations that attended his sermons were enormous, and it was
matter of speculation to me, who was one of the number, to observe the
extraordinary influence of his oratory on his hearers, and how much
they admir'd and respected him, notwithstanding his common abuse of
them, by assuring them they were naturally _half beasts and half
devils_. It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners
of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about
religion, it seem'd as if all the world were growing religious, so
that one could not walk thro' the town in an evening without hearing
psalms sung in different families of every street.

    [79] George Whitefield, pronounced Hwit'field
    (1714-1770), a celebrated English clergyman and pulpit
    orator, one of the founders of Methodism.

And it being found inconvenient to assemble in the open air, subject
to its inclemencies, the building of a house to meet in was no sooner
propos'd, and persons appointed to receive contributions, but
sufficient sums were soon receiv'd to procure the ground and erect the
building, which was one hundred feet long and seventy broad, about the
size of Westminster Hall;[80] and the work was carried on with such
spirit as to be finished in a much shorter time than could have been
expected. Both house and ground were vested in trustees, expressly for
the use of any preacher of any religious persuasion who might desire
to say something to the people at Philadelphia; the design in building
not being to accommodate any particular sect, but the inhabitants in
general; so that even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a
missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at
his service.

    [80] A part of the palace of Westminster, now forming the
    vestibule to the Houses of Parliament in London.

Mr. Whitefield, in leaving us, went preaching all the way thro' the
colonies to Georgia. The settlement of that province had lately been
begun, but, instead of being made with hardy, industrious husbandmen,
accustomed to labour, the only people fit for such an enterprise, it
was with families of broken shop-keepers and other insolvent debtors,
many of indolent and idle habits, taken out of the jails, who, being
set down in the woods, unqualified for clearing land, and unable to
endure the hardships of a new settlement, perished in numbers, leaving
many helpless children unprovided for. The sight of their miserable
situation inspir'd the benevolent heart of Mr. Whitefield with the
idea of building an Orphan House there, in which they might be
supported and educated. Returning northward, he preach'd up this
charity, and made large collections, for his eloquence had a wonderful
power over the hearts and purses of his hearers, of which I myself was
an instance.

I did not disapprove of the design, but, as Georgia was then destitute
of materials and workmen, and it was proposed to send them from
Philadelphia at a great expense, I thought it would have been better
to have built the house here, and brought the children to it. This I
advis'd; but he was resolute in his first project, rejected my
counsel, and I therefore refus'd to contribute. I happened soon after
to attend one of his sermons, in the course of which I perceived he
intended to finish with a collection, and I silently resolved he
should get nothing from me. I had in my pocket a handful of copper
money, three or four silver dollars, and five pistoles in gold. As he
proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give the coppers.
Another stroke of his oratory made me asham'd of that, and determin'd
me to give the silver; and he finish'd so admirably, that I empty'd my
pocket wholly into the collector's dish, gold and all. At this sermon
there was also one of our club, who, being of my sentiments respecting
the building in Georgia, and suspecting a collection might be
intended, had, by precaution, emptied his pockets before he came from
home. Towards the conclusion of the discourse, however, he felt a
strong desire to give, and apply'd to a neighbour who stood near him,
to borrow some money for the purpose. The application was
unfortunately [made] to perhaps the only man in the company who had
the firmness not to be affected by the preacher. His answer was, "_At
any other time, Friend Hopkinson, I would lend to thee freely; but not
now, for thee seems to be out of thy right senses._"

Some of Mr. Whitefield's enemies affected to suppose that he would
apply these collections to his own private emolument; but I, who was
intimately acquainted with him (being employed in printing his Sermons
and Journals, etc.), never had the least suspicion of his integrity,
but am to this day decidedly of opinion that he was in all his conduct
a perfectly _honest man_; and methinks my testimony in his favour
ought to have the more weight, as we had no religious connection. He
us'd, indeed, sometimes to pray for my conversion, but never had the
satisfaction of believing that his prayers were heard. Ours was a mere
civil friendship, sincere on both sides, and lasted to his death.

The following instance will show something of the terms on which we
stood. Upon one of his arrivals from England at Boston, he wrote to me
that he should come soon to Philadelphia, but knew not where he could
lodge when there, as he understood his old friend and host, Mr.
Benezet was removed to Germantown. My answer was, "You know my house;
if you can make shift with its scanty accommodations, you will be most
heartily welcome." He reply'd, that if I made that kind offer for
Christ's sake, I should not miss of a reward. And I returned, "_Don't
let me be mistaken; it was not for Christ's sake, but for your sake._"
One of our common acquaintance jocosely remark'd, that, knowing it to
be the custom of the saints, when they received any favour, to shift
the burden of the obligation from off their own shoulders, and place
it in heaven, I had contriv'd to fix it on earth.

The last time I saw Mr. Whitefield was in London, when he consulted me
about his Orphan House concern, and his purpose of appropriating it to
the establishment of a college.

He had a loud and clear voice, and articulated his words and sentences
so perfectly, that he might be heard and understood at a great
distance, especially as his auditories, however numerous, observ'd the
most exact silence. He preach'd one evening from the top of the
Courthouse steps, which are in the middle of Market-street, and on the
west side of Second-street, which crosses it at right angles. Both
streets were fill'd with his hearers to a considerable distance. Being
among the hindmost in Market-street, I had the curiosity to learn how
far he could be heard, by retiring backwards down the street towards
the river; and I found his voice distinct till I came near
Front-street, when some noise in that street obscur'd it. Imagining
then a semicircle, of which my distance should be the radius, and that
it were fill'd with auditors, to each of whom I allow'd two square
feet, I computed that he might well be heard by more than thirty
thousand. This reconcil'd me to the newspaper accounts of his having
preach'd to twenty-five thousand people in the fields, and to the
ancient histories of generals haranguing whole armies, of which I had
sometimes doubted.

By hearing him often, I came to distinguish easily between sermons
newly compos'd, and those which he had often preach'd in the course of
his travels. His delivery of the latter was so improv'd by frequent
repetitions that every accent, every emphasis, every modulation of
voice, was so perfectly well turn'd and well plac'd, that, without
being interested in the subject, one could not help being pleas'd with
the discourse; a pleasure of much the same kind with that receiv'd
from an excellent piece of musick. This is an advantage itinerant
preachers have over those who are stationary, as the latter cannot
well improve their delivery of a sermon by so many rehearsals.

His writing and printing from time to time gave great advantage to his
enemies; unguarded expressions, and even erroneous opinions, delivered
in preaching, might have been afterwards explain'd or qualifi'd by
supposing others that might have accompani'd them, or they might have
been deny'd; but _litera scripta manet_. Critics attack'd his writings
violently, and with so much appearance of reason as to diminish the
number of his votaries and prevent their increase; so that I am of
opinion if he had never written anything, he would have left behind
him a much more numerous and important sect, and his reputation might
in that case have been still growing, even after his death, as there
being nothing of his writing on which to found a censure and give him
a lower character, his proselytes would be left at liberty to feign
for him as great a variety of excellences as their enthusiastic
admiration might wish him to have possessed.

My business was now continually augmenting, and my circumstances
growing daily easier, my newspaper having become very profitable, as
being for a time almost the only one in this and the neighbouring
provinces. I experienced, too, the truth of the observation, "_that
after getting the first hundred pound, it is more easy to get the
second_," money itself being of a prolific nature.

The partnership at Carolina having succeeded, I was encourag'd to
engage in others, and to promote several of my workmen, who had
behaved well, by establishing them with printing-houses in different
colonies, on the same terms with that in Carolina. Most of them did
well, being enabled at the end of our term, six years, to purchase the
types of me and go on working for themselves, by which means several
families were raised. Partnerships often finish in quarrels; but I was
happy in this, that mine were all carried on and ended amicably,
owing, I think, a good deal to the precaution of having very
explicitly settled, in our articles, everything to be done by or
expected from each partner, so that there was nothing to dispute,
which precaution I would therefore recommend to all who enter into
partnerships; for, whatever esteem partners may have for, and
confidence in each other at the time of the contract, little
jealousies and disgusts may arise, with ideas of inequality in the
care and burden of the business, etc., which are attended often with
breach of friendship and of the connection, perhaps with lawsuits and
other disagreeable consequences.



XII

DEFENSE OF THE PROVINCE


I had, on the whole, abundant reason to be satisfied with my being
established in Pennsylvania. There were, however, two, things that I
regretted, there being no provision for defense, nor for a compleat
education of youth; no militia, nor any college. I therefore, in 1743,
drew up a proposal for establishing an academy; and at that time,
thinking the Reverend Mr. Peters, who was out of employ, a fit person
to superintend such an institution, I communicated the project to him;
but he, having more profitable views in the service of the
proprietaries, which succeeded, declin'd the undertaking; and, not
knowing another at that time suitable for such a trust, I let the
scheme lie awhile dormant. I succeeded better the next year, 1744, in
proposing and establishing a Philosophical Society. The paper I wrote
for that purpose will be found among my writings, when collected.

With respect to defense, Spain having been several years at war
against Great Britain, and being at length join'd by France, which
brought us into great danger; and the laboured and long-continued
endeavour of our governor, Thomas, to prevail with our Quaker Assembly
to pass a militia law, and make other provisions for the security of
the province, having proved abortive, I determined to try what might
be done by a voluntary association of the people. To promote this, I
first wrote and published a pamphlet, entitled Plain Truth, in which I
stated our defenceless situation in strong lights, with the necessity
of union and discipline for our defense, and promis'd to propose in a
few days an association, to be generally signed for that purpose. The
pamphlet had a sudden and surprising effect. I was call'd upon for the
instrument of association, and having settled the draft of it with a
few friends, I appointed a meeting of the citizens in the large
building before mentioned. The house was pretty full; I had prepared a
number of printed copies, and provided pens and ink dispers'd all over
the room. I harangued them a little on the subject, read the paper,
and explained it, and then distributed the copies, which were eagerly
signed, not the least objection being made.

When the company separated, and the papers were collected, we found
above twelve hundred hands; and, other copies being dispersed in the
country, the subscribers amounted at length to upward of ten thousand.
These all furnished themselves as soon as they could with arms, formed
themselves into companies and regiments, chose their own officers, and
met every week to be instructed in the manual exercise, and other
parts of military discipline. The women, by subscriptions among
themselves, provided silk colours, which they presented to the
companies, painted with different devices and mottos, which I
supplied.

[Illustration: One of the flags of the Pennsylvania Association, 1747.
Designed by Franklin and made by the women of Philadelphia.]

The officers of the companies composing the Philadelphia regiment,
being met, chose me for their colonel; but, conceiving myself unfit, I
declin'd that station, and recommended Mr. Lawrence, a fine person,
and man of influence, who was accordingly appointed. I then propos'd a
lottery to defray the expense of building a battery below the town,
and furnishing it with cannon. It filled expeditiously, and the
battery was soon erected, the merlons being fram'd of logs and fill'd
with earth. We bought some old cannon from Boston, but, these not
being sufficient, we wrote to England for more, soliciting, at the
same time, our proprietaries for some assistance, tho' without much
expectation of obtaining it.

Meanwhile, Colonel Lawrence, William Allen, Abram Taylor, Esqr., and
myself were sent to New York by the associators, commission'd to
borrow some cannon of Governor Clinton. He at first refus'd us
peremptorily; but at dinner with his council, where there was great
drinking of Madeira wine, as the custom of that place then was, he
softened by degrees, and said he would lend us six. After a few more
bumpers he advanc'd to ten; and at length he very good-naturedly
conceded eighteen. They were fine cannon, eighteen-pounders, with
their carriages, which we soon transported and mounted on our battery,
where the associators kept a nightly guard while the war lasted, and
among the rest I regularly took my turn of duty there as a common
soldier.

[Illustration: "I regularly took my turn of duty there as a
common soldier"]

My activity in these operations was agreeable to the governor and
council; they took me into confidence, and I was consulted by them in
every measure wherein their concurrence was thought useful to the
association. Calling in the aid of religion, I propos'd to them the
proclaiming a fast, to promote reformation, and implore the blessing
of Heaven on our undertaking. They embrac'd the motion; but, as it was
the first fast ever thought of in the province, the secretary had no
precedent from which to draw the proclamation. My education in New
England, where a fast is proclaimed every year, was here of some
advantage: I drew it in the accustomed stile, it was translated into
German,[81] printed in both languages, and divulg'd thro' the province.
This gave the clergy of the different sects an opportunity of
influencing their congregations to join in the association, and it
would probably have been general among all but Quakers if the peace
had not soon interven'd.

    [81] Wm. Penn's agents sought recruits for the colony of
    Pennsylvania in the low countries of Germany, and there
    are still in eastern Pennsylvania many Germans,
    inaccurately called Pennsylvania Dutch. Many of them use
    a Germanized English.

It was thought by some of my friends that, by my activity in these
affairs, I should offend that sect, and thereby lose my interest in
the Assembly of the province, where they formed a great majority. A
young gentleman who had likewise some friends in the House, and wished
to succeed me as their clerk, acquainted me that it was decided to
displace me at the next election; and he, therefore, in good will,
advis'd me to resign, as more consistent with my honour than being
turn'd out. My answer to him was, that I had read or heard of some
public man who made it a rule never to ask for an office, and never to
refuse one when offer'd to him. "I approve," says I, "of his rule, and
will practice it with a small addition; I shall never _ask_, never
_refuse_, nor ever _resign_ an office. If they will have my office of
clerk to dispose of to another, they shall take it from me. I will
not, by giving it up, lose my right of some time or other making
reprisals on my adversaries." I heard, however, no more of this; I was
chosen again unanimously as usual at the next election. Possibly, as
they dislik'd my late intimacy with the members of council, who had
join'd the governors in all the disputes about military preparations,
with which the House had long been harass'd, they might have been
pleas'd if I would voluntarily have left them; but they did not care
to displace me on account merely of my zeal for the association, and
they could not well give another reason.

Indeed I had some cause to believe that the defense of the country was
not disagreeable to any of them, provided they were not requir'd to
assist in it. And I found that a much greater number of them than I
could have imagined, tho' against offensive war, were clearly for the
defensive. Many pamphlets _pro and con_ were publish'd on the subject,
and some by good Quakers, in favour of defense, which I believe
convinc'd most of their younger people.

A transaction in our fire company gave me some insight into their
prevailing sentiments. It had been propos'd that we should encourage
the scheme for building a battery by laying out the present stock,
then about sixty pounds, in tickets of the lottery. By our rules, no
money could be dispos'd of till the next meeting after the proposal.
The company consisted of thirty members, of which twenty-two were
Quakers, and eight only of other persuasions. We eight punctually
attended the meeting; but, tho' we thought that some of the Quakers
would join us, we were by no means sure of a majority. Only one
Quaker, Mr. James Morris, appear'd to oppose the measure. He expressed
much sorrow that it had ever been propos'd, as he said _Friends_ were
all against it, and it would create such discord as might break up the
company. We told him that we saw no reason for that; we were the
minority, and if _Friends_ were against the measure, and outvoted us,
we must and should, agreeably to the usage of all societies, submit.
When the hour for business arriv'd it was mov'd to put the vote; he
allow'd we might then do it by the rules, but, as he could assure us
that a number of members intended to be present for the purpose of
opposing it, it would be but candid to allow a little time for their
appearing.

While we were disputing this, a waiter came to tell me two gentlemen
below desir'd to speak with me. I went down, and found they were two
of our Quaker members. They told me there were eight of them assembled
at a tavern just by; that they were determin'd to come and vote with
us if there should be occasion, which they hop'd would not be the
case, and desir'd we would not call for their assistance if we could
do without it, as their voting for such a measure might embroil them
with their elders and friends. Being thus secure of a majority, I went
up, and after a little seeming hesitation, agreed to a delay of
another hour. This Mr. Morris allow'd to be extreamly fair. Not one of
his opposing friends appear'd, at which he express'd great surprize;
and, at the expiration of the hour, we carri'd the resolution eight to
one; and as, of the twenty-two Quakers, eight were ready to vote with
us, and thirteen, by their absence, manifested that they were not
inclin'd to oppose the measure, I afterward estimated the proportion
of Quakers sincerely against defense as one to twenty-one only; for
these were all regular members of that society, and in good reputation
among them, and had due notice of what was propos'd at that meeting.

The honorable and learned Mr. Logan, who had always been of that sect,
was one who wrote an address to them, declaring his approbation of
defensive war, and supporting his opinion by many strong arguments. He
put into my hands sixty pounds to be laid out in lottery tickets for
the battery, with directions to apply what prizes might be drawn
wholly to that service. He told me the following anecdote of his old
master, William Penn, respecting defense. He came over from England,
when a young man, with that proprietary, and as his secretary. It was
war-time, and their ship was chas'd by an armed vessel, suppos'd to be
an enemy. Their captain prepar'd for defense; but told William Penn,
and his company of Quakers, that he did not expect their assistance,
and they might retire into the cabin, which they did, except James
Logan,[82] who chose to stay upon deck, and was quarter'd to a gun. The
suppos'd enemy prov'd a friend, so there was no fighting; but when the
secretary went down to communicate the intelligence, William Penn
rebuk'd him severely for staying upon deck, and undertaking to assist
in defending the vessel, contrary to the principles of _Friends_,
especially as it had not been required by the captain. This reproof,
being before all the company, piqu'd the secretary, who answer'd, _"I
being thy servant, why did thee not order me to come down? But thee
was willing enough that I should stay and help to fight the ship when
thee thought there was danger."_

    [82] James Logan (1674-1751) came to America with William
    Penn in 1699, and was the business agent for the Penn
    family. He bequeathed his valuable library, preserved at
    his country seat, "Senton", to the city of
    Philadelphia.--Smyth.

My being many years in the Assembly, the majority of which were
constantly Quakers, gave me frequent opportunities of seeing the
embarrassment given them by their principle against war, whenever
application was made to them, by order of the crown, to grant aids for
military purposes. They were unwilling to offend government, on the
one hand, by a direct refusal; and their friends, the body of the
Quakers, on the other, by compliance contrary to their principles;
hence a variety of evasions to avoid complying, and modes of
disguising the compliance when it became unavoidable. The common mode
at last was, to grant money under the phrase of its being "_for the
king's use_," and never to inquire how it was applied.

But, if the demand was not directly from the crown, that phrase was
found not so proper, and some other was to be invented. As, when
powder was wanting (I think it was for the garrison at Louisburg), and
the government of New England solicited a grant of some from
Pennsylvania, which was much urg'd on the House by Governor Thomas,
they could not grant money to buy powder, because that was an
ingredient of war; but they voted an aid to New England of three
thousand pounds, to be put into the hands of the governor, and
appropriated it for the purchasing of bread, flour, wheat or _other
grain_. Some of the council, desirous of giving the House still
further embarrassment, advis'd the governor not to accept provision,
as not being the thing he had demanded; but he repli'd, "I shall take
the money, for I understand very well their meaning; other grain is
gunpowder," which he accordingly bought, and they never objected to
it.[83]

    [83] See the votes.--_Marg. note_.

It was in allusion to this fact that, when in our fire company we
feared the success of our proposal in favour of the lottery, and I had
said to my friend Mr. Syng, one of our members, "If we fail, let us
move the purchase of a fire-engine with the money; the Quakers can
have no objection to that; and then, if you nominate me and I you as a
committee for that purpose, we will buy a great gun, which is
certainly a _fire-engine_." "I see," says he, "you have improv'd by
being so long in the Assembly; your equivocal project would be just a
match for their wheat or _other grain_."

These embarrassments that the Quakers suffer'd from having establish'd
and published it as one of their principles that no kind of war was
lawful, and which, being once published, they could not afterwards,
however they might change their minds, easily get rid of, reminds me
of what I think a more prudent conduct in another sect among us, that
of the Dunkers. I was acquainted with one of its founders, Michael
Welfare, soon after it appear'd. He complain'd to me that they were
grievously calumniated by the zealots of other persuasions, and
charg'd with abominable principles and practices to which they were
utter strangers. I told him this had always been the case with new
sects, and that, to put a stop to such abuse, I imagin'd it might be
well to publish the articles of their belief, and the rules of their
discipline. He said that it had been propos'd among them, but not
agreed to, for this reason: "When we were first drawn together as a
society," says he, "it had pleased God to enlighten our minds so far
as to see that some doctrines, which we once esteemed truths, were
errors; and that others, which we had esteemed errors, were real
truths. From time to time He has been pleased to afford us farther
light, and our principles have been improving, and our errors
diminishing. Now we are not sure that we are arrived at the end of
this progression, and at the perfection of spiritual or theological
knowledge; and we fear that, if we should once print our confession of
faith, we should feel ourselves as if bound and confin'd by it, and
perhaps be unwilling to receive further improvement, and our
successors still more so, as conceiving what we their elders and
founders had done, to be something sacred, never to be departed from."

This modesty in a sect is perhaps a singular instance in the history
of mankind, every other sect supposing itself in possession of all
truth, and that those who differ are so far in the wrong; like a man
traveling in foggy weather, those at some distance before him on the
road he sees wrapped up in the fog, as well as those behind him, and
also the people in the fields on each side, but near him all appears
clear, tho' in truth he is as much in the fog as any of them. To avoid
this kind of embarrassment, the Quakers have of late years been
gradually declining the public service in the Assembly and in the
magistracy, choosing rather to quit their power than their principle.

In order of time, I should have mentioned before, that having, in
1742, invented an open stove[84] for the better warming of rooms, and
at the same time saving fuel, as the fresh air admitted was warmed in
entering, I made a present of the model to Mr. Robert Grace, one of my
early friends, who, having an iron-furnace,[85] found the casting of
the plates for these stoves a profitable thing, as they were growing
in demand. To promote that demand, I wrote and published a pamphlet,
entitled "_An Account of the new-invented Pennsylvania Fireplaces;
wherein their Construction and Manner of Operation is particularly
explained; their Advantages above every other Method of warming Rooms
demonstrated; and all Objections that have been raised against the Use
of them answered and obviated_," etc. This pamphlet had a good effect.
Gov'r. Thomas was so pleas'd with the construction of this stove, as
described in it, that he offered to give me a patent for the sole
vending of them for a term of years; but I declin'd it from a
principle which has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz.,
_That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we
should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of
ours; and this we should do freely and generously._

    [84] The Franklin stove is still in use.

    [85] Warwick Furnace, Chester County, Pennsylvania,
    across the Schuylkill River from Pottstown.

An ironmonger in London however, assuming a good deal of my pamphlet,
and working it up into his own, and making some small changes in the
machine, which rather hurt its operation, got a patent for it there,
and made, as I was told, a little fortune by it. And this is not the
only instance of patents taken out for my inventions by others, tho'
not always with the same success, which I never contested, as having
no desire of profiting by patents myself, and hating disputes. The use
of these fireplaces in very many houses, both of this and the
neighbouring colonies, has been, and is, a great saving of wood to the
inhabitants.



XIII

PUBLIC SERVICES AND DUTIES

(1749-1753)


Peace being concluded, and the association business therefore at an
end, I turn'd my thoughts again to the affair of establishing an
academy. The first step I took was to associate in the design a number
of active friends, of whom the Junto furnished a good part; the next
was to write and publish a pamphlet, entitled _Proposals Relating to
the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania_. This I distributed among the
principal inhabitants gratis; and as soon as I could suppose their
minds a little prepared by the perusal of it, I set on foot a
subscription for opening and supporting an academy; it was to be paid
in quotas yearly for five years; by so dividing it, I judg'd the
subscription might be larger, and I believe it was so, amounting to no
less, if I remember right, than five thousand pounds.

In the introduction to these proposals, I stated their publication,
not as an act of mine, but of some _publick-spirited gentlemen_,
avoiding as much as I could, according to my usual rule, the
presenting myself to the publick as the author of any scheme for their
benefit.

The subscribers, to carry the project into immediate execution, chose
out of their number twenty-four trustees, and appointed Mr.
Francis,[86] then attorney-general, and myself to draw up constitutions
for the government of the academy; which being done and signed, a
house was hired, masters engag'd, and the schools opened, I think, in
the same year, 1749.

    [86] Tench Francis, uncle of Sir Philip Francis,
    emigrated from England to Maryland, and became attorney
    for Lord Baltimore. He removed to Philadelphia and was
    attorney-general of Pennsylvania from 1741 to 1755. He
    died in Philadelphia August 16, 1758.--Smyth.

The scholars increasing fast, the house was soon found too small, and
we were looking out for a piece of ground, properly situated, with
intention to build, when Providence threw into our way a large house
ready built, which, with a few alterations, might well serve our
purpose. This was the building before mentioned, erected by the
hearers of Mr. Whitefield, and was obtained for us in the following
manner.

It is to be noted that the contributions to this building being made
by people of different sects, care was taken in the nomination of
trustees, in whom the building and ground was to be vested, that a
predominancy should not be given to any sect, lest in time that
predominancy might be a means of appropriating the whole to the use of
such sect, contrary to the original intention. It was therefore that
one of each sect was appointed, viz., one Church-of-England man, one
Presbyterian, one Baptist, one Moravian, etc., those, in case of
vacancy by death, were to fill it by election from among the
contributors. The Moravian happen'd not to please his colleagues, and
on his death they resolved to have no other of that sect. The
difficulty then was, how to avoid having two of some other sect, by
means of the new choice.

Several persons were named, and for that reason not agreed to. At
length one mention'd me, with the observation that I was merely an
honest man, and of no sect at all, which prevailed with them to chuse
me. The enthusiasm which existed when the house was built had long
since abat'd, and its trustees had not been able to procure fresh
contributions for paying the ground-rent, and discharging some other
debts the building had occasion'd, which embarrass'd them greatly.
Being now a member of both sets of trustees, that for the building and
that for the academy, I had a good opportunity of negotiating with
both, and brought them finally to an agreement, by which the trustees
for the building were to cede it to those of the academy, the latter
undertaking to discharge the debt, to keep forever open in the
building a large hall for occasional preachers, according to the
original intention, and maintain a free-school for the instruction of
poor children. Writings were accordingly drawn, and on paying the
debts the trustees of the academy were put in possession of the
premises; and by dividing the great and lofty hall into stories, and
different rooms above and below for the several schools, and
purchasing some additional ground, the whole was soon made fit for our
purpose, and the scholars remov'd into the building. The care and
trouble of agreeing with the workmen, purchasing materials, and
superintending the work, fell upon me; and I went thro' it the more
cheerfully, as it did not then interfere with my private business,
having the year before taken a very able, industrious, and honest
partner, Mr. David Hall, with whose character I was well acquainted,
as he had work'd for me four years. He took off my hands all care of
the printing-office, paying me punctually my share of the profits. The
partnership continued eighteen years, successfully for us both.

The trustees of the academy, after a while, were incorporated by a
charter from the governor; their funds were increas'd by contributions
in Britain and grants of land from the proprietaries, to which the
Assembly has since made considerable addition; and thus was
established the present University of Philadelphia.[87] I have been
continued one of its trustees from the beginning, now near forty
years, and have had the very great pleasure of seeing a number of the
youth who have receiv'd their education in it, distinguish'd by their
improv'd abilities, serviceable in public stations, and ornaments to
their country.

    [87] Later called the University of Pennsylvania.

When I disengaged myself, as above mentioned, from private business, I
flatter'd myself that, by the sufficient tho' moderate fortune I had
acquir'd, I had secured leisure during the rest of my life for
philosophical studies and amusements. I purchased all Dr. Spence's
apparatus, who had come from England to lecture here, and I proceeded
in my electrical experiments with great alacrity; but the publick, now
considering me as a man of leisure, laid hold of me for their
purposes, every part of our civil government, and almost at the same
time, imposing some duty upon me. The governor put me into the
commission of the peace; the corporation of the city chose me of the
common council, and soon after an alderman; and the citizens at large
chose me a burgess to represent them in Assembly. This latter station
was the more agreeable to me, as I was at length tired with sitting
there to hear debates, in which, as clerk, I could take no part, and
which were often so unentertaining that I was induc'd to amuse myself
with making magic squares or circles, or anything to avoid weariness;
and I conceiv'd my becoming a member would enlarge my power of doing
good. I would not, however, insinuate that my ambition was not
flatter'd by all these promotions; it certainly was; for, considering
my low beginning, they were great things to me; and they were still
more pleasing, as being so many spontaneous testimonies of the public
good opinion, and by me entirely unsolicited.

The office of justice of the peace I try'd a little, by attending a
few courts, and sitting on the bench to hear causes; but finding that
more knowledge of the common law than I possess'd was necessary to act
in that station with credit, I gradually withdrew from it, excusing
myself by my being oblig'd to attend the higher duties of a legislator
in the Assembly. My election to this trust was repeated every year for
ten years, without my ever asking any elector for his vote, or
signifying, either directly or indirectly, any desire of being chosen.
On taking my seat in the House, my son was appointed their clerk.

The year following, a treaty being to be held with the Indians at
Carlisle, the governor sent a message to the House, proposing that
they should nominate some of their members, to be join'd with some
members of council, as commissioners for that purpose.[88] The House
named the speaker (Mr. Norris) and myself; and, being commission'd, we
went to Carlisle, and met the Indians accordingly.

    [88] See the votes to have this more correctly.--_Marg.
    note._

As those people are extreamly apt to get drunk, and, when so, are very
quarrelsome and disorderly, we strictly forbade the selling any
liquor to them; and when they complain'd of this restriction, we told
them that if they would continue sober during the treaty, we would
give them plenty of rum when business was over. They promis'd this,
and they kept their promise, because they could get no liquor, and the
treaty was conducted very orderly, and concluded to mutual
satisfaction. They then claim'd and received the rum; this was in the
afternoon: they were near one hundred men, women, and children, and
were lodg'd in temporary cabins, built in the form of a square, just
without the town. In the evening, hearing a great noise among them,
the commissioners walk'd out to see what was the matter. We found they
had made a great bonfire in the middle of the square; they were all
drunk, men and women, quarreling and fighting. Their dark-colour'd
bodies, half naked, seen only by the gloomy light of the bonfire,
running after and beating one another with firebrands, accompanied by
their horrid yellings, form'd a scene the most resembling our ideas of
hell that could well be imagin'd; there was no appeasing the tumult,
and we retired to our lodging. At midnight a number of them came
thundering at our door, demanding more rum, of which we took no
notice.

The next day, sensible they had misbehav'd in giving us that
disturbance, they sent three of their old counselors to make their
apology. The orator acknowledg'd the fault, but laid it upon the rum;
and then endeavoured to excuse the rum by saying, "_The Great Spirit,
who made all things, made everything for some use, and whatever use he
design'd anything for, that use it should always be put to. Now, when_
_he made rum, he said, 'Let this be for the Indians to get drunk
with,' and it must be so._" And, indeed, if it be the design of
Providence to extirpate these savages in order to make room for
cultivators of the earth, it seems not improbable that rum may be the
appointed means. It has already annihilated all the tribes who
formerly inhabited the sea-coast.

[Illustration: "In the evening, hearing a great noise among them, the
commissioners walk'd out to see what was the matter"]

In 1751, Dr. Thomas Bond, a particular friend of mine, conceived the
idea of establishing a hospital in Philadelphia (a very beneficent
design, which has been ascrib'd to me, but was originally his), for
the reception and cure of poor sick persons, whether inhabitants of
the province or strangers. He was zealous and active in endeavouring
to procure subscriptions for it, but the proposal being a novelty in
America, and at first not well understood, he met but with small
success.

At length he came to me with the compliment that he found there was no
such thing as carrying a public-spirited project through without my
being concern'd in it. "For," says he, "I am often ask'd by those to
whom I propose subscribing, Have you consulted Franklin upon this
business? And what does he think of it? And when I tell them that I
have not (supposing it rather out of your line), they do not
subscribe, but say they will consider of it." I enquired into the
nature and probable utility of his scheme, and receiving from him a
very satisfactory explanation, I not only subscrib'd to it myself, but
engag'd heartily in the design of procuring subscriptions from others.
Previously, however, to the solicitation, I endeavoured to prepare the
minds of the people by writing on the subject in the newspapers, which
was my usual custom in such cases, but which he had omitted.

The subscriptions afterwards were more free and generous; but,
beginning to flag, I saw they would be insufficient without some
assistance from the Assembly, and therefore propos'd to petition for
it, which was done. The country members did not at first relish the
project; they objected that it could only be serviceable to the city,
and therefore the citizens alone should be at the expense of it; and
they doubted whether the citizens themselves generally approv'd of it.
My allegation on the contrary, that it met with such approbation as to
leave no doubt of our being able to raise two thousand pounds by
voluntary donations, they considered as a most extravagant
supposition, and utterly impossible.

On this I form'd my plan; and, asking leave to bring in a bill for
incorporating the contributors according to the prayer of their
petition, and granting them a blank sum of money, which leave was
obtained chiefly on the consideration that the House could throw the
bill out if they did not like it, I drew it so as to make the
important clause a conditional one, viz., "And be it enacted, by the
authority aforesaid, that when the said contributors shall have met
and chosen their managers and treasurer, _and shall have raised by
their contributions a capital stock of----value_ (the yearly
interest of which is to be applied to the accommodating of the
sick poor in the said hospital, free of charge for diet, attendance,
advice, and medicines), _and shall make the same appear to the
satisfaction of the speaker of the Assembly for the time being_, that
_then_ it shall and may be lawful for the said speaker, and he is
hereby required, to sign an order on the provincial treasurer for the
payment of two thousand pounds, in two yearly payments, to the
treasurer of the said hospital, to be applied to the founding,
building, and finishing of the same."

This condition carried the bill through; for the members, who had
oppos'd the grant, and now conceiv'd they might have the credit of
being charitable without the expense, agreed to its passage; and then,
in soliciting subscriptions among the people, we urg'd the conditional
promise of the law as an additional motive to give, since every man's
donation would be doubled; thus the clause work'd both ways. The
subscriptions accordingly soon exceeded the requisite sum, and we
claim'd and receiv'd the public gift, which enabled us to carry the
design into execution. A convenient and handsome building was soon
erected; the institution has by constant experience been found useful,
and flourishes to this day; and I do not remember any of my political
manoeuvers, the success of which gave me at the time more pleasure,
or wherein, after thinking of it, I more easily excus'd myself for
having made some use of cunning.

It was about this time that another projector, the Rev. Gilbert
Tennent[89], came to me with a request that I would assist him in
procuring a subscription for erecting a new meeting-house. It was to
be for the use of a congregation he had gathered among the
Presbyterians, who were originally disciples of Mr. Whitefield.
Unwilling to make myself disagreeable to my fellow-citizens by too
frequently soliciting their contributions, I absolutely refus'd. He
then desired I would furnish him with a list of the names of persons I
knew by experience to be generous and public-spirited. I thought it
would be unbecoming in me, after their kind compliance with my
solicitations, to mark them out to be worried by other beggars, and
therefore refus'd also to give such a list. He then desir'd I would at
least give him my advice. "That I will readily do," said I; "and, in
the first place, I advise you to apply to all those whom you know will
give something; next, to those whom you are uncertain whether they
will give anything or not, and show them the list of those who have
given; and, lastly, do not neglect those who you are sure will give
nothing, for in some of them you may be mistaken." He laugh'd and
thank'd me, and said he would take my advice. He did so, for he ask'd
of _everybody_, and he obtain'd a much larger sum than he expected,
with which he erected the capacious and very elegant meeting-house
that stands in Arch-street.

    [89] Gilbert Tennent (1703-1764) came to America with his
    father, Rev. William Tennent, and taught for a time in
    the "Log College," from which sprang the College of New
    Jersey.--Smyth.

Our city, tho' laid out with a beautiful regularity, the streets
large, straight, and crossing each other at right angles, had the
disgrace of suffering those streets to remain long unpav'd, and in wet
weather the wheels of heavy carriages plough'd them into a quagmire,
so that it was difficult to cross them; and in dry weather the dust
was offensive. I had liv'd near what was call'd the Jersey Market, and
saw with pain the inhabitants wading in mud while purchasing their
provisions. A strip of ground down the middle of that market was at
length pav'd with brick, so that, being once in the market, they had
firm footing, but were often over shoes in dirt to get there. By
talking and writing on the subject, I was at length instrumental in
getting the street pav'd with stone between the market and the brick'd
foot-pavement, that was on each side next the houses. This, for some
time, gave an easy access to the market dry-shod; but, the rest of the
street not being pav'd, whenever a carriage came out of the mud upon
this pavement, it shook off and left its dirt upon it, and it was soon
cover'd with mire, which was not remov'd, the city as yet having no
scavengers.

After some inquiry, I found a poor, industrious man, who was willing
to undertake keeping the pavement clean, by sweeping it twice a week,
carrying off the dirt from before all the neighbours' doors, for the
sum of sixpence per month, to be paid by each house. I then wrote and
printed a paper setting forth the advantages to the neighbourhood that
might be obtain'd by this small expense; the greater ease in keeping
our houses clean, so much dirt not being brought in by people's feet;
the benefit to the shops by more custom, etc., etc., as buyers could
more easily get at them; and by not having, in windy weather, the dust
blown in upon their goods, etc., etc. I sent one of these papers to
each house, and in a day or two went round to see who would subscribe
an agreement to pay these sixpences; it was unanimously sign'd, and
for a time well executed. All the inhabitants of the city were
delighted with the cleanliness of the pavement that surrounded the
market, it being a convenience to all, and this rais'd a general
desire to have all the streets paved, and made the people more willing
to submit to a tax for that purpose.

After some time I drew a bill for paving the city, and brought it into
the Assembly. It was just before I went to England, in 1757, and did
not pass till I was gone,[90] and then with an alteration in the mode
of assessment, which I thought not for the better, but with an
additional provision for lighting as well as paving the streets, which
was a great improvement. It was by a private person, the late Mr. John
Clifton, his giving a sample of the utility of lamps, by placing one
at his door, that the people were first impress'd with the idea of
enlighting all the city. The honour of this public benefit has also
been ascrib'd to me, but it belongs truly to that gentleman. I did but
follow his example, and have only some merit to claim respecting the
form of our lamps, as differing from the globe lamps we were at first
supply'd with from London. Those we found inconvenient in these
respects: they admitted no air below; the smoke, therefore, did not
readily go out above, but circulated in the globe, lodg'd on its
inside, and soon obstructed the light they were intended to afford;
giving, besides, the daily trouble of wiping them clean; and an
accidental stroke on one of them would demolish it, and render it
totally useless. I therefore suggested the composing them of four flat
panes, with a long funnel above to draw up the smoke, and crevices
admitting air below, to facilitate the ascent of the smoke; by this
means they were kept clean, and did not grow dark in a few hours, as
the London lamps do, but continu'd bright till morning, and an
accidental stroke would generally break but a single pane, easily
repair'd.

I have sometimes wonder'd that the Londoners did not, from the effect
holes in the bottom of the globe lamps us'd at Vauxhall[91] have in
keeping them clean, learn to have such holes in their street lamps.
But, these holes being made for another purpose, viz., to communicate
flame more suddenly to the wick by a little flax hanging down thro'
them, the other use, of letting in air, seems not to have been thought
of; and therefore, after the lamps have been lit a few hours, the
streets of London are very poorly illuminated.

    [90] See votes.

    [91] Vauxhall Gardens, once a popular and fashionable
    London resort, situated on the Thames above Lambeth. The
    Gardens were closed in 1859, but they will always be
    remembered because of Sir Roger de Coverley's visit to
    them in the _Spectator_ and from the descriptions in
    Smollett's _Humphry Clinker_ and Thackeray's _Vanity
    Fair_.

The mention of these improvements puts me in mind of one I propos'd,
when in London, to Dr. Fothergill, who was among the best men I have
known, and a great promoter of useful projects. I had observ'd that
the streets, when dry, were never swept, and the light dust carried
away; but it was suffer'd to accumulate till wet weather reduc'd it to
mud, and then, after lying some days so deep on the pavement that
there was no crossing but in paths kept clean by poor people with
brooms, it was with great labour rak'd together and thrown up into
carts open above, the sides of which suffered some of the slush at
every jolt on the pavement to shake out and fall, sometimes to the
annoyance of foot-passengers. The reason given for not sweeping the
dusty streets was that the dust would fly into the windows of shops
and houses.

[Illustration: "a poor woman sweeping my pavement with a birch
broom"]

An accidental occurrence had instructed me how much sweeping might be
done in a little time. I found at my door in Craven-street,[92] one
morning, a poor woman sweeping my pavement with a birch broom; she
appeared very pale and feeble, as just come out of a fit of sickness.
I ask'd who employ'd her to sweep there; she said, "Nobody, but I am
very poor and in distress, and I sweeps before gentle-folkses doors,
and hopes they will give me something." I bid her sweep the whole
street clean, and I would give her a shilling; this was at nine
o'clock; at 12 she came for the shilling. From the slowness I saw at
first in her working, I could scarce believe that the work was done so
soon, and sent my servant to examine it, who reported that the whole
street was swept perfectly clean, and all the dust plac'd in the
gutter, which was in the middle; and the next rain wash'd it quite
away, so that the pavement and even the kennel were perfectly clean.

    [92] A short street near Charing Cross, London.

I then judg'd that, if that feeble woman could sweep such a street in
three hours, a strong, active man might have done it in half the time.
And here let me remark the convenience of having but one gutter in
such a narrow street, running down its middle, instead of two, one on
each side, near the footway; for where all the rain that falls on a
street runs from the sides and meets in the middle, it forms there a
current strong enough to wash away all the mud it meets with; but when
divided into two channels, it is often too weak to cleanse either, and
only makes the mud it finds more fluid, so that the wheels of
carriages and feet of horses throw and dash it upon the foot-pavement,
which is thereby rendered foul and slippery, and sometimes splash it
upon those who are walking. My proposal, communicated to the good
doctor, was as follows:

"For the more effectual cleaning and keeping clean the streets of
London and Westminster, it is proposed that the several watchmen be
contracted with to have the dust swept up in dry seasons, and the mud
rak'd up at other times, each in the several streets and lanes of his
round; that they be furnish'd with brooms and other proper instruments
for these purposes, to be kept at their respective stands, ready to
furnish the poor people they may employ in the service.

"That in the dry summer months the dust be all swept up into heaps at
proper distances, before the shops and windows of houses are usually
opened, when the scavengers, with close-covered carts, shall also
carry it all away.

"That the mud, when rak'd up, be not left in heaps to be spread abroad
again by the wheels of carriages and trampling of horses, but that the
scavengers be provided with bodies of carts, not plac'd high upon
wheels, but low upon sliders, with lattice bottoms, which, being
cover'd with straw, will retain the mud thrown into them, and permit
the water to drain from it, whereby it will become much lighter, water
making the greatest part of its weight; these bodies of carts to be
plac'd at convenient distances, and the mud brought to them in
wheelbarrows; they remaining where plac'd till the mud is drain'd, and
then horses brought to draw them away."

I have since had doubts of the practicability of the latter part of
this proposal, on account of the narrowness of some streets, and the
difficulty of placing the draining-sleds so as not to encumber too
much the passage; but I am still of opinion that the former, requiring
the dust to be swept up and carry'd away before the shops are open, is
very practicable in the summer, when the days are long; for, in
walking thro' the Strand and Fleet-street one morning at seven
o'clock, I observ'd there was not one shop open, tho' it had been
daylight and the sun up above three hours; the inhabitants of London
chusing voluntarily to live much by candle-light, and sleep by
sunshine, and yet often complain, a little absurdly, of the duty on
candles, and the high price of tallow.

Some may think these trifling matters not worth minding or relating;
but when they consider that tho' dust blown into the eyes of a single
person, or into a single shop on a windy day, is but of small
importance, yet the great number of the instances in a populous city,
and its frequent repetitions give it weight and consequence, perhaps
they will not censure very severely those who bestow some attention to
affairs of this seemingly low nature. Human felicity is produced not
so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by
little advantages that occur every day. Thus, if you teach a poor
young man to shave himself, and keep his razor in order, you may
contribute more to the happiness of his life than in giving him a
thousand guineas. The money may be soon spent, the regret only
remaining of having foolishly consumed it; but in the other case, he
escapes the frequent vexation of waiting for barbers, and of their
sometimes dirty fingers, offensive breaths, and dull razors; he shaves
when most convenient to him, and enjoys daily the pleasure of its
being done with a good instrument. With these sentiments I have
hazarded the few preceding pages, hoping they may afford hints which
some time or other may be useful to a city I love, having lived many
years in it very happily, and perhaps to some of our towns in America.

Having been for some time employed by the postmaster-general of
America as his comptroller in regulating several offices, and bringing
the officers to account, I was, upon his death in 1753, appointed,
jointly with Mr. William Hunter, to succeed him, by a commission from
the postmaster-general in England. The American office never had
hitherto paid anything to that of Britain. We were to have six hundred
pounds a year between us, if we could make that sum out of the profits
of the office. To do this, a variety of improvements were necessary;
some of these were inevitably at first expensive, so that in the first
four years the office became above nine hundred pounds in debt to us.
But it soon after began to repay us; and before I was displac'd by a
freak of the ministers, of which I shall speak hereafter, we had
brought it to yield _three times_ as much clear revenue to the crown
as the post-office of Ireland. Since that imprudent transaction, they
have receiv'd from it--not one farthing!

The business of the post-office occasion'd my taking a journey this
year to New England, where the College of Cambridge, of their own
motion, presented me with the degree of Master of Arts. Yale College,
in Connecticut, had before made me a similar compliment. Thus, without
studying in any college, I came to partake of their honours. They were
conferr'd in consideration of my improvements and discoveries in the
electric branch of natural philosophy.



XIV

ALBANY PLAN OF UNION


In 1754, war with France being again apprehended, a congress of
commissioners from the different colonies was, by an order of the
Lords of Trade, to be assembled at Albany, there to confer with the
chiefs of the Six Nations concerning the means of defending both their
country and ours. Governor Hamilton, having receiv'd this order,
acquainted the House with it, requesting they would furnish proper
presents for the Indians, to be given on this occasion; and naming the
speaker (Mr. Norris) and myself to join Mr. Thomas Penn and Mr.
Secretary Peters as commissioners to act for Pennsylvania. The House
approv'd the nomination, and provided the goods for the present, and
tho' they did not much like treating out of the provinces; and we met
the other commissioners at Albany about the middle of June.

In our way thither, I projected and drew a plan for the union of all
the colonies under one government, so far as might be necessary for
defense, and other important general purposes. As we pass'd thro' New
York, I had there shown my project to Mr. James Alexander and Mr.
Kennedy, two gentlemen of great knowledge in public affairs, and,
being fortified by their approbation, I ventur'd to lay it before the
Congress. It then appeared that several of the commissioners had
form'd plans of the same kind. A previous question was first taken,
whether a union should be established, which pass'd in the affirmative
unanimously. A committee was then appointed, one member from each
colony, to consider the several plans and report. Mine happen'd to be
preferr'd, and, with a few amendments, was accordingly reported.

[Illustration: JOIN, or DIE.]

By this plan the general government was to be administered by a
president-general, appointed and supported by the crown, and a grand
council was to be chosen by the representatives of the people of the
several colonies, met in their respective assemblies. The debates upon
it in Congress went on daily, hand in hand with the Indian business.
Many objections and difficulties were started, but at length they were
all overcome, and the plan was unanimously agreed to, and copies
ordered to be transmitted to the Board of Trade and to the assemblies
of the several provinces. Its fate was singular; the assemblies did
not adopt it, as they all thought there was too much _prerogative_ in
it, and in England it was judg'd to have too much of the _democratic_.
The Board of Trade therefore did not approve of it, nor recommend it
for the approbation of his majesty; but another scheme was form'd,
supposed to answer the same purpose better, whereby the governors of
the provinces, with some members of their respective councils, were to
meet and order the raising of troops, building of forts, etc., and to
draw on the treasury of Great Britain for the expense, which was
afterwards to be refunded by an act of Parliament laying a tax on
America. My plan, with my reasons in support of it, is to be found
among my political papers that are printed.

Being the winter following in Boston, I had much conversation with
Governor Shirley upon both the plans. Part of what passed between us
on the occasion may also be seen among those papers. The different and
contrary reasons of dislike to my plan makes me suspect that it was
really the true medium; and I am still of opinion it would have been
happy for both sides the water if it had been adopted. The colonies,
so united, would have been sufficiently strong to have defended
themselves; there would then have been no need of troops from England;
of course, the subsequent pretence for taxing America, and the bloody
contest it occasioned, would have been avoided. But such mistakes are
not new; history is full of the errors of states and princes.

  "Look round the habitable world, how few
   Know their own good, or, knowing it, pursue!"

Those who govern, having much business on their hands, do not
generally like to take the trouble of considering and carrying into
execution new projects. The best public measures are therefore seldom
_adopted from previous wisdom, but forc'd by the occasion_.

The Governor of Pennsylvania, in sending it down to the Assembly,
expressed his approbation of the plan, "as appearing to him to be
drawn up with great clearness and strength of judgment, and therefore
recommended it as well worthy of their closest and most serious
attention." The House, however, by the management of a certain member,
took it up when I happen'd to be absent, which I thought not very
fair, and reprobated it without paying any attention to it at all, to
my no small mortification.



XV

QUARRELS WITH THE PROPRIETARY
GOVERNORS


In my journey to Boston this year, I met at New York with our new
governor, Mr. Morris, just arriv'd there from England, with whom I had
been before intimately acquainted. He brought a commission to
supersede Mr. Hamilton, who, tir'd with the disputes his proprietary
instructions subjected him to, had resign'd. Mr. Morris ask'd me if I
thought he must expect as uncomfortable an administration. I said,
"No; you may, on the contrary, have a very comfortable one, if you
will only take care not to enter into any dispute with the Assembly."
"My dear friend," says he, pleasantly, "how can you advise my avoiding
disputes? You know I love disputing; it is one of my greatest
pleasures; however, to show the regard I have for your counsel, I
promise you I will, if possible, avoid them." He had some reason for
loving to dispute, being eloquent, an acute sophister, and, therefore,
generally successful in argumentative conversation. He had been
brought up to it from a boy, his father, as I have heard, accustoming
his children to dispute with one another for his diversion, while
sitting at table after dinner; but I think the practice was not wise;
for, in the course of my observation, these disputing, contradicting,
and confuting people are generally unfortunate in their affairs. They
get victory sometimes, but they never get good will, which would be of
more use to them. We parted, he going to Philadelphia, and I to
Boston.

In returning, I met at New York with the votes of the Assembly, by
which it appear'd that, notwithstanding his promise to me, he and the
House were already in high contention; and it was a continual battle
between them as long as he retain'd the government. I had my share of
it; for, as soon as I got back to my seat in the Assembly, I was put
on every committee for answering his speeches and messages, and by the
committees always desired to make the drafts. Our answers, as well as
his messages, were often tart, and sometimes indecently abusive; and,
as he knew I wrote for the Assembly, one might have imagined that,
when we met, we could hardly avoid cutting throats; but he was so
good-natur'd a man that no personal difference between him and me was
occasion'd by the contest, and we often din'd together.

[Illustration: "One afternoon, in the height of this
public quarrel, we met in the street"]

One afternoon, in the height of this public quarrel, we met in the
street. "Franklin," says he, "you must go home with me and spend the
evening; I am to have some company that you will like;" and, taking me
by the arm, he led me to his house. In gay conversation over our wine,
after supper, he told us, jokingly, that he much admir'd the idea of
Sancho Panza,[93] who, when it was proposed to give him a government,
requested it might be a government of _blacks_, as then, if he could
not agree with his people, he might sell them. One of his friends, who
sat next to me, says, "Franklin, why do you continue to side with
these damn'd Quakers? Had not you better sell them? The proprietor
would give you a good price." "The governor," says I, "has not yet
_blacked_ them enough." He, indeed, had laboured hard to blacken the
Assembly in all his messages, but they wip'd off his colouring as fast
as he laid it on, and plac'd it, in return, thick upon his own face;
so that, finding he was likely to be negrofied himself, he, as well as
Mr. Hamilton, grew tir'd of the contest, and quitted the government.

These public quarrels[94] were all at bottom owing to the
proprietaries, our hereditary governors, who, when any expense was to
be incurred for the defense of their province, with incredible
meanness instructed their deputies to pass no act for levying the
necessary taxes, unless their vast estates were in the same act
expressly excused; and they had even taken bonds of these deputies to
observe such instructions. The Assemblies for three years held out
against this injustice, tho' constrained to bend at last. At length
Captain Denny, who was Governor Morris's successor, ventured to
disobey those instructions; how that was brought about I shall show
hereafter.

    [93] The "round, selfish, and self-important" squire of
    Don Quixote in Cervantes' romance of that name.

    [94] My acts in Morris's time, military, etc.--_Marg.
    note_.

But I am got forward too fast with my story: there are still some
transactions to be mention'd that happened during the administration
of Governor Morris.

War being in a manner commenced with France, the government of
Massachusetts Bay projected an attack upon Crown Point,[95] and sent
Mr. Quincy to Pennsylvania, and Mr. Pownall, afterward Governor
Pownall, to New York, to solicit assistance. As I was in the Assembly,
knew its temper, and was Mr. Quincy's countryman, he appli'd to me for
my influence and assistance. I dictated his address to them, which was
well received. They voted an aid of ten thousand pounds, to be laid
out in provisions. But the governor refusing his assent to their bill
(which included this with other sums granted for the use of the
crown), unless a clause were inserted exempting the proprietary estate
from bearing any part of the tax that would be necessary, the
Assembly, tho' very desirous of making their grant to New England
effectual, were at a loss how to accomplish it. Mr. Quincy labored
hard with the governor to obtain his assent, but he was obstinate.

    [95] On Lake Champlain, ninety miles north of Albany. It
    was captured by the French in 1731, attacked by the
    English in 1755 and 1756, and abandoned by the French in
    1759. It was finally captured from the English by the
    Americans in 1775.

I then suggested a method of doing the business without the governor,
by orders on the trustees of the Loan office, which, by law, the
Assembly had the right of drawing. There was, indeed, little or no
money at that time in the office, and therefore I propos'd that the
orders should be payable in a year, and to bear an interest of five
per cent. With these orders I suppos'd the provisions might easily be
purchas'd. The Assembly, with very little hesitation, adopted the
proposal. The orders were immediately printed, and I was one of the
committee directed to sign and dispose of them. The fund for paying
them was the interest of all the paper currency then extant in the
province upon loan, together with the revenue arising from the excise,
which being known to be more than sufficient, they obtain'd instant
credit, and were not only receiv'd in payment for the provisions, but
many money'd people, who had cash lying by them, vested it in those
orders, which they found advantageous, as they bore interest while
upon hand, and might on any occasion be used as money; so that they
were eagerly all bought up, and in a few weeks none of them were to be
seen. Thus this important affair was by my means completed. Mr. Quincy
return'd thanks to the Assembly in a handsome memorial, went home
highly pleas'd with this success of his embassy, and ever after bore
for me the most cordial and affectionate friendship.



XVI

BRADDOCK'S EXPEDITION


The British government, not chusing to permit the union of the
colonies as propos'd at Albany, and to trust that union with their
defense, lest they should thereby grow too military, and feel their
own strength, suspicions and jealousies at this time being entertain'd
of them, sent over General Braddock with two regiments of regular
English troops for that purpose. He landed at Alexandria, in Virginia,
and thence march'd to Frederictown, in Maryland, where he halted for
carriages. Our Assembly apprehending, from some information, that he
had conceived violent prejudices against them, as averse to the
service, wish'd me to wait upon him, not as from them, but as
postmaster-general, under the guise of proposing to settle with him
the mode of conducting with most celerity and certainty the despatches
between him and the governors of the several provinces, with whom he
must necessarily have continual correspondence, and of which they
propos'd to pay the expense. My son accompanied me on this journey.

We found the general at Frederictown, waiting impatiently for the
return of those he had sent thro' the back parts of Maryland and
Virginia to collect waggons. I stayed with him several days, din'd
with him daily, and had full opportunity of removing all his
prejudices, by the information of what the Assembly had before his
arrival actually done, and were still willing to do, to facilitate his
operations. When I was about to depart, the returns of waggons to be
obtained were brought in, by which it appear'd that they amounted only
to twenty-five, and not all of those were in serviceable condition.
The general and all the officers were surpris'd, declar'd the
expedition was then at an end, being impossible, and exclaim'd against
the ministers for ignorantly landing them in a country destitute of
the means of conveying their stores, baggage, etc., not less than one
hundred and fifty waggons being necessary.

I happen'd to say I thought it was pity they had not been landed
rather in Pennsylvania, as in that country almost every farmer had his
waggon. The general eagerly laid hold of my words, and said, "Then
you, sir, who are a man of interest there, can probably procure them
for us; and I beg you will undertake it." I ask'd what terms were to
be offer'd the owners of the waggons, and I was desir'd to put on
paper the terms that appeared to me necessary. This I did, and they
were agreed to, and a commission and instructions accordingly prepar'd
immediately. What those terms were will appear in the advertisement I
publish'd as soon as I arriv'd at Lancaster, which being, from the
great and sudden effect it produc'd, a piece of some curiosity, I
shall insert it at length, as follows:

  "Advertisement.

   "Lancaster, _April_ 26, 1755.

"Whereas, one hundred and fifty waggons, with four horses to each
waggon, and fifteen hundred saddle or pack horses, are wanted for the
service of his majesty's forces now about to rendezvous at Will's
Creek, and his excellency General Braddock having been pleased to
empower me to contract for the hire of the same, I hereby give notice
that I shall attend for that purpose at Lancaster from this day to
next Wednesday evening, and at York from next Thursday morning till
Friday evening, where I shall be ready to agree for waggons and teams,
or single horses, on the following terms, viz.: 1. That there shall be
paid for each waggon, with four good horses and a driver, fifteen
shillings per diem; and for each able horse with a pack-saddle, or
other saddle and furniture, two shillings per diem; and for each able
horse without a saddle, eighteen pence per diem. 2. That the pay
commence from the time of their joining the forces at Will's Creek,
which must be on or before the 20th of May ensuing, and that a
reasonable allowance be paid over and above for the time necessary for
their travelling to Will's Creek and home again after their discharge.
3. Each waggon and team, and every saddle or pack horse, is to be
valued by indifferent persons chosen between me and the owner; and in
case of the loss of any waggon, team, or other horse in the service,
the price according to such valuation is to be allowed and paid. 4.
Seven days' pay is to be advanced and paid in hand by me to the owner
of each waggon and team, or horse, at the time of contracting, if
required, and the remainder to be paid by General Braddock, or by the
paymaster of the army, at the time of their discharge, or from time to
time, as it shall be demanded. 5. No drivers of waggons, or persons
taking care of the hired horses, are on any account to be called upon
to do the duty of soldiers, or be otherwise employed than in
conducting or taking care of their carriages or horses. 6. All oats,
Indian corn, or other forage that waggons or horses bring to the camp,
more than is necessary for the subsistence of the horses, is to be
taken for the use of the army, and a reasonable price paid for the
same.

"Note.--My son, William Franklin, is empowered to enter into like
contracts with any person in Cumberland county.

"B. Franklin."


  _"To the inhabitants of the Counties of Lancaster,
           York, and Cumberland._

"Friends and Countrymen,

"Being occasionally[96] at the camp at Frederic a few days since, I
found the general and officers extremely exasperated on account of
their not being supplied with horses and carriages, which had been
expected from this province, as most able to furnish them; but,
through the dissensions between our governor and Assembly, money had
not been provided, nor any steps taken for that purpose.

    [96] By chance.

"It was proposed to send an armed force immediately into these
counties, to seize as many of the best carriages and horses as should
be wanted, and compel as many persons into the service as would be
necessary to drive and take care of them.

"I apprehended that the progress of British soldiers through these
counties on such an occasion, especially considering the temper they
are in, and their resentment against us, would be attended with many
and great inconveniences to the inhabitants, and therefore more
willingly took the trouble of trying first what might be done by fair
and equitable means. The people of these back counties have lately
complained to the Assembly that a sufficient currency was wanting; you
have an opportunity of receiving and dividing among you a very
considerable sum; for, if the service of this expedition should
continue, as it is more than probable it will, for one hundred and
twenty days, the hire of these waggons and horses will amount to
upward of thirty thousand pounds, which will be paid you in silver and
gold of the king's money.

"The service will be light and easy, for the army will scarce march
above twelve miles per day, and the waggons and baggage-horses, as
they carry those things that are absolutely necessary to the welfare
of the army, must march with the army, and no faster; and are, for the
army's sake, always placed where they can be most secure, whether in a
march or in a camp.

"If you are really, as I believe you are, good and loyal subjects to
his majesty, you may now do a most acceptable service, and make it
easy to yourselves; for three or four of such as cannot separately
spare from the business of their plantations a waggon and four horses
and a driver, may do it together, one furnishing the waggon, another
one or two horses, and another the driver, and divide the pay
proportionately between you; but if you do not this service to your
king and country voluntarily, when such good pay and reasonable terms
are offered to you, your loyalty will be strongly suspected. The
king's business must be done; so many brave troops, come so far for
your defense, must not stand idle through your backwardness to do what
may be reasonably expected from you; waggons and horses must be had;
violent measures will probably be used, and you will be left to seek
for a recompense where you can find it, and your case, perhaps, be
little pitied or regarded.

"I have no particular interest in this affair, as, except the
satisfaction of endeavouring to do good, I shall have only my labour
for my pains. If this method of obtaining the waggons and horses is
not likely to succeed, I am obliged to send word to the general in
fourteen days; and I suppose Sir John St. Clair, the hussar, with a
body of soldiers, will immediately enter the province for the purpose,
which I shall be sorry to hear, because I am very sincerely and truly
your friend and well-wisher,

"B. Franklin."

I received of the general about eight hundred pounds, to be disbursed
in advance-money to the waggon owners, etc.; but that sum being
insufficient, I advanc'd upward of two hundred pounds more, and in two
weeks the one hundred and fifty waggons, with two hundred and
fifty-nine carrying horses, were on their march for the camp. The
advertisement promised payment according to the valuation, in case any
waggon or horse should be lost. The owners, however, alleging they did
not know General Braddock, or what dependence might be had on his
promise, insisted on my bond for the performance, which I accordingly
gave them.

While I was at the camp, supping one evening with the officers of
Colonel Dunbar's regiment, he represented to me his concern for the
subalterns, who, he said, were generally not in affluence, and could
ill afford, in this dear country, to lay in the stores that might be
necessary in so long a march, thro' a wilderness, where nothing was to
be purchas'd. I commiserated their case, and resolved to endeavour
procuring them some relief. I said nothing, however, to him of my
intention, but wrote the next morning to the committee of the
Assembly, who had the disposition of some public money, warmly
recommending the case of these officers to their consideration, and
proposing that a present should be sent them of necessaries and
refreshments. My son, who had some experience of a camp life, and of
its wants, drew up a list for me, which I enclos'd in my letter. The
committee approv'd, and used such diligence that, conducted by my son,
the stores arrived at the camp as soon as the waggons. They consisted
of twenty parcels, each containing

6 lbs. loaf sugar.
6 lbs. good Muscovado do.
1 lb. good green tea.
1 lb. good bohea do.
6 lbs. good ground coffee.
6 lbs. chocolate.
1-2 cwt. best white biscuit.
1-2 lb. pepper.
1 quart best white wine
vinegar.
1 Gloucester cheese.
1 kegg containing 20 lbs.
good butter.
2 doz. old Madeira wine.
2 gallons Jamaica spirits.
1 bottle flour of mustard.
2 well-cur'd hams.
1-2 dozen dry'd tongues.
6 lbs. rice.
6 lbs. raisins.

These twenty parcels, well pack'd, were placed on as many horses, each
parcel, with the horse, being intended as a present for one officer.
They were very thankfully receiv'd, and the kindness acknowledg'd by
letters to me from the colonels of both regiments, in the most
grateful terms. The general, too, was highly satisfied with my conduct
in procuring him the waggons, etc., and readily paid my account of
disbursements, thanking me repeatedly, and requesting my farther
assistance in sending provisions after him. I undertook this also, and
was busily employ'd in it till we heard of his defeat, advancing for
the service of my own money, upwards of one thousand pounds sterling,
of which I sent him an account. It came to his hands, luckily for me,
a few days before the battle, and he return'd me immediately an order
on the paymaster for the round sum of one thousand pounds, leaving the
remainder to the next account. I consider this payment as good luck,
having never been able to obtain that remainder, of which more
hereafter.

This general was, I think, a brave man, and might probably have made a
figure as a good officer in some European war. But he had too much
self-confidence, too high an opinion of the validity of regular
troops, and too mean a one of both Americans and Indians. George
Croghan, our Indian interpreter, join'd him on his march with one
hundred of those people, who might have been of great use to his army
as guides, scouts, etc., if he had treated them kindly; but he
slighted and neglected them, and they gradually left him.

In conversation with him one day, he was giving me some account of his
intended progress. "After taking Fort Duquesne,"[97] says he, "I am to
proceed to Niagara; and, having taken that, to Frontenac,[98] if the
season will allow time; and I suppose it will, for Duquesne can hardly
detain me above three or four days; and then I see nothing that can
obstruct my march to Niagara." Having before revolv'd in my mind the
long line his army must make in their march by a very narrow road, to
be cut for them thro' the woods and bushes, and also what I had read
of a former defeat of fifteen hundred French, who invaded the Iroquois
country, I had conceiv'd some doubts and some fears for the event of
the campaign. But I ventur'd only to say, "To be sure, sir, if you
arrive well before Duquesne, with these fine troops, so well provided
with artillery, that place not yet completely fortified, and as we
hear with no very strong garrison, can probably make but a short
resistance. The only danger I apprehend of obstruction to your march
is from ambuscades of Indians, who, by constant practice, are
dexterous in laying and executing them; and the slender line, near
four miles long, which your army must make, may expose it to be
attack'd by surprise in its flanks, and to be cut like a thread into
several pieces, which, from their distance, cannot come up in time to
support each other."

    [97] Pittsburg.

    [98] Kingston, at the eastern end of Lake Ontario.

He smil'd at my ignorance, and reply'd, "These savages may, indeed, be
a formidable enemy to your raw American militia, but upon the king's
regular and disciplin'd troops, sir, it is impossible they should make
any impression." I was conscious of an impropriety in my disputing
with a military man in matters of his profession, and said no more.
The enemy, however, did not take the advantage of his army which I
apprehended its long line of march expos'd it to, but let it advance
without interruption till within nine miles of the place; and then,
when more in a body (for it had just passed a river, where the front
had halted till all were come over), and in a more open part of the
woods than any it had pass'd, attack'd its advanced guard by heavy
fire from behind trees and bushes, which was the first intelligence
the general had of an enemy's being near him. This guard being
disordered, the general hurried the troops up to their assistance,
which was done in great confusion, thro' waggons, baggage, and cattle;
and presently the fire came upon their flank: the officers, being on
horseback, were more easily distinguish'd, pick'd out as marks, and
fell very fast; and the soldiers were crowded together in a huddle,
having or hearing no orders, and standing to be shot at till
two-thirds of them were killed; and then, being seiz'd with a panick,
the whole fled with precipitation.

[Illustration: "The only danger I apprehend of obstruction to your
march is from ambuscades of Indians"]

The waggoners took each a horse out of his team and scamper'd; their
example was immediately followed by others; so that all the waggons,
provisions, artillery, and stores were left to the enemy. The general,
being wounded, was brought off with difficulty; his secretary, Mr.
Shirley, was killed by his side; and out of eighty-six officers,
sixty-three were killed or wounded, and seven hundred and fourteen men
killed out of eleven hundred. These eleven hundred had been picked men
from the whole army; the rest had been left behind with Colonel
Dunbar, who was to follow with the heavier part of the stores,
provisions, and baggage. The flyers, not being pursu'd, arriv'd at
Dunbar's camp, and the panick they brought with them instantly seiz'd
him and all his people; and, tho' he had now above one thousand men,
and the enemy who had beaten Braddock did not at most exceed four
hundred Indians and French together, instead of proceeding, and
endeavouring to recover some of the lost honour, he ordered all the
stores, ammunition, etc., to be destroy'd, that he might have more
horses to assist his flight towards the settlements, and less lumber
to remove. He was there met with requests from the governors of
Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, that he would post his troops on
the frontier, so as to afford some protection to the inhabitants; but
he continued his hasty march thro' all the country, not thinking
himself safe till he arrived at Philadelphia, where the inhabitants
could protect him. This whole transaction gave us Americans the first
suspicion that our exalted ideas of the prowess of British regulars
had not been well founded.[99]

    [99] Other accounts of this expedition and defeat may be
    found in Fiske's _Washington and his Country_, or
    Lodge's _George Washington_, Vol. 1.

In their first march, too, from their landing till they got beyond the
settlements, they had plundered and stripped the inhabitants, totally
ruining some poor families, besides insulting, abusing, and confining
the people if they remonstrated. This was enough to put us out of
conceit of such defenders, if we had really wanted any. How different
was the conduct of our French friends in 1781, who, during a march
thro' the most inhabited part of our country from Rhode Island to
Virginia, near seven hundred miles, occasioned not the smallest
complaint for the loss of a pig, a chicken, or even an apple.

Captain Orme, who was one of the general's aids-de-camp, and, being
grievously wounded, was brought off with him, and continu'd with him
to his death, which happen'd in a few days, told me that he was
totally silent all the first day, and at night only said, "_Who would
have thought it?_" That he was silent again the following day, saying
only at last, "_We shall better know how to deal with them another
time_"; and dy'd in a few minutes after.

The secretary's papers, with all the general's orders, instructions,
and correspondence, falling into the enemy's hands, they selected and
translated into French a number of the articles, which they printed,
to prove the hostile intentions of the British court before the
declaration of war. Among these I saw some letters of the general to
the ministry, speaking highly of the great service I had rendered the
army, and recommending me to their notice. David Hume,[100] too, who was
some years after secretary to Lord Hertford, when minister in France,
and afterward to General Conway, when secretary of state, told me he
had seen among the papers in that office, letters from Braddock highly
recommending me. But, the expedition having been unfortunate, my
service, it seems, was not thought of much value, for those
recommendations were never of any use to me.

    [100] A famous Scotch philosopher and historian
    (1711-1776).

As to rewards from himself, I ask'd only one, which was, that he would
give orders to his officers not to enlist any more of our bought
servants, and that he would discharge such as had been already
enlisted. This he readily granted, and several were accordingly
return'd to their masters, on my application. Dunbar, when the command
devolv'd on him, was not so generous. He being at Philadelphia, on his
retreat, or rather flight, I apply'd to him for the discharge of the
servants of three poor farmers of Lancaster county that he had
enlisted, reminding him of the late general's orders on that head. He
promised me that, if the masters would come to him at Trenton, where
he should be in a few days on his march to New York, he would there
deliver their men to them. They accordingly were at the expense and
trouble of going to Trenton, and there he refus'd to perform his
promise, to their great loss and disappointment.

As soon as the loss of the waggons and horses was generally known, all
the owners came upon me for the valuation which I had given bond to
pay. Their demands gave me a great deal of trouble, my acquainting
them that the money was ready in the paymaster's hands, but that
orders for paying it must first be obtained from General Shirley,[101]
and my assuring them that I had apply'd to that general by letter;
but, he being at a distance, an answer could not soon be receiv'd, and
they must have patience, all this was not sufficient to satisfy, and
some began to sue me. General Shirley at length relieved me from this
terrible situation by appointing commissioners to examine the claims,
and ordering payment. They amounted to near twenty thousand pound,
which to pay would have ruined me.

    [101] Governor of Massachusetts and commander of the
    British forces in America.

Before we had the news of this defeat, the two Doctors Bond came to me
with a subscription paper for raising money to defray the expense of a
grand firework, which it was intended to exhibit at a rejoicing on
receipt of the news of our taking Fort Duquesne. I looked grave, and
said it would, I thought, be time enough to prepare for the rejoicing
when we knew we should have occasion to rejoice. They seem'd surpris'd
that I did not immediately comply with their proposal. "Why the
d----l!" says one of them, "you surely don't suppose that the
fort will not be taken?" "I don't know that it will not be taken, but
I know that the events of war are subject to great uncertainty." I
gave them the reasons of my doubting; the subscription was dropt, and
the projectors thereby missed the mortification they would have
undergone if the firework had been prepared. Dr. Bond, on some other
occasion afterward, said that he did not like Franklin's forebodings.

Governor Morris, who had continually worried the Assembly with message
after message before the defeat of Braddock, to beat them into the
making of acts to raise money for the defense of the province, without
taxing, among others, the proprietary estates, and had rejected all
their bills for not having such an exempting clause, now redoubled his
attacks with more hope of success, the danger and necessity being
greater. The Assembly, however, continu'd firm, believing they had
justice on their side, and that it would be giving up an essential
right if they suffered the governor to amend their money-bills. In one
of the last, indeed, which was for granting fifty thousand pounds, his
propos'd amendment was only of a single word. The bill express'd "that
all estates, real and personal, were to be taxed, those of the
proprietaries _not_ excepted." His amendment was, for _not_ read
_only_: a small, but very material alteration. However, when the news
of this disaster reached England, our friends there whom we had taken
care to furnish with all the Assembly's answers to the governor's
messages, rais'd a clamor against the proprietaries for their meanness
and injustice in giving their governor such instructions; some going
so far as to say that, by obstructing the defense of their province,
they forfeited their right to it. They were intimidated by this, and
sent orders to their receiver-general to add five thousand pounds of
their money to whatever sum might be given by the Assembly for such
purpose.

This, being notified to the House, was accepted in lieu of their share
of a general tax, and a new bill was form'd, with an exempting clause,
which passed accordingly. By this act I was appointed one of the
commissioners for disposing of the money, sixty thousand pounds. I had
been active in modelling the bill and procuring its passage, and had,
at the same time, drawn a bill for establishing and disciplining a
voluntary militia, which I carried thro' the House without much
difficulty, as care was taken in it to leave the Quakers at their
liberty. To promote the association necessary to form the militia, I
wrote a dialogue,[102] stating and answering all the objections I could
think of to such a militia, which was printed, and had, as I thought,
great effect.

    [102] This dialogue and the militia act are in the
    Gentleman's Magazine for February and March,
    1756.--_Marg. note._



XVII

FRANKLIN'S DEFENSE OF THE
FRONTIER


While the several companies in the city and country were forming, and
learning their exercise, the governor prevail'd with me to take charge
of our North-western frontier, which was infested by the enemy, and
provide for the defense of the inhabitants by raising troops and
building a line of forts. I undertook this military business, tho' I
did not conceive myself well qualified for it. He gave me a commission
with full powers, and a parcel of blank commissions for officers, to
be given to whom I thought fit. I had but little difficulty in raising
men, having soon five hundred and sixty under my command. My son, who
had in the preceding war been an officer in the army rais'd against
Canada, was my aid-de-camp, and of great use to me. The Indians had
burned Gnadenhut,[103] a village settled by the Moravians, and massacred
the inhabitants; but the place was thought a good situation for one of
the forts.

    [103] Pronounced Gna´-den-hoot.

In order to march thither, I assembled the companies at Bethlehem, the
chief establishment of those people. I was surprised to find it in so
good a posture of defense; the destruction of Gnadenhut had made them
apprehend danger. The principal buildings were defended by a stockade;
they had purchased a quantity of arms and ammunition from New York,
and had even plac'd quantities of small paving stones between the
windows of their high stone houses, for their women to throw down upon
the heads of any Indians that should attempt to force into them. The
armed brethren, too, kept watch, and reliev'd as methodically as in
any garrison town. In conversation with the bishop, Spangenberg, I
mention'd this my surprise; for, knowing they had obtained an act of
Parliament exempting them from military duties in the colonies, I had
suppos'd they were conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms. He
answer'd me that it was not one of their established principles, but
that, at the time of their obtaining that act, it was thought to be a
principle with many of their people. On this occasion, however, they,
to their surprise, found it adopted by but a few. It seems they were
either deceiv'd in themselves, or deceiv'd the Parliament; but common
sense, aided by present danger, will sometimes be too strong for
whimsical opinions.

It was the beginning of January when we set out upon this business of
building forts. I sent one detachment toward the Minisink, with
instructions to erect one for the security of that upper part of the
country, and another to the lower part, with similar instructions; and
I concluded to go myself with the rest of my force to Gnadenhut, where
a fort was tho't more immediately necessary. The Moravians procur'd me
five waggons for our tools, stores, baggage, etc.

Just before we left Bethlehem, eleven farmers, who had been driven
from their plantations by the Indians, came to me requesting a supply
of firearms, that they might go back and fetch off their cattle. I
gave them each a gun with suitable ammunition. We had not march'd many
miles before it began to rain, and it continued raining all day; there
were no habitations on the road to shelter us, till we arriv'd near
night at the house of a German, where, and in his barn, we were all
huddled together, as wet as water could make us. It was well we were
not attack'd in our march, for our arms were of the most ordinary
sort, and our men could not keep their gun locks[104] dry. The Indians
are dexterous in contrivances for that purpose, which we had not. They
met that day the eleven poor farmers above mentioned, and killed ten
of them. The one who escap'd inform'd that his and his companions'
guns would not go off, the priming being wet with the rain.

    [104] Flint-lock guns, discharged by means of a spark
    struck from flint and steel into powder (priming) in an
    open pan.

[Illustration: "We had not march'd many miles before it began to rain"]

The next day being fair, we continu'd our march, and arriv'd at the
desolated Gnadenhut. There was a saw-mill near, round which were left
several piles of boards, with which we soon hutted ourselves; an
operation the more necessary at that inclement season, as we had no
tents. Our first work was to bury more effectually the dead we found
there, who had been half interr'd by the country people.

The next morning our fort was plann'd and mark'd out, the
circumference measuring four hundred and fifty-five feet, which would
require as many palisades to be made of trees, one with another, of a
foot diameter each. Our axes, of which we had seventy, were
immediately set to work to cut down trees, and, our men being
dexterous in the use of them, great despatch was made. Seeing the
trees fall so fast, I had the curiosity to look at my watch when two
men began to cut at a pine; in six minutes they had it upon the
ground, and I found it of fourteen inches diameter. Each pine made
three palisades of eighteen feet long, pointed at one end. While these
were preparing, our other men dug a trench all round, of three feet
deep, in which the palisades were to be planted; and, our waggons, the
bodies being taken off, and the fore and hind wheels separated
by taking out the pin which united the two parts of the perch,[105] we
had ten carriages, with two horses each, to bring the palisades from
the woods to the spot. When they were set up, our carpenters built a
stage

[Illustration: "Our axes ... were immediately set to work to cut down
trees"]

of boards all round within, about six feet high, for the men to stand
on when to fire thro' the loopholes. We had one swivel gun, which we
mounted on one of the angles, and fir'd it as soon as fix'd, to let
the Indians know, if any were within hearing, that we had such pieces;
and thus our fort, if such a magnificent name may be given to so
miserable a stockade, was finish'd in a week, though it rain'd so hard
every other day that the men could not work.

    [105] Here the pole connecting the front and rear wheels
    of a wagon.

This gave me occasion to observe, that, when men are employ'd, they
are best content'd; for on the days they worked they were good-natur'd
and cheerful, and, with the consciousness of having done a good day's
work, they spent the evening jollily; but on our idle days they were
mutinous and quarrelsome, finding fault with their pork, the bread,
etc., and in continual ill-humour, which put me in mind of a
sea-captain, whose rule it was to keep his men constantly at work;
and, when his mate once told him that they had done everything, and
there was nothing further to employ them about, _"Oh," says he, "make
them scour the anchor."_

This kind of fort, however contemptible, is a sufficient defense
against Indians, who have no cannon. Finding ourselves now posted
securely, and having a place to retreat to on occasion, we ventur'd
out in parties to scour the adjacent country. We met with no Indians,
but we found the places on the neighbouring hills where they had lain
to watch our proceedings. There was an art in their contrivance of
those places that seems worth mention. It being winter, a fire was
necessary for them; but a common fire on the surface of the ground
would by its light have discover'd their position at a distance. They
had therefore dug holes in the ground about three feet diameter, and
somewhat deeper; we saw where they had with their hatchets cut off the
charcoal from the sides of burnt logs lying in the woods. With these
coals they had made small fires in the bottom of the holes, and we
observ'd among the weeds and grass the prints of their bodies, made by
their laying all round, with their legs hanging down in the holes to
keep their feet warm, which, with them, is an essential point. This
kind of fire, so manag'd, could not discover them, either by its
light, flame, sparks, or even smoke: it appear'd that their number was
not great, and it seems they saw we were too many to be attacked by
them with prospect of advantage.

We had for our chaplain a zealous Presbyterian minister, Mr. Beatty,
who complained to me that the men did not generally attend his prayers
and exhortations. When they enlisted, they were promised, besides pay
and provisions, a gill of rum a day, which was punctually serv'd out
to them, half in the morning, and the other half in the evening; and I
observed they were as punctual in attending to receive it; upon which
I said to Mr. Beatty, "It is, perhaps, below the dignity of your
profession to act as steward of the rum, but if you were to deal it
out and only just after prayers, you would have them all about you."
He liked the tho't, undertook the office, and, with the help of a few
hands to measure out the liquor, executed it to satisfaction, and
never were prayers more generally and more punctually attended; so
that I thought this method preferable to the punishment inflicted by
some military laws for non-attendance on divine service.

I had hardly finish'd this business, and got my fort well stor'd with
provisions, when I receiv'd a letter from the governor, acquainting me
that he had call'd the Assembly, and wished my attendance there, if
the posture of affairs on the frontiers was such that my remaining
there was no longer necessary. My friends, too, of the Assembly,
pressing me by their letters to be, if possible, at the meeting, and
my three intended forts being now compleated, and the inhabitants
contented to remain on their farms under that protection, I resolved
to return; the more willingly, as a New England officer, Colonel
Clapham, experienced in Indian war, being on a visit to our
establishment, consented to accept the command. I gave him a
commission, and, parading the garrison, had it read before them, and
introduc'd him to them as an officer who, from his skill in military
affairs, was much more fit to command them than myself; and, giving
them a little exhortation, took my leave. I was escorted as far as
Bethlehem, where I rested a few days to recover from the fatigue I had
undergone. The first night, being in a good bed, I could hardly sleep,
it was so different from my hard lodging on the floor of our hut at
Gnaden wrapt only in a blanket or two.

While at Bethlehem, I inquir'd a little into the practice of the
Moravians: some of them had accompanied me, and all were very kind to
me. I found they work'd for a common stock, ate at common tables, and
slept in common dormitories, great numbers together. In the
dormitories I observed loopholes, at certain distances all along just
under the ceiling, which I thought judiciously placed for change of
air. I was at their church, where I was entertain'd with good musick,
the organ being accompanied with violins, hautboys, flutes, clarinets,
etc. I understood that their sermons were not usually preached to
mixed congregations of men, women, and children, as is our common
practice, but that they assembled sometimes the married men, at other
times their wives, then the young men, the young women, and the little
children, each division by itself. The sermon I heard was to the
latter, who came in and were plac'd in rows on benches; the boys under
the conduct of a young man, their tutor, and the girls conducted by a
young woman. The discourse seem'd well adapted to their capacities,
and was delivered in a pleasing, familiar manner, coaxing them, as it
were, to be good. They behav'd very orderly, but looked pale and
unhealthy, which made me suspect they were kept too much within doors,
or not allow'd sufficient exercise.

I inquir'd concerning the Moravian marriages, whether the report was
true that they were by lot. I was told that lots were us'd only in
particular cases; that generally, when a young man found himself
dispos'd to marry, he inform'd the elders of his class, who consulted
the elder ladies that govern'd the young women. As these elders of the
different sexes were well acquainted with the tempers and dispositions
of their respective pupils, they could best judge what matches were
suitable, and their judgments were generally acquiesc'd in; but if,
for example, it should happen that two or three young women were found
to be equally proper for the young man, the lot was then recurred to.
I objected, if the matches are not made by the mutual choice of the
parties, some of them may chance to be very unhappy. "And so they
may," answer'd my informer, "if you let the parties chuse for
themselves;" which, indeed, I could not deny.

Being returned to Philadelphia, I found the association went on
swimmingly, the inhabitants that were not Quakers having pretty
generally come into it, formed themselves into companies, and chose
their captains, lieutenants, and ensigns, according to the new law.
Dr. B. visited me, and gave me an account of the pains he had taken to
spread a general good liking to the law, and ascribed much to those
endeavours. I had had the vanity to ascribe all to my _Dialogue_;
however, not knowing but that he might be in the right, I let him
enjoy his opinion, which I take to be generally the best way in such
cases. The officers, meeting, chose me to be colonel of the regiment,
which I this time accepted. I forget how many companies we had, but we
paraded about twelve hundred well-looking men, with a company of
artillery, who had been furnished with six brass field-pieces, which
they had become so expert in the use of as to fire twelve times in a
minute. The first time I reviewed my regiment they accompanied me to
my house, and would salute me with some rounds fired before my door,
which shook down and broke several glasses of my electrical apparatus.
And my new honour proved not much less brittle; for all our
commissions were soon after broken by a repeal of the law in England.

During this short time of my colonelship, being about to set out on a
journey to Virginia, the officers of my regiment took it into their
heads that it would be proper for them to escort me out of town, as
far as the Lower Ferry. Just as I was getting on horseback they came
to my door, between thirty and forty, mounted, and all in their
uniforms. I had not been previously acquainted with the project, or I
should have prevented it, being naturally averse to the assuming of
state on any occasion; and I was a good deal chagrin'd at their
appearance, as I could not avoid their accompanying me. What made it
worse was, that, as soon as we began to move, they drew their swords
and rode with them naked all the way. Somebody wrote an account of
this to the proprietor, and it gave him great offense. No such honour
had been paid him when in the province, nor to any of his governors;
and he said it was only proper to princes of the blood royal, which
may be true for aught I know, who was, and still am, ignorant of the
etiquette in such cases.

This silly affair, however, greatly increased his rancour against me,
which was before not a little, on account of my conduct in the
Assembly respecting the exemption of his estate from taxation, which I
had always oppos'd very warmly, and not without severe reflections on
his meanness and injustice of contending for it. He accused me to the
ministry as being the great obstacle to the King's service,
preventing, by my influence in the House, the proper form of the bills
for raising money, and he instanced this parade with my officers as a
proof of my having an intention to take the government of the province
out of his hands by force. He also applied to Sir Everard Fawkener,
the postmaster-general, to deprive me of my office; but it had no
other effect than to procure from Sir Everard a gentle admonition.

Notwithstanding the continual wrangle between the governor and the
House, in which I, as a member, had so large a share, there still
subsisted a civil intercourse between that gentleman and myself, and
we never had any personal difference. I have sometimes since thought
that his little or no resentment against me, for the answers it was
known I drew up to his messages, might be the effect of professional
habit, and that, being bred a lawyer, he might consider us both as
merely advocates for contending clients in a suit, he for the
proprietaries and I for the Assembly. He would, therefore, sometimes
call in a friendly way to advise with me on difficult points, and
sometimes, tho' not often, take my advice.

We acted in concert to supply Braddock's army with provisions; and,
when the shocking news arrived of his defeat, the governor sent in
haste for me, to consult with him on measures for preventing the
desertion of the back counties. I forget now the advice I gave; but I
think it was, that Dunbar should be written to, and prevail'd with, if
possible, to post his troops on the frontiers for their protection,
till, by reinforcements from the colonies, he might be able to proceed
on the expedition. And, after my return from the frontier, he would
have had me undertake the conduct of such an expedition with
provincial troops, for the reduction of Fort Duquesne, Dunbar and his
men being otherwise employed; and he proposed to commission me as
general. I had not so good an opinion of my military abilities as he
profess'd to have, and I believe his professions must have exceeded
his real sentiments; but probably he might think that my popularity
would facilitate the raising of the men, and my influence in Assembly,
the grant of money to pay them, and that, perhaps, without taxing the
proprietary estate. Finding me not so forward to engage as he
expected, the project was dropt, and he soon after left the
government, being superseded by Captain Denny.



XVIII

SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENTS


Before I proceed in relating the part I had in public affairs under
this new governor's administration, it may not be amiss here to give
some account of the rise and progress of my philosophical reputation.

In 1746, being at Boston, I met there with a Dr. Spence, who was
lately arrived from Scotland, and show'd me some electric experiments.
They were imperfectly perform'd, as he was not very expert; but, being
on a subject quite new to me, they equally surpris'd and pleased me.
Soon after my return to Philadelphia, our library company receiv'd
from Mr. P. Collinson, Fellow of the Royal Society[106] of London, a
present of a glass tube, with some account of the use of it in making
such experiments. I eagerly seized the opportunity of repeating what I
had seen at Boston; and, by much practice, acquired great readiness in
performing those, also, which we had an account of from England,
adding a number of new ones. I say much practice, for my house was
continually full, for some time, with people who came to see these new
wonders.

    [106] The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural
    Knowledge was founded in 1660 and holds the foremost
    place among English societies for the advancement of
    science.

To divide a little this incumbrance among my friends, I caused a
number of similar tubes to be blown at our glass-house, with which
they furnish'd themselves, so that we had at length several
performers. Among these, the principal was Mr. Kinnersley, an
ingenious neighbour, who, being out of business, I encouraged to
undertake showing the experiments for money, and drew up for him two
lectures, in which the experiments were rang'd in such order, and
accompanied with such explanations in such method, as that the
foregoing should assist in comprehending the following. He procur'd an
elegant apparatus for the purpose, in which all the little machines
that I had roughly made for myself were nicely form'd by
instrument-makers. His lectures were well attended, and gave great
satisfaction; and after some time he went thro' the colonies,
exhibiting them in every capital town, and pick'd up some money. In
the West India islands, indeed, it was with difficulty the experiments
could be made, from the general moisture of the air.

Oblig'd as we were to Mr. Collinson for his present of the tube, etc.,
I thought it right he should be inform'd of our success in using it,
and wrote him several letters containing accounts of our experiments.
He got them read in the Royal Society, where they were not at first
thought worth so much notice as to be printed in their Transactions.
One paper, which I wrote for Mr. Kinnersley, on the sameness of
lightning with electricity,[107] I sent to Dr. Mitchel, an acquaintance
of mine, and one of the members also of that society, who wrote me
word that it had been read, but was laughed at by the connoisseurs.
The papers, however, being shown to Dr. Fothergill, he thought them of
too much value to be stifled, and advis'd the printing of them. Mr.
Collinson then gave them to _Cave_ for publication in his Gentleman's
Magazine; but he chose to print them separately in a pamphlet, and Dr.
Fothergill wrote the preface. Cave, it seems, judged rightly for his
profit, for by the additions that arrived afterward, they swell'd to a
quarto volume, which has had five editions, and cost him nothing for
copy-money.

    [107] See page 327.

It was, however, some time before those papers were much taken notice
of in England. A copy of them happening to fall into the hands of the
Count de Buffon,[108] a philosopher deservedly of great reputation in
France, and, indeed, all over Europe, he prevailed with M. Dalibard[109]
to translate them into French, and they were printed at Paris. The
publication offended the Abbé Nollet, preceptor in Natural Philosophy
to the royal family, and an able experimenter, who had form'd and
publish'd a theory of electricity, which then had the general vogue.
He could not at first believe that such a work came from America, and
said it must have been fabricated by his enemies at Paris, to decry
his system. Afterwards, having been assur'd that there really existed
such a person as Franklin at Philadelphia, which he had doubted, he
wrote and published a volume of Letters, chiefly address'd to me,
defending his theory, and denying the verity of my experiments, and of
the positions deduc'd from them.

    [108] A celebrated French naturalist (1707-1788).

    [109] Dalibard, who had translated Franklin's letters to
    Collinson into French, was the first to demonstrate, in
    a practical application of Franklin's experiment, that
    lightning and electricity are the same. "This was May
    10th, 1752, one month before Franklin flew his famous
    kite at Philadelphia and proved the fact
    himself."--McMaster.

I once purpos'd answering the abbé, and actually began the answer;
but, on consideration that my writings contained a description of
experiments which anyone might repeat and verify, and if not to be
verifi'd, could not be defended; or of observations offer'd as
conjectures, and not delivered dogmatically, therefore not laying me
under any obligation to defend them; and reflecting that a dispute
between two persons, writing in different languages, might be
lengthened greatly by mistranslations, and thence misconceptions of
one another's meaning, much of one of the abbé's letters being founded
on an error in the translation, I concluded to let my papers shift for
themselves, believing it was better to spend what time I could spare
from public business in making new experiments, than in disputing
about those already made. I therefore never answered M. Nollet, and
the event gave me no cause to repent my silence; for my friend M. le
Roy, of the Royal Academy of Sciences, took up my cause and refuted
him; my book was translated into the Italian, German, and Latin
languages; and the doctrine it contain'd was by degrees universally
adopted by the philosophers of Europe, in preference to that of the
abbé; so that he lived to see himself the last of his sect, except
Monsieur B----, of Paris, his _élève_ and immediate disciple.

What gave my book the more sudden and general celebrity, was the
success of one of its proposed experiments, made by Messrs. Dalibard
and De Lor at Marly, for drawing lightning from the clouds. This
engag'd the public attention everywhere. M. de Lor, who had an
apparatus for experimental philosophy, and lectur'd in that branch of
science, undertook to repeat what he called the _Philadelphia
Experiments_; and, after they were performed before the king and
court, all the curious of Paris flocked to see them. I will not swell
this narrative with an account of that capital experiment, nor of the
infinite pleasure I receiv'd in the success of a similar one I made
soon after with a kite at Philadelphia, as both are to be found in the
histories of electricity.

Dr. Wright, an English physician, when at Paris, wrote to a friend,
who was of the Royal Society, an account of the high esteem my
experiments were in among the learned abroad, and of their wonder that
my writings had been so little noticed in England. The society, on
this, resum'd the consideration of the letters that had been read to
them; and the celebrated Dr. Watson drew up a summary account of them,
and of all I had afterwards sent to England on the subject, which he
accompanied with some praise of the writer. This summary was then
printed in their Transactions; and some members of the society in
London, particularly the very ingenious Mr. Canton, having verified
the experiment of procuring lightning from the clouds by a pointed
rod, and acquainting them with the success, they soon made me more
than amends for the slight with which they had before treated me.
Without my having made any application for that honour, they chose me
a member, and voted that I should be excus'd the customary payments,
which would have amounted to twenty-five guineas; and ever since have
given me their Transactions gratis. They also presented me with the
gold medal of Sir Godfrey Copley[110] for the year 1753, the delivery of
which was accompanied by a very handsome speech of the president, Lord
Macclesfield, wherein I was highly honoured.

    [110] An English baronet (died in 1709), donator of a fund
    of £100, "in trust for the Royal Society of London for
    improving natural knowledge."

[Illustration: Gold medal of Sir Godfrey Copley.]



XIX

AGENT OF PENNSYLVANIA IN
LONDON


Our new governor, Captain Denny, brought over for me the
before mentioned medal from the Royal Society, which he presented to
me at an entertainment given him by the city. He accompanied it with
very polite expressions of his esteem for me, having, as he said, been
long acquainted with my character. After dinner, when the company, as
was customary at that time, were engag'd in drinking, he took me aside
into another room, and acquainted me that he had been advis'd by his
friends in England to cultivate a friendship with me, as one who was
capable of giving him the best advice, and of contributing most
effectually to the making his administration easy; that he therefore
desired of all things to have a good understanding with me, and he
begged me to be assured of his readiness on all occasions to render me
every service that might be in his power. He said much to me, also, of
the proprietor's good disposition towards the province, and of the
advantage it might be to us all, and to me in particular, if the
opposition that had been so long continu'd to his measures was dropt,
and harmony restor'd between him and the people; in effecting which,
it was thought no one could be more serviceable than myself; and I
might depend on adequate acknowledgments and recompenses, etc., etc.
The drinkers, finding we did not return immediately to the table, sent
us a decanter of Madeira, which the governor made liberal use of, and
in proportion became more profuse of his solicitations and promises.

My answers were to this purpose: that my circumstances, thanks to God,
were such as to make proprietary favours unnecessary to me; and that,
being a member of the Assembly, I could not possibly accept of any;
that, however, I had no personal enmity to the proprietary, and that,
whenever the public measures he propos'd should appear to be for the
good of the people, no one should espouse and forward them more
zealously than myself; my past opposition having been founded on this,
that the measures which had been urged were evidently intended to
serve the proprietary interest, with great prejudice to that of the
people; that I was much obliged to him (the governor) for his
professions of regard to me, and that he might rely on everything in
my power to make his administration as easy as possible, hoping at the
same time that he had not brought with him the same unfortunate
instruction his predecessor had been hampered with.

On this he did not then explain himself; but when he afterwards came
to do business with the Assembly, they appear'd again, the disputes
were renewed, and I was as active as ever in the opposition, being the
penman, first, of the request to have a communication of the
instructions, and then of the remarks upon them, which may be found in
the votes of the time, and in the Historical Review I afterward
publish'd. But between us personally no enmity arose; we were often
together; he was a man of letters, had seen much of the world, and was
very entertaining and pleasing in conversation. He gave me the first
information that my old friend Jas. Ralph was still alive; that he was
esteem'd one of the best political writers in England; had been
employed in the dispute[111] between Prince Frederic and the king, and
had obtain'd a pension of three hundred a year; that his reputation
was indeed small as a poet, Pope having damned his poetry in the
_Dunciad_,[112] but his prose was thought as good as any man's.

    [111] Quarrel between George II and his son, Frederick,
    Prince of Wales, who died before his father.

    [112] A satirical poem by Alexander Pope directed against
    various contemporary writers.

The Assembly finally finding the proprietary obstinately persisted in
manacling their deputies with instructions inconsistent not only with
the privileges of the people, but with the service of the crown,
resolv'd to petition the king against them, and appointed me their
agent to go over to England, to present and support the petition. The
House had sent up a bill to the governor, granting a sum of sixty
thousand pounds for the king's use (ten thousand pounds of which was
subjected to the orders of the then general, Lord Loudoun), which the
governor absolutely refus'd to pass, in compliance with his
instructions.

I had agreed with Captain Morris, of the packet at New York, for my
passage, and my stores were put on board, when Lord Loudoun arriv'd at
Philadelphia, expressly, as he told me, to endeavour an accommodation
between the governor and Assembly, that his majesty's service might
not be obstructed by their dissensions. Accordingly, he desir'd the
governor and myself to meet him, that he might hear what was to be
said on both sides. We met and discussed the business. In behalf of
the Assembly, I urged all the various arguments that may be found in
the public papers of that time, which were of my writing, and are
printed with the minutes of the Assembly; and the governor pleaded his
instructions, the bond he had given to observe them, and his ruin if
he disobey'd, yet seemed not unwilling to hazard himself if Lord
Loudoun would advise it. This his lordship did not chuse to do, though
I once thought I had nearly prevail'd with him to do it; but finally
he rather chose to urge the compliance of the Assembly; and he
entreated me to use my endeavours with them for that purpose,
declaring that he would spare none of the king's troops for the
defense of our frontiers, and that, if we did not continue to provide
for that defense ourselves, they must remain expos'd to the enemy.

I acquainted the House with what had pass'd, and, presenting them with
a set of resolutions I had drawn up, declaring our rights, and that we
did not relinquish our claim to those rights, but only suspended the
exercise of them on this occasion thro' _force_, against which we
protested, they at length agreed to drop that bill, and frame another
conformable to the proprietary instructions. This of course the
governor pass'd, and I was then at liberty to proceed on my voyage.
But, in the meantime, the packet had sailed with my sea-stores, which
was some loss to me, and my only recompense was his lordship's thanks
for my service, all the credit of obtaining the accommodation falling
to his share.

He set out for New York before me; and, as the time for dispatching
the packet-boats was at his disposition, and there were two then
remaining there, one of which, he said, was to sail very soon, I
requested to know the precise time, that I might not miss her by any
delay of mine. His answer was, "I have given out that she is to sail
on Saturday next; but I may let you know, _entre nous_, that if you
are there by Monday morning, you will be in time, but do not delay
longer." By some accidental hindrance at a ferry, it was Monday noon
before I arrived, and I was much afraid she might have sailed, as the
wind was fair; but I was soon made easy by the information that she
was still in the harbor, and would not move till the next day. One
would imagine that I was now on the very point of departing for
Europe. I thought so; but I was not then so well acquainted with his
lordship's character, of which _indecision_ was one of the strongest
features. I shall give some instances. It was about the beginning of
April that I came to New York, and I think it was near the end of June
before we sail'd. There were then two of the packet-boats, which had
been long in port, but were detained for the general's letters, which
were always to be ready to-morrow. Another packet arriv'd; she too was
detain'd; and, before we sail'd, a fourth was expected. Ours was the
first to be dispatch'd, as having been there longest. Passengers were
engaged in all, and some extremely impatient to be gone, and the
merchants uneasy about their letters, and the orders they had given
for insurance (it being war time) for fall goods; but their anxiety
avail'd nothing; his lordship's letters were not ready; and yet
whoever waited on him found him always at his desk, pen in hand, and
concluded he must needs write abundantly.

Going myself one morning to pay my respects, I found in his
antechamber one Innis, a messenger of Philadelphia, who had come from
thence express with a packet from Governor Denny for the general. He
delivered to me some letters from my friends there, which occasion'd
my inquiring when he was to return, and where he lodg'd, that I might
send some letters by him. He told me he was order'd to call to-morrow
at nine for the general's answer to the governor, and should set off
immediately. I put my letters into his hands the same day. A fortnight
after I met him again in the same place. "So, you are soon return'd,
Innis?" "_Return'd_! no, I am not _gone_ yet." "How so?" "I have
called here by order every morning these two weeks past for his
lordship's letter, and it is not yet ready." "Is it possible, when he
is so great a writer? for I see him constantly at his escritoire."
"Yes," says Innis, "but he is like St. George on the signs, _always on
horseback, and never rides on_." This observation of the messenger
was, it seems, well founded; for, when in England, I understood that
Mr. Pitt[113] gave it as one reason for removing this general, and
sending Generals Amherst and Wolfe, _that the minister never heard
from him, and could not know what he was doing_.

    [113] William Pitt, first Earl of Chatham (1708-1778), a
    great English statesman and orator. Under his able
    administration, England won Canada from France. He was a
    friend of America at the time of our Revolution.

This daily expectation of sailing, and all the three packets going
down to Sandy Hook, to join the fleet there, the passengers thought it
best to be on board, lest by a sudden order the ships should sail, and
they be left behind. There, if I remember right, we were about six
weeks, consuming our sea-stores, and oblig'd to procure more. At
length the fleet sail'd, the general and all his army on board, bound
to Louisburg, with the intent to besiege and take that fortress; all
the packet-boats in company ordered to attend the general's ship,
ready to receive his dispatches when they should be ready. We were out
five days before we got a letter with leave to part, and then our ship
quitted the fleet and steered for England. The other two packets he
still detained, carried them with him to Halifax, where he stayed some
time to exercise the men in sham attacks upon sham forts, then altered
his mind as to besieging Louisburg, and returned to New York, with all
his troops, together with the two packets above mentioned, and all
their passengers! During his absence the French and savages had taken
Fort George, on the frontier of that province, and the savages had
massacred many of the garrison after capitulation.

I saw afterwards in London Captain Bonnell, who commanded one of those
packets. He told me that, when he had been detain'd a month, he
acquainted his lordship that his ship was grown foul, to a degree that
must necessarily hinder her fast sailing, a point of consequence for a
packet-boat, and requested an allowance of time to heave her down and
clean her bottom. He was asked how long time that would require. He
answered, three days. The general replied, "If you can do it in one
day, I give leave; otherwise not; for you must certainly sail the day
after to-morrow." So he never obtain'd leave, though detained
afterwards from day to day during full three months.

I saw also in London one of Bonnell's passengers, who was so enrag'd
against his lordship for deceiving and detaining him so long at New
York, and then carrying him to Halifax and back again, that he swore
he would sue him for damages. Whether he did or not, I never heard;
but, as he represented the injury to his affairs, it was very
considerable.

On the whole, I wonder'd much how such a man came to be intrusted[114]
with so important a business as the conduct of a great army; but,
having since seen more of the great world, and the means of obtaining,
and motives for giving places, my wonder is diminished. General
Shirley, on whom the command of the army devolved upon the death of
Braddock, would, in my opinion, if continued in place, have made a
much better campaign than that of Loudoun in 1757, which was
frivolous, expensive, and disgraceful to our nation beyond conception;
for, tho' Shirley was not a bred soldier, he was sensible and
sagacious in himself, and attentive to good advice from others,
capable of forming judicious plans, and quick and active in carrying
them into execution. Loudoun, instead of defending the colonies with
his great army, left them totally expos'd while he paraded idly at
Halifax, by which means Fort George was lost, besides, he derang'd all
our mercantile operations, and distress'd our trade, by a long embargo
on the exportation of provisions, on pretence of keeping supplies from
being obtain'd by the enemy, but in reality for beating down their
price in favour of the contractors, in whose profits, it was said,
perhaps from suspicion only, he had a share. And, when at length the
embargo was taken off, by neglecting to send notice of it to
Charlestown, the Carolina fleet was detain'd near three months longer,
whereby their bottoms were so much damaged by the worm that a great
part of them foundered in their passage home.

    [114] This relation illustrates the corruption that
    characterized English public life in the eighteenth
    century. (See page 308). It was gradually overcome in
    the early part of the next century.

Shirley was, I believe, sincerely glad of being relieved from so
burdensome a charge as the conduct of an army must be to a man
unacquainted with military business. I was at the entertainment given
by the city of New York to Lord Loudoun, on his taking upon him the
command. Shirley, tho' thereby superseded, was present also. There was
a great company of officers, citizens, and strangers, and, some chairs
having been borrowed in the neighborhood, there was one among them
very low, which fell to the lot of Mr. Shirley. Perceiving it as I sat
by him, I said, "They have given you, sir, too low a seat." "No
matter," says he, "Mr. Franklin, I find _a low seat_ the easiest."

While I was, as afore mention'd, detain'd at New York, I receiv'd all
the accounts of the provisions, etc., that I had furnish'd to
Braddock, some of which accounts could not sooner be obtain'd from the
different persons I had employ'd to assist in the business. I
presented them to Lord Loudoun, desiring to be paid the balance. He
caus'd them to be regularly examined by the proper officer, who, after
comparing every article with its voucher, certified them to be right;
and the balance due for which his lordship promis'd to give me an
order on the paymaster. This was, however, put off from time to time;
and tho' I call'd often for it by appointment, I did not get it. At
length, just before my departure, he told me he had, on better
consideration, concluded not to mix his accounts with those of his
predecessors. "And you," says he, "when in England, have only to
exhibit your accounts at the treasury, and you will be paid
immediately."

I mention'd, but without effect, the great and unexpected expense I
had been put to by being detain'd so long at New York, as a reason for
my desiring to be presently paid; and on my observing that it was not
right I should be put to any further trouble or delay in obtaining the
money I had advanc'd, as I charged no commission for my service, "O,
Sir," says he, "you must not think of persuading us that you are no
gainer; we understand better those affairs, and know that every one
concerned in supplying the army finds means, in the doing it, to fill
his own pockets." I assur'd him that was not my case, and that I had
not pocketed a farthing; but he appear'd clearly not to believe me;
and, indeed, I have since learnt that immense fortunes are often made
in such employments. As to my balance, I am not paid it to
this day, of which more hereafter.

Our captain of the paquet had boasted much, before we sailed, of the
swiftness of his ship; unfortunately, when we came to sea, she proved
the dullest of ninety-six sail, to his no small mortification. After
many conjectures respecting the cause, when we were near another ship
almost as dull as ours, which, however, gain'd upon us, the captain
ordered all hands to come aft, and stand as near the ensign staff as
possible. We were, passengers included, about forty persons. While we
stood there, the ship mended her pace, and soon left her neighbour far
behind, which prov'd clearly what our captain suspected, that she was
loaded too much by the head. The casks of water, it seems, had been
all plac'd forward; these he therefore order'd to be mov'd further
aft, on which the ship recover'd her character, and proved the best
sailer in the fleet.

The captain said she had once gone at the rate of thirteen knots,
which is accounted thirteen miles per hour. We had on board, as a
passenger, Captain Kennedy, of the Navy, who contended that it was
impossible, and that no ship ever sailed so fast, and that there must
have been some error in the division of the log-line, or some mistake
in heaving the log.[115] A wager ensu'd between the two captains, to be
decided when there should be sufficient wind. Kennedy thereupon
examin'd rigorously the log-line, and, being satisfi'd with that, he
determin'd to throw the log himself. Accordingly some days after, when
the wind blew very fair and fresh, and the captain of the
paquet, Lutwidge, said he believ'd she then went at the rate of
thirteen knots, Kennedy made the experiment, and own'd his wager lost.

    [115] A piece of wood shaped and weighted so as to keep it
    stable when in the water. To this is attached a line
    knotted at regular distances. By these devices it is
    possible to tell the speed of a ship.

The above fact I give for the sake of the following observation. It
has been remark'd, as an imperfection in the art of ship-building,
that it can never be known, till she is tried, whether a new ship will
or will not be a good sailer; for that the model of a good-sailing
ship has been exactly follow'd in a new one, which has prov'd, on the
contrary, remarkably dull. I apprehend that this may partly be
occasion'd by the different opinions of seamen respecting the modes of
lading, rigging, and sailing of a ship; each has his system; and the
same vessel, laden by the judgment and orders of one captain, shall
sail better or worse than when by the orders of another. Besides, it
scarce ever happens that a ship is form'd, fitted for the sea, and
sail'd by the same person. One man builds the hull, another rigs her,
a third lades and sails her. No one of these has the advantage of
knowing all the ideas and experience of the others, and, therefore,
cannot draw just conclusions from a combination of the whole.

Even in the simple operation of sailing when at sea, I have often
observ'd different judgments in the officers who commanded the
successive watches, the wind being the same. One would have the sails
trimm'd sharper or flatter than another, so that they seem'd to have
no certain rule to govern by. Yet I think a set of experiments might
be instituted; first, to determine the most proper form of the hull
for swift sailing; next, the best dimensions and properest place for
the masts; then the form and quantity of sails, and their position, as
the wind may be; and, lastly, the disposition of the lading. This is
an age of experiments, and I think a set accurately made and combin'd
would be of great use. I am persuaded, therefore, that ere long some
ingenious philosopher will undertake it, to whom I wish success.

[Illustration: Sailing ship]

We were several times chas'd in our passage, but out-sail'd every
thing, and in thirty days had soundings. We had a good observation,
and the captain judg'd himself so near our port, Falmouth, that, if we
made a good run in the night, we might be off the mouth of that harbor
in the morning, and by running in the night might escape the notice of
the enemy's privateers, who often cruis'd near the entrance of the
channel. Accordingly, all the sail was set that we could possibly
make, and the wind being very fresh and fair, we went right before it,
and made great way. The captain, after his observation, shap'd his
course, as he thought, so as to pass wide of the Scilly Isles; but it
seems there is sometimes a strong indraught setting up St. George's
Channel, which deceives seamen and caused the loss of Sir Cloudesley
Shovel's squadron. This indraught was probably the cause of what
happened to us.

We had a watchman plac'd in the bow, to whom they often called, "_Look
well out before there_," and he as often answered, "_Ay, ay_"; but
perhaps had his eyes shut, and was half asleep at the time, they
sometimes answering, as is said, mechanically; for he did not see a
light just before us, which had been hid by the studding-sails from
the man at the helm, and from the rest of the watch, but by an
accidental yaw of the ship was discover'd, and occasion'd a great
alarm, we being very near it, the light appearing to me as big as a
cartwheel. It was midnight, and our captain fast asleep; but Captain
Kennedy, jumping upon deck, and seeing the danger, ordered the ship to
wear round, all sails standing; an operation dangerous to the masts,
but it carried us clear, and we escaped shipwreck, for we were running
right upon the rocks on which the lighthouse was erected. This
deliverance impressed me strongly with the utility of lighthouses, and
made me resolve to encourage the building more of them in America if I
should live to return there.

In the morning it was found by the soundings, etc., that we were near
our port, but a thick fog hid the land from our sight. About nine
o'clock the fog began to rise, and seem'd to be lifted up from the
water like the curtain at a play-house, discovering underneath, the
town of Falmouth, the vessels in its harbor, and the fields that
surrounded it. This was a most pleasing spectacle to those who had
been so long without any other prospects than the uniform view of a
vacant ocean, and it gave us the more pleasure as we were now free
from the anxieties which the state of war occasion'd.

I set out immediately, with my son, for London, and we only stopt a
little by the way to view Stonehenge[116] on Salisbury Plain, and Lord
Pembroke's house and gardens, with his very curious antiquities at
Wilton. We arrived in London the 27th of July, 1757.[117]

    [116] A celebrated prehistoric ruin, probably of a temple
    built by the early Britons, near Salisbury, England. It
    consists of inner and outer circles of enormous stones,
    some of which are connected by stone slabs.

    [117] "Here terminates the _Autobiography_, as published
    by Wm. Temple Franklin and his successors. What follows
    was written in the last year of Dr. Franklin's life, and
    was never before printed in English."--Mr. Bigelow's
    note in his edition of 1868.

As soon as I was settled in a lodging Mr. Charles had provided for me,
I went to visit Dr. Fothergill, to whom I was strongly recommended,
and whose counsel respecting my proceedings I was advis'd to obtain.
He was against an immediate complaint to government, and thought the
proprietaries should first be personally appli'd to, who might
possibly be induc'd by the interposition and persuasion of some
private friends, to accommodate matters amicably. I then waited on my
old friend and correspondent, Mr. Peter Collinson, who told me that
John Hanbury, the great Virginia merchant, had requested to be
informed when I should arrive, that he might carry me to Lord
Granville's,[118] who was then President of the Council and wished to
see me as soon as possible. I agreed to go with him the next morning.
Accordingly Mr. Hanbury called for me and took me in his carriage to
that nobleman's, who receiv'd me with great civility; and after some
questions respecting the present state of affairs in America and
discourse thereupon, he said to me: "You Americans have wrong ideas of
the nature of your constitution; you contend that the king's
instructions to his governors are not laws, and think yourselves at
liberty to regard or disregard them at your own discretion. But those
instructions are not like the pocket instructions given to a minister
going abroad, for regulating his conduct in some trifling point of
ceremony. They are first drawn up by judges learned in the laws; they
are then considered, debated, and perhaps amended in Council, after
which they are signed by the king. They are then, so far as they
relate to you, the _law of the land_, for the king is the Legislator
of the Colonies,"[119] I told his lordship this was new doctrine to me.
I had always understood from our charters that our laws were to be
made by our Assemblies, to be presented indeed to the king for his
royal assent, but that being once given the king could not repeal or
alter them. And as the Assemblies could not make permanent laws
without his assent, so neither could he make a law for them without
theirs. He assur'd me I was totally mistaken. I did not think so,
however, and his lordship's conversation having a little alarm'd me as
to what might be the sentiments of the court concerning us, I wrote it
down as soon as I return'd to my lodgings. I recollected that about 20
years before, a clause in a bill brought into Parliament by the
ministry had propos'd to make the king's instructions laws in the
colonies, but the clause was thrown out by the Commons, for which we
adored them as our friends and friends of liberty, till by their
conduct towards us in 1765 it seem'd that they had refus'd that point
of sovereignty to the king only that they might reserve it for
themselves.

    [118] George Granville or Grenville (1712-1770). As
    English premier from 1763 to 1765, he introduced the
    direct taxation of the American Colonies and has
    sometimes been called the immediate cause of the
    Revolution.

    [119] This whole passage shows how hopelessly divergent
    were the English and American views on the relations
    between the mother country and her colonies. Grenville
    here made clear that the Americans were to have no voice
    in making or amending their laws. Parliament and the
    king were to have absolute power over the colonies. No
    wonder Franklin was alarmed by this new doctrine. With
    his keen insight into human nature and his consequent
    knowledge of American character, he foresaw the
    inevitable result of such an attitude on the part of
    England. This conversation with Grenville makes these
    last pages of the _Autobiography_ one of its most
    important parts.

After some days, Dr. Fothergill having spoken to the proprietaries,
they agreed to a meeting with me at Mr. T. Penn's house in Spring
Garden. The conversation at first consisted of mutual declarations of
disposition to reasonable accommodations, but I suppose each party had
its own ideas of what should be meant by _reasonable_. We then went
into consideration of our several points of complaint, which I
enumerated. The proprietaries justify'd their conduct as well as they
could, and I the Assembly's. We now appeared very wide, and so far
from each other in our opinions as to discourage all hope of
agreement. However, it was concluded that I should give them the heads
of our complaints in writing, and they promis'd then to consider them.
I did so soon after, but they put the paper into the hands of their
solicitor, Ferdinand John Paris, who managed for them all their law
business in their great suit with the neighbouring proprietary of
Maryland, Lord Baltimore, which had subsisted 70 years, and wrote for
them all their papers and messages in their dispute with the Assembly.
He was a proud, angry man, and as I had occasionally in the answers of
the Assembly treated his papers with some severity, they being really
weak in point of argument and haughty in expression, he had conceived a
mortal enmity to me, which discovering itself whenever we met, I
declin'd the proprietary's proposal that he and I should discuss the
heads of complaint between our two selves, and refus'd treating with
anyone but them. They then by his advice put the paper into the hands
of the Attorney and Solicitor-General for their opinion and counsel
upon it, where it lay unanswered a year wanting eight days, during
which time I made frequent demands of an answer from the
proprietaries, but without obtaining any other than that they had not
yet received the opinion of the Attorney and Solicitor-General. What
it was when they did receive it I never learnt, for they did not
communicate it to me, but sent a long message to the Assembly drawn
and signed by Paris, reciting my paper, complaining of its want of
formality, as a rudeness on my part, and giving a flimsy justification
of their conduct, adding that they should be willing to accommodate
matters if the Assembly would send out _some person of candour_ to
treat with them for that purpose, intimating thereby that I was not
such.

[Illustration: "We now appeared very wide, and so far from each other
in our opinions as to discourage all hope of agreement"]

The want of formality or rudeness was, probably, my not having
address'd the paper to them with their assum'd titles of True and
Absolute Proprietaries of the Province of Pennsylvania, which I
omitted as not thinking it necessary in a paper, the intention of
which was only to reduce to a certainty by writing, what in
conversation I had delivered _viva voce_.

But during this delay, the Assembly having prevailed with Gov'r Denny
to pass an act taxing the proprietary estate in common with the
estates of the people, which was the grand point in dispute, they
omitted answering the message.

When this act however came over, the proprietaries, counselled by
Paris, determined to oppose its receiving the royal assent.
Accordingly they petitioned the king in Council, and a hearing was
appointed in which two lawyers were employ'd by them against the act,
and two by me in support of it. They alledg'd that the act was
intended to load the proprietary estate in order to spare those of the
people, and that if it were suffer'd to continue in force, and the
proprietaries, who were in odium with the people, left to their mercy
in proportioning the taxes, they would inevitably be ruined. We
reply'd that the act had no such intention, and would have no such
effect. That the assessors were honest and discreet men under an oath
to assess fairly and equitably, and that any advantage each of them
might expect in lessening his own tax by augmenting that of the
proprietaries was too trifling to induce them to perjure themselves.
This is the purport of what I remember as urged by both sides, except
that we insisted strongly on the mischievous consequences that must
attend a repeal, for that the money, £100,000, being printed and given
to the king's use, expended in his service, and now spread among the
people, the repeal would strike it dead in their hands to the ruin of
many, and the total discouragement of future grants, and the
selfishness of the proprietors in soliciting such a general
catastrophe, merely from a groundless fear of their estate being taxed
too highly, was insisted on in the strongest terms. On this, Lord
Mansfield, one of the counsel, rose, and beckoning me took me into the
clerk's chamber, while the lawyers were pleading, and asked me if I
was really of opinion that no injury would be done the proprietary
estate in the execution of the act. I said certainly. "Then," says he,
"you can have little objection to enter into an engagement to assure
that point." I answer'd, "None at all." He then call'd in Paris, and
after some discourse, his lordship's proposition was accepted on both
sides; a paper to the purpose was drawn up by the Clerk of the
Council, which I sign'd with Mr. Charles, who was also an Agent of the
Province for their ordinary affairs, when Lord Mansfield returned to
the Council Chamber, where finally the law was allowed to pass. Some
changes were however recommended and we also engaged they should be
made by a subsequent law, but the Assembly did not think them
necessary; for one year's tax having been levied by the act before the
order of Council arrived, they appointed a committee to examine the
proceedings of the assessors, and on this committee they put several
particular friends of the proprietaries. After a full enquiry, they
unanimously sign'd a report that they found the tax had been assess'd
with perfect equity.

The Assembly looked into my entering into the first part of the
engagement, as an essential service to the Province, since it secured
the credit of the paper money then spread over all the country. They
gave me their thanks in form when I return'd. But the proprietaries
were enraged at Governor Denny for having pass'd the act, and turn'd
him out with threats of suing him for breach of instructions which he
had given bond to observe. He, however, having done it at the instance
of the General, and for His Majesty's service, and having some
powerful interest at court, despis'd the threats and they were never
put in execution.... [unfinished]

[Illustration: Medal with inscription: BENJ. FRANLIN NATUS BOSTON XVII,
JAN. MDCCVI.]

APPENDIX



ELECTRICAL KITE


To Peter Collinson

[Philadelphia], Oct. 19, 1752.

Sir,

As frequent mention is made in public papers from Europe of the
success of the _Philadelphia_ experiment for drawing the electric fire
from clouds by means of pointed rods of iron erected on high
buildings, &c., it may be agreeable to the curious to be informed,
that the same experiment has succeeded in _Philadelphia_, though made
in a different and more easy manner, which is as follows:

Make a small cross of two light strips of cedar, the arms so long as
to reach to the four corners of a large, thin silk handkerchief when
extended; tie the corners of the handkerchief to the extremities of
the cross, so you have the body of a kite; which being properly
accommodated with a tail, loop, and string, will rise in the air, like
those made of paper; but this being of silk, is fitter to bear the wet
and wind of a thunder-gust without tearing. To the top of the upright
stick of the cross is to be fixed a very sharp-pointed wire, rising a
foot or more above the wood. To the end of the twine, next the hand,
is to be tied a silk ribbon, and where the silk and twine join, a key
may be fastened. This kite is to be raised when a thunder-gust appears
to be coming on, and the person who holds the string must stand within
a door or window, or under some cover, so that the silk ribbon may not
be wet; and care must be taken that the twine does not touch the frame
of the door or window. As soon as any of the thunder clouds come over
the kite, the pointed wire will draw the electric fire from them, and
the kite, with all the twine will be electrified, and the loose
filaments of the twine will stand out every way and be attracted by an
approaching finger. And when the rain has wet the kite and twine, so
that it can conduct the electric fire freely, you will find it stream
out plentifully from the key on the approach of your knuckle. At this
key the phial may be charged; and from electric fire thus obtained,
spirits may be kindled, and all the electric experiments be performed,
which are usually done by the help of a rubbed glass globe or tube,
and thereby the sameness of the electric matter with that of lightning
completely demonstrated.

B. Franklin.

[Illustration: "You will find it stream out plentifully from the key
on the approach of your knuckle"]

[Illustration: Father _Abraham_ in his STUDY with the following text:

    The Shade of Him who Counsel can bestow, Still pleas'd
    to teach, and yet not proud to know; Unbias'd or by
    Favour or by Spite; Nor dully prepossess'd, nor blindly
    right; Thô learn'd, well-bred; and, thô well-bred,
    sincere; Modestly bold, and humanely severe; Who to a
    Friend his Faults can sweetly show. And gladly praise
    the Merit of a Foe. Here, there he sits, his chearful
    Aid to lend; A firm, unshaken, uncorrupted Friend,
    Averse alike to flatter or offend.

_Printed by_ Benjamin Mecom, _at the_ New
Printing-Office, (_near the_ Town-House, _in_ Boston) _where_
BOOKS _are Sold, and_ PRINTING-WORK _done, Cheap_.

He's rarely _warm_ in Censure or in Praise:

_Good-Nature, Wit_, and _Judgment_ round him wait;
And thus he sits _inthron'd_ in _Classick-State_:

To Failings mild, but zealous for Desert;
The clearest Head, and the sincerest Heart.

Few Men deserve our _Passion_ either Ways.]

From "Father Abraham's Speech," 1760. Reproduced from
a copy at the New York Public Library.



THE WAY TO WEALTH

(From "Father Abraham's Speech," forming
the preface to Poor _Richard's Almanac_ for 1758.)

It would be thought a hard Government that should tax its People
one-tenth Part of their _Time_, to be employed in its Service. But
_Idleness_ taxes many of us much more, if we reckon all that is spent
in absolute _Sloth_, or doing of nothing, with that which is spent in
idle Employments or Amusements, that amount to nothing. _Sloth_, by
bringing on Diseases, absolutely shortens Life. _Sloth, like Rust,
consumes faster than Labor wears; while the used key is always bright,
as Poor Richard says. But dost thou love Life, then do not squander
Time, for that's the stuff Life is made of, as Poor Richard_ says. How
much more than is necessary do we spend in sleep, forgetting that _The
sleeping Fox catches no Poultry_, and that _There will be sleeping
enough in the Grave_, as _Poor Richard_ says.

_If Time be of all Things the most precious, wasting Time must be, as
Poor Richard_ says, _the_ _greatest Prodigality_; since, as he
elsewhere tells us, _Lost Time is never found again; and what we call
Time enough, always proves little enough_: Let us then up and be
doing, and doing to the Purpose; so by Diligence shall we do more with
less Perplexity. _Sloth makes all Things difficult, but Industry all
easy_, as _Poor Richard_ says; and _He that riseth late must trot all
Day, and shall scarce overtake his Business at Night; while Laziness
travels so slowly, that Poverty soon overtakes him_, as we read in
_Poor Richard_, who adds, _Drive thy Business, let not that drive
thee_; and _Early to Bed, and early to rise, makes a Man healthy,
wealthy, and wise._

_Industry need not wish, and he that lives upon Hope will die
fasting._

_There are no Gains without Pains._

_He that hath a Trade hath an Estate; and he that hath a Calling, hath
an Office of Profit and Honor_; but then the _Trade_ must be worked
at, and the _Calling_ well followed, or neither the _Estate_ nor the
_Office_ will enable us to pay our Taxes.

What though you have found no Treasure, nor has any rich Relation left
you a Legacy, _Diligence is the Mother of Good-luck_, as _Poor
Richard_ says, _and God gives all Things to Industry_.

_One To-day is worth two To-morrows_, and farther, _Have you somewhat
to do To-morrow, do it To-day_.

If you were a Servant, would you not be ashamed that a good Master
should catch you idle? Are you then your own Master, _be ashamed to
catch yourself idle_.

Stick to it steadily; and you will see great Effects, for _Constant
Dropping wears away Stones_, and by _Diligence and Patience the Mouse
ate in two the Cable_; and _Little Strokes fell great Oaks_.

Methinks I hear some of you say, _Must a Man afford himself no
Leisure_? I will tell thee, my friend, what _Poor Richard_ says,
_Employ thy Time well, if thou meanest to gain Leisure; and, since
thou art not sure of a Minute, throw not away an Hour_. Leisure, is
Time for doing something useful; this Leisure the diligent Man will
obtain, but the lazy Man never; so that, as _Poor Richard_ says, _A
Life of Leisure and a Life of Laziness are two things_.

_Keep thy Shop, and thy Shop will keep thee_; and again, _If you would
have your business done, go; if not, send._

If you would have a faithful Servant, and one that you like, serve
yourself.

_A little Neglect may breed great Mischief:_ adding, _for want of a
Nail the Shoe was lost; for want of a Shoe the Horse was lost; and for
want of a Horse the Rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by the
Enemy; all for the want of Care about a Horse-shoe Nail_.

So much for Industry, my Friends, and Attention to one's own Business;
but to these we must add _Frugality_.

_What maintains one Vice, would bring up two Children_. You may think
perhaps, that a _little_ Tea, or a _little_ Punch now and then, Diet a
_little_ more costly, Clothes a _little_ finer, and a _little_
Entertainment now and then, can be no _great_ Matter; but remember
what _Poor Richard_ says, _Many a Little makes a Mickle._

_Beware of little expenses; A small Leak will sink a great Ship_; and
again, _Who Dainties love, shall Beggars prove_; and moreover, _Fools
make Feasts, and wise Men eat them._

Buy what thou hast no Need of, and ere long thou shalt sell thy
Necessaries.

If you would know the Value of Money, go and try to borrow some; for,
he that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing.

The second Vice is Lying, the first is running in Debt.

_Lying rides upon Debt's Back_.

Poverty often deprives a Man of all Spirit and Virtue: '_Tis hard for
an empty Bag to stand upright_.

And now to conclude, _Experience keeps a dear School, but Fools will
learn in no other, and scarce in that_; for it is true, _we may give
Advice, but we cannot give Conduct_, as _Poor Richard_ says: However,
remember this, _They that won't be counseled, can't be helped_, as
_Poor Richard_ says: and farther, That _if you will not hear Reason,
she'll surely rap your Knuckles_.



THE WHISTLE


To Madame Brillon

Passy, November 10, 1779.

I am charmed with your description of Paradise, and with your plan of
living there; and I approve much of your conclusion, that, in the
meantime, we should draw all the good we can from this world. In my
opinion, we might all draw more good from it than we do, and suffer
less evil, if we would take care not to give too much for whistles.
For to me it seems, that most of the unhappy people we meet with, are
become so by neglect of that caution.

You ask what I mean? You love stories, and will excuse my telling one
of myself.

When I was a child of seven year old, my friends, on a holiday, filled
my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys
for children; and being charmed with the sound of a _whistle_, that I
met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and
gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all
over the house, much pleased with my _whistle_, but disturbing all the
family. My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the
bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as
it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with
the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I
cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the
_whistle_ gave me pleasure.

This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing
on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary
thing, I said to myself, _Don't give too much for the whistle_; and I
saved my money.

As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I
thought I met with many, very many, who _gave too much for the
whistle_.

When I saw one too ambitious of court favor, sacrificing his time in
attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps
his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, _This man gives too
much for his whistle_.

When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in
political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by
neglect, _He pays, indeed_, said I, _too much for his whistle_.

If I knew a miser who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all
the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow
citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of
accumulating wealth, _Poor man_, said I, _you pay too much for your
whistle_.

When I met with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable
improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporeal
sensations, and ruining his health in their pursuit, _Mistaken man_,
said I, _you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure; you
give too much for your whistle_.

If I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes, fine houses, fine
furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he
contracts debts, and ends his career in a prison, _Alas_! say I, _he
has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle_.

When I see a beautiful, sweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured
brute of a husband, _What a pity_, say I, _that she should pay so much
for a whistle_!

In short, I conceive that great part of the miseries of mankind are
brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value
of things, and by their _giving too much for their whistles_.

Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people, when I consider,
that, with all this wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain
things in the world so tempting, for example, the apples of King John,
which happily are not to be bought; for if they were put to sale by
auction, I might very easily be led to ruin myself in the purchase,
and find that I had once more given too much for the _whistle_.

Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me ever yours very sincerely and
with unalterable affection,

B. Franklin.



A LETTER TO SAMUEL MATHER

Passy, May 12, 1784.

Revd Sir,

It is now more than 60 years since I left Boston, but I remember well
both your father and grandfather, having heard them both in the
pulpit, and seen them in their houses. The last time I saw your father
was in the beginning of 1724, when I visited him after my first trip
to Pennsylvania. He received me in his library, and on my taking leave
showed me a shorter way out of the house through a narrow passage,
which was crossed by a beam overhead. We were still talking as I
withdrew, he accompanying me behind, and I turning partly towards him,
when he said hastily, "_Stoop, stoop!_" I did not understand him, till
I felt my head hit against the beam. He was a man that never missed
any occasion of giving instruction, and upon this he said to me, "_You
are young, and have the world before you; stoop as you go through it,
and you will miss many hard thumps_." This advice, thus beat into my
head, has frequently been of use to me; and I often think of it, when
I see pride mortified, and misfortunes brought upon people by their
carrying their heads too high.

B. Franklin.



THE END



BIBLIOGRAPHY


The last and most complete edition of Franklin's works is that by the
late Professor Albert H. Smyth, published in ten volumes by the
Macmillan Company, New York, under the title, _The Writings of
Benjamin Franklin_. The other standard edition is the _Works of
Benjamin Franklin_ by John Bigelow (New York, 1887). Mr. Bigelow's
first edition of the _Autobiography_ in one volume was published by
the J. B. Lippincott Company of Philadelphia in 1868. The life of
Franklin as a writer is well treated by J. B. McMaster in a volume of
_The American Men of Letters Series_; his life as a statesman and
diplomat, by J. T. Morse, _American Statesmen Series_, one volume;
Houghton, Mifflin Company publish both books. A more exhaustive
account of the life and times of Franklin may be found in James
Parton's _Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin_ (2 vols., New York,
1864). Paul Leicester Ford's _The Many-Sided Franklin_ is a most
chatty and readable book, replete with anecdotes and excellently and
fully illustrated. An excellent criticism by Woodrow Wilson introduces
an edition of the _Autobiography_ in _The Century Classics_ (Century
Co., New York, 1901). Interesting magazine articles are those of E. E.
Hale, _Christian Examiner_, lxxi, 447; W. P. Trent, _McClure's
Magazine_, viii, 273; John Hay, _The Century Magazine_, lxxi, 447.

See also the histories of American literature by C. F. Richardson,
Moses Coit Tyler, Brander Matthews, John Nichol, and Barrett Wendell,
as well as the various encyclopedias. An excellent bibliography of
Franklin is that of Paul Leicester Ford, entitled _A List of Books
Written by, or Relating to Benjamin Franklin_ (New York, 1889).

The following list of Franklin's works contains the more interesting
publications, together with the dates of first issue.


_1722. Dogood Papers._

Letters in the style of Addison's _Spectator_, contributed to
James Franklin's newspaper and signed "Silence Dogood."

_1729. The Busybody._

A series of essays published in Bradford's Philadelphia
_Weekly Mercury_, six of which only are ascribed to Franklin.
They are essays on morality, philosophy and politics,
similar to the _Dogood Papers_.

_1729. A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper
Currency._

_1732. to 1757. Prefaces to Poor Richard's Almanac._

Among these are _Hints for those that would be Rich_, 1737;
and _Plan for saving one hundred thousand pounds to New
Jersey, 1756_.

1_743. A Proposal for Promoting Useful Knowledge Among the
British Plantations in America._

"This paper appears to contain the first suggestion, in
any public form, for an _American Philosophical Society_."
Sparks.

_1744. An Account of the New Invented Pennsylvania Fire-Places._

_1749. Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania._

Contains the plan for the school which later became the
University of Pennsylvania.

_1752. Electrical Kite._

A description of the famous kite experiment, first written in
a letter to Peter Collinson, dated Oct. 19, 1752, which was
published later in the same year in _The Gentleman's Magazine_.

_1754. Plan of Union._

A plan for the union of the colonies presented to the
colonial convention at Albany.

_1755. A Dialogue Between X, Y and Z._

An appeal to enlist in the provincial army for the defense
of Pennsylvania.

_1758. Father Abraham's Speech._

Published as a preface to Poor Richard's Almanac and
gathering into one writing the maxims of Poor Richard,
which had already appeared in previous numbers of the
Almanac. _The Speech_ was afterwards published in pamphlet
form as the _Way to Wealth_.

_1760. Of the Means of disposing the Enemy to Peace._

A satirical plea for the prosecution of the war against
France.

_1760. The Interest of Great Britain Considered, with regard to her
Colonies, and the Acquisitions of Canada and Guadaloupe._

_1764. Cool Thoughts on the Present Situation of our Public Affairs._

A pamphlet favoring a Royal Government for Pennsylvania
in exchange for that of the Proprietors.

_1766. The Examination of Doctor Benjamin Franklin, etc., in The
British House of Commons, Relative to The Repeal of The
American Stamp Act._

_1773. Rules by which A Great Empire May Be Reduced to a
Small One._

Some twenty satirical rules embodying the line of conduct
England was pursuing with America.

_1773. An Edict of The King of Prussia._

A satire in which the King of Prussia was made to treat
England as England was treating America because England
was originally settled by Germans.

_1777. Comparison of Great Britain and the United States in Regard
to the Basis of Credit in The Two Countries._

One of several similar pamphlets written to effect loans
for the American cause.

_1782. On the Theory of the Earth._

The best of Franklin's papers on geology.

_1782. Letter purporting to emanate from a petty German Prince
and to be addressed to his officer in Command in America._

_1785. On the Causes and Cure of Smoky Chimneys._

_1786. Retort Courteous._

_Sending Felons to America._

Answers to the British clamor for the payment of American
debts.

1789. _Address to the Public from the Pennsylvania Society for
           Promoting Abolition of Slavery._

1789. _An Account of the Supremest Court of Judicature in Pennsylvania,
           viz. The Court of the Press._

1790. _Martin's Account of his Consulship._

           A parody of a pro-slavery speech in Congress.

1791. _Autobiography._

           The first edition.

1818. _Bagatelles._

           The Bagatelles were first published in 1818 in William
           Temple Franklin's edition of his grandfather's works. The
           following are the most famous of these essays and the
           dates when they were written:


           1774? _A Parable Against Persecution._

                     Franklin called this the LI Chapter of Genesis.

           1774? _A Parable on Brotherly Love._

           1778. _The Ephemera, an Emblem of Human Life._

                     A new rendition of an earlier essay on Human
                     Vanity.

           1779. _The Story of the Whistle._

           1779? _The Levee._

           1779? _Proposed New Version of the Bible._

                     Part of the first chapter of _Job_ modernized.

           (1779. Published) _The Morals of Chess._

           1780? _The Handsome and Deformed Leg._

           1780. _Dialogue between Franklin and the Gout._

                    (Published in 1802.)

1802. _A Petition of the Left Hand._

1806. _The Art of Procuring Pleasant Dreams._

[Illustration: MEDAL GIVEN BY THE BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS FROM THE
FRANKLIN FUND]



[Transcriptions of newspaper pages]


[Page 1 of _The Pennsylvania Gazette_,].


Numb. XL.

THE

Pennsylvania _GAZETTE_.
Containing the freshest Advices Foreign and Domestick.

From Thursday, September 25. to Thursday, October 2. 1729.

_The_ Pennsylvania Gazette _being now to
be carry'd on by other Hands, the Reader
may expect some Account of the Method we
design to proceed in._

_Upon a View of Chambers's great Dictionaries,
from whence were taken the Materials of the_
Universal Instructor in all Arts and Sciences,
_which usually made the First Part of this Paper,
we find that besides their containing many Things
abstruse or insignificant to us, it will probably
be fifty Years before the Whole can be gone thro'
in this Manner of Publication. There are likewise
in those Books continual References from
Things under one Letter of the Alphabet to those
under another, which relate to the same Subject,
and are necessary to explain and compleat it;
those are taken in their Turn may perhaps be Ten
Years distant; and since it is likely that they who
desire to acquaint themselves with any particular
Art or Science, would gladly have the whole before
them in a much less Time, we believe our
Readers will not think such a Method of communicating
Knowledge to be a proper One._

_However, tho' we do not intend to continue the
Publication of those Dictionaries in a regular
Alphabetical Method, as has hitherto been done;
yet as several Things exhibited from them in the
Course of these Papers, have been entertaining
to such of the Curious, who never had and cannot
have the Advantage of good Libraries; and
as there are many Things still behind, which being
in this Manner made generally known, may
perhaps become of considerable Use, by giving such
Hints to the excellent natural Genius's of our
Country, as may contribute either to the Improvement
of our present Manufactures, or towards
the Invention of new Ones; we propose
from Time to Time to communicate such particular
Parts as appear to be of the most general
Consequence._

_As to the_ Religious Courtship, _Part of
which has been retal'd to the Publick in these
Papers, the Reader may be inform'd, that the
whole Book will probably in a little Time be
printed and bound up by it-self; and those who
approve of it, will doubtless be better pleas'd to
have it entire, than in this broken interrupted
Manner._

_There are many who have long desired to see a
good News-Paper in_ Pennsylvania; _and we hope
those Gentlemen who are able, will contribute towards
the making This such. We ask Assistance,
because we are fully sensible, that to publish a
good New-Paper is not so easy an Undertaking
as many People imagine it to be. The Author of
a Gazette (in the Opinion of the Learned) ought
to be qualified with an extensive Acquaintance
with Languages, a great Easiness and Command
of Writing and Relating Things cleanly and intelligibly,
and in few Words; he should be able
to speak of War both by Land and Sea; be well
acquainted with Geography, with the History of
the Time, with the several Interests of Princes
and States, the Secrets of Courts, and the Manners
and Customs of all Nations. Men thus accomplish'd
are very rare in this remote Part of
the World; and it would be well if the Writer
of these Papers could make up among his Friends
what is wanting in himself._

_Upon the Whole, we may assure the Publick,
that as far as the Encouragement we meet with
will enable us, no Care and Pains shall be omitted,
that may make the_ Pennsylvania Gazette
_as agreeable and useful an Entertainment as the
Nature of the Thing will allow._

The Following is the last Message sent by
his Excellency Governor _Burnet_, to the
House of Representatives in _Boston_.

_Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,_

It is not with so vain a Hope as to convince you, that
I take the Trouble to answer your Messages, but, if
possible, to open the Eyes of the deluded People whom
you represent, and whom you are at so much Pains to keep
in Ignorance of the true State of their Affairs. I need not
go further for an undeniable Proof of this Endeavour to
blind them, than your ordering the Letter of Messieurs
_Wilks_ and _Belcher_ of the 7th of _June_ last to your Speaker to
be published. This Letter is said (in _Page_ 1. of your
Votes) _to inclose a Copy of the Report of the Lords of the Committee
of His Majesty's Privy Council, with his Majesty's Approbation
and Orders thereon in Council_; Yet these Gentlemen
had at the same time the unparallell'd Presumption to
write to the Speaker in this Manner; _You'll observe by the
Conclusion, what is proposed to be the Consequence of your not complying
with his Majesty's Instruction (the whole Matter to be
laid_



[Page 4 of _The Pennsylvania Gazette_.]

*terfeited but those of 13 _d_. And it is remarkable that all
Attempts of this Kind upon the Paper Money of this and
the neighbouring Provinces, have been detected and met
with ill Success.

_Custom-House, Philadelphia_, Entred Inwards.

Sloop Hope, Elias Naudain, from Boston.
Sloop Dove, John Howel, from Antigua.
Brigt, Pennswood, Thomas Braly, from Madera.

_Entred Outwards._

Scooner John, Thomas Wright, to Boston.
Brigt. Richard and William, W. Mayle, for Lisbon.
Ship Diligence, James Bayley, for Maryland

_Cleared for Departure._

Ship London Hope, Thomas Annis, for London.
Ship John and Anna, James Sherley, for Plymouth.

Advertisements.

To be Sold by _Edward Shippen_, choice
Hard Soap, very Reasonable.

Run away on the 25th of _September_ past,
from _Rice Prichard_ of _Whiteland_ in _Chester_ County, a
Servant Man named _John Cresswel_, of a middle Stature and
ruddy Countenance, his Hair inclining to Red: He had on
when he went away, a little white short Wig, an old Hat,
Drugget Wastcoat, the Body lined with Linnen; coarse
Linnen Breeches, grey woollen Stockings, and round toe'd
Shoes.

Whoever shall secure the said Servant so that his Master
may have him again, shall have _Three Pounds_ Reward, and
reasonable Charges paid, by

_Rice Prichard._

Run away on the 10th of _September_ past,
from _William Dewees_ of _Germantown_ Township, in
_Philadelphia_ County, a Servant Man named _Mekbizedarh
Arnold_, of a middle Stature and reddish curled Hair:
He had on when he went away, a good Felt Hat, a dark
Cinnamon-colour'd Coat, black Drugget Jacket, mouse-colour'd
drugget Breeches, grey Stockings, and new Shoes.

Whoever secures the said Runaway, so that his Master
may have him again, shall have _Twenty Shillings_ Reward,
and reasonable Charges paid, by me

_William Dewees._

_Lately Re-printed and Sold at the New Printing-Office
near the Market._

The _PSALMS_ of _David_, Imitated
in the Language of the _New Testament_, and apply'd
to the Christian State and Worship  By _I. Watts_,
V D M  The Seventh Edition.

N. B. _This Work has met with such a general good Reception
and Esteem among the Protestant Dissenters in_ Great Britain, &c.
_whether_ Presbyterians, Independents, _or_ Baptists, _that Six
large Impressions before This have been sold off in a very short Time._

_The chief Design of this excellent Performance (as the Author
acquaints us in his Advertisement to the Reader) is "to improve_
Psalmody _or_ Religious Singing," _and so encourage and
assist the frequent Practice of it in publick Assemblies and private
Families with more Honour and Delight; yet the
Reading of it may also entertain the Parlour and the Closet
with devout Pleasure and holy Meditations. Therefore he would
request his Readers, at proper Seasons, to peruse it thro', and
among 340 sacred Hymns they may find out several that suit
their own Case and Temper, or the Circumstances of their Families
or Friends, they may teach their Children such as are
proper for their Age and by treasuring them in their Memory
they may be furnish'd for pious Retirement, or may entertain
their Friends with holy Melody._

Lately Imported from _London_, by _Johu
Le_, and are to be sold by him at the lowest Prices,
either by Wholesale or Retale, at his Shop in _Market Street_,
over against the _Presbyterian_ Meeting-House, these Goods
following, _viz._

Callicoes, divers Sorts. Hollands, and several sorts of
Sheeting Linnen. Several sorts of Diapers and Table-Cloths.
Several sorts of Cambricks. Mantua Silks, and Grassets.
Beryllan, and plain Callimanco. Tamie yard-wide. Men's
dyed shammie Gloves. Women's _Ditto_, Lamb. Stitching
Silk, Thread and Silk. Twist for Women. Silk and Ribbands.
Double Thread Stockings. Men's white shammie
Gloves. Silk Handkerchiefs, & other sorts of Handkerchiefs.
Men's glaz'd Gloves, Topp'd. Men's Shoe-Buckles, Bath-metal.
Masks for Women. Several sorts of Penknives.
Plain metal Buttons for Men's Coats and Jackets. Ivory
Case-Knives, and several sorts of Pocket-Knives. Dowlasses
several sorts. Huckabags, and Russia Linnen. Oznaburghs.
Several sorts of Looking Glasses. Garlicks and brown Holland.
Bag-Holland _Ditto_. Several sorts of Druggets. Fine
Kerseys. Superfine double-mill'd Drab. Broad-Cloths.
London Shalloons. Fine and coarse Hats. Men and Women's
_English_ Shoes. Stockings, several sorts, for Men, Women
and Children. Several sorts of Caps. Women's Bonnets.
Several sorts of Horn and Ivory Combs. Gun-powder,
Shot, and Flints. Bibles of several sorts. Testaments,
Psalters and Primers. Large Paper Books, and small ones,
with Pocket-Books, and other Stationary Ware. Several
sorts of Checquer'd Linnen. Flannels and Duroys. Scots-Snuff.

_To be LET by the above Person. One Half of the House he
now possesseth._ Enquire of him and know further.

Bibles, Testaments, Psalters, Psalm-Books,
Accompt-Books, Bills of Lading bound and
unbound, Common Blank Bonds for Money, Bonds with
Judgment, Counterbonds, Arbitration Bonds, Arbitration
Bonds with Umpirage, Bail Bonds, Counterbonds to save
Bail harmless, Bills of Sale, Powers of Attorney, Writs,
Summons, Apprentices Indentures, Servants Indentures,
Penal Bills, Promisory Notes, &c. all the Blanks in the
most authentick Forms, and correctly printed; may be had
At the Publishers of this Paper, who perform all above sorts
of Printing at reasonable Rates.

Very good Live-Geese Feathers to be sold
at _Evan Powel's_ in Chesnut-street, next Door but one
to _Andrew Hamilton_, Esq;

_Just Published:_

Titan Leeds's Almanack,
for the Year, 1730 in his usual plain Method; being
far preferable to any yet published in _America_  To be
Sold by _David Harry_ at the late Printing Office of _Samuel
Keimer_, at Three Shillings and nine-pence per Dozen.

N. B. _As this Almanack for its Worth has met with universal
Reception, it has raised the Price of the Copy to 25l. a year,
for which Reason the Printer cannot afford them under the above-mentioned
Price: But gives this Friendly Caution to the Publick,
That when they buy Almanacks for 3s. a Dozen they must not
expect Titan Leeds's, or any so valuable._

_Speedily will be Published:_

Godfrey's Almanack, for the
Year 1730. Containing the Lunations, Eclipses,
Judgment of the Weather, the Spring Tides, _Moon's Rising
and Setting_, Sun's Rising and Setting, Length of Days,
Seven Stars Rising, Southing and Setting, Time of High-Water,
Fairs, Courts, and observable Days. Fitted to
the Latitude of 40 Degrees, and a Meridian of Five Hours
West from London. _Beautifully Printed in Red and Black,
on One Side of a large Demi Sheet of Paper, after the London
Mariner_.  To be Sold by the Printers hereof, at the New
Printing-Office near the Market, for 3 _s._ per Dozen.

_Philadelphia_: Printed by _B. Franklin_ and _H. Meredith_, at the New
Printing-Office near the Market, where Advertisements are taken in, and
all Persons may be supplied with this Paper, at _Ten Shillings_ a Year.



[First page of _The New England Courant_.]


[N^{o} 19

THE

New-England Courant.

From MONDAY December 4. to MONDAY December 11. 1721.


_On_ SYLVIA _the Fair_. A Jingle.

A Swarm of Sparks, young, gay, and bold,
Lov'd _Sylvia_ long, but she was cold;
In'trest and Pride the Nymph control'd,
So they in vain their Passion told.
At last came Dalman, he was old;
Nay, he was ugly, but had Gold.
He came, and saw, and took the Hold,
While t'other Beaux their Loss Condol'd.
Some say, she's Wed; I say, she's sold.

_The Letter against Inoculating the Small Pox, (Sign'd
Absinthium) giving an Account of the Number of
Persons who have dy'd under that Operation, will be
Inserted in our next._

FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

_Ispahan, March 6._ The Conspiracy form'd by the
Grand Vizir last January was Twelvemonth, with design
to make himself King of Persia, was seasonably
discover'd, and himself and Accomplices secured; since
which the State hath enjoy'd its former Tranquility,
and a new Vizir is appointed in his room, The old
one's Eyes being both put out, he is kept alive (but
in Prison) to make him discover all his Riches;
which must be immensely great, since they found in
one of his Chests four hundred thousand Persian Ducats,
beside Foreign Coin, and in another Place abundance
of Jewels, Gold and Silver; and so in proportion
among several of his Accomplices; by the help of
which Treasure they hoped to compass their Ends.

_Tripoli, July 12._ As soon as our Squadron fitted out
against the Famous Baffaw Gianur, Cogia, appear'd off
Dasna and Bengan, with two thousand five hundred
Moorish Horse, and a thousand Foot, and skirmish'd
a little with his Squadron, he abandon'd both those
Places, and fled to the Island of Serby in the Territories
of Tunis; But the Bey of that Place having deny'd
him Shelter, he sail'd farther away, in a French
Barque, we know not whether; and his own Galleys
and Barques, are gone after him, so that we are now
entirely rid of that troublesome Guest. Our Rovers
keep all in Port, for Fear of the Malteze.

_Cadiz, Aug. 12._ The Flota is expected Home from
the West-Indies before the End of this Month.
Thirteen Pieces of Cannon and two Mortars were lately
sent from hence to Ceuta. The three Spanish Men
of War of 50 to 60 Guns each, which carried the Spanish
Cardinals to Italy, are now at Alicant: It is said
they are to join the Dutch Vice-Admiral, who is now
in this Bay with four Ships of his Squadron of 50
Guns each, and cruize against the Algerines. Wheat
and Barley being very cheap in these Parts, great
Quantities have been sent lately to the Canaries,
where for some Time past the Inhabitants have been
in great Want of Corn. On the 9th Instant died Mr.
Charles, His Britannick Majesty's Consul at St.
Lucas.

_Berne, Aug. 20._ The Deputies of this Canton who
went to the Diet at Frawenfeldt, are now assembled
at Baden with those of Zurich and Glaris, to regulate
certain Affairs relating to the Town and County of
Baden, which formerly belonged to the Eight Eldest
Cantons, but in the last Swiss War was given up to
Zurich and Berne in Propriety, with a Reservation to
the Canton of Glaris (which is mostly Protestant) of
the Share it had before in the Sovereignty of that
District. The three Deputies of Zurich, Lucern &c
Ury, who were commissioned by the late General Dyet
to go to Wilchingen, to try to compose the Differences
which have been long standing between the Inhabitants
of that Place and the Canton of Schafhuysen
whose Subjects they are, have offered those Inhabitonts
a full Pardon for all past Misbehavior, and
the Maintenance of their Privileges for the future,
provided they forthwith return to their Duty; but
it is advised that those of Wilchingen persist hitherto
in this Disobedience.

_Schaffhausen Sept. 1._ They write from Italy, that
the Plague is no longer observ'd at Marseilles, Aix, &
several other Places; and that at Toulon it is very
much decreas'd: But alas! how should it be otherwise,
when the Distemper hath hardly any Objects
left to work upon? At Arles it is likewise abated,
we fear for the same Reason. Mean while, it spreads
in the Gevaudan; and two large Villages in the
Neighbourhood of Frejus were attack'd the beginning
of this Month. The French Court hath prohibited
all communication with the Gevaudan upon severe
Penalties. The Plague is certainly got into the
small Town of  Marvegue in that District, which
Town is shut in by eight hundred Men. Letters from
Geneva say, the two Battalions employ'd in surrounding
La Canourgue, are infected; and that Maages is
very much suspected. The Marquis de Quelus had
retired to a Castle near Avignon; but the Sickness
being got among his Domesticks, he was fled farther
away.

_Paris, Sept. 5._ The District over which the Duke
of Berwick is to have the Command, extends to the
Borders of the Bourbonnois; and the Court puts a
great Confidence in the Care of that General to hinder
the Infection from spreading. The Marquis de
Verceil is actually drawing Lines to shut in the Gevaudan;
and twelve Regiments of Foot, and as many
of Dragoons, are marching to reinforce the Troops
already posted on that side. The Plague seems to
have almost spent itself in Provence. Tho' it is yet
a great way off of us, Men talk nevertheless of laying
up Magazines of all sort of Provisions here, and of making
twenty thousand Beds, to be set up in the Hospitals
and Tennis-Courts.

_Hague, Sept. 9._ The Deputies of our Admiralties
had, last Saturday, an extraordinary Conference with
those of the States General, upon the spreading of a
Report, that ten or twelve Persons died daily at a certain
Place in Normandy, which was therefore suspected
to have received the Contagion; But upon the
matter, it doth not appear there was the least Foundation
for such a Report; tho' it is too plain the
Distemper gains ground space in the Southern Parts
of France.

We can by no means penetrate into the Designs of
the Czar; who, notwithstanding 'tis confidently
written that the Peace between him and Sweden is as
good as concluded, hath a Fleet of thirty Men of War
and two hundred Galleys at Sea near Aland. However,
an Express gone by from Stockholm, doth not
confirm.

[End of trancriptions.]





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